WWBD? Ignore the Naysayers

Baileys, c. 2014.

Another in the What Would Baileys Do series…

The dogs in my parents’ neighborhood barked as we took our post Memorial Day barbecue walk. My mom and I were walking Baileys. A lot of their neighbors have dogs who were enjoying the nice weather outside, as well. When we passed by and they caught sight of her, clearly stressed out by new situation, circumstances, and people they protested.

You’re not from around here, they seemed to growl.

Unruffled, Baileys held her head up high and trotted along with us, sniffing the flowers, thoroughly enjoying the walk.

Impressed, my mom commented, “She doesn’t seem to hear them.” [Sidebar: When we first got her, I thought she might be hard of hearing, but it turns out she just has selective hearing].

She heard all of the barking, yet chose not to let it affect her. It went in one ear and out the other. She could have let it ruin her walk, her day but she didn’t.

I, on the other hand, will often let a careless bark fester all day.

All day long people are barking for attention, validation. You’re doing it wrong. Do it my way, they growl. This often stems from their own insecurities than any kind of aptitude.

I would be willing to bet that the majority of the time there is no value to their bark. They are just empty words.

We can choose to be nonplussed by it, or we can be like Baileys and choose not hear it.

Bark less, wag more.

c. 2015


Mistakes : Don’t let your past determine your future

image credit:  c. www.globalnpsolutions.com

Sometimes I see big things for my life. There are times when it seems everything that I want is going to work out. Almost inevitably when I am on the cusp of some big adventure, the negative voice of self-doubt creeps in speaking louder than any ray of hope I might have.

It will start as a small helpful voice of caution. But it will replicate itself, growing larger with each incarnation. Pretty soon it takes over. Why would you think you can do that?

You always…

You can’t ever…

You never…

It can [and has] inhibited progress. I find a writing opportunity or project that I’d love to do, but turn it down because I’m not sure I can do it, or follow through with it. When presented with said opportunity, HDTV flashbacks of all of the other times when I have failed will hijack my imagination. In choked panic, I say, “No, I’m much more content to stay stagnant where I am, thank you,” than to even give it a try and risk certain failure.

I know my patterns. I’d rather wring my hands and pout about how I can’t do it, than try to change them if it involves moving out of my comfort zone. Ignoring the glances of others expecting failure.

In these instances, especially when I’m just starting out, I find I need to make myself do it. Eschew distractions. No procrastinating. Just do it. As I am just doing it, I will be blazing new trails, creating routines, making templates or models, making it easier on myself for the future.

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
― Rita Mae BrownAlma Mater

There is no need to fear mistakes. They can be very valuable when you think about it. Some of the best discoveries were made from mistakes. Make lots of them. A well- rounded person needs to know how not to do things as well as how to do them.

Start every day, every endeavor with a clean slate. There are no mistakes. There is no past. This requires an open mind. Don’t overthink it. Just move forward, lest we suffer from paralysis by analysis. If we mess up, so what? Count it as “research.”

“We learn from failure, not from success!”
― Bram StokerDracula

c. 2015


I’m So Busy



“Yeah, uh, huh, yeah, I gotta go…”

“Right, yeah…I got a million things to do.

“I know, I’ve gotta run…I’m really busy”

“Yeah….Gotta run, I’ll talk to you later…”

I was listening to a child playing with her mother’s phone. I chuckled a little, because it could have been me when I was younger playing with my toy phone. That’s what we heard adults do on real phones. So when we pretended, we did the same thing.

It gave me a sense of importance even then. My parents didn’t do it a lot, but I heard other adults do it. They must be really in demand I would think, a little enviously.

Us Americans, we like to be busy. We don’t like to be mistaken for someone who doesn’t work hard. We frown on those people. So we take on more than we can handle and it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

When I think about the most valuable people in my life, in terms of practical career influence, they were probably the busiest of all, but didn’t let on. Probably because, to them, it wasn’t tedious. They loved what they were doing, so the energy was not sapped out of them. They were super-busy, no doubt, but instead of wigging out about how busy they were, they paced themselves so that interruptions weren’t as dire.

We tend to feel busy when we see things are a chore; when we’re overwhelmed. But what if we changed our mindset, so we saw past the actual tasks or chores to the end results? Sure, there will still be some urgency; I’ve gotta get this done, I’ll be so glad when this is done; but if we breathe through it, keeping our eyes on the prize, as they say, it will come much more naturally.

I don’t want to be busy anymore. I don’t even like the word. I like the corresponding feeling even less.

Someone once said, pursue your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life. If you are not able to do your passion at work, think about why you are doing it. Make the necessary move to never being busy.

c. 2015


Run Away from Your Day

c. jones run thumb-635x300

c. jones run thumb-635×300

We take our dog Baileys, to the dog park at least once a week. We do it, not only because she loves, I mean LOVES it; as much as we do it for ourselves. She is much more manageable [and less devious] when she gets exercise, when she has a chance to run, jump out her excitement. She is always excited. She loves life, but she needs an outlet for all of that energy.

I am not unlike Baileys in that situation. After a particularly frustrating day, I went to my job at Curves and just ran on the recovery board. I don’t know if it was the “flight” response or just general angst; Probably a combination of both. I got some curious looks, because despite the instructions to “Change Stations Now,” I stayed put, just running….to who knows where.

“I’m running away from my day, ” I explained. The ladies obliged by going around me. I think they understood.

Let me explain. I am not a runner. I’m sure i don’t do it right [and I don’t care]. I think I actually failed PE. But the feeling I got from the running was better than any drug could have given me. It got me wanting to do more of it, just as a release for my toxic energy.

After my evening there, I felt amazing. Not to mention, much more agreeable.

I decided to incorporate my “run” [it’s more of a half run half walk, with some stumbling mixed in], with Baileys. We used to do it at the cemetery when no one is looking. Except I became a casualty in her pursuit of a squirrel. I’m sure the motorists had quite an eyeful as I landed on the ground, with a thud, laughing.

I felt equally amazing after our run. The combination of laughter and running was incredibly therapeutic.

So Baileys and I try to do at least one run/walk a day.  But we’ve moved to the tennis courts.



Rejection or Opportunity?



 Many endeavors have quirky beginnings, but I’m willing to bet this stands alone in its surrealness. “Yeah, I met Barb in California. I originally thought she was a whore, but it tuned out she was just renting apartments….Boy was I wrong.”

Indeed, at the time she was just using her apartment as her real estate office, but the steady stream of people would raise some eyebrows.

Most people would find almost being evicted because the landlord thought she was a prostitute debilitating, not to mention soul crushing. Horrified as she was, she chose to see the good in the situation. It got her a chance to talk to her landlord who was the one who got her started on her career as a multi millionaire.

“If I hadn’t almost been evicted as a prostitute, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet my landlord, ask for his listings, and leave with a new apartment to rent.” That’s one way to put it, I guess.

She says, “The eviction notice and it’s happy ending taught me that opportunity hides in the worst situations, when the timing’s not right, and when everyone agrees that the most prudent move is to lie low. Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.”

“Handling rejection is 90% of what sales are all about.”

I remember reading a then, unknown, Barbara Corcoran’s book Use What You’ve Got years ago. My mother, who thought I’d find it inspirational, loaned it to me to read. It wasvery inspiring, but I had nowhere to apply the insights. I gave the book back and I had all but forgotten her until her name started appearing in news and business journals, and of course Shark Tank. This coincided with my own business planning, which is providential because she is not only very inspiring, but has firsthand knowledge from testing it out herself.

To look at the glamorous, confident business mogul, you would think that all she does is win. You would never know that she’s had her share of rejection. She’s a master at turning bad things into good things. When her business partner and boyfriend of 7 years broke up with her to marry the company secretary, no doubt her blood boiled. Adding insult to injury, he said as they were splitting the business, “You know, you will never succeed without me.”

She turned her hurt into power and got the best revenge. She eventually sold the company for $66 million.

“I knew when he said that, I would rather die than let you see me not succeed,” says Corcoran. “Thank God for the gift of the insult.” She is now considered a real estate mogul and is a popular TV personality, but she didn’t know it would turn out that way.

“I consider your rejection a lucky charm, because everything that ever happened in my life came on the heels of failure,” is what she told the producers of Shark Tank when they initially rejected her.

Wow! What if we all thought that way? What if we all redefined rejection as opportunity? Most of us spend a large part of our lives, eschewing rejection. By reconsidering it, we take away its negative power.

“You have to be great at handling rejection, and then more rejection, and then still more rejection.” 


It’s easy [and common] to get excited about something and very soon, realize you are in over your head. Barbara found this out when she was invited to speak at a group of 800 homebuyers at a seminar. Excited for the publicity and the opportunity, she jumped at the chance. Excepting her waitress experience, she had never spoken to large groups. Her opening joke fell flat as she forgot the punch line and it was a downward spiral from there. She went back to her seat in agony, leaving the moderator with his mouth open. She decided then and there to reinvent herself. This would not define her.

She could have wallowed in her defeat. Most people would have. She decided she needed a crash course in public speaking. But not in a conventional way. The next day, she pitched a course on real estate to NYU. She said she was an “excellent speaker.” They bit and she ended up teaching there for 5 years. She soon became that “excellent speaker.”

Failure and rejection were the doors to ultimate success for Barbara Corcoran. How many times were the same doors were presented to others [including myself] who walked by because they didn’t want to be hurt?



“All is Well”

Remain Calm. All is well!!

                                                                          Remain Calm. All is well!!

“All defensiveness and emotional tumult is a fear response because of your need for acceptance and ruthless control of the territory of your safe fantasy world.”  Bryant McGillSimple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

Matt is a guy I worked with who couldn’t take anything that resembled criticism. His M.O. was to criticize the way I was doing things and prove his rightness. Actually he may not even realize it. Which is probably the most annoying thing.

We all know people we can’t talk to because everything is a battle. Any comment is met with ruthless defense, when you weren’t even on the attack.

These people are maddening to say the least. This is beyond simply standing up for yourself.  These people are extreme. It’s almost as if they are anticipating an attack and are reciting some script they have been working on for a long time. The thing is, they probably have. They are most likely coming from a situation where they were judged or criticized excessively.

It’s a primal response straight from our reptilian brains. We are reptiles when we’re being defensive. It is motivated by fear and not reason. We are not thinking when we are in this state, which is why rehearsed lines are more prominent, as are fiery arrows of blame.

“Yeah, but you…”

“Well, why did you…”

So how do we deal with this? Hard as it may be, don’t fall into the trap of defensiveness. Rise above. “Don’t go lizard, go turtle,” Martha Beck suggests. Focus on something positive about the situation or think of something to engage your thinking brain. She suggests thinking of a bright color, or solving an analytical problem.

The reptilian brain operates out of scarcity. Something is lacking; something is wrong. They zero in on the wrong things. Not only is the good not on their radar, they have no hope. These people need assurance that everything will be ok. Not so much in words, but in actions. It can be tough when they are on their manic whirlwind of dis-ease.

That is why it is so important that, we, their counterparts in this case, are operating from an attitude of “enough” or even abundance. Another way to go about that is, instead of looking for things that are wrong, look for things that are right. It will accomplish the same thing, but it will completely change your mindset. This will help arm you from their defensive jabs.

“Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté. Maria Popova



A Slow Cooker for the Soul, by guest blogger Don E. Smith Jr.

c. don smith

c. don smith

Brooke Musterman is a part-time philosopher and she shares these thoughts in her “Reptilian Rantings” web site. This wonderful blog is dedicated to chronicling stress and how people react to it in the work place. But what about the “out of the workplace?” Life became a bit trying for me this year as I found myself unemployed. Employment news and unemployment are a bear unto themselves. Besides the obvious, “What do we do about income?” “Y’know bills can’t be paid with empty promises?” “What do I do?” I am going to lay it out there – unemployment, mostly, is a mind game. I mean that kind of annoying “The person I liked smiled at me – is it love? Wait! They’re frowning in my direction! Does that mean they hate me?” What was I to do? The answer came in an unusual way – a crock pot. One weekend soon after my unemployment, my friend Peggy said randomly, “It’s never been used. Interested?” “What the heck?” I responded. Another thing happened, upon hearing about my issue, a friend bought me a bag of groceries. In the bag were apples and apple juice. Also, while reading a coupon circular, my wife found a crock pot recipe for apple sauce. When Monday rolled around my patient “missus” was at work and I was left alone. Sure I could watch TV, read or surf YouTube, but worries of the future set in! Then an idea hit, “Crock pot!” I forced myself out of the chair, grabbed the recipe Laura found and I grabbed the apples and began peeling and cutting! In about 45 minutes, the crock pot was beginning to heat up with a cup of apple juice, lemon juice, some Stevia and vanilla. It helps to understand that before I was unemployed, my wife did all the cooking or we would go out to eat or fast food. The idea that I could cook was alien to me! But by doing this simple act, something kicked in. For the next five hours, while the apples “slowly cooked” (hence the name SLOW COOKER), I found myself attacking each room of our apartment. The bed got made, the dishes got washed, the laundry was done and I made dinner (grilled hot dogs – I could do that at least). By the end of the day, I did not have that feeling of “Boy, am I useless!” What I found was a feeling of accomplishment. My wife came home and found she did not have to clean or cook. That was the day I learned “Cooking was a distraction!” And any distraction that will keep “the gates of despair” from opening and emptying out on you is a good thing! Within weeks, I was teaching myself crock

c4d53-crock2bpot                                                                    The crock pot that changed it all c. 2015 Don Smith

pot recipes like chicken, beef and, of course, lots and lots and lots of apple sauce! I began posting the photos on Facebook and began experimenting with regular dishes. Just this past Christmas I got a garlic press, cutting boards and cook books. Now I did not become the next Emeril or Julia Child, but what could’ve been a bleak and discouraging mindset, became overshadowed with confidence and a new creativity. Confidence and creativity are skills and tools needed as I find a new job I was sharing all this with my friend Peggy and she said, “Do you know why you have this new sense of confidence and creativity?” I said, “Not really.” “Because as you learned how to feed your body,” she said. “You really learned how to feed your soul!” I thought about this, and I realized Peggy was right. It turns out that Peggy is also a part-time philosopher. Like Brooke.

c. 2015