Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Year On The Yellow Submarine

Paul McCartney wrote the Yellow Submarine as a children's song.  The yellow submarine was supposed to be a place where kids could go and have fun.  One year ago my family boarded our own yellow submarine and left the California docks for a new world.  Highlights from this past year include traveling through the Colorado peaks at 13,000 ft and surviving an Iowa blizzard with a windchill of -30º.  We purchased a new home and settled in a town just five miles from where my wife grew up.  Every member on board is having the adventure of a lifetime.  My wife is reunited with all four of her siblings and my family is really enjoying their company.  I believe we are finding our sea legs, even though the nearest ocean is 1,000 miles away.

Periscope up, please.  Here's a look at what's ahead:

  • Grand Opening of Caveman Reflections Cyber-bistro on St. Patrick's Day.   You don't have to be a writer or a publisher to come in and hang out.  You will meet some interesting people and there are lots of cyber-guest writers who share their stories.  
  • Chapter one of The Caveman in the Mirror will be released on March 17.  It's free for all blog readers who stop by.
  • Every Friday, beginning March 22, a new chapter will be released for free.  Once all chapters are published, paperback and E-book versions will be available.
  • My employer is gearing up for some fundraising activities in May.  Stay tuned to find out how you can help support the Children's Miracle Network.
  • Caveman guest appearances.  My private yellow submarine will be touring libraries, bookstores and churches this summer to promote my latest book.  Stay tuned for details.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Any Room For Miracles In Your Life?

Do you have any room for miracles in your life?  I can think of two...
    1. Join the Children's Miracle Network.  You can do this directly or indirectly.  Here is the direct link:  Indirectly:  You can email me and request 10% of all proceeds from any books or e-books you purchase from me be sent to the Children's Miracle Network.  My employer will match all donations I send in dollar for dollar.
    2. Send a couple of pesos to Castaway Kids, a non-profit organization set up by my cousin, Mark Mulligan.  Write Naked Caveman on the check or in the comments section and you will receive a free E-book from me when The Caveman in the Mirror is released.  Please email me  and write Castaway Kids in the subject line if you choose this option so I know where to send your free E-book. 
 Thanks for helping to make a miracle or two come true today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Do You Trust?

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

There's a reason why I like prophets so much, particularly Isaiah, a man who advised kings in the 8th-century BC.  They were willing to put their lives on the line every time they made a prediction.  Imagine what are world would look like if everyone who made a false prediction was put to death.  Here are some examples...

  1. The weather channel would cease to exist.  That's right.  Your favorite meteorologist might get it right one hundred times in a row.  As soon as the snow day arrived on the wrong day, it would be time for a new weather anchor.  College students would change their majors and get out of the weather business.  There would be no one to willing to take a chance on predicting the weather.
  2. The legislative and executive branches of government would disappear.  Only the judges would be left since they do not make promises that don't come true, they only judge.  Washington D.C. would be nearly empty.
  3. No more palm readers or tarot card readers.  All it takes is one bad reading to get the axe.
  4. Satan would have to close up shop.  He is cunning at telling half-truths to win people over to the dark side.  He is even willing to tell 99% of the truth.  That doesn't cut it.  True prophets must be 100% accurate in order to keep their jobs.
  5. The population would decrease by one billion in the first thirty days.  The rest of the world would get out of the prediction business.
Take a look at the quote at the top of today's story.  It was written by a guy who wrote so eloquently about the future that it appeared as if he was reporting on events that already happened. He was in the prophecy business for about six decades without a single mistake.  He trusted his source with his life.

How about you? Do you have any trust issues?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where Writers Go When Lightning Strikes

Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when a thought hit you like a bolt of lightning?  Writers live for these jolts of electricity.  They are storm chasers who crave to be in the center of the squall where characters are born and plots are hatched.

Your loved ones know you've been struck when they see "the look."  It may happen at a restaurant.  You can't resist the urge to reach for a pen so you can scribble your thoughts down on a napkin or anything that resembles paper before they dissipate.  The after affects can last for weeks and months until the flash of light is turned into a book.  There is that period after the storm where everything returns to normal.  Then, it happens again -- lightning strikes twice.

My first lightning strike was only a mild concussion, a memoir.  The second bolt is much more severe.  At times I feel disoriented.  My mind drifts between reality and that place far off where my characters live.  They visit me in the middle of the night, depriving me of sleep.  Like the Borg from Star Trek, they assimilate me into their world.  My only hope of keeping my sanity is to complete my novel and release it to the world.

I hope you return here on March 17 to find out about what happened after the second bolt of lightning struck me.  Beam me up, Scotty.  I'm ready for my life-long mission -- to explore strange new worlds and to write about my experiences.  My brain is already at warp drive.  Let's plot a course for the nebula where the lightning storms appear to be most active.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Male Brain

It's impossible for the male brain to be in two places at once.  This example just happened a few minutes ago; my wife attempted to reach my brain while it was in book-writing mode:

Wife:  "Your grandma Mary's birthday was in February."

Me:  "Hmmm."

Wife:  "What day was it?"

Me:  "I'm thinking... (pause)... May 9."

Wife:  "You dip-shit."

That's the end of today's story about the male brain.  Book-writing mode is officially over for today.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Secret Life As A Writer

All my writing is done in a secret cave somewhere in Gotham City, far away from most people who know me as a writer.  Some may think God banished me.  Even the people I meet in my new home state appear bewildered when I tell them I spent twenty-three years living in Southern California.  "What are you doing here?" they ask with that puzzled look on their face.  There are only a few people on this planet who know the full story.

The folks I work for at my day job encourage social media anonymity.  Even my wife, aka the Catwoman, prefers to stay off the grid.  There are no pictures of her on her FB page for a reason -- she is afraid the Joker and the Penguin may track her down in our secret hideout.  I do my best to keep my true identity protected by living and working in day-tight compartments.  During the day I'm Bruce Wayne, your average citizen.  When it's dark outside, I retreat to my cave and spend hours blogging or penning my books while my family sleeps.  Even the local police were suspicious of me when I first arrived on the scene and parked my car outside the local library in the wee hours of the morning every day so I could access the free Wi-fi internet.  I ordered the internet for our home once I saved enough pennies from my day job.  Santa Claus showed up just in time to prevent a military coup by my teenage offspring.

It's almost impossible to keep a secret in a small town.  Even Batman would have trouble solving my conundrum:  how does a writer who wishes to remain hidden sell books?  You would think I could get a little assistance from my sidekick, Robin.  The only problem is I don't understand him when he says things like, "Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!"

Stay tuned at the same bat-time on the same bat-channel, every morning at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time, to see how my secret life as a writer unfolds, one chapter at a time.   According to the bat-clock, there are only 21 days to go until chapter one from my next book is released.  Shush!  Don't tell anyone, especially my relatives.  My day job is going really well and I don't want my cover blown.  Okay?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Walking the Tightrope

The last time I walked a tightrope was on vacation many years ago at a christian camp.  I was with a buddy who was afraid of heights.  We had two courses to choose from, the low ropes just a few feet above the ground or the high ropes about twenty-five feet up in the air.  I deferred to my buddy and he picked the high ropes.  Things went pretty well until we reached the final segment comprised of two tightropes about shoulder length apart.  Above our heads was a single tightrope we attached our safety harnesses to in case we fell.  Our guide offered no instructions except to tell us we were not allowed to hold on to the rope above our heads.  After several failed attempts to advance and a few falls, we discovered a method that worked.  I put one foot on each rope and walked backwards while holding on to my partner's shoulders.  He also placed one foot on each rope and his hands on my shoulders.  Inch-by-inch, we walked that tightrope.

I'm reminded daily that my life is playing out on the high ropes course.  Many situations offer no specific instructions.  In order to reach my goals, I must challenge myself to find a way across the tightrope, no matter how impossible it may appear.  Here are three suggestions for finding your way when you are walking the tightrope:
  1. Find a partner.  You aren't supposed to go through life all by yourself.  Sometimes, you need a shoulder to lean on.  Other times, your partner needs your shoulder.
  2. Balance your weight.  If you spend too much time in one area of your life, that means you are neglecting something else that needs your attention.
  3. Slow down.  You need to master crawling before you learn to walk and run.  If you find yourself falling too often, go back to the basics.
I would like to give a shout out to the people in my life who encourage me to stay on the high ropes course.  Don't worry, I won't mention your names here.  You know who you are and I'm thankful you're in my life, even if we may be separated by geography.  This book I'm writing is kicking my butt right now and I feel like my forward progress on same days is only a few inches.  Thanks for being there.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Know When You're Making The Right Moves

In the game of life, it's not always easy to know if you're making the right moves.  I do know there are times when a decision needs to be made that can change everything.  It turns out that the "leap of faith" I made on February 29, nearly one year ago, was a quantum leap for me and every member of my family.  We sold our abode and moved out of California, our home for twenty-three years.  Here are some lessons I learned from that move:
  1. A family tree that is deeply rooted in faith, hope and love will not fall.
  2. It's not about the storms, it's about weathering the storms.  No matter where you live, there will always be challenges.  I learned that when the wind chill is -30º outside, I have all the warmth I need when I'm surrounded by family.
  3. Any move you make based on values rather than opinions of others is a wise move.
  4. Visionaries love to play leap-frog because they already see the world as it can be rather than as it is.
  5. Prayer works.  I always trusted God with the small things in my life.  The leap of faith had no safety net.  I admit it, I felt like a trapeze artist wearing a blindfold.  Letting go was not easy.  Now, I trust God with everything.
If you are having trouble making the right moves in your life, ask yourself this:  "what am I afraid of?"  Your honest answer to that question will help you advance in the game of life, even if you happen to be wearing a blindfold.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Ounce of Discipline a Day

What is the most difficult challenge you are facing in your life today?  Do you have a plan to overcome it?  How long will it remain with you until you defeat it?  There was a time in my life when these questions annoyed me because I didn't have the right tools.  The remedy is so small that most people aren't willing to give it a try because they don't believe it will work.  Why not try one ounce of discipline a day?  Here are some examples of the one ounce solution:
  1. Weight Loss.  Do something today that will eliminate one ounce of body fat.  Make sure you are using a scale that measures to the ounce. You have two choices to shed one ounce.  You can either increase your physical activity or you can make a small change about what you eat today.  The ounce of discipline has to do with repeating this step every day until you reach your desired goal.  When sixteen ounces are added up, you get one pound.  If you want to lose ten pounds, multiply ten pounds by 16 to get the number of days needed at one ounce per day to reach the goal.  That means 160 days from today you will be ten pounds lighter as long as you keep your one ounce of discipline in your life.
  2. Run a 10k race.  The first step is to find out how many steps you walk in a day.  You will need a pedometer for this.  When you are ready to start your day, attach your pedometer and count your steps.  The ounce of discipline comes from making a decision to add two hundred more steps to tomorrow's total.  If you are averaging 2,000 steps a day, you are already walking a mile.  Add 200 steps per day and you will add 1/10 of a mile.  In ten days, you will be at 4,000 steps per day. When you reach 12,400 steps per day (2,000 steps in a mile x 6.2 miles), you are walking a 10k every day.  Put on your running shoes and take a walk through the park.  Alternate running and walking until you feel comfortable running exclusively.  Now it's time to enter your first 10k race.
  3. Write a book.  The average number of words in a book is 64,000.  Decide today you will write 175 words.  To give you an idea how easy 175 words is, today's blog weighs over two ounces.  Repeat this every day for 365 days.  Your ounce of discipline each day will add up to 64,000 words one year from today, enough to self-publish your own story.
There is an added benefit to adding one ounce of discipline to your routine.  By improving one area of your life, the other areas also improve.  I don't know how this works.  Maybe it comes from the confidence you gain from conquering the biggest giants in your life.  If anyone asks your secret to your success, you can tell them it comes from an ounce of discipline a day.  How will you use your ounce today?  Your comments are welcome below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Word of the Day: Upogrammos

Some of my favorite words come from languages I don't speak.  They are like spices you add to a recipe to enhance its flavor.  Imagine Jesus as the master chef in front of a group of young apprentices who are eager to copy His recipes, just like children in a classroom who mimic every stroke of every letter until they are able to reproduce the writing of the teacher.  Jesus is the exemplar; He is the Upogrammos -- the writing copy we are to follow.

I found this new word while searching for more information about the Bible character, Job.  Job was a wealthy man who had it all and then lost it.  Most people give Job an "F" for failure because they only remember the first part of the story, a lengthy account of all the losses Job suffers.  For me, the best part of the story is the end, just like the final upstroke you use to complete the cursive small "f".  I see hope in every trial and I believe the second half of my life will be even better than the first half.  Job's story is our upogrammos, the template that gives us hope when we are in our deepest valleys.

 Put a new word in your vocabulary and up your grammar with upogrammos.  There will be times when tracing the steps of Jesus is unpopular, undesirable and unnerving.  It's hard to change direction when you are carrying a heavy cross and you're falling.  Keep following Him every step of the way.  Each time you get back up on your feet, show the crowd a high five sign.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Do You Need A Defibrillator For Your Passions?

Imagine your passions are like dance partners.  When you both hear the same music, your life is filled with harmony.  What do you do when an arrhythmia shows up in the middle of your song and your heartbeat becomes irregular?  Here are seven warning signs that you may need help:
  1. You can't find rhythm in your life.  The doctors say your heart is fine, however, you experience anxiety because you are out of synch with your passions.
  2. You neglected your passions so long that they disappeared from the dance floor.
  3. You lost your desire to dance.
  4. You forgot how to dance.
  5. You're afraid to dance because you can't find the beat to the music and others are making fun of you.
  6. When the music changes, you don't know what to do.
  7. You don't recognize your passions on the dance floor.
If you are looking for a solution, try using a defibrillator for your passions.  Just close your eyes and call on the Holy Spirit for a jolt of electricity.  I don't know how He works and there is no visible equipment used in the process re-establishing your body's natural pacemaker.  All I can say is that when you open your eyes, your dance partners will be back on the dance floor waiting for you; when you are re-united with them, you will have rhythm that even Michael Jackson would envy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bible Optimists

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” ~ Numbers 13:30
Two years after leaving Egypt, the people of Israel reached the outskirts of their future home.  Twelve spies were sent on a mission to check out the promised land.  Ten returned to tell Moses there was no hope of occupying the land God promised them.  Some of the Canaanite inhabitants were 8 feet tall and appeared impossible to defeat.  The two optimists, Caleb and Joshua, believed in God's promises.  The others did not.  This led to 38 additional years wandering in the desert.  In the end, the only people from the original group to enter the promised land were the optimists, Caleb and Joshua.

I do my best every day to remain optimistic no matter how big my giants or how challenging my tasks.  The promised land is in front of us and I hear Caleb's voice in my head saying, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."  Are you with me?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Odd Moment From Valentine's Day

"What did you give your wife for Valentine's Day?" asked a coworker.  "We don't limit Valentine's Day to one day -- it's a month-long experience," I replied.  "She got a love story, a poem, and flowers."  My buddy stared at me like a deer in the headlights.  Moments later he shouted out, "this guy next to me doesn't celebrate Valentine's Day, he celebrates every day for the whole month."  The place cheered while I blushed.

I probably won't share any more Valentine's stories with my co-workers.  Valentine's Day is over for most people.  Not for me or my wife.  We are both feeling giddy.  I hope this blog inspires you to keep the passion going.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Ways To Know When It's Gametime

Long before you enter the arena, there is that quiet moment when you are alone with your dreams.  They sit still, like a jetliner on the runway before take-off, awaiting your instructions.  You double-check your list to make sure you're ready.  Why do you feel like the groundhog awaiting groundhog day?  Maybe it's because the time has come for you to emerge from your burrow and you're not sure about the climate.  Here are some ideas to help you determine if it's gametime:
  1. Your dreams have been sitting on the runway so long that they want to get off the plane and check into a hotel.
  2. The weather outside is cloudy.  Dreams don't care about the weather and they are willing to fly in any climate.
  3. Your desire to fly becomes greater than your fear of heights.
  4. The cave you are living in is no longer big enough to house your dreams.
  5. You hear the control tower say, "the runway is clear."
  6. You realize you are not a groundhog; you are created in the Maker's image and you were designed to soar like an eagle.  Your dreams are the wind beneath your wings and the wind is blowing.
  7. You find the lost suitcase stashed away in your garage and open it up to find all your hidden talents.
It's time to make an important decision today.  Are you ready to enter the arena?  Here's was Theodore Roosevelt had to say about the arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;  it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

May today be your best Valentine's Day ever.  Yes, love is in the air.  Let it fill your sails and be your guide from sunrise to sunset on this day and all your tomorrows.  And when you sleep, may love drift into your dreams like snowflakes from Heaven.  This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are There Any Heart Cards in Your Deck?

When it comes to love, how many heart cards are in your hand?  If your Queen of Hearts has a sad face or is missing, maybe it's time for a reshuffle.  Here are some things you can do to find that royal flush just in time for Valentine's Day:
  1. The jokers are in your deck to heat things up.  Surprise you lover with this card.  Break out of your old routine and do something on the wild side.
  2. Discard the things in your life that are crowding out your time with your king or queen.  Say no to outside activities that take you away from your lover and say yes to all the things you have in common.
  3. Share your heart.  You are not in competition with your lover, you are partners.  Put your heart cards together.  Couples who laugh and play together find a way to win at love.
  4. Every day is a chance to draw some new cards.  If you are having trouble in the love department, your odds of winning increase as long as you stay in the game.  50% of marriages retire early because couples lose interest and want to fold all their cards.
  5. Embrace every card you are dealt.  Sometimes, life isn't fair.  Don't blame the dealer.  Be patient.  Your Ace of Hearts is going to show up as long as you keep your game face on and keep playing.  Make the most of every hand and cherish your heart cards.  Sometimes they are disguised as diamonds in the rough.  And if you're looking for love, you can have it in spades.
Do you have something to add to the conversation?  Please share about the heart cards that are in your hand in the comments section below.  And remember to keep playing cards every day with your lover.  Make every day as special as Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why Dreams Die

Show me a person who no longer dreams and I'll show you a cadaver.  The world is filled with them, zombies who wander through life without any sense of purpose.  Before a dream dies, it cries for help.  Here are seven warning signs your dreams are in poor health:
  1. When a new dream is showing at your local movie theater, you are too busy to go see it.
  2. Your friends and family members give your dreams bad reviews.
  3. You start listening to your critics.
  4. Sneak previews and special engagements of your dreams no longer inspire you to pursue them.
  5. You stop sharing your dreams with your loved ones because you no longer believe they can be made into a sequel of your life.
  6. You decide to cut dreams out of your budget because you think the cost is too high.
  7. You let a couple of nightmare experiences make you fearful of dreams and decide to pull the plug.
If your dreams are on life support, there is still time to put them in intensive care and nurse them back to good health before it's too late.  Sleep on these ideas:
  1. You are the main character placed in the script.  The plot may appear twisted at times, however, your dreams are what make your story unique.  The nightmares add suspense.  
  2. Follow the director's lead.  He gives you dreams to help you visualize the meaning of your life.  He promises you a happy ending as long as you don't give up.
  3. Don't worry how many people are in the audience.  The only thing a dream needs is for one person, you, to believe it has potential.  One dream can change the world.  Maybe you should check out a matinee.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are You the Oboe in God's Symphony?

The Oboe is one of the most challenging musical instruments to play.

The first time I heard the Oboe, a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family, I fell in love with its tantalizing voice.  It seduced me to drift away to some magical place.  Italian composer, Ennio Morricone, created "Gabriel's Oboe" for The Mission by mimicking the notes the actor pretended to play on his oboe.

Do you ever feel like you're wandering,
pretending to play complicated musical notes only known by the original composer?  Perhaps you are the oboe which takes years of practice to master.  Once you become proficient, you customize your own reed to achieve the desired tone only you are uniquely created to produce.

Watch the YouTube video below and see yourself as the oboe featured in the opening.  God is your conductor.  He is drawing your music out of you.  You are the main theme in God's love story.  This is how your life is meant to be played...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Set Your Dreams Free

How many years have your dreams been locked up?  Do you remember the crime they committed?  What did they do to earn a life sentence in solitary confinement, these misfits that once lived inside your head when you were growing up?  I know I'm guilty of remaining silent while the world accused my dreams of being dangerous criminals capable of wreaking havoc on society.  Dreams are innocent.  It's time to take a stand today and free them from false imprisonment.  Here are some steps you can take to set your dreams free:
  1. Stop feeling guilty about incarcerating your dreams.  Dreams don't hold grudges.  Their only desire is to be with you.  They belong with you.  Go ahead.  Unlock the door today and give your dreams the life they deserve.
  2. Every dream needs a heart, like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz who was left outside in the rain.  Let your heart be the oil your dreams need to get moving again.
  3. Put your dreams back in your head where they belong.  Like the Tin Man's friend, the Scarecrow, your dreams are searching for a brain...yours.  They've been locked up long enough.  Each dream is a seed that longs to be planted in your field of dreams.  
  4. Give your dreams some courage.  The world can be a scary place.  Imagine your dreams are living in a time like The Hunger Games and they're fighting for survival.  Encourage them to stay alive no matter how bad the odds, just like the cowardly lion when he stood up to the wicked witch of the west.
  5. Close your eyes and click your heels.  No matter how far away you and your dreams happen to be, you can find your way home.  Your dreams will add some brilliant colors to your black and white world.  All you have to do is believe.
Have a great day.  Wherever your side of the rainbow may be, I hope your dreams are with you and you are enjoying a great life.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    How To Get Better At Anything

    Michael Mulligan celebrating 38 years of tennis and about 1,000,000 hits.
    What is it in your life that you want to improve?  Is it a relationship?  Parenting? A new language?  A new job skill?  Whatever it is, you can do it.  If you don't believe me, please take a look at these examples...

     Example #1:

    (excerpt from my first job interview after college)

    "Can you sell tennis memberships?"


    "You're hired."

    Day 1 priority -- sneak in the book, How To Master the Art of Selling, by Tom Hopkins, and hide it in my desk drawer.  Read a snippet before each tour of the club with prospective members.

    At the end of my first presentation, I asked, "Would you like to buy a membership?"  My voice rose two octaves and then cracked at the end of the question.  I could barely breathe.  Then, I did something that changed my life... I made a decision to get better.  I scoured that book for tips on how to sell and kept practicing.

    After thirty days on the job, membership sales soared, my weekly teaching calendar was filled with forty hours of lessons and my voice finally stopped cracking when I asked for the sale.

    Example #2:

    I started playing tennis the summer before my freshman year in high school.  I was so bad I resorted to hitting on the backboard rather than chasing balls over the fence.  I preferred practicing on the racquetball courts because they had three walls and no one could see how terrible I was.  My first year in high school, I made the freshman team at the beginning of the school year.  JV tryouts were in the Spring.  Despite all the practice, I failed to make the JV cuts.  I became team manager and handed out towels.  Every day, I spent time on the backboards, hitting thousands of balls.  When high school was over, I was on my way to becoming one of the youngest USPTA certified teaching pros in the country.

    Example #3:

    This blog started over three years ago.  A couple of relatives checked out my first story in late August, 2009.  That was about it.  The first three months of writing produced approximately twenty-five visitors.  Hardly memorable.  Most bloggers give up after just a few stories.  I kept writing.  I joined a writers critique group.  They encouraged me to stay with them.  And on March 17, 2011, I became a self-published writer.  In about four months, I will be celebrating 100,000 page views on this blog, now read world-wide.  A couple of professional organizations have published some of my stories.  My number one supporter believes my next story should be made into a movie.

    The real key to getting better at anything is to make a decision right now to do something, anything, that will make you better today than you were yesterday.  Do this every day for the rest of your life.  Don't worry if your voice cracks in front of a crowd.  Be happy that you are facing your fears and keep going.

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Which of the 7 Dwarfs Are You Like?

    Be careful who you include in your circle of friends.  Over time, you may become more like them or they may become more like you.  If your best friend is Happy, you're in good company.  However, if you hang out with Grumpy, he may turn you into an annoying monster others can't stand to be around.

    Take a look in the mirror on the wall and see which of the seven dwarfs appear.  Each has something to say to you:
    1. Bashful.  He prefers cave-dwelling.  Don't let him confine you to your comfort zone.
    2. Doc.  He is a leader who encourages rational, organized behavior.
    3. Dopey.  A man of few words.  He is silly and playful.
    4. Grumpy.  If he shows up in your mirror, you have some serious work to do.
    5. Happy.  My favorite.  Stay close to this guy.
    6. Sleepy.  If this is what you see in the mirror, you need to slow down and get more rest.
    7. Sneezy.  Take care of yourself.  Your healthy food choices and fitness program will keep Doc away.
    It helps to whistle while you work.  Hi, ho, hi, ho, it's off to work I go.  See you tomorrow.

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    Why I Like Winter

    There is something about Winter that intrigues me.  Most people want to push the fast forward button once the first storm hits.  Others flee to milder climates.  I scrape the snow off my Weber BBQ grille and fire it up for a delicious family meal.  My dad's favorite Mulliganism was "if you're gonna do it, do it right."  He called his burgers world famous, even if Jim, his older brother, sometimes complained they were burned.  Dad never let a little rain stop him from building a fire on our weekend camping trips.  And he certainly wouldn't allow anything, even cancer, to interrupt an opportunity for a barbecue.

    Perhaps I see the world differently because my dad saw the world differently.  I love it when people ask me what I did on my day off and I tell them, "I barbecued burgers for my family and played tennis."  Life is about adapting.  It's about embracing the season, whatever season it happens to be.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Lost Love

    I left my daughter's cactus plant with my sister when it was time to depart California.  Bad move.  I didn't realize how precious this foot-long porcupine was to her.  I should have known better.  My daughter nurtured her pet cactus for years and gave it tender loving care.  I made room for her little buddy in my back seat when I returned to pick up our other car.

    Every day, the cactus droops and shrivels without my daughter to give it what it needs to thrive.  It may not survive away from the desert climate it was born in.  It reminds me what happens when love fades.  Here are some warning signs:
    1. There is a feeling of abandonment.  This usually happens when your lover doesn't hear you speaking his or her favorite love language.
    2. Lack of sunshine.  When the shades are drawn on hopes and dreams, love is no longer in the air.
    3. Outside priorities fill your calendar.
    4. Valentine's Day is just another day.
    5. You feel like your best days are in the rear view mirror.
    If any of these signs are showing up in your life, you need to re-write the script you are following.  Learn what the love of your life needs.  Open up the windows and let the sun shine in.  Stop looking at the past and concentrate on today.  Make sure to learn a few new words in your lover's love language every morning when you wake up.  The only way to become fluent is to practice.  And pay attention to all the things that matter to the ones you love, even if they happen to be twelve inch pricks.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    How To Be A Winner At Love

    There are three things that amaze me—
    no, four things that I don’t understand:
    how an eagle glides through the sky,
    how a snake slithers on a rock,
    how a ship navigates the ocean,
    how a man loves a woman. ~
    Proverbs 30:18-19

    You need twenty points on today's love quiz to be a winner at love.  You get a maximum of ten points for question #1 and a maximum of ten points for question #2.  If your score is twenty points, I salute you.  Congratulations.  If your score is below twenty points, please step into my cyber-office and let's talk.  Here we go...

    Question #1:  How do you rate yourself on a one to ten scale about the love you have in your heart for your lover?  

    Question #2:  How many points on a one to ten scale do you think your lover would award you for the love you have in your heart for him or her?

    If your love score is 19 or less, odds are you're cringing as Valentine's Day approaches.  Remember this: love is not a science -- it's an art.  You are the artist.  Study the model in front of you and fall in love again.  Here are some tips to be a winner at love:
    1. Re-arrange your priorities.  Put your lover at the top of your daily to-do list.
    2. Be present.  When you are in the presence of your lover, be there 100%.
    3. Listen.  Words matter.  So does body language.  Be in tune with every word and every action.
    4. Deposit more than you withdraw.  If there are insufficient funds in your love account, you are not investing in your relationship.  The more you give, the healthier you will both be in the love department.
    5. Invest in aggressive growth love funds.  Average investors make sporadic deposits on Holidays and birthdays.  Savvy lovers make daily deposits and limit withdrawals on their joint accounts.  The best way to invest in your relationship is make a list of all the things that are important to your lover and concentrate on those areas for a high rate of return.
    If you try these ideas and still have trouble raising your score, think about how Jesus would answer the questions.  How much love does Jesus have for you in His heart?  How many points would Jesus give you for the love you give Him? If you can't love Jesus with all your heart, how can you love others?  Let Jesus be your example and follow Him.

    Thanks for visiting today.  I hope these pointers help you to be a winner at love.  If you have any ideas to share, please add your comments below.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    5 Options To Deal With Fear

    Fear is the fog that creeps onto the roadway.  It clouds your vision.  You wonder if you should turn around and abandon your dreams or keep moving forward.  Here are five options to consider:
    • Option #1:  Turn around.  If you do this, as soon as the fog dissipates, another foe appears -- your shadow of regrets.  As the sun sets on your life, the shadow grows larger and your greatest wish is that you faced fear when you had the opportunity.
    • Option #2:  Freeze.  This option is hazardous because your inaction causes those who are following you to crash into you.
    • Option #3:  Turn on the high beams.  This option focuses your attention on fear.  You can't see your hopes and dreams and become too discouraged to move forward.
    • Option #4:  Turn on the low beams.  The road to your dreams is the only thing visible, even in the dense fog.  This is a popular option because it allows risk takers to move forward in spite of fear.
    • Option #5:  Pray for the fog to vaporize.  Believers do this.  Visionaries master this.  The blind can see.  The deaf can hear.  The more you pray, the easier it is to face fear.  Even the fog knows it's powerless when you choose this option.
    These last twelve months, I often asked myself, what is the worst that can happen?  The answers were sometimes scary:  homelessness, joblessness, loss of material possessions, not enough money to pay for my children's college, loneliness, etc.  There were some really foggy days.  Option #1 was tempting.  Option #2 was not on the table because I'm a man of action.  Option #3 caused me to lose sight of my vision and option #4 was difficult on days of zero visibility.  Option #5 is the only way to deal with fear, even when the worst does happen.

    My shadow is in the right place -- behind me, as long as I always follow the Son, especially on the foggiest of days of my life when even my shadow wants to hide.

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Valentine's Month Tip #3: Learn The Right Love Language

    Flowers and Chocolates don't cut it for the love of my life.  That's not her love language.  For her, it's all about acts of service.  She feels loved when I'm working on the taxes, doing chores around the house, or crossing off items on her to-do list.  That's why the new FaceBook page I secretly created for her was such a big hit.  I sent out friends requests to her siblings, relatives and friends asking them to wish her a Happy Valentine's Month.  Goodwill messages flooded her in-box.

    The only language your lover cares about is the one that fits like a glove.  If you're having trouble in the love department, you need to find the right shoe for your Cinderella or the right can of beer for your man.  It's not about you -- it's about the love of your life.

    Invest some time learning the right love language.  Discover how to be a better lover.  Use these ideas for all the important people in your life.  Your children, parents, friends and business associates will be impressed.  Click here for the link to the 5 Love Languages.

    Don't forget to leave a comment about your love language or how you plan to apply what you learned during about the 5 Love Languages this Valentine's Month.

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Valentine's Month Tip #2 -- Write a Love Story

    You don't need to be a best-selling author to be qualified to write a love story to your significant other.  You already have all the ingredients you need -- a plot, a theme and a main character you love with all your heart.  Put it all together and share your love story during Valentine's Month.

    The story below is dedicated to the love of my life.  May it inspire you to write your own love story...

    The Interior Decorator

    The knock at the front door was precisely at the appointed time.  When I opened it, I was surprised by her appearance.  Her black business suit fit her perfectly and her hair was pulled back in a pony tail.  She had a legal pad in her left hand and a large brief case at her side.

    "Hello, Mr. Mulligan, I'm Helen, your new interior decorator.  It's nice to meet you."

    "Please, come in.  You can call me Michael."

    Helen led me over to the dining room table and took a seat.  Her two-inch heels highlighted her calve muscles and I immediately knew I would have trouble concentrating on our business meeting.

    "You have a lovely place, Michael.  Can you share what your plans are?"

    "It would probably be best if you inspected each room.  Do you mind taking a tour?"

    Helen took notes as we walked through the home.  "This place has potential," she said.

    "My goal is to make this place more like a home and less like an office.  I had some room-mates but they moved out because they didn't like living here."

    "I understand," Helen said.  "Your home is missing a feminine touch.  I will be back with a new vision for you in two weeks."

    The whole time she was gone, I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Those stunning blue eyes captivated me.  I barely got any work done.  My mind drifted back to our first meeting.

    The second time she visited, I knew I was in love with her.  There was something about her on the inside that made my heart long for her.  When she opened her portfolio, her vision for my home was incredible.  I hired her on the spot and she oversaw every step of the renovation for the next six months.

    When it was time for the great reveal, she presented me with the keys to my newly remodeled home.  "May all your dreams come true, Michael" Helen said with a proud smile.

    "Will you have dinner with me tonight to celebrate?  That would make my dream come true."

    Helen smiled and nodded approvingly.  Twenty-three years later, she still smiles the same way every time I greet her with a good morning kiss.  Not only did Helen redecorate my home, she redecorated my heart, knocking out walls and expanding it so there would be enough room for her and three children.  She is my dream interior decorator.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Happy Valentine's Month

    My friends, Wilson and Ramona, celebrating Valentine's Month.
    Valentine's Month, you say?  Sorry, guys... it's time to raise the bar and one measly day of flowers, chocolates and dinner out doesn't cut it in my household.  No excuses, please.  The windchill in our neighborhood was -30º last night and I still managed a date with my wife after sunset to break the ice for Valentine's Month.

    In case your ideas for how to heat up your romance are on the frigid side, here are some suggestions:
    1. Hide your love notes.  My wife is still finding messages from two years ago.  Simply cut out a bunch of hearts with your love message and stash them in places where your lover will eventually find them.
    2. Play games.  Be original.  You can make new rules for old board games and decide what the consequences are for the loser.  Remember, there are no losers in the game of love.
    3. Change up your routine.  Valentine's Month is a time to do the unexpected.  Keep the focus on your lover.
    4. A heart a day keeps the divorce attorney away.  Make every day extra special and unique.  Challenge yourself to raise the bar on your creativity.
    5. Learn to speak your lover's language.  French may be the language of love for most romantic couples, however, it won't give you any love points if your lover prefers acts of service or for you to write a love poem. 
    I'm wearing a red shirt today at work for heart disease.  The red shirt will also be my reminder about how important it is to take care of matters of the heart.  If you have any ideas to add to the conversation, I would love to hear from you by email or you can contribute in the comments section below.  Happy Valentine's Month!