Day 89: San Quentin, rotting fish and Dale Carnegie’s principle– “don’t fuss about trifles.”

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 89.  Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Last week I noticed one of my blog posts appeared when someone used a search engine.  This was not unusual.  But the phrase that the person used was unusual.  Someone typed the phrase:  “Why can’t you wear jeans at San Quentin?”  and my blog appeared in the results.  I have no idea how that happened.  It is true—sometimes it feels like I am in a prison—but I’ve never verbalized it.  (Oops!)

This morning I woke up and reached for my iPhone to review stats and search engine terms for my blog.  Sure enough—someone did a search and my blog post appeared in the results.  Although I was half asleep at the time—the phrase startled me completely awake:  “Dale Carnegie rot”.   


I thought—maybe someone can’t spell?  But I couldn’t think of an alternative word that was also positive… rotten, Rottweiler….

Since I was wide awake I got up and ready for the day.    

“Rot?”  I mean really?  I thought about the word way too much. 

I considered shutting down the lemonade stand—also known as my blog.  Someone thinks my stories are rot….

I struggled finding something to wear today.  I considered the fact that I have missed the gym for 5 days now.  I feel huge.  My blog and work are keeping me too busy to have time for the gym.  As it is I’m going to bed around 2 am.  I’m blissfully happy and productive but I’m also sleepy and I feel chunky. 

Maybe I should shut down the blog.  But then I remembered today is Guest Blog day.  I can’t let my friend down.  His blog proves the value of using the Dale Carnegie principles.  And if he was willing to be a guest blogger—surely then my blog isn’t “rot”. 

I considered the perspective of the person that typed “Dale Carnegie rot”.  Hmm… Yes… my stories can be a bit on the absurd, happy-go-lucky, pour on the extra sugar and syrup—sappy side. 

Yes, I can see how my writings might inspire the word “rot”. 

Hmm… I wonder which blog story came up in that search?  I concluded with sadness that all of them qualify for that description.

Well, I’m feeling fat, I have blemishes on my face, my hair is the wrong style, my house is a mess and my blog stories appear in search engines with the words “Dale Carnegie rot.”  Grumble.  This day doesn’t look so good.

So I decided to do the most logical thing.  I pulled out the Clorox and vacuum and I cleaned.  I amused myself thinking—it took the word “rot” to inspire me to clean.

Around this time I remembered some details I had forgotten about my own blog.  I had written a blog with the word “rot” in it.  My first blog was about a rotting fish.  It was the catalyst for me to begin this blog. 

It’s one of my favorite stories.  Instead of focusing on the malicious person who threw a large dead fish into my backyard to rot—I scooped it up, disposed of it and focused on making lemonade—by starting a blog.

Oddly, I have fond memories of the stench from that rotting fish.  The stench from that horribly rotten and fly infested fish—has become symbolic for me.  I take “rot” and other frustrations and try to find the positive and humor in them. 

So, a special thank you to whoever it was that searched “Dale Carnegie rot”.  I was inspired to clean the house and return to the gym.  (And I don’t think you were trying to imply my stories were bad.  I’m still trying to master the “get thicker skin” and “don’t assume the worst” principles by the way…)

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Keep busy.
Don’t fuss about trifles.

The lesson I hope you take from this story—you have the ability to control how you react to the day’s events.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Don’t assume the worst about yourself or people’s opinions of you.  Simply don’t worry!

Do your best to look for the good, the humor—or my personal favorite—the irony of the day.  It makes the day more manageable and amusing.

As I type this blog and look back at how the rest of the day turned out—I had a really wonderful day!  To think I was going to let trifles get the best of me!

Housekeeping / Notes:
Be sure to read the post by my newest guest blogger, Esteban.  He not only makes lemonade but he demonstrates the qualities of a good father.  Click here to read his story.

Day 75. I used Dale Carnegie’s principles by baking cookies….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 75.  Wednesday, June 8, 2011
It was 5pm and “Gasoline with Match Lady” emailed.  She was responding to my request for some information for a marketing campaign. 

It felt like Monday all over again.  Her email pretty much indicated I was wrong to ask for the information. 

This time, I did not pick up the phone for a fight with her.  Instead, I sent an email indicating I’d call her on Thursday morning.  By the time I call her tomorrow—we will both be well rested and with open minds.

Mmmm.... cookies

I proceeded to drive home, have dinner, write a blog, bake cookies, go to the gym, etc, etc.  The key here is that I did not dwell on the silly behavior of “Gasoline with Match Lady”.  I put the ordeal in a day-tight compartment—and I moved on to have a very pleasant evening.  A year ago—I would have let “Gasoline with Match Lady” or anyone else determine the outcome of my day.  Not anymore.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
Live in “day-tight compartments.”
Don’t fuss about trifles.

My lesson to you—remember that you determine the outcome of your day.  You might have a person in your life that drives you nuts.  The frustration the person causes is not worth your time, health or happiness.  The best way to change your perspective is to put the issue in a day-tight compartment.  Then work on protecting and creating your happiness by keeping busy.  By day’s end, you can look back with a sense of pride knowing you didn’t let a silly person’s behavior get the best of you.

Housekeeping / Notes
Today is your bonus day!  Guest Blogger Elijah found an opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle while at a stop sign.  Read now!

Day 74. I messed up by not using Dale Carnegie’s principles when talking with “Gasoline with Match Lady”

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 74.  Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Preface:  I was embarrassed to post this blog on Monday.  So I posted an alternate event that happened on the same day.  After consideration—I do want to share the originally planned story.  The Tuesday entry will follow.  (Just read the whole thing—it comes together nicely)

Today’s entry might not count. I didn’t use Carnegie principles well—if at all.

This woman we will call Gasoline with Match Lady—emailed me on (Monday) morning and copied my boss. She was complaining I hadn’t answered an email.  It’s true. I hadn’t. But the ball was not in my court— it was in management’s.

I decided to ignore Gasoline’s email until 4 pm. (Really smart, I know.)  The emails between us were turning tense fast.  I knew better— but I picked up the phone and called Gasoline. I figured it would be easier to talk to her in person. And it would have been. Except both of our tempers were—well… boiling.

We talked in circles. We were not communicating on the same level. Since we weren’t hearing each other our voices got higher and higher.  It was getting stupid.

At odds with each other

I tried to think through my words but I was at a loss. After she lectured me I replied I wasn’t put on this planet to serve so-and-so. It was at this point I think we both ran out of energy and talked more civilly.  I asked her to provide suggestions. I tried not to shoot them down immediately. I listened, asked questions and we both arrived at the same conclusion: sleep on it.

Frankly I think I did everything wrong when it comes to using the Dale Carnegie principles. I knew better than to approach Gasoline with Match Lady on a Monday.  I was irritated by her attempt at making me look bad with my boss. So learn from me:  When you criticize, condemn or complain—most people—even Smiling Daffodil, will do everything possible to dig their heels in, close down or fight back. What a waste of energy.

For my part, I should have used Dale Carnegie’s principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles. 

Because quite frankly the subject matter that Gasoline with Match Lady and I were arguing about was just that—a silly marketing trifle. 

Now read on!  I’m really proud of this!

Today I made the dreaded phone call to Gasoline with Match Lady.  I asked her if she had a chance to sleep on the marketing problem from yesterday and she said she did.  But she didn’t have a solution and she proceeded to state the problem that we were already very familiar with.

I made light of the matter by saying the solution was right under our nose.  I proceeded to spell out the details of the marketing program that would solve our problem.  I discussed the concept in a friendly way, pointing out that she had already done much of the work.

Once I was finished presenting the solution, she agreed enthusiastically.  We were both stunned by the contrast between today’s phone conversation and yesterday’s. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Write out and answer the following questions:
a.      What is the problem?
b.      What are the causes of the problem?
c.       What are the possible solutions?
d.      What is the best possible solution?

My judgment was too clouded on Monday to list possible solutions to the problem.  In fact, I made it worse by talking to Gasoline with Match Lady.  So I decided to box up the problem, put it on a shelf in my head and revisit it in the morning with a clearer head.  When you take a similar approach, you will find the answer to your problem is very obvious. 

Housekeeping / Notes
Wednesday is the big day for the guest blogger!  I am certain you will enjoy his post.  So be sure to allocate enough time to read TWO blogs.  : )
Don’t forget—the Smiling Daffodil’s blog is big enough for a whole garden of guest bloggers.   Looking forward to hearing from you!

Day 65. My choice in fingernail polish turns into opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 65  Sunday, May 29, 2011
I decided to try something out of character today.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do but just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on—especially considering I probably won’t like the outcome.  But once an idea is planted in my head—it’s pretty much set in motion.

I decided this was no big deal.  Women do this all the time.  Granted, I have an important day at work on Tuesday—I need to present myself in a professional manner.  This action may contradict professionalism. On the other hand… I just turned 33—who cares what anyone thinks or says?

So I boldly went into the nail salon.  I told them I wanted a manicure.  But this time—not a French tip manicure.  I wanted color.  Not just any color.  I chose the darkest color I could find other than black.  “Eiffel for you” was the name of the color—a play on words “I fell for you”.  It was a very deep, dark purple…nearly black. 

I handed it to the manicurist and studied her reaction. The world didn’t come crashing to an end—which surprised me.  She did say it was dark but she didn’t try to talk me out of it. She applied the first coat and I was surprised I loved it.  She warned it would get darker with the second coat. 

Oh my!

Once she finished I had very striking painted fingernails that were screaming for attention.  Clearly the nail polish lives up to its name—because I absolutely fell for that color. 

So by now you’re thinking what Dale Carnegie principle could I have possibly exercised in this scenario?  From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.

Yes, it’s just a silly trip to the nail salon.  The color of fingernail polish isn’t exactly life threatening or a monumental decision that can produce catastrophes if the wrong color is chosen.  Yet for whatever reason I had always hesitated to experiment with color.  I figured it was childish—or unprofessional or whatever other adjective you can think of.  But it’s just fingernail polish!  And in the event that someone doesn’t like it… it doesn’t matter because I do.  The key is to not fuss about trifles. 

As I’ve demonstrated in my special way—I let a trifle take hold of me for too long.  Shame on me—yet it’s good that I finally decided enough is enough.  So learn from me—and take the first step towards not worrying about trifles.  Odds are your trifle isn’t as silly as fingernail polish—which means you’re already quite a few steps ahead of me!  So now there’s really no excuse for you to not take the steps towards overcoming your own trifles.  When you do this… you might discover something new about yourself.  In my case… I LOVE very deep, dark purple nail polish.

Housekeeping / Notes
Catch up on past blog post entries.  Day 64 was about good listening skills.
Pictorial / Blogs at a glance page has been updated for a quick overview of the past 65 days by photo. 
I’m looking for a few good writers!  That means you!  Read up on how you can become a guest blogger.  I’ll do most of the work for you!

Day 58. Take the time to enjoy the seaweed… an application of Dale Carnegie’s principles.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 58.  Sunday, May 22, 2011
My art conference ended at noon and I had three hours to spend before having to go to the airport.  The instructor in my class suggested I go to Newport Beach which surprisingly was just twenty minutes away!

Finally, my status as The Smiling Daffodil is paying off...ha

The hotel arranged a ride for me and I was off on a new adventure.  I wasn’t dressed for the beach—I had sneakers, jeans and one of my better dress shirts.  Before the driver dropped me off I mentioned my concern about getting back to the hotel.  He assured me there were plenty of taxis available and he gave me his business card. 

So we parted ways and I decided to do my best to live in the moment.  I saw plenty of restaurants and shops to occupy my time.  But then I got distracted by the beach….

I stripped my feet of my sneakers and socks.  I rolled up my jeans above my ankles.  I approached the beach with a look of wonder and excitement. 

As I approached the shore, I plopped my white purse and my tote of art supplies on the sand.  I figured if anything gets dirty surely it could be wiped clean.  Besides, I have other purses….

I got my feet wet and it wasn’t long before I was stalking the birds along the shore.  They were just too amazing not to photograph.  I was so engrossed with photographing the birds that no one around me existed.  I was oblivious to everything but the birds.  That’s when the waves came crashing… and now my jeans were wet up to my knees.  Instead of getting concerned about being a wet mess—I decided to accept the inevitable.  My knees, legs and toes will be dusted in sand, I will be wet and my purse and art supplies may end up sandy… but I will have my fun day at the beach.

One man's seaweed is another woman's art

I examined and photographed seaweed, seashells, rocks, the waves crashing against the rocks, beach sand, sand castles… everything. 

At the appropriate time I was able to flag down a taxi without difficulty.  It turned out “Marty” the cab driver doesn’t normally work until 6 pm but he felt compelled to begin his shift earlier that day.  I explained that he was the answer to my prayers.  He smiled and said— “well, you know, I do have a bible near my night stand….”

Marty dropped me off at the hotel promptly at 3 pm—just in time for the hotel shuttle to take me to the airport.  As I sat in the shuttle I reflected on the day.  I didn’t spend my day worrying about how I’d spend 3 hours.  I didn’t worry about transportation.  I didn’t worry about getting all dirty at the beach.  Instead I lived happily in the moment—being grateful for every moment of that afternoon.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.

I counted my blessings—I had free time to spend and I was able to spend it in a rather unexpected way… on a beach.  I didn’t worry about how I’d return to the hotel.  I didn’t worry about getting my jeans all wet.  I lived in the moment and had one of the best “traveling work days” in a long time. 

The lesson I hope to convey is that much of the stress, discontent and unhappiness surrounding a day can be self-inflicted.  You will discover how much a relief it can be to just live in the moment instead of worrying.  Count each blessing—no matter how small—and don’t waste a moment on petty worries like getting your jeans all wet from the ocean!  Instead—see it as blessing!  Wow—instead of being in Texas at this very moment, I’m on a beach in California with my feet covered in sand.  Does life get any better than this?

Housekeeping / Notes
Real daffodils fade but fortunately The Smiling Daffodil’s blog posts are timeless.  Catch up on archives.

Day 57. How Dale Carnegie helped me see the forest for the stitches… err trees….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 57.  Saturday, May 21, 2011
I had mixed feelings as I walked into my first art class today.  Did I bring the right supplies?  Can I fool my talented classmates into thinking I’m an artist like them? And the really important concern—can I bring my Starbucks Frappuccino into the classroom?

I asked hesitantly if I could bring my drink in.  The instructor and other students replied, “Of course!  We did!”

Class unfolded in such a wonderful way.  The instructor explained she’s rather laid back and there are few rules.  She encouraged us to learn her basic techniques then run with them.  Those were magic words. 

I approach paint with enthusiasm

We began by designing our own fabric using acrylic paints, watercolor pencils, markers and paintbrushes in various sizes.  The instructor explained not to get too attached to the piece of fabric—as we’d be cutting it up into small pieces, layering it and sewing it together in the second half of the class. 

I let loose on the fabric.  I even skipped lunch so that I could paint more yardage of fabric.  I was out of control.  My hands were covered in paint.  I was blissfully happy.

Surprisingly, most of the paint ended up on my hands instead of the fabric

When the second half of the class began, the instructor taught us the sewing techniques we needed. 

While I’m not an expert at sewing or with all the different machines—it’s not my first rodeo.  I was chomping at the bit to begin.  I was certain the second half of the class was going to be just as thrilling as the first half.

I sat down at the machine.  The machine technically worked.  But there is an art and science to setting up the machine.  My stitches were not turning out right.  I know they weren’t based on my experience proofing countless articles on the subject.  But I’m not an expert at this particular model of machine.  And it’s not my place to try to fix it. 

So as a student, I asked for help correcting the tension setting on the machine.  One of the assistants came over and explained it was fine.  I explained—“no—look at the stitches.”  She tried a setting continued to insist it was fine and she walked off.  I mumbled to myself.

I was irritated.  My machine, while it technically was ‘sewing’ it was sewing incorrectly.  It wasn’t user error.  It was machine error.  I started to shut down.  My wonderful little project was turning out horribly by my standards.  All I could see were the horrible stitches.  (white bobbin thread was visible on the top—in sewing terms this is a big offense).

I continued to struggle with the machine. I switched machines.  I even called my friend in another state to see if she could walk me through the tension problem on the machine. 

Nothing I did fixed the problem. 

I was irritated.  My feeling toward this blissfully wonderful class was turning into a bad experience.  Stupid machine.  Stupid thread.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I started talking to a student next to me.  I admired the progress she was making on her project.    Mainly—I wanted to see if she had nasty white bobbin thread on top of her fabric.  She had a little but not too bad.  And she wasn’t concerned about it.  She mentioned she was having a hard time quilting because she has rheumatoid arthritis.  She also said she wished she had painted more fabric like I did.  I gave her some of my prized painted fabric and encouraged her to cut up more if she’d like. 

Somehow talking to her diffused my tension.  I decided to accept the inevitable.  My art piece was going to have white bobbin thread on top.  I did everything I could to fix the problem—to no avail.  So the best option was to just take a deep breath and surrender to fun.  I put the foot pedal to the metal on the sewing machine and stitched aimlessly, carelessly through my layers of fabric. 

My fabric. My art. So there!

A few minutes into this process—I was having ridiculous fun again.  Another student walked by and she asked me if I’m a quilter.  I laughed and asked if someone paid her to say that.  (What I really wanted to say was— did Dale Carnegie put you up to that question?). 

The irony is that I wasted valuable time getting worked up about the thread.  I couldn’t see the forest from the trees—or in this case—the stitches from the art piece.  I was so caught up with the detail of the thread that I couldn’t recognize this experience for what it is—a very liberating, fun, artistic class with absolutely no rules and no criticism.

The Dale Carnegie lesson used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable.
Create happiness for others.
Don’t fuss about trifles.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes there are circumstances we cannot change or improve upon in the exact way we want to fix them.  In these instances, take a deep breath and accept the inevitable.  Do what you can to make the best of a situation.  When you do this—you’ll find it’s a lot more bearable and in my scenario, I was able to end the class on a positive note.  Taking this approach is far more relaxing and a better way to end the day than fixating on trifles like slight imperfections in stitches.

(As a side note, the swirly, curvy, stitches were intentional.  It’s known as “stippling.”  I really do know how to stitch a straight stitch, but wasn’t trying)

Housekeeping / Notes:
Smiling Daffodil’s blog posts don’t fade!   Be sure to visit past blog posts you may have missed: 
Day 56.  How I let art supplies occupy too much of my time and what I did about it…
Pictorial of blog posts

Day 56. How I let art supplies occupy too much of my time and what I did about it….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 56.  Friday, May 20, 2011
Last night I went to the store to buy some last minute supplies for the art classes I am taking in California.  The supply list indicated it would be helpful, though not required, to bring my own watercolor pencils.  To me this means I will have to share with people and I won’t enjoy that process so I better just bring my own supplies.

I browsed the very colorful and enchanting art aisle—full of colored pencils, chalk, pastels and various other intriguing artists’ tools.  I say I browsed.  I salivated.  I dreamed.  I stood in awe of the potential these tools could mean in the right hands.  Not that my hands are the right hands.  But I can dream. 

Reality came when I looked at the prices for all these artists’ tools.  I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on colored pencils.  But gosh, these metallic colored pencils are mesmerizing.  Oh if only I could have them.  I had a coupon.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to make the plunge.  I wanted those pencils.  I wanted them bad.  I just couldn’t justify it.  After probably 20 minutes of browsing I settled on an inexpensive set of 8 colored pencils. 

I went to pay but there was a long line of customers and only one cashier.  I decided it wasn’t worth the wait for the dumb pencils I had to “settle” for.  So I left.

This morning all I could think about were the watercolor pencils and the potential that could be unleashed in this art class I am taking.  I decided to go back to the store and purchase a set—any set—just so that I’d have something for this class.

While driving I grumbled thinking this is worse than the red pen incident last week.  I decided it was easy to justify the investment in these artists’ tools as R&D.  Given my past experience with using what has been invested (ie. A Dale Carnegie training course)—stupid pencils were a drop in the bucket.  Besides… I have some new product ideas that these pencils will help me to produce and hopefully help the company make money. 

I walked boldly to the aisle where the coveted art supplies are kept.  I did not hesitate. I grabbed two different sets of pencils and walked to Liz, the cashier without a second thought.

I handed Liz my tattered coupon I’ve been holding on to along with the company credit card.  She rang me up—I was pleased with my savings and told her so.  But then she told me today was buy one get one free day on colored pencils.  My order would be even cheaper.  I thanked Liz and went merrily on my way.

The Dale Carnegie principles I should have used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles.

The Dale Carnegie principle I did use is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.  

When I think about the time I wasted thinking and worrying about the silly watercolor pencils I am embarrassed.  It wasn’t long ago the company told me I could purchase $150 markers on the company credit card.  So frankly, $20 watercolor pencils were not going to break the bank.

Also, be thankful for the unexpected courtesies of strangers.  In my case, the cashier, Liz, found a way to save me more money when frankly, she was not obligated to do so.  I was thrilled and I let her know it. 

So remember, there are plenty of instances when petty worries and stress come your way but you have the opportunity to turn them around.  When you do this—you’ll discover power in the ability to control your emotions and the circumstances you face.  And who knows, with a little practice, these trifles will become fewer and far between.