Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speed Limit

This was all over the news around here about a week ago.

I'd love to meet the people that approved this sign. And although they have "fixed" it after all the attention, it still is a little extreme.
The following article is from the Oakland County Daily Tribune...

Two signs that listed six separate daily times during which drivers were to slow to 25 mph near schools in White Lake have been replaced.

Greg Smith, a resident who complained about the sign, said the sign on Bogie Lake Road now lists two times for drivers to slow — between 6:49-9:07 a.m. and between 2:03-4:29 p.m.

“I’m relieved,” he said.

Smith complained that the old sign, which was erected Jan. 12, was so complicated, he was considering posting a list of times on his dashboard.

The old signs instructed drivers to slow down to 25 mph between 6:49-7:15, 7:52-8:22 and 8:37-9:07 mornings and 2:03-2:33, 3:04-3:34 and 3:59-4:29 afternoons. The rest of the road is posted as 45 mph.
There are three schools along that stretch of road are Lakeland High, White Lake Middle and Lakewood Elementary schools.

Road Commission for Oakland County crews replaced the sign as an “interim step,” said Craig Bryson, spokesman.

“We're hoping the school district will agree to help fund the flashing lights as the preferred solution,” he said. Two flashing lights would cost upwards of $50,000.

Smith, who lives near the schools and regularly travels Bogie Lake, said because the three schools are “bunched together,” traffic is “pretty crazy in the mornings and evenings with parents
picking up kids.”

There is no way, traveling at 45 mph that anyone can make sense of this sign. And let's hope that your clock isn't set wrong.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How are your Ripples?

In my recent post, A Date with your Right Brain, I encouraged you to find your passion, or your purpose in life.

You might ask, "How do I find my purpose?" or "What is my purpose?"

There are countless books, websites, blogs and articles offering ways to help you find your purpose. All of which give you different angles regarding purpose; finding it; living it and loving it. From my perspective, it's all good with one exception: it's all focused the wrong way. Today, I'd like to challenge the common definition and possibly influence your thoughts to think about it differently.

As I sit through funeral after funeral, I hear stories of the deceased person and how they lived their lives. How they influenced others around them. It's my observation that a life well lived, not only is fulfilling to one's self, but to those around you. The vast majority of purpose-focused material is all centered around what the reader does with his or her life. It is almost always presented as something that someone finds and then acts on for him or herself. Even in the case of someone's purpose being to help others, the focus is on the individual doing stuff. The whole goal seems to be so you know what to do. The focus is inward.

As I think about true purpose, I think it always points outward. It points away from us and toward others. I don't believe that purpose is centered on "what we're supposed to do with our life". I believe true purpose is about the effect "what we do" has on others. It's about the transformation, influence and impact "what we do" creates in the lives of those who cross our path.

It's like a ripple created when a pebble is dropped in a still pond. The real effect is not in the pebble being dropped, it's the ripple. The pebble could be defined as "what we do". The pebble hits the water in an instant and is gone. The ripple can last and last. It's the ripple that matters.... not the pebble.

It's great to be able to say at the end of the day " I was exactly who I wanted to be". But none of us live in a vacuum. We interact with others all the time. We live in a society where we are naturally inclined to be part of something greater than ourselves. We are social creatures. And therefore, we are not the beginning or the end of the journey. So as I prepare to leave behind me one part of my life and move into the next part, I plan to be more aware of the ripples.

At my retail job, I have been bombarded with praise, as of late. It seems that no one wants me to leave and that I am irreplaceable. They are all grateful for the two days a week that I will remain for now. And they want to take this opportunity to gather as much knowledge as possible from me. And with that, I've decided that I will not just teach how to do something, but WHY I do it. It is my hope that I can eventually walk away from the job knowing that my methods will continue and be taught to future generations of retail drones.

And as I work more with grieving families, it is my hope that my work will touch them and help them through the difficult times that death can bring. And in turn, be able to be there for each other in the years of mourning that will follow.

What do you think? How have you been thinking about purpose? Is it inward or outward focused? Is there a difference to you? How might this thought process change how you think about purpose? How are your ripples?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Aurora Borealis

This, is truly the brighter side of the grave.
Shawn Malone does LakeSuperiorPhoto from the Northern shores of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He takes some amazing photos and now has given us this video.
It not only shows the Northern Lights but if you watch the stars, you can see the rotation of the earth from such a Northern place. And there's the occasional shooting star that you are free to wish upon if you'd like.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Date with your Right Brain

Take a moment right now and point to yourself. If you are like most people, your finger is likely pointing at your heart. Not your brain, but your heart. This is who you are. The constant beating of your heart is a symbol of your infinite connection to the always present heart beat of God, or the Universe.

Your left brain calculates, analyzes and figures things out for you. It thinks things through. Your right brain represents your intuitive side. It's the side that feels things and goes beyond reason and analysis. Your right brain allows you to enjoy a beautiful day, fall in love or tear up when experiencing something wonderful.

When you listen to your right brain, everything seems to go wonderfully. But then, we start to try and figure out why (using our left brain). And that's where we run into trouble. Did you ever meet someone, or perhaps you are that someone, that tries to control everything. Since you can't control everything, it seems like a loosing battle. Nothing seems to go as you'd like it to. You are constantly fighting and constantly loosing.

So is it wrong to want something to turn out a certain way? No. What's wrong, is to try and control HOW it happens. I've made a conscience effort in my life to let go of the HOW's and focus on the end result instead. Almost instantly, I've started seeing results. I've set a pretty high goal for myself and I'm certain that this journey is going to be a long one. But the fact is, that I have seen already what letting go can do for me. And this is going to be amazing.

Think about what you would like to see in your life. And now, stop thinking of how to make that happen. Instead, picture yourself already there. Treat yourself as though you've already arrived. When introducing yourself to others, tell them who you are now, not who you used to be. Find the thing in your life that really makes you smile. Did you know that there is a way to make a good living doing that? It doesn't matter what it is that you'd like to do. There is good money to be made doing it. I have a friend that her whole life only wanted to raise a family and take care of her husband. Divorce and growing children, have left her alone at home and working a dead end job. We were just discussing yesterday that perhaps the right job for her would be to be a Nanny for a wealthy family. Just one example of what could be, if you only let yourself find what your passion is.

3 Months after we met, I dragged Ed to California
and Baptized him in the American River
and discovered Gold in his heart.
It doesn't matter if others think your crazy. You'll never be happy until you express yourself. People may even think that you are betraying them. But the point is that you don't betray yourself. If you're waiting for something or someone else before you start, you'll wonder at the end of your life, what it all was for. And since you only get one chance at this, make it good! Inside each and every one of us, there is something wonderful just waiting to come out. Let it out today. Don't wait another minute. You are worth it, and you know it.

It's risky, I know! You may feel pretty comfortable in your everyday life. You make good money, pay your bills, maybe even take a vacation. The question is, are you living? Or are you existing?

Maybe you do have a good career and are happy at work, but something is still missing. I encourage you to find what makes you happy and embrace it. You'll be a happier person all around. That will show in everything that you do. Don't let the fear of the unknown keep you from doing what you love. If you want to play an instrument, pick it up and play. Don't worry about learning how. Just do it. You know what good music sounds like and you will get there.

This may come as a surprise to you, but failure is an illusion. No one ever fails at anything. Everything produces a result. If you let yourself learn from that result then you succeed.

So I encourage you to follow your right brain and you'll never experience that terror of lying on your death bed someday, saying "What if my whole life has been wrong?" The first date on your headstone has been written. The second has yet to be seen. What are you doing with what lies between ?

There's not one person on earth that is here for the same reason as you.

Don't go with your song still inside you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A month and a half.
That's how long it took for me to watch one movie. I started to think that it wasn't meant to be. That this movie was not for my eyes. The DVD came from Netflix about the time we were getting things ready to move Dad. So, it got put in the drawer beneath the television and forgotten. Finally after the dust was starting to settle, I needed a movie night. Ed had just left for work and I was ready to relax for a couple of hours by myself. I placed the DVD into the slot and waited for the start menu to appear. Sadly, the screen told me there was no DVD in the player. Thinking that I must have done something wrong, I ejected the DVD and reinserted it. Again the screen read there was no DVD in the player. After ejecting it once more, I noticed that it was cracked. All the way across one side. So I returned the DVD and waited patiently for the replacement.

When the replacement DVD arrived, I again was quite busy, so it had to wait a few days. Finally, I was ready and I popped that thing into the slot and settled in for the movie with a nice glass of wine. It started to play and a sigh of relief came over me. Then about half way through, it started to skip. I thought nothing of it until it stopped playing all together. Great! Now I've seen half the movie. I'm sure I could guess how it would end. Heck, I don't even know why I chose this movie anyway. Other than the fact that it stars Orlando Bloom. Who, by the way, plays an American quite well in this movie.

But I can be a sucker for a romantic comedy and the movie had sparked my interest. So, I sent it back and waited for the second replacement. It came today. I popped it into the slot and chose a scene near where the second DVD had left me hanging. I have to say that I quite enjoyed this little known movie. It not only had your typical break-up and falling in love, but it had death and an elaborate funeral, wedding, and a road trip of self discovery. This movie had many well known stars in it to compliment Orlando, but he really shines in it.

I know, I don't usually do movie reviews, but it really is a good movie if you are in to romantic comedies and  I feel like I've accomplished something having taken a month and a half to finish watching it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Never Lived

When asked what surprised him the most about humanity, the Dalai Lama replied:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present-
The result being that he does not live in the present or the future.
He lives as if he is never going to die,
and then dies having never lived.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dawning of a New Day

I don't think a day goes by that I don't stop to think about how great life is.
I'm not a wealthy man by any means but they say money can't buy happiness.
Now that doesn't mean that you can't have money. It simply means that no amount of money in the world can buy the happiness that I love to share with everyone I encounter.

I get great enjoyment out of watching nature as well as people. I find the world that we live in fascinating.
The inventions over the last couple hundred years have really changed the face of the earth itself. And we, you and me, get to enjoy this part. Right here, right now. There has never been a time like this in the history of the world.

Those inventions were created by people that dared to think outside the box. They allowed themselves to open their minds and let go of the attachments to what was common to them. My goal as I embark on this next segment of my life is to... Have an open mind to everything and attachment to nothing. I'm just going to see where this takes me. I know whether you believe in the power of prayer or the power of attraction, that once you put it out there what you want, you should stay positive and believe that it will come. Don't worry about how to make it happen. Don't put any attachment to the final results, just ride along, believing the whole time that it will happen.

That's what I am doing. Last night, I gave notice at my retail job that I would be reducing my hours to 2 days a week. Immediately, that will free me up to take part in caring for my father. It will also allow me to put more effort in to promoting and running our hearse leasing business. And by not having to stay up all night at the store, I'll be free to take on a more active roll in the funeral home where I am also employed. I have been reluctant to make this move because it means giving up my steady income for what may or may not come. Let's face it, if no one dies, I don't work.

Understand that the funeral home that I work in, is a small independent, family owned business. Everyone there is there because they love the job. We all really care for each and every family and friend that walks through our door. It's often said and holds very true with us that we are there to celebrate the lives of the people that go before us. We are reminded daily that we are all mortal and we too will pass. It really doesn't matter if there is one person at the funeral or five hundred. Each person is treated with dignity and care.

I am really looking forward to whatever life may through me. And also looking forward to sharing it all with you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where have I been?

Finally, a little time alone with my computer.

I've been a busy boy with moving my father into the new house.
First we had to make sure that everything was ready for his arrival. 
That's when we noticed all the things that needed to be fixed in the house.
All the communication wires had been cut. So even though there were jacks, there were no wires behind those jacks. We've replaced the roof, the living room floor, had electricians, plumbers, handymen and everyone else out to the house. Finally, we were ready.
 This is Dad's new room. It's bigger than it appears here. I've had apartments that were smaller than this room. It's right off the main entrance to the house and has nice hardwood floors and double french doors leading in to it. We've added closets and there's plenty of room for his bed, TV, two comfy chairs and plenty of room to spare.
 We hired movers for all the heavy things. It's amazing how much my mother had collected over the years.
 After everything was moved, we were left with the task of sorting through it all. Here's Dad trying to make sense of the next box. This box had some of his memorabilia in it. When he found his old sailor cap from World War Two Navy, he placed it on his head and wore it for the rest of the day.
I get the feeling that we will be sorting through boxes for years to come. Meanwhile, we are trying to make life in the new house as comfortable as possible for him.

The biggest trick has been trying to keep him busy. We are all taking our turn at doing things with him. As some of you that take care of your aging parents know, sometimes it can be a patience testing endeavour.
One day last week, I had to return the limousine to Port Huron where it is kept in the funeral home garage and asked Dad to accompany me. He eagerly joined me for the ride. After making the switch of cars, we headed over to the waterfront and enjoyed lunch at the new maritime museum. It over looks the river that separates Michigan from Ontario, Canada. Near every table inside is a display like this one made up of things that have been found in the river over the years.

 It was a cold day and the ships are not running the Great Lakes right now so there wasn't very much activity on the river. In the summer, you can watch the ships navigate from the large expanse of Lake Huron into the narrow twisting river.  If left to me to drive one of those things, we'd end up like that cruise ship in Italy. So I'll stick to driving my hearse and limousine, thank you.
I have made time for other things too. And we've been extremely busy with all that. I will post more of the daily goings-on in the next few days. And there may even be some big news in the making about my career. I'm still working out the details, so I'll keep you posted as I know more.
For those of you that have inquired where I've been, Thank you for your concern. And for all of you that have stuck by me through this past year of many changes, I send you a great big hug and Thank You too.