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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.

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The Mistake of the Old Man Brand

“It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.”
Tony Visconti

There are brands out there with incredible name recognition like Coke, Pepsi and Nike. Let’s face it…there are also other kinds of brands, like the ones you put on cows that make them moo scream as the ranch logo sizzles permanently onto their skin.

Since I had both hips replaced, I found a new favorite kind of sock. It has very loose elastic at the top which helps with swelling in your feet. I have had them for a couple of years and it never hit me until this morning that I have been branded…and today I am letting out my own moo scream.

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For some reason this time when I looked at my feet, the logo or brand offended me. Why not put the Medi Peds logo somewhere else on the sock so that I do not have to be told that I am no longer part of the “Active Ped” Society.  I love these socks but they make me want to hurry and put on my shoes (hey…maybe that is their strategy to get us up and walking).

Once you dictate that we are part of the Medi Ped society, I am sure the Medi Fed and Medi Bed societies are not far behind until we finally join the Medi Dead society.

Why not put something motivational or fun on the toe of these socks. How about, “Turbo Feet” or  “Feat Feet” or “Seize the Day”. Even if they wanted to keep it medically associated, they could have written, “Walk or Die”. Many major retailers  advertise “loose fitting activewear”. How well would they do if their ads were centered around loose fitting medical or coffin wear?

I remember the days when tube socks came with stripes in your school colors and socks were everything on the basketball court and football and baseball fields. Maybe there is a part of me that does not want to accept that my new school colors are lab coat white and varicose vein blue and my new team is Medi Peds.

For all of you marketing guru’s out there that are counting on cashing in on the silver tsunami, remember that we still think like we are 20. Put some racing stripes on our diapers and make koozies for our pill bottles. We may not remember where we left the keys but we dang sure can remember what it was like to be young.

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Tell a Story

Husbands…Consider These Four Crucial Items that Should be on Your Honey “Don’t” List

“I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman’s skillet and the man’s ax-helve.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”  Martin Luther


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 There are many reminders, provided weekly by my wife, that require some action on my part…take out the garbage, put a battery in the smoke detector, tell the neighbor to hush the barking dogs or we will call the police…you know the standard sort of stuff. I hear them and I do my manly best to take care of my wife’s “honey do” list. My list is long but in no way compares to her list of things that she requires herself to do daily.

Perhaps the most important list to any married man, however, is the “honey don’t list. It is the wise and savvy man that learns this early on in his marriage. It is much shorter than his honey do list but oh so much more volatile…sort of…marriage meets nitroglycerin. When you enter into this honey don’t venue, sweat beads form on your forehead like old dynamite. You realize too late that you are in a marital minefield and you strive to navigate your way through the situation without any permanent loss of wife, life or limbs.

It is great to enjoy in depth and personal conversations with your wife but try to avoid venturing into the land of don’t and especially into the land of don’t  ever. A good honey do man does not necessarily make a good honey don’t man. Husbands…listen to reason and consider why you should stay clear of the following four crucial items that should be on your honey don’t list. (Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.)

Don’t Tell Her How She Should Feel

 After listening to your wife carry on about something for what seems like forever, don’t make the mistake of dismissing all of her emotions by  casually saying something like, “Don’t be so uptight about it, just ignore it and it will go away…can you pass the potatoes? Hey kids what do you want to do after dinner?”

Her emotions matter. Her problem solving technique is different than yours and what may seem matter of fact to you, may require more detailed analysis for her. That analysis takes into account things that generally don’t even cross a man’s shallow mind. Telling her how she should think or feel shows a gross misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for her own thought process and will in most cases, be seen as an insult.

Don’t Ignore the Listening Time

 Whether you know it or not, there is a time allotted in your day when the most important thing you can do is listen to your wife. Many men make the mistake of thinking that a casual chat while continuing to do their work, play or TV watching counts as that time…it doesn’t. You are required by the laws of nature to listen and it is so much easier to listen to her quiet concerned voice than her ranting about your insensitivity voice. So… divest yourself of all of your surrounding distractions and listen.

The net side effect is that you actually learn things. You learn names of family friends and your children. You learn things that are happening with your kids and neighbors and extended family. Granted, because you are trying to get the TV on to watch the football game, your manly brain tries to condense all that she is telling you into the few words that you hope she is really trying to communicate such as, “I had a good day I hope you did too. I’m going to go clean up the kitchen”. But that is when you have to allow your manly survival instincts to kick in and remove your quivering thumb from the remote and sit back and just listen. You might even consider getting off your comfortable rear and  listening while you wash the dishes.

Don’t Ask Her that Question About Her Past

 Some couples may choose to share things of their past in the spirit of full disclosure. However, this may not always be the best option, especially the second time around or if it inserts itself into the conversation year after year. After you get by the basic, “have you ever killed or maimed somebody” and “are you a child molester or porn addict”, you need to proceed cautiously.

Don’t ask unless you are big enough, mature enough, and forgiving enough to handle the answer. It is not your prerogative to demand answers because of your curiosity.

Many mistakes are private and many experiences are personal. It is not requisite that some things are ever brought up again. A pushy partner that needs to know everything and dwells in that knowledge, misses the whole point of your present life together and seriously impedes the potential for true joy in their marriage.

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Don’t Ever…Compare Her to Your Mom

Even though you may love both of these women, your wife is not your mother. On some occasion you might be tempted to say, “Hun my mom said that one day I could be President of the United States…tell me again why you disagree.” If you somehow think there should be a correlation between your mom’s assessment of your skill set and your wife’s assessment, you are mistaken.

They both love you but in a different way. The mother that you remember had a life that was devoted entirely to making you feel better, safe and loved. Your wife will do the same for your children but this same drive is not innate in your relationship with her. Her love for you will grow as she sees you sacrifice for your common goal (which is generally your children). Her task is not to raise you again though she will help you remember things that your mom taught you (Like don’t leave your clothes on the floor).

This is so clear to see when you go to a family dinner with your parents. Even though your mother may be in her eighties, she is still up and down at the dinner table serving you like you were a king. You hardly even notice because that’s just the way your mom has been to you since you were born. Your wife, however, observes and thinks, you lazy bum, get up and serve yourself and your mother.

Your wife will see the good things your mother does and pick and choose the qualities if any, that she would like to emulate. Remember that though your mother and your wife are different, they are both women and both recognize the limitations of the man species. This creates a very tight natural bond that you would want to exist between them. Any comparison you make will only hurt that bond.

Your mother changed your diaper out of love and one day your wife may too but it is not the same…the difference will be that one is done with hope and the other is done with pity.

and so Life Goes on.

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We’re just men. We came with a set of selfish genes. One day this journey through life will be complete. Part of the purpose of this journey is to overcome our selfish tendencies. You will be a better man as you work hard to keep up with your honey do list. But the reward for navigating your life away from the honey don’t list will be far greater. You will find peace and respect and a desire to serve your wife in a way that every Queen deserves.

We’re just men but we can learn. To the woman in each of our lives we say, thank you for giving us a second chance…again and again. That’s a trait that my mom was always really good at…whoops.

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.