Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mental Energy

Today we have rain. I wrote this a few days ago and have obviously survived....

While I type this, there are huge flakes of snow cascading from the heavens, falling gently on anything and everything that is outside. I work outside. Morning promises to be a little more challenging than the mornings of recent days. Hollywood would paint a picture of serenity and peace with the falling snow. But as a professional driver, I see the reality of shoveling, plowing and idiot drivers on the road that don't know how to prepare for such beauty and serenity. I can handle it. I've been doing this professionally for 20 years. If I prayed, I would pray that the less prepared people would all be safe in the morning.

To continue my series on making a positive change in one's life, I come to Mental Energy. Once you've eliminated the negativity and prepared your body with rest, nutrition and exercise, you need to make sure that you are mentally prepared for your new success. Mental energy can come from passion, emotion and motivation. It results from either the search for pleasure or to avoid pain. Yes, pain. Often we are motivated by fear. It could be a threat of unemployement or actual physical pain.

A good vocabulary isn't a must, but a bad vocabulary can certainly hurt you. Surrounding yourself with people that talk poorly of you will only bring you down. But in contrast, if people encourage each other to always do a little better, what happens is, well, people do better.

What would your life's soundtrack be like? Does the music that you listen to lift your spirits? Does it give you the mental energy that you need to complete your task? Each person is very different. What lifts your spirits may be just the thing that brings mine down. In a day when people seem to be obsessed with music, it's a good idea to have a playlist that will help get you through the tough spots. ( A playlist is like a modern day mix-tape ) Make up a playlist for exercising. Make up something to help you relax. What does your work day sound like. Each of these things can be quite different. Music to help you prepare for a meeting will be different than a night out with friends. And for some, such as myself, quiet time will go far in helping to get things done. I'm the kind of person that really listens to the music. I can't help but to dance, even if it is just in my thoughts. So to concentrate, I turn everything off.

One more way to gain mental energy is to turn to your beliefs. Regardless of your religious affiliations, everyone believes something. Whatever that might be, to spend a little time reflecting on those beliefs, gives you a chance to center yourself mentally and prepare for whatever you are about to tackle.

To summarize, if you have a lofty dream, you must pursue it with passion and urgency, or you will run out of fuel to complete the journey. And if you don't have a driving purpose in life, begin the journey of self discovery today. The Law of Energy says: Human life is sheer physical, mental and spiritual energy. The force for living is abundant in the universe, but may be hidden as mere potential or expressed as kinetic energy. Pursue your goals through a balance of physical, mental and spiritual energy.

I am prepared for what tomorrow holds. Plenty of rest, a good meal and a clear state of mind is a great way to start any day. Snow can be quite peaceful.

Have a great day friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Does it Stink in Here?

I love my cars. My long black shiny cars. I am very proud of them. I take very good care of them. They are not only very expensive, but they are how I earn my living.

There are other hearse lovers out there. But I really don't think that they love hearses for the same reasons as I do. I love what we do in my business. We bring a little dignity to an otherwise gruesome experience. We honor the deceased with the finest available for the budget we are given. Whatever that budget may be. I am very proud to be entrusted to drive your loved one to their final resting place. I take my job very seriously and operate with caution and care, every inch of the way.

I feel that these hearse lovers care more about the gruesome side of death and the fact that many people seem to be afraid of their hearse. They use them for shock value. They pick them up cheaply after their life in the industry has ended. They take them to the grocery store or go camping in them. They put zombie stickers in the windows and drive around with coffins in the back. They paint flames down the side and put giant speakers in the back deck. Now I admit that I have been to Hell. Hell Michigan that is for the hearse show held each year before Halloween. It can be fun, but it should not be a way of life.

I operate my funeral coach for funerals only. You will only see it when I am on my way to a funeral, doing a funeral or on my way back to the garage. You will never see it at Mac Donald's. The only place I ever stop is the gas station or car wash. And when I do stop, there is never a body on board. EVER!

Still, the car wash attendants will peek in the back cautiously or I will get odd comments at the gas station. And NO, it doesn't "freak me out to drive that thing".

A hearse is typically the cleanest car you will ever see. Even if a funeral home uses it as a first call vehicle, it must be clean come the next funeral. NO there are no fowl smells!
I recently went around a few times with an on-line forum about how to get the formaldehyde smell out of a hearse a guy had just purchased. I assured him that it was not embalming fluid that he smelled. He more likely smelled cleaning chemicals. To remedy that, simply use hydrogen peroxide and fresh air. Of course throughout the forum, I was told that I know nothing about the funeral business or how it works and that bodies leak fluids all the time. One guy insisted to use Pine-sol because it's the only thing that will cover the smell.

Why?! Why are these people so stupid and yet still allowed to breath the same air as sane people?

Let me be perfectly clear here. I do not haul bodies. I transport people whom have recently deceased. These are people that should always be treated with dignity. The day I start thinking otherwise, is the day I stop working in this industry completely.

I think that people have so many preconceived notions of what goes on and they've heard so many embellished stories from people that have no idea what they are talking about that they can't even fathom the truth. People see a hearse and automatically think it smells bad. So when they smell something, they assume that they know what it is. And that's exactly why we don't use chemicals to clean with.

And while I'm ranting, it is a hearse...H E A R S E. Not Hearst, There is no T. And to be precise, it is actually a funeral coach.

I feel better now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Day the Corpse Lent Me A Tie

I often start my day at 5 AM. I have a routine with my dog Pugsley that I dare not miss. I look forward to our routine. It is quality time for the two of us that is only rivaled by our ritual afternoon walks. A funeral service at 10:00 means that visiting starts at 9:00 and we typically have to be there much earlier to have everything set up. A church service requires us to transport everything, including the deceased to the church the morning of the service. We often are just finishing set up as the family arrives in the parking area, at which point I scramble to make sure everyone is parked where they need to be for the procession to the cemetery.

This was not one of those early days. These days always throw me off my game. With a service at noon, everything is pushed back a few hours. When I awake in the morning, I go into a completely different mode. Everything is a little more relaxed. Not so rushed as it typically can be. There was no snow to clear, the hearse was washed, gassed and ready for service. A sense of calm permeates the morning. Until I realize that I've got to leave in 30 minutes and I haven't even showered yet. I quickly rushed through my shower and shave and got myself dressed for the day. I was out the door right on schedule. I drove to the garage, switched cars and proceeded to the funeral home to pick up our guest of honor today and take him to the church. As I drove, I reached to straighten my tie. That's when I realized that I wasn't wearing one. I do not have enough time to scurry back home and get one. So I press on, hoping that someone at the funeral home will have a spare. Then I double checked everything else. Did I put on pants? Am I driving the right vehicle? Am I going to the correct funeral home? Wait! What day is it? What time was I supposed to be there?! Everything else checked out and I proceeded.

When I arrived at the funeral home, I informed the director of the situation. He did not have one, but assured me we would find one somewhere. We searched the employee areas, high and low. He went upstairs into the apartment thinking that surely there would be one there. He found one with a huge stain on it and would not let me be seen with such a mess, representing his establishment. To the basement we went. Into the preproom where another deceased man was awaiting his turn to be viewed by his family and friends. There it was, the perfect tie. The director looked at me, I looked at him. We both shrugged and I thanked the man for the use of his tie for the day and promised to return it before his viewing this evening.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Manifesting Change

I believe that we manifest, or bring in to our lives, whatever we think about. I have watched it for years in every person that I have ever met. I believe that people are awesome. They care about pretty much everything and everyone, always. It's just that they are so busy believing what they have been told, and therefore manifesting it, that they genuinely haven't noticed that in our gorgeous little planet's entire history, there has never been:
- A drought that didn't end
- A storm that didn't clear
- Lightning that didn't retreat
- An earthquake that didn't still
-A flood that didn't recede, nor
-A plague that wasn't eventually, completely, and utterly overwhelmed by the healthy

These are all things that will come to an end. And in the end, we will be here. We'll be here a little smarter, a little stronger and a little better off. These are not things we need to worry about.

We need to stop believing the folklore of the past. Take a good look at reality and create our own future.
Start living a life filled with meaning. A life that will be remembered long after we are gone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Father was a Pioneer

No, he didn't blaze any trails across the wild West or battle Native Americans for land rights. He wasn't part of any gold rush either. But yes, my father, and mother, were pioneers. They both looked to bring Chiropractic care to America in the 1950's and 60's. They believed in everything it had to offer. In a time when "modern medicine" had very little to offer and diseases such as polio were running rampant with no cure in sight, they looked to bring natural, holistic cures to people seeking relief from their aches and pains. You see, in 1933, my father received a vaccination that was popular at the time and a bad reaction to the serum almost took his arm. He wore the scars of that vaccination for 80 years until the day he died in July of 2013. And he vowed to find a better way to heal people that were sick.

In my previous post, I wrote about eliminating negative people and things from your life. Surrounding yourself with positive people and situations. But once you've done that, you still need to remain positive yourself. In order to do that, you must take care of yourself. Take ownership of yourself and stop blaming others for your shortcomings. Proper sleep and nutrition is a must. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are able to get the rest and nutrition that it takes to achieve your goals.

To complete the balance in your life, you must take care of your body completely. Exercise of some sort is essential to your well being. My father would be quick to offer an adjustment to keep you balanced and keep your organs operating optimally. I swore by what I was taught my entire life. That pinched nerves can cause numbness, dizziness, shortness of breath and allergies. Vital organs can function improperly if the nerves working them don't receive the proper signals from the brain. So, whenever I would have anything from a headache to a pain in my foot, I turned to Dad and chiropractic care. My father taught me that the body wants to be "in line". In recent years, I've seen chiropractic offices offering massage therapy and I thought it was genius. The body wants to be in line. Relax the muscles and the joints will almost fix themselves. The problem is though, if the muscles are too relaxed, it is even easier to joust something out of place. I thought that there has to be a better way.

That's when I found Yoga. And I know what the images are that come to mind about yoga. They are ALL untrue. Recently many Youtubers have been doing the Yoga Challenge in an effort to entertain their viewers. There are untrained kids trying to do the most ridiculous maneuvers and poses. While it is entertaining to say the least, it is NOT Yoga. Many people often confuse yoga with meditation too. Yes, it helps to concentrate but meditation is something different.

I'm sure that if my father had been born in a different time, he would have been a Yogi. As it were though, it was known as something from the East and having served in the US Navy during WW2 in the Pacific, anything remotely Japanese was tabu.

The truth is that Yoga has eliminated my asthma. It has eliminated my allergies to pollens and danders. Yoga has improved my posture and helped in my digestion. My muscles are more toned and I've been able to maintain a healthy weight, well into my forties. Last year, I ran my first 5k when in the past I couldn't run a half mile.

All this has given me confidence to do so many things that I never thought I would be able to do. Anyone can do yoga. Most days, I do simple beginner stretches. They keep me balanced and help me to feel better about myself, so I can take on the day. The assisted living home where my parents lived offered chair yoga for those that could not get up and down easily. It is simple stretching. Any runner or swimmer will know how important stretching can be. And any doctor will tell you how important it is to stay active and exercise.

This is what works for me. Everyone is going to be different. I guess my point is that over the years, I have taken the knowledge given me and searched out what works for me. It took many years and trying different things.

Find what works for you. Eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise.
Once you have yourself ready to take on your next challenge, you will wonder why you didn't start sooner.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Negative Influences

Growing up in the United Penticostal Church as a gay man, I had a lot of suppressed emotions. As I've aged, I have found that there is a lot of negativity that comes in growing up that way. As one friend explains it, they have a list of Do's and Don'ts that consist of a whole lot of Don'ts. Having come to terms with myself and educating myself about the laws of nature and humanity, I've been working the last few years to better myself in a more positive way. To live my life in a way that is more accepting of the diversity around me. But yet, surrounding myself with positive influences and eliminating the negative influences of my life.

Many conditions can drain or waste your vital energy. Examples are boring routines, excessive indulgence, guilt and self blame. These are all things that were prevalent in my life but are also obvious and so they need no further discussion. Instead, I will focus on something that is poisonous , subtle and often underestimated.

One of the most destructive sources of energy drainage is negative people. These people surrounded me as a child and young adult. Their pessimistic words and attitudes can kill you, both figuratively and literally. They can shut off your vision of hope and expectancy, emphasize fear and doubt, and focus on the ugly and sad. Expose your dreams to them, and you may never dream again.

You should love people with all your heart. But choose wisely the ones with whom you share your time with. Negativity manifest in a variety of shapes and forms. You may see it in any or all of these forms

* Cursing
* Gossip
* Fear
* Low self-esteem
* Unforgiven wrongs
* Envy or Grudge
* Regret
* Procrastination

Think about the 10 people that you spend the most time with and compare them against those eight items listed above. Don't be surprised if the people that you are closest to have some or all of the qualities listed. It is important to carefully and systematically reduce the amount of time that you spend with those negative influences.

I'm not saying to separate from your marital partner or close relatives. In those cases, we must show kindness, avoid arguments and NEVER expose your dreams to them.

You may be tempted to remain in the company of those that are negative because you hope to turn them positive. If you want to help a negative friend or relative, you must first work on yourself and your dreams. Gain some victories in your life. Then, you can reach back with strength and compassion, and lift your loved one. If you try to remain with the negative influences, they will only keep you from ever achieving your goals or helping them.

Now think about the ten most positive people or groups that you know that you would like to have as a regular part of your life. Regardless of how you know them. Start contacting them. Carefully develop relationships with them. Be sure that you have something to bring to the relationship and that you are not just using them for your advantage. Feed and nurture these positive relationships. Associate with leaders in your profession or area of interest. Find people who are moving forward. Your growth demands that you avoid regressive forces that seek to complain, assign blame, or forecast doom.

There are many people in my industry that look at increased cremation rates as the demise of the funeral industry. I like to surround myself with people who see it simply as a change, and that we all need to change with the times instead of burying our heads in the sand.

I will let you digest this information and we will come back to this subject in the near future.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Letting Go

A double booking with back to back funerals in neighboring towns kept me out much later than my regular time. When I finished up at the second cemetery and headed back to the garage. The sun was setting the windswept clouds on fire with color. The sky was ablaze with deep and light blues, yellow, green, orange and even red, casting amazing colors across the fields with drying corn waiting to be harvested.

As I drove, I reflected on the families that we serviced today. Both families were filled with very nice people.
I thought about how I used to write here about the strange happenings at some of the funerals. I don't know if there are just super nice people out there now or I have become accustom to the chaos. I know that people react to however they are treated. And I have started to treat everyone that pulls into my parking lots as though they are my best friend that I haven't seen in a long time. That doesn't change the family dynamics that go on inside, but at least in my parking lot, everyone feels welcome.

I managed to juggle keeping everyone well organized and still take all the incoming orders for future funerals. You see, while the directors have enough to worry about with all that they do, when they call me, they just want to place an order and be done with it. They have more calls to make and things to organize because it takes a lot of people to come together to make what we do happen. So I take the orders and figure out later how I am going to make it all happen. It was only Monday and already I have nine funerals booked for the week. And I am ready for whatever the rest of the week might through at me. I've got a trusted staff and directors that love me and my staff. As I proclaim on my company website, I am there to make a great first impression for the funeral home that I am representing.
Today's weather was a delight, especially when I consider what the rest of the week has in store for me. Temperatures are expected to plummet and be accompanied by rain and snow. I have to admit that I do not enjoy the change in seasons when faced with winter. Here in Michigan it can be very harsh. I work outdoors. I am expected to present myself in a professional manner. The vehicles are expected to be clean for every family, without exception. But weather has a way of letting us know that we don't control everything. That sometimes you have to let something go.

Working in the business that I do, you would think that I would know that. I've had so many personal losses in the last few years, I can only guess at what will be next. Will it be the love of my life ( my 13 year old Tibetan Spaniel, Pugsley)? Will it be my 95 year old father-in-law? Life has a way of keeping us on our toes. Keeping us guessing. I arrived home this evening with the news that my brother has suffered a heart attack today. His daughter and my sister have traveled the three hours to be by his side. The rest of us, await word of his condition. With a full schedule ahead of me this week, I think it is best if I let my niece handle things the best she can. And I hope that she knows that she has the support of a large loving family, even though we don't always get along with each other.

I guess mother nature and father time have just reminded me once again how valuable life is. That we need to appreciate what we have, while we have it. Hold on to the good memories and let go of the petty things.

I hope that all my readers are finding themselves loved today regardless of any other issues.
Love really is what makes the world go around.
And we need to enjoy life while we are still on the Brighter Side of the Grave. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

The End of the Road

Recently, I've brought you the story of Brittany Maynard.
If you've followed the story thus far, please click this link.
I will let the article bring this story to a close.
 However, I hope that her wishes can be followed through, not only in the States, but wherever people are suffering terminal diseases. When this issue comes to a vote where you live, may her story come to mind.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


A touching update.
My heart really hurts for this beautiful young woman
And her family.

And in case you missed the first video.