Kicked in the perception…..

Today I got kicked in my perception…again. A friend of mine sent me an article about Duluth, MN as the least stressed city in the United States. Not only did that surprise me, but if someone would have asked me, I would have ranked it at the bottom. But that’s my perception.

I lived in Duluth for about 20 years until I moved away in 2004 to another city about 200 miles away. I visited my family, who still lives there, at least twice a year. So I do know something about Duluth, at least until today.

If you have never been there, it’s a city of just under 100,000 people on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. It’s been called a mini San Francisco due to the huge lake, and steep hillside that many houses are built on. It’s beautiful to be sure, but the winters are long, and because of the lake effect, there is lots of snow, wind, and in the summer, fog. I always said it’s a great place to be from. (which means I got out)

I think we get so caught up in the small area that we inhabit, and mostly assume that’s the way it is for everyone. I went through a few lean years, worked a stressful and long hour job, and lived on an island connected by a bridge (the kind that goes up and down). One way on, one way off. Many times I waited for boats to enter the harbor, the bridge up, with my longest wait time over 3 hours one night. That was stressful. And I get that it was my perception. My Mom also lived on this island, and she loved to wait at the bridge. She had a book and it gave her time to read or watch all the people. Same scenario, different perception.

And that was a different economic time I know. But it’s funny how I have carried that idea of Duluth on my trips to visit my family. Every time I went, I thought the drivers were aggressive, waitresses rude, nobody had a job, winter never ends, too many mosquitoes, roads beat up, taxes too high, just a downright stressed out city. Seemed to me everyone was trying to get out. And Fitbit called it the fittest city in the US in 2016. I thought everyone was overweight. Boy, am I wrong.

I take full responsibility for feeling this way. I may always feel this way, one article probably isn’t going to change it. But what it does is examine my perception of other things. I plan to stop and think more before I judge. I’m going to drive into Duluth like it’s the first time. Most of all, I’m going to try to teach my kids the value of seeing things as they really are, not tainted by memory or judgment. And be wary of expectation. It can alter your perception by what you want things to be.

Even though my perception bubble got popped today, congratulations people of Duluth. In a world of so much unhappiness and stress, you found a way to enjoy your place on Earth.

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Here is the link to the article if you are interested.

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4328138-duluth-named-least-stressed-city-nation#.WbxO-a1S2jc.link


Out of balance…………

This morning I woke up out of balance. Like a tire out of round, my mind was going thump thump thump instead of smooth. I am struggling with the “do” part of me against the “let it be” part of me. You would think that with all the big talk I do about it, I should have no problem, but I do. Every day.

But today was different. I made the decision yesterday to start a new journey. Not geographically, but something to fulfill the “do” part of me. It wouldn’t be a big deal, I have started lots of stuff, but I was struggling with my usual “keep it a secret until it’s done” with “this might be something I want to share with my friends”. We have all been there. And you know why it’s a struggle. If you share your new job, new love, your book, your new haircut, what ever, you open yourself up to peer criticism, the hardest kind on an ego. And also the fear of failing. No one knows but you if you were the only one who knew. On the other hand, if you don’t share and keep it a secret, you might miss two opportunities. One, maybe learn what someone else may know about it and share with you. And two, you might be helping someone out with an answer for their life. At the very least, I will be somewhat accountable if it’s out in the open. That can be a strong motivator in itself.

So I took my struggle to the beach hoping for an answer. I hadn’t been there for about a week, too busy with kids and my new venture. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Pavillion still standing and the beach was filling back up where there had been only trees and stumps.

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The beach was gone.
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The beach is back.

In fact, I like the new look of the Pavillion better now. (Picture at the top). Where there used to be a huge drop off to the water, now it slopes gently and gives the Pavillion a more beachy feel. Mother Nature knew what’s best.

On my 45 minute walk, I tried to “Let it be” and just take in the beauty and ground myself with the Earth. I encountered a small dead fish, which is rare to see on shore, and thought about life has a beginning and an end, and felt bad for the fish. I encountered small pieces of plastic washed up, and thought how fragile the environment is, and we as humans have to take the lead in preserving it. I walked past a young girl, also walking, and as we passed I noticed she had an air hose that she was breathing from, and a medical back pack I assume carried a tank. She was probably about 20. I thought that no matter how you might be feeling, there is always someone else with their struggles and hurdles. It made me feel good to be alive. We take ourselves way too seriously sometimes.

Did I get the answer I wanted? I think so. You will know it if I release the post titled Journey of a thousand miles.

When I got home and started this post, I felt like I had just come from the shop getting an alignment and a balance. I guess it’s all about perspective. But at least now I know what to do when I get Out of balance. How about you?

 

 

Let It Be…………..

Let it Be was a song written and sung by Paul McCartney and released as a single by the Beatles in March of 1970, a year before I graduated high school. The album followed. It was also the last song that he wrote before leaving the Beatles to pursue a solo career.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Paul McCartney’s mother died of an embolism when he was 14. Her name was Mary. One night she came to him in a dream during a difficult time when the Beatles were recording the White Album, and she told him (in the dream) that “It will be alright, let it be”. He remembered that dream and the impact it had on him. That was the inspiration and meaning for the song although it has been interpreted many times in other ways.

We all have times of troubles. Are you aware of how the universe is trying to ease your burden and help you? Whether it’s by circumstance, or a dream, or what we call luck, things always seem to work out. Not always in the way we planned, but something we can cope with and be happy with. Your destiny in this life is to be happy. No matter how long it takes.

I walk the beach for exercise, and to let my mind get a break. It doesn’t always work out that way. Today I found myself so absorbed in the problems I was trying to solve, that I dismissed the beauty of the sand, and the wind, and the waves. Before I knew it, I had returned to my car and didn’t really unwind. Unwinding releases creativity, and creativity is what I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t unwind, so came back feeling frustrated. I thought to myself, I got nothing accomplished today walking. Then I realized that I was thinking counter intuitive to that. Just the act of trying to accomplish something while walking on the beach prevented me from doing just that.

After getting in the car and on my way home, I realized I should have Let it Be. Not the wisdom of a Beatles song, but how I should live my life. As a parent, I now realize how often I tell my kids it will be alright. Whether it’s a bruised elbow or an ego.  And it makes them feel better. And I remember my Mom telling me countless times that it will be alright. And she was right. It always was, and is.

When I reread the words Paul wrote some 47 years ago, before I could comprehend the meaning, and what the meaning really was, I can’t help thinking about my Mom. How she was always on my side, by my side, encouraging me, and telling me I could accomplish anything I wanted to do in life. I have fought so hard against the grain. To push when I didn’t need to. To struggle.  It didn’t matter to her. She knew what was best for me.  She never gave up.

They say you never really understand the sacrifices your parents make for you until you have kids. It’s true for me. As my kids grow I see the miracle they are, and how I would do anything for them. You try to teach them to be happy, to enjoy life, to be safe.

I hope  I get to enjoy a long life. But no matter how long I have, when that time comes and  I am gone, and my kids are in times of trouble, I will come to them in a dream:

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on you
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

Thank you, Mom. For believing……………..

 

 

 

Changing WordPress Themes

Sorry if things look a bit confusing for you on the site today. If they are confusing for you, just think how I feel. I am updating my WordPress Theme.

A WordPress theme is the look and structure of the blog website. The one I was using was made in 2015, and am updating to the 2017 Blog Theme. No big deal, it’s free and everything that was on my old website transfers over.  Just have some tweaking to do, and change the stock photos to make them mine.

I am also going to add some more features and links, but a day at a time.  So bear with me. (I am trying to remain calm).

Also going to add another Category. Health and Supplements.  I  am a living testimony to 50 years, give or take, of supplementing with vitamins. I know what worked for me and what didn’t, and want to share a bit of that.

There is nothing permanent except change.      Heraclitus

How to make a book cover for paperback and kindle

While I was writing my how to buy a car book, I researched the process of making a cover. I was having a bit of anxiety with all the steps to get done. Then I discovered Fiverr. If you don’t already know, Fiverr is a global marketplace matching freelancers from all over the world to get your task, whatever that may be, done for anywhere from $5 to over $500 per job. I used them to make my book cover. Here is how that worked.

When you log on to their website, Fiverr.com, you search for what you want to have done, in this case a book cover. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people offering their services. They advertise what they will charge, and what you will get for that. They also have additional work if you want, but everything is up front about what they charge. I was not sure about what I wanted being my first book, so I chose two freelancers to design a cover for me.

The first person I chose was a gal from the US, who said she could produce a cover in 48 hours. All of this is done by email through the Fiverr site. Once you have chosen someone, then you pay for the service upfront, which in this case was $15. The freelancer then has 48 hours, what she advertised her turnaround time was, to produce a cover. I heard from her once, when she got the order, and never another word. But Fiverr keeps track, and when the 48 hours was up, they gave me the option of cancelling the job, and get a refund, or wait longer. I chose to cancel and they refunded my $15 and put it on account.

Because I was anxious to get something done, I ordered my cover from two different people next. One was from the US with a 48 hour turnaround time, and the other from India with a 5 day turnaround. The person from India was a lot busier, as you could tell by the amount of reviews he had. They both came through with covers on time as promised. I spent $20 on one, and $27 on the other, tip included. You pay for the job up front, but if you are pleased with the work, you can leave them a tip. I know 5 bucks in the US might not go too far, but in some countries, it may be quite a substantial amount. Besides, I pride myself on being a good tipper, having worked for them at one time.

What they send you is a completed cover, and yes, you can revise it all you want, which I did a couple of times. Before they design it, they ask what format you will be using it in, in this case paperback and Kindle e-book. They will then send you the right format to send it to Amazon. They also ask what other designs caught your eye, to get an idea of what you like, or are looking to have something similar.

I am glad I found out about Fiverr, before I tried to make one myself, or paid a designer big bucks because I didn’t know there was another way. Both designs were great, so I could have gotten by with investing only $20 buck for the cover, instead of $47 for two designs, but hey, call me the big spender.

Here are the two covers. I chose the one on the left because I liked the curves up ahead symbolism of trying to negotiate a car. I think the one on the right stands out better, and with Amazon publishing, I can switch covers with the push of a button (key).

What you need to write a book

Last year before I retired, I wondered what I would do when I didn’t have to do the daily grind anymore. I secretly wanted to write a book, or something related to the internet, so I went out and bought a very nice touch desktop computer, a beautiful desk, comfy stool, and set it up in my home office. That was in Minnesota, June 2016.  My excuse to buy the stuff was for the kids to use for school.  All summer they played Minecraft and other stuff, and we did use it for schoolwork when I home schooled them for a month and a half before they moved to Maui with my Ex. I stayed back for a couple of months after they moved over. That couple of months alone was my chance to really hit it writing. I never wrote one word.

Everyday I went to the gym, cleaned, shopped, sorted through stuff, etc.  I had absolutely no creativity to start writing anything. Maybe it was the 12 years living there, maybe fall setting in and winter coming, maybe, maybe, maybe.

Then I moved and everything changed. My house is 1/3 the size, and here is a picture of my office. I ordered a $215 HP laptop from Amazon, with Office 365 free for a year. My stool is about as uncomfortable a thing you can sit on, and the lighting is terrible. Since January I have written and published my book on How to Buy a Car, have an mostly completed memoir on Word, written a children’s picture book and waiting for the illustrations to be done, and written a rough draft of another. This is in less than 3 months. And built two websites and blog every day.

What changed is my life changed. I get inspiration from everything new, walking on the beach, listening to the birds. seeing green every day. Now I know why most artists live in interesting places. Suburbia just doesn’t cut it for me to get excited about creating.  It’s not the equipment, it’s the inspiration.

My first book

My first book is still a work in process. After Christmas I decided to get serious about writing and publishing a book. Every day after dropping the kids off at their schools, I would sit down and write. My goal was to get at least 80,000 words, which is what I had read is a good size for a non-fiction or memoir type book. I typed out everything that came to mind, all about my life, my work, likes, dislikes, secrets, funny stories, you name it. After about 5 weeks, I had hit my 80,000 words, and thought, wow I had written a book. I took a few days off from working at it, and reread it. It was horrible. Disjointed, rambling, egotistical, and self serving.

Reworking it seems like a daunting task, so I decided to go a different route. A third of what I had written was about my career, at least the last one. 28 years in the car business had taught me a thing or two, and I felt I needed to share what I had learned to help others with the process. I took the part I had already written about it, added and subtracted, and came up with my published book about how to buy a car from a dealership, called BEST BUYER BOOK. Published and sold by Amazon. In subsequent posts, I will get into more detail about going through that process of getting published.

Why be an author

That question seems easier to answer than it is. I started thinking about writing to use as supplemental income in my retirement. That’s the wrong mindset to have. I have discovered that when you start putting your thoughts and creativity into word, thinking about money will only allow you to focus on the financial impact you will have, and not on the real purpose of writing, which is to share what you have learned (good and bad) so others may benefit in some way, or give something of great enjoyment that fires the imagination.

I have discovered in myself a talent of writing for children. Not sure why, but it may just be that children and creativity go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Getting out of the stress of the corporate world has freed my thoughts to focus on the bigger picture of life, not the bottom dollar.