Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Hurray! The ten years described as The Decade From Hell by TIME magazine are ending. This is a momentous thing. In fact, I personally am more excited about this second decade of the 21st Century than I ever was about the dawn of 2000 with all its hyped up Y2K fears. Not that a sizable segment of the population isn't trying to sell a doom and gloom vision of the immediate and forseeable future. A good friend of mine, who used to be an optimist, has apparently come under the influence of the right wing torrent of Obama hatred and belief in the decline and fall of the American way of life.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
So, here it comes, 2010, a new year--but is it for you? In the midst of my own campaign to have us consider this impending milestone as the chance to do over The New Millennium that didn't produce the results we hoped for in 2000-2009, I am looking at what I am willing to do to assure that it will indeed be a new year for me.
Most research on the psychology of human behavior seems to agree with one basic point: in order to change our lives, we have to do some new things in new ways.
And sometimes we can shake up our imaginations by choosing to do new things that may not seem profound or life-changing, but merely give us some inkling of a new perspective, maybe even a new paradigm.
And three easy tasks you could set for yourself in three areas of life:
1. Learn something new.
Right now, I am considering salsa lessons, though I haven't made a final decision yet. To find out if I choose this one and accomplish my goal, you'll have to check me out at next year's New Year's Eve party.
2. Travel to some new place.
This doesn't have to be some farflung destination, but can be somewhere fairly close and inexpensive to reach that you just haven't checked out before.
3. Taste something new.
This one's easy for me. Since my release from prison, I have been not only savoring the exquisite pleasure of foods I hadn't had for twelve years, but trying new delights like my current adventure in gourmet olives. And I realized I have never, in my entire life, tasted a luxury food often written about and elevated to almost cult status by gourmands and gourmets: truffles. I have no idea what they taste like, though I know they are related to mushrooms. So my first trip down that culinary path will be a small jar of Truffled Sea Salt from:
This is the company I've recently gotten some of my new favorite olives from, and I love my little spice grinder with a mix called Grains of Desire (who could resist that name?) It consists of black peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, orange rind, red rose petals (do these taste different than white or yellow roses?), grains of paradise (I'll have to Google that one), and ginseng. Opulence itself and for only $5.75 per 1.3 ounce grinder, which should last months even using it as my substitute for pepper.
So I've just designed a task for myself--to taste one new food every month for the next year. I've already got my eye on Maple Bacon Pretzels as a possible follow-up to my Truffled Sea Salt.
The truffled sea salt is maybe the single most expensive food item I've every purchased, $35.50 for 3.4 ounces. But that seems a small price to pay to join the millionaires and jet setters who discuss the various kinds of summer and winter truffles, and whether they are more effectively dug up by pigs or dogs.
Of course, I could go completely overboard and order one piece of fresh Italian white truffle weighing in at half an ounce for just under $200. But I'll see how I like my first sniff and first particle of the truffled sea salt on my tongue first. And for me to even ever consider spending that much, it had better be in the same class as an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak, delicious French Fries, a fresh baked loaf of Italian or French bread, or dark chocolate covered blueberries in terms of taste sensations. I've never been one to become attached to a food that you have to grow accustomed to after a disappointing first taste just because everyone else says it's wonderful.
And one of the things that is wonderful about today's world is that we don't have to be world travelers to discover all these amazingly diverse foods--they're all just a click away online. And the only downside is you have to be careful not to drool all over your keyboard.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Well, my inspiration for this post came from my coming up with a new strategy for my personal growth and self-awareness, to list three triumphs each day of my life from now on. I've even been putting them on my Facebook page:
And this started me thinking about how many things come in threes for me. One area that stands out is the three ways in which I've most changed since paroling from 12 years of prison and walking out the doors of Folsom a little over a year ago. Some friends have even pointed out to me some of these big changes they've noticed. One friend who has known me over thirty years said what was most noticeable is my dramatically increased level of discipline. This may be largely responsible for my jump in creative production--I am writing more and creating more projects and following through on them more effectively than ever before.
So we have:
Next, and related to that, is preparation. I never used to prepare for anything, going way back to tests in elementary school all the way through my career as a speaker--just thinking about what I was going to say in the moments before walking out onto the stage. I prided myself on my spontaneity and ability to work without notes. An example of this was the huge summit conference in 1967, when Russian premier Kosygin came to talk to President Lyndon Johnson in Glassboro, New Jersey. As the closest location of all six Westinghouse Broadcasting radio stations, we at KYW in Philadelphia were largely responsible for the coverage, though the two top network anchors were handling the actual summit coverage. I was with the press pool in the gym at Glassboro State College. All of a sudden, communications went down in the auditorium, where the actual discussion between the Americans and the Russians was taking place. And, as one of the newest reporters/newsmen on the scene, I had to adlib my way through the next two hours as the technical staff worked on the problem. After this experience, thinking on my feet in any situation was a breeze.
But now I have added more preparation into my work, as exemplified with going over a coaching client's answers to my 110 Questions For 2010 before doing our session, and jotting notes, and even designing some specific tasks and subjects based on those answers. It's new for me, and therefore interesting and fun. So:
And finally, collaboration. I have always been a loner, most writers are. And this has served me well. Solitude has been my friend, and I can't ever remember ever feeling bored or lonely while keeping my own company. But now, after paroling, I find myself enjoy the benefits of enlisting the support and assistance of others. Several entrepreneurs have reached out to me to help with my Internet education, and I am contemplating a whole host of ways to join together in rewarding and profitable ventures with others. So, definitely:
And if I were to add a fourth new skill I've developed since being in prison, actually it was a big help during my incarceration, it would be actually counting my blessings.
My listing of three daily triumphs is part of that process. Of course, years ago, I developed the Joyful and Triumphant Fund, in which every great event in my life would be celebrated with a hundred dollar bill (more on this in my Moneylove Manifesto at http://www.MoneyloveBlog.com). But this has greatly expanded, I am most certainly more immersed in gratitude and appreciation today than earlier in my life. And one of the things I am most grateful for and feel most blessed by are my friendships. Though I don't recommend it as a strategy, prison definitely lets you know who your real friends are.
This area also tends to come in threes for me. At least in terms of three friends who have been there through it all, and with whom I maintain very close contact on a frequent basis. That's Susannah Lippman in New Mexico, Rupa Cousins in Vermont, and Mary Ann Somervill in Florida. Two are former lovers (no, I won't tell you which two, even us men sometimes have to maintain an air of mystery, and you will have to read all my blogs and books, past and future, to find out) and all are today dear and precious friends. I learn from all of them, they are all in some form of healing and extremely aware, and have created interesting and satisfying lifestyles for themselves, and never seem to get older. In fact, they are glowing testimonials to the benefits of being my friend--and attracting them as friends will forever be a shining example of my brilliance and magnificent judgment in choosing and good fortune in having their friendship.
Sorry if I seem too full of myself and self-congratulatory today. I forgot to put on my Gloat Prevention Patch before starting to write this.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
So the funniest line I've heard on the whole Tiger Woods episode was from Jay Leno:
What's the difference between Tiger Woods and Santa Claus? The answer: Santa only has three "Ho"s.
Tiger has done much to prove that golf is not boring, and now he takes this to a new level. Or rather, the media does. After all, he was doing pretty well in keeping it quiet for years, until apparently his wife found out. And now, like clowns pouring out of a tiny car, a procession of bimbos is pouring out, each one more anxious than the last to confess all. C'mon now, this guy makes Casanova look like Mr. Rogers...and he's a champion athlete on top of this.
What amazes me about the whole story is how proudly these assorted cocktail waitresses and such come forth. I mean, I can see one woman being proud to be the mistress of a celebrity, but to come out and say you are one of a dozen or more (do you think, in a pinch, he could name them all?) What is this, pride in numbers?
I do admire the restraint of comedians in not bringing up the comical connotations of "balls" and "clubs", but, after all, how could comic minds resist this one? Pity the poor cartoonists, and since I write gags for several of the best ones, I appreciate their dilemma. This tale is too short-lived as an object of public attention to get out cartoons that require lots of lead time. Most such scandals and tabloid stories don't make it as cartoons, except perhaps in The New Yorker, with a shorter deadline and weekly publication.
And considering that golfers don't have cheerleaders, or get to grab each other's asses on a playing field, or until now did not seem to have groupies, I say it's overdue attention. And considering all the men for whom sexual conquest is only present in vague long term memory bursts from the past, but they still make it out onto the golf course, this must be a very gratifying story. They would probably be singing, "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" if it weren't for disapproving wives or the grown-up uptight children they live with.
And how naive do you have to be to think that Tiger seduced a single one of these women rather than the other way around? A more plausible scenario is something like, "I just love to watch you play, Mr. Woods, and I'm not wearing any underwear." Let's face it, he's perhaps the best at his sport in history, the highest paid athlete ever, good looking, and has a gorgeous wife. Is there one of these women likely to ever again do something to make headlines? Yes, I know, it's sad. But hopefully they had a good time during the event itself.
An athlete engages in a physical activity that feels good..what a shock. Oh yes, he betrayed his wife. Well, she must be feeling pretty satisfied at getting her own back. And she evidently didn't do the "stand by her man looking humiliated while he confessed at a news conference" dance. And think how quickly this could have turned from comedy to tragedy if she had used a gun or chainsaw instead of a golf club. Good for her, she chose an appropriate limited response (our miliary in Iraq and Afghanistan could learn a thing or two). And the man himself has managed it very well by not coming up with excuses, not saying it was all alcohol-related and that he's checking into rehab. He's impressive in his restraint and dignity despite the circumstances. And stay or leave, she is a multimillionaire several times over. I'm sorry, I can think of a few other people in these economic times that might cause me to shed a tear or two.
And at least by sticking with him, his sponsors are not hypocrites, and realize that more people than ever will be wanting to watch him play. On the course and off, I know I'll probably offend some of you by applauding the ultimate swinger.
I know, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.
So you want more serious topics, life-affirming and motivational in nature, perhaps with specific strategies to improve your life and your bank account? Then check out my www.MoneyloveBlog.com