>I don’t know where that phrase originated, but I read it somewhere and it stuck with me: “It’s okay to got to Hell, you just don’t have to stay.”

Of course, I hope you gather it’s meaning as I do. Circumstances outside our control, people, events can put us in a state of ‘Hell on earth”, but it’s truly up to me to decide how long I will ‘stay there’.

Since mankind wasn’t around for the Ice Age, it’s the only time that there was a continuous winter on our planet. Since man has occupied the big blue marble, there has never been two winters in a row.. although some of my friends up here in Wisconsin may debate that. 😀

So I’m getting deep. There are seasons. That’s life on earth. I believe we have seasons in our lives, too. It’s been a very challenging last few years in my life. I have realized lately that I’ve let many ‘circumstances’ change me in a way that I didn’t want to be changed.

Someone else said, “You will be the same in five years as you are today, EXCEPT for the associations you make and the books you read.”

That was like a cowboy boot to the throat for me. Wow. I remember that. I used to be very picky about my friends, I used to read A LOT! I started a new career in 2000 and found myself too busy to nurture new, positive friendships… I stopped reading, too. Books, magazines.. anything. Any reading or learning was career related. Good for my career I suppose, but very BAD for my personal growth and relationships.

Fortunately, I met an associate up here in Wisconsin that asked me that dangerous question, “Be honest, how do you feel about your personal and professional choices over the past ten years?” And BAM did I let him have it. Probably 2 hours on a cell phone of non-stop roller coaster emotions and reflections. He was a good listener. No interruptions. After I was done he said, “I want you to read a new book, I want it back. It’s a fast read, you can do it in an evening. I can’t help you right now until you read it. The book may help you find a more positive focus”.

What? Was I being negative? I was just speaking the truth!

A few days later, he personally handed me the book. 106 pages. 12 short chapters. Never heard of the author. Sure, I’ll read it. You seem to think I should. I certainly have nothing else better to do this weekend (new town, business connections were on hold, moving bills piling up).

The story of “Steve” was my story. My associate seemed to know that. I couldn’t put it down. That was late July. This week I’m reading it for the 5th time (among some other related books).

I like this book so much that I’m going to read it until I memorize it. I’ve purchased my own three copies of it to lend to others I feel can benefit from it as well.

The book isn’t fiction, it’s a self-help book that reminded me of truths I grew up with. Truths that I used to apply and benefited from. I’ve learned from Dale Carnegie, Earl Nightingale, Og Mandino, Napoleon Hill, and many others. I have boxes full of Tony Robbins tape and CD series. It’s stuff I know works. But for some stupid reason, I let ’em all go when I started a new career.

Through my connections through LinkedIn, and Twitter… new people on the outside trying to get in, I am reminded of what our short journey here is all about again. Connecting. Caring. Sharing. HOPEFULLY, not expecting anything in return for our kindness. That’s what’s happened since 9/11, the recent wars, the falling economy, the elections: I believe many of you are like me. We lost the connections to others, withdrawn inward, and forsaken the truths we used to live by. Hiding behind “quotes, jokes, and future miracle cures”.

“Crash, you’re a comedian.. what’s so funny about this?” Sorry if you’ve been reading toward a punchline. No one is “always on”, not even Robin Williams. There. That’s kinda funny (because it’s hard for even ME to imagine).

This post won’t change you or me. It took many years of wrong thinking, wrong learning, wrong listening to make us who we are now today. Time takes time. But we all CAN start today, where we are. Start the un-learning process. The new awareness of ourselves and others around us. Try this immediately when someone you don’t know says, “Hey, how are you?” Respond with, I’m great.. but I can’t help but wonder if you’re all right.. you seem frustrated/sad/preoccupied… I’m sure it will all work out for you.”

If you think that’s corny, then I’m actually amazed you read this far. That didn’t come from left field. It’s really not corny and you’ll be amazed how a few words can make a connection. Did you see the Nick Cage movie “Next“?

Becoming more aware. Evaluating our relationships, our career choices, what we take in. Is what we’re doing working to make us better so we can help others (which always comes back to helping ourselves and/or our families)?

Have you ever saw an old friend from high school or a former job somewhere in public, spoke for a few minutes and walked away thinking, “that’s 10 minutes I’ll never get back… I can go the rest of my life and not think of him/her ever again.” ? My guess is that relationship wasn’t/isn’t one that’s important to your growth and future. Sad, though. They were important at one time, but somehow they’re not any more. It’s really okay. It doesn’t make you or me an a%#hole.. we’ve just moved on and outgrown THAT need.

Someone also told me that people who write down long term goals actually live 15 to 20 years longer. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure as hell can’t hurt! I used to set goals. Write ’em down. Carry ’em with me. Put ’em on my mirror, dashboard, etc. That wasn’t a 80’s thing started by L. Ron Hubbard .. the greatest minds in history did it (and do it).

Yeah yeah yeah, I know all this. But I need something today, a miracle NOW. Win the lottery, a rich relative to die and leave me money, my boss to die, my husband/wife NOT to die, my kids to….

You and I didn’t get this way in a moment, and we won’t get out of it in a moment either. You don’t have to get sick to get better… that’s my message here. I’m not going to change any one’s life by making comedy videos, selling insurance, posting on social media sites, etc… but I may be able to change yours by recommending:

I haven’t met Mark yet, I’m not being paid or ‘kick backed’ anything for this recommendation. None of my posts work that way. If you don’t have the $10, contact me at Twitter and I’ll lend you one of mine (when available) BUT I WANT IT BACK 😀 You are THAT important to me, your connection is important to me. Perhaps one day, you’ll pay forward this post as well… and we’ll meet after a show or something cool like that. Emerson said “If we’re related, we shall meet…”

My brother Jay has a cool saying, “Do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong!” Blame, Complain, and Explain.. I don’t have time or energy for that anymore. Do I have my off/bad/downer moments still? Indeed, but I now intend to make ’em just “moments”, no longer “days, months, or years”. Life’s too short too worry about how short life is. 🙂

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