The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Posts Tagged ‘Celebration’

Giving Thanks…

Thankfully, early reports indicate we had a successful “Black Friday” and “Small Business Saturday” of retail sales.  Thankfully, we have “Cyber Monday” to contribute to our economic recovery. Thankfully, we have retailers who are able to brave the “Advertise & Hope” approach to sales.  Thankfully, I chose a Business-2-Business sales profession where we can go out and “sell somebody something” vs. waiting and hoping shoppers visit our establishment.  

Thankfully, we spent time with family, friends, food and fun with a little football and even a movie thrown in during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Thankfully, there were a few quiet moments to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. 

Thankfully, our holiday provided a break from the traffic congestion and daily stressful routine we call “going to work”.  Thankfully, I live in Denver where it actually was 70 degrees on Thanksgiving.  And thankfully, we have those Unknown Sages who help us re-kindle the peace and the power of maintaining a positive perspective: 

            Welcome to Denver:  

The morning rush hour is from 5:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM.  Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere.  Denver has its own version.  The car or truck with the loudest muffler goes next at a 4-way stop.  The truck with the biggest tires goes after that.  Blue-haired, green-haired, or cranberry-haired ladies driving anything have the right of way all of the time.

North and South only vaguely resemble the real direction of certain streets.  University and Colorado are two boulevards that run parallel.  Geometry evidently not working at altitude, these streets intersect south of C470.

Highway 285 runs North, South, East and West and every direction in between; it can be found in every section of the Denver area making navigation very interesting.  You can turn west onto southbound 285; you can turn north onto westbound C470; and you can drive southeast on the Northwest Parkway.  This is why Denver uses the additional driving directions of “out”, “up”, “in”, “down”, and sometimes “over”.

Construction barrels are permanent, and are simply moved around in the middle of the night to make the next day’s drive more challenging.  When you see an orange cone, you must stop and then move ahead slowly until there are no more cones.  There need not be construction, just cones.

If someone has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been accidentally activated.

If it’s 70 degrees, Thanksgiving is probably next week; if it’s snowing, it’s probably the weekend after Memorial Day.

If you stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended or cussed-out.  A red light means four more cars can go through.  Not three; not five.  Four.  Never honk at anyone.  Ever.  Seriously.  Never yield at a “Yield” sign.  The yield sign is like an appendix; it once had a purpose but nobody can remember what it was.

Just because a street on the east side of town has the same name as a street on the west side of town doesn’t mean they’re connected.    

                                  Unknown Sage 

Thankfully, I’m back out on those Denver streets heading to work.  Thankfully, we are expecting snow later this week – we need the moisture.  And yes, we really did have snow last June; about a week after Memorial Day. 

And thankfully, I have readers who enjoy reading my occasional pieces of peace. 


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To Kevin and Sierra…

Posted Aug 8 2011 by in True North with 7 Comments

Over the weekend, my son married his sweetheart.  Family, friends and neighbors celebrated the occasion and now the newly-weds are off on their honeymoon.  May all of their journeys together be awesome and safe. 

And may Kevin and Sierra head the words of Mignon McLaughlin, whom I have quoted many times before (and personally follow the sage advice): 

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 

To honor my son and (new) daughter; and the joining of our two families, I thought the opening to Chapter VII of my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© would be in order – please enjoy. 

Dedicated to the American Cowboy – may we all learn to be more like them.  

Now, I’m no cowboy; but I know one. 

Cowboys are quiet, polite – men of few words; comfortable just listening while others around them bark at the moon nonstop. 

No, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve heard one. 

Cowboys have a reserve of strength far and above the average person – physical strength to be sure; but also great emotional strength.  

I’m definitely no cowboy; but I’ve seen one. 

Cowboys have the ability to remain in control even while every living thing around them, man and beast, spooks in mortal fear.  

True, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve been protected by one. 

Cowboys remain focused even with adrenaline rushing through their veins when they’re bull riding, or racing flat out, one-handed on horseback, to rope an escaping calf. 

Yes, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve lived with one. 

Cowboys are fearless especially at the age of 15 when they look down in the shoot and prepare to mount a bare back bucking bronco at their very first high school rodeo competition. 

Absolutely, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve filmed one looking down that very shoot. 

Cowboys always believe they can.  The cowboy feels that sigh of relief when he’s all twisted up in the dirt, having fallen off a stumbling horse and the rodeo announcer comes on the PA system and says, “Well folks, he’ll have an option for a re-ride.” 

So, I’m no cowboy, but I’ve sat next to his Mother in the stands when we heard that Rodeo Announcer come over the P.A. System to say, “Well folks, he’ll have an option for a re-ride.” And as the announcer glanced down to the stands to see her reaction he quickly added, “But his Mother says NO!” 

You see, I know a lot about cowboys.  That’s why I’m so sure I’m not one.  No, I’m no cowboy, but my son Kevin is.  And every day I try to be a little bit more like him. 


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C’est la vie!

Did you have a happy (and safe) July 4th holiday celebration?  Here’s to our forefathers who freed their country from the British Empire.  Permit me to offer three things that helped them do it:  Leadership, Vision, and the French. 

Two of these three remain part of our everyday lives (not sure what happened to the French).  I know a lot of families with ancestors that immigrated to America from other countries.  I don’t know very many from France though, do you?  C’est la vie! (Which, of course, is French for such is life; plus – their bad!) 

Even though the French helped us gain our independence, gave us the Statue of Liberty, and then said, “bon chance!”; we still have our leaders to poke some fun at, yes?  Managers and executives at our companies are frequent targets of humor, even though they mean well: 

But even top management types are mostly harmless when you get to know them.  Given lots of love, some even make good pets.

                                  Rick Levine 

After a while all good employees settle in and get used to our managers’ idiosyncrasies, don’t we?   When our reporting lines change – which seems to happen frequently – we don’t have to let it bother us.  No matter who our boss may be today, it will likely change soon so we should just focus on getting our jobs done, don’t you think?  Cirque du Soleil!  (Which, of course, is French for the same circus, just different clowns.) 

At work, our (wine) glasses remain half-full.  (Oops – my faux pas!)  In America, our country and our companies remain among the best of the best in the world.  And with France’s help during the Revolution, we are truly blessed to live in the Land of the Free, as well as the Home of the Brave!  Vive La France!  (Which, of course, is the American way to say “Thank You” to France.) 

As we know, 2011 is the year leading into our next Presidential election year… yea!  I’m thinking if we took all of the money spent on political commercials, including those mud-slinging, character-slamming, negative-messaging, “approved by” blasts from our soon-to-be-elected, leaders, why we could all take as much paid vacation time as the French do.  A la mode!  (Which, of course, is French for I’ll have my vacation with ice cream, too!) 

Even the positive, political campaigns follow the same old claims and promises, don’t they?  Lower living costs; more jobs; lower crime; better education; blah, blah, blah.  Brings to mind Lawrence J. Peter’s perspective: 

What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.                                 

Freedom of speech is truly one of our greatest freedoms.  A price we must pay for this great freedom is listening to someone’s speech, even when it irritates us, yes?  

So I suppose we should be patient during the upcoming months of our Presidential campaigns – leading this country is not for the faint of heart.  And if their campaign staff resorts to the same, old talk tracks, well:  

Deja Moo!  (Which, of course, is French for that feeling that we’ve heard this bull before.) 

So here’s to the USA; the support we received from the French; and our great freedom of speech in the Land of Opportunity.  Certainly, without this freedom I would not have the opportunity to write my little ditties.  And without these, it would be harder for you find something to waste time on at work; true mon ami?  


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To Paul and Evelyn

60th wedding anniversary – how many of those celebrations have you ever attended?  (How many have you ever even heard of?)  Last Saturday night was a first for me. 

My next-door neighbors are Paul and Evelyn.  Wait – before going any further, I just have to ask about something.  Paul and Evelyn live on a corner; we are their next-door neighbors.  When you read this, where do you think we live in relation to their house?  I ask this because during their anniversary dinner as we met their friends and out-of-town family, we had the hardest time explaining which house in the neighborhood was ours.  Everyone knew where Paul and Evelyn live; but seemed confused about our location. 

Is it me?  Is “next-door neighbor” a Chicago phrase?   I would think if someone lived on a corner, they would only have one “next-door neighbor”; one “back-door neighbor”; and two “neighbors across the street” (front and side).  What do you think?  (But I digress…) 

There were many, amazing and unusual things about their 60th wedding anniversary (more so than the next-door neighbor thing).  Paul and Evelyn renewed their vows, of course (nothing particularly unusual about that).  But the ceremony was conducted by their daughter, Louann, an American Baptist Minister.  As she said, “I’m marrying my parents – weird!”  Pretty amazing too, don’t you think? 

During their renewal of vows, I picked up on one of the commitments in particular; “through every hardship and every happiness for the rest of our lives.”  Being surrounded by their family and friends (and next-door neighbor) for this 60th anniversary truly fits in the “every happiness” category.  I suppose with any long-lasting marriage, there must be several sources that contribute  to, “every happiness”.  A sense of humor is one, key contribution.  Seems like Paul and Evelyn passed this source down to their daughter. 

I know Paul has an excellent sense of humor.  When he told me a while back that they were having this celebration and we would be receiving an invitation, he smiled and added, “You know; we’re celebrating our 60th because we might not get another chance to do this again.”  And when he kicked off the dinner Saturday night by welcoming all of their guests, he commented (with a smile), “You know; there isn’t a person in this room that I can’t tell a dirty little secret about.”  Made me wonder what they do in their spare time as our next-door neighbor! 

Much has been written about the secrets to a successful marriage: 

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving three or four things a day unsaid.

                                  Harlan Miller 

In any long-lasting relationship, there is “every hardship”, too.  Paul and Evelyn had three children.  They have buried two.  An unimaginable hardship no parent wants to ever endure.  But, they have endured – bolstered by their strong foundation of Christian faith.  

We are all blessed in our own ways.  Saturday night I was reminded of the many blessings I have received in my life.  Being Paul and Evelyn’s next-door neighbor is one.  Acknowledging how serving our Lord (also a next-door neighbor) enriches our life is yet another.  And for me, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary with my wife of 38 years may have been the best of all.  

My wife has a terrific perspective on another key to a long and successful marriage: 

In every 50-50 relationship, both parties have to be 100% committed. 



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Our Loans to Repay…

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

Today is an occasion to celebrate America – our America – our nation of great opportunity and great diversity, yes?  Even though our country and our cultures are engaged in challenging times, today is a day to celebrate our blessings and our future possibilities, don’t you think? 

On any other day, it’s easy to get mired in everything that seems to be wrong with America.  What concerns you the most? Politics?  The economy?  Health care?  World peace?   The NFL lockout?  Lots of opportunities for worry, fear, frustration, and anger, I suppose. 

Conservation of our Earth for future generations is another important concern – and periodic hotbed of debate.  Nothing new however; it is a topic dating back to our original landlords: 

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.

                                                                   Native American proverb 

Do you believe we’re experiencing (and contributing to) Global Warming?  If we are, what can each of us individually do about it?  Will our children feel the same way about lending us their Earth as we do about our Social Security trust fund?  (Not much “trust” in the use of that trust fund is there?) 

But today is a holiday and a time for celebration not worry; for national pride not fear; for appreciation not anger.  Today, we Americans can celebrate the interesting, diverse, and humorous lifestyle others have helped enrich us with.  An Unknown Sage offers these examples: 

Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance. 

Only in America…are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front. 

Only in America…do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke. 

Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to  the counters. 

Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.                     

Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.  

Only in America…do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning  “bloodsucking creatures.” 

Only in America…do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.                            

Yes, only in America.  And in America, Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our country and the men and women of our armed forces who have preserved a country where cultures of diversity come together unlike any other place on Earth.  It’s a time to salute our service men and women; present and past; too many to count who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life.  

It’s true that we all benefit today from those who came before us.  But what are we making of the opportunities they provided us?  And what will we leave for our future generations?  

In America today, you can be anything you want to be; and most people are.                                 

For today, let’s kick back, relax and enjoy the holiday.  Tomorrow, let’s go back to work – working to be anything we want to be; working to preserve our way of life for future generations; working to pay back the loan on our planet Earth to our children, OK? 


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Hoping in Duple Time…

Hoping in Duple Time… 

The Polka is a happy, little tune – don’t you think?  (Really, Gary?  The Polka?  Slow day?  Having trouble finding something to write about?) 

I was station-surfing the other day; looking for a little hard-rock.  After all, it was Mandatory Monday which I wrote about with “Enthusiasm” (did you read Mandatory Metallica?). Came across Polka music on the radio and it triggered memories of my childhood – and the movie “Home Alone”.  Did you see that movie?  John Candy played Gus Polinski, the leader of a Polka band from Milwaukee. Remember his pride over one of their hits, “Polka-Polka-Polka”?  Classic!

From (of all places): “Polka is defined as a vivacious couple dance of Bohemian origin in duple time; it is a basic pattern of hop-step-close-step; a lively dance tune in 2/4 time.”  Vivacious; lively; duple time; doesn’t that just perk you right up?  OK, who brought the accordian? states, “Polka music is a form of European dance music which originated in Bohemia (what is now an area within the Czech Republic).”  Wikipedia adds: “Apparently, it was so well-received that it became a sort of dance craze, spreading across all of Europe, and to the US.” 

“OK, but the Polka?  Today?”  Well, you see the Polka is part of my family roots.  When I was in grade school my Aunt married into a Polish family in Chicago and before I knew it my older cousin was playing the accordion and everyone was dancing (lively; in duple time!).  I remember the cold beer would flow, as would the rich happiness of blue collar, working families, who made the most of celebrations that they could rarely afford.  Although they struggled to make ends meet, when they partied – they really partied – and they Polka’ed! 

There have been other dance crazes, for sure.  In the ‘60’s it was the Twist.  Who remembers doing the Hustle in the ‘70’s? Today, who hasn’t done the Electric Slide?   How many of these dances will outlast the Polka?  Again, per Wikipedia, “The actual dance and accompanying music called “polka” are generally attributed to a girl, Anna Slezakova of Labska Tynice, Bohemia, in 1834.  Alright Anna – 177 years and still going strong! 

When my relatives danced the Polka years ago, it was all about celebration.  Celebrating some occasion, for sure; but also celebrating family; celebrating life; having some fun.  The hardest working people are often the ones that enjoy family gatherings and modest accoutrements the most, yes?  

I’ve always believed that these celebrations are an expression of hope for the future, too.  Hard working people stay pretty focused day-to-day; living paycheck to paycheck, they have to.  But when it’s time for a family celebration, hope springs eternal!  

Throughout the ages, dances of hope were common among many people. Texas Bix Bender, who brought us such sage advice as, “Don’t squat with your boots on.” and “Never drink down stream from the herd.” also offers us insight about dance, hope, and future-timing.  In the Great Plains and throughout the West, for instance, we’ve all read lore about the rain dance.  And Texas Bix said: 

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. 

So I’m smiling today about the timing of my life and the opportunity to see my Cousin John playing the accordion while my Uncle Frank and Auntie Bernice danced the Polka into the wee hours of the morning. Yes – the Polka – a happy, little tune indeed. 

What stimulates your hope? 


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