Happy Thoughts

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I once heard someone say, “In a world of darkness – be the light.”   If I may alter that quote just a bit … “In a world of negativity – be the positive.”  You wouldn’t know it, but it has been a very challenging couple weeks for me.  I just have to keep reminding myself that “some people are just not happy unless they are trying to make others unhappy.”

Here are some things that made me happy this week:

Bless You Boys!

I was reminded that 35 years ago this week, the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.  Remembering that amazing season always brings a smile to my face.  In the final game, Kirk Gibson faced Goose Gossage.  There was some chatting at the mound because they couldn’t decide whether or not to walk him or pitch to him.  Gibby launched an amazing homerun off him!  I can still remember Vin Scully calling it by saying, “And there it goes!!!!”  Pandemonium!  I rewatched that video more than once this week!

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Autumn Leaves

The leaves are changing.  Fall is probably my favorite season.  It makes me think of high school homecoming parades and football games.  It makes me think of Alumni Band.  It makes me think of sitting around bonfires in hooded sweatshirts.  It makes me think of those last few weekends up north closing up the trailer for winter.  I love the beauty of autumn.  Here in Michigan, we have such wonderful fall colors.  I love to walk outside in the fall and just get lost in thought.  Fall makes me happy.

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Here’s Johnny!

This month Sirius XM Radio has a Johnny Carson channel (105) and they are playing old episodes of The Tonight Show.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I am loving these!  Johnny was the best.  These dated monologues are still funny today!  Today, I laughed a little bit harder than I should have at one of the jokes.  He was talking about a previous joke he did about McDonalds.  He then asked “Have you ever been to the Beverly Hills (California) McDonalds?  They serve escargot there.  They call them, McSlugs!”

Listening to his reactions to when a joke bombs is just hilarious!  His banter with Ed and Doc is also very funny.  It’s been great to hear classic interviews with Mel Brooks, Eli Wallach, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and more!  It’s also been neat to hear some of the early stand up from Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Garry Shandling, and others.  He was a master – and he still makes me laugh.

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Baby Kicks

I have saved the best thing for last.  My wife is 22 weeks along now and she has been feeling our baby move.  Earlier in the week, she started to feel baby kicks.  We were lying in bed this week and she said the baby was kicking.  She placed my hand exactly where she was feeling them, and I felt her kick!  It was light, but it was there!

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I don’t care how many times I feel it, it still amazes me!  My wife feels her move a whole lot more than me, so to feel this little “bump” against my palm makes me more and more excited for her arrival!  It gets more and more real as we get closer.  I get emotional thinking about it.  She’s going to be here soon!  We’ll be able to hold her and kiss her.  I’ve been creating my “Bedtime Song List” for her.  There are some favorites that I sang with my boys when they were babies, and I will be singing them for her too.  I probably need to start working on “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “My Special Angel” – songs that I obviously couldn’t sing to my boys!

February will be here before we know it – and I am sure there will be many stories to be shared about her here!

Final Thought

It really isn’t hard to find things that make you happy.  Look around – they are right there!  Find the happy & SMILE!

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The Power to Choose

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It feels like forever since I sat down to write a blog, yet it has only been a week. This week I am flipping from midnights to days, back to midnights, and then back to days with a day off in between each. Needless to say, I am exhausted and have to remind myself what day it is!

The reason for my flipping shifts this week is due to a conference. The hospital I work for hosted a day long conference called “The Power to Choose.” The objectives of the conference were to (1) help build trusting relationships with patients and family, (2) help you make mindful decisions that help you foster enhanced patient, family and staff experiences and outcomes, and (3) illustrate and help apply approaches that improve outcomes through compassion and communication. One of my goals for this year was to gain more knowledge by attending these classes. It is difficult to do when you work midnights and most of these are during the day. My boss worked with me to make sure I got all my hours this week, and the conference was worth it.

The Power To Choose

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The daylong conference was geared toward health care professionals, and while many of the topics were directly focused on the healthcare setting, there were many things that I took away from the conference that apply to every day life. Those are the things that moved me to sit down and write. I chose to write about this because (1) I don’t want to forget these things and (2) maybe it is something that YOU can use in your daily life (or at work), too.

The conference opened with four employees sharing stories. Some were more emotional than others. The one that struck me the most was from a nurse who spoke of a male patient whose loved one was in the hospital and was always Googling and suggesting what needed to be done. She said it was like he “put on the boxing gloves” every time she walked in. It wasn’t until her son was diagnosed with a disease, that she began to see things from that patient’s point of view. Nurses and doctors were taking care of his “prized possession”, and it wasn’t until she shared his role that she really understood. She also wanted to put on the “gloves” and fight for what was best for her son. She had asked him to trust her because she “knew what she was doing” and now she was forced to trust the people caring for her son.

Next, there was a woman who works at the Cleveland Clinic. Her presentation was about communication skills that can be used when something goes wrong – in the industry we call it “service recovery.” In her presentation she stated “it all starts with empathy”. There is so much truth to this. Imagine how much better the world would be if we all showed a bit more empathy to each other!!

We live in a world where we relate to stereotypes. We judge a book by it’s cover, even though the famous quote says not to do this. I honestly don’t know if they showed this video when I started here or at another health system, but it was SO powerful! I encourage you to watch it all the way through and to reflect on it. Coincidentally, it comes from the Cleveland Clinic.

I realize that the video was geared toward health care, but stop and think about how this very well could have been a video shot on the streets of Everytown, USA! Think of the people you pass in the mall, or on the street, or at the grocery store. What is going on in their world today?

We were next shown a video that was a part of TED Talk. In the video, we meet a man named Alex Sheen. He tells the story of his father and explains that he was a man who always kept his promises. When his father died, he created “promise cards”. On the bottom of the card it reads “because I said I would.” Here is that video:

We then opened an envelope that had cards that read “because I said I would” and we were to write our own promises on them. Some people at our table wrote immediately, while a few of us took awhile to think of the promise we wanted to write. The idea is to keep you accountable. I, admittedly, am bad about following through with things. I am guilty of telling someone I will call them, and either get busy or forget. The card is a way to remind yourself of the promise. On my card, I wrote:

“I promise to stay positive and avoid negativity”

Quite a tall order, but I have now made that promise and I intend to keep it.

There was an extra blank card on my table. Because I like to make people laugh, I wrote something on it and walked over to where my boss was sitting during the break. I held up the sign which read:

“I promise not to drive my boss crazy!”

She laughed and snapped a picture. What makes this even funnier is the “official photographer for the event saw my boss and me and asked to take our pictures … with each of us holding up our signs. If any of my coworkers or fellow hospital employees see it – I REALLY did write a serious one!!!

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After lunch, Stephen Trzeciak, the author of the book “Compassionomics” spoke. His talk was full of data and statistics that illustrate the power of compassion. I plan on getting the book to read in the near future.

One of the things that he stated in his talk was that the data shows: “loneliness kills”. In connection with this, I stumbled on an article about a photographer who took pictures of people without their cell phones to illustrate how dependent we have become on them and just how lonely we are. Notice the loss of human connection in these pictures. Here is a link to the article:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3270660/Communication-problems-Photographer-removes-mobile-phones-images-couples-families-expose-just-addicted-technology-become.html

Dr. Shajahan

The highlight of the conference for me was the talk that Dr. Shajahan did on “Unconscious Bias”. I took more notes from this talk than all of them. Her talk was very interactive, informative, and fun.

The first thing she did was play us a video illustrating the McGurk Effect. Look it up. It’s actually very cool. Wiki says: The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound.”

There are videos on YouTube that illustrate this. Watch one with your eyes closed – you’ll hear one thing. Then listen to it with your eyes open and you’ll hear something else. It’s very neat.

She went on to talk about conscious and unconscious bias and how they can affect how we treat others. Another “exercise” was given. She showed us pictures of various people and we had to rate how “warm” and “competent” we thought they were only by the pictures! There was a picture of a guy who wore a scowl. Not very warm. He had a shirt and tie on, so he had to be competent, right? Well, we found out the guy gives 82% of his salary away to charity every year – I guess he was warmer than we thought! The cute little old lady she showed us actually turned out to be some really crooked and mean politician! What did I say earlier about judging a book by it’s cover???

So, how biased are you? Dr. Shajahan told us that we could find out by taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test (the IAT). I haven’t done so yet, but it is something I am going to do this weekend. Here is a link to the test:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

She spoke of how in classical music, most musicians in an orchestra were male. When blind auditions were held, 5 times more females were included into the orchestra! There was a bias that men were better players.

In another exercise, she put up on the big screen four people. These people varied in race, education, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, status, with and without children, addictions and/or disabilities. Each was represented by a color. In the auditorium, four colors were held up. First, you had to go to the color of the person you’d most like to be. The room was pretty divided and people were asked why they chose that person. Then it got harder. Next we had to go to the person we’d least like to be – and explain why.

She spoke of ways to reduce bias.

  1. Individuation – seeing others as people. Individuate instead of generalizing. Go beyond race and stereotypes and get to know the person.
  2. Counter-stereotyping. Basically, counter the stereotype – cancel it out. The example she used was “Black people are dumb” to which you could counter with “Barak Obama or Martin Luther King were pretty smart.” See? Counter the stereotype.
  3. Increase the awareness of the type. Familiarize yourself with a group or race that you don’t know much about. For example, I don’t know much about Arabic culture. So I can ask questions of one of my coworkers, or take a cooking class that is geared toward Middle Eastern foods where I can interact with people who disconfirm the stereotype.
  4. Replace the stereotype. First you label the response or portrayal as stereotypical. Second, you evaluate it and think of how it can be avoided in the future. Finally, replace the stereotypical response with a non-stereotypical one.
  5. Perspective talking. Simple enough – put yourself in their shoes. Think of how you would feel if you were labeled as a stereotype. My Polish friend has a degree from the University of Michigan and is one of the smartest guys I know. He is nothing like the people portrayed in Polish jokes. Same with female blondes – they are not all dumb! How would you feel if you were stereotyped?

She wrapped up her talk with a fact – we all have biases. We need to be aware of them. She had a flow chart that I will attempt to recreate here:

SELF AWARENESS

WHAT? (We all have bias) ——-> SO WHAT? (It affects people negatively) ——-> NOW WHAT?? (We have the power to choose to do something about it!)

Watch this short video that was shared at the conference:

I LOVE THIS!!!

Words Matter!

Everything we do involves a choice. We choose what pants to wear. We choose what to eat. We choose what to say. Every day is full of choices and we have the power to choose to make a difference.

They wrapped the conference with some quotes –

“Follow hope – not fear”

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandella

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore says to Harry: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

In Conclusion

So what can you take away from this serious blog? I hope a lot. You have the power to make a choice today to make a difference. Show empathy and compassion to others. Choose to be aware of bias. Choose to not judge a book by its cover.

The other day, I drove through Tim Horton’s and was informed that my coffee had been paid for by the car ahead of me. Some stranger did that for me. It made me smile. It made me grateful. It made me want to do the same for the car behind me – which I did. There is so much hate in the world today. Share a smile today. Make someone feel good!

Maya Angelou’s quote has always been one I have held close to my heart. I used it as a reminder when I was doing my radio show, but it applies to daily life, too.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

At the conference, each person in attendance received a rock. On the rock was the word “Choice”. We were told to place it somewhere where we would always see it. The purpose is for it to be a constant reminder that we always have the “power to choose”. So do you.

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Get the “funk” out!

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I am not going to lie, this past week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Whether or not there was more bad than good this week, I really can’t say.  It “feels like” there was a bit more negatives, though, hence the “funk” I was in this morning. I am hoping that this blog will act as a “redirection” in my thinking.

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I read an article a long time ago that talked about the “five to one” rule.  I want to say that it was about relationships.  The basic thing presented in the article was that in order for a person to get over a single “negative”, there needed to be at least five “positives” to counteract it.

Recently, my therapist has had me do something similar.  Focus on the positives.  Think of five positives, or five things that make me happy.  Rather than just “think” about those things, I thought I would benefit from writing them out.  The following may be simply a positive, something that made me happy, or a mixture of both.

1. Waking up next to my love

After a particularly stressful early part of the week, my sleep was a bit messed up.  When this happens, I tend to wake up earlier than I intend to.  As I lay next to my wife, I found myself thinking about how lucky I am.  I watched her sleeping soundly and I found lost in thoughts about just how beautiful she is.  In my mind, verses of poetry started to come so fast, I had to grab a piece of paper to write them down.  I made sure to write them out and give them to her the next morning.

What an amazing blessing she has been to me!  I am so lucky that I get to kiss her goodnight and good morning every day!

2. Possibilities

My ex used to question why I had so many Facebook friends.  My friends on social media range from school friends to college friends, friends who work/worked in radio and television and friends who I met through working in radio.  Then there are friends from the record industry, author friends, and friends from the entertainment industry.  Then I have some co-workers and former co-workers and friends who share many of the same interests as me (movies, music, etc…).  The majority of them I have met personally, while some of them I may not have.

Many opportunities have come to be because of “who I know”.  I have continued to work for many high schools and middle schools DJing their dances because the teacher knows me.  I became the voice of Ronnie, the RPM Auto Sales Super Hero, because of my friend at Fox 66 who thought I’d be perfect to be his voice.  I landed a voice over gig on a national TV program because the host heard my voice on something I did for some friends.

This week, another possibility has presented itself to me.  Details are sketchy at this point and I don’t know too much about it.  A friend of mine passed along my name to someone and hopefully, this will be yet another one of those amazing things that I can attribute to “who I know”.  Stay Tuned…..

3. Family Time

The weather hasn’t always cooperated with us this summer.  Friday, however, was just perfect.  Sam and I decided to pack the boys in the car and head to the zoo.  There are a few small zoos close by (Saginaw and Frankenmuth), but she suggested the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing.  I had never been there before, and the boys had never been either.  It’s certainly not as large as the Detroit or Toledo Zoo, but it was still a very nice zoo.

Unlike the Detroit Zoo, there was plenty of shade.  Temperatures were not an issue, as it was sunny and 70 – perfect!  I can see where the shade would be especially nice on those 90 degree days!  What I really liked about this zoo was how close we were able to get to the animals.  When we walked in, there was a sign that said the Lions were not going to be outside.  They were, however, inside, and we could see them up close through glass.  It was awesome!  They are much bigger than I imagined.  When you see them from far away, you really don’t get to see just how big they are!

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We all had such a great time!

4. Radio Time

This week, I got to work at both radio stations.  Being in the studio makes me happy.  I get to be creative and talk with listeners.  Monday – Wednesday, I was on for George.  I got to do his all-request 80’s lunch show.  It’s always fun to see what the listeners want to hear. I love when they ask for those “forgotten favorites.”  Friday, I was on for Lisa.  She was out an an appearance and I was on air.

Today, I was live on the Moose.  “Moosin’ around” is often what I call it.  Today I got to catch up with a couple listeners who used to listen to me when I was here the first time years ago.  I think that’s how you know you’ve made an impact – they remember you.  They remembered a few of the silly bits I used to do when I was here before and it made me smile when the one listener reminded me of my “Accordion Awareness Month Updates!”

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Some say radio is a dying business – I say “only if you are doing it wrong!”

I miss it!!

5. Sam’s check up

The best moment of the week was going with Sam to her OB appointment.  It was just a check up, and she told me since I was running on little or no sleep that I should stay home and sleep.  I wasn’t about to do that.  I wanted to be there with her.  The doc was running a little behind, as he had to deliver a baby earlier in the day.  He came in, asked a few questions, discussed a few things, and then he let us hear the baby’s heartbeat. The baby’s heartbeat was a strong 159-160 bpm.  The doc looked at us and said, “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a girl.”  It will be a few days before we find out for sure.

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The above is what the heart beat looks like on an ultrasound (this one is not ours, but I am going to ask for one of ours!!).  I don’t care how many times I hear it – the sound of the baby’s heartbeat makes me smile!  It never gets old!  Sam’s sister had a fetal doppler she let us borrow.  It will allow us to hear the baby’s heartbeat any time we want!  How cool is that?!

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So, writing this has helped me to feel better.  Now, I am going to listen to our baby’s heartbeat ….

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