Saturday, May 31, 2014

Manage Your Life in Snippets

Are you too busy to get your important projects done?  Maybe your workload is like an albatross so large and overwhelming that you feel frozen.  You need snippets.  They are like the appetizers you consume before the main course is served.  Snippets are small chunks of time you squeeze in to handle smaller chunks of work.  Snippets are game changers for the overwhelmed.

Think of snippets as Lego bricks.  They come in all sizes.  You pick the brick that fits the amount of free time you have.  For example, you're watching your favorite TV show and a commercial break comes on.  That's probably a three-minute brick – more than enough time to lay on your back and do some stomach crunches.  I like to get creative and stack my Legos.  It works like this:  You're brushing your teeth, hopefully at least twice a day.  While you're doing this task, why not incorporate some leg raises or some stretches?  There's a couple more snippets to add to your exercise routine.  Now, put those snippets together and you're one super fit individual.  When people ask you, "how to you find the time to work out when you're so busy?"  You reply, "I manage my life in snippets."

Here's the good news – you can build anything and achieve anything you can dream if you use your snippets and link them together.  The novel I'm piecing together is my largest Lego project ever.  By the time I'm done, the word count will exceed 80,000 words, accomplished in weekly snippets of 500 to 1,000 words, depending on how many appetizers I can consume on my down time.  Click here if you want to see how I'm writing my novel using the snippets system.  All of my blogs were built from the ground up in snippets.

What area of your life are you seeking to improve using these ideas?  Please share how you will use snippets to handle your workload.  I would love to hear what you're building with your Legos.

Friday, May 30, 2014

There's a New Deputy in Town

Her birthday card was on her nightstand when she woke up this morning.  She didn't know about the conversation I had with the cashier the day before.  "I think you're making a mistake," I told her when I saw the screen.

"All our cards are 99 cents," she replied.  I paid for the card and added a message before sealing it up.  When my love opened it this morning, she was secretly hoping I got the deal.  It's funny how much alike we are becoming after nearly twenty-five years of marriage.  We both share the same dreams.  I truly believe we are on the same page.

Besides celebrating her birthday today, my wife is saying good-bye to her boss who is retiring at the recorder's office.  The current deputy will be sworn in this morning as recorder and my wife will be promoted to deputy.  Congratulations, my love.  This will be an exciting new chapter in your life.  Happy Birthday.  May all your dreams come true.  Mine already did on the day you said yes. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Good-bye, Maya Angelou

"Try to be the rainbow in someone's cloud."  ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is somewhere over the rainbow today.  She left behind some amazing words to help all of us follow in her footsteps.  Besides the quote above, here's another of my personal favorites: 

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Thank you, Maya, for making us feel better.  Thank you for your contributions.  Thanks especially for being a rainbow amongst the clouds.   You will be missed but your kind words will live on until we meet again.  Good-bye.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to Win the Blame Game

Most people I know never win the blame game.  They don't understand the rules.  I admit it took me decades to figure out how to win.   It has many similarities to the game of chess.  There are patterns and strategies.  In chess, you know the game is over when someone's king is defeated.  In the blame game,  neither side is likely to admit defeat.  The game goes on and on, sometimes passed on to future generations.  Here are some examples:
  • "I'm unemployed because the economy stinks.  All the good jobs got shipped overseas."
  • "I'm in this mess because I married a loser."
  • "My dog pees in the house because it's stupid."
  • "I don't have any friends because no one wants to listen to all my problems."
  • "I didn't get the promotion because the boss plays favorites."
  • "It's my parents fault.  They didn't send me to the right school."
Are you ready to win the blame game?  I'll share the secret to my success.  I looked in the mirror.  Yep.  I found the person responsible.  I stopped blaming my dog for peeing in the house and learned how to properly train her.  I stopped dumping all my problems on my friends and started listening to them share theirs.  I stopped blaming my parents for anything that went wrong in my childhood.  When my work situation was below my expectations, I went out and started my own business.  And when the business climate declined, I moved to a place filled with new opportunities.  My wife could have said, "we're in this mess because I married a loser." Instead, she chose to bite her tongue while she silently prayed.  When my children come to me with a problem, I ask "how are you going to solve it?"

You can master the blame game today.  Remember to point your finger at the man in the mirror.  Please share your results in the comment section below.   If you know someone who could benefit from today's story, please share it.  Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side of the Fence?

Even cows have trouble seeing the green grass on their side of the fence.  And their brains are far less complicated than our own.  So why is it we are constantly comparing ourselves to others?  Why does the grass always look greener on the other side of the fence?  I have a theory about this.  We want what we can't have.  Mick Jagger first sang "Can't get no satisfaction" when I was five years old.  Nearly a half century later the poor guy's still singing the same song.  He's seventy years old.  He's a great-grandfather.  He's been knighted.  And he's still singing, "Can't get no satisfaction."  I know what's missing.  I found where the greenest grass grows.  It's in my own back yard.  The rec center is adjacent to my property.  It has acres and acres of green grass, too.  I prefer to live on my side of the boundary line.  My son can mow our 1/4 acre in minutes.  My neighbor spends hours mowing his green grass.  No thanks.  I'd rather spend my time doing the things I was created to do, like writing daily and spending time with my family.  I'm satisfied.  I don't want to trade places with anybody.  I don't want what I can't have.  I appreciate what I have and I thank God He shows me where my boundaries are.  That's my theory about green grass.  What's yours?  Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends ~ John 15:13

I'm thankful for this day.  Our country is honoring all those who gave their lives for us.  The turning point of WWII was the battle for Stalingrad.  Both sides committed over 1,000,000 men.  After the defeat, Hitler ordered a day of national mourning in Germany.  This day of mourning was not for the men lost but for the shame they brought their country by losing.  Hitler must not have been aware of the Bible quote from John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.  

Although this day is set aside to remember those who died so that we may have our freedom, I would like to thank all the men and women, past, present and future, who wear the uniform.  Thank you for serving our country.  And to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, may you rest in peace and may your loved ones be comforted on your special day.  God bless you.  Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How Do You Rate Your Relationships?

Relationships are a two-way street.  If you're having troubles with yours, maybe it's time to dig deep and find out why.  Don't fret, the problem is fixable.  Let's play the role of an archeologist and examine your past relationships to see if we can find the source of the problem.  Ready?

Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Did you have a lot of friends in your neighborhood when you were growing up?
  2. Do you remember who you socialized with in Kindergarten?
  3. Did you move often?
  4. Did you get along with your siblings?  Your parents?
  5. Did you share your toys?
  6. If you could change one thing about your past relationships, what would it be?
  7. Did you ever gossip?
  8. Did you ever share a secret after you promised you wouldn't?
  9. Did you ever hold a grudge?
  10. On a one to ten scale, how would you rate your relationships from your high school years?
Here's the bonus question:  How do your answers from your past compare to the relationships you have today?  Be honest.  If the majority of your relationships are unhealthy, maybe you need to change the way to interact with others.  Many of your problems can be traced back to patterns you developed in Kindergarten.  Promise yourself today you are going to work on less gossip, less grudge-holding, more sharing and more forgiving.  It's not too late to improve your relationship rating.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Consistency in the Chaos

Have you ever had a day where you woke up and the world around you seemed to be unraveling?  Chaos has no boundaries.  Without a plan to deal with it, you can find yourself in big trouble.  I found a solution that may help you when chaos attacks.  It's called consistency.  Here's how it works:
  1. Expect chaos every day.  Yes, you can plan for it to show up when it's not on your calendar.  This way, you won't be shocked when something goes wrong with your plans.  This helps your mindset.  It keeps your attitude positive because you are mentally prepared for the unexpected.
  2. Remain calm at all times.  People seek stability when chaos strikes.  Leaders appear calm on the outside no matter how many butterflies are fluttering on the inside.
  3. Always have a plan B.  Plan A looks great on paper.  The wise person knows chaos is lurking in the shadows of a perfect plan.  Plan B is the answer.
  4. Maintain a positive attitude in every situation.  This is the one thing you have 100% control over.  A consistent positive attitude trumps chaos every time.  It makes the worst situations bearable.
  5. Set up daily rituals.  These patterns of behavior help you get through the most difficult days.  Focus on your positive habits, especially when everything else is in disorder. 
One of my rituals is leaving for work fifteen minutes early every day.  This is how I deal with unexpected accidents or road closures.  That fifteen minute window in my commute makes a big difference when chaos throws a curve ball.  Now it's your turn.  How do you manage chaos in your life?  Please share your ideas below in the comments section.  Have a great day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

What Defines You?

You are the only person in the world who can fully answer this question.  Others may have an opinion about what defines you, however, they don't know you as well as you know yourself.  They don't know all your inner struggles.  They don't know your true character.  They don't know what your potential is.  They may judge you for your past mistakes but they have no clue how you're going to use your past failures to become a better person.

Take a moment today and answer the question.  You don't have to share your answer with me or anyone else unless you want to.  If you decide to leave a comment, I will be happy to respond within 24 hours.  And if you feel like a bonus follow-up question, here it is:  What are you going to do today that will show others what you're made of?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Small Successes Are Your Kindling

Are you having trouble getting big wins in your life?  Take a look at the champions – the achievers who make everything look so easy.  What is it that separates them from the rest of the pack?  They understand that if you want to light a fire, you have to start with the kindling.  They seek out small successes and build from there.  And if the flames get snuffed out they start over.   They refuse to give up.  Each small success fuels the flames.  Finally, there is a blaze of glory.  The wildfire inspires others to reach new heights.

I'm following my own advice in my personal life.  The debt dragon has been spewing flames at me from his over-size nostrils.  I'm going to slay him.  It's back to the basics.  My plan is to build my own fire using my small successes.  One day he will go up in flames.  It starts with the kindling. 

What area of your life needs a spark today?  Why not find a few twigs and strike a match? Let me know the results.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eliminate Your Dream Busters

Imagine yourself at the end of your life.  You're face-to-face with Jesus.  He asks, "what did you do with all the dreams I gave you?"

"What dreams?"  you answer.

Jesus reminds you of all the dreams you had when you where a kid.  He tells you your dreams were a gift from Him.  One by one, you remember all the times when you told yourself, "I can't do this.  It's impossible."  So you stopped trying.  You gave up.  Or, perhaps you kept going but the people around you told you, "get real, you can't to that.  You're not smart enough, strong enough, creative enough, etc, to do that."  And you listened to them.

Then you face the moment of truth.  Jesus shows you a slide show of your life.  This is the life you are supposed to live.  The one with you living all your dreams.   Guess what?  It's not too late.  You're not to old.  And all you need to do is eliminate your dream busters.  Here they are:
  1. Your negative thoughts.  I'm referring to the self-talk from your brain that keeps telling you, "I can't."  It's impossible to live your dreams if you keep listening to all that negativity.
  2. Negative outside influences.  This may come from people you love.  They may be telling you, "you can't" because they really don't understand what you're made of.  Stand up to them.  Let them know how important your dreams are to you.  If they can't support you in your pursuit of your dreams, it may be time to move on.  A true friend will help you not hinder you.
Your dreams are a gift from your Creator.  They are meant to help you find your way.  When your life on earth is over, Jesus is going to ask you one question, "Did you live your dreams?"  How are you going to answer?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Seeds You Plant

What are you planting in your garden today?  Choose your seeds carefully.  Your harvest depends on the quantity and quality of the seeds you select.  Here's a sample of my favorite seeds:
  • Hope.  No matter what's going on in your life, these are the seeds you can count on to bring in a rich harvest.  Hope can be planted in harsh conditions.  It thrives with little or no water.  
  • Prayer.  It mixes well with hope seeds.  You can plant prayer seeds year round.  Prayers work best when you tend to these seeds at regular intervals.  Some farmers only turn to these seeds in economic downturns.  I find it best to pray in good times and in bad. 
  • Faith.  These seeds have deep roots.  Good things happen when you believe in these seeds.  They are capable of producing miracles.  I count my blessings that the generations who came before me taught me the value of these seeds.  They are more precious than gold.
  • Love.  These seeds are the greatest of all seeds in your garden.  Without love, your garden is empty.  Give these seeds away to anyone who accept them, especially your enemies.  Odds are that your adversaries need these seeds more than anyone else.  Don't expect anyone to thank you for sharing your love.  Love them anyway.  The more love you give, the better the world is.
The farmers in my neighborhood have been working non-stop.  They are 85% complete for this year.  I still have many seeds to plant.   There's always work to do.  A farmer's job is never done.  See you tomorrow.  Don't forget to share what seeds you're planting in your garden today.  Send me an email or leave a comment below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Congratulations to our son, Shane Mulligan

Our youngest son is officially a high school graduate.  We celebrated yesterday with family members from my wife's side of the family.  I fired up the Weber barbecue grill, a parting gift from my dad, and we served burgers and brats to numerous guests, including my wife's aunt Inez, the matriarch of her family who taught school for many years before retirement.  It was one of the best weekends of my life.

I'm thankful for all three of our adult children.  Shane is our youngest.  This weekend he reminded me that each of us on this planet has a destiny.  He is the only member of his graduating class to choose the specific path he is on now.  I'm not at liberty to share his plans until he gives me permission.  All I can say is we are proud parents.  Congratulations, Shane.  May you and all your peers enjoy the next chapter of your lives.  Your world is an open book and it's time for you to fill up the pages.  God bless you and all the graduates from all over the world. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Letter of Hope Inspires a Community

An anonymous person posted a note attached to a shovel for a community to read.  It was left in the front yard of a home destroyed by a wildfire in Southern California.  This note is a reminder we are not alone in our struggles.  There are good people out there who care about those stricken with unbelievable hardship.  Check this out:

We cannot escape the tragedies that arise in our lives. We can search for a reason and ask – why? Maybe we could hold others at fault or imagine what life would be had this not happened, but perhaps what defines our character is not our struggles but how well we meet them and rise up after getting knocked down.

Faith will overcome fears, doubt and insecurities. Sometimes in life we don't recognize how strong we actually are until we are faced with a great tragedy in our life. This calamity we face today will help develop the strength and fortitude we need for tomorrow.

Losing everything we own is sad, but the things we own do not diminish who we are inside. Sometimes the worst situation brings out the best in us and others.

When you put together a jigsaw puzzle made of hundreds of pieces, you put it together one piece at a time. No one can go back and change what has happened, but we can all start today and make a new tomorrow, one shovel at a time, one day at a time.

Do you know someone who could benefit from these kind words?  Please take a moment and pass it along.  Thanks for sharing.  And thank you, GB, you are an angel on earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

You are the architect of your dreams.  The hard part is doing the manual labor necessary to turn your renderings into a finished product.  There are cost overruns.  The permit process gets bogged down by the bureaucrats who don't believe in your vision.  You may ask yourself, "when will I cross the finish line?"  You may be tempted to give up.  If you're like me, you find a way to see past all the setbacks and delays.  You look at history and get your inspiration from the people who came before you, like the Romans who built a great city.  And you realize great things take time.  That's right.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  That job probably took much longer than anyone imagined.

Those who know me as a writer often ask, "when will your novel be done?"  I tell them, "every Friday I'm one chapter closer to completion.  My original deadline was unrealistic.  I didn't account for the times when I had to put the project on hold to deal with some major personal challenges.  But I keep going.  I tell myself,  500 to 1,000 words once a week.  Keep moving forward, one chapter at a time.  You can do it.  This strategy works with anything significant in your life.  Stay focused, my friend.  Yes, you can do it.  Don't forget to leave a comment about your dreams.  Thanks for sharing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Are You Having Fun Yet?

Fun is not something you should defer until a later date.  Odds are if you're not having fun now, you may never have fun.  Ask two people who are in the same place at the same time doing the same task about their day and one may tell you what a drag the day is while the other is having the time of his life.  How can this be?  Perhaps one is concentrating on what is missing while the latter is appreciating what he has.

I will never forget what it was like to live through two California wildfires.  The first fire destroyed our next-door neighbor's home and caused $20,000 in damage to ours.  During the evacuation, I joined a team of volunteers and got the opportunity to serve the firefighters food and drink on the front lines.  It was an amazing experience.  Family members and friends watched us on the news as we drove through the flames carrying truck loads of supplies.  I was standing in the bed of the truck grinning from ear to ear.  The newsman yelled out, "Who are you guys?"  I spurted out a bunch of words, forgetting what our leader, a federal firefighter separated from crew, said to us before we started our mission.  He cautioned, "don't talk to the media."  The cameras rolled.   There was no hiding the flames on the side of the road.  I admit it.  In the middle of all that tragedy I was having fun.  I didn't even know if my house was still standing.  It really didn't matter.  All I cared about was finding the firefighter I met earlier that day so we could give her the peanut butter she craved.  We found her.  We made her day.  And yes, we had fun.  It starts with a decision.  Decide today you are going to have fun, even if you happen to be in the middle of a wildfire, like my neighbors in San Diego.  God be with you.  You have my prayers.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are You Ready to Stop Being the Victim?

The blame game is popular in our culture.  We love to make excuses for everything.  We blame the boss for not being able to see how great we are when someone else gets the promotion.   We blame the economy for the lack of jobs.  It's fun to play the victim.  We want the world to feel our pain.  The only problem with victim status is that we never break out of the cycle.  There's only one way out.  It's called responsibility.  We need to own our mistakes.  We need to stop blaming everyone else for our problems.  Here are some examples of how this works:
  1. Poor physical fitness.  The victim says, "My boss overworks me.  I'm so tired at the end of my long day that I can't work out."  The person who owns this problem says, "It's my fault.  I need to re-arrange my priorities so I make the time to exercise."
  2. Unemployment.  The victim says, "All the good jobs are being shipped oversees."  The accountable person says, "I need to sharpen my skills so I can compete for a better job."
  3. Bad credit.  The victim says, "the banks won't loan me money because they don't understand why I missed a few payments."  The non-victim says, "I made some mistakes managing my money.  I'm going to be pro-active from now on and stop living paycheck to paycheck.  I'm committed to paying my bills on time even if that means taking on a second job or changing my spending habits."
  4. Broken relationships.  The victim says, "It's all his/her fault.  They never do their share."  The responsible one says, "I need to pay more attention to my loved ones.  I need to work on my listening skills.  My family needs more from me and I resolve to be there for them."
  5. Broken promises.  The victim says, "I didn't show because my car broke down.  I wasn't there because something came up at the last minute.  I was late because there was a bad accident and traffic was a mess."  The trustworthy one says, "I always leave early so if something comes up, I can still arrive on time.  The only thing I have to offer is my word and I'm going to do everything I can to always keep my promises."
I remember a friend telling me, "excuses are like ass-holes – everyone has one and they all stink."  Victims make excuses.  Survivors make commitments.  They own their problems.  They refuse to blame anyone or anything for their challenges.  They believe they can win in all circumstances because they know the world doesn't owe them anything and there's no reason to blame anyone but themselves.  How about you?  Please share your comments below.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My First Taste of Morel Mushrooms

My wife served wild morel mushrooms last night for the first time ever.  Now I know why people pay in the neighborhood of $20/pound for this rare delicacy.  Morel mushrooms are amazing.  My tennis buddy found some on a recent hunt and offered me a generous supply.  My wife served them as a side dish with a main course of vegetable lasagne.  I thought I died and went to Heaven.  It was one of my best meals of all times.  Too bad morels are only around for a limited time.  They are certainly worth hunting for.  Thank you, Terry, for sharing the spoils.  I continue to be awed by all that Iowa has to offer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sometimes a Nightmare Interrupts Your Fairy Tale

Why do so many fairy tales have nightmares lurking inside the pages?  The Three Little Pigs dealt with homelessness.  And Snow White suffered a coma.  I believe our best stories are the ones where an antagonist is present to shake things up.  The nightmares in our lives aren't just interruptions, they are our defining moments.  The audience holds their breath while watching us battle the Big Bad Wolf who is trying to foreclose on our home.  Or the man of the house is sitting on a wall when the doctor calls to tell him he has cancer.  Can he be put back together again after the great fall?

Yes, sometimes a nightmare invades your fairy tale life.  You may not be able to control what the evil queen does to you in your story, but you have one thing to fight back with – your attitude.  I believe in happy endings.  Don't worry about the interruptions.  Focus on how you are going to fight back.  Use your positive attitude as a weapon.  Yes, you can put your life back together again.  Humpty Dumpty is fictional.  You are real.  You can get through any situation.  And you can live happily ever after.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Don't Let Your Relationships Run Out of Gas

Imagine that each relationship you have is like a tank of gas.  Every time you stop to fill up your tank you're adding something to your relationship.  Maybe it's a phone call, a visit or an email.    If you want the relationship to be healthy, you need to make sure you're giving more than you're taking.

I know some people who are really good at "hitchhiking."  They are the takers.  They want the free ride.  When it's their turn to drive, they forget to stop for gas.  Their relationships are running on fumes because they never give back.  They're quick to point out why their relationships are so toxic.  It's always the other person's fault.  They are the victim.  Sorry.  I don't pick up hitchhikers.  I don't listen to their griping. 

Take a look at your relationship gas gauge.  When was the last time you filled up your tank?  Keep it full and you will go far.  The more you give, the healthier all your relationships will be.  Just be cautious when you're around people who don't know the rules of the road.  Relationships are meant to be a two-way street.  Stay away from the free loaders.  Keep your tank full.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why God Made Mothers

Mother's Day is special, not only for all the moms, but for those who want to express their love for their mothers.  This is our chance to let our moms, spouses, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins and in-laws know how much we love and cherish them.  This is a day for all of us to recognize just how special the ladies in our lives really are.  This is why God created mothers – to show us a tiny glimpse into Heaven.  Mothers have a way of seeing the good in us, even when we have trouble seeing it in ourselves.  Mothers know how to forgive.  They know how to love unconditionally.  They never stop praying.  They make countless sacrifices.  They inspire us to be better.  I am who I am today because of my loving mother.

I have the perfect answer when a non-believer asks, "Is God real?"  All I need to do is to introduce them to my mother.  And if they ask why, here is my answer..."God made mothers so we can remove any doubt in our minds that there is an all-loving God."

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms in this world.  And to my mother:  Mom, there is a special place reserved in Heaven for you.  I'm thankful for all you do, most especially your constant prayers for your children.  You have God's ear.  He has blessed you abundantly and He has given me a special wife who also knows what love is.  Mom, I do have one favor to ask you.  There are some people close to me who are struggling today because their relationships with their own mothers are broken.  Will you please pray for them today?  Please help them to heal.  May God bless you all the days of your life.  Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Create a No Whining Zone

Are you sick and tired of hearing others whine and complain?  The problem you have is that others are coming to you and dumping their problems on you because you allow them to do this.  This is bad for you and bad for them.  It's bad for you because you are turning your home and/or your work place into a garbage dump and it's bad for others because they aren't learning to solve their own problems when it's so easy to just hand them over to you.  If this sounds familiar, you need help.  You need to create a "no whining zone."  Here's an easy method for getting the word out to all the people who think you're a pushover:

Consider every complaint you hear from the people around you as a hot potato they are tossing at you.  If you keep this in your possession, you will get burned.  You need to toss it back as quickly as it gets tossed to you.  For emphasis, tell them, "hot tater!"  Use some hand gestures that symbolize you are tossing the hot tater back at them.  If they open their mouth and keep up with the whining, repeat, "hot tater," and toss the problem back to them.  They need to learn how the no whining zone works.  They need to stop dumping their problems on you.  Be strong.  This works – but only if you are consistent.  Have a great day.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Lucy! You've Got Some Splaining to Do!"

If Lucille Ball were still around today, "splaining" would be so much easier, thanks to a new product called Adobe Voice.  It's easy to use and it's free.  I can't wait to incorporate Adobe Voice into future projects.  Click here to see what I'm talking about.  And don't forget to stop by the Cyber-bistro for a fresh baked chapter from The Caveman in the Mirror.  The main character is having a follow-up meeting with his psychiatrist today.  Click here to visit my writer's blog and find out what's going on with Thomas.

What to you think about the new Adobe Voice app?  How will you use it?  Please add your comments below.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Overcome Your Trust Issues

When you have trust issues, so do the people around you.  Mistrust is like a contagious disease.  It prevents you from having healthy relationships.  I noticed something shocking when I relocated to the Midwest two years ago.  There were no alarm company signs present in the front yards.  We spent a weekend garage sale hunting for replacement furniture and I found a bedroom set for my son.  "I would like to buy your furniture but I don't have a way to get it home.  I'm new in the neighborhood," I said to the person in charge.

"My truck is parked across the street and the keys are in the ignition.  Just bring it back when you're done unloading," the garage seller told me.  I felt strange driving her truck away.  She didn't ask me for id.  She barely knew me.   I later learned that most people don't even bother to lock their doors or windows.  Why should they?  There isn't any crime in the area.  The law enforcement officials do a great job of watching over the neighborhood.  The residents live their lives without fear.  No fear = high trust.  High fear = low trust.  If you can find a way to minimize your fears, you can overcome your trust issues in your relationships.  Try these ideas:
  1. Learn to forgive others for their past mistakes.  If you don't, they will sense your mistrust and there will always be a wall in your relationships.  
  2. Stop being afraid.  Your own fear is preventing you from having intimate relationships.  Others sense your fear and believe you have something to hide.  Your fear raises the mistrust levels in the people around you.  It's like a danger flag at the beach that warns everyone not to go in the water.  People see your red flag and walk away from you.
  3. Communicate.  Share your feelings.  Let others know what's in your heart.  Be vulnerable.  This will help your loved ones feel safe around you.  It will help you build healthy relationships.
  4. Be consistent.  The best way to build trust is to demonstrate to your loved ones that you can follow the rules you mutually agree on.  This is not a once in a while thing.  This is an everyday thing.  Stay within your defined boundaries.
  5. Understand that trust is a two-way street.  If you want others to trust you, you must learn to trust them.  Trust is like a good underarm deodorant.  When you put it on, you don't smell bad.  People are comfortable being close to you.  And when you fail to use your deodorant, your loved ones keep their distance.
Perhaps the greatest mistake you can make about trust is fearing what someone close to you might do even though they've given you no reason to doubt them.  You end up holding on to them so tight that they suffocate.  This fear will doom your relationships.  Let go of the leash.  Sprinkle some more trust on your relationships and watch them soar.  Don't forget to leave a comment if you have something to add to the conversation.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Defeats are Temporary – Determination is Permanent

Determination is a God-like quality.  And each of us is created in His image.  The challenge is to dig deep and find that quality buried beneath our defeats.  My digging time is higher than most.  The reason for this is because I refuse to leave the playing field no matter how many mistakes I make.  I will keep digging until my last breath.  What am I looking for?  Solutions.  A better way to solve life's problems.  An unstoppable winning attitude that shows the world I am determined.  Are you with me?  If the answer is yes, please join me.  Cut the anchor attached to all your past mistakes and sail away with a new attitude.  The next time someone laughs at you because you failed at a task, tell them, "Defeats are temporary – Determination is permanent."  If they ask you, "Who said that?"  Tell them, "Michael Mulligan."  Send them a link to today's blog story.  And if they ask, "Is that the Mike Mulligan guy with the steam shovel?"  Tell them, "no, this Michael Mulligan is a blogger and he's so determined, he digs with his bare hands until he finds what he's looking for."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's Official: One Quarter of a Million Pageviews

My wife and I were chatting about our goals this morning and I told her, "I'm gonna reach 250,000 pageviews on my blog sometime today."  Then I fired up my computer to write this morning's story.  Minutes later I took the above screen shot.  It's official:  one quarter of a million pageviews!  At current trends, this blog will hit 1,000,000 in less than two years.  When I started blogging, I dreamed of reaching the million mark during my lifetime.  Whatever language you speak, I have this to say – Thank You!

It means so much to me that you take the time to read these stories and share them with your friends.  I'm the man on an island who pens a message, wraps it up, places it in a bottle and casts it into the sea hoping someone will discover it and read it.  There are over 1,700 bottles floating around in cyber-space and it warms my heart knowing they're washing ashore in places as far away as Indonesia.  Thanks to Google Translate, these messages can actually be understood in almost any language.

The next step is to figure out a way for non-english blog readers to interact here in the comments section.  I would love to read your comments and be able to communicate with you in your native language.  Thanks again for stopping by today.  And don't forget to share your goals.  Remember, a dream will only remain a dream until you decide to take action.  Then it becomes a goal.  And when you work on your goals daily, those goals turn into reality.  Thank you for visiting and for helping me make my dreams come true.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Where is Your Spotlight Shining?

When it comes to lighting, it's a great idea to become a turn-around specialist.  What I mean by this is that the less time the spotlight is shining on you and the more you turn it around and shine it on the crowd, the more satisfying and fulfilling your own life becomes.  It also prevents blindness.  You can see the world so much better when the spotlight is shining on others and not in directly into your eyes.

If your having trouble shifting the light, remember this:  you are not the source of the spotlight – only a reflection of the light shining upon you.  Acknowledge the source.  Give the lighting director all the credit.  All the world's a stage.  You are a participant.  Yes, you have many roles.  In my opinion, the best one is supporting actor.  Do your best to help the other actors learn their lines and salute them for their amazing performances.  Give them the spotlight as much as possible.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How to Be Happy in One Step

Happiness is a one-step process.  It's as easy as tying your shoes.  If you're missing out on happiness, today's blog message is for you.  Are you ready?  Repeat after me:  "I am happy."  Yep.  That's it.  You said it.  Your brain heard you.  And now you're happy.  You made a decision.  The world will notice.  Others will ask you, "why are you so happy?"  Go ahead.  Share your secret.  Watch that smile on your happy face multiply. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Why You Need To Stop Grading Your Life on a Curve

Would you rather be the big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a large pond?  This is a trick question.  It implies you're evaluating your life based on what all the other fish are doing.  It means you're grading your life on a curve.  It diminishes your own accomplishments and contributions.  Stop comparing yourself to others and decide today you're going to focus on being you.

Competitive people like to look at charts that measure performance.  They focus on rankings.  The challenge for these people is that no matter how much they accomplish or how well they perform, there is always someone better.  I found peace when I decided to focus my own competitiveness on one target – myself.  Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself, "how can I live up to my potential today?  How can I be better today than I was yesterday?"  This has nothing to do with the people around me.  My personal preference is to swim in a pool with fish who are striving to do better because these individuals inspire me.  Life is much more satisfying when you stop grading it on a curve and simply concentrate on being the best version of you that you can be.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Who is Thomas Morgan?

Thomas Morgan is a figment of my imagination.  I invented him when I needed a fictional character for my latest writing project, The Caveman in the Mirror.  Every Friday at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time, I release a new chapter about Thomas.  If you're interested in meeting Thomas, you can stop by my writer's blog and get to know him.  You're invited to make an appearance in a future chapter.  If you would like to become part of the adventure, just click here and send me an email.  Include the name of your fictional character and a brief description about the role you want to play.  I'll send you an email and let you know when your character will be added.  Sorry.  This is not a paid position.  I don't even serve real coffee at the Cyber-bistro.  What I'm offering you is a chance to make your character world-famous.  Thanks to Google Translate, readers from all over the world are following Thomas in their own native language.  Come join the fun.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Open the Door to Daily Inspiration

Inspired – definition:  of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse.

How many extraordinary days have you lived?  I'm referring to the kind of days where you're "in the zone."  Everything seems magical.  Ask yourself, how can I have more days like these?  I believe the answer is found within the definition of inspired.  It's like plugging in your power chord to an invisible power source not of this world.  When I discovered this external power supply, it changed my life forever.  It turned every day into an extraordinary day.  It's the secret to staying inspired.  And it's free to anyone who asks for it.  Are you ready to flick the switch?  Are you ready to open the door to daily inspiration?

I need to caution you about the source of my inspiration before you give it a try.  Plugging in to the Holy Spirit won't make all your problems go away.  What changes is how you perceive the world around you.  Your senses become heightened.  You see opportunities when the world sees despair.  You gain a bounce in your step.  Others will accuse you of being lucky.  And when you share how you stay inspired, some may even walk out of your life.  They refuse to believe in an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God who will move Heaven and earth to be close to them.  Believe anyway.  Trust your power source.  Stay plugged in, especially on days when you are under attack for what you believe.  Yes, it is possible to stay inspired daily.  Don't ever allow anyone to cut your power chord.  Go ahead.  Open the door.  Take the hinges off so it stays open forever.