A SMALL MOUNTAIN…

Is STILL a mountain!

a small mountain

Climb every mountain

Ford every stream

Follow every rainbow

‘Till you find your dream– Lyrics from the song Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.

Last Sunday February 23rd 2020, due to an unexpected event there was no weekly article posted on my blog. It was maybe the 3rd or 4th time that this has happened since I began writing InstantCoffeeWisdom three years ago. To my frequent and long-time readers, I offer an apology, and an explanation.

Every now and then, life throws you a curve ball. Something you never expect. Sometimes it can be a bad thing, but sometimes it can be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  This was the latter.  I was originally working on an article concerning nutritional supplements (which will now be posted next week, bumped by this article) when one of my running friends gave me a surprise gift.  Accepting this gift meant dropping everything I was doing, and being a little selfish to spend time with my friends. I feel bad for disappointing my dedicated readers like Ken, and  especially those who check-in from foreign countries like Romania, England and Canada.  I am always amazed that I have readers in other countries. The internet can be a wonderful thing, but I digress!

One of the items in my bucket list is training for a marathon. I have been putting in a lot of time running both at the gym on a treadmill, and in official timed races of various distances. Registration for official race events costs money, and as I planned 24 of them this year I had to pick and choose as well as budget accordingly to be able to afford to pay for my fitness hobby.  The point I have been stressing this year is that your Health is your Wealth, and vice-versa. What is the point of becoming rich, only to be too sickly and infirm to enjoy the fruit of your labors? The point of life is to enjoy it!

Gary Brendel, a friend who is part my pack of runners  wanted to run in The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run and he asked if I was going. This was a race that I had skipped. I told him that I had limited funds and had to pass because I couldn’t afford the extra race with all the others I had lined up.  Gary told me he would pick up the tab for my registration. I was stunned! It was such a wonderful gift and a generous surprise that to refuse would have been rude. It is very nice to know that when times are lean, you have friends who have your back. Gary is also planning on running in the Philly Marathon with me in November, and my other friend Steve will run the half that same day. Additionally, Gary also convinced another mutual friend, Alison Riley to run with us in The Ugly Mudder. Alison is a novice runner who believed that she was only able to run 5K (3.1 miles). This was her first ever 13K (8.078 miles) and she did amazing!  Like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

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 One Ugly Mudder!

The name ‘Ugly Mudder’ is a play on words. It is a near homonym for ‘Ugly Mother’. A Mudder is a race horse that runs faster on a muddy track. This was the logo for this year’s commemorative  t-shirt.

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The character depicted is reminiscent of Baba Yaga , the pestle wielding witch from Slavic folklore who would kill and eat unfortunate travelers who got lost in the woods. Baba Yaga was most likely an influence  for the fictional Blair Witch in the 1999 horror film, The Blair Witch Project.  

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The 17th annual event was timed by Pretzel City Sports. PCS was founded in 1987 by the awesome Ron Horn and they help many regional organizations such as The Pagoda Pacers hold races.

As for the race itself,  The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run is a foot-race up Mount Penn on some of the ugliest, treacherous, and muddy trails imaginable. Mount Penn is a 1,120-foot-high mountain that rises to the north and overlooks the city of Reading PA.  It’s a little mountain, but a mountain is still a mountain. For comparison the tallest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak at 8,346-feet , which is slightly taller than Omu at 8,219-feet, also located in Romania.  The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3,209-feet.  In case you may be wondering, the tallest mountain in North America is Denali in the USA in the state of Alaska. At 20,237-foot, it is also the third tallest on Earth.

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There are two large structures visible on Mount Penn.  One is the William Penn Fire Tower. This imposing stone and reinforced concrete tower is 120 feet tall and is situated on Skyline Drive. The 120-ft.-tall former fire observation tower was built in 1939 for $30,000. A lighted Cross on the tower was forcibly removed in 2009 by God-hating atheists who threatened a lawsuit because the Cross reminded them that they had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.    

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One mile from the Fire Tower is Reading’s landmark Pagoda, the symbol of the city for over a century.

Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. , the Pagoda was completed in 1908.  It was originally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due a bank foreclosure after the denial of his liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda.  By 1910 the Pagoda and its surrounding 10 acres of land were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell).  On April 21, 1911 they “sold” the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1.  Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.

The Pagoda is 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, 50 feet (15 m) long, and 72 feet (22 m) tall and located at  98 Duryea Dr. Reading, PA.  After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 anti-Japanese sentiment nearly caused the building to be torn down. Cooler-heads claimed that the building was actually not Japanese, but a Korean Pagoda, so the Pagoda was spared.  (FYI– a Korean Pagoda is usually built entirely out of stone, and is slightly different looking than the Reading Pagoda which is clearly based on a Japanese design. Thank God there was also no internet in 1941. LOL. )

As for the course itself, it was rocky and treacherous, not to mention uphill and muddy at places. There was a little patch of ice easily negotiable just before the finish line.  You just knew it was going to be a rough trail when a priest was running in case someone needed Last Rites.

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The humorous description and cautionary words from the promotional e-mail flier are as follows:

The same thing happened to most of the trails used in the Ugly Mudder. Once, they were bucolic hiking trails used by courting couples, families with kids, dog walkers, etc. And then heavy storms took away their topsoil, lack of use resulted in wild indigenous plants growing across the path, erosion left huge gullies in them that twist ankles and make then unsuitable for biking, etc. And what we have left are trails that are so misshapen and un-navigable that they can ONLY be used for the Ugly Mudder. The Ugly Mudder is a mishmash of ups & downs, fallen logs, debris, rocks & roots, discarded household items, deer poop and urban relics.  To offset this misery, Pretzel City Sports provides a bunch of “perks” at the event including a great post race party with a free breakfast, funny signs on trail to ease your pain, unusual aide stations with equally unusual beverages, cold volunteers that will treat YOU even “colder”, great course markings & other niceties that has made this, on several occasions, one of the 5 largest rustic trail runs in the entire country & the largest East of the Mississippi. In fact, annually, 99.9% of its participants live to run another day so how hard can it be?  Come join the 250-400 people each year that REFUSE to let ankle deep snow, sub-zero temps and a few rocks & roots turn them into mega-weenies, candybutts or, worst of all, “Bachelor/Bachelorette Fans”. LEGAL B.S: You RUN AT YOUR OWN RISK & you alone are responsible for your welfare at all times while racing!! You SHOULD finish this race unscathed other than from frostbite & snot frozen to your face. But if you DO get a boo-boo, crawl to an aide station so we can pick you up in a warm car. You WON’T get lost; it’s marked that well!  But if you STILL manage to do so, ask someone how to Uber to Stokesay Castle; the finish is right next door. Since this is a mid-level challenge, people discouraged from coming are

  1. those under 18 (15-17 yr olds OK with parent present-14 or below MUST have someone run with them)

  2. anyone, other than a current employee, who will miss K-mart and

  3. people who religiously “eat clean” because we ALL need Oreos and  they’re about as far from “clean” as a food group can be. And also DAMN yummy!

In case you’re wondering about the funny signs, I took pictures of them all as I ran. They ran in FOUR series each spaced about 2 miles apart ,and  started with a warning:

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  • WARNING! BE PREPARED FOR…
  • THE SHITTIEST 8.078 MILES
  • YOU’LL EVER RUN (IF YOU CALL THIS RUNNING)

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  • LOTS OF “DOWNHILL” COMING UP
  • AFTER YOU FINISH THIS “RIDGE FROM HELL”

  • THERE HAVE BEEN MORE DEMOCRATS
  • RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
  • THAN WE HAVE ENTRIES IN OUR CLYDESDALE DIVISION
  • MAY MEAN THAT WE THAT WE HAVE LESS “FULL” PEOPLE IN THESE PARTS
  • THAN WE HAVE PEOPLE “FULL OF THEMSELVES”

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  • WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST COME UP
  • AND WE REALLY MEAN “UP”!

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At the last water station, they also had shots of whisky to anyone who needed calm their nerves after surviving this harrowing experience.

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Yeah it was quite the challenge, and this was only the second trail run I have done. Of the three of us, Gary finished first . Alison twisted her ankle on the rocks half-way, but was able to walk-off the injury and finished ahead of me. I’m a Clydesdale, so I tend to run slower, plus I took pictures. I did NOT finish last, and my pace from my first trail run had improved so I am getting faster which makes me happy. Progress is progress, and slow and steady wins the race!  

The best part was my friends waiting for me at the finish line.

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As always, I wish you success and happiness!

JUST ANOTHER DROP IN THE BUCKET!

What’s on your list?

JUST ANOTHER DROP

“Coming up with the list is the easy part, but ticking off the list is the challenge. I love a good challenge, which is why I strongly advise everyone to come up with a bucket list. It doesn’t have to contain out of this world tasks (although going to space is on mine). But once you have written down the list, screw it, just do it!”– Sir Richard Branson

Words have power. The power to shape lives, the power to alter destinies.  Often the things we say to others live on long after we have said them, or forgotten that we said them in the first place.  When I was in college, a well-timed conversation with a professor altered my entire life by his simply convincing me to sign up for a class I was intending to skip.  That class was The Bible as Literature, and I became a Christian as a result.  Years later when I was in a dark place after a personal setback, another caring friend took time to offer sage advice and words of wisdom. Once again a well-timed conversation was enough to provide the fuel needed to ‘keep me in the race’ when I was ‘Running on Empty‘.

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” –Kobe Bryant

Just as I owe a lot to that college professor Steve Miller, I owe an equal if not greater debt to my very good friend Lawrence M. Schoen for saying what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. I spoke with Lawrence on the phone two weeks ago, and he called me an ‘inspiration’ because of my ongoing marathon training.  I found this very ironic. Lawrence is currently undergoing chemotherapy for multiple myeloma and is in isolation in a hospital cancer ward.  He remains upbeat and positive despite unimaginable pain and suffering as he fights to beat this terrible illness. That outshines any source of inspiration I can provide.  I wish I had half his strength, and I pray for him every day as he battles this cancer.

“Live life ,  live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna…” – William Shatner

Life is not fair, and there are no guarantees. Whatever life tosses at you, you must face it head on, with gusto! Everyone of us is dying,  but few choose to ‘live’ life, choosing instead to merely exist.  In the 2007 movie The Bucket List, two men from very different walks of life meet in a cancer ward.  Jack Nicholson  plays Billionaire Edward Cole,  and scholarly auto-mechanic Carter Chambers is played by Morgan Freeman. An unlikely friendship blossoms between the two dying men  as they set out to fulfill a joint bucket list.  This fictional story has its fair share of both funny and sad moments, and if you haven’t watched the film I recommend it.

Carpe diem!  

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Bucket lists are supposed to be filled with important life goals one wishes to fulfill before they ‘kick the bucket’, an old slang term meaning to die. Unfortunately many people never pursue these goals, instead choosing to live a bland existence discussing pipe dreams that they will do ‘someday’. ‘Someday’ has a nasty habit of becoming NEVER very fast. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so TODAY is the day you need to live for. Goals are always worth striving for, but they don’t just happen. They take work and time. They take planning and persistence. They take dedication and resources!

Everyone of us gets the same 24hr day to live everyday with only two exceptions, they day we are born and the day we die. Every day we waste is a day we will never get back, and no person on Earth knows how many days we have. Only God has that answer.  

If you are serious about achieving your goals in life, you only need the same three resources I have been stressing to you.

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Knowledge

Your health is your wealth and your wealth is your health. Those two are intertwined. Knowledge takes time to accumulate, but once again the billionaire and the beggar were both born with exactly the same amount of knowledge.  If you wish to do something, you need to learn everything about it that you possibly can, correct information from trusted sources.  Your life and the choices you make are ultimately up to you.  Some goals are individual ones, some require teamwork and the correct partners.

 

Set goals, and avoid the negative!

My personal goal for 2020 is to run my first marathon in November in Philadelphia.  Today February 9th, 2020 I will be running my second 10K race of the year. My goal for today is beat last month’s time.  I will be trying out my new Mud Gear runner’s compression socks. I started running in 2019 and my first race ever was a 5K last April 28th. I studied the literature on running, I trained in the gym beforehand, I got sage advice from wise council. My goal then was to finish that race, hopefully not last. Last year I was DFL (last) only ONCE when I ran my first 15K. Last year I ran a dozen races, the two longest were both half-marathons in the Fall. I completed every race I ran. This year I have a total of 23 races, and the longest will be my first marathon. My goals for 2021 are even more ambitious. The point is you have to start out small, take baby-steps, and work your way up to bigger and better goals. If I would have started my first race ever as a full marathon with no preparation what-so-ever , I would probably would have landed myself in the hospital, or worse, the grave.  If the plan  to achieve the goal isn’t working, you change the plan, NOT the goal. And when you reach your goal, you don’t stop. You set a bigger and better goal. You keep putting drops in the bucket one by one until you fill the bucket!

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Worrying about what could go wrong is often the fastest way to kill a dream. You will never be able to live a positive life with a negative mind. Negativity is a life-sucker! That which you manifest is before you, so seek out positive sources of inspiration.

The man who first started the running and jogging craze in the USA was James F Fixx, author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running.  Seven years later he died of a heart attack while jogging on July 20th, 1984. He was 52. Guess what? I know lots of runners older than him who are still running, including my friend Bruce who is 76, has a replacement knee, and is still running half-marathons.  There are no guarantees in life! Kobe Bryant was 41 when he died last month in a helicopter crash only 100 feet from clear skies.  If you worry about dying all the time, you are not living. You are living life when you are outside of your comfort zone. A comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there. So go all out and live your life to the fullest! Make the most of every minute and remember that every second is precious! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

NOW WHAT?

Avoiding the stumbling blocks!

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“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

The road to success is paved with hard work. There are no short cuts, and every journey is an individual one. Two of the most destructive stumbling blocks you will encounter are:

  1. self-doubt
  2. unsolicited advice

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:20

Self doubt is often created by the internal worry that we somehow do not measure up to the task, whatever it may be. In his famous book The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale gives us the secret to happiness: “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”  Self doubt tells us that we can’t succeed, we’ll never win, and that happiness in the form of success will be forever denied us because we are not good enough. The key to remember is that if we were born with a healthy ‘normal’ body, we have the same opportunities in life as any other individual with a similar origin. Sometimes we’ll have people along the road of life to encourage and help us , and sometimes the journey will be a hard and lonely one. The strongest people in life have managed to cast away self doubt and pave their own paths. There is great power in succeeding at a challenge we have set for ourselves. The reward is knowing that we accomplished what the naysayers  told us we could not do. God never gives us anything that we cannot overcome.

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The Narrow Gate

In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.… –Matthew 7:12-14

“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Burt Lance

Always consider the source when receiving unsolicited advice. Someone telling you not to fix something that works will hold you back from finding a better way to do it. Likewise, if you are doing something that  is working for you, but which is not the way that someone else is doing it, remember that everyone is different. What works for you MIGHT not work for them, and vice versa. As long as you are not doing something illegal or immoral, if it works, keep doing it.  Just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ doesn’t mean you should do it too just to appease them. The only person you are competing with is yourself.   You just need to check yourself to see if you are improving. This is easily accomplished by keeping careful records of your progress. For example, I myself have been struggling with my weight for years, and it took a lot of trial and error before I chanced upon a diet and exercise program that worked for me.  I have carefully monitored and recorded my weight for years. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I discovered a few dietary supplements, meal plans and exercise programs that broke the chains that had been holding me back.  Nine months ago I began competitive running, and now I monitor my progress with that, so I see the results. More importantly,  OTHER people have taken notice of the external changes to my physique, and they have been inspired by it. Actions speak louder than words, and results are hard to argue with. The proof is in the pudding.  If it works, KEEP doing it, never quit, never surrender!

The most important thing you can do in life is to lead by example. You are being watched all the time by everyone in your life, whether or not you are aware of it. It is better to be held up in high esteem as an example of what is possible, as opposed to being a cautionary tale of what NOT to do in life. There are too many fools who took the short-cut down ‘Easy Street’ which lead to destruction. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, live your life the right way, and remember that life is YOUR life, and you are the one who need to live it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

TEMPTED?

You are stronger than you think!

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In the USA, the 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. So the holiday officially originated in what was known as the ‘New World’ at the time. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Because some years had a fifth Thursday in November, this date was later changed from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday by Congress who passed a law on December 26, 1941 fixing the date after a public outcry when President Franklin D Roosevelt kept changing the date from year to year.

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The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879.  In 1957 Canadians established their Thanksgiving Day as the 2nd Monday of October, (which is Columbus Day in the US). Thanksgiving may pre-date both the US and Canada as countries, but it began here on the North American continent.  Over the decades other traditions such as the Thanksgiving Parade, football games, and certain foods have evolved with the holiday, and in some instances it has spread to other a few other countries. There are nine other nations besides the US that have a version of Thanksgiving which is associated with giving thanks for the bounty of the annual harvest.  Canada, Norfolk Island, Liberia, and Granada have similar versions of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving associated with the USA.  Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Japan each have their own unique versions of a ‘thanksgiving day’.    

Financially, the average cost of feeding a family of ten, with leftovers, is under $50.00 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey.  That of course is ASSUMING you have a sane amount of food, and make most of the food from scratch. Some families go way overboard with with holiday meals.  

The beginning of the holiday season marks an abundance of calorie-laden, rich fattening foods, coupled with less physical activity as people spend more time indoors to avoid the chill of winter, and lessening amounts of daylight. For people struggling with their health and finances, Thanksgiving dinner marks the first half of a double-whammy, as next month they get to do it ‘once more’ with a fattening, expensive Christmas dinner.

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Focus on what’s important.

My first permanent health decision as an adult occurred in college when I made up my mind once and for all to become a vegetarian. This was a lifestyle choice that my late mother could not quite wrap her mind around.  My mother DID NOT COOK.  I kid you not, the woman could burn water.  We ate our holiday meals at my aunt Arleen’s home. Thanksgiving dinner was easy, there were many choices that were ‘meat-free’ on the table. Christmas dinner was not. That first Christmas I refused to eat my aunt’s famous lasagna which she slaved for days to make. She made the sauce from scratch, she shredded the mozzarella by hand on a cheese-grater, she browned Italian sausage and ground beef, boiled noodles, mixed cheeses, and assembled pans of lasagna. Enough to feed everyone, except one resilient vegetarian, who ate cheese pizza while everyone feasted.  Fortunately my aunt understood. The following year, she made a small, special, personal cheese lasagna for her favorite nephew.

So, you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? The food on the table? Your personal health? Or, are the people seated around the table the real reason to celebrate? 

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Choose wisely.

Just  because there are NINE different desserts doesn’t mean you MUST eat each and every one of them.  Heavens to Betsy  if you should miss aunt Betsy’s special cracker pudding.  Or Grandma’s famous jasmine rice pudding with golden raisins and chopped pistachios. Or cousin Ethel’s pecan pie. Believe it or not, some of the more common desserts like pumpkin pie are available year round. The special family dishes that your family worked so hard making are the more important dishes.  The dishes that they made as a token of their love for their family and friends gathered.  Yes, there are signature recipes that are associated with the people we know and love, but the people are the important part of the gathering.  So ignore the more common foods when planning the meal, and highlight the dishes that are unique to your gathering.  If there are still too many choices available, your other option is smaller portions.  Maybe a table spoon of the cranberry relish, or a half-scoop of mashed potatoes.     The key is not to over-eat.

Water is your friend.

So you STILL have a plate of high-calorie fatty foods after making the agonizing choice of passing on the coconut custard pie with whip cream topping and nut meg.  Limit your drink choices to water. A glass of water before, during, and after a meal will fill you up while helping to metabolize fats and flush toxins from your system.  The sparkling juices, sodas (and in some cases alcohol) only add empty calories and will ruin your diet.

Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

The food may all taste delicious, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to register that you have eaten enough food.  By eating your meal at a more reasonable speed, you might discover that you weren’t   really starving to death after all, and you might actually get to participate in the lively dinner chatter around the table.  By giving yourself time to actually eat your food instead of shoveling it in your mouth, you may find that that second helping of whatever is not needed, because you are full.

Keep active

Yes, it’s winter and the days are shorter and colder, but there are still ways to stay active. If you are a runner like myself, you can still find winter 5K races, even on Thanksgiving Day in some cases. You just have to dress appropriately for the weather.  If you don’t like being out in the cold, there’s always the gym.  Many fitness chains have extended holiday hours, or  24hr locations to accommodate the heath conscious individual.  The key to success  in maintaining your healthy lifestyle is to MAINTAIN it.  If you fall off the health-wagon for ONE holiday meal, it’s not the end of the world. That ONE SLICE of pumpkin pie didn’t make you fat, giving up did.  So enjoy the healthy choices you made for your meal, ignore the items you passed on, and celebrate the day with your family and friends. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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TURNING BACK TIME!

Let’s do the time warp again!

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The idea of turning back time, or speeding ahead into a future time, is quite often the plot of many science fiction stories. UNFORTUNATELY here in the most parts of the USA it’s a reality, and an outdated nuisance.  Twice a year we ‘change the clocks’. Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November  at 2:00 AM when we turn the clocks back one hour to Daylight Standard Time.  To add to the confusion, not all of the USA observes Daylight Saving Time. the states of Arizona and Hawaii ignore it completely, as do all of the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. So in the Autumn, we ‘gain’ an hour when the clocks ‘FALL BACK’, and ‘lose’ an hour in the Spring when the clocks ‘SPRING FORWARD’.  Despite this little ‘FALL BACK, SPRING FORWARD’ mnemonic to help people remember to adjust their clocks  accordingly, many times they still get it wrong, either setting the clock the wrong way for some bizarre reason, or forgetting completely.  It used to also be done at a different time prior to 2007. (Back then, the time shift was the last Sundays in April and October.)

BLAME CANADA

Benjamin Franklin once theorized about the benefits of adjusting the clocks to save daylight in the Winter months when the days are ‘shortened’  in the Northern Hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.  In 1908 Canadians in Thunder Bay Ontario adopted this asinine  practice for the first time. A few years later it was also instituted by the Germans in 1916 to conserve coal during the first World War. It didn’t plague us here in the United States until 1966 when President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act under the assumption that it would ‘conserve energy’ because if it’s light outside longer, you’ll use the lights in your homes less.

Spread read the confusion

I don’t know of any person who truly believes that changing the clocks is beneficial , but it is observed for better or worse by 70 countries around the globe, each adjusting their times on a slightly different schedule.  If you are one of those people who simply forgets about adjusting the clocks, it’s not so bad in the Fall when you gain that hour, but it’s a nightmare in the Spring when people who are already ‘pressed for time‘ rush out the door only to find out too late that they are an hour late. The poet Charles Bukowski  wrote a poem about this in 1972 titled DAYLIGHT SAVING, and it is a concrete poem shaped like a time card. The poem recounts an event in which the poet went to his day job only to discover the time cards were all pulled and he was late one hour, and had to explain why to his disbelieving supervisor. Fortunately today many of our electronic devices auto adjust themselves to the proper time.

The changing of the artificial clock doesn’t reset the biological clock. Our Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles as well as metabolism, cognition, and more. It uses clues such as light and darkness to help determine when it’s time to shift into sleep mode and when the body should wake up. When we artificially change the time, our bodies need an adjustment period.  If you’ve ever flown in a plane across several time zones, like from the East Coast of the USA to the West, you probably experienced this disruption by another common term,  jet lag. It can take as little as a day to recover, but some people feel the effects of jet lag for up to several days. Also since animals and very young children do not tell time by a clock, playing with the clocks means that you may get an earlier wake-up call from your pet dog who urgently needs to go outside and ‘never got the memo’.

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Why so S.A.D?

The end of Daylight Saving Time means less natural daylight during the day. When you couple the darkness with cold Winter’s chill, it can lead to a mental state of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.  This is no laughing matter. People suffering from S.A.D. have a general feeling of less energy and moodiness.  Depression during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas and even to a lesser extent New Year’s when you are surrounded by happy merry-makers and an abundance of alcohol results in higher accidental deaths from drunk driving, as well suicides from desperate people who can’t see past their current circumstances.  Life is a cycle. We have good times, and bad times, but things do get better.  In the end, everyone of us is going to die, but it’s important how we live. There is not a person on Earth that can say with absolute certainty that they will be alive tomorrow, so don’t wait for tomorrow. This is why you don’t put off important things, like spending time with friends and family and letting them know you care. This is why it is of the utmost importance to take care of our physical bodies with proper diet and exercise. This is why it is vital to straighten our minds and our souls with  knowledge and wisdom, especially the Gospel found in the Holy scripture contained in the Bible. We can do all things with Christ who strengthens us, and  we can deal with today much easier when we have hope for a better tomorrow. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

SPARE TIME?

Living in the Moment!

SPARETIME

“We’re all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities. We are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

There are at least two things that differentiate the highly successful individual from the unsuccessful crowd.  Firstly, they handle their money quite differently than the average person. Instead of spending every cent the moment they receive it, they budget their money, save much of it, and invest.  Secondly they do the same thing with their time. 

You may be familiar with the old adage ‘time is money’.  In a very real sense it is. When you work at a job, you get paid for your time. When you invest over time, you get a return on your investment.  In fact, time is more important than money because money can be replaced, but time cannot. Every moment wasted is gone forever. Unsuccessful people usually whine about how unfair life is because they don’t have as much money as Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.  Here’s the main point. Rich or poor, Successful or not, every single person on Earth gets the exact same number of minutes each year. 525,600 minutes each and every year, with two exceptions. The year we are born, and the year we die. How we spend that year is up to us.

When I started writing my weekly blog InstantCoffeeWisdom over two years ago, the first article was The 52 Week Challenge. It was a weekly savings plan to be done over the course of one year, the end result being  $1350.00 saved to be used as you wish. Every year, I take a great vacation at the shore in Ocean City MD, that is my decision. I know many people who always whine that they never have money for vacation, so the first year I focused on microeconomics (personal finance) to help demonstrate ways to budget, cut expenses and hopefully achieve that goal set by The 52 Week Challenge. The second year, I focused on the bigger picture, exploring macroeconomics, and explaining how religion and politics are interconnected to economics, and why you should have a firm grasp of all three. Hopefully you were able to understand my points, see where I was leading you, and you were able to reach the same conclusions.  As I embark on my third year of blogging,  I’m going to focus on the topic of time. As I already stated, time is money, and we each have EXACTLY the same time each day, week, month, and year, despite financial disparities. How we spend our time is entirely up to us.

When I was a still just a young boy, the biggest time waster was the TV. I had family members whose entire lives were lived vicariously through the television. As a child, it was my ‘babysitter’. Plop me down in front of the set with a plate of snacks and I was good to go. My 77 year-old aunt does nothing but watch TV all day, or sleep. It doesn’t seem like much of a life to me, but she’s 77 and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I got rid of my TV a decade ago. I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by ‘cutting the cord’. If I do decide to watch some program, almost everything is available online and I can watch it when it’s convenient. Although the letters TV  are an abbreviation for Television, it should stand for TIME VACUUM because this activity is just a  waste of time that can suck away hours of your life each day if you let it. Now the biggest waste of time and productivity is the mobile smart phone.

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The smart phone  puts the sum total of human knowledge in the palm of your hands. You can load it’s memory with apps to help you track everything financial or health related. It is a tool that in the right hands can increase productivity and knowledge, and likewise can kill it in the wrong hands. In my youth, phones connected people. Now they divide people. The typical smart phone user touches his or her phone 2,617 time every day, according to a study by research firm Dscout. Extremely addicted individuals use it twice as much as that. The phone is NOT reality. When you spend your time looking at your phone instead of living your life, you are wasting your life. You are cutting yourself off from life and missing all the wonderful things the world has to offer when you bury your face in your phone.

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Human lives are terribly short. We live at best about 120 years, but that is not guaranteed. There are preemie babies that live a few hours, or a few days.  My father died when he was 57. I missed out on all those great father-son moments growing up without a father as a result.   We are ephemeral, a vapor, and but a blink of the eye of God. We live our lives moment by moment, stringing each moment to the next like pearls on a string. We should do our best to make those moments shine.  Time cannot be replaced when it is gone, and neither can people. The greatest gift you can give a person is your time, and the second greatest gift you can give is your undivided attention. 

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One of my close friends has cancer. I pray for him every day. I hope he beats it, but ultimately that’s in God’s hands, and worrying about it won’t change that fact. If God wants us here on Earth, it’s where He wants us to be. No man can know the mind of God, but He’s in control even if it doesn’t make sense to us now. It is up to us to use our God-given free will to be stewards of our resources, which includes not just money and possessions,   but our time and our health as well. Make every moment count and interact with people instead of tuning out the world. As always, I wish you success and happiness!       

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CONQUER THE WORLD!

Ask me how…

conquer the world

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. – Dale Carnegie

The world is made up of two types of people. Those who talk about doing things, and those who go out and get those things done.  According to a recent article printed in Business Insider  about a third of Millennials think that they are worse off today than they were ten years ago.  The question that really begs to be asked is what were these ‘eager young space cadets’ doing over the past decade to improve their lives? The overwhelming response was nothing. They stayed in the same dead-end jobs for fear of finding a better job. They didn’t invest in the stock market for fear of losing money. They didn’t save because they had just enough to make ends meet, and they feared they wouldn’t be able to.  The end result of doing nothing is nothing. Nothing happens unless someone makes it happen. You will never be able to conquer the world until you learn to conquer your irrational fears.

Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. –Dale Carnegie

If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. – Napoleon Hill

Many times, we are held back by bad habits. Laziness is chief among all bad habits. We put off for tomorrow what could be done today because we ‘don’t feel like it’ or we ‘don’t have time’ or we have ‘something better to do.’ Motivation can be difficult when we don’t see immediate results, but all things take time, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. This goes for all bad habits from poor eating habits to addictions to failure to exercise regularly. If you start something, keep at it until the task has been accomplished. Never give up. Focus on doing what you can, and then going one better.    

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ― William Faulkner

If you believe that something is impossible, and you don’t attempt it, you will never know if it could have been accomplished. Trying once and failing is not an indication of impossibility, it’s just an indication of inexperience and lack of knowledge. No one was ever an expert the first time they did something, and if they happened to do it perfectly that first time, it was dumb luck. You’re an expert when you can consistently deliver the same results, and that takes time and practice.   

Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. –Jeremiah 29:11

Make plans! If you fail to plan you plan to fail! You need to know where you are, where you want to be, and have the steps to get there. You need to know what direction to go, what tools you’ll need to accomplish your goal. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all unless you take to proper measures beforehand. Spontaneity is great when you’re stuck and need to think of something to get you back on course, but it’s a terrible way to live your life. All successful people take notes, make plans, and work from paper. Again, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. You got this! You just have to believe in the possible.

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I believe that in the end the truth will conquer. –John Wycliffe

As you continue moving on towards accomplishing you goals, You’ll encounter a lot of fake news and negativity. You need to cut the dead-weight that’s holding you back. Unhappy, unsuccessful people will be jealous of your attempts to better yourself. Success is the best revenge. There are many people you will meet throughout your life who will never accomplish half the things you do, and they will try to make you feel bad about yourself by calling you greedy or selfish. What they think of you says more about them then it does about you. Your success does not doom them to failure. They doomed themselves to failure by doing nothing and just want you to feel sorry for their poor life choices. You can’t help them, they are the only ones who can help themselves, and they don’t want to for whatever reason. If you have access to the internet, you have access to the sum total of human knowledge. Ignorance is a choice, knowledge is power, and the truth will vanquish any lie in time. Stay focused on your goals and they will become your accomplishments. You got this, and no one can take that away from you!  If you can conceive it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it! As always I wish you success and happiness!