Category Archives: hard work

Valentine’s Day…Flowers or Sod?

“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.”

 Douglas Adams

 

“My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.”

 Rodney Dangerfield

 

“After 45 years of marriage, when I have an argument with my wife, if we don’t agree, we do what she wants. But, when we agree, we do what I want!”

 Jacques Pepin

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and my wife of 27 28 years is out of town and we will miss Valentine’s Day together. I can do the easy thing and send her some flowers and card or I can do the hard thing and put some sod down in the front yard so that when she returns she is surprised. I asked a few of you and the most common response was that I should do both!

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In order to get this right, one has to know my wife of 27 28 years and how she thinks. She doesn’t really care for a gift of flowers but neither does she want to spend money on things like a front lawn. With limited resources, there are a lot of other things she would rather spend the money on, such as the kids, travel and an annual subscription to Men’s Health for me.

Looking deeper, I would have to admit that it is really me that wants the front lawn and that I am simply doing it while she is gone so that it gets done. The assumption of course is that it would be way too hard for her to ask me to pull it back up, stack it on a pallet and go ask for a refund when she gets home. I hope I am not assuming too much.

And what of the flowers? She loves flowers but not as a gift that somehow pretends to show love and care with no effort on my part other than stopping by the grocery store with every other wannabe good husband picking up flowers on the way home from work. No…for me to get credit, I would have to hand pick them individually from a far-off mountainside (I live in Florida) and hand blow the glass vase myself.

But I know in my heart that flowers are not what she really wants for Valentine’s Day. What she really wants is for me to be healthy.  She wants me to eat correctly and work out and have zest for life and energy to enjoy the day. That sounds like a lot of work and effort on my part…that sounds like…wait a minute…Eureka! I’ve got it! Problem solved. I am so pumped.

img_7015I will forget about the grocery store flowers…I won’t fall for that lazy zestless selfish weak minded substitute for pure love. No…I will get up in the morning, gnaw on a few gluten free acorns and go out and get a wonderful day of exercise… laying sod…all for her. I will work up a sweat just for her. I will put that lawn in which we I have wanted for 20 years. Dang I love my wife. Thank you, sweetheart, for being such an inspiration!

img_7043                                           Yeah…I love Valentine’s Day

HighFive Your Life Principle

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Okay…for those that think I am a total bum, I am sending a card…

Okay…okay… I may be a bum but she loves me and that makes me the luckiest bum in the whole world!

Okay…Okay…Okay…I’ll plant some flowers too…

My wife does not do social media so let’s keep the sod on the down low and maybe she won’t notice it!…but Joey…if you do catch wind of this, just know that I love you and I am trying to be healthy and miss you very much…and yes, I will mow the new lawn.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

garyjoey

Do Good… Feel Good?

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”

Abraham Lincoln


I love Ole Abe’s wise quote. Certainly, we all recognize the good feeling that comes when we do good. I wonder how much good we leave on the table however, when it doesn’t feel so good to do good…when, in fact, it feels so bad that it makes us want to stop doing the good?

The other day, I was exercising and noted how good it felt doing it. It was a wonderful feeling. I quickly reflected back to the thought of exercising 40 pounds heavier ago and I remembered that it did not feel so good. It was hard to get started much less keep going even knowing that it was a good thing to do.

Sometimes doing good requires us to forecast or anticipate the good feeling that we will reap later…sometimes years later. Investing in a college fund for your children when you can hardly pay rent, stopping smoking, losing weight, giving a gift or a concession that will most likely never be noticed…these are good feeling wrapped in blisters that turn to callouses as you put in the work with the hope that one day you will see the fruits of your efforts.

But these are the mature and tough good feelings that change us and the world for the better. They are the kind that make men and women of character. The ability to visualize the outcome and hold fast to it despite the lack of immediate gratification will forever be at the core of sound judgement and wisdom.

I guess I do have to agree with Ole Abe…when I do good I feel good…eventually!

HighFive Your Life Principle

If you want to do good, do not expect to always immediately feel good doing it…but in the end, those good feeling that do come will be well worth the wait.

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Five Tips for Stress Free/Work Free Weed Eating After Age 50

We were all weekend warriors and yard fanatics when we were young and raising a family (free labor) but after you turned 50, priorities and body parts began to shift. It seemed like a good idea 20 years ago to plant all of those shrubs and flowers but now a rock garden and a condo sound pretty good. As with many things, there is a new right way to do things if we really want there to be and so allow me to share five tips for proper weed eating after age 50. Only four things are required to get started:

1. A battery-powered weed eater
2. One battery and charger
3. A wet towel
4. Lazy streak, poor health or poor work ethic..any one of these will suffice but if you have all three it is even better.

Tip One
Purchase a Battery-Powered Weed Eater

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The most important tool to make this work well is to purchase a battery-powered weed eater. A gas weed eater is good in the sense that you can never get them started so little work is done but the danger is that you still burn a lot of calories trying to get it started and maybe even sweat a little which we are trying to avoid. Nor is an electric weed eater with an extension cord a good idea unless there are constant power outages in your area. The miracle of the battery-powered weed eater is that the battery runs out. It is critical to purchase just one battery which should give you about 20 minutes of spinning the string. This time can be spent cutting grass or if out of sight, a pair of vice grips can hold the trigger down and you can talk to your neighbor while it cuts the air.

Tip Two
Secure a Wet Towel

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As you leave the house, ask your wife for a damp towel, presumably to help you cool off in the grueling sun. As soon as you have a safe opportunity (wife not looking), use the wet towel to moisten your shirt in areas usually reserved for sweat. You may have to use your water bottle that you have also asked your wife to provide, presumably to fend off dehydration, to drench areas that the towel could not get.

Tip Three
Work in the Worst Area of Your Yard

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It is important that your wife thinks that you are trying. By choosing the worst part of the yard, there is built-in empathy and sympathy. Progress is slow and hard. It is you and her against the darned old worst part of the yard. If it is near a lake where the danger of snake bite or gator attack can be introduced as a possibility, you will fare even better. Hopefully, that part of the yard is also hidden from her view. Turn on the weed eater while constantly checking to see if your wife is near. The more you run the motor the quicker the battery dies down. If a few blades of grass or weeds get in your way, don’t drop your head and complain…nobody is perfect. Stay in this area of the yard until the battery dies.

Tip Four
Oversee the Charging of the Battery

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Electricity can be deadly. Volunteer (though not verbally to your wife) to make sure that the charging of the “only” battery you own goes well. It is better that your wife not know the sacrifice in the face of danger that you are preparing to make. Choose a comfortable seat as this may take several hours. Take this opportunity to re-hydrate and re-energize your body with staples that you may have around the house. If you can not find any, a quick trip to the closest convenience store will provide you with nutrition and sustenance.

Tip Five
Enjoy Your Work Product

IMG_9951Not everyone has the ability or desire to do what you have done. Take a moment to enjoy the journey. Allow several hours for this part of the work day as it may be the most important.

IMG_9953Upon waking up, check the battery. Stare at it for ten seconds and make a “hmphh!” sound and then plug-in the charger. Make sure that any feelings of guilt are immediately disregarded.

You are done. Another Saturday of weed eating (and a few chips and sodas) are under your belt. You will find that this method only slightly adjusted will work well with other projects that you may have on your honey do list. It is not however, recommended for projects such as getting the house ready for sale or for divorce proceedings.

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Sustained Effort Makes Things Work…Rock Steady

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”
Winston Churchill

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Throughout most of the 90’s, we held concerts at our water park in Central Florida. Water Mania was a new water park and was hardly a match for the much more established competitor, Wet-N-Wild. We did not have a big budget and needed to do something to make us stand out. So at great risk, we decided to hold concerts at our massive wave pool.

As a revenue source, it was unreliable and often times very costly. On one concert alone, we lost $50,000. The chance of rain was always a threat. The chance that not enough people would show up to cover the cost of the concert, was always a possibility.

As a security risk, it was challenging. We had to have scuba divers underwater in the pool to make sure nobody disappeared underneath the carpet of inner tubes. Our friendly water park staff had to make the transition to becoming tough security enforcers typical of concerts.

As a marketing tool however, it was effective. We were up against bigger attractions with multimillion dollar ad campaigns. It did not work over night but over the years, it did what it was supposed to do…it put us on the map. Many people who would have otherwise not visited our young water park, made their way out to hear the bands. For some, it is their first memory of the park and it eventually helped make Water Mania an icon in Central Florida.

scan0001Bachman Turner Overdrive

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Kenny Loggins

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Molly Hatchet

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Bad Company

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America

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Greg Allman

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The Outlaws

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Little Feat

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The Marshall Tucker Band

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We closed Water Mania after twenty years of business in 2005. During the years that we did the concerts, we were constantly evaluating the risk reward tradeoff. It was tough on our family and staff but in the end, it was worth it. Sometimes simply sustained effort makes things work and it is not always clear while you are in the middle of doing it, that it is a good idea.

Consider your children. Sometimes it just seems like it is too hard to keep them pointed in the right direction, day after day after day. And then one day, they are gone from your home and on their own. At that point, you will know for sure what you already suspected…that every ounce of energy that you spent in their protection and development was worth it. Sure you have had a few bad nights and sure there will be more in the future but your effort made your family a family…you put your family on the map. You did your part…and it was worth it.

Would I do concerts again if I had a chance to start over? I would like to say yes but there is not enough rain insurance in the world to make my wife happy about it…so I guess the answer would have to be no…It was a dream that it happened and something that I will never forget. Sustained effort is what most of us need to achieve our dreams. Rock Steady.

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I Played In A Rock Band!

“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you are uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”
  Ashton Kutcher

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I recently met my three college buds for our annual fishing trip in Florida. We have been doing this for more than two decades and are amazed each year when we are able to pull it off. Our wives not only allow this opportunity but encourage it because they know how good we are for each other. We play cards, fish, cook our own meals and talk about life’s challenges. Each of us comes away with a new zest for moving forward in a positive way with the things that are before us.

This year I planned something special. One of our group is an excellent guitarist who played professionally when we were young. I hired a band to come one night and asked them to let him play with them if he wanted to which they agreed. I kept it a surprise and as we prepared to finish fishing on the lake, my friend heard the sound of an electric guitar and said “that’s a live guitar”. I then told them what I had done and the rest of the evening was great. We cooked steaks and gator tail and listened to our own private band.

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As the evening drew to a close it came time to get my friend to play with the band. As much as we encouraged him to play, he just wouldn’t do it. In an effort to loosen him up, I put my fears aside and jumped up and joined the band. Soon one of the other buds came up and played the bass and we had the time of our lives. I think that secretly it was something that I had always wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t resist.

My moment of glory turned out to be a happy moment for everyone involved. I think everyone enjoyed seeing me step out of my comfort zone and make a fool out of myself. The band played along and helped us and the folks watching stomped their feet and got in to the music. I am quite sure I wouldn’t sell any tickets but it made me feel great and my kids are sure proud of their father for trying something new.

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Think of the things that you secretly would like to give a try before this journey is all over and step out of your comfort zone. It will put some rhythm back in your step and your true friends will be proud of you!

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Just say Know!

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”
William Shakespeare

There has been a great debate among parents regarding the use of the word “No”. Some have said that it has such a negative connotation that the word should be avoided at all costs when dealing with small children. Others simply say that it is absurd that you shouldn’t use that word when your child is getting ready to touch a hot stove or shove another child to the ground.

As our children grow into their teenage years, their questions and actions become more significant (though granted, touching a hot stove is pretty significant). May I stay out late? May I have the car? May I go out with that guy that looks like a loser and is ten years older than me but really has a sweet personality?

Our first and often times correct response is “No” or the more thoughtful response, “When pigs grow wings”. We have learned through extensive media campaigns that when it comes to drugs, we should just say no. However, as they grow older, what worked when they were children, no longer seems to suffice. A much better choice is to just say “Know”.

Explaining the “why” of things gives you as a parent not only more credibility but also helps you (forces you) to ponder more deeply the “why” yourself. Why is it bad to do drugs or advisable to not have premarital sex? Why is it a bad idea to ask the thirty year old bar tender who tends bar at a local hotel to your senior prom? Why is a good idea to be home by midnight. Why does pornography take you down a lonely and desolate path? Why should you get good grades. Why should you learn how to work and earn your own money. Why should you be respectful? Why should you develop good grooming standards?

Our teenagers have so many good questions and are arriving at so many crossroads where a crucial decision must be made, that just saying no is a weak and debilitating answer. We certainly do not empower them to make the right decisions and may even push them towards the wrong choices.

Our choice is simple. Learn of the issues and prepare your answers. Live in the “Know” zone and not the “No” zone. I have always been amazed that my wife knew everything there was to know about my kid’s lives and even the lives of their friends. It was not uncommon for me to reintroduce myself to one of the their friends whom I had already met several times before but had forgotten. In contrast, my wife knew who was taking which subject in school and the name of that teacher and who was dating whom. She knew this not just for my kids but for their friends as well. She would cut up fruit and veggies and get them to hang out in the kitchen and chat with them like she was a coed.

Being in the “Know” zone makes all the difference in the world if we as parents want to help our teenagers maneuver their way through the hot stoves of adulthood. We empower ourselves to empower our children when we are current with a good working knowledge of the ills of society and the environment in which our kids live. Ignorance is not bliss…it is just a lazy way to say “yes…its okay… I don’t care”.

I am the only one that my wife says “no” to without any explanation required and I am old enough to “know” what that means…no pizza, no french toast, no nap…but I digress…our children need us to be in the “Know” zone so get there and get there before they have to learn all of the reasons why not to touch the hot stove by trial and error.

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Otis the Pig

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill

Otis was a gift from someone. He needed a home and I guess we wanted a pig. He started out in a pen but kept breaking out. Finally I stopped trying to contain him and just let him wander around our farm with the cows and chickens. Soon he took up residence underneath our old frame farmhouse and the Otis legend began.

photo (10)Can you believe this guy lived underneath my home?

Otis was just friendly enough to come when called, especially if it meant that it was time to eat. After most meals, any leftovers were taken outside and given to our hungry friend. You could hear him making his way from under the house seemingly with great effort. He would eat almost anything. He grew into a huge animal. A good scratch with a stick on his belly would soon cause him to roll over in a state of pig ecstasy. His hair was stiff and tough. There wasn’t anything cuddly or warm about him other than he was constant. He was always there. He wasn’t “kept” there…he was there because he wanted to be there.

What can we learn from Otis the pig?

Define yourself and don’t let others define you. It is that simple. I imagined him being a pig in a pen and Otis saw himself as a noble pig…a worthy pig…a…well, maybe I am taking it too far…maybe he was just a hungry pig but he still did not let me define him. He let me know how it was going to be until I finally said okay, be what you want to be.

We should do the same. Everything around us is trying to define us or describe us…to gauge our potential or likelihood of success. Everyone around us tries to define what our success should look like. Be bold. Define yourself and while being courteous and kind to those around you, choose your life and live it. Make Otis proud.

HighFive Your Life Principle: Be brave and define yourself or others will try to do it for you.

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