Archive for June, 2010

So, you think you’re safe where you are.

No risk.

No worries.

No cost.

Think again, my friend. We all know that stepping out into the unknown — the effort it takes to get from here to there — can be fraught with peril. Facing down the future can seem overwhelming and the cost can be enormous.

Don’t think, however, that simply staying put is possible without cost.

There is a price for everything.

“Here” has a price to it.

The journey has a price.

The destination has a price.

~ Delatorro McNeal II

If this is true, and I believe it is, then the question becomes:

Are your current set of circumstances
worth the price you are paying for them?

Make no mistake — it will cost you to make a change.

But you’re also paying a steep price for the life you now live.

It’s just that the costs for our current lives don’t seem as noticeable as those incurred for engaging a dream. We’re used to them. They’ve become common, ordinary, tucked into the routine of our daily lives.

But just like clockwork, the expense is deducted from our account in the form of missed friendships, overlooked opportunities, undiscovered knowledge, wasted time.

As Meister Eckhart said, “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

It’s time to settle the accounts and reconcile the balance. Audit your decisions. Examine your circumstances. Look at your life and determine if you’re getting enough value for the cost.

Whatever you are, it’s going to cost you!


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Just remember that you don’t have to be what they want you to be.
Muhammad Ali

Who is this “they” that keep trying to set your standards and control your behavior?

And why is it that “they” feel empowered to control your destiny?

Who is it that you’re looking toward to provide the map for your life?

Why are you waiting for them to decide?

Be courageous. Dream the dream. Take the risk. Live the life. On your terms.

But be prepared.

They have a tendency to scoff at what they don’t understand.

Mock the actions they are fearful to take.

Sabotage convictions that make them uncomfortable.

Bravely take a stand. Declare your intentions. Follow your star.

For at the end of your journey, they won’t be around to blame or congratulate — at that point you stand on your own.

As Dag Hammarskjold said, “Never for the sake of ‘peace and quiet’ deny your own experience or convictions.

Whatever you are, live your own life!


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The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I can remember a wooden plaque with this saying on it hanging on our living room wall. I was probably in grade school when I questioned my mother about its meaning.

To a child’s mind, it didn’t make any sense. If you want to get somewhere quickly, everyone knows you had better get a move on. How can you go backward when you’re moving as fast as you can?

We all know people who embody this concept.  Super busy. Calendars are full. No time. NO TIME!

But little to show for all of the effort.

What I didn’t know then, but I’ve learned since, that unless you invest in thinking and planning time BEFORE you take action, you may very well end up going in the direction you had originally intended .

John Maxwell explains the secret of “time management.”

There is no such thing as time management. The term is an oxymoron. Time cannot be managed. It cannot be controlled in any way. No scientist — no matter how smart — is capable of creating new minutes.

So, what can you do? Manage yourself! Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time. Successful people understand that time is the most precious commodity on earth.

As a result, they know where their time goes.

Do you know where your time went last week?  Do you know where it will go today?  How about his week?

Are you super busy today? Have a full schedule planned this week?  Don’t just dive into your “To Do List.” Spend some time planning your time.  The later start will be well worth it.

Maxwell suggests that every minute of planning saves as many as 10 minutes in execution. Spending 10-12 minutes to plan your day will save you up to two hours in wasted time and effort throughout the day.

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.”
~Robert Orben

Whatever you are, why not start with a plan?


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As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
~Henry David Thoreau

As I was cleaning up yesterday afternoon I glanced at the clock in the kitchen — 2:50 p.m.

“Great!” I thought. “I have two more hours until I need to switch gears and begin preparing for my evening appointment.”

I continued with the mission: dusting, sweeping, cleaning, laundry.

After I declared another room reasonably free from dirt, I looked again at the clock to measure my progress against my deadline. 2:50 p.m.

“Great!” I thought. “I have several two more hours before I need to switch gears — (and then, because I’m such a smart cookie) HEY, WAIT JUST A MINUTE!  I started channeling Yogi Berra — it was like deju vu all over again.

I looked at the clock on the stove, which displayed the correct time of 4:14 p.m.

Whew!  So glad I caught the discrepancy before it really mattered. I replaced the battery in the wall clock, reset the time, and all was right with the world.

Minor inconvenience. Simple fix. Life goes on.

But I was reminded of how often we judge ourselves against some arbitrary standard that is meaningless — or worse, dangerous.

We keep marching along, thinking we have all the time in the world, never stopping to realize the clock on the wall has read 10 ’til 2 for the past five years.

Wasting time. Mis-allocating efforts. Missing milestones. Blowing off deadlines.

Late for life.

Make sure your standard for living is a good one.  Measure yourself against something that really matters. Be honorable. Check the batteries.

Whatever you are, time will tell!


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I was working with a client on his resume yesterday and, as he was sharing his professional history, I could hear the passion in his voice, the excitement in his tone.  Suddenly, there was a slight pause and then he continued,

I know this may sound crazy, but I love to work.

As someone who loves my work, his comment didn’t sound crazy to me — not one bit.  He has found his “sweet spot.” His passion.  He’s created a life he loves.

Only those living in the shadows of their hopes and dreams, slogging through their life until the next “big thing” comes along, would think he’s crazy.

A friend of mine was talking with an acquaintance, who is a lawyer.  She asked him, do you like your work?  His response was that he thought he would be more passionate in another line of work. Yet he continues on — day in and day out — wearing his life in black and white when a full-color version is available.

Why do we do this to ourselves . . . settle for something else . . . ignore who we are?  What is so valuable that we will choose to live a life we don’t really want?

Money? Security? Fame? Approval?

Is it worth it?

In his book, Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk writes:

Too many people ignore their DNA, however, to conform to what their families or society expects of them. A lot of people decide that professional success has to look a certain way. That’s how someone born to design bikes winds up becoming a lawyer, or someone who loves experimenting with makeup works every day pitching someone else’s overpriced brand to malls around the country, or someone who cannot go a day without jotting down ideas for their next poem spends most of their time at the helm of an emergency IT department. To me that’s insane.

I agree.  It is INSANE to ignore who you are, shelve your passion, ignore your calling.

Sure, people will laugh and question, argue and demand.  So what?  You can either be crazy for living someone else’s life — or be crazy following your own path.  Why not be crazy on your own terms?

Whatever you are, live a passionate life!


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To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness, for that is when stars shine the brightest.  ~Unknown

We’re always looking for the numbers.  They give us confidence.  Comfort us.  Compel us to act.

How many others have tried it? Like it? Are traveling in the same direction?

We’ve been told there’s safety in numbers — the more the merrier — and heard clever sayings that sound good but have no basis in fact — not now, maybe never.

I believe the truth lies closer to the quote I heard from  a graduation speaker this weekend,

“Sometimes you have to travel alone.”
~ Vic Rockhill

Sometimes, there’s simply no one who is willing to venture with you.  Maybe they don’t see the path. Perhaps they don’t understand the dream.

That’s okay. Just because you’re traveling alone does not mean you are on the wrong path.

Likewise, even if thousands are in your company, that doesn’t signify you are on the right path. There’s not always safety in numbers — sometimes, it’s just crowded.

As Cameron Karston notes, there are many things you can learn about yourself when you travel alone.  Among other things, one learns responsibility, reliance, independence, and how to care for yourself. You have time for past analyzation and preparing for future dreams.

To live your life.

Travel at your speed.

Head in your direction.

Listen to your heart.

Be content. Enjoy the company (if there is any).

Be confident in your direction (even if there isn’t anyone else traveling with you.)

“It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion.”
~ African Proverb

Whatever you are, enjoy the journey!


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Friends are flowers in the garden of life. ~ Proverb

I really enjoy building and working in flower beds. Creating a colorful palette of living plants around my home thrills me year after year.

Although it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, I don’t even mind weeding.  The ongoing maintenance, “playing in the dirt” as my friend Karen says, is therapeutic for me. It brings a connection with nature, a celebration of flora and fauna, that sitting behind a desk — even if I am writing clever prose — can never produce.

My neighbor, (also named Karen), regularly asks me to water her flowers when she is out-of-town because she knows how much I delight in the task of caring for plants — mine, hers, anyone’s flowers!

A couple of years ago, I looked up from my own flower bed and around at my neighborhood.  You could tell that many neighbors enjoy the growing process — their patios and beds and baskets are overflowing with magnificent colors. But there were several “vacant canvasses” that sadly stared back at me.

Instead of becoming frustrated at “naked beds” or just waving nonchalantly as these neighbors drove by, Greg and I reached out to them on a personal level. Actually listened to their stories.

We learned that one neighbor (although she loves flowers) doesn’t garden because she has a “black thumb.”  Another said that his wife used to take care of the flowers, and since she passed away he didn’t care any more. One young man was too busy, and yet another said she just needed some help and guidance.

Greg and I also began talking with our neighbors who have Miracle -Gro flowing through their veins.  They generously gave starts of their plants and shared their spoils.  They offered advice and support.

We also divided our own ferns, hostas, and day lillies, trumpet plants, little pink flowers and other amazing plants that we can’t identify.  We planted pussy willows and mint, myrtle and vinca. We watered new transplants, pulled weeds, and made friends.

Before we knew it, we had sparked a revolution. Our neighborhood began growing with colorful blooms, interesting plants, generosity, inspiration, and neighborly kindness.

And I couldn’t ignore how this entire process resembles life. Like my own flower garden, which is a mishmash of what I’ve purchased, grown, transplanted, received, and nurtured, my life is a combination of my own gifts and talents combined with the goodness and guidance, wisdom and instructions that others have planted for me.

Why not plant a flower — in a garden or in a life — for someone today?  As George Eliot said, “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Life is what you make it.
Always has been, always will be.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Opportunities evaporate.

Leaders are duplicitous.

“Misrepresentations” are peddled as truth.

Rumors are started.

Rights are demanded.

Relationships crumble.

Promises are broken.

Fears run rampant.

Trust is extinct.

So what?! As we’ve been told a million times — life’s not fair.

I could sit around and lament my situation, wallow in my circumstances, and play the part of a victim, or I could plan for today to be the best day of my life!

I choose “best day!”  (The better choice by far — wouldn’t you agree?)

So, for today, regardless of the insanity swirling around me . . .

I will look for love and kindness, gentleness and generosity.

I will strive to behave in a way that sows seeds of courtesy and positivity, consideration and encouragement, thoughtfulness and respect.

I will remember that I don’t know everything, all the facts aren’t in, and there are three sides to every story (yours, mine, and the truth).

I will realize  that a person, like a dog, can “bite” out of fear, and do my best to remember that sometimes it’s just your insecurities talking — your comments really don’t have anything to do with me.

I’ll be quick to include your ideas, listen, and understand your story for I do not have all the answers nor am I the final authority or judge.

I’ll encourage others to dream the dream, take the risk, and live the life — their life — and do everything within my power to help make this happen.

I will assume your intentions are good — it is just the plan that failed.

I will not let the negativity of others seep into my life and muddy up my attitude.

I will make my life today . . . and do it all again tomorrow!

Be careful how you interpret the world:
It is like that.

~Erich Heller

Whatever you are, the choice is yours!


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The minute you begin to do what you really want to do,
it’s really a different kind of life.
R. Buckminster Fuller

I’ve said it before, but I wanted to remind you again.

The choice is yours.

Live your life according to the expectations of others or set your own agenda.

Do what they want or what you want.

Follow their plan or design one that fits you perfectly.

Copy their ideas or build brand new ones.

At the end of the day, the week, this month, year . . . your life, only you can answer the question —

Did I live the life I imagined


was I player in someone else’s drama?

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you” [Thomas Jefferson].

Whatever you are, it’s time to do what you love!


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Dum Spiro Spero.

While I breathe, I hope.

~ South Carolina, State Motto

In Bishopville, South Carolina resides an unlikely gardener. No, not just a gardener. An artist.

Pearl Fryar did not have a background in horticulture.

He was the son of a cotton sharecropper.

He didn’t have the best material.

He salvaged plants that had been thrown on the scrap pile in the back of the local nursery.

He had no formal training in creating topiaries.

Although he did have a 3-minute demonstration once.

He didn’t have community support.

When he moved to Bishopville, one white neighborhood wouldn’t welcome him because they said he wouldn’t keep up his yard.

He didn’t let obstacles stop him.

He showed them by winning the “Yard of the Month” award from the Bishopville Iris Garden Club.

Pearl had a dream. And what he created is a three-acre sculpted garden that will take your breath away. Pearl explains:

“Gardening books will tell you that some of these things in my garden can’t be done, but I had never read them when I got started.

Not knowing ahead of time that something is supposed to be impossible often makes it possible to achieve.

I didn’t have any limitations because I really didn’t know anything about horticulture. I just figured I could do whatever I wanted with any plant I had.”

Of course, it wasn’t always easy for Pearl. He knows what it’s like to be poor.

Be shunned.

Be without.

He asks, “When the going gets tough, what will you do?”  His answer, “Well, you don’t let the obstacles determine where you’re going to go.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Pearl’s ability to do a common task in an uncommon way has put the tiny town of Bishopville on the map. He’s been featured in the New York Times, CBS, PBS, and in many other outlets. His work is showcased throughout the state. Tour buses pull up to his home. Few serious gardeners haven’t heard his name.  He uses his fame to encourage and influence young people to fulfill their potential.

Pearl set his own course, followed his dream, and never let the obstacles determine where he was going.

If Pearl could do it, why not you?

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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