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Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

Ninety-one years. I’m sorry you didn’t get to celebrate today with those who love you most.

You are terribly missed and frequently thought of. The love you shared with me and all of your beloved family members will never be replaced, but I’ll always remember you for your kind words, thoughtfulness, huge heart and ability to make me forget about my troubles.

Because of you, I better appreciate the little things in life. A tasty meal that I cooked and shared…the smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring…a first snowfall. You taught me to pay attention to the things right in front of me and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’m a better man because of you.

So Happy Birthday, Mom. Know that you’re loved more than ever.

-end-

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It’s an upward spiral that seemingly will not end any time soon.

I’m talking about the cost of health insurance and specifically the cost that you and I – Joe and Jane consumer – get to bear to have adequate health plans that take care of our families.

In this Wall Street Journal story, reporter Avery Johnson notes that the costs employees are expected to kick in to get health insurance through their employers continues to increase – at an alarming rate.

Knock on wood, I’ve generally been a healthy individual throughout my entire life. No broken bones. No chronic conditions. No major hospitalizations, save for a three-day stint of pneumonia that put me in a hospital bed in 2005. I didn’t like it. I’ve not gone back.

My two teenage kids and beautiful wife are also healthy people. So when we open-enroll for health insurance each October/November, it’s usually a fairly quick discussion and selection of the health care plan that includes a higher than average deductible and lower monthly premiums.

Pretty easy until now, that is.

Seems crossing the 45-year-old threshold has me thinking more about health costs as well as retirement planning (which needs to include saving for health care expenses needed after I end my career as a wage earner).

For the past several years I’ve worked in the health care industry. First for the world’s largest medical device manufacturer and now for the world’s largest health plan insurer. My eyes are open to the ways of health plan coverage and the costs associated with them. I’ve developed strong opinions on the use of medical technology to prolong life.

And as health care reform goes into the implementation stage during the next several years, I hope the very industry I work in gets smart at finding ways to help individuals manage their own care intelligently.

  • A focus on health and wellness early in life.
  • Assistance with the obesity epidemic in a way that makes sense (personal health coaches are already being offered through many work plans, but at a cost to everyone not just those who are affected).
  • Common sense approaches (and cost savings) for families and individuals who are above average on the health front and take the necessary measures to stay healthy.

By putting the onus on individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, stay healthy and make smart health care decisions, Americans should be able to get the care they need when they need it at a cost that is affordable. Sounds so simple, but my gut tells me we remain a long, long, long way away from making that a reality in our country.

As with any major change, it happens in small steps. We first must get everyone pointed in the same direction before the big flywheel will start to turn (aka Jim Collins, “Good to Great).  This happens through various agents including our own federal government launching new laws and programs. But people, we can’t rely on the government to make the change for us.

In the end, our health and well being is up to each of us. Truly. We own it. And if we expect to have access to the best health care in the world, then we better start taking care of ourselves.

-end-

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My Dad marched to the beat of his own drum. He set his own standards, and while they changed through my childhood years, the bar and his expectations were always higher than I was tall.

rhg-wwiiDad was a product of a rough and tumble father and a mother who only knew how to love and care for others – no matter what. I guess his lack of emotion, his inability to truly display love, only became evident in hindsight – because as a kid, even when he failed to properly parent, I felt loved.

We didn’t spend a lot of time playing ball in the backyard, because Dad owned a small business and put in long hours. So instead, I often biked to Dad’s shop and swept or cleaned the work benches until he was ready to lock up – usually after Mom’s third or fourth phone call. On the way out of the shop door, he’d drop a dime in the pop machine and hand me an Orange Crush Soda for the short ride home.

My best Dad memories, though, involve the after-hours deliveries we’d make on warm summer evenings. Dad sold outdoor equipment and he would drive within a 100-mile radius to deliver a lawn tractor to a good customer. I’d help unload the equipment off the trailer and he would demo the machine, chatting up the new owner while I kicked at the stones eager to head back home.

We’d climb back into the red Dodge van he drove (purchased the year I was born) and he would steer us down Northwest Iowa county blacktops – back to Spencer. At five or six years old, I marveled at how many people knew my Dad as we made these trips together. I’d see a car or truck approaching us and nearly every single time, the driver in the oncoming car would wave – and Dad waved back.

“Who was that?” I’d ask him eagerly.

“I couldn’t quite make out the face,” Dad would say with a grin. Or, he’d say, “I think that was Jim from the hardware store,” or he would make up the names of other people he knew, completely BS-ing me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that we were out in the country and these other drivers were just being friendly, waving as they passed every car they met. But for a few years, at least, I believed Dad was the best-known man in the state of Iowa – or at least our corner of the state. He was my well-connected Dad and I was proud of him.

Dad died on Sunday and he’ll be buried back in my hometown today. We rarely spoke these past couple decades. Distance created distance and days lapsed into years.

But I’ll call upon the best memories I have of him. And if there’s a Heaven, I know my Dad has been greeted by the hundreds who waved at him on those summer evenings when it was just the two of us on the road.

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Top Five

This old blog is coming up on two years in the blogosphere – that’s eight years in Internet time according to my e-marketing friends.

In these most recent 24 months, several blog posts have risen to the top as “most popular or frequented,” at the Land of 10,000 Perspectives. While they aren’t necessarily my favorites, I’m proud of the page views they’ve generated.

The Top Five Frequented Posts include:

1. Friday Philosophy – Shivering (11,195 page views). Here I lament about the sub-zero temperatures Minneapolis dips into each January. But really it’s the picture of frostbitten fingers that most visitors are after.  Can you say purple and black?

2. Crazy for Madonna – Or Just Crazy Madonna (7,572 page views). In the post about the Material Girl, I compare her early good looks to her witchy 50-year-old smile. I’ve received a lot of hate e-mails about this post from Madonna lovers. I just can’t get over the fact that she looks haggy. Guess all that material wealth hasn’t helped in the looks department.

3. Cities 97 Sampler Volume 20 (3,025 page views). For 20 years, local FM radio volume-20station, Cities 97, has produced a CD of indie, rock and alt songs. The CD sells out in the Twin Cities in a matter of hours. Its popularity has a cult following and I’ve seen the entire set of CDs sell for more than $350 at charity auctions. By the way, proceeds from the CD go to charities in Minnesota.  Nice goin’ Cities 97!

4. “Skinny Love” – Bon Iver (2,771 page views). Wisconsin native Justin Vernon issued his “Forever For Emma,” CD eons ago, it seems, to much critical acclaim. This post gets hits because I’ve posted the lyrics to the song, which I am want to do with most of the tunes I post on the site.

5. Cities 97 Sampler Volume 19 (2,650 page views). See previous graph about Volume 20. By the way, my favorite Sampler CD of all time is Volume 14. You can check out all the Samplers and their song lists here.

There you have it. The Top-Five all time greatest posts on my blog.  More to come, so bookmark the page and stay tuned.

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When 2009 began, a lot of positive mojo filled my world. Enough so that I made this commitment to be more bold in how I lived my own life. Nearly eight weeks later, my general drive to amp boldness each day has become a habit.

Satisfaction in who we are and what we do only descends upon us if we live the way we want to live. Being bold in my professional and personal relationships – hell, in every aspect of what I do – helps me get to the person I desire to be. I’ve tapped a new river of confidence and ability relying on learnings from life that serve me well when I need them most.

Bold gets noticed. The counsel and recommendations I provide to executives I work for are welcomed, accepted, expected. The same holds true for relationships I share with those closest to me. They appreciate candor and honesty – and that is something I can  deliver. It’s much more satisfying than the former rut I’d been in of biting my tongue and reading between available lines.

And in a life-is-short, I’m-keenly-aware-of-my-own-surroundings mindset, I’ve discovered initiating the first handshake or kiss or compliment generates far more points in the plus column than standing back and obviating opportunities I’ll never get back.

If being bold can generate such positive results in a mere handful of weeks, imagine what the rest of the year – the rest of life – presents.

-end-

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As I recently shared with someone who means a great deal to me, if there were one singer/songwriter’s CD that I was allowed to have on my iPod, I’d select David Gray’s, “White Ladder” record. So many good tracks on that effort.

There’s a silver lining on all aspects of our lives, no matter how hard you question, wonder, or worry. No matter how dark it may be at any given moment. If we just remember and keep a watchful eye open for it.

Here’s Gray’s “Silver Lining.” No one sings it like he does.

Lyrics

Take this silver lining
Keep it in your own
Sweet head
And shine it when the night is
Burning red
Shine it in the twilight
Shine it on the cold, cold ground
Shine it til these walls
Come tumbling down

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Step into the silence
Take it in your own
Two hands
And scatter it like diamonds
All across these lands
Blaze it in the morning
Wear it like an iron skin
Only things worth living for are
Innocence and magic, amen

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Woah, wooah

Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep
Know that the light don’t sleep

-end-

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I’m Open

Open to learn. Open to love. Open to parent. Open to hope. Open to change. Open to passion. Open to care. Open to help.  Open to innovation. Open to failure. Open to success. Open to understand. Open to listen. Open to believe. Open to health. Open to teach. Open to laugh. Open to share. Open to be. Open to faith. Open to watch. Open to wait. Open to opinion. Open to freedom. Open to choice. Open to rights. Open to mistakes. Open to sarcasm. Open to improve. Open to acceptance. Open to kiss. Open to intimacy. Open to risk. Open to work. Open to play. Open to rest. Open to travel. Open to warmth. Open to give. Open to create. Open to act.

Open to live.

-end-

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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.

-end-

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It’s heeeeeeeeeere: 2009. Well almost here. It’ll be here when we’re all kissing our sweethearts on New Year’s Eve and falling into bed at 12:06 a.m.

I’m not a resolution guy.  Perhaps it’s because resolutions like, “I will exercise more,” only focus on the “do” in our lives and not on the “be.”  And the “do” we do is done for all the wrong reasons. We “do” something so we can “have” something so we can “be” something else. When we fail on the “do,” the wheels of the plan come off entirely.

So instead of resolving to do something, I’m focusing on being.  It starts with  finding the one area of life you want to positively change, then selecting a word to guide you through the year. Pick a word to remind you to live life on the “be” level.  Instead of “get fit” (do), perhaps you choose the word “health” and focus on making healthy choices the entire year.

My word? Bold.

Short back story: Through the past couple of decades, I got rutted in letting life happen to me. In that time many positive and wonderful things did happen. But I didn’t necessarily play a hand in carving the path with my own machete. No, the path was mostly pre-paved leading to a glass that was just three-quarters full when it should be brimming. My word “bold” will enable me to top off the glass each day – living life intentionally at work, in relationships, at home, in my desire to be fit and happy et al.  With this in the forefront, I’ll change behavior, live more purposefully and take myself out of life on the periphery.

I’ve already practiced using my word in recent weeks. It’s presented me with challenges and  anxious moments resulting in sleepless nights, like any shift in life presents. Being bold has risks, but it’s a step in a direction I must take. Plus, it’s exhilarating to hear my own voice when I say out loud the things that would have previously gone unsaid or take action on something I would have only thought (mightily) about.

I’ll kick bold into full throttle in January and post on my successes and failures during the year.

In the meantime, I’ve picked this John Mayer cover of “Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix as my theme song. We all need anthems in life.

Happy New Year. Make it a bold one.

Lyrics

Anger he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted
They quietly understand
The once happy turquoise armies lay opposite, ready
But wonder why the fight is on

But they’re all, they’re bold as love, yeah
They’re all, they’re bold as love, love, love
They’re all, they’re bold as love
Just ask the axis

My red is so confident, he flashes trophies of war
And ribbons of euphoria
Orange is young, full of daring
But it, it’s very unsteady for the first go round

My yellow in this case is not so mellow
In fact I’m trying to say it’s frightened like me
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me from
Giving my life to a rainbow like you

But I’m, I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, love, love
I’m bold, I’m bold as love
Just ask the axis

He knows, he knows, he knows
He knows everything

I’m, I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, ohh
Been talkin’ to ya
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah.

P.S.  Be sure to wait an extra second on New Year’s Eve before planting that first kiss. A leap second has been added to the clock by the U.S. Naval Observatory. This will be the 24th leap second added since 1972. Thanks U.S. Naval Observatory clock watchers.

-end-

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The Poem

I write. It’s a requisite in my career – but poetry writing, notsomuch.  I penned a Haiku back in 2005. That’s been the extent of my poetic efforts until recently. And the problem with suddenly sitting down and writing a poem – even a free-verse kinda poem – is that no matter how attentive you are to your writing, you have no idea if your resulting effort is garbage or glorious or somewhere in between.  What you do know, though, is that it’s yours and it very likely has meaning to one person on the planet. A for-one-person poem may be the most important kind of all. So, let’s hope I won’t wait another four years to wax poetic.

The Party

What’s the right recipe for a great holiday gathering? Friends (new and old) and food.  At least in the Midwest, food is the focal point of all memorable events – including Christmas holiday parties. While an abundance of people and free-flowing alcohol-based beverages can help a party along, we all need sustenance. Give me a shout out if I’m right, people. Chicken is cheap. Meatballs are perfect on the end of toothpicks. Even tofurkey kabobs can be festive and simple – and your guests will depart filled with more than just holiday spirit.

Paint

Tom at Hirshfield’s had all the right answers on Saturday. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite dial in the mix on the Carrington Beige color (the very one used at the infamous Fallon mansion) just right. A small gaffe. We recovered and the remainder of the weekend spent with spackle, brush and roller cruised along uneventfully (are we done yet?).  By the way, Hirshfield’s is a Minnesota-based company that still makes its paints locally.

Patience

I’ve written on patience previously on the blog. It’s a re-occuring thought, though, so here’s some added color on the subject.

As we age, adults tend to draw on more and more patience from within. It’s a maturity thing, I’m convinced. While the oldster driving 20 in a 35-mile-per-hour speed zone used to cause you to curse and lay on the horn, today it creates a slight smile for you know that one day you’ll be old and happy to drive s-l-0-w-l-y to get to the grocery store.  Everything is slower in old age as people operate in the mode of “the slower I go the further I prolong life and postpone death.”  Consider, especially during the last 10 days before Christmas, slowing down, drawing from all your patience and making someone else’s day matter more than your own.

Peace

There’s a phrase during Catholic mass churchgoers use to greet each other: Peace be with you. Maybe it’s used in other churches, too.  Since leaving the church three years ago, I’ve not spoken those words. And yet, suddenly, that very simple statement bounced into my head.  In all the flurry of news depicting muggings of innocent people who are going about their nomal lives, and shoes thrown at Presidents who visit foreign countries that U.S. troops are trying to liberate, and political scandals that inflict pain on an entire state, perhaps now more than ever it’s time to dust off the old “peace” phrase and say it with frequency. What harm could it do? Moreover, what good might it bring others if said at just the right moment – a moment when the mere concept of peace is the last thread of sanity left to hold on to in a world nearly void of any real meaning?

Peace be with you all.

-end-

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