Friday, September 30, 2016

By George!

This is a story about siblings, the invasion on the British, and the British Invasion.

One of my siblings — my older brother John — invited me to go on an impromptu road trip last night.  Destination:  Harrisburg, Illinois (about 60 miles away.)

We went to hear an historian, reenactor, and storyteller extraordinaire Seth Graves as George Rogers Clark. 

Mr. Graves brought the Great Invincible Long Knife and founding father of Illinois to life. 

Georges Rogers Clark was an amazing Carpe Diem Life guy.  Clark is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory.  Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest".

He did all that before the age of 30.  Unfortunately, after that, it was all down hill from there.   Most people outside of this area probably haven't heard much about old George; however, I bet you’ve heard of his brother.  George’s little brother was none other than William Clark — of Lewis and Clark fame.  Siblings.

Back to our sibling road trip.

On the way to Harrisburg we passed through Eldorado, Illinois (population 4,122).  That’s where my brother tossed out a bit of trivia about another set of siblings involving another George and another invasion involving the British:  George and his sister Louise Caldwell. 

This story takes place 184 years after George Rogers Clark captured Vincennes.   In mid-September of 1963, this British George takes  some time off from his busy life in England to pay his sister Louise Caldwell a visit at her home in Benton, Illinois.

Known across the pond as a pretty good musician, he’s asked to sit in for a set with a local four-man band called The Four Vests, playing a gig at the VFW club in Eldorado.

According to several accounts on the internet, after being introduced to the large crowd as "the Elvis Presley of England," George took over the lead guitar for the band's second set. George sang and played lead guitar on Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart." According to his sister Louise, the crowd, who had previously been quiet, stomped their feet, applauded, and whistled wildly as George played.

After the 40-minute set was over, someone in the crowd came over and told George that "with the right breaks, you could really go places."

That George was none other than George Harrison:  The first Beatle to play a gig in the United States.  

Carpe Diem Life Lesson: If one of your siblings ever invites you to go on  a road trip to some small town, enjoy a beer with fresh fried pork rinds, and take in some local history. . .  Carpe Diem!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not my circus...

A co-worker and I were talking about a situation at work.  After realizing that, as peons, we had no power to create positive change, she concluded with, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

What?  How have I gone my whole life without ever having heard that phrase? 

Turns out that this is an old Polish proverb that reminds us that we don’t always have to jump into “fit it mode,” and try to control what is not ours to control. 

It's a great Carpe Diem Life Lesson:  Part of why I am developing the Carpe Diem Life system is to remind me that I have my own circus with my own monkeys to take care of.

Author Karen Ann Kennedy gives this advice:

When you find yourself getting sucked in to another person’s circus, stop and ask yourself this:
1. Does this situation really involve me?
2. If the situation doesn’t really involve me, what is my motivation for getting involved?
3. What will it cost me to get involved? We’re talking time, money, stress, etc.
4. Can I really bring something to the table that will help all parties get to a better resolution?
5. What will happen if I decline to participate in this situation?

Carpe Diem Life system is one that helps you focus on your goals, your actions, your resources, your own self-evaluation, your own new directions, your own improvements, your own LIFE!  In other words:  You are the ringmaster of your own circus! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jolly Tall Goals!

This is a short story about a very tall Santa – 35 feet to be exact.

I had always assumed that the Santa in question was part of an old billboard campaign for Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World) in Santa Claus, Indiana; however, news reports have it dating to the Christmas season of 1974, when it was built for part of a display at our Old Courthouse.  It has made the rounds since then; the past several years it’s been greeting passers-by near U.S. 41 and I-64 just north of Evansville.  It has also been greatly deteriorating.
When a new gas station was being built on the site last year,  the old Santa was taken down and loaded on a flat bed trailer and hauled off to the owner’s junkyard.  The intent of the owner was to restore it, but – as so often happens – life got in the way and he put his interest in other places.

Enter two local artisans with a tall goal.

Ron McKeethen and Bob Zasadny came to the rescue.  They knew that it would take a tremendous amount of work cleaning up the surface, applying new resin and fiberglass, smoothing it all out, and finishing with a brilliant paint job), but they never doubted it was doable.  It’s taken many months of persistent action to bring back the jolly old and jolly old self.  But they did it!

This past weekend it was transported to its new home on U.S. 41 and Old State Road.  Carpe diem and check it out for yourself.  Thanks to a couple of guys (along with volunteers and donations) with a Carpe Diem Life mission, it will be there for years and years for all to enjoy.

Carpe Diem Life to all,
and to all a good night!

(Thanks to Jim Cox for the photographs)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Enjoy the dash!

Today’s Carpe Diem Life Lesson is ripped from the headlines (okay, copied and pasted from the sports page).

I opened the sports page yesterday to be struck by two headlines:

Palmer, ‘The King’ of golf, dies at 87 (The great Arnold Palmer)


Ace had irrepressible spirit (Jose Fernández, one of the greatest young stars in baseball, was killed in a boating accident.  He was just 24)

Arnold Palmer
September 10, 1929 — September 25, 2016

Jose Fernández
July 31, 1992 — September 25, 2016

The Carpe Diem Life Lesson:  Enjoy the “dash” every day, because we never know how long or how short our “dash” will be!

Monday, September 26, 2016

When people pull our string...

This past weekend my wife and I had the privilege of attending the wedding of the daughter of dear friends of ours.  We’ve known Jennifer since she was a baby and have watched her grow up into the amazing woman she is today.

During the speeches and toasts at the reception, Jen’s maid of honor told this story:

While doing research for the bridal shower I was throwing, I called Jen’s fiancé DJ and asked him, “If Jen were a doll with a pull string that made her talk, what phrase would she say?”

I was expecting all sorts of funny answers, but DJ responded without hesitation that she would say, “I love you!”

 - - -

What a beautiful description of Jen and a golden lesson for all of us.

When you get down to it, love is all there is.

“If we divide everything in the world into two piles, love and fear, and we know that all there really is, is love, then everything that is not love is a cry for love.” — Lisa Marie Nelson.

Thank you Jen for teaching us that the most important Carpe Diem Life lesson is — even when people are pulling our strings — a loving heart the answer. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Yes, we're all born ignorant, but . . .

I’m wrong… alot! (Um, I mean a lot.  Allot?)

Which leads me to today’s Carpe Diem Life Lesson:  Hunger for knowledge!

Knowledge is power (at least the potential power).   

"It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end."  -- Napoleon Hill

Sound familiar?  Again, I've never claimed to invent this stuff, just give it an acronym that's meaningful to me.  

Choose your goal.
Action Steps need to achieve it.
Resources (Relationships and research) 
Persistent Action
Evaluating the reality of the situation as you move along.

Direction (change as needed).
Improvement along the way.
Enjoy the process.
My Life!

Example:  I once saved a ton of money fixing our old dryer which stopped working. 
A few minutes on the internet watching a YouTube video and downloading a manual helped me purchase the right parts and fix it myself. 

For me, the greatest lesson I learned that day -- and honestly one that I need to keep learning -- is that I DO have the aptitude to succeed.   Granted, my learning curve might be longer than most, but I’ve come to try to live by the motto,  I may not know the answer, but I believe in my ability to solve the problem.

Part of the MY LIFE tenet is:  We are all responsible for our own education. 

My Carpe Diem Life Map is one tool that helps me;  I hope it helps you.

Stay hungry and Carpe Diem Life!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Forfeit Trivia and Success

Here’s a couple of trivia questions for you sports fans:

1. What’s the score of a forfeited NFL game?
2. What’s the score of a forfeited baseball game?

(Answers below)

Why a discussion on forfeits?  One last Harvey Mackay lesson:  There is a quote attributed to Woody Allen that goes:  80% of success is showing up. 

Harvey’s Odds on Beating Your Competition starts with

Just show up! . . .
Show up on time . . .
Show up on time with a plan . . .
Show up on time with a plan and a commitment to carry it out . . ..
Show up on time with a plan and a commitment to carry it out, and then execute it . . .
Show up on time with a plan and a commitment to carry it out , and then execute it, and then deliver more than you promise.

Anything less than that and you risk a forfeit!

Answers (from some research on internet, but it all seems reliable):

According to the official NFL rulebook, a forfeit occurs: “... when a game is not played because of the failure or refusal of one team to participate. In that event, the other team, if ready and willing to play, is the winner by a score of 2-0” (the points earned in a safety). Why a two-point safety? Because those points are the league’s only scores that are not credited to any one player.

Baseball games are forfeited, usually when a team is no longer able to play. In the event of forfeiture, the score is recorded as 9-0, as stated in rule 2.00 of the Major League Baseball Rules Book. However, the actual game statistics are recorded as they stand at the time of the forfeit; the game is recorded as a loss in the standings for the forfeiting team and a win for the other team, even if the forfeiting team is ahead at that point. The 9-0 score equates to the number of innings in a regulation game. Sports with seven-inning games, such as high school baseball or softball, generally award a rule-based score of 7-0.

Showing up is 80% of success; see Carpe Diem Life system for working the other 20%!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

E Squared

Yesterday I introduced you to Harvey Mackay, the business success guru who seems to have a great answer for everything.  One of his truisms (and the sub-title to one of his books) is:

 Do What You Love,
 Love What You Do,
 and Deliver More Than You Promise.

One of the companies I work for calls delivering more than you promise: “Exceeding Expectations!”  They even give a nice shiny lapel pin for us to wear once we’ve passed their training.

In business, just meeting expectations is how things get sold.  But satisfied customers will shop anyplace. LOYAL customers will proactively come to you first.  Exceeding expectations in price, quality, and service creates loyal customers. 

In everyday life, exceeding expectations is the means by which enhanced value in relationships is created. 

While Carpe Diem Life is about seizing the day, it’s also about continual improvement that will pay huge dividends in the future. 

Today’s Carpe Diem Life Lesson:  Look for ways to seize the day by delivering more than you promise.  E Squared!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Swim With The Sharks

One of my favorite writers, thinkers, and teachers is Harvey Mackay, author of many record-shattering books including SWIM WITH THE SHARKS WITHOUT BEING EATEN ALIVE and BEWARE OF THE NAKED MAN WHO OFFERS YOU HIS SHIRT.  His books, website, and newspaper articles offer crystal-clear road map for success in business and in life.

I’m fairly confident that Mackay will never find the need to quote my Carpe Diem Life posts, but that won’t stop me from borrowing from him (he’s been a valuable RESOURCE for me for years — I even receive one of his gold shark lapel pins years ago).    His syndicated column in yesterday’s local paper is full of aphorisms that fit perfectly in the Carpe Diem Life System:

CHOICE:  Goals are like stars; they may not be reached, but they can always be guides.
ACTION LISTS:  The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.
RESOURCES:  It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have that makes all the difference.
PERSISTENT ACTION:  You have to take it as it happens, but you should try to make it happen the way you want to take it.
EVALUATION:  The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.

DIRECTION:  If you’re not sure where you are going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else. If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
IMPROVEMENT:  Too many people stop to think and forget to start again.
ENJOYMENT:  Life is a bumpy road, and laughter is your best shock absorber.
MY RESPONSIBILITY:  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but they should change themselves.

You can check out Mr. Mackay at:

Carpe swimming

Carpe Diem Life

Monday, September 19, 2016

Eat Yourself!?

Just a funny observation . . .

This is an ice cream cooler at a local convenience store.  The graphics actually read, "Treat Yourself!"
Unfortunately, reality (in this case a window frame) got in the way and this is what people read when they walk up to the store.

Today's Lesson:  Once you CHOOSE your goal or project, create your ACTION LIST, utilizes all our RESOURCES, and take PERSISTENT ACTION, make sure that you EVALUATE your progress -- from all angles!  Otherwise, the unforeseen consequence could be telling people to "eat Yourself!"

Carpe Diem Life 

Friday, September 16, 2016

The "What If . . . ? Coincidence

 I found myself faced with with a "Wow!  That's synchronicity!" moment yesterday.
So, my final post of the week is a connected by meaning to previous posts.  I'll try to explain:

Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.  I’m not intelligent to understand what that really means, but I do know that it has something to do with “meaningful coincidence.”

The other day I wrote a post titled, “What If . . . ?”
Which got me thinking about Leonardo da Vinci . . .
Which got the thinking about his journals . . .
Which got me thinking about Bill Gates purchasing 18 pages of da Vinci’s journals for 30 plus million dollars . . .
Which got me thinking about the dozens and dozens of old, worthless journals I have cluttering our home . . .
Which got me thinking What if . . . ? again . . .
What if I CHOOSE to offer Bill Gates 18 of my journals — complete, not just pages — for half price.

That's right, for low, low price of just 15 million dollars, Bill Gates could own a piece of MY history.

I created my ACTION LIST, Wrote up the offer and posted on my RESOURCE (my blog).
PERSISTENT ACTION:  I posted the blog and, well, persistently checked my email so I wouldn't miss when he enthusiastically responded.

Well, you’re not going to believe what happened:  As of this morning . . .

Bill Gates has not replied. 

EVALUATE THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION:  So, I’’m thinking that he must have been too busy to read my post. 
Time to change DIRECTION:  I went on-line to email him directly so that it will IMPROVE my chances of Mr. Gates seeing my offer and responding.  All this while I was ENJOY enjoying the thought of meeting him and cashing his check therefore changing MY LIFE!

I Google Bill’s name in hopes to find his email address; instead, I come up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.

Now, here is the synchronicity.   The front page of the Gates Foundation website features a letter by Sue Desmond-Hellmann CEO, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION titled: 

“What If . . .?”

It is the one question that unites all those who work at the Gates Foundation.  It’s the question that is helping cure infection diseases, empowering women and girls to transform their lives, giving children the hope of reaching their full potential, and so much more.  Check it out at:

As you see, it appears that Mr. Gates might indeed be a little too busy these days to take the time to stop and write me a check for some insipid ramblings from an unknown writer.  Nevertheless, I’ll be patiently waiting for the day he shows up to close the deal. 

In the meantime, I will not let expectations hinder my path.  As my notebooks go back in a box,  I'll know that Bill and Melinda's work of continually asking, “What If . . . ?” is making the world a better place.

Carpe Diem Life

Thursday, September 15, 2016


My “What if . . . ?” post yesterday got me thinking about a book I read years ago: How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb.  I was also thinking of the book because it was on top of my dusty stack of books to finish someday.

In it, Gelb discusses what he calls “The Seven da Vincian Principles.”  The first of the seven principles is  Curiosita (curiosity) — An insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

Other principles include the commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Sounds pretty Carpe Diem Life to me.

I'm no da Vinci (more like a German version of My Cousin Vinny).  However,  one da Vinci-like habit I’ve kept for decades is keeping journals and notebooks (keeping as is writing; also keeping as in cluttering our home with them).  No, not just a few notebooks, we’re talking dozens upon dozens upon . . .  even though I know that there is nothing remotely good, much less brilliant in any of them.  Thousands of pages of crap!  Kept.
 (Just one of several boxes of journals and notebooks)

So why do I bother saving them?  There is really no good logical reason — other than they are a part of me.

But, what if . . .?

Bill Gates once paid something like 30 plus million dollars back in the 90s for just 18 pages of Leonardo’s notebooks (da Vinci's, not DiCaprio's).  $30 million!

So, what if. . .

Bill, I’ll give you your choice of any 18 notebooks — that’s entire notebooks, not just pages — for half price.  My contact information is on this site.  Any 18 notebooks for the bargain price of 15 million dollars.  I look forward to hearing form.

Here’s to a Carpe Diem and Curious Life.


Mr. Gates, I know you’re curious, so here’s a taste of what you’ll be investing in — a random poem from a random notebook:

A lie on my back at night 
Trying to fall asleep 
I listen to my stomach
Making gurgling noises
I don’t know what it’s saying
But, it’s fat!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What if . . . ?

"I" in my Carpe Diem Life stands for IMPROVEMENT.  But, it could also stand for IMAGINATION or IF.

"What if . . . ?" is a powerful question.

"What if . . . ?" Creates change.

"What if . . .  ?" starts the process of generating new ideas and creative solutions.

""Status quo is mediocrity's best friend. While static thinking is the best short cut to obsolescence you'll ever find. Why would you want to travel that path?" -- Business writer Mike Myatt

I mentioned the other day that I was starting to travel down the path -- the very long path -- of decluttering.  What if the office were clean and organized? 

Again, I'm not writing this blog because I'm an expert.  I'm writing this blog because I'M NOT AN EXPERT!  Frank Lloyd Wright had it right, "An expert is a man who has stopped thinking - he knows!"  The only thing I know is that I don't know.  Fortunately, I'm not afraid to ask 'What if . . . ?"

About the above image:  
The question mark is an inverted plow, breaking up the hard soil of old belief sand preparing for the new growth. 

Quote by Saul Alinsky. 
Calligraphy by my daughter Amy in 1998.
Found while decluttering -- a hidden treasure that made me smile.  

I am preparing for new growth.

Carpe Diem Life 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Seize The Day By Letting Go!

I fully admit it:  I border on being a hoarder.

So, when my old grade school friend contacted me the other day wanting to know if I had a copy of our 8th Grade Yearbook (40 plus years old), I was 100% sure I did.  Plus, I reasoned, that it was a great time to at least take a few more action steps in a project that Suzanne and I started over Labor Day Weekend:  Declutter my space!

I went right to the box where I knew it was and  -- NO YEAR BOOK!?
No worries, I thought, must be in box number two.  Again – NO YEAR BOOK!?
Box number three . . . number 12? 

I rifled through just about every stack of papers, cardboard box, file cabinet, closet, etc.
After hours and hours of searching I recognized that it was all an exercise in futility.  I also recognized that it t was seriously time to actually purge my life of old files, paperwork, and even books.

I was heartbroken that I have evidently lost a rare and valuable treasure (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration).
I was heartbroken that I couldn’t help my friend Kurt.
I was heartbroken that I was now faced with the reality that I really needed to jettison a mountain of papers and books.

I came to realize what I’ve known in my heart all along:  I was stuck in a quagmire of stuff.

I’ve assigned the “D” in Carpe Diem Life to mean “Direction” as in moving in a new, positive direction.  “D” could also mean “Decluttering.” And, to be honest, decluttering for me is moving in a completely new direction -- A direction that is one painfully difficult path!  But, it's a direction that is positive.  Hopefully, the space I clear by throwing out stuff that no longer serves me will create space for clarity in all areas of my life.

Today's Lesson:  It’s impossible to Carpe Diem when it’s buried under a pile of stuff!

Carpe Diem Life 

P.S.  Now that I’ve cleared some space, maybe I should print all these posts and file them away

Monday, September 12, 2016

Carpe Luck and Handing On the Torch

Another one of my hobbies is historical reenacting — early Indiana pioneer through Civil War.
This weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Spencer County Civil War Days featuring a chance to see the The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay pass by the courthouse encampment.

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is designed to inspire and unify Hoosiers as one of the major commemorative events of the 2016 Bicentennial celebration. Hoosiers will symbolically “pass the torch” connecting generations to IGNITE our future (their pun, not mine — though I like it).
Patterned after the Olympic Torch Relay, Indiana’s version will pass through all 92 of the state’s counties, cover 3200 miles over a five week period, averaging 97 miles per day.

Needless to say that it was an opportunity that I wanted to to see -- that's it, I just wanted to be lucky enough to see it.

Luck isn't just about being at the right place at the right time, but also about being open to and ready for new opportunities.  As ancient saying goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca

At first, our small band of reenacting brothers were assigned to a post overlooking the Ohio River. Our mission was to  fire a volley salute when the torch was being passed along to the next torchbearer.   Somewhere along the line someone had the idea to have an “official escort” for the several blocks down to the river where the torch would be passed on for the next leg of the journey. I was in period clothing, I know how to load and fire a musket (Thanks to my old friend Wayne A. for lending me his for this), and I was ready for a new opportunity.

After our salute, Rockport Mayor, Honorable Gay Ann Harney, was gracious enough to let us hold and pass the torch: “A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity.”

Luck?  For sure!  But I also believe that our willingness to volunteer our time to transmit our knowledge, learning, etc. to the succeeding generation (a.k.a. To hand on the torch) created this opportunity to literally be a part of handing on the torch.

The Carpe Diem Life Lesson:  As one of my favorite authors Barbara Sher writes: "The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act."

I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Carpe Diem Life

Friday, September 9, 2016

Delusional Effective Disorder

I’m not going to exaggerate and say that I’m going blind; however, tri-focal glasses at 56 is not heading in a clear direction – and I still can’t seem to put everything in focus.

I was thinking about focus as I was writing yesterday’s blog on multitasking.  The consequences of my inability to focus results in some rather messy results.  This weekend, for example Suzanne and I started to tackle cleaning and organizing the office at home.  I say “started” because it was a total wreck (It was a total wreck because it’s easier for me to stack stuff than it is to focus on putting it away) and after hours of work we still have a long way to go.

While Suzanne had no problem staying on track, I was all over the place like a dog in a yard full of squirrels.  I’m sure you’ve seen people like me who suffer from Delusional Effectiveness Disorder: Confusing Persistent Activity with Achievement.  Or, maybe I’m just lazy.

Even though focus is not a precise tenant in Carpe Diem Life, I’m hoping it is one of the end results of the system:  CHOOSING the goal (i.e. cleaning the office), creating an ACTION LIST, utilizing my RESOURCES (i.e. trash bags, help from Suzanne), PERSISTENT ACTION, EVALUATING the reality of the situation, changing DIRECTION as needed, IMPROVING, ENJOYING THE PROCESS (i.e. putting on some good music to clean by), and realizing it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY.
We can do most anything as long as we have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support of our resources.  And let’s not forget IMAGINATION!

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

Carpe Diem Life

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chasing Rabbits

I had someone at work tell me that I need to be a better “multi-tasker.”  Really?  How is that even possible when it's hard enough to do one thing well?

As read on the internet The word multitasking was originally coined because we needed another word for "unable to focus on the talk at hand."  The question begs to be asked: Is multitasking even really possible?

NO! I mean, YES!  (Wait, what was the question I was asking?  Sorry, I was checking email. Squirrel! Oh, right.  Is multitasking possible?)  The new verdict is that the belief that engaging in several tasks at once means we are more productive is a myth. Instead of saving time, multitasking not only takes longer but also makes mistakes more likely.  Have you noticed that the drive-thru lines at McDonald's are slower than ever?  Perhaps one reason is that all the nice, hardworking teenagers there are being asked to multitask in the name of efficiency. You wonder why she can't focus on getting a simple order correct the first time until you finally get to window number one and you realize it's the same girl taking orders, typing order, taking money, making change . . . .

Multitasking is, in fact, engaging in several tasks at once and doing a half-ass -- or third-ass, quarter-ass -- job at each task.  Watch a few YouTube videos of people texting while walking into walls, walking into fountains, tripping "watch your step" signs, etc. and you'll see how efficient it is (funny, not not very efficient.) 

Multitasking.  Perhaps that was what was bogging down Charles M. Schwab and his Bethlehem Steel Corporation in the early 20th Century.  See my blog from August 22,  FREE: A $400,000 IDEA. 

Bottom line:  I recognize my need to be more efficient; I also recognize that I need to find ways to be more present.  I need to find ways to be more focused on one project at a time.

As my wise old grandpa never said, "If you chase two rabbits, both will escape."  Or as Mozart did say, “The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.”

I don't know where being present and focused falls in the Carpe Diem Life system, but one thing I do know
:  Multitasking is not part of it!

Carpe Diem Life (one task at a time)!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Carpe Blue Highways II and Gen. Grant

Yesterday I took you on a short trip up a blue highway in Tennessee.  Though we were on a road less traveled and stopping at every Eiffel Tower replica we found along the way, we were heading to a specific location:  Ft. Donelson in Dover, Tennessee – site of the Union’s first major victory of the Civil War.  One of the key players in that battle was none other than Brig. General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant, unlike most Union commanders at the time, was NOT afraid to take action!

Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson were devised to protect western Tennessee from Union forces using the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers as approach avenues.  It was Grant’s plan to take them.  After Henry and Heiman fell quickly to Union gunboats, Grant set his sites on the larger Donelson. 

Now, I don’t pretend to be a Civil War historian, so any facts I present would admittedly be a copy-and-paste version. I do encourage you to look it up as it is a fantastic story.  It includes ironclads, the army, some bad luck, one of the worst military blunders of the war, and finally Brig. General Ulysses S. Grant riding in with his Carpe Diem Life Map to save the day (okay, I made that last one up).  But Grant did ride in as things were looking pretty bleak for the Union Army — some historians even say disastrous.

The battles for Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson were not the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, but they were some of the most important.  With victory, Grant and the Union Army took control of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers which led to the fall of Nashville. 

Grant’s leadership skills included an unshakable resolve to win the battle, the ability to evaluate his environment and his resources, adapt and change direction, create an action plan and take persistent action to achieve the goal at hand.  I don’t know if he enjoyed the process, but he did have an uncanny ability to remain calm in the heat of battle. 

Grant’s philosophy:

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get to him as soon as you can.  Strike as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

Have a goal you’d like to achieve?   Choose your goal.  Make a battle plan. Utilize all your resources. Get to it as soon as you can. Strike it as hard as you can, and keep moving on.

Carpe Diem Life

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Carpe Blue Highways

Sometime right after college I first read what has been hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing: Blue Highways — William Least Heat-Moon’s travelog of his backroad travels around America.  It’s his chronicle of a three-month-long road trip that he took throughout the United States  He tells how he traveled 13,000 miles, as much as possible on secondary roads (often drawn on maps in blue), all while living out of his van with his dog.

It struck a chord with me because that’s exactly what my best friend Tim and I used to do (okay, not the living out of the van with a dog part)— first on bicycles and later in his Jeep.  Believe me, we never had reservations taking off and heading for parts unknown on those blue highways.  To this day, I still prefer the road less traveled.

That’s exactly what Suzanne and I decided to do for part of Labor Day Weekend.  We started out with one clear destination:  Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane, Tennessee.  We figured we’d get there, explore everything it had to offer, and then catch her concert Saturday night.  Upon arrival, we quickly discovered that “Miss Loretta” — as she’s affectionately called by just about everyone there — had fallen earlier in the day and that, though okay, was not going to be performing that night.
Proof that even when you think everything is completely mapped everything out, disappointments happen.  What to do when life happens?  Carpe Diem Life happens. 

We quickly focused on evaluating the reality of the situation, choosing which direction we would go next, picking a blue highway, with the mindset of enjoying the journey.  We were now on a quest for "off the beaten path" treasures.  What did we discover that we would have never found on the interstate?

Benton County, TN, The Pearl Capitol of The U.S. A

Patsy Cline's Plane Crash Site Memorial (An engraved rock marks the spot where Cline's country music career ended abruptly on March 5, 1963)

The “famous” 30 Mile Bargain Highway

And the pièce de résistance: the12th largest Eiffel Tower replica in the world in Paris, TN

All topped off by a trip to Big Top drive-in in our own hometown

So, here’s the lesson: Carpe Diem Life is not only a map to achieve clearly defined goals, it’s also a map that encourages aimless wandering.  Of course, there’s still stopping to EVALUATE where you are and CHOOSING which DIRECTION you want to go next, ENJOYING THE JOURNEY. 

I think Mr. Heat-Moon would say, “Well done! Carpe Blue Highways!”

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Wheelbarrow Full of Imagination

Now, parked motionless
Days before: The Grand Carriage
For Annabeth Sage

I love spending time with my family; it's no secret that spending time with my two grandchildren certainly brings out the child in me. 

Mr. Owen is 14 months old and loves playing peekaboo and basically getting into everything -- with Grandpa’s help, of course!

Little Annabeth is 4 years old; what a magical age.  Take a moment to watch her at play and you’ll experience first hand the magic that comes from her imagination. It’s so exciting see and experience the magical world that emerges from her wonderfully creative mind and the enchanting way she transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary things. 

Take for example the other day when Annabeth peered into the cluttered garden shed.  “Wow,” noticing a rusty old wheelbarrow.  Only she didn’t see a rusty old wheelbarrow.  She saw a royal carriage worthy of a princess.  And guess who she saw as the old horse that was going to push her through her backyard kingdom?  Grandpa!  And I loved being part of every second of it.

Taking a moment to view the world through Annabeth’s and Owen’s eyes always sparks the joy that imagination brings. 

Last night as I was putting some things away in the shed, I saw that old wheelbarrow — just like I’ve seen a hundred times before.  Only this time was very different. This time I heard the laughter of a little child screaming, “Giddy-up. Go faster Grandpa!”  It was enough to bring back the joy and wonder that all children’s imaginations bring to world.  How amazing would it be be to seize that on a day-to-day basis?

Have a magical Labor Day Weekend,

                       Carpe Diem Life

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bowling II -- I suck!

While Carpe Diem Life a goal-setting tool, you might also think of it as a system.

What the difference?

Let’s take more more look at the sport of bowling.  My goal might be to become a championship bowler.  My system is what I do at research and practice to reach that goal.

Here the interesting question:  If I completely ignore my goal and just work the system, will I still improve and someday reach I goal?

I think I would.  In fact, I might get even better results by forgetting the goal and focusing only on the system. 

Which leads me to a principle that is part of MY RESPONSIBILITY:  Teachability.

John C. Maxwell defines teachability as:  possessing the intentional attitude and behavior to keep learning and growing thought life.   If you want to be successful tomorrow, then you must be teachable today.

I’ve been told my whole life that I’m not much of a student.  in fact, I’ve been told I’m not even teachable in many areas. I sure that the two out of four readers of this who are teacher (that’s close to 45%) notice all my grammer errors mispellings.

When I started bowling I SUCKED. 

I’ll never forget the first time I bowled.  My friend Bill who owns a center in my hometown invited me to join his team.   The first night I grabbed a ball and shoes and headed down to the lanes for a few practice throws before we started.  I figured, “How hard can it be?”  I was immediately humbled throwing back-to-back gutter balls.  Embarrassed and dejected, I took off my shoes and told him I couldn’t do it.  I quit.     

The next day I called him and told him that I would try again, but ONLY if he coached me.  He accepted the challenge.  After reading everything I could get my hands on, watching videos, and getting some invaluable one-on-one time with Bill, I IMPROVED enough to give it another go.

The next week I confidently walked up to the line. Trying to remember everything I had learned and practiced, I proceeded to throw… my first one in the gutter and the second one just barely clipped a 7 Pin.  I muttered to Bill as I walked past him, “I can’t get much worse.” 

In his “tough love” manner and trying not to laugh too hard he said, “Technically, you can!” 

But this time I didn’t quit.  Between frames he’d do his best to teach me what I was doing wrong (EVALUATION) and what I I was doing my best to correct it (TEACHABILITY & DIRECTION).  The most important thing he taught me was not to take myself too seriously and ENJOY it.  In other words, work on all the small steps of the system, and don’t worry about the end goal.

Don’t get me wrong, I still set high goals for myself, but I broke them down into manageable steps.
I’m never been perfect — no 300 games — but I try my best to focus on each step of the system, evaluate, change direction as needed… and ENJOY!  Every once in a while, when you're relaxing and just having fun, amazing things happen.  Like one night in 2009:
Thanks Bill.

Carpe Diem Life!