Category Archives: Blog Post

The View

The View is billed in part as, “the original forum in which real women discuss everyday issues, share their opinions and engage in colorful conversations.” It is a talk show on US television on ABC. I tend to watch it later in the day on Hulu because my current schedule does not allow me to watch it during the day. It has become one of my favorite hours of the day.

The ground-breaking show debuted more than twenty years ago with original cohosts Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Barbara Walters. Joy Behar was originally set to be a fill in cohost but quickly became a regular cohost and is the only one of the original five that is still cohosting.

I am a little late coming to The View party. Though I have known of the show from its beginning, I never imagined it would be the type of show I would be interested in watching. For me, TV time is a time to escape. Generally, the last thing I want is to think about reality and what is happening in the world.

A little over a year ago, Hulu added The View to my recommended list. I decided to give it a shot with my usual skepticism. I typically give a new show ten-to-twenty minutes to hook me. If I am not sold during that window, I quit watching and seldom give the show another shot. Surprisingly, I was sold in the first five minutes. Though is seems to be an ever-changing panel, the current cohosts are Whoopi Goldberg, Sara Haines, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain and Paula Faris. They are a cross-section of intelligent, strong women that are not afraid to stand up and defend their beliefs and opinions.

The show is not engaging because I find myself agreeing with the panel. No, the opposite is generally true. Every day I find something that I feel strongly against. The congenial way that the ladies share and debate each topic, though, keeps me engaged and opens my mind to thoughts that I may not have been inclined to before.

There is an abundance of humor in each episode, and that is the biggest reason why The View has become one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. Getting to take a few minutes at the end of a workday to catch up on the insanity of the past twenty-four hours, and we have to agree there is an abundance of insanity in our world today, and yet find a few reasons to laugh during that review is the best reason to watch this show.

I should mention that I do not personally know any of the ladies currently or in the past serving as cohosts. I am not affiliated with ABC and am in no way being compensated for this post. No, I am just a crazy, getting older man that has stumbled upon this gem and was moved to put my musings down in writing.

Lastly, I must give props to the show for highlighting so many authors. Many of the authors are political fellows, but the show has a long-standing tradition of keeping literature and reading in the forefront. In this age where some think that reading and writing are dying arts, it is refreshing to see a show that still devotes so much import to writers and reading. As a writer, how can I not love that?

If you live in the US, do yourself a favor and check out the show. If you find nothing else you like about it, I am sure it will at least make you laugh. If you are outside the US, well, I am not sure what options you might have. If you know of a way to watch The View where you are, take a few minutes and check it out. I know you will enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Lesson 4: …to be surrounded with the positive

 

Do you remember the character, Debbie Downer, played by Rachel Dratch on Saturday Night Live? No matter what situation she found herself in, no matter how happy or festive, she always brought things to a screeching halt by dispensing her abundance of negative information. I remember laughing many times at those skits. There was great humor in the absurdity of the things she would say in the most inappropriate situations. There is also an important life lesson to be learned.

Funny as Rachel Dratch was, those skits can help us to understand an important lesson. We become the people we are around, whether positive or negative. Even if we are generally upbeat and happy, it will not take long for a negative person to bring us down and make us feel sad and depressed.

I was well into my thirties before this life lesson started to dawn on me. People has an immense influence on the positivity in my life. While I recognized that negativity breeds negativity, the damage to my own life I was slow to identify.

Smilies Bench

Generally, I am a happy person. Ask the people who know me, and they will say that I am generally smiling or laughing no matter how bad things are. Though I do complain and vent with the best of them, overall, I strive to keep my conversations and interactions positive. I make a conscious effort to smile and be positive as often as possible.

When I started to realize that my speech and behavior, and even my motivation to do projects at home, were being affected, I decided to try a little experiment. For three months, I limited my contact with the people I knew were generally negative. The impact was undeniable. I found myself laughing more. I was more productive. There was more enjoyment in everyday life. And I even slept better.

Read Lesson 3 in the series

Now I am not saying that I then proceeded to cut every negative person out of my life. In fact, I have a friend, and I will not use her name here to protect her feelings, who is by far the most negative person I know. No matter what good is done to or for her, she always finds fault and complains incessantly. She could give Debbie Downer a run for her money.

The last time she moved, a group of her friends got together and helped her move the bulk of her things. As a single woman, friends wanted to help out so she would not have to hire movers. Those of us who did not help then got to listen for days and weeks after about how disappointed she was with the process. Things were not moved the way she wanted them to be. They were not placed where she wanted in her new home. It was exhausting.

Yet, we remain friends. We have invested nearly twenty years into our friendship. At the end of the day, we both know that the other will be there if there is ever the need.


That being said, I do find the necessity to avoid her at times. After the moving experience, I had to stop talking to her for a time. I could not bear to hear how these hard working and well-meaning friends dissatisfied her.

When I am already blue or discouraged or just plain frustrated with life, talking to her will only make me worse. Then I become The Beast, as my wife used to refer to me.

At those times, I stop returning her calls and even stop reading her texts and emails. I love her dearly, but her negativity is a poison that I cannot always overcome.

The Beast is never pretty.

As to other friends, I did choose to cut many of the negative ones from my daily life. Not only have I found myself happier and more productive, but I also have the added benefit of much less drama.

It is a funny coincidence that negativity and drama seem to go together. That may be the topic for another post.

For many years I worked in a customer service industry. It was the type of business where I got to see customers on a regular basis. I often had the opportunity to spend considerable time with them.

Being in this environment gave me another chance to test my theory. I began to watch as some negative customers came in or called into the business. I then watched to see if the attitudes or behavior of my colleagues changed as a result.

Again, the results were undeniable.

The days that started with these negative customers were much harder days and much less productive.

pexels-photo-415380

Do you want to be more positive? Then I challenge you to look at the people around you. Are they positive in what they say and do? Or are they negative complainers bringing you down? If the latter, why not distance yourself from them for a while and see if you can notice a difference? Then come back and comment on your results.

What are the keys you have found to keep positivity in your life? How have you benefitted from this life lesson? Please share below.

Until next time…

 

Lesson 3: …to not say, “Just kidding”

I have a friend, and, in this instance, that is the broadest definition of the word, who is infamous amongst those of us who know him for being the Just Kidding guy. You know the type. I am confident that all of you have at least one in your midst.

They are the ones that find an abundance of ways to disparage you but always do so with a smile and a postscript of, “Just kidding!” Even though he is a senior citizen, he still will punch you in the arm or try to put you in a headlock after he delivers one of his zingers.

As a young man, I frequently laughed along, even when I was the butt of the joke. I honestly believed that the people thus attacking me cared about me. At the time, I believed that people should be taken at face value, and that the things they said should be trusted as being sincere.

Age and experience has taught me that yes, the things that are spoken should be trusted, but not all of them. I was putting faith in the wrong words.

Just Kidding guy was quick to tell you he cared about you or was interested in your best interests. Time proved that the words he qualified with, “just kidding,” were the true ramblings of his heart. It was a hard, painful lesson to learn.


When I first met Just Kidding guy, I had recently moved and was many miles from my home and family. His family took me in, in a manner of speaking, and introduced me to people and included me in their social circle. On the outside, things looked very genuine. Indeed, for several years I enjoyed their company.

In time, other messages reached me of the things Just Kidding guy and his family would say when I was not around. Reality began to dawn on me that the things he said he was kidding about were how they viewed me. I was devastated. I am not one to cry. In fact, I probably can list the number of times I have cried as an adult in a matter of a few seconds. This truth, this lesson, made me bawl like a toddler for most of a night.

The lesson was a good one, though, and for that I do have to thank Just Kidding guy. It taught me to listen to what was really being said by people. As I paid closer attention, it became more evident that the people who said, “just kidding,” rarely were. That, in turn, taught me to choose to avoid those people in my daily life. There was some time where my social calendar did have quite a few openings, but the relationships I did develop have proved to be enduring, quality relationships.

I also learned to be vigilant with the words that escaped from my mouth. Internally, I ask myself, Am I sincere in what I am about to say? How will my audience interpret my words? Are they kind and upbuilding? Those questions taught me to keep my lips in check and not rattle off hurtful things, even under the guise of kidding.

Read Lesson 1 in the series

It is more than twenty-five years since I first met Just Kidding guy. He and his wife still live a few miles from me. I rarely see them, and we run in very different circles. When he does chance upon my path, I always maintain how great it is to see him, but in my mind I cannot help but think, “Just kidding!”

Do you have a “Just Kidding” experience. Please share it below.

Until next time…

Friend or Foe? – Poem

Author’s Note:

I wrote this poem specifically to work out the obsession with alcohol of Tom Jacobs, the protagonist in my debut novel, Getting HomeTom suffers from a long and ongoing battle against alcohol. If you enjoy the poem, be sure to check out the book as well.

 

Friend or Foe?

It winks at me with single eye

And offers peace before it’s dry

It beckons me, “Take just one sip”

Then noise of mind will slowly slip

It swears to smiles and joy of heart

All in minutes of when I start

The price to pay is fairly small

Some little change for quite a fall

And maybe head or stomach aches

But what is this when peace it makes?

And though I swear this time the last

I take that drink to drown the past

It laughs at me, knows I am weak

My chance to win looks less than bleak

For this old friend, this wicked vice

Knows it holds me in frozen ice

My only friend, my only peace

This liquid holds but gives release

So I stay bound, each time I cave

A helpless ship tossed by the wave

No other way for me to cope

This drink to death my only hope

– June 5, 2005

 

Please share this poem with others through the share buttons below. Thank you!

 

Poems

This poem is about the struggle of addiction. | #poem #poetry #poet #addiction

This poem is about the struggle of addiction. | #poem #poetry #poet #addiction

This poem is about the struggle of addiction. | #poem #poetry #poet #addiction

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Hey, beautiful people. I had the wonderful chance to meet the beautiful Maria (blog linked; check her out!) a while ago and we had a wonderfully fun day out in Brighton, eating cheesecake and chatting about blogging. (And slowly but surely murdering our long-suffering bank accounts.) As we both blog in different ways and drive […]

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Getting Home – A Retrospective

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November 2017 will forever be a pivotal date in the story of my life. This month I decided to stop making excuses and a bucket list and start checking old items off said list. I have promised myself since I was a small boy that some day I would be a writer. In the second grade, writing with colored markers and crayons on three-lined paper, I began to tell my stories. That love of storytelling has since grown inside me, but this is the first time I have ventured out and decided to share my stories with the world.

This month I put my first novel out for self-publication. Getting Home is the culmination of fifteen years of hard work. It was the way I worked through the loss of my best friend and then the death of my soulmate. It was the means I used to forgive myself for past mistakes. It provided me with validation that I was not the monster I was rumored to be. It was my way to heal and forgive. It was my voyage to peace, to catharsis.

Book cover

It was a rainy August afternoon when pen first met paper. The words of the prologue came first. Writing a novel was my dream, but I did not have a story waiting to get out. I only knew that I wanted to write. I immersed myself in the moment I was experiencing: the rain outside, the sound of birds, the sound from the aquarium next to me. The prologue is almost entirely my experience on that August afternoon. From that simple opening poured the tale that I hope all of you will read. Tom Jacobs was born. He was as real as the pen in my hand. The sky was not fully dark that evening when I knew what path Tom Jacobs would take and how the journey would ultimately end.

With the flood of details that washed in upon me, it should have been a simple task to sit down and write every word. It would be an exceptional blog post if that were true, and many of you would be contacting me wanted to know the secret of writing a novel in one sitting. As I approached each part of Tom’s life, I was forced to look deep inside myself and discern what in me was the catalyst that spawned what we be Tom’s journey. That process and the subsequent chapters took years to complete.

Part of me feels like I cannot take credit for being the scribe of this narrative. Yes, I did put each word down on paper and those words seeped directly from my mind. I wrote the prologue and gave Tom his name, but from that moment on it was no longer my words. Tom became a real person relating his experiences and honoring me with the opportunity to put his journey in written form.

After fifteen years, Tom and all the other characters in Getting Home are old friends and family. I know their pasts, their likes and dislikes, and for some, I know how their stories end. I am not sure if I will ever put more of their words on paper, but I am happy to have known them.