It’s always sunny in a rich man’s world

business, politics, Social Trends, trump, Uncategorized

New Microsoft Publisher Document

Winners are good to hang with. They come out ahead. They have drive and focus and when they have spare time they volunteer on boards and city commissions and sometimes write large checks for art programs. But their winning is predicated on someone else losing and once you’re behind it takes a superhuman, supernatural effort to get ahead.

If you’re lucky like some of the popular underdog-turned-superdog stories out there, you’ll sell the right product out of the trunk of your car on the right corner of the right city. With enough drive and perseverance, they tell you, you’ll come out on top and then you can sell your advice, books, and DVDs to the adoring teeming masses.

But what if you don’t have a car to begin with. Or an Internet Connection. Or any Connection. Then what?

You stand in line.

  • At the Welfare Office,
  • At the Food Pantry,
  • At the Salvation Army.

    That is if you’re still able to stand in line.

    But what if your days of driving and standing are long gone. Then what? You rely on programs such as Meals on Wheels. And if someone decides to cut funding, you’re too hard of hearing, seeing, and writing to speak up.

    And you hope someone who’s not too busy winning will notice how far behind you are.

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Is 2017 your year of abundance?

business, health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, small business, Social Trends, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

shine

When I was a little girl I played with Suzy. Everyday was a play date with Suzy as we ran up and down the stairs of the white farm-house where I lived. In all ways, she was the best type of friend a 6-year-old girl could have: she let me choose all the games we played, she always did what I told her, she never hurt my feelings, and I always got to go first.

Was it the skill of her parents that taught Suzy to be the ideal friend? Or perhaps, at 6 years of age, she was just naturally kind, selfless, and considerate? Neither. Suzy didn’t exist–at least not to anyone but me. She was my invisible friend.

Her invisibility didn’t make her any less real to me although my parents probably thought it odd to hear me talking to someone who didn’t answer audibly to them. As I became older, I transitioned from playing with an invisible friend to trying to make myself invisible. Clumsy and nonathletic, I held up my hands to defend myself during Dodge Ball hoping the football players would have mercy on me as they slammed the balls across the mid line in the gym.  In high school, I signed up for algebra not realizing this subject was going to be explained to me by a fast-talking math whiz. As he rattled off questions to the class, I shrank down in my back row seat and looked away from the teacher so he wouldn’t call me. But no matter how much the teacher wanted to help me he wasn’t able to because I didn’t believe I could learn a subject foreign to me. Comprehending was invisible for me.

But like my friend, Suzy, the invisible is made visible once someone believes. It’s the disbelief that shrinks the possibility of what can be. Visibility is revealed in layers and for most of us our largest stage on which to appear is in the work arena. Some are overachievers; they work their way up the corporate ladder yet have a difficult time giving a hand to help the next person up the rung. These co-workers can be recognized by the way they snap at others or roll their eyes when asked for assistance on a project. Their inability to believe in abundance creates a protective shield around them with the end result of harm because they could help others but choose not to.  They believe their achievement will ultimately be stolen by those they help.

But then there are people who work at invisible jobs but their gratitude for what is makes them visible to all they encounter. There’s the convenience store clerk who makes sure she styles her hair and puts on makeup everyday and sincerely asks everyone she serves “what else can I do for you?”  When someone pauses for a moment to consider her existence and ask how she is, she responds: “fantastic.”

The difference between the two mindsets is the core belief within each. The former–despite her superficial success–believes there is lack and the other–within the humble position she holds– believes she has a special mission in the place she serves and she creates abundance where none or little existed. A core belief can be changed once someone makes the commitment to make visible the thoughts that have been invisible to them.

For 2017 what story will you believe in and act on: abundance or scarcity?

To our coffee drinking heroes: cheers

business, creative non fiction, Social Trends, Uncategorized

 

 

I was nine, when I tried coffee for the first time. Sitting with my mother at our breakfast table, I took a sip from one of our reversed-dyed Easter egg coffee mugs and immediately scrunched up my face.

“How do you stand this stuff,” I asked her.

“You learn to like it,” my mother responded, as she took a sip from her own mug as easily as if she was taking a swallow of tap water.

Learning to like most things deemed for grown ups, such as coffee, has been my ongoing struggle into maturity. My mother was 40 when she answered my question about coffee drinking. Now, I’m 50 and finally learning to like coffee, but I have, as of yet, failed to learn to like it straight up black as my mother did.

After my first coffee encounter,  I chose to avoid it for a long time. Most people I knew by the time they were 25 jolted themselves awake with a cup of joe. Not me. Although Pepsi is an afternoon drink, something to refresh and revive you after a long day toiling in the sun, it was the closest to the coffee jolt that I would allow. Later, I switched to Diet Coke when I conceded I needed to stoic up a bit in my approach to life. No more unlimited amounts of a sugar buzz for me. Before bedtime I would be lulled into dreamland with a somniferous sip of milk, or later in my life, herbal tea.

Coffee, on the other hand, is what you drink to parachute yourself into your life, to hit the ground running, to take on the battles of the day. But I wanted no part of that. I didn’t mind watching other people jump from the plane, but I didn’t want to myself and I barely wanted to even board the plane.

People would ask, “would you like a cup of coffee,” and immediately I responded with a grimace on my face at the long ago memory of that one sip. “No thanks, I can’t stand coffee,” I said. “But do you have a diet Coke?” I convinced myself that caffeinated cola products were just as grown-up as coffee even though whenever I ventured into Quik Trip, a local convenience store, the people in business suits gravitated to the coffee makers and the high school students headed for the refrigerated drink section.

I graduated from college with a journalism degree, a field notoriously famous  for hard-drinking, chain-smoking, facts-oriented wordsmiths. These people were content with the world as it was without embellishment. I wanted to search for deeper meanings and look at life through an artist’s lens, softened by sugar and cream.

 

I needed to dig deeper to reconcile the life of the coffee grower in Brazil who handpicks a crop by hand and earns less than five cents a pound with the coffee drinker who spends an average of $6 a day from specialty coffee shops.  And I wanted to excuse myself for any culpability in the exchange. Dollar for dollar, the exchange rate is in favor of the middle man on Wall Street and not the field worker or the coffee drinker.

 

It’s easy to be in solidarity with third-world farmers by refusing to drink something I didn’t like anyway. But giving up other luxuries, such as my car, is another matter. Petroleum is the most traded item on the world market with the U.S., China, and India leading the way.  All the way around, petroleum is a volatile commodity on the markets for pricing and as a discussion between opposing political forces.

But in the end, though, it’s been an oil and gas man who has progressively changed my thinking about certain grown-up aspects of life , such as coffee, that I only cared about from the edges.

My husband has been a thermos-full (and many times two) of coffee a day drinker for most of the time I’ve known him: 19 years. As part of his morning routine he brews a pot of coffee, takes a single mugful from the pot to drink with his breakfast, and the rest he pours into his thermos, which he takes with him to work. When I first met him he drank only the strongest black brew that could be made, cowboy coffee. He had lived for 12 years in the west Texas, eastern New Mexico region of the United States and there the sugar-filled mocha lattes and double espressos were harder to come by than just plain, straight up black coffee.

In urban areas you can now buy a cup of instant mix cappuccino at a gas station. Until recently, in west Texas oil towns your offerings of coffee were limited to a range of intensity of black and decaff and the decaff, many times, could only be obtained by special request of the attendant. It’s not that the lighter versions are hard to buy or transport to the remote desert it’s just hard to sell to calloused-hand oil roustabouts and rodeo riders.

I have always had a shut down time of 6 p.m. when I stopped drinking pop. My husband can savor a cup of coffee just minutes before bedtime and still drift off into lullaby land as if he had been rocked to sleep like a baby in his mother’s arms. He has either developed a tolerance to caffeine or he ignores its stimulating effect to ensure a restful night of sleep. He knows every day is a rigorous joust in conquering the monstrous iron machinery.

My husband had a brief period when he disliked coffee. In his 20s, my husband participated in a smoke-ender’s program. A three-pack a day Marlboro man, he voluntarily signed up for the program when the oil company he worked for enacted a policy prohibiting smoking at the gas plant. It was a sensible policy on the surface, but a difficult one to enact from a practical matter. Many of these guys had smoked from the time they were teenagers and it didn’t occur that their deadly personal habit could have far harsher consequences if the right flick of a cigarette met up with the wrong vapor of gas.

“They had us brush our teeth five times a day,” Mike said of one of the techniques used during the six-week program. “The taste of the coffee just didn’t sit well in my clean mouth.”

Except for that brief interlude, my husband has sped like a train through life with coffee and caffeine coursing through his engine. This penchant for coffee is one of the few bad habits that remains with my husband. As he has matured, my husband has eliminated a number of other poor lifestyle habits in addition to smoking cigarettes. He’s  embraced the responsibilities of his life as a husband, father, and employee and immersed himself in all of it.

While I, on the other hand, still pitter patter my way around the edges of life. Any sign of an uncomfortable situation within my responsibilities cause me to scrunch my face much like that first sip of coffee did. And while I’ve been able to reduce my consumption of Diet Coke and increase my cups of daily coffee, my coffee still comes with a side of cream and Splenda.

a_small_cup_of_coffee

Be a turtle today

business, health & wellness, meditation, mindfulness, thoughts for living

turAt the dog races, the rabbit is the animal picked to entice the greyhounds along. Speed certainly has its advantages but in this scenario I think I would rather be the turtle. In the world of the big dogs, rabbits better be fast.

But maybe it’s not necessary to race the big dogs to have a satisfying life. And frankly, the stress of that particular race doesn’t feel very satisfying when you look at the unhealthy coping strategies some people use to deal with it and the related illnesses they create such as addiction, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Don’t overlook the turtle in the race. She’s still in it and at the end of it she still has her breath.

Five tips to earn money from your cell phone company

business, shopping, thoughts for living

Sprint and T-Mobile are offering discounts generous enough to entice you to leave your current cell phone company.

iphone6-plus-box-space-gray-2014But if you’re like me, you’d almost rather keep paying a higher rate than to go to all of the fussing of switching.

Almost.

Until you add up how much your loyalty has cost you over the years.

My family and I have been with Verizon for over a decade. When we added up the average cost of our monthly plan for 10 years plus all of the equipment, we’ve spent enough to fund:

a small annuity, or

an economical car, or

a college education, or

a 20 percent down-payment on a home.

When I realized the actual cost of my one-month-at-a-time-for-10-years-plan with Verizon, I also realized I owed it to myself to communicate to them how much my loyalty benefited them and how much my loyalty would benefit someone else if it wasn’t rewarded.

After all, my hairdresser gives me a loyalty reward with a free haircut for every 10 paid visits.

So, I reached out to them and here are my tips (with the shortcut included to save you the time I didn’t save.) I can’t guarantee your carrier will respond the way Verizon did (or if it’s Verizon if they will respond to you in the same way they did with me) but it is worth a try. It might earn you a few hundred bucks and that’s not a bad return on investment of your 30 minutes.

McAdam,_Lowell_photo

Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

* Reach out to your carrier’s executive office. In my case, Verizon trains several executive office liaisons to handle customers who believe the only way to resolve their issue is to go straight to the top. These staff members have the authority to provide more generous discounts than the first-line customer service agents do.

(After you send the e-mail, they will respond within 24 to 48 hours with information on how to contact them further. They want you to call them so they can speak with you in person. This is a positive response that they value YOU, their loyal customer.)

* Tell them the total amount you have spent with them as their customer. It will be an eye-opening calculation for you if you’ve spent a few years with the same carrier.  It may cause you to re-evaluate a lot of expenditures.

* Help them extrapolate in a dollar amount what it means to them if you decide to take up their competitor’s offer. The compensation of the carrier’s top executives are what they are because of the loyalty of customers like us.

* Be willing to cut ties with your carrier if they refuse to satisfy your request. This is a psychological tool for you if you are resistant to change. Some people have a difficult time with change even if the change has a significant positive effect for them.  This detachment will have a subconscious influence on the conversation and allow you to come with more power to the conversation.

* Pat yourself on the back for taking positive steps to act on your own behalf. You will likely receive a positive response from your carrier. If you don’t, then you have placed yourself in a position to be open to other options.

And choices for yourself make it a win-win situation for everyone.

Author’s note: If you aren’t sure how to craft an email that will receive a positive outcome, let me know. I’d be happy to help you by sharing my template with you.

Contact me here: www.greatlifegifts.com