Day 121. By focusing on one blessing today… more came tumbling after.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 121. Monday, July 25, 2011
I was sitting in Mass on Sunday when the priest asked, “what do all of us seek?”

My first thought: fame. (I figured God knows my thoughts—why try to conceal them.)

The priest answered the rhetorical question—“we all want to matter to someone. We are all seeking love.

I smiled to myself – well, yes, in a roundabout way, I guess that’s what I really meant….

This morning I busted into my co-worker’s office with the biggest grin. Look! I have proof that a complete stranger is reading my blog!

Needle in haystack
It’s like finding a needle in a haystack

I immediately looked at my co-worker perplexed. How did this person find me? I’m just a piece of dust on the Internet. I’m nobody. Yet… this person is reading my blog. And this person chose to “Like” me on Facebook. She’s my second fan and I don’t even know her!

My co-worker looked at me and said—just accept it. You’re not invisible. I left his office grinning ear to ear—admiring my iPhone that was displaying my one “Like” on my Facebook page.

I chatted with my friend again. “You know… I’m a bit embarrassed. It’s like inviting everyone to a dinner party but not having any food ready. I don’t have appetizers to serve for my one guest! The curtains to my new Facebook home aren’t even up! Nothing is ready!”

It was around this time I started sifting through Monday morning email. That’s when the balance to my day happened. Three challenging individuals from the past resurfaced today… on a Monday no less! I was absolutely stunned. As I read the email I could feel my forehead wrinkling—my whole expression probably said disgust.

Before taking the Dale Carnegie course I would have let these three people drag me down for the rest of the day. I would have reflected on the past business relationships we had with these individuals and would have questioned why we are bothering with them again.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to take the Dale Carnegie course and this blog also keeps me in check. I decided to dig my heels in deep and think of one good thing about today.

I began to grin ear to ear as I thought of my one Facebook Fan.

The day took a variety of twists and turns—with more stress at work. But I kept holding on to one good thing about today: my one Facebook fan.

I drove home today trying to figure out what I would write about in today’s blog. All I could think about was a strong wish to say thank you to the stranger who decided to “Like” my Facebook page. You were fan number 2… a very brave move considering there’s not much to see on my page. And what’s more—I want you to know how that one act absolutely made my day—and gave me something positive to focus on instead of the difficulties at work.

And… you also gave me the courage to reach out to my friends and ask them to “Like” my page. At the present moment… I’m at a stunning quantity… 9!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t worry about the past.
Count your blessings – not your troubles.

Without going into detail—I assure you—this day could have really been bad. Having these three business associates back in my life is a real challenge—and will really test my ability to use the Dale Carnegie principles. By focusing on my blessings—in this case—a bona fide fan on my Facebook page—I took control of my day. I was absolutely determined to have a good day and not let these individuals from the past drag me down.

So remember—the blessings in your life are just what you need to keep your outlook positive. Focus on them rather than the negative individuals and circumstances in your life. Today, I proved this technique works and I am confident it will work for you.

Thank you everyone who has chosen to “Like” my page.

Housekeeping / Notes:
I am so thrilled to tell you that a friend has volunteered to be a Guest Blogger!  More information is coming soon.

For those new to the blog—new blogs are usually posted between 10 pm…. 3 am every night/morning.  Depending on when I’m able to post—they may appear to be dated one day off.  I am always racing a clock.

Day 112. Dale Carnegie’s principles reminded me of who will be around during the best, worst and most vulnerable moments in life.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 112.  Saturday, July 16, 2011
The doorbell rang.  It was dad, grandpa and grandma.  Dad wheeled grandma inside the house as she sat patiently in her wheelchair.

The grandma I have always known has always walked.  She’s always dressed fashionably.  She’s never been old.  So the sight of a wheelchair takes some getting used to.  Who is this elderly person? 

Her health has recently worsened.  She and grandpa are in town visiting a new doctor. 

I offer grandma some water.  I reach for a glass and mom corrects me saying grandma can’t hold the round glass I selected.  She advises I give her the square shaped glass.

Right before dinner, grandma needed to use the facilities.  Grandma’s elderly condition is new for everyone.  She’s always been independent.  But now the simple task of dealing with personal needs is a multi-person process—particularly because no one in the immediate family is a health care professional.  Since this was her first time visiting the house in her condition they were trying to figure out which bathroom would be easiest for her to maneuver in.  Our bathrooms aren’t designed with the elderly in mind—there are no hand rails.  My uncle suggested she use the portable commode that they brought with them but dad said that the guest bathroom should work out ok. 

It was a very involved process.  And the concept of a portable commode was something that has never been on my radar. 

Understand that the Smiling Daffodil is a very private individual.  Admitting vulnerability, accepting help or being cared for when she’s sick are not her first choices.  I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery by myself, for example.  Just watching the scenario unfold from the sidelines was jolting to me.

I was really struck by the family unit.  The family unit has a bond of trust, respect and dignity for its members in the best and worst of times.  There are moments of vulnerability—as in this case when grandma needed help to get to the bathroom.  My uncle, aunt, cousin and grandpa each helped her in the measure that they could without being squeamish or uncomfortable.  It was simply a task that needed to get taken care of—and they helped her out of love. 

You’re probably wondering what Dale Carnegie principle I used in this scenario.  The principle is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I don’t often consider the many challenges that come with being elderly.  I’m the one that hates all public restrooms and pretty much any restroom but my own.  I had not thought beyond the germ factor to the real challenges—like not being physically able to take care of oneself and having to rely on others for help.  And I’m very impressed with how my family is stepping up and helping grandma with care, concern and love. 

My lesson to you—don’t take the smallest blessings for granted and be grateful for your family.  They are the ones that will be there for your best, worst and vulnerable moments.

Day 106. What to do when vines feel like they are choking you….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 106.  Sunday, July 10, 2011
This morning as I was doing yard work in the backyard I became overwhelmed.  I was at the point that I was ready to annihilate anything and everything that was green with my weed whacker.  I actually considered pulling out the chainsaw and attacking all the plants. 

The passion flower vine is very aggressive.  And despite the 100 degree temperatures and very dry ground—nothing seems to phase this plant.  It’s tangled on all the other plants and bushes.  I managed to cut it back down to a manageable condition.  But I created a huge mess to clean. 

Next I tackled the morning glory vine in my patio. It was growing / covering my two patio chairs.  I was at my wits’ end trying to remove this vine.  I thought to myself—a zero lot home is the way to go.  No hassle or responsibility of a backyard.  The vine had twisted itself around the legs of the chairs—it was as strong as a rope. 

As I was tugging away at the vine I tried to think of a Dale Carnegie principle that might help me get through this misery.

I considered the fact that I have my health.  I am physically capable of doing yard work—I have two working hands two working legs—I am mobile. 

I considered the fact that a customer of mine was recently in a head-on car collision.  The airbags saved her and her son—but they both have some minor injuries they are recovering from.  Despite these hardships this customer is upbeat and positive.  This blows my mind.

I considered the fact that I am blessed to have a home that I can afford.  I’m not in danger of foreclosure or bankruptcy.  I am able to make house payments without worry.  In fact my biggest worries at the moment are a couple of geckos and an overgrown backyard in need of some tender loving care.  Sounds like a pretty good life after all. 

My reason for smiling today

As I was finishing my work I came upon a dragonfly on my magnolia tree.  It was very accommodating to wait as I grabbed my camera.  I was inches away from it snapping photos.  I had a big grin on my face—and remembered why I love my backyard and all the ridiculous variety of plants I keep.  My garden—overgrown or not—attracts some wonderful butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds.  I just have to be willing to open my eyes and appreciate what I have.

The Dale Carnegie principle I employed in this story is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Count your blessings – not your troubles.

My lesson to you—if you start to feel overwhelmed by the burdens of the day—remind yourself of the ways you are blessed.  Run through an inventory of the various blessings—large and small in your life.  When you take this approach you gain a more positive perspective and are in a better frame of mind to take on the hassles of the day without complaint. 

Housekeeping / Notes:
I’m pretty certain you’ve missed some blog posts.  Click here to view the archives.

Thank you for reading!


Day 100. I visited a friend who would have been 103 years old this year….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 100.  Monday, July 4, 2011
This morning I woke up not sure how I’d spend the day.  It’s a holiday— and this time I don’t have to work.  What am I going to do with myself? I decided to focus on creating happiness for others.

I missed my friend’s anniversary last month at the cemetery.  He’s buried minutes from where I work but somehow I chose not to find the time to visit.  So today I decided I’d go visit him.  I contemplated the perfect flowers to take to his grave—perhaps a couple bouquets of the passion flower vine from my garden… but they really don’t keep well.  I decide to pick something up at a grocery store along the way. 

Well… I missed my exit for Albertson’s so I ended up at a nearby Fiesta grocery store.  I spotted the florist section where they had the standard selection of roses and carnations. 

Not the typical bouquet of flowers in a cemetery but that's why I like it.

I realize the man I am visiting is deceased—that he’d be 103 years old if he was alive—and odds are he doesn’t care about flowers.  Nevertheless he must have the most attractive flowers in the cemetery.  I spotted a bundle of flowers I’ve never seen in a florist at Albertsons—Bird of Paradise. It was exotic and beautiful.  Before I fell in love with them I checked the price. Nice! They are cheaper than carnations and roses.  Sold!

I made it to the cemetery with Bird of Paradise flowers in hand.  I don’t think anyone has visited my friend and his wife in awhile.  The vase for the flowers was buried and there was some grass that was a little overgrown around the grave marker.  I said a few words and offered some prayers.  It was over 100 degrees today—I was dripping by the time I was finished.

I finished and gazed at all the tombstones and cemetery markers.

It’s really unfathomable that all these tombstones and grave markers represent people that have gone before us and this is only one cemetery.  I was grateful for the opportunity to stop by, perspire a whole lot and be reminded of what’s important.  I’m sure my friend is in heaven by now and his cup is full—but I figured by trying to bring happiness to him somehow I’d get a new perspective.  It worked.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
Count your blessings not your troubles.

My lesson to you—the best way to prevent complaining, pity parties or complete boredom on a day off is to focus on someone else.  I found an unusual someone else to focus on.  By honoring the memory of my deceased friend I was able to shift my focus completely.  I was now appreciative for this day off and was able to enjoy the day far more.  When you take this approach you are in a better frame of mind to count your blessings both large and small.  The troubles that weighed you down don’t seem quite as heavy anymore. 

Housekeeping / Notes
Thanks for reading my blog!  It makes my day to see you have visited.

Day 97. A method you can implement to help you “count your blessings – not your troubles”

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 97.  Friday, July 1, 2011
I was driving home from work—I was mentally drained.  Half the staff took the day off today since it’s the Friday leading to the 4th of July weekend.

Those of us that had to work had a busy day.  I had a marketing campaign to launch.  Plus I had invoicing to complete and a variety of marketing projects to plan. 

My commute is about 30 miles and I tend to think too much during that time.  Several friends are on vacation.  I haven’t taken a vacation in quite some time. 

You can see where my thoughts were going….

I decided to focus on counting my blessings instead of my troubles.  And to do this effectively I chose a random letter of the alphabet and tried to name off my traits, qualities and blessings that matched the letter.

Example:  the letter “T”
I have tenacity

Example:  the letter “C”
I am good at making cookies
I have courage.
A friend of mine said recently I was cute.

Example:  the letter “D”
I am disciplined.
I can appreciate delicious food. (I am convinced not everyone does)

Example:  the letter “S”
I made two shirts that my peers really liked.

Example:  the letter “G”
I am the godparent to my friend’s baby boy.

You get the idea.  While it seemed a bit childish or perhaps self-serving—it was a positive mental exercise.  Coming up with words became an interesting puzzle to focus on during the very long commute.  It also reminded me that no matter what I think—I am blessed and should be grateful for every gift no matter how insignificant.

 By the time I made it home my entire outlook improved.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used today is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings not your troubles.

My lesson to you—if you find yourself feeling down or disappointed about your circumstances or your station in life—take a very proactive approach to changing your outlook.  Identify your blessings in a very specific way as I did.  By doing this—you spend your time thinking about the positive rather than what you don’t have or your troubles.  The outcome—you’ll feel a lot better.

Day 71. As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz would say, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more”

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 71.  Saturday, June 4, 2011
This afternoon I did a quick Google search to find a museum that would interest me.  I couldn’t find anything.  So I decided to fill the car with gas, turn on my new GPS and drive without a plan.  I took one main highway and kept driving North. 

I had no idea where I was going.  My only objective—take photos of something.  Anything.  And take plenty.  I was calling it my photo scavenger hunt.  My first random stop—a town named Sherman.

I was a bit nervous deciphering the one-way streets through the main square.  I decided to park at the library and take photos of railroad signs across the street.  I saw a “No Trespassing” sign on one of the buildings that I was approaching.  But I justified my actions by deciding I’m on a public sidewalk.  So I snap to my heart’s somewhat nervous content.

As I headed back to my car, a woman from the library walked out and asked what I was taking a picture of.  My heart sank to my stomach.  I thought—geesh—they must have cameras in this very quiet, isolated part of town.  Do I really look that threatening?

I nervously search for words.   “I—um… I’m taking pictures of that railroad sign…. I cross my arms as if to indicate the sign.  I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowed.”

She proceeds to ask why. 

I replied, “I’m taking photos for my blog… 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles.”  (at this point I realize what a ridiculously long blog name I have).

I continued, “I am driving aimlessly today taking random photos.  I’m sure it sounds crazy….”

The woman replies—“no problem.  You see, my office is just right there beside the window and you are the 5th person I have seen taking photos in that area.  I decided to finally get out of my office and ask what it is people are taking photos of and why.”

I smile with relief and walk back to my car. 

I continue to drive North.

I see a sign, “Durant.”  I think to myself—hmm… I’ll go there.  That’s when it occurred to me…. That’s not Durant, Texas.  I’m approaching Oklahoma! 

I took an exit and head to my new adventure in Durant:  Choctaw Casino Resort. 

I’m a little iffy on whether I’m wearing the right clothes.  I didn’t exactly plan to be seen this day.  But after glancing at the people entering the casino I determine I’ll fit right in—inasmuch as I would fit in at a casino….

I walk around the casino wide-eyed with fascination.  I went to the cashier—and true to my personality I say, “hi, um… is this where I get change?  I’ve never been here before….”  I half expect her to growl at me for sounding like an idiot but she greets me warmly and makes change for my 20 dollar bill.  She says you never know—you may have beginner’s luck.”

I head to one of the 1 cent slot machines.  I don’t have a clue what I’m doing but I’m feeling pretty bold and confident after drinking my free root beer soda.  I put 50 cents into the machine, pressed a few buttons and watched with fascination.  Why do people like this?   I thought to myself.

It's all about perspective ; )

I begin losing on this machine.  But then I won.  I won again.  And again.  I was trying to exhaust the money but I kept winning.  This was getting interesting.  When I reached $3.25 I decided it was time to quit while I was ahead.  My 45 minute adventure in the casino had come to an end. 

With my winnings burning a hole in my pocket I did the most logical thing I could think of.  I found a Starbucks and enjoyed a Java Chip Frappuccino. 

Sunset in June

On the way back home I chased a sunset with my car.  I was able to find a secluded open field where I could park the car, stand outside and watch the “show”.  I breathed in the intoxicating scent of wild flowers, listened to the birds chirping and lived in the moment. I thanked God for the wonderful day and all the thoughtful details that came along with it. 

I’m sure you’re wondering what Dale Carnegie principles I employed in today’s story.  They are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Keep busy.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Don’t worry about the past.

I had a difficult evening on Friday—and I was worried the effects would invade my Saturday and perhaps my Sunday.  With the help of at least three friends, I was able to renew my focus and determination and make today a great day. 

My lesson to you—there are people and circumstances that may succeed in dragging you down.  But you have the ability to pick yourself back up and create your own happiness.  The best way to achieve this goal is to keep busy.  Stay focused on the present moment.  In the event you do think on the past (as I do!) do it for one reason—to propel yourself to make the present all the more positive, meaningful and richer. 

Housekeeping / Notes:
I must thank three people and I’m going to break Dale Carnegie’s rules on names.  I am hoping you will be able to recognize your code names below.
Special thanks to:
Tofu Fairy

Day 48. Dale Carnegie’s principles can be applied on good days too! Wow!

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 48.  Thursday, May 12, 2011
It was 3:03 pm CST.  I was in my coworker’s office when it happened.  The bell rang in the warehouse.  Fortunately, I dressed appropriately for work today—jeans, a t-shirt, and some good running shoes. 

I made a mad dash to my office to grab my camera.  I’ve been especially trigger happy and today of all days must be documented. 

With camera safely around my neck, I raced into the warehouse… just in time to meet the UPS man. 

Behold…. my box!  Not just any box.  The box I’ve been longing for all week long.  The box that contains my precious laptop that I carelessly forgot in Michigan. 

Happiness delivered by the UPS man

I greeted the UPS man with a big stupid grin.  I snapped a quick photo of my box.  Then raced back to my coworker’s office where we safely unwrapped the precious cargo.

After reacquainting myself with my laptop I gave my coworker a puzzled look.  “What am I going to write about in today’s blog?  I’ve had a good day.” 

We both looked at each other—then at my laptop. 

Then my next concern became—“what photo would capture the relief and happiness of this moment?”

I left work a little earlier than usual and headed for home still pondering the perfect photo for my blog. What captures the essence of my happiness today?

Take the time to appreciate the little things

It didn’t take long before I noticed the sky.  The sky looked the way I felt.  It looked like it was rejoicing with me.  My long lost laptop reunited at last.

There were rays of light peering through the unusual arrangement of clouds—with shades of pink and blue scattered about.  It was so beautiful it was ridiculous. 

What normally takes an hour to get home probably took two hours.  I kept driving but then I’d notice the sky. I’d take a detour to get a better glimpse then I’d have to find a safe place to park to snap photos.  By the time I got home it was dark—but what a great way to spend an evening.  Me, my laptop and a beautiful sunset.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used today is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings – not your troubles.
Put enthusiasm into your work.

You see—I could have spent my day worrying about all the work I have to complete by next week and the fact that half the company will be out of town and unavailable to help me.  Instead I focused on the blessings of this day—the return of my laptop.  I am certain I will get all my work complete – I’m just not going to spend all my time worrying about it.  Instead I will focus on being enthusiastic and positive about the simple things in life. 

So remember—look for the blessings that come your way each day.  Blessings might come in unexpected forms—like the safe return of something lost or the beauty of a sunset.  Taking this approach changes your outlook in a positive way.  You are able to spend your time more productively and you’ll be amazed by how much energy you have.

Read Day 42 where I discuss the reason I forgot my laptop.

Day 46. Trying to reform my ways as the poster child for negativity

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 46.  Tuesday, May 10, 2011
During the drive to work this morning my thoughts were quickly spiraling down into an unhappy place.   

Gas prices were irritating me.  The long commute was irritating me.  The laundry list of tasks at work was irritating me.  Sure I have made lemonade from the Dale Carnegie course I was required to take.  Yes I’m having ridiculous fun with my blog.  But what’s the point?

To combat this negative train of thought I said a short desperate prayer—“please God help me.” 

I continued on my drive to work.

At a stoplight I checked my Facebook.  A friend posted a comment about losing someone to cancer. 

My thoughts then turned to one of my customers—“Laura”.  This customer lost her husband to cancer about 3 weeks ago.  I began to chew on that thought.  I remembered how I took a chance and emailed her that I would remember her in my prayers.  (I don’t really know this customer on a personal level).  I remembered her reaction—she was so grateful—and asked that I keep her kids “Lindsey” and “Charles” in my prayers too. 

As I continued to drive I thought about Father’s Day and how that day will be especially hard for them.  I considered what I could send to help honor their father on a day that is normally a happy time but for them will be a grievous time. 


I considered the fact that they would gladly deal with the challenges of rising gas prices, long commutes, working miserably long hours at a thankless job—in exchange for having their husband—their father back. 

 Hmm… guess this day isn’t that bad after all. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I’m the best example of pessimism, complaints and various other negative traits.  But as I hope I’ve demonstrated—even I can change my thought process and my outlook on the day and on life in general. 

When you take the time to count your blessings your perspective improves.    Irritations and hassles won’t drag you down as you focus on the positive in your life.