Month: December 2015

A New Beginning

It’s almost the end of the year now, and as usual, I took a few minutes to think about this year and how great it was. Thought about my regrets (not enough riding – even with two bikes), accomplishments and goals met. Then I quickly shifted forward to the future – 2016 in a few days!

Then I thought about putting things in order. It’s time to prioritize my goals for next year.

I’ve put relationships on top of the list. Relationship with God – I’ve got a long way to go on this one, so there’s work to do. Then there’s family, friends, coworkers and strangers. I need to improve on this important area – maybe talk less?

Do you know why relationships are important? Because it’s what gives us the fullest life. Did you notice that there are hundreds of millions of people living in poverty in less developed countries with a happiness factor better than the average first world resident? It’s because they have close friends and family that serve as support groups.

My other goals are not that interesting. Here’s an example: I plan on riding a 20 mile bike ride, a 40 mile bike ride and try to accumulate 500-1000 miles of riding in 2016. Are you still awake? Like I tell my wife often: I’m prolly the most boring guy in the world. My daughter told me the other day that I was boring. That was a feather in my cap.

So what may I suggest for this coming year?

Since you asked and really want to know, here’s a few of them:

I recommend we all do some soul-searching and get rid of a few trash in our lives. Maybe we have a collection of something that we don’t even look at for years. We are betting that the day would come that we’ll finally use it. But that day never comes. Let’s get rid of it and bring a smile to someone who have been looking for that trash. Our treasure (trash) is someone else’s treasure!

Let’s get rid of the negative thoughts and deeds forever. To illustrate: Here’s a quick story that I got in one of the comments section of an article in yahoo.com:

An atom was walking with another atom when the first atom said: “I lost an electron”.  Other atom asked: “are you sure”?  The first atom responded: “I’m POSITIVE!”  

Get rid of all negative influences. There are things we can control and there are things we can’t. We pray to give us the wisdom to know which is which. Sometimes we fret over things way beyond our control, and sometimes we try to control people because “we love them”. God does not twist our arm to do His will. It’s a great evidence of real love – the freedom to pick and choose.

Organize things a bit. I often use a paper planner for writing down appointments, goals, steps to a project, favorite Bible verses, gear ratios of my bicycles, etc. But with the arrival of the smartphone – they’re all now in my phone. I still use a small journal to keep passwords and other important data. It’s not hackable. Hint: keep it close and never lose it.

The first day of the new year is kinda like a reset. You may have regrets about the past year(s) or you’re still sitting on the laurels of your 2015 accomplishments. But come January first, things change – can’t go back to Dec 31, 2015 ever again!

It’s a new beginning – a tremendous opportunity to live, love and give!

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A Cup Of Joe

What is the most popular beverage in the world today? If you guessed coffee because you thought the title gave a hint – you are morosely mistaken.  It is tea.  But tea is like a black and white TV (ever heard of those?) while coffee is the latest 4K TV. These days, coffee even made billions of dollars of revenue for several thousand shops specializing in coffee drinks, hot or cold. 

Are you a coffee drinker? I am – since I was a young child and I still love drinking a cup or two almost everyday. In the Navy back in the days, almost everyone I know drink coffee. Some of them drink it all day.  Some has a permanent crook on their forefinger from holding heavy ceramic coffee mugs all day long. 

Every few weeks or so, I read an article about why coffee is good for us. Then two weeks pass, and another article gives various reasons to avoid it. So I had a moral dilemma. Should I continue drinking or stop? I arrived at the perfect solution:  I switched to decaf. My wife did too – so I figured it was a brilliant idea. 

Moving right along…

Here’s a quick introduction about coffee. Most coffee comes from the coffee bean plant. It takes about four years for a coffee bean plant to grow from seed to producing it’s own fruit or bean called “cherry”. We had one coffee bean plant when I was young and it was pruned to stay at about six feet tall so harvesting the beans would be easy. It’s been reported that a coffee bean tree may last up to 60 years.

So I present to you the benefits and the negative effects of coffee, and let you decide for yourself. Studies were conducted and general observation of patients lead to these conclusions.

BENEFITS:

  • Improves memory, mood and awareness
  • It improves physical performance
  • Coffee may lower risk of contracting type 2 Diabetes
  • It may protect you from Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
  • It may lower the risk of strokes
  • It cleanses the liver
  • It gives you sharpness of mind (at least for a few hours)

BAD EFFECTS:

  • May cause ulcers and acidity 
  • Also acid reflux and heartburn
  • May prevent absorption of essential minerals like iron and magnesium
  • It raises blood pressure
  • It makes some nervous
  • it increases heart rate and tension

So what’s my take on this? Well, the bad effects don’t affect me that much. I make sure I don’t drink too much by filling up a cup one third of the way. One third?  Yes, it’s two-thirds empty. Then if I need another cup, I fill a cup one third of the way. So even if I drank four cups, it’s only actually 1.3 total cups by volume.  Wasn’t that brilliant?

Reminder: results will vary. What doesn’t affect me may be painful for you.  What’s beneficial to me might not affect you. 

Time for a break.  Coffee break, that is.

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Softly As I Speak

I used to work with a colleague named N.  She was younger than me but she taught me one of the best advice in interpersonal relationships. She maybe still one of my readers here and if she’s reading this – the credit for this post belongs to her. Thank you, N!

This advice was very helpful to me especially right after I retired from the Navy. In the military, we are used to brief and concise directions, sometimes not very polite but it gets the message across. When we have emergency drills, voices are raised so people can hear clearly what’s being said.

Even when writing we write with very few words in formal and informal correspondence.  To the outside world, it can be misconstrued as direct and lacking in diplomatic phrasing. But it gets the job done inside our organization. When writing to the civilian community, the format changes – to something more like a common business letter.

Of course, when we talk to each other, sometimes the language is even harsh, crude and downright unacceptable in a  civilian business environment. To us, it’s just a regular day in the office. I personally don’t like it so I try my best not to talk like the normal shipboard talk, if you know what I mean.

So what is this advice that N taught me?

Oh, the suspense is killing you?

One day I was fuming mad – not at her – but at someone else but I guess my tone of voice was raised to a higher crescendo.  She said that to be effective in verbal communications – it is best that I lower my voice just a bit. She said that will force people to listen to what you are saying. Additionally, because of the soft tone, the other party is more inclined to listen than reject what is being said.

I tried it a few times and it worked. One time I saw a parent berating their young child in public loudly. I silently said “if you lower your voice, your child might start listening to what you have to say”.  The parent continued on and the child just kept quiet obviously rejecting any input of ideas, even if it’s for his own good.

Try it a few times especially when you are getting angry. Breathe deep several times then phrase your words in a polite manner and speak softly to the other person. If an upset person is talking to you in a very loud voice, reply with a very soft tone, and the person will be inclined to copy your tone, defusing the conflict slowly.

Very hard to do? Wes, but if you don’t try it you won’t master it.

 

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