Posts Tagged ‘success’
Heard the one about the guy who died during a threesome?
The punch line isn’t funny, unless you enjoy a sucker punch to the great American gut. The wife of the late William Martinez, was not involved in the frolic that lead to her husband’s demise, but while he was out (presumably) enjoying novelty sex, she was on the verge of becoming a multi-millionaire. Sour grapes, or survival of the fittest, Mrs. Martinez, sued the husband’s cardiologist for failing to warn Mr. Martinez to avoid strenuous activity.
The cardiologist who had seen Martinez, ordered a stress-test, but poor Willie died before test day. Even though he was smart enough to seek medical attention for his recurrent chest pains, we are to believe the bum with the bum heart wasn’t smart enough to know he was at risk. The jury awarded a judgment worth three million dollars. Time will tell whether Mrs. Martinez, will ever collect more than ninety-eight cents, after lawyers fees, appeals and all, but even so, while this guy was out having sex with people he wasn’t married too, she won a jackpot prize from the the stupidity lottery.
America, what a country!
Built with rugged individualism, Yankee ingenuity, hard work, vision and resilience, yet, it would seem the land of the free and the brave, is becoming the home of the weak and whiny. Thank God for government programs, because The American Spirit is on disability, and the American Dream is on life support. ( Though I would venture, single payer healthcare will eventually pull the plug on The American Dream, when its costs outweigh its usefulness.)
Younger Americans may believe that “rugged individualism” is Johnny Depp’s quirkiness, or Steven Tyler’s distinctive flair, but there was a time when “rugged individualism” was understood as the ability of individuals to succeed with minimal assistance from the government. Now, Americans believe it is government‘s job to eliminate hardship and risk from our lives. Even the idea of individualism has become peculiarly murky in our society.
There are still those who seek to be unique in a sea of clones, but not even those with tattoos, piercings, and lollipop hair colors stand out, when what was once edgy becomes passé. In a brand-conscious consumerist society, instead of going against the flow, we mimic others. We follow trends, as if being on the front of a trend makes us a courageous leader, instead of a follower. To set ourselves apart, we buy the latest and best homes, autos, electronics and clothes. Sadly, this has made us a people who are defined more by what we display, than what we believe. The number of foreclosures and bankruptcies, indicate it is more than our bank accounts which are empty.
We blame corporations for the high cost of living, and government for high unemployment. Hardly a day passes, we don‘t hear of the crisis in American education. We continue to spend more, but get less. Experts tell us that without the latest computer technologies, our children won’t be able to compete in the modern world. By this logic, our kids should already be smarter than Stephen Hawking, because almost every kid has a cell phone with computing power greater than those of the computers used to guide the Apollo missions. A world of information, countless apps, and lighting fast computer power at their fingertips, yet the only thing we have to show for it, is the development of a more efficient truncated English, mastery of angry bird warfare and countless instagram photos.
It would seem that the artificial intelligence that powers computers has replaced common sense, and “smart” phones have replaced Yankee Ingenuity (the once necessary resourcefulness of early Americans, who had to improvise to solve problems with limited resources). As primitive as their lives were, they now seem light-years ahead of us. Our modern “educated” America, has become so dumb and/or greedy, as to require even the most common items to be labeled as if they were new and dangerous inventions. The wrapper on my fast-food “Hot Apple Pie” and the accompanying coffee cup both warn “contents may be hot”, which is sort of what I’d expected. Used to be we didn’t need instructions on bars of soap, NOR warnings not to eat them. We were smart enough we didn’t need boldface type to tell us not to use a toaster in the bathtub, and even bad parents were smart enough not to be confused as to whether or not a plastic bag was a toy.
Of course, should you knowingly or unknowingly be stupid, there is a remedy. You won’t even need to be smart enough to read a phone book to get in touch with a lawyer who is willing to come to your aid. Just lay on your couch watching TV, and eventually, some helpful personal injury attorney’s number will be imprinted in your brain. Dial the number and he or she will assure you, stupidity can be treated with a big green Band-Aid–AKA MONEY.
So much for hard work, because lucrative lawsuits are now viewed by many as an alternative to working. Our courtrooms are clogged with greedy, groundless lawsuits and opportunistic lawyers with questionable ethics. The courts, once established to uphold justice, are used by many (often the least deserving) to make money. The first Americans, who came here because they didn’t want to be victims, have been replaced by Americans who do.
The hands-down award-winning poster child for the emerging victim class is Stanley Thornton Jr., who collects Social Security disability benefits for a condition known as paraphilic infantilism. For those who have yet to figure out how to make a million in a courtroom, this term translates to “grown-up who lives his life as a baby”– complete with diapers and a nanny. His condition has a name, but it is also fairly representative a large segment of society which simply refuses to grow-up.
We are all victims. As Peter McWilliams said, the definition of a victim is “a person to whom life happens.”
At some point we’re supposed to get up and get on with our lives. We may be victims at times, but if we choose not to move forward, then we become volunteers.
So much for American resilience, because we have been groomed to expect the government to lick our wounds, apologize when we’re offended, meet our needs and solve our problems.
There was a time when those who were forced to rely on government assistance were embarrassed, at not being able to provide for themselves. Now, many are angry that the government doesn’t have more to give. Gone are the poor houses, soup kitchens and relief societies–because the government has made poverty a business, in which nobody profits. The shame once associated with poverty, has been replaced by a sense of entitlement.
The incentive to work hard has been diminished for those at the bottom and the top. The poor no longer need to work, because the government will send checks to them for staying home. The middle and upper classes, are punished for working, because the government takes more and more from them. Those who could take care of themselves, wonder why they would. Those who do take care of themselves, wonder why they should.
Our country was a Super-Power, leading the world in economics, business and innovation. Even those who didn’t go to college were smart enough to make something of their lives, Sadly, now children of middle & upper middle class families, are occupying Wall Street, campaigning against everything that feels unfair. Once, we the people aspired to success, now our people have contempt for it. So much for progress, the only thing we’ve produced is a nation of whiners, takers and ninnies.
Only half a century ago, a Democratic president with a vision, admonished us “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” That country and its vision changed. Perhaps it is time to shorten the inscription on The Statue of Liberty from “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” to simply “Give me.”
When I try to figure out what to write about next, I aspire to writing something readable, more importantly, I strive to write things worth the time of those who seek out this site, which is why, today, I’ve decided to share the single-most effective way to improve relationships and do almost anything better. This may not be the secret to life, the universe and everything, but it’s close.
Simple. That’s all there is to it.
Got it now?
Your grade school teachers probably told you to pay attention, but this practice is even more important after the diploma days. Every aspect of your life will be easier, if you simply pay attention.
Many people sleepwalk through life, oblivious to what’s going on around them. With electronics and media to provide constant distractions, we have become super-prone to boredom, making it easier than ever to ignore the ordinary, but important things, like the people we live with.
Married folks stop paying attention to each other, and are then surprised when the relationship fails. Parents stop paying attention to their kids, and wonder why their kid’s peers leverage more influence. We find ourselves asking what’s missing from our lives, because we forget what’s really important. Whether you seek to improve relationships, advance in your career or just live a better life, paying attention is the all-purpose, most effective way to do anything better.
If you pay attention to people who are smarter than you, you’ll enjoy tuition-free, continuing education. If you pay attention to those who aren’t as smart as you, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, without the trouble of making them yourself.
Pay attention to clocks and you’ll be less likely to be late. Pay attention to the way you spend your time, and you’ll be able to accomplish more. Pay attention today to where you’d like to be tomorrow. and it’s more likely you’ll find your way there.
Pay attention to your stuff and it will last longer. Whether it be investigating a small engine noise, before it becomes an expensive repair, or being mindful of where you take off your sunglasses, paying attention to the things you use each day, will save you time and money.
Pay attention to where you spend your money, and you’ll find it easier to manage.
Pay attention to what you eat and you’ll be one step closer to losing weight or becoming healthier.
Pay attention to your appearance and you’ll not only feel better about yourself, but others will see you in a more favorable way.
Pay attention to your surroundings, and you will be less likely to get lost. Pay attention when you’re in unfamiliar places, and you’ll be less likely to be a victim of a crime.
Pay attention to those above you and not only will you know how to please them, but you’ll also learn how they got where they are. Pay attention to those below you and you’ll learn everyone has value.
Pay attention to the likes and dislikes of your loved ones, and you’ll never be at a loss for how to make them smile, you’ll never be at a loss for what to buy them when it’s gift-giving time.
Pay attention to the negative thoughts echoing in your head, and you’ll realize how they waste and spoil your energy.
Pay attention to the differences between what people say and what they do. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, but sometimes actions are only what people want you to see.
Pay attention to what your kids do, what they say, and who they hang out with. Then, when they tell you you don’t know them, you’ll be able to show them you do.
Pay attention to the people around you, because when you understand them, they’ll be easier to love.
Pay attention to the people around you, you’ll find them eagerly paying attention too you.
No matter where it came from, sometime after college where your degree came from may be largely irrelevant, and no matter what it cost, there may be times it holds no value. Whenever someone asks me where I was educated, I’d like to say boiler rooms, bars, cheap motels, jails*, and the inner city. Instead, I politely name the university I attended.
Recently, I had a conversation with a medical specialist. We were discussing the merits of old doctors vs. new doctors. On the one hand is the young doctor freshly educated, well-versed in the newest techniques and the latest findings, everything he’s learned is still at the front of his brain. On the other hand is the older practitioner, who has probably forgotten many of the things he’s learned, and may still be employing practices now considered obsolete, but his arsenal of tools includes the years of experience which add up to more than all he learned in med school. He knows much more than the most competent of his younger colleagues.
The very best doctors I’ve known fall mostly in that first category, but those who fall between newly hired and soon retired often represent the best of both worlds, because expertise and knowledge are gained two ways. Not just in fields like medicine, but in all aspects of life there are two methods by which we are educated:
A. Learn stuff
B. Do stuff
As I watch what’s happening in our country, I worry about education, our economy and the future. I also fear for those who would occupy Main Street, as one day they will be the middle-aged and/or the middle class. Many of these young college-educated visionaries are frustrated over not being able to find good jobs. I understand their frustrations, because I’ve been there. After college, I often found the only jobs available, were those for which I was over-qualified and/or underpaid. At those times, the value of a paycheck, always trumped the value of a college degree.
As a result, my own job history is one that doesn’t reflect my skills or aspirations. In fact, based on my resume, it’s a wonder anyone would hire me. Over the years, I’ve worked here and there, doing this or that. I took some jobs because they were available when nothing else was. I’ve done all kinds of things, from cleaning toilets to telemarketing, from working in pubs to public radio, from being a producer of illustrations to being the shop-girl who framed them. From offices to strip malls to shipyards, I’ve worked in places ranging from the gritty inner city and the hipper Silicon Valley.
I was under-qualified for some of the positions I’ve held, but over-qualified for most of them. Nevertheless, I learned more about being a competitive, as a waitress, as I did in college. I learned more about people through involvement with charities, than a four-year degree in sociology or psychology than a degree would have taught me. I learned more about business by watching the successes and failures of others, than Management 101 could have taught me. Through individuals and experiences, I have gained an unconventional, but extensive education.
The occupiers are convinced they have no future, unless they can make the rest of us atone for the mistakes they believe we’ve made. Most of them are too young to remember, when some of those who now occupy the jobs on
Wall Street, occupied Woodstock. I too was once like them, full of ideas about what my future would look like. My vision didn’t include moving into California during a dismal recession or ending up in towns with very few employment opportunities.
If only those of us who remember what it was like to be inexperienced and full of untested ideas, would join their encampments. We could stand on milk crates and share the things we’ve learned, but there would be no point. They wouldn’t listen, because they believe everything they need to know they learned at university. Many of of them have yet to realize the most valuable education is gained outside the classroom. If they really want to do something to change things, they need to get out and DO the things that will change things–at which time they will know the difference between the right to a job and the right to succeed. Though the ideas taught in a classroom are important, it is only when those ideas are tested that we become educated.
*I have never been in jail, but I have spent time in jails with those who were.
Last week, I shared how I was inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and into the batting cages. Here is the rest of the story.
I was grown-up before I saw all my grade school report cards en masse. Every teacher commented that I was “prim”, or something like that. Their remarks suggested I was afraid to “get dirty” or avoided “playing“. Anybody who knew me then, or knows me now, will tell you “prim” isn’t an adjective to describe me. As for playing & getting dirty, they’re specialties of mine.
So why those comments? One word: Kickball.
The first time I was confronted by that rolling red ball, I tried to kick it, but it rolled under my leg, as I missed. I don’t remember the second or third time, but I began to fear the kickball and every other recess game.
I wasn’t prim, I was terrified. I didn’t want to fail, so I sought activities that came naturally, art, music, drama–anything that didn’t require a test of body mechanics.
In junior high and high school, a certain amount of sport participation is required, and I found a couple of things I did well–like hurdles & high jump, but mostly it was more of the same. My junior year in high school, some of my best girlfriends played Jayvee basketball. I had fun watching them, but not as much fun as they had.
Freshman year at college, some dorm pals needed a player for their football team. Mazzarelli (aka The Mad Italian), convinced me to play. I didn’t really understand the game, but they explained “first and ten”, and told me what to do. They laughed at me, nicknamed me “Limbs” and were grateful for my blundering contribution. I was part of a team, and we had a blast.
That’s it, the complete dossier of my sports experience. I did a great job keeping space between me and all things athletic. I never allowed myself the chance to fail, and in that, I never allowed myself the chance to succeed.
Failure doesn’t scare me anymore. Despite plenty of failures & mistakes, I have very few regrets, but I still regret that Jayvee basketball team. I should have played. It was a long time ago, but I still wish I had. I’ve told Embee, CeeCee, MarMart and Little Fox, I wish I’d tried. It’s my only fond memory of them, I’m not in.
That was my then.
This was my “now”.
I’d phoned the batting cages to ask when they were slowest, and was informed that weekends are always packed. Dang, I was hoping for as few witnesses as possible, but crowd or no crowd, I was committed.
Threw on the most athletic clothes I own, yoga pants. I haven’t had athletic footwear since the early ‘90’s, but I had to put something on my feet. I have cute boat shoes, sporty flip-flops, shoes for camping, shoes for snow, high heels, and Crocs. I’m most comfortable in sandals, so I grabbed my favorite Ralph Lauren flips, and a pair of Crocs just in case.
Despite having spent plenty, to keep my kids in stuff like batting gloves, bats and helmets, they were no help outfitting me. Consequently, upon arrival at The Bullpen Baseball Academy, I was relying on the owner Jay Sundahl to equip me. I presented myself to the always-enthusiastic proprietor, and explained I’d never done anything like this before. He was clearly amused, but also kind and helpful. In a few minutes, I was stepping into the number one cage, holding a bat and wearing a Bullpen logo helmet.
Jay wanted me to succeed, so he instructed the guy manning the pitching machine to feed me some slow ones. I stood there waiting. The first pitches were breaking too low. I realized the impossibility of hitting them and shouted to the man behind the mechanism, “It’s too slow” A slight tweak, and the balls started breaking closer to home. Perfect.
I wasn’t afraid. I stepped up to the plate, and recalling Missy Watson’s advice, I took a few deep breaths. I tried to concentrate on keeping my eye on the ball and following through.
When I’d imagined this moment, I was making contact, but that’s not exactly how it happened. The first ten pitches taunted me. I made contact with a couple, but barely. I told myself I was sure I could do this. (At that point, I wasn’t sure–certainly not as sure as I’d been 15 minutes earlier. ) As the third set of balls began to launch, I was ready.
Over the next few minutes, my whiff rate was going down; my contact ratio up. It was a rush. I was hitting them and was beginning to “get it”. Laughing at a couple of foul tips which went over my head and behind me, I started to get a feel for swinging too late. Hitting solid but not well, I began to know where I needed to stand to have the ball find the sweet spot. I shouted back to Jay, “This is a blast!”
Then it happened. I hit a couple that were good . . then a couple more.
In my head, I heard Missy Watson’s advice to “swing away”. I also heard that “thwack “sound, with one big difference. This time that sound was coming off my bat. Hey, that would have been a hard-to-stop grounder. Wow, that one would have run right down the alley between first and second. They weren’t all great, they didn’t have to be. They were good enough to make me feel amazing.
Is this how it feels to be Missy Watson? I doubt it. She’s been doing this so long, she probably doesn’t think twice about solid base hits.
I hit until I was afraid I might hurt myself. I took a short break, then I hit some more. At the end of an hour, I was transformed.
I thanked Jay for the best time I’d had in years. Always a coach, he was complimentary to this rookie. I tried to pay him for my time in the cage, but with an amused smile he announced it “on the house“.
It was a learning experience.
- I learned, no matter how sporty, flip-flops won’t pass as athletic footwear. Crocs might, but only because they have closed toes.
- I learned the necessity of batting gloves; and that $14.99 spent on them is money well-spent.
- The most important thing I learned is I could have been, the thing I thought I wasn’t.
That hour changed my life.
Now, I know I can and will do things I never dreamed possible. For my entire adult life, I’ve wondered “what if “–what if anyone had encouraged me to play sports. That hour, answered my question. Would I have ever have been a girl-jock on par with Missy Watson? Probably not, but with training, I could have been good enough to play on her team.
Bullpen Baseball Academy, I’ll be back!
Deb’s Note: Big thanks to my friends for their encouragement, to Jay Sundahl for not laughing, and to M. Watson for inspiring me.