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Bad Habits Stick to You Like Leeches

“A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.”

Jenny Craig

My wife recently worked for several hours in the weedy and muddy part of our lake. When she finally came back to the house to clean up, she found a leech attached to her hand. She had not noticed it at first because it blended in with the other dirt and debris. Only when she washed her hands did she realize that a leech had dug in. She had no idea how long it was there but it left a mark when she pulled it off.

When we are out in the wild and woolly world living life, we come into contact with many people and many unique situations. We see how people handle stress and problems, how they treat other people, how they handle success. Gradually over time and without even realizing it, we sometimes begin to adopt a few of the things we have seen others do into the way we live our lives.

Often times these experiences provide us with a more balanced approach to living life. They help us navigate through issues previously unencountered. Sometimes however, we pick up a few bad habits along the way that also cling to us. They can contort themselves and seem to be absorbed right in to our very fabric. We do not notice them at first. They just quietly fit right into our lifestyles. Then one day we stand in the presence of someone we really respect, and we observe the manner in which they handle a situation, and all of a sudden this bad habit that has been silently making itself a new home in our person, stands out like a sore thumb. We are embarrassed. We are in disbelief. We are shocked. We know we need to change.

I think it is wise counsel to figuratively, wash our hands ever now and then…to be in the presence of someone we hold in high esteem and be aware of their character traits in an effort to do a self inventory or evaluation. We may find that there is a crafty little leech in the form of a bad habit that has attached itself to us. Getting rid of it may leave a small mark but leaving it uncontrolled may leave something much worse.

HighFive Your Life Principle

Check for bad habits like you would for leeches

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Strategies for Avoiding a Fight with Your Wife (A series…)

Strategy One

Never  Pack a Car Together

 “If I’d known how much packing I’d have to do, I’d have run again.”

Harry S Truman

It is a fool’s errand to try to pack your car for an extended trip with your wife. I am not talking about throwing in a bag with some fruit and water for a picnic. I am talking about suitcases, gifts, pillows, tools, various odd shaped objects such as skies, TVs, computers, campfire accessories, small children and pets. There are simply too many “right” ways to do it. If you envision the “right” way to do it and halfway through, your wife begins to pack following her “right” way to pack, you invariably end up in an argument and a frustrated packing experience. Two rights definitely make a wrong.

Possible solutions:

Decide first what is going in the car and then divide up the duties such that only one of you is doing the thinking part of the packing. Sure, the other can help provide labor but should be restricted to mindless loading without thought for the genius that goes in to where the item should be placed.

You could also have an agreement to take turns packing so that one packs on the way out and the other packs on return trip.

It is also possible to pack in the middle of the night while your wife is sleeping. This strategy has inherent risks as you are sure to get additional items in the morning that need to be packed but may not fit into the puzzle that you have so carefully and diligently assembled.

You can purchase or rent an RV with so much storage space underneath that there is no genius required for packing. Both of you can simply stuff everything that you can possibly think you will need for your travel survival and you will still have room. You won’t remember where it is but at least you will have it with you on the trip.

Fly in a plane with luggage restrictions. Arguing about whether to place your socks or underwear inside your shoes before packing them is a much more reasonable debate to get through.

If all of this fails and you find that you are already in the middle of packing together with none of the precautionary strategies in place, you have two choices… fight or give in. Unless you are in the middle of a good book and don’t mind not talking to your wife until you have crossed several state lines, I recommend the give in choice

Just acquiesce and allow her the role of packing dominator. Kick the tires, lift the hood and move your head from side to side as if you understand what you are looking at…make a few suggestions on travel time and directions that allow you to barely keep your masculinity intact but let go of “your seat of the pants figure it out as you go” packing plan that as men, we consider genius. Just start thinking about how much enjoyment you are going get eating those french fries at all of the fast foods you will be stopping at on your trip…ooops…she doesn’t let you eat fries…okay that will be the subject of strategy number two in this series.

HighFive Your Life Principle

With proper planning and anticipation, you can turn a war… into a disagreement… into an understanding.

Sailin’ not Wailin’

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward
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Recently, my brother in law took out our sailboat on Lake Ola on a windy day and got swamped! It was quite an adventure when we “rescued” him because when we got it flipped back over, it took off unmanned across the lake at breakneck speed. We helplessly watched as it rammed the shore just missing a dock…thank goodness!

Much has been written about the forces of wind as it relates to our lives. May I just reiterate how amazingly simple and true it is that with a small adjustment in rudder and sail, what was a hazardous situation becomes fun and exciting or what was a listless boring going nowhere trip becomes useful and fulfilling.

Sometimes when our lives are just not where we want them to be, we can make small adjustments that can make a world of difference in our satisfaction with life. We don’t need a new boat or a bigger sail …we just need to pay attention to the wind and make the small adjustments to change our course.

Admittedly, as an amateur sailor who seems to need to learn the ropes again each time I take our sailboat out, there are others who do a much better job because they understand how everything works. In our lives, there are also family and friends who may know the ropes just a little better than us and can add valuable wisdom and knowledge to help our situation if we are open to listening. Often times, the hardest time to learn is when we know just enough to think we know enough. The fine tuning adjustments needed in our lives may be right before our eyes but clouded by our pride.

img_0813Next time the winds of live seem about ready to capsize your boat, stop wailin’ and start sailin’. Learn the life skills to make adjustments and then hold on to your hat because the excitement of life will “blow you away”!

HighFive YourLife Principle

Make adjustments in your life to take advantage of the winds of life instead of fearing them.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog. You can also follow Gary as “lakeolaguy” on Instagram and Facebook.

I Think We Can All Eat and Drink at the Same Table

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Ronald Reagan

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. Nelson Mandela

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Recently, I noticed a raccoon wading in the water at our home on Lake Ola in Tangerine, Florida. I grabbed my camera and as I focused in on him, I noticed there was a green heron right next to him. Each of them went about their business in close proximity and seemed to not be bothered by the other’s presence.

Everybody knows that one of the first rules of keeping peace in the family is to not discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. If only two people at the table enjoy a good debate, then everyone else becomes uncomfortable. If only one person is a good debater, then the other will not enjoy the joust. Once a normal person is outflanked by someone who has prepared better or simply understands the topic more thoroughly, the other person has nowhere to go but to dip into his/her emotions. Once you begin to defend your point of view with your emotions, it becomes personal and the wonderful meal that was prepared for you loses it savor.

The best debates, the ones that benefit everyone in the room, are done by people who respect each other and genuinely desire the best for the other side even though they may be as different as a raccoon and a bird. That respect can be built around a dinner table where interests are shared and people begin to know each other better. Each of us has his own story of struggle…of failure and success…of quitting and persevering…of pain and joy…and we see everyone’s life through the lens of our own lives. Once we understand the life of everyone around the table more, we build respect and a desire for their well being. We also begin to feel that those around the table feel the same way about us.

In this environment, you can allow yourself to be vulnerable because you know that the other side wants the best for you. Once those at the table become vulnerable, your discussion about God or politics or any other controversial issue, can be done without any endgame in mind other than the desire to be unified, not in your opinions of the affairs of the world but in your respect for and understanding of each other…and that is the basis for peaceful progress.

So, add an extra chair and welcome those you love and don’t yet love to dinner. If you do it right, you may actually enjoy the meal!

HighFive your Life Principle

The more that we eat and drink at the same dinner table, the better off our families and our world will be…if we follow the golden rule to genuinely attempt to love and respect our neighbors as ourselves.

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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.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog.