Friday, December 02, 2016


I came across this story yesterday (I cannot recall where I saw it), and I think it is brilliant: A quick online search reveals that it is "The Gerbil Story" by Melody Beattie:
One day, my son brought a gerbil home to live with us. We put it in a cage. Some time later, the gerbil escaped. For the next six months, the animal ran frightened and wild through the house. So did we - chasing it.

"There it is. Get it!" we'd scream, each time someone spotted the gerbil. I, or my son, would throw down whatever we were working on, race across the house, and lunge at the animal hoping to catch it.

I worried about it, even when we didn't see it. "This isn't right," I'd think. "I can't have a gerbil running loose in the house. We've got to catch it. We've got to do something."

A small animal, the size of a mouse had the entire household in a tizzy.

One day, while sitting in the living room, I watched the animal scurry across the hallway. In frenzy, I started to lunge at it, as I usually did, then I stopped myself.

No, I said, I'm all done. If that animal wants to live in the nooks and crannies of this house, I'm going to let it. I'm done worrying about it. I'm done chasing it. It's an irregular circumstance, but that's just the way it's going to have to be.

I let the gerbil run past without reacting. I felt slightly uncomfortable with my new reaction - not reacting - but I stuck to it anyway.

I got more comfortable with my new reaction - not reacting. Before long, I became downright peaceful with the situation. I had stopped fighting the gerbil. One afternoon, only weeks after I started practicing my new attitude, the gerbil ran by me, as it had so many times, and I barely glanced at it. The animal stopped in its tracks, turned around, and looked at me. I started to lunge at it. It started to run away. I relaxed.

"Fine," I said. "Do what you want." And I meant it.

One hour later, the gerbil came and stood by me, and waited. I gently picked it up and placed it in its cage, where it has lived happily ever since. The moral of the story? Don't lunge at the gerbil. He's already frightened, and chasing him just scares him more and makes us crazy.

Detachment works.

Today, I will be comfortable with my new reaction - not reacting. I will feel at peace.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Starting a Revolution

Today, I welcome you to join me in a new movement, a revolution to transform each human being.

The challenge is simple. Each of us can stop putting labels on other human beings. No more Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians; no more Caucasians, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, Native-Americans, Asian-Americans, or any other -American label; no more gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queer; no more fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly. Simply, no more labels. We are all human beings. That is the only acceptable "label" (unless you are not a human being, of course).

As you go through your day, catch yourself before you label anyone else anything at all, and simply replace the original label with "just human."

#NoLabels #JustHuman

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Do all the good …

Good words to keep in mind in the weeks and months ahead.

It is a Process

As the reality of the election results settles on the USA, I keep reminding myself that governing is a process. It is not a battle or a war, but a process of selecting those that are supposed to serve us. If the process is broken then we need to take responsibility and do what we can to fix the process.

Fixing a process can take enormous amount of work. It requires discipline and willingness to be mindful, inclusive, and civil. It demands the willingness to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to work with each other. It is not an arena where there are winners and losers; everyone must benefit, it must be a win-win proposition.

My heart is heavy and I cried with worry about the election results. I hope we can all conquer our fears, control our anger, and be ready to work harder than we have ever worked so that we can fix our broken process.

We need to unite to ensure everybody's peace, use our love potential to help everyone around us, and fight the tendency for complacency. Nobody wins unless everybody wins.

Friday, September 16, 2016

We do have a choice

I have been keeping low during the current campaign once Bernie Sanders conceded to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Bernie is gone

Sadly, Bernie is gone. In a very real sense he abandoned the revolution he started. He turned his back on his principles and "joined the party line" with a fear-causing message: Trump is evil and we must do everything we can to stop his run for the presidency.

From that point on, the talk about the values and principles that we, the Bernie supporters, fought for and were excited about, ceased to exist. Our hopes and dreams for a better form of government, one based on honesty and fairness, were betrayed.

But all is not lost. As the dust settled following the collapse of the Bernie campaign, a real choice became clear. For me, the Green Party of the United States represents hope for the future. I am not sure that there is much hope for the 2016 presidential election; too much energy was used up by the Bernie movement. However, we can begin preparing for 2020, and also focus on local and state elections.

A fear-less campaign

I believe it is time to transition from political campaigns based on fear, to those based on values, principles, and clearly defined goals and plans. For the most part, the Republican and Democratic parties do not provide that platform. As soon as they are put on the spot, they revert to fear-mongering.

Why the Green Party

I am choosing the Green Party because it has the same principles/values that the Bernie campaign had. The ten values listed there are of paramount importance to our society and our planet. It is time to shift away from a "greater profit" mentality and start thinking in terms of our "common benefit."

Above All

Above all, I hope everyone participates. We need everyone to cast a vote, to voice an opinion in a cordial, respectful manner, and to listen to the opinions of others in similar fashion. Then, and only then, will we be able to have an open dialog, to negotiate and compromise, and to work together for the common good.


The Cow & The Ice Cream

In the current election cycle in the USA, and probably in many other countries, we would be well served to remember the story I received in an email today. I have copied it below.

My thoughts:

  • There is no free lunch; you cannot get something and expect it to come out of thin air. Politicians are great at making promises and not delivering them after they get elected. We must have a questioning attitude about all the promises we hear.
  • Despite what the major political parties tell us, we do have more than two choices. We do not have to settle for one or the other. For some, the Libertarian Party may be a good match. For others, the Green Party would be a great choice. I suggest that making a choice based on fear is not in our best interest. If we choose candidate A mostly because we fear or dislike candidate B, then that is not a great selection.
Here is the story I received today:

We are worried about 'the cow' when it is all about the 'Ice Cream.'

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching 3rd grade this year.

The Presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest.

I decided we would have an election for a class president.

We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.

To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members.

We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have.

We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids.

I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support.

I had never seen Olivia's mother.

The day arrived when they were to make their speeches.

Jamie went first.

He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best.

Everyone applauded and he sat down.

Now is was Olivia's turn to speak.

Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream."

She sat down.

The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."

She surely would say more. She did not have to.

I initiated the discussion that followed. "How did you plan to pay for the ice cream?"

She wasn't sure. But no one pursued that question. They took her at her word.

Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it... She didn't know.

The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream...

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Brick

The following came in an email this morning; thank go to my friends Fred Broughton, DTM, and Hellen Kelly, DTM, for sharing this great story. I hope you enjoy it.

I found the passage at this site: It is a shorter version of what I received in the mail, and more to my non-religious liking.

The Brick

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his brand new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and spun the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

He jumped out of the car, grabbed a kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?" Building up a head of steam he went on. That's a $65,000 new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

"Please mister, please I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do," pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out off his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."

Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be okay.

"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child said to him.

The man then watched the little boy push his brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back to his Jaguar...a long slow walk.

He never did repair the side door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Great family rules

While visiting friends this weekend, I saw these great family rules on one of their walls:

I cannot read who the original author is. I tried to find it on the web. I am posting this without intent of copy right infringement and will gladly remove it if so requested (or I can post purchase information on behalf of the company). I will try to get more information on this as soon as I can.

Back Pain: what helps me

Warning: the following is not meant as medical advise because I am not a doctor. However, I have been dealing with lower back problems for several decades and the following things help me tremendously when I go through a flare-up:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Advil. You want to choose something that is anti-inflammatory and easy on your stomach. 
  • Tiger Balm is a great ointment that relieves discomfort.
  • A good TENS machine: this is the same technology used by many chiropractors and physical therapists, but you can get it at home. My recommendation: a model 7000 unit from This unit comes with everything you will need to get relief. I am so sold on it that I have one in my car and one at home. Wherever I am, I can get relief. It takes me two to four 30-minute sessions to feel better when my muscles get so wound up that I end up with back pain. Please note that the electrode patches are re-usable. There are several types of electrode patches and today I finally used one designed for lower back treatment; I bought these several years ago but I had not needed them until now.
  • Get regular (monthly or more often) chiropractic treatments. This will help keep you be properly aligned, and that is critical to your pain-free health. I have been visiting my chiropractor (Dr. Greg Bonham, in West Columbia, SC) since 1989. He has helped me through two ruptured discs and many instances of misalignments. I am now taking my kids to see him and they are experiencing the benefits of his treatments. My wife and my mom were both patients of Dr. Bonham.
  • Stretching and Yoga: many times, lower back pain can be caused by tight leg muscles. Stretching several times per day helps me stay pain-free or gets me back from that point when pain flares up. I found this page at Simple Organic Life that has the stretching exercises that help me the most. Add a "Cat-Cow," "Cobra" and "Child's Pose" from Yoga and you will benefit from great preventive stretching (or a quick fix when things get tight).
  • A hot bath with Epsom Salts (perhaps adding a few drops of essential oils such as lavender or rosemary or peppermint or all of those).
  • A massage!
I hope these suggestions help you be pain-free, active and happy!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BAM: Customer Service?

Update # 2: One of my friends spoke to the staff at a different BAM store and they were surprised about what they were hearing and told my friend that they would never get away with that type of behavior or practices. One of them said: "So, that's how they get out so early!" Which told my friends and I that this was a local management decision and that the management of that store in Sandhills obviously does not care about their customers (which confirmed our previous impression). We decided that our loyalty was betrayed and we will not to go back there.

We have tried several places for coffee and, personally, I am sold on Panera. Everybody's attitude there is super positive and friendly, the coffee and pastries are great, and the atmosphere is cozy and light. Good bye Sandhills BAM, hello Sandhills Panera!

* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *

Update #1: A representative from BAM contacted me within hours of posting this entry and apologized. Less than a day later, the District Manager contacted me via phone. Both of them offered their apology for our bad experience and promised to remedy the situation. We were even offered a free cup of coffee for our trouble.

* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *

I rarely complain about things. It is not one of the activities that I consider productive. And I rarely write about problems I have with companies or suppliers, but I am making an exception about the rude and unwelcoming treatment two friends and I experienced at Books-A-Million at the Sandhills Mall.

My friends and I have been meeting at the BAM in Sandhills for several years now. We get there at 7:30 PM on Wednesdays and we leave when the store closes. We drink coffee and talk. We do not cause trouble and we are always cordial with the staff. A couple of months ago the barista started to put chairs on tables around 8 PM, an hour before closing. This made us uncomfortable. Two weeks later the same thing happened and we made the comment that doing so was giving us an un-welcomed feeling and may give potential customers the signal that the coffee shop was closed. The barista continued putting chairs up regardless. I complained to the store manager and she indicated she would take care of it.

Last night, again at 8 PM, a new barista started putting chairs up on tables and, essentially, shutting down the place. I complained and she said she was doing what her manager had told her to do. So, I told my friends that we were no longer welcomed at BAM's Joe Mugs and that I was not coming back.

So … beware. In my opinion, the Joe Mugs coffee shop inside Books-A-Million in Sandhills is not a welcoming business that cares about its customers. It only makes me wonder if the same attitude prevails in other parts of the bookstore. Considering that the staff was vacuuming the front door area at 7 PM (something they normally did at 9 PM) I am guessing that it is. BAM may be saving a few dollars by not keeping their staff working after 9 PM, but they are also pushing customers away with this unfriendly attitude.

Is it any wonder that regular stores are not very profitable and cannot compete with online stores? At least if I buy books online I don't have to deal with a loud vacuum cleaner interrupting my shopping experience, or the unwelcoming feeling of staff putting away chairs an hour before closing time while my friends and I are having a pleasant conversation.

Rudeness has a price attached to it, and the BAM store in Sandhills has rudeness on sale at their store … but I am not buying any.

Oh, and don't try calling the Customer Service 800 number. You cannot talk with anyone there to share your experience.