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Monday, June 27, 2005
Watch Your Thoughts!
"Watch your thoughts;
They become your words.

Watch your words;
They become your actions;

Watch your actions;
They become your habits.

Watch your habits;
They become your character.

Watch your character;
For it will become your destiny."
- Hillel

You could set a clock by and bet the farm on my morning trek. I walk (I guess it qualifies as a walk) each morning with absolute certitude from my bed to the coffee maker. If it's anywhere around 6:00 am, you can count on the morning sonata - shuffling of the houseshoes, humming of the brew, chiming of the spoons, clinking as the creamer is stirred. You wouldn't lose your farm.

There's only one thing I can think of that's more of a sure bet than Morning + Joi = Coffee. That would be Thought + Action = Destiny.

Think of our heroine, Harriet Tubman (see post titled the same). She had to FIRST entertain the grand thought before she could act upon it. Hundreds of precious people were very fortunate that her thoughts weren't defined by self-pity, hatred or butt-face-ugly bitterness. They were defined, rather, by determination, nobility and purposefulness.

What are your thoughts defined by? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? :o Okay, after that, what do you spend most of your time thinking about? These thoughts are your steps. Just as my little steps get me to my goal (CAFFIENE!) each morning, your thoughts serve as your steps. Are they carrying you toward your goal or away from it?

If your thoughts are positive and productive, you're on your way. If they're negative and defeatist, they're carrying you in the opposite direction. With each subsequent thought, you are either moving closer to or further from your goal(s).

Start thinking of each and every thought as a step. Remember, they go together to make your walk. For the love of Java, don't creep along and DO NOT walk backwards - walk forwardly with a purpose. To borrow a line from a country song, I hope you dance!
We're about to dance on a different dance floor.
This blog will soon have a new location - We'll give the
link later, when we're ready for company!
The Mental Fitness Center
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Harriet Tubman
"(I) never lost a single passenger." - Harriet Tubman

We all have personal heroes and heroines in our lives - people outside our circle of family, friends or acquaintances. People we've never met, but somehow their life speaks to us on some level. I have quite a few, myself. My biggest "hero" is Harriet Tubman. With all due (and there is plenty due) respect to my other personal non-Biblical (too many Biblical inspirations to mention!) heroes: Mr. Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Mr. Reagan, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther - Lady Tubman has always come first. I hope that the life of this special lady, a "friend" of mine since I was 7, inspires you.

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman suffered more abuse and endured more humiliation and heartache than a cat should ever have to - let alone a human being. While only a teenager, she stood in front of another slave to protect him from an angry overseer. The overseer, being the fine man he was, threw a 2 pound weight at the tiny teenaged girl, striking her in the head. It was an injury that affected her all of her life, but more importantly it was an act of heroism that went on to define her life.

With brains and bravery (What a combination!), Harriet managed to escape and find freedom and work up north. Now this is where this lady separates herself from the rest of us, she didn't just settle in and forget where she came from. She returned to the south and helped more slaves to freedom! She risked her life to save the lives of others. She didn't just make one such trip, either - she made 19 until her health wouldn't permit her to go any more. 19 times she risked what would have been a TERRIBLE death - I can't even imagine what they would have done to her had she been caught.

She was prepared for her charges who's bravery didn't match her own, too. She packed a gun, so if any (along the way) started to panic and put them ALL at risk - she'd pull out the gun and tell them, "You'll be free or die." She would later tell Frederick Douglass about her "Underground Railroad" trips, and how she "never lost a single passenger." Over 300 human lives were freed and saved because of this remarkably brave and compassionate woman.

She even served the Union during the Civil War as a cook, nurse, and even a spy! Now we know why the right side won.

I think there are some things we can take away from the life of the female "Moses".

First of all, we can endure a heck of a lot more than we think we can! Not only endure, but use our battles the same way our muscles use weights. We can strengthen ourselves by the burdens we carry.

Second of all, a strong case can be made for a life being a waste that hasn't touched other lives. If we serve ourselves only, what real purpose do we serve?

Third, there'll always be others throwing things at us. Hopefully not 2 pound weights, but potentially painful nonetheless. We can either get out of the way or get back up after contact. Staying down isn't even an option.

Last of all, there was a moment when Lady Moses decided that she'd risk her own life for others. (Personally I think she knew it before she left the first time. She just wanted to use herself as a target before endangering anyone else.) She made up her mind, then ACTED. A mind with a purpose is just as effective as a duck with lips if it doesn't do something.

Harriet Tubman didn't sit around feeling sorry for the hell she'd been through. She was too busy freeing others from their own hell!

A new article: "Here's to Your (Brain's) Health" has been added to The Mental Fitness Center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The Life that Fits...
Ever put on a pair of jeans that were so freakin' tight you felt like you couldn't breath let alone undertake motion? The type where getting them up over the nether regions involved sUCKing in and floor dancing. (Not that I know about this sort of thing first hand. I've, er, seen people on tv do it.)

How about clothes that are too big on you? Pants that you have to keep pulling up or a big top that you have to keep tucking in? Sure, you can at least breath, but it's nowhere near comfortable.

Now think of your favorite pair of jeans. You put them on and they seem to know every part of your body - they don't restrict your movement, they forgive your weaknesses, they give you good butt. Darned important, that.

You put them on and life's instantly better. They're not too this or too that - they're you.

My family, originally from Kentucky, has lived in the midwest (Kansas, Iowa), in the north (Indiana, Illinois), in the south (Kentucky) and on an island in the Gulf of Mexico (Pensacola Beach, Florida). We've done Wichita, Pensacola, Chicago, Louisville, and Minneapolis as well as Webster City, Mulvane, Derby, Earlington and Washington (Indiana). We have had more fun and in more places than I could've ever imagined. But whenever we return to Kentucky - which I've found that we always do - something strikes me immediately. "This fits."

While we were living on the island, it became obvious that we'd soon have to move. Family illnesses back home coupled with a job offer Michael got in Owensboro spelled it out for me in the white sugar sand - Adios, paradise! I wasn't quite myself for the final two months there. I was so depressed and sad, knowing we were about to drive over the bridge for the final time. I had trouble even making conversation for fear of choking up mid sentence. I've always been a very upbeat, positive person, so I didn't recognize (or care for!) the sad person I kept running into in the mirror. I had just fallen so in love with the ocean and everything near it.

Anyway, fast forward months into the future. We're back in the land of the green: Trees, hills, robins, hummingbirds, horses and more horses, and people sitting on front porches waving at passers-by...no one knows a stranger here! The motto in this part of the world is, "Strangers are only friends you've yet to meet." Everyone wants to be your friend, everyone wants to talk, nearly everyone has a smile for you - and a hug if you'll let them.

Instead of pelicans and gulls, we have robins, blue jays, cardinals and hummingbirds. Instead of palm trees, there's every other variety known to man. You won't see dolphins but you can't miss the horses, deer, rabbits and squirrels. Everyplace is it's own paradise. I had misplaced that information somewhere in the seas. I found it again in the trees.

One afternoon, about 4 months P.I.(Post Island) while driving through my hometown Madisonville Kentucky - I thought "This fits." I could see the writing on the side of a hunter green hill, "Welcome Home!"

I got to thinking about this recently. As they'd say around here, I got to studying on it. How often do we try to fit into something in life that isn't our size? It's as silly as floundering on the floor trying to get size 8s up over a size 14 butt. Why would we choose to RESTRICT and BIND ourselves or our lives?
Life's way too big and far too grand for restaints.

How often do we wallow in something that's too much for us to handle - pulling at this, tugging at that. We get so busy trying to FIT IN that we wear ourselves out and fail to enjoy life.

Plain and simple. We have to find the place, the occupation, the lifestyle, the LIFE that fits us. If we do it any differently, we're just wearing someone else's life.

The Mental Fitness Center
Monday, June 20, 2005
Start Where You Stand
There was once a man who had been in a penitentiary but somehow summoned the courage to apply for a job with Henry Ford. He began to tell his story to Mr. Ford, about what he had done, when Mr. Ford stopped him. "Never mind.", he said, "I don't care about the past. Start where you stand!"

"Start where you stand and never mind the past,
The past won't help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last
Why, that's enough, you're done with it, you're through;

This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned,
Don't give the vanished days a backward look,
Start where you stand.

The world won't care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success,
The future is your time, and time is fleet
And there is much of work and strain and stress;
Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand,
The future is for him who does and dares,
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not halt, old triumphs aid,
Today's the thing, tomorrow soon will be;
Get in the fight and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history;
What has been, has been; yesterday is dead
And by it you are neither blessed nor banned,
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead,
Start where you stand."

-Berton Braley

"The future is for him who does and dares." - Great quote.

I'm convinced that the main reason most of us don't climb higher on life's ladder is simply because we get in our own way. I don't think anyone or anything is to blame for our misfortunes nearly as much as we are ourselves.

We just keep coming up with new ways to get in our own way!!!

One of the surest ways to rob ourselves of upward mobility is to get bogged down by the past. Ever seen a kid fall off of a bike? 9 times out of 10, he just gets back on and pedals off. We adults are far too clever for that. We'd pause, reflect, relive, talk about it, analyze it, sell the bike, etc. When I was 24, one of my daughters and I were in a really bad car wreck. A twit sped through a stop sign, hit us, spun us, knocked us unconscious, totaled our car, and left us in pretty bad shape. It was about 5 months before I could bring myself to even try to drive another car. It was as though something shut down in my brain. My hands literally would shake at the thought of driving. I finally MADE myself get behind a wheel and take off. Each time after that got easier, but I made it just about as tough as I possibly could!

We have to leave what's behind us behind us. If we failed yesterday, it doesn't mean we'll fail tomorrow. In all actuality, it means that our chances of success are even greater. We already have one lesson under our belt!

UPDATES to The Mental Fitness Center:
We added a new article - "Bingo, Good For the Mind"

A newsfeed has also been added to the index.


Saturday, June 18, 2005
Father's Day Week-end!
I wanted to do a post in honor of the two most important men in my life.

"What a dreadful thing it must be to have a dull father. - Mary Mapes Dodge"

My father is no longer living on this earth, not physically anyway. He lives, within me, however, so he most definitely still lives. I got his weird humor and the ability to find a reason to laugh just about anywhere, his love of gardening and flowers, his passion for cooking, his Spaghetti Western and "Gunsmoke" fetish, and his obsession with UK Basketball. Some of my best memories are of us watching Festus and Miss Kitty every week night (10:30-11:30). He can also be found in my daughters - especially the youngest, Steph. Britt has the love of cooking and the humor and Em bleeds UK blue and could make a lawyer laugh, but Steph nails all of the categories.

I miss my dad terribly - always, but especially around Father's Day and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was to him what Christmas is to small children. I think it was the combination of family (our family presented, and presents, one million reasons to laugh, which is what we loved most!!! Most of the characters don't even TRY to be funny, they just are - or were. Okay, some of our best laughs were malicious, I admit it). Add football and food to the family - what a trio! Make no mistake about it, he's still there every Thanksgiving. He's also there when UK basketball is on, or when I try out a new recipe, or when I plant flowers. Every year, in addition to my beloved Gladiolas, tulips, daffodils, petunias, begonias, herbs, salvia, tomatoes, etc...I always plant marigolds in his honor. NOT because he loved them, or even liked them. He hated marigolds! Hated their smell, looks, everything. He would always give me a hard way to go when I'd buy them - playfully of course. So, I get them every year. I can just see his nose scrunch up and his eyes roll. One day I'll stand before Jesus and account for my sins, and just as surely I'll one day stand beside my dad and hear about those marigolds!

The way my dad lit up my past, I have a husband that lights up my present and future. I married a boy with a lot of the same traits my dad had. Michael's a very good cook, too, he's just content to let me do it. (Which is fine by me. Dude's messy.) He couldn't differentiate between a dhalia and an iris, but he enjoys their presence. He's into westerns and even more into laughter. He brought a funny family into the marriage too!

Both guys had something else in common. Whenever anything happened when my dad was still with me, one of my first thoughts was, "I can't wait to hear what dad has to say about this!" I always knew his TAKE would be priceless. Now the same thing holds water with Michael. He has such a unique outlook on life and can find a reason to laugh just about anywhere.

One of the best things about each fellow was the way they made me feel about me. One of the best compliments I've ever gotten in my life was once as a teenager, my dad told me about a dinner he and my mom had had with several other couples. The other couples were talking about their teens - how they were into this, into that, had said this or said that, etc. Daddy said he couldn't keep his end of the conversation up because I never did anything wrong. The pride in his voice made it hard to get to sleep that night.

Michael makes me feel like I can do anything in the world. I most definitely can't, but he makes me feel that way. That's what love should be about - building one up, giving them confidence. Sometimes I've felt like he's tough on our girls, and even on me (by expecting so much out of us) - but he has made us strong. Strength is never acquired by sitting around waiting for it. Expectations build character, character builds strength and strength builds a life.

"One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters." - George Herbert

To me, one of the most amazing things about my husband is that he never had a father growing up (His dad died in an automobile accident when he was a baby.). So he doesn't have any experiences to draw upon. When it comes to being a father,like everything else in his life, he has lived by gut instincts, wit, and heart-felt convictions. He has taught himself everything he knows - and has always said that this way if anything goes wrong he has no one to blame but himself. Amazingly, very very little ever does go wrong. Well, he smashed a grand piano one time, but I think that was just to prove he was human. It was a pretty piano, too.

If you have a father who is still living, I encourage you to hug every minute - the bear hug style. Tell your fathers and/or husbands what they mean to you. Never take a phone call or visit for granted. Let them hear the smile in your voice. You never, ever know when the world as you know it will cease to exist.

The Mental Fitness Center
Get Cooking!
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Building Blocks
"Change A Habit - Change Your Life."

I haven't hit my quota for eccentric suggestions today, so I'm going to pad my allotment here and now. (scared yet?)

Let's think of lives in terms of buildings. My life, your life, your spouse's life, your son's life, your friend's life, etc. All buildings. (gaining on that quota at an alarming rate)

The formation of one's character ought to be everyone's chief aim. - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Any building is only as strong as it's foundation. The foundation is what will determine how steady the building is and keep it from moving when hard winds blow; everything is built from the foundation up. The foundation lays the groundwork for everything else, and without a strong one, nothing else will amount to anything. Same with lives.

"I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday." - Abraham Lincoln


The framework of a building is "the support used as the basis for something being constructed." That's what, it seems to me, our education would be. The more time and effort we put into learning, the stronger our framework.

When we're constructing our life (which we do daily whether we're 9 or 90), we need a strong base because our knowledge is what makes us or breaks us! A lot of very (outwardly) magnificent buildings have been reduced to ruins because their framework didn't get the same amount of attention as their exterior. Same with lives.

"A single bad habit will mar an otherwise faultless character, as an ink-drop soileth the pure white page." Hosea Ballou


In addition to web publishing, my husband works in the field of architecture and construction. He is forever butting heads with block manufacturers. There are so many specs they have to meet - after all, their importance can't be stressed enough! In order to construct the most MAGNIFICENT building possible, the blocks must each be as close to perfection as possible. When there are flaws, someone gets to talk to....no, scratch that....listen to an irate Michael (the husband) on the other end of the phone.

We should scrutinize our blocks (habits) even more closely. They're going together to make our life, for screaming out loud! If any of our habit blocks have blemishes on them, we need to remove them and replace them with those that will help build the MAGNIFICENT life we're attempting to build. Change a habit, change your life.

Take a good long look at your life today. How's your foundation? Over time has it "settled"? If there are things you once would not have done that you do now, you are settling. You're compromising your character and if you keep it up, pretty soon you won't even recognize it.

How's your framework? Are there areas that could be stronger? Strenghten them! Challenge yourself mentally - grow and stretch your boundaries.

How are your blocks? If, upon close examination, you realize there are blemished blocks - ditch them, they're making your life ugly. Michael has driven me by lots of buildings, some gorgeous, some not. I remember a particular one in Louisville, Ky. From one side, it looked spectacular - the colors, the details, everything was awesome. I couldn't understand his dispositon. Then when we turned the corner, there it was. A blemished (I think it was limestone) block. All the rest of the building was for naught. It's beauty was in vain - all eyes would forever be on the ugliness of the one block.

You're the architect of your own life - create a masterpiece!

We added three new articles to The Mental Fitness Center:

5 Ways to Fight Pessimism
Kickstart Your Dream
Tricks to Help You Get Organized


BTW, a few posts back, Michael had a post about Standing for Something. I was reading earlier about Margaret Thatcher (fascinating woman) and she had a great quote that made me think about that post:

"Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by traffic from both sides."

Madame Thatcher. Now there's a well-built life.

Dream Prophesy
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Tuesday Buffet!
Okay. Bear with me. I may seem a little bit er·rat·ic (adj.) -

1. Having no fixed or regular course; wandering.

2. Lacking consistency, regularity, or uniformity: an erratic heartbeat.

3. Deviating from the customary course in conduct or opinion; eccentric: erratic behavior.

The reason is I am a little erratic. I just mask it from time to time - I dress it up and call it busy. Sometimes I even fool myself! All true, that.

Anyway, you've been warned. This post will be all over the place - so hang on.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

First of all:

We've recently put up three other blogs. Below are the links, along with why you might want to check them out.

Get Cooking! - Cooking is one of my greatest loves in my world. A perfect day for me is when I'm in the kitchen, fixing something special for my family, trying out a new somethingoranother I've come up with or fixing up an old family fave (like Spinach Artichoke Dip, Buttermilk Fried Chicken or Potato Casserole).

I also love visiting different restaurants - especially locally-owned charmers. Make no mistake about it, some of the best food and ambiance can be found in these spots.

Dream Prophesy Blog - Something else I'm totally into is dreamology. I've been a bonafide dreamologist for nearly 4 years now. The entire arena is fascinating and colorful - almost as colorful as the people you come across. (Some of the e-mails I've received have put Dean Koontz to shame. Love these people!)

All Handhelds Blog - Wow, this one has all of one post! < /sarcasm > I've been waiting for Michael aka The Husband to blog it, he's waiting for me. What terrible, terrible blog parents we are to this one. It was a premie, born months too early.

#1 aka Emily has a new blog up, too: Strike a Chord - a music blog. Can't wait to see where she takes it. She's an amazing gal. I'm a fan.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here's something one of my daughters (#1, again) came across in her e-mail that we both copied down. We've both re-read it time and time agian. It's cute. It's true.

I've Learned:

* That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

* That money doesn't buy class.

* That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular. (Driving down the road with a car full of loved ones, singing along with Keith Urban on the radio, your arm out the window, hair blowing madly. That's life.)

* That the Lord didn't do it all in one day...what makes me think I can?

* That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

* That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

* That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

* That love, not time, heals all wounds.

* That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

* That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

* That life is tough, but I'm tougher. - (Amen!)

* That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

* That I wish I could have told those I cared about that I love them one more time before they passed away.

* That I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

* That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

* That the less time I have to work with, the more I get done.

* That it is best to give advice in only two circumstances: when it is requested, and when it is life-threatening.

I included the last one mainly because it's a controversial one, controversial even in my own mind!! About 6 years ago an aunt sort of pointed out to me that I needed to lose weight. I certainly hadn't requested the advice!!!! BUT, it got my attention and I immediately started buying Prevention magazine, counting calories, switched from Dr. Pepper to Diet Dr. Pepper, started using artifical sweetener in my coffee, began walking, etc. UNREQUESTED advice saw me go from a size 18 to a 10 in a matter of months. (On a taller person, a size 18 wouldn't be so bad, but on my 5'3" frame...well, that's another story.) I began to be able to do things I'd been unable to do, wear things I'd only dreamed of wearing, etc. I'd never had extra weight as a teen - then my 3 beautiful daughters came and I had "baby fat" that I had become accustomed to. UNTIL precious UNREQUESTED advice got my attention. Everytime we take long walks, ride bikes, swim, do yoga, jog or play tennis now I am unbelievably thankful for what at the time was not something I wanted to hear.

Oftentimes what we want to hear doesn't do us a danged bit of good. It's what we don't want to hear that'll help us.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I absolutely love you for sticking with me through all of that!

The Mental Fitness Center
Monday, June 13, 2005
You've Got To Stand For Something...
You've got to stand for something,
Or you'll fall for anything.
~ Aaron Tippin

Don't you just hate it when people tell you that they're going to do something and then never do it. I hate it worse today more than yesterday and I'll hate it more tomorrow than I do today.

It seems to be more prevalent among those that do what they do on the internet versus the off-line world.

In the " real " world, they go out of business when they don't come thru. On the internet, where they only have to pay for their hosting fees, they can operate forever for $8.95 per month.

They can live with their momma's, they can claim to be big time operators and they can promise you all kinds of stuff....

BUT all they ever do is talk the talk and they never walk the walk.

You've done the hard part,
you've talked about it.
~ Billy Knapp

Like my friend says, you can talk all day about what you're gonna do, BUT if you never do any of it, you are squat !

If it ain't done,
it ain't jack.
~ Marlon Sanders

Bloggers it seems, are even worse than the average denizens of the internet.

Two or three, of late, have said that they were going to do something for me.

None have done squat.

It really doesn't matter to me, either way, but if you say you're gonna do it, do it.

I won't love you any less if you offer or not.

If you have no intentions of doing it, don't waste my thought process believing that you might come thru.

Whatever you do today,
you have to sleep with tonite.
~ Aaron Tippin

Or for today, whatever you don't do.

Life's short...follow thru.

~ Mike

PS - We use a lot of quotes here, if you'd like a copy of the resource we use to find 'em, go to The Mental Sparkplug.

If you can't afford it, lemme know, I'm a generous kinda guy.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Make This Day Count...
I just read this and wanted to share it with you.

There's enough trash and crap to deal with every day, so I wanted to get in a few good vibes before the work week starts up again.

On a very hot, very humid day, a small classroom full of girls in a little settlement town asked their teacher to teach them to be happy.

Mrs. Palmer told them that she'd give them 3 rules and that they had to promise to follow them every day for a week.

" First, commit something good to memory every day. Three or four words will do, be it a bit of a poem, part of a song or a Bible verse. "

" Do you understand ", she asked ? One girl spoke up, " I know, you want us to learn something we'd be glad to remember if we went blind. " ( Out of the mouths of babes... )

Mrs. Palmer was relieved. They understand.

She finished the three rules with, second, see something beautiful each day and third, do something helpful every day.

At the end of the week, when it was time for them to report back, she hoped she had not lost a single one of them.

Not one single failure was reported.

The closest call came for one little girl who, was kept inside for 24 straight hours because of a pouring rain. Finally, she was able to keep her vow by finding a sparrow taking a bath in a puddle and a gleam of sunlight on a baby's hair.

If you and I, who have a heck of a lot easier time in life than those who came before us and lived on the prairies and in the wild west, can't keep these same vows...well, we need to slow down and re-do our priorities. But THAT is another post on another day.

Saturday, June 11, 2005
Stressed dogs and Coconut Frappes....
"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." - Unknown

The last time we were in our local Books A Million, I roamed around with my Coconut Cream Frappe (Okay, like to die for, man!). I entertained myself with looking at just how many self-help/do-it-this-way type books there were on the shelves. They'll tell you how to live better, how to lose weight, how to love, how to be loved, how to save money (didn't touch that one), how to make more money, how to spend the money (didn't need that one), how to decorate everything under the sun, how to buy a dog, how to train the dog, how to name the dog, how to dress the dog, how to know if the dog has emotional or stress-related trouble, and on and on.

I can't speak on behalf of Spot's issues, but a lot of the things we're dealing with on a daily basis come down to one thing: CONFIDENCE.

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A Edison

We all begin life with plenty of confidence. When a First grader shows up for the first day of school, he isn't afraid of saying something stupid or of not being dressed "good enough". He doesn't enter the room wondering if the other kids will accept him or not. He's there and he fully intends to have a good time!

By the time the first day of High School shows up, the same boy has insecurities about how he looks, his clothes, what'll be said, and so on. He's still the same kid, but life has changed him.

Being teased by others, failing tests, being laughed at, getting fired, losing games, being called names, illnesses, disappointments, getting insulted - all of these facts of life chisel away at a person's confidence and leave them with doubt and insecurities. There is very little that we can do about what life GIVES us, but what we give it back is completely within our control. We have to start believing in ourselves again!

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance." - Bruce Barton

How? Stop fixating on the things that have gone wrong. They're done, they're in the past - stop going back for them. If you've had a failure in your life that you're having trouble getting past, ask yourself if you learned anything from it. Did you answer "Yes"? If you did, then it wasn't a failure it was a lesson. In High School you weren't given Grammar failures, you were given Grammar lessons. Lessons are good; if it weren't for them - WE WOULD NEVER GET ANY SMARTER THAN THE DAY WE WERE BORN.

Start dwelling on your assetts. Literally remind yourself of your accomplishments, great traits and good qualities. Tell yourself how the only thing that could ever hold you back would be you. Do this out loud, but please not when others are around. They'd think you were off your nut.

Two articles were recently added to The Mental Fitness Center that sort of go along with this line of thinking:

What's Holding You Back?

Put Your Sexy On

I know I sound like a CD on repeat, but learn something new. It shows you just how much you have on the ball and you might just start loving yourself some self!

"Life marks us all down, so it's just as well that we start out by overpricing ourselves." - Mignon McLaughlin

(By the way, why does the phrase, "sound like a broken record" exist? I started to type that out, but then my brain couldn't get around a broken record making any sound, let alone a repetitive one. I'll need to think about this one further. Further thought calls for a Coconut Frappe ;)

Thursday, June 09, 2005
The Answer....
I am a huge boxing fan.

I especially love and over the years have read about the old time prize fighters.

Bob Fitzsimmons was one of those. He was not a large man by any stretch of the imagination and was generally smaller than his opponents.

He was described as ungainly in his build and his movements ( I can relate ).

Bob was often knocked down or knocked around in the early rounds of his fights.

I can relate to this, too.

Many people consider him to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time.

He was not a favorite of the masses, at first, but grew to be one by winning. Who'd have thought THAT would work ?

He had great natural power and from any angle he could and did knock his opponents silly. He was said to be able "to deliver a wicked blow that no human being could withstand. "

But, more formidable still, was the spirit which gave him complete command of all his resources. This and his great natural power made him the most dangerous when he was on the verge of being knocked out.

I had just came into our " war-room" and found a book of poems that Joi had laying on the desk. When I picked it up, it opened to this poem.......

When the battle breaks against you and the crowd forgets to cheer,
When the Anvil Chorus echoes with the essence of a jeer;
When the knockers start their panning in the knocker's nimble way,
With a rap for all your errors and a josh upon your play.
There is one quick answer ready that will nail them on the wing;
There is one reply forthcoming that will wipe away the sting;
There is one elastic come-back that will hold them, as it should,
Make good.

No matter where you finish in the mix-up or the row,
There are those among the rabble who will pan you anyhow;
But the entry who is sticking and delivering the stuff,
Can listen to the yapping as he giggles up his cuff;
The loafer has no come-back and the quitter no reply,
When the Anvil Chorus echoes, as it will, against the sky;
But there's one quick answer ready that will wrap them in a hood,
Make good.

Thank you, Grantland Rice.

I intended this to be for my friend, Paul at
Self Help Daily, but I believe it came out meaning more to me.
I can only hope it helps him.

Life's short...blog hard !


EDIT - Coincidentally, Ryan Latham wrote about success today on his blog. You can read the post at Define Blog
Opportunities - Grab One!
"If it is to be, it is up to me." - William Johnson

I could talk at length (but you know that!)about opportunities. How they are all around us, how if you don't grab the one in front of you someone else will, how we settle too often for too little, blah blah blah.

But instead of pitching a handful of pennies into the fountain, I'm going to pull out the big bucks. I'm going to hit you up poet style.

Okay, one penny. Don't wait for the opportunity to knock on your door. Go out and MAKE your own opportunities. Lots of them.

You don't get far in this world with passive verbs on your breath...you have to have active verbs between your teeth.

Now for that poem - I love this one. Read it, re-read it, write it down, take it in and live it out:


With doubt and dismay you are smitten
You think there's no chance for you, son?
Why, the best books haven't been written
The best race hasn't been run,
The best score hasn't been made yet,
The best song hasn't been sung,
The best tune hasn't been played yet,
Cheer up, for the world is young!

No chance? Why the world is just eager
For things that you ought to create
Its store of true wealth is still meagre
Its needs are incessant and great,
It yearns for more power and beauty
More laughter and love and romance,
More loyalty, labor and duty,
No chance - why there's nothing but chance!

For the best verse hasn't been rhymed yet,
The best house hasn't been planned,
The highest peak hasn't been climbed yet,
The mightiest rivers aren't spanned,
Don't worry and fret, faint hearted,
The chances have just begun,
For the Best jobs haven't been started,
The Best work hasn't been done.

-Berton Braley

Great stuff!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Learn and live!
"All of the top achievers I know are life-long learners... Looking for new skills, insights, and ideas. If they're not learning, they're not growing... not moving toward excellence." - Denis Waitley

What would you say if you had a 16 year old son who told you he wanted to drop out of school? After you picked yourself up off of the floor (or him, depending upon how well you took the news), you'd give him a speech laced with the keywords lazy, uneducated, couch potato, moron, disappointment, mistake etc. Most definitely you'd screech out, "What are you think-ing?" - probably about once every 5 minutes.

You'd tell him how he needs to educate himself and learn all that he possibly can, how the mind needs stimulation and challenges or it gets soft. You'd surely use an athlete's muscles as a point of emphasis - telling him how they have to work their muscles to keep them stronger. If the workouts stop, the strength would go away, leaving them with fat instead of muscle...then you'd say something about a fat brain, wonder why you had to word it that way, then end off with an even higher pitched, "What are you think-ing???!"

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

All the righteous indignation and amazement we'd feel toward such a kid would serve us well when we analyze our own lives. As adults, we should never stop learning any more than a 16 year old should. When we learn and challenge ourselves, we grow. If we stop challenging ourselves mentally, we stop growing. We become couch vegetables who could talk at length about the recent episode of Lost but would LOOK lost if asked to define "archipelago". What knowledge we had two months ago is basically the same knowledge we have today.

"What are we think-ing???!"

I think it's beyond wise to challenge ourselves and push ourselves mentally. What's the worst that could happen? We'll get too smart? We'll know too much? I'm willing to risk it, how about you?

Below is a list of topics to get your juices flowing. Each week, pick a different one and explore the heck out of it. Read all you can get your hands on about that subject, you aren't looking for any angles, you're not looking to monetize the information - you're just looking for one thing: To know more tomorrow than you do today. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Here are some suggestions, I know you can come up with more:

GEOGRAPHICAL TERMS - especially if archipelago (a group of islands) threw you. Give yourself a break if it did - it's a word one doesn't come across everyday unless they read a lot about geography or play Trivial Pursuit.

RSS (I'm currently being held hostage in this underworld.)





MUSIC - If you are interested in learning to read music, e-mail me at joi@thementalfitnesscenter.com. I have a pretty cute little pdf I can send you. It's been sitting in the files forever, waiting for me to do something with it. If you can put a copy to use, I'll send it to you, free of course.

POKER (I actually think I'd like to learn to play poker, if I ever break out of RSS hell.)

There are a few, if I think of more I'll add them. Also, don't overlook the obvious suggestions like reading more, learning a new word everyday, refreshing your math skills (ouch, I gored myself with that one)...

Just remember, next time you find yourself vegging on the sofa, at least veg with a book in hand.

Have a grandiose day and go learn something!


Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Fear not..
"Anxiety is fear of one's self." - Wilhelm Stekel

There are a handful of things that I'm absolutely convinced that I do better than anyone. I border on cocky when it comes to:

#1. My cooking. I'm that good.

#2. My gladiolas.

#3. My quote collection.

I'm what has to be the world's biggest collector and lover of quotes. Can't be anyone who rivals me. I have notebooks full of quotes and shelves full of notebooks. I've pilfered them from biographies, movies, newspapers, Andy Griffith, every word ever spoken by Ronald Reagan, etc...

They always make me think. Thinking's a good thing. As a rule.

I came across the one at the top of this post a few days ago. It really made me think. (See?) "Anxiety is fear of one's self."

What if Wilhelm Stekel was right? What if each one of the fears and anxieties of each of us can be traced directly to.....us?

What if we're giving spiders, heights, darkness, public speaking, and even the worst evil of all - the vile, fork-tongued princes of darkness - too much credit.

If we buy into all of this (and I think we should at least lease it), there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that we're basically putting on a scary mask, looking into the mirror, and flat out scaring the bejesus out of ourselves.

The good news is that since we are the ones in control, that makes us more powerful than, literally, our worst nightmare.

"The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear." - William Jennings Brown

I think the thing at the base of every fear is a doubt in ourself being able to handle the situation. When I think of my worst fear - the fork-tongued harbingers of ugliness that I spoke of before (can't say the word. Jinx and all that) - it's ultimately a fear of how I would react. I wouldn't know what to do if one of them approached me with evil intentions. I'd freak some big fear and the thing would slowly eat all 5'3" of me. The husband says they don't eat people but he doesn't know them like I do.

What if, armed with this information, we intentionally exposed ourselves to our fears to prove that we can handle ourselves and, thereby, our fears?


"Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength." - Charles H. Spurgeon

Afraid of speaking in public? Sign up for a public speaking class at the local college. Afraid of mice? Make supervised visits with a nice one. Whatever it is that overwhelms you - overwhelm it.

Unless it's you-know-what's. No need being a damned fool.

Monday, June 06, 2005
Children at Work...
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. - Elizabeth Stone

My husband and I have recently entered that phase of a parent's life that fills you to the rim with pride but does so with a bittersweet shovel.

We've gone from taking our children to PLAY to taking them to WORK.

They'd be ready before us, waiting at the door literally swinging it open and calling "Time to go!" (As though the park would close.) We'd grab our keys, they'd jump into the car and off we'd go.

We'd say something brilliantly parental like, "Don't fall from the swings. You'll break a bone." Our children being the sweethearts they are would never roll their eyes or make us feel like idiots. They'd just answer reassuringly and tolerantly, "Okay, I won't." - as though the other was an option they'll NOW turn away from.

When it was time to leave, we'd have to drag them away, stopping for ice cream on the way home, just us and the children that moved our world.

We're ready before them, waiting at the door literally swinging it open and calling "Time to go!" We grab our keys and off we go.

We say something brilliantly parental like, "Don't lock yourself in the freezer. Your toes will freeze off.

"Okay, I won't." Another catastrophe avoided.

When we pick them up, they're waiting for us, literally swinging the door open and and saying "Time to go home!" (as if it's going anywhere.) They collapse into the car and buy US ice cream on the way home, just us and the children that move our world.

~ Joi
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Weekend Ranting...
By a lie, a man...annihilates his dignity as a man.
- Immanuel Kant

Politicians have worked hard over the years to bring a lot of shame and ridicule to their office. These men and women are leaders of our world, they should have nothing but reverence and respect. But far too many of them, through pride and greed, have blackened both of their profession's eyes . There have, of course, been the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Colin Powell, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Condoleezza Rice. But, the opposite end of the spectrum has a much longer list of names. They're the ones who seem hell-bent on destroying any dignity, respect or trust that's left in politics.

I actually didn't crawl up on my soap box today with politicians on my mind - I came with liars under my skin - this dubious group just offered a fine case study. Think about it, with one parting of the lips, Al Gore launched a million jokes. When people hear his name they don't automatically think "Nice looking man, smart, nice dresser, intelligent, beautiful family...." they hear the name and make a joke about him inventing the internet. He spent years and years working, studying, doing his hair, getting ahead in life - but what's his legacy? A really, really ridiculous statement. (What was the man think-ing??) Personally, I think he deserves better. I would have loved to have been there to throw a roll in his mouth before he went down that road.

A bigger example would be, of course, Mr. Clinton. OMG, did this man make a habit of lying or what. I think he's probably a pretty nice guy, and probably smarter than most of us think. I'm sure he'd make a good dinner companion, funny and friendly - you just couldn't believe one word he said between bites. How could he have even said "I didn't inhale" with a straight face? Not to mention his "relations" spiel. Puh-lease.

There are a group of people amongst us who are trying to rival the politicians for laughability and shame. They're working just as hard to bring ridicule and distrust to their "office". They're the people who are after my money (and yours!). They'll lie, fabricate information, and stretch the truth till it screams.

I don't know about you, but I hate to be lied to. Nothing makes me madder. I love people who are honest - even if they come across as absolute butts sometimes. I'll take an honest, give-it-to-you-straight type person ANY day over a sneaky drippy little liar. They make me nervous and give me mental hives.

"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual."
- Thomas Jefferson

I think President Jefferson hit it on the head. Liars tell so many lies that they cease to be able to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. Deep down they know darn well their porsche isn't in the shop - okay, so maybe it is, in the car dealership shop....waiting to be bought! With each subsequent lie, it gets easier and easier. They're prolific promoters of phony perjuries. (Say that 3 times fast!)

They twist and contort truth around like taffy. Why in the world can't they just be honest? You know what I'd love to see? Someone step up to the plate and say, "I'm just like you. I work very hard, I know what it's like to try to raise a family and get ahead, and I think I have something that could help us both out!" I'd listen.

"Lying and stealing are next door neighbors."
- Arabian Proverb

What's so appealing about the "You MUST listen to me, I'm Richie Rich. (are you impressed yet) I drive a reallllly expen$ive car, my wife wears Ross-Simons jewelry, (I know you're impressed now), our cat wears designer collars. We live the life grand. You don't. Guess that makes me worth listening to. You can do just that. For thousands of dollars, that is. That's right. I get paid to open my mouth. Pried shut until I hear the cha-ching."

I do myself a greater injury in lying that I do him of whom I tell a lie.
- Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

Know the pity? So many of these cats actually have things worth hearing. The worth isn't quite as high as they believe it to be, though. People work hard for their money. They put in their time, and often lots of it. There are things they could be, and should be spending their money on. Heck, they may even have a favorite charity they'd like to contribute to. Unfortunately, the majority of people who fall flat-faced for all the clicks and whistles don't know any better. The whistlers are counting on that, so they whistle on. They're tune never changes.

Just like the politicians, they're giving their profession a bad name which could very well lead to their ruin. They're Al Gore-ing all over themselves, and like him - I think they deserve better. Next time they meet in the tree house to get all their lies straight with one another, I think one needs to man-up, stand up and speak up.

Fortunately, just like the politicians, there are glaring exceptions. It takes a real man (or a real woman) to be honest. It takes sheer guts. Thankfully, they do exist - shining like fireflies on a summer night. They're the ones I follow.

Hate hate hating herself some lying!
Friday, June 03, 2005
Feelin' nothin' but love for Shaq...
"Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."
-Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq's one of those athletes that most people either love or hate - most aren't lukewarm on the man. In that respect, he joins the likes of UK Basketball, the Yankees, Duke, Michael Jordan, Bobby Knight, John McEnroe, Barry Bonds and Tiger Woods.

Well, for the record, I like Shaq. I also like Barry, Tiger, and MJ. I lobster love UK and am amused by Bobby Knight in spite of myself. Like ALL the rest, Shaq's a winner.

He has played, like, 13 years in the NBA and has never been on a losing team. He led the Lakers to glory land - until they decided they didn't like the view. THEN, he pioneered another lucky team to success. Lakers loss(es) = Heat's win(s).

That leads me to another reason I'm a fan. He doesn't seem to like Kobe. I'm a hater, so I can get behind that mindset.

Another reason? It may sound wife-y, but I like the way he looks at and talks about his wife. I also love the fact that he seems to so totally love his kids. All kids, in fact. He involves himself in so many charities that involve little people, and that makes him even more of a winner in my score book.

After the Heat's win last night, Shaq only wanted to talk about
former NBA player George Mikan, who had recently passed away. He paid tribute to Mr. Mikan and then offered to pay for the funeral. Ultra nice. It's the sort of thing that REALLY makes Shaq stand head and shoulders above those around him.

I'm not trying to say he's perfect. As far as I know, he's no closer to it than me. But that's pretty much where so many of us trip up. We expect too much from people. We won't allow ourselves to just like the good qualities of a person without wanting to fixate on the negatives. Don't know if it makes us feel better about ourselves or what, but we sure get picky when it comes to other people.

Anyway, he done good and I wanted to pat him on the back of his knees.

Thursday, June 02, 2005
One bite at a time...
"Eskimos eat whales a bite at a time."

Don't know who said it, but I get their message loud and clear. "Don't bite off more than you can chew."

Think about it. What happens when you overestimate the amount of burger that'll fit in your mouth at once? Ugly face-itis.

The symbolism carries from the table to life. It's a lesson that, to be perfectly honest, I've never learned or come anywhere near perfecting. But, just because I don't get it doesn't mean it can't be gotten. When we overextend ourselves we aren't experiencing life to it's fullest OR allowing life to experience us at our best.

Granted, writers of self-help type articles or blogs are supposed to put perfection out there - at least pretend to be perfect...not flaunt their flaws like perfect fools. I can be accused of a lot of things, but I never botox my image. (Completely irrelevant and totally off-topic, but botox is ugly. Why hasn't this occured to anyone? Makes most people just look....weird.)

I'm forever putting more on my plate at once than any one person should try to handle. It's my approach at Golden Corral and it's my approach in life. "I'll take that, I'll do this, I want that, gotta have this..." I think I'd probably extend my life by several decades if I just quit over-extending my days.

A while back, I was literally working on THREE websites at once - and, get this, one of the three was devoted to Mental Fitness! Irony's a mother. Nearly drove myself insane working on a website promoting sanity. That's just so me.

Normal, rational people break life down into manageable pieces. They're the ones who put one site up at a time. They take on a task, complete the task, then move on to the next. They don't fling themselves into the middle of 100 different things and thoughts and once. THEY don't end up staring blankly out the window fixated on trees - as though waiting for them to dance or mate or something. At the end of the day, they look back upon what they accomplished and smile at their sane self in the mirror.

They go to a buffet and eat a "themed" meal - either seafood or Italian or steak and potatoes. They don't just pile it on to keep from leaving any out. It's like the MEs of the world think food has feelings and we don't want to offend!

All right, that's it. I'm getting on what's left of my nerves and wearing myself out. I'm going to start working on being more disciplined - in life, of course, not at the buffet. I WILL start attacking projects one at a time. Do this. Done. Move on. I'm going to be organized, calm, disciplined and orderly.

After today, that is. I have way too much to do today.

By the way, 14. Trees in our yard. Five apple, one pear. Never danced or mated. Not while I was watching, anyway.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005
The Art of Fighting Back:
"Get your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"
- Planet of the Apes

Have you come across a reprehensible, repugnant, repulsive, and revolting...down-right rotten person lately? If not, don't worry - he's waiting for you just around the corner. It's almost as if God has sprinkled the world with losers and bullies to keep things interesting for the rest of us. Maybe it amuses Him to see how we handle them. Perhaps He wants to see if we handle them or they handle us.

The only way to be sure it's the former rather than the latter is to keep your head. You have to handle the lug without them realizing they've been handled. Fortunately, lugs aren't too swift - so this isn't that hard.

[ Although I'm using the masculine pronoun in this instant, lugs have no gender preference. They're just as apt to show up in a skirt as they are in pants! ]

"Never argue with fools. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

There is an absolute art to dealing with these people. What's more, it can be more fun than a day at the amusement park.

BEHIND THE SCENES: My husband and I have always raised our daughters to think for themselves. Even when they were little, if they had a small problem, we would OF COURSE observe and step in when necessary, but we'd first see how they'd handle it. One of my husband's favorite quotes is "If you give a man a fish, you've fed him for one meal. If you teach him how to fish, you've fed him for life."

We have always had supreme confidence in our girls - confidence that just grows and grows each and every time they prove us right. That's why we've always insisted that they think for themselves - form their own opinions, stand up for their beliefs, and not back down when they know they're right.

I could type out instance after instance of times they've each grabbed life by its lapels and brought it around to their way of thinking, but I have lunch to make (as perfect as they are, they get pissy when they're hungry. But perfectly pissy.)

I'm just going to use one example in today's post. It comes courtesy of #2. About a year ago, she put up a fansite devoted to Ashlee Simpson. A young man began spamming the guestbook with awful, terrible things. I couldn't help but be amused, because I knew that he was about to taste a bit of #2's vengence. Bad deal.

She started just deleting his messages. He kept coming back (Don't you love it when they beg.), each post getting meaner. So she e-mailed him, telling him how she was simply a fan trying to run a website, and asking him to please leave her site alone. Lugs don't accept pleas from young girls. They're far too classy for that. Sooo, each subsequent time he signed her guestbook, she edited. He got to keep his name, and yes, his much-ballyhooed e-mail address. But his message(s) told of his loneliness, his lack of love, how he couldn't get a date if his life depended upon it, not with even the ugliest dog in town....how he only wished that Ashlee would love him, but how he knew he didn't stand a chance.

The young man e-mailed #2 asking her to "please" delete all of his messages. He didn't return to the guestbook. Young girls accept pleas from their conquests. They're classy that way, so the messages were removed.

But do you know the amazing twist in the story. She still hears from this guy! Counts him amongst her online friends.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!