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 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 96. Is your day on the fast track to crummy? Try this approach….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 96.  Thursday, June 30, 2011

My dear phone, don't go towards the light. Come back...

I woke up to the unexpected sound of the alarm clock on my iPhone.  I thought my iPhone was broken.  I quickly examined the phone.  Nope.  It’s still broken by my estimation. 

I did my best not to worry about the phone.  Besides… I have better things to panic about….

I had a photo shoot today across town—and as usual I was running late.  For the first time in my career I actually designed two garments for this photo shoot.  We have the perfect model to wear my creations.  She arrives at the studio in a half hour.  And to make matters worse, the garments are wrinkled and they are with me instead of at the studio. 

Traffic was a mess.  The exit I needed was closed so I had to take a detour on the highway.  I kept telling myself—“live in day-tight compartments.  If I’m late—I’m late.  It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.” 

I decided if I arrive too late the garments can be photographed at the next photo shoot.  No one is expecting these two garments anyway. 

I then calmed myself down by belting out my favorite song on my iPod.  I’m not a good singer but like everything I approach it with enthusiasm.  Suddenly traffic didn’t seem so bad.  And I was making ridiculously good time considering my destination was 40 miles away. 

“Please God, get me there soon”, I prayed.  “Please get me there by 9:15.”

Despite two detours I arrived at precisely 9:15 am.  I was 15 minutes late.  But I was pleased that I made my goal.  “Thank you God.  15 minutes is late but not horribly late.”

I walked into the studio with my two garments.  I prepared for the worst in terms of my peers’ reactions to the garments. I honestly had no idea if the garments were attractive. I made them—so I wasn’t a good judge.  I reminded myself that I did my best—but I might be better off at designing pillows.

I was greeted by everyone at the studio.  It turns out they were just getting started.  I wasn’t late.

I started apologizing for my feeble attempt at designing garments and suggested we not photograph them.  Their reaction was nothing but praise and encouragement.  They actually liked the garments. 

I quickly steamed the garments and our model tried them on.  I was stunned.  I made that?  And it actually looks decent?

I was talking to my associate between set changes—explaining to him that my iPhone was either dead or in limbo.  He asked me to show him the phone.

I pulled it out of my purse. 

“Turn it on”, he said.

I replied, “ok, but you’ll see that the Apple logo just stays on—it won’t get past that point.  And if it does it will advise I run the recovery mode.  I don’t want to lose all my photos….”

Some people post their children, their pets, scenic vacation destinations. I post my feet as wallpaper on my iPhone.

As I’m explaining all of this I glanced down and saw the prompt to enter my passcode.  I noticed my favorite screensaver was also displayed.

I nearly hugged my associate.  “It’s alive!”

Not only did I arrive at the studio before the photo shoot started, my garments were not only appreciated—they looked good on the model—and my iPhone “Lazarus” had come back from the dead.  Can life get any better?

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Cooperate with the inevitable. 
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
How to face trouble:
            A.  Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
            B.  Prepare to accept the worst.
            C.  Try to improve on the worst.

I absolutely prepared for the worst today.  I knew it would be impossible for me to arrive on time to the studio.  I was also aware that my phone may very well be dead.  And I was bracing myself to have my two garments criticized by my peers.  Once I prepared for the worst—it was easy to move forward.  Imagine my excitement when the worst did not happen. 

Today was a GREAT day and I suspect it had everything to do with my outlook.  There was a ridiculous amount of work today and plenty of silly emails to review and countless details I did not consider important enough to share in this blog because none of these details affected me.  My day was GREAT no matter what. 

My lesson to you—sometimes there are unavoidable circumstances—like traffic jams, being late, etc.  It’s at this point you should take a deep breath and just accept the inevitable.  You can’t pull out a magic wand and zap the problem away.  And worrying and stressing over the problem won’t solve it.  Instead find ways to minimize the problem—and look for the positive.

In my case I celebrated being only 15 minutes late. There was a time not long ago I’d be irritated for being late at all.   Once a few positive things started happening to me today you’d think I won the lottory.  After that—the rest of the day was a breeze to deal with. 

When you take this approach—you’ll be able to reflect on the day’s events and how you handled them with a sense of accomplishment.  Control your outlook and you’re more likely to end the day on a positive note. 

Housekeeping /Notes:
You’re invited to read this week’s guest blog post by Tyrone.  He turned an ordinary visit to the library into an opportunity to use the Dale Carnegie principles.  Click here to read.

Day 90. This story almost had an unhappy ending until I figured out how to make lemonade from lemons…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 90.  Friday, June 24, 2011

Preface:
I had a story about letting someone save face on Thursday—but decided to post a different blog topic.  In retrospect the “saving face” story was meant to be told today….

——–
I was talking to an associate on Thursday.  His face looked green—he seemed absolutely sick.  It turns out he made an expensive, careless mistake. 

Before taking the Dale Carnegie course I would have let the person save face.  But in my mind I would have been thinking… you careless fool!  Hope you learned your lesson.

Fortunately, I have taken the Dale Carnegie course and I handled the circumstance differently.  I let my associate save face—and I didn’t think anything ill of him.  I empathized with him and tried to come up with solutions to this expensive blunder. 

Friday was going really well—by the afternoon I had finished my primary task for the day and I was really proud of the results. I was confident—perhaps a little bold in thinking I had done a profoundly good job.  What a great day… I might have to revisit Mcdonald’s for a strawberry lemonade to celebrate.  (You might remember last Friday was horrible)

By the end of the day I had a list of blog topics that I felt were pretty stellar—and they were all very positive.  I didn’t have to make lemonade from lemons today!

Before I went home I analyzed some reports and realized one of my marketing campaigns did not do well.  Let’s be honest—by my calculations the campaign bombed.  It crashed.  It burned. 

I felt dejected as I drove home.  I worked hard on the campaign.  This was my baby.  My heart was in this campaign. 

Since it was my campaign—I felt completely responsible.  I felt sick the entire drive home.

 I tried to remember 99 percent of this day was great—but that darn 1 percent.  It made the entire day sour.  And now I’m facing the weekend.  I know I will chew on this failure the entire weekend. 

I knew I had to take quick action against my thought process.  I tried.  But I just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide for an extended period of time—perhaps a week…maybe a month…

I decided to review the facts.  Did I do my best?  Yes.  And I wasn’t trying to fool myself.  I really did. My team and I put extra effort into this campaign.  I went through each of the features we added to make this campaign something we were proud of.  I kept telling myself—I did my best.  I did my best.

Then I remembered Thursday’s events.  I did not point out, mock or criticize my associate for his expensive mistake.  Although he admitted he did not do his best—I did not participate in making him feel worse than he already did. 

Somehow I was able to piece together two isolated events to find my peace.

Whereas my associate was honestly able to admit he had not done his best—an honest analysis of my work does indicate my team and I really did do our best on the marketing campaign. 

Fight for your happiness. Work hard to gain a new perspective.

I smiled as I drove in to McDonald’s for dinner.  After all, today just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have my hard earned strawberry lemonade.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Live in “day-tight compartments.”
Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.
Analyze your own mistakes and criticize yourself.
Do the very best you can.

I knew the potential disaster of me bearing the burden of a failure for the entire weekend.  I knew this was an occasion that I would have to fight for my happiness and not let circumstances beyond my control drag me down.  In the big picture—yes, it’s a shame the campaign did not do stellar.  But it doesn’t mean I have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders or spend an entire evening or weekend dwelling on the matter.  If we slapped this project together without any thought, care or effort—then yes I would have reason to be disappointed in myself—but even then it’s not worth an entire weekend of feeling regret or dejection.

So, my lesson to you—always do your best.  It is true your best might not produce the results you had expected.  But I assure you that doing your best and falling short of success is easier to deal with than doing a mediocre job and living with the regret that you were too disinterested, distracted, lazy, etc to put effort into a task that you can be proud of.

Day 87. I didn’t have to work hard to make lemonade. The law of averages served me well.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 87.  Monday, June 20, 2011
I was a bit confused when I looked at the time this morning.  It was 7 am.  I either woke up too early for the weekend or maybe I’ll be on time for work.  I had to look at the calendar to see what day it was.  Oh, it’s Monday… I decided to get up anyway.

As I was pulling out of my driveway I noticed my neighbors hadn’t put their trash bin out by the curb for trash pick up day.  I also noticed their trash bin was very full.  I debated whether I should do them a favor and put their trash bin out or just mind my own business.

I got out of my car and rolled their trash bin by the curb.

As I continued on my drive to work a very strange sequence of events happened. 

I say strange—because it was Monday. 

I received a very touching email from Anthony—an old friend of mine.  He thanked me for my blog and mentioned he shared it with his family on Father’s Day.  On Father’s Day!  If you read my Father’s Day blog post about my macaroni art project you’ll understand what Anthony’s email meant to me.  I thanked God for Anthony’s thoughtfulness, empathy and really excellent timing.  His last words alluded to the fact that he hopes I have an unusually good Monday.  I read that and thought—oh I hope you are right Anthony.  So far we are on a good track but I haven’t arrived at work yet.

I was making good time in my commute to work so I decided to stop by the grocery store to buy some macaroni and other food items to donate for a local food drive at my Starbucks.  Despite holding up the line at the grocery store—everyone was friendly towards me and smiling.  It was really bazaar.  Why is everyone so nice to me? 

Next I arrived at work on time.  That in itself is a monumental accomplishment.  I hesitantly showed my newest heart pillow creations to an associate.  She LOVED them.  I walked back to my office and thanked God.  This is all I wanted from her last week and I got it today.  Perhaps Anthony was right about this day.

Next I heard from my two guest bloggers—who really didn’t realize, expect or believe I was serious when I said their stories would be perfect for my blog.  I was stunned that neither one of them could recognize the value of their stories.  After we talked—they both agreed and seemed to be excited.  I sat and relished the idea that my dinky lemonade stand is now recruiting “employees” and “business” seems to be good. 

Even a coworker whom I haven’t gotten along with for quite some time now was showing me appreciation, kindness and encouragement today.

The day continued in this fashion.  Little pieces of good moments kept falling in my lap.   At the end of the day, encouraged by my associate—I experimented with a couple more sewing techniques.  I started yet another sewing project that is going to be ridiculously cute by the time I’m finished with it.  I don’t know what the finished project will be yet but believe it or not—I might try something other than a pillow.

As I was driving home along the tollway I thanked God for making an unusually good Monday. 

Recognize blessings among the clutter

As I was doing this—I glanced over and noticed the sky.  Despite the cluttered landscape with water towers, electric towers, buildings, highways and overpasses being built, you could see the sky was a dark blue with shades of pink along the horizon.  It was so stunning it was ridiculous.  “Dear God—what were you thinking when you made that sunset?  I hope I’m not the only one driving home that notices your handiwork.”

I took all sorts of detours on the drive home just to get photos of the sky. 

Sometimes you have to look for the good hidden among the clutter, stress and chaos of a day.  If you don’t put effort into it—you will miss out on opportunities to find happiness and fulfillment in the everyday. 

I realize I have rambled quite a bit here.  And like you I’m wondering if there’s a purpose to today’s blog.  (ha)  Of course there is!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Don’t worry about the past.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries. 

It sure feels like a great deal of last week was crummy—or at least the last few days.  I had to do some mental acrobatics to apply the Dale Carnegie principles. 

Today was the complete opposite. 

When you have a bad day, bad week, bad month, bad year… consider the law of averages.  Things will balance out.  You will have a good day, a good week, a good month, a good year. 

One way to ensure this—do your best not to dwell on the past (I know this is hard)… and also count your blessings (this one is easy).  Look for all the large and small blessings that come your way.  Take the time to appreciate these blessings.  Look for the good.  Maybe it’s a sunset.  Maybe it’s an encouraging email from a friend or perhaps it’s a patient cashier at a grocery store.  Maybe it’s doing a random act of kindness like putting your neighbor’s trash bin by the curb on trash day.  Or donating food for a food pantry.  The blessings and opportunities are there—you just have to recognize them and act upon them.

When you take these measures—you pretty much guarantee a more positive outlook on the day. 

– Thank you Anthony for pushing me in the right direction.

Housekeeping / Notes:
– Mark your calendars! 
Wednesday will be the debut of a very special guest blogger and friend.  I can’t wait for you to meet him through his story. 
–  Stop by the Archive / Pictorial section
if you missed a story or want to reread a past blog.
– Feedback / Suggestions / Comments: 
If you have ideas on how to improve the daffodil garden of blog stories let me know.  Also feel free to spread the love and share a link or two with family, friends, coworkers, etc. 

I know your time is valuable.  Thank you for reading my blog.

Day 84. I make lemonade for a living….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 84.  Friday, June 17, 2011
It was noon and I had enough of the day.  I turned off my computer and I left the building.

I decided to take a lunch.  I never take lunches.  I have a light “snack” at Starbucks everyday instead of a lunch.  But today was not an ordinary day.  I had to get out of the building for a change of scenery.

I ended up at Wendy’s.  I stood in line for a minute and determined it wasn’t worth the wait in line.  I returned to my car and sat there a few moments and prayed.

“Dear God.  I need a place to eat.  I don’t want to eat but I need a change of perspective.  I’m trying to make lemonade out of this ridiculously horrible day.”

That’s when it hit me.  McDonald’s has a new strawberry lemonade.  Although I hate everything that has lemon flavor I do happen to like this drink.  Besides, what a great pun!

As I drove to McDonald’s I gave myself a pep talk. 

Smiling Daffodil’s Pep Talk:  “I determine my own happiness.  I manufacture genuine happiness each and every day.  I will not let people’s thoughtless behaviors or unreasonable demands affect the outcome of my day.  I will profit from my losses.  I will expect ingratitude.  I will figure out how to use their carelessness towards me to my advantage.  I have succeeded at this for 83 days.  Today will be no different.  People are who they are and they will not change.  All I can do to cope with this is to change myself and how I react to people.” 

I arrived at McDonald’s full of hope and an open mind.  I was determined to find something positive at McDonald’s to change my outlook on the day.  There were a lot of families with their children and the children were quite… rambunctious.  I found this distracting and entertaining. 

Atypical lunch for the Smiling Daffodil

I ate my meal and lived in the moment trying to think of Dale Carnegie principles that would help me deal with my frustrations from the silly people I work with.  I even sent an SOS for prayers from a friend.  I don’t like to do that often… but today was one of those days.

I don’t know how it happened.  Was it the strawberry lemonade?  Perhaps the homemade lemon decorations all over the restaurant? 

Somehow the lemon decorations were endearing to this weathered daffodil...

Maybe it was the friendly manager that apologized for the noise of all the children. 

Maybe it was my resolve to turn this day into a good blog.  Or it was the prayers on my behalf that were kicking in.    

I have no idea what caused the change of perspective.  But I found myself calm.  I was able to reflect on the day and I resolved to stay focused and do my best to get through it. 

You see—I had two projects that had to get finished TODAY.  I can’t go home / go to sleep / have my weekend / etc until these two tasks are done.  No exceptions.  Normally I just have one of these projects on Fridays.  But today was special.  I had two disastrous, stressful projects to complete. 

And to top it off—management had TONS of changes to one of the projects.  I did my best to smile as they gave me their changes.  But it was very hard.  I felt so helpless trying to figure out how I could spin time out of straw.  My eyes betrayed me again—but this time I knew my best bet was to remove myself from the building, take a deep breath and figure out how to solve the extreme workload. 

I returned and the work was still there waiting for me.  It was a big heap of chaos on my desk.  I decided to delegate what I could and I slowly chipped away at all the details.

Surprisingly, I got my work complete in a calm, professional manner.  I gave appreciation where it was due.  Without my assistant I would not have been able to complete one of the projects without staying very late. 

There’s an assortment of Dale Carnegie principles I used today.  From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Try to profit from your losses.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Cooperate with the inevitable.

I knew there was no point in arguing or complaining about the absurd workload today.  I accepted the inevitable that I would have to work a very long, tedious and mentally draining day.  I reminded myself this is not the first time this has happened.  I have a successful track record of getting tedious projects finished.  I was also aware of my own impatience with absurd people—so I prayed and asked a friend for backup prayers.  In the end—everything worked out as things usually do. 

This is a long story but I hope it has value to you.  When you find yourself surrounded by very absurd people or circumstances and what’s worse—you’re the only one that can recognize the absurdity—these are the days that you really appreciate the value of living the Dale Carnegie principles.  These principles are not pie in the sky or overly optimistic and nauseating statements.  I have tested them.  They are real and they work.

Housekeeping / Notes:
If you missed a blog post or two this week, you are welcome to click on over to the Pictorial archive section.

Day 77. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 77.  Friday, June 10, 2011
It was almost 7 pm and I was still at the office trying to wrap up the final steps to a marketing campaign.  Several other associates were also working late.

One associate, Essie, sent me an instant message, “Smiling Daffodil—I’m overwhelmed with work.”

Despite being anxious about leaving the office—I decided to check on Essie. 

“What’s wrong Essie?” I ask. 

She proceeded to explain the very detailed reports she had to complete by Monday.

I gave her my full attention and asked a few questions to gain a better understanding of what she had to do.  We even brainstormed trying to figure out an easier way to finish the task.  In the end we concluded there wasn’t an easy way out of the work.  I felt bad not being able to help make the task easier. 

As I sat back at my desk I sent Essie an instant message:  “Essie—I would imagine management doesn’t tell you this enough—but know that I appreciate you!”

Essie responded, “Awww!  Thank you!”

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 17.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

As much as I tried—I wasn’t able to provide a quick and easy solution to make Essie’s work easier.  What I was able to do was provide a sympathetic ear as I listened to her concerns and frustrations.  I also let her know that she is appreciated.

It's all about perspective...

My lesson to you—instead of focusing on your own concerns do what you can to show appreciation to someone else by understanding what it is to walk in their shoes.  When you do this your own burdens don’t seem quite as heavy or unpleasant.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading the blog!  Don’t forget to rate your favorites.  All it takes is a click of a button!
Mark your calendar for some bonus material this weekend.  I’ve been holding on to one of my favorite stories for at least a month.  That’s not an easy thing to do!

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:
Batman
Superman
Tofu Fairy

Day 52. It takes talent to be disappointed with a continuous series of green lights during a Monday morning commute


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 52.  Monday, May 16, 2011
It was the usual dreaded Monday morning commute to work.  Except today I was blessed with very little traffic on the streets and nothing but green lights.  And it wasn’t even noon! Ha.

As I’m gracefully zipping through each green light—my iPhone beeped indicating I had an email.  Always curious I glanced quickly.  I was jolted.  It was from my friend Lucilla.

I was dying to read the email except I couldn’t—because as I mentioned—I had nothing but green lights.  There wasn’t a red light in sight. Of all things, I actually wanted a red light. What dreadfully ironic luck! 

When I finally got a red light and was able to reach a complete stop—I looked down and read the email—at least the first few sentences.  The darn red light turned green much too quickly.  But the first few sentences of the email startled me enough that it didn’t take long for the waterworks to come. 

I probably mumbled a prayer to God in the process—something like—“I didn’t see that one coming.  How’d you do that God?”

In this age of technology do kids pass "notes" anymore? My notes could be worth millions!

You see, my friend Lucilla wrote an email that only she could succeed at executing.  We have been friends since childhood.  Frankly, I had forgotten I still had friends from that long ago.  I think I have closed so many chapters that I forgot I was a kid at some point.  But the thing is—her words and descriptions and memories were a bright ray of sunshine I had long forgotten.  I get so caught up with disappointments and frustrations that I do not remember the positive.  I am certain I would have probably reached my 80th birthday and I would not have ever considered the past the way she presented it.  Her email is an extraordinary gift and one I will treasure.

The Dale Carnegie principle my friend reminded me to use:
Count your blessings – not your troubles.
Don’t worry about the past.

There are really two lessons I want you to take from this story.  Do your best to focus on the positive in your life.  And more importantly—take a chance and help a friend to count the blessings in their own life.  Sometimes a person just needs the benefit of a different perspective. 

Lucilla didn’t tell me I was an idiot for fixating on my troubles—in fact—it was probably far from her mind.  What she did do was highlight all the blessings in my life then and now.  How could I argue with her words?  I couldn’t. 

When you take this approach of helping someone realize their blessings—you can help transform their perspective for the better.  This can lead to a wonderful chain reaction for positive change.

Thank you “Lucilla” for giving me the gift of your perspective.  I am indebted to you.

Day 33. Part 2. Use Dale Carnegie Principles to recover from feeling like an idiot.


Despite my best efforts sometimes I can sleep through just about anything

As I mentioned in the Day 33 blog entry, I woke up late. I woke up so late—I nearly slept half the day away.  I got up at 11:40 am.  (Despite two alarm clocks and two text messages)

I was disgusted with myself.  This is not the first time I’ve done this. It’s not that I get in trouble at work.  Everyone finds it funny.  I guess people like to see flaws.  The perception of me is that I’m a hard worker—a workaholic. 

I made it to the office at 12:32.  I was frantic but glad to have made it in.

After realizing my lunch plans were cancelled with my friend I sat down at my desk. I realized it was lunch time.  I’m late for my Starbucks visit for my Java Chip Frappuccino.

I quietly snuck out of the office—I felt like such a loser.  Here I am—I slept half the day away, I waltz into the office super late—and then after a few minutes of being at the office I leave to get my Java Chip Frappuccino.  Talk about shame and guilt.

I left anyway because I know there’s no use in fighting it.  My routine is important.  I will be thinking of my Starbucks Frappuccino all day. 

I return to the office—Frappuccino in hand and feeling much better.  I ease into the day with enthusiasm.  Yes, I was super late.  But now I will recover with style—with enthusiasm.  I whizzed through several projects I had to work on.  I tackled some editing with gusto.  I whistled while I worked.  There was a general feeling of happiness coming from my office.

What I realized is that no one really cares that I was late.  It’s not that there aren’t standards or rules at the office.  But I have a reputation of working very hard—despite my occasional disasters of oversleeping.  The key to today—I approached the day with enthusiasm.  This distracted me from thinking I was an irresponsible adult for oversleeping.  And by the end of the day—I had gotten quite a lot of work complete!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this scenario:
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.
Cooperate with the inevitable. 
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries.
Try to profit from your losses.

Remember, sometimes stupid mistakes or silly accidents happen.  Rather than dwell on feeling like a fool or an idiot—profit from the experience.  Turn the circumstance into something positive.  See if you can get more work done in less time.  See if you can distract everyone by your productivity that they forget you came in late.  Remind yourself that you have a reputation for being reliable, a good worker, etc etc.  When you take this approach—you focus your energy in a more positive, forward thinking direction that is more beneficial to you than wallowing in your mistakes.