Columns by Jerry Stanecki

You make a mistake—Take responsibility for it and stun others 

The two-bit kid brings an important message to life today 

Time to hang up on the stupid idea of cell phones on airplanes 

A little ayin toward avodah brings peace and a feeling good 

Courage doesn’t come easy and sometimes victory isn’t sweet 

Many take action, when it’s too late: Is it time for you ? 

Awake to a blank canvas, and paint a picture of celebration. 

Last Chance is today; don’t let it slip away 

Are you still a prisoner of the past, of never being wrong? 

When you’re ready to criticize someone, look in the mirror

Nasty people usually bring gifts to the party of life.  

Sometimes strength comes in unusual ways   

Life is just a tire swing when you’re doin’ what you want

Run, but you can’t hide from—feelings

The fury of the sea, friends in the mountains

The day begins with thanks

Talk is cheap—action speaks. Is fear  stealing your happiness?

It’s not easy eliminating those rent-free negatives in life

Evening news brings bad news-the commercials

Courage doesn’t come easy and sometimes victory isn’t sweet

Don’t put it off—Take time to play

Reality is living in today with faith

Now, is your chance of a lifetime

What holds us back from helping others?

A tip from one old dog to another

You make a mistake—Take responsibility for it and stun others

 ©2005 Jerry Stanecki      

 

Opening my e-mail, I smiled. I always feel good when I hear from my daughter, Anastasia. She’s in Hollywood chasing her dream by working on the production of a feature film.

 As I read her correspondence, my smile turned to a chuckle, albeit a compassionate chuckle. 

 

“Dad,

I made a horrible mistake at work that rippled over to the Executive Producer and supervisors and Assistant Director’s…and it was my entire fault. I feel terrible. I faxed the wrong map to the extras casting company so 200 extras went to the wrong location this morning. Needless to say, everyone is talking about how I screwed up. So my day is not going that well.

          And yours?

          Annie”

I laughed out loud at my daughter’s comedic timing with her closing line, “And yours?”

I’ll bet my dear daughter’s popularity soared to the top of 200 standing-in-the-rain extras’ you-know-what list. I wrote back offering a fathers suggestions.

 

“Annie,

First things first.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are merely human and humans make mistakes. Especially humans who are sick. (She had the flu and a cold)  I suggest you de-dramatize the event, and if you haven’t already done so, tell your boss you made a mistake, you’re responsible for it; you’re sorry. Most of all, forget about everyone talking about it. People talk, your mistake gives others something to chuckle about and that’s cool.  Remember, you can start your day over right now.

I love you,

Dad

I fired off the email, but Annie was already in action.

 

 

She emailed:

“Dad,

I called and apologized to the 2nd AD (assistant director) and makeup artist who was screaming and wrote an email to the executive producer and production supervisor who were both angry. I said I was responsible for the error and was sorry my actions caused a negative reflection upon all of us.

Annie”

 

 It was one of those moments. I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter. She’d made a mistake, stood tall, accepted sole responsibility for it and apologized.  Annie had added more integrity to her character.

It’s sad how difficult it is for so many people to say “I was wrong.” or, “I made a mistake.”  It’s equally amazing how ingrained it is in so many of us to immediately blame others for something that’s gone ayre.

Why?

Could it be those old pictures of fear-based beliefs that if you admit you’ve made a mistake you will lose something? That’s you’ll lose a friend, a job, a partner, perhaps the acceptance from others? Or, that you will be exposed for being “less than” —less than perfect, an expert in your field, a perfect wife or husband?

All of those fears, denials based on old pictures—dark negative pictures— fill your closet with skeletons, skeletons that hold you hostage from feeling free.

New pictures, as so wonderfully demonstrated by my daughter, are rich, nourishing, freeing acts that feed inner happiness. 

Is it time for some new pictures in your life?

                                      * * *

 

Save $4.50 on Jerry’s latest book, “Life is a Joke and God Wrote it!” Regularly $19.50 now $15.00 total. Clip this portion of the column and send $15.00 to PO Box 121, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. To receive a weekly proactive thought from Jerry, send your email address to www.jerrystanecki.com.

 


The two-bit kid brings an important message to life today
©2005 Jerry Stanecki                       

 

For just two bits, one quarter of a dollar, a 31 years old Taylor, Mi. man brought a touch of common sense to an over reactive society.

Surrounded by cheering Piston fans, Dennis Pauley had an impulsive

thought. Sitting about 15 rows from where Allen Iverson of the hapless Philadelphia 76ers was, Pauley flipped a quarter at Iverson, scoring two points as the coin bounced off Iverson’s back.

Before you could say Mississippi, a security guard was standing over Pauley who had a dumb “What me?” look on his face and I swear you could hear the chant in the distance, “Cru-ci-fy him, cru-ci-fy him.”

Pauley and his buddy, Michael Roberts were arrested and charged with being in a seat they didn’t have a ticket for. Pauley’s two bits worth also brought a charge of throwing an object onto the playing surface.

When released from custody, abandoned by his buddies, Pauley said he walked from the Palace of Auburn Hills to 12 mile and Telegraph (about 15 miles) where he caught a bus about 6 a.m.

“Did he really walk that?” I asked his father, Bill.

“ I guess so, cause he could hardy walk today. I asked why he didn’t call me,” Bill continued, “and he said he was too embarrassed, too ashamed.”

By late morning, TV camera crews and reporters were all over Bill Pauley’s lawn even though Dennis doesn’t live there.

“ I called a friend of his and told ‘em if he saw Dennis, tell him to get over here,” Bill Pauley said.

 “Who’s idea was it for him to say what he said? “ I asked Bill.

“He told me what he was gonna say, and I said ‘that sounds good.’”

 Dennis, now a nervous wreck says dad, walked out into the yard and in front of the TV cameras.

“I want to apologize to Allen Iverson, and apologize to the Philly basketball team and the city of Auburn Hills and all the fans, and apologize to my family, most of all, for embarrassing them and also embarrassing myself, too.”

          Can you believe this kid?  The nerve of him. Whoever heard of making a mistake and accepting responsibility for it?  What’s wrong with him?

           But, wait a minute. What might have happened if, when President Clinton, caught with his pants down, he would have said: “ I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I was wrong.”

           Millions of dollars wouldn’t have been wasted investigating him, and a lot of jobs that needed to be done, would have gotten done.

          Or, President Bush. “ There are no weapons of mass destruction, I was wrong.” 

Two years worth of investigating by about 1,000 people and $300 million dollars would have not been wasted.

           Kwame Kilpatrick? “Yeah, I ordered a Navigator,  I made a mistake.”

So, a 31 year old man with a drinking problem, according to his dad,

no job and no place to live, stands up, terrified in the face of adversity and accepts responsibility for his action.

          Punish him?            

          I think we need to thank him, and our so-called moral leaders might just want to take a tip from the kid.

 

                                      -0-

 

Save $4.50 on the purchase of Jerry’s book, “Life is a Joke and God wrote it,” send $15.00 to P.O.Box 121 Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. To receive a weekly proactive thought, or, to contact Jerry, send email through www.jerrystanecki.com

         

 


Time to hang up on the stupid idea of cell phones on airplanes
©2005Jerry Stanecki   

 

“Hello. HELLO. You’re breaking up,” the woman was shouting into the cell phone.  WHAT? Yes, I can hear you. You’re kidding.”

I jerked into a straight upright position like someone snapped my you-know-what with a wet towel.

          “No, I told you no, I will not allow you to do that. Do you understand, Travis?”  It was another woman, an irritated irritating woman sounding like she was talking to a child and she was getting louder. “Do you HEAR ME? ONE …TWO…”

Good God almighty, we’d been in the air for an hour, an hour of constant, aggravating, incessant cell babble.
“What are you wearing?” the sloppy fat man across the aisle sweating profusely said into his cell phone.

No it couldn’t be.

“ You are? Whoa, baby. Now, tell me what you’re doing with your right…“

Ugh, it was.

The dirty old man across the aisle was having phone —well, you know, smack dab in the middle of an A300 commercial airliner. His face was beet red and he was, I swear, wheezing,

I pushed my earplugs in tighter as a wave of nausea swept over me.

Just about asleep when an elbow hits me in the side. The woman next me unwrapped a giant size Snickers.

          I smelled onions and chili, mustard and catsup. Behind me a guy is eating three Coney’s’ jammed full of raw onion to the point that you can’t see the actual hotdogs. There was mustard and chili dripping down onto the front of his T-shirt that said, “Life ‘s a wiener.”

The coup-de-grace came when the woman next to me snapped open a can of sardines soaked in oil.

The odiferous smorgasbord was gagging me. For the first time ever, I reached for the barf bag.

Part of what you’ve just read, is indeed part of today’s reality in air travel. Jammed into seats, loaded like cattle in a boxcar, we now have to endure the stink of a half a dozen foods because the airline wanted to save money and stopped serving food. The airlines neglected to say that the cost of that food had been included in your ticket.

Now, it’s less service, more stench.

Adding insult to injury, the misguided Federal Communications Commission is unbelievably considering allowing people to use cell phones while the planes are in flight. Part of this column gave you an idea of the nightmare of noise.

Let’s face it. We are not a considerate, polite society. Generally, we do not consider others when it comes to talking on a cell phone. It’s like we want to share with the world how important our conversation is, no matter how rude it is.

       Please, fight the idiocy of allowing loud cell phone use in the little quiet air travel that remains.

       Tell the FCC commissioners “ NO cell phone on airplanes”

Write: FCC 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554, call, 1-888-225-5322, or e-mail fccinfo@fcc.gov

                                      *; *

 


A little ayin toward avodah brings peace and a feeling good
©Jerry Stanecki 2005      

 

          I opened the email and was shocked. It was a nasty, condescending message from a business associate accusing me of hanging up on an employee of his.  On top of it, he was talking down to me.

          I fired off a reply saying I did not do what he so tactlessly accused me of and that I found his message offensive and highly inflammatory.

          An hour later, after realizing after thinking about it, I sent another message to him.  “Did it occur to you to simply ask if this happened before accusing and demanding?”

          The next morning my friend Eric called.  Still irritated by the e-mail—yes, I know, I was letting it live in my life rent free— I told Eric about it.

As the universe works, so goes my life, but only when I am willing and humble enough to be open to, and embrace the gifts sent.

          “I’m reading about ayin to achieve avodah,” Eric said.

          “What’s that got to do with this?” I said. “Besides, what are you talking about with this ayim? It sounds like Popeye. You know, ‘Iyam what Iyam.’”

          ‘It’s spelled ayin,” Eric said and laughed explaining that he was reading “Mindful Jewish Living —Compassionate Practice.

  “Ayin is nothingness or egoless. It’s learning the practice of striving for treating others in a spiritual, self-less way.”

          What Eric was talking about was simple. 

          I hadn’t hung up on the employee, but that didn’t matter. She thought I did, and her feelings were hurt. Yes, she might be oversensitive, but that wasn’t the point when it came to me.  Whether she, or I, was right or wrong was not the question. If I was to achieve the joy of inner peace. If I was to achieve avodah, I needed to put aside my ego-driven need to be right.

          “But, if I called and apologized for something I didn’t do, it would be an admission of guilt,” I told Eric.

          “No, it would be an act of kindness in getting out-of-self and saying sorry for the misunderstanding, and that your (the employee) feelings were hurt,” he answered.

          Bingo, it made sense.

          I called her and explained that I had not intentionally hung up on her, which wasn’t important, I said.  What was important, I told the employee, was that her feelings were hurt and I wanted her to clearly understand that I would never intentionally do anything to hurt her feelings.  I added that I was sorry for the misunderstanding.

          She appreciated my call and thanked me. 

That’s when I slammed the phone down on her. Of course, I’m kidding.

What happened next was amazing. I felt instant relief from the stress the whole situation was causing me.  My anger toward her boss disappeared, because he didn’t matter. What did was, I had acted in a spiritual self-less way, a way I would want someone else to treat me and I felt good about it.

I like this avodah stuff.

                                                *

 

 


 

Courage doesn’t come easy and sometimes victory isn’t sweet

©Jerry Stanecki          

 

          A friend started to tell of an experience he had  at a 12-step recovery meeting. It had to do with self pity; you know, my problem is always bigger then yours.

          I protested, “ But, isn’t it violating anonymity if you tell me?”

          It wasn’t, he said,  because he had changed  names.  He felt it was such a powerful example of a problem a lot of folks struggle with, that it was important to share the story.

          We sat there drinking coffee as he told the story of a young man struggling to stay sober,  and a middle aged man who had found meaning and strength.

                                       * * *                    

           With  killer good looks of a young Brando, the 22 year old sat there. Black hair, dark eyes  filled with anxiety, the man was shaking slightly as he sat  in the church basement  on a cold October Saturday night.

          “My name is Mike; I’m an addict.” He said. “  I’m here tonight because I really want to drink, I mean, I feel it in my heart.  I worked 100 hours this week and I just want to go out and drink until I pass out.”

          Mike explained that he had been straight and sober for six months——this time. Twice  before, he had relapsed, and the last time had made a promise to himself to stay straight—-but promises are easily broken when it comes to addiction.

          “ A couple of friends called and asked me to go out drinking tonight,” he said, “Instead,   I came here  because I’m so afraid.”

            What Mike wasn’t understanding, my friend explained,  was the fear that comes with  not being “in the now.”   Mike wasm afraid  he would fail.  But,  by being there, at that meeting,  Mike  was winning.

          A few more people shared  their feelings. The last to speak was  Dick, a man old enough to be Mike’s father.

           “  I remember  when I was six months sober,” Dick said quietly. “ That was 7 years ago. Six months sober, and  doctors told me I had cancer. But I didn’t  drink over it. “

          “A few months later,” Dick continued, “ as I was recovering from a cancer operation,  a moving van pulled up in front of my house, and my wife of 24 years  packed everything into it and left me.   I didn’t drink over that.” 

          My friend says you could hear a pin drop.

          “Two years ago I met a woman in this program and found what I had been looking for all my life.   She gave me unconditional love and taught me how to love.  It’s like these tables, there’s love here, people don’t  judge you here.”

          Dick talked even quieter now.

          “ Last  August we were on vacation when she turned yellow.  A short time later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer”.  Dick paused and swallowed.  “ Two days ago she died in my arms.   I didn’t drink over that.”

          Dick looked  directly at Mike and said,  “Mike—–you don’t have to drink either.”    

          Power.  There is, without doubt, incredible power at these tables of strangers,  who share an  intimate bond even before they meet.   Strangers, who  come  believing they are so different, so unique,   that no one has their problems.

          Yet, these brothers in arms, sit next to each other and share their secrets, experiences and hopes. Surprise is common with  the realization that the person talking,  is not talking about  your secrets, but their own secrets,  and theirs are yours.

          Power and strength, gifts that remind one that life really doesn’t necessarily  get better— bad things still happen— but YOU  get  better. 

          Alone,  is almost impossible, but together anything is impossible. 

             I can’t—–WE can.

                                                            *

If you enjoyed this column, you’ll really enjoy Life is a Joke an God Wrote it.  Order today.

 

                       
Antidote to Ego disease           

 

More and more these days it looks like the making of an epidemic of inflated ego out-of-control syndrome, or, some would say, that’s  “Idiot ego out of control,” syndrome.

I dare say there’s not one of us—me included—that have not suffered from spurts of egomania—defined as, “ a dangerously obsessive preoccupation with self.” And, a lot of us have experienced the accompanying symptom—an inferiority complex.

Happily, there’s an antidote for this particular sickness. It’s called humility.

There was a plaque on the Akron; Ohio office wall of Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith M.D., affectionately known as Dr. Bob) the text is as follows:

HUMILITY

          “Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble.  It is to never be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.

          It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and pray to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”

          That’s a powerful and wonderful shortcut to truly being happy inside.

          Now, if the words on Dr, Bob’s wall plaque fail to help you defeat the “Don’t you know who I am?”  syndrome, there is this sure fire, tried and true way:

          Just remember, when you’re so full of s—ah, self-importance, announce the following to anyone and everyone:

          “Don’t you know who I think I am?”

                                       *


 

Many take action, when it’s too late: Is it time for you ?

©2004 Jerry Stanecki

 

On October 25, 2002, he crumpled up a pack of cigarettes and threw them away and never smoked again.  It was the same day the man, who had smoked cigarettes for 50 of his 70 years, was told he had lung cancer complicated by emphysema.

    In his obituary less than two years later, the mans wife could only describe his action as “impressive.”

    The obit caught my eye because of the man’s resolve . . .sadly it came too late.

    Why, I wondered, do so many of us always push the envelope, why do we rationalize until it’s too late, why do we do things that we know are harming us  ordo so?

    A couple of days later—no, I don’t make it a habit of reading obituaries, I just quickly check them— I spotted another headline “Led Matterhorn climbers.” 

    That caught my interest, so I read on.

    The obituary briefly told the story of Ulrich Inderbinen, a legend mountain climber in the Swiss Alps. In fact, he was known as the “King of the Alps.”

    Inderbinen, who climbed, (for the last time) the famed Matterhorn when he was 90, and said a final farewell. . at 103 years old.

    He climbed the 15,000-foot high Matterhorn the first time in 1921. Four years later he became a guide and climbed mountains higher then 13,000 feet while in his 90’s.

    “Stress and haste are unknown to me,” Inderbinen said. “I live as I climb mountains—at a pace that is slow and deliberate, but also purposeful and regular.”

    Hmm.

    I was reminded of a cold December night I spent high in the Alps in Murren, Switzerland, a village overlooking the valley of waterfalls. It is accessible only by gondola or train, for it allows no motorized vehicles.

    We’d checked into a small-alpine style hotel where thick down comforter covered plumb featherbed.

    Walking down the stairs that evening, I heard music coming from behind a door in the corner of the lobby. I opened the door and walked in a room right out of a movie scene.

     It was a Tyrolean tavern, filled with people, porcelain beer steins and a quite stout jovial bartender with handlebar mustache and white apron across his belly.

    In one corner, an old man sat on a three leg wooden stool playing a squeezebox. He played while puffing a pipe as people smiled and sang.

    When the song ended, someone shouted,” Yodel, yodel.”

    And yodel he did, for he next hour-and-a-half.  He told me he got up each morning at 5 to milk his 13 cows. He took the gondola up to Murren where he worked on the ski lift and yodeled four nights a week. At midnight, he’s ski down the mountain regardless of the weather: Oh, he was 75 years old.

   It’s sad that so many of us learn too late that the most important obligation we have is to celebrate the gift of life by taking care of ourselves first.  And, do so, before we are told there’s no time left.

    Freedom is indeed helped by what we surround ourselves with.

    Freedom from self comes with acceptance that being happy rather than right, is a wiser choice. When I stop trying to control the universe, and all in it, and stop resisting the natural rhythm of the universe, I become more at ease.

    Is there a need in your life for change?

                                       *

 


Awake to a blank canvas and paint a picture of celebration.

©2004 Jerry Stanecki

 

Graduation time, the successful completion of a challenge accepted.  If I were asked to speak at commencement, what would I say?

          Let’s see:

 Treat each day like it’s a blank canvas and promise to paint a new picture daily.

          Recognize that negative old pictures (learned behavior) steal your freedom and happiness.  Understand that resistance to the natural rhythm of the universe brings about resentment.

          Know that when you have food and shelter for the day, your needs are met.  Understand that your “wants” will get you in trouble, unless you command your “will” to embrace humility—for humility is teachability.

          Reject the false belief that you can control others. Accept the reality, that you control only you.

Practice honesty. When you are honestly true to yourself, without rationalization, you have created the remarkable gift of knowing there are no dark secrets to be exposed. It’s the gift of never having to fear or worry about discovery. That brings inner peace.

          Do not forget that when you’re stressed, upset, angry, look first to fear as the driving force behind discontent.  Then remember, fear most of the time is False Evidence Appearing Real, and answer fear with faith. If you live in today, fears of tomorrow, regrets of yesterday, will not steal today’s happiness.

          You have the power choice. Know that, believe that, and use that. When self-pity attacks, choose to believe that what is happening is happening for your good. Do that and magic happens.

When you’re filled with the poor me’s, it doesn’t take long to move to the next stage, as you angrily demand to know, “Why me?”   Next, comes resentment—re-feeling the perceived wrong or hurt. And, before you realize it, you’re back restarting the cycle like a dog chasing its tail.

          When stressed out, anxious, unhappy, and fearful—choose to think differently and paint a new powerful picture.

          Acceptance is the key to happiness. Remember that.

My old picture taught me I must be perfect, and it took 37 years to realize there’s nothing perfect on God’s green earth. When I accept that, all my anger, frustration, impatience transform into peace of mind. Believe it, and you will feel it.

          Resisting acceptance, doing the same thing over and over and expecting difference results, is indeed the true definition of insanity.      

Know that surrender by acceptance is not failure, is not shameful. Surrender of old pictures to new ways of thinking that bring happiness, is indeed victory.

          Practice daily not allowing others to live in your life rent-free. Accept and realize that when you are unhappy, simply look in the mirror and you’ll see the problem. Only you feel your feelings. Only you can change those feelings.

Awake each day with genuine gratitude, for your first breathe and, yes, the hard times too. When the attitude is gratitude, inner peace, feeling safe and happiness follow.

          When the world gets too heavy, life too exhausting, surrender it all. Be happy, rather than right.

And, if all else fails, I want you to remember the extraordinary and wonderful philosophy of Chuckles the clown from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

 “A little song—a little dance—a little seltzer down your pants.”

                                                *

 

 


 

 

Last Chance is today; don’t let it slip away

 ©2004 Jerry Stanecki

          The house sits on a cypress-shaded lane in the seaside California community called Carmel. It’s one of many little houses where, when you look through the front window, you see the magnificence of the great Pacific Ocean. 

Many of the cottages in Carmel are named. The Seagull, Vista del Mer, Driftwood, and so on. One name stopped me in my tracks. As I topped the hill coming up from the beach, I spotted the house. In not so large letters on the front of the cedar shake home is “Last Chance. “

          I immediately wished I would have seen that sign 25 years ago, and, this is the important part, understood the meaning then, as I do now.

“Last Chance,” what a wonderful philosophy for living each day to the fullest.

          Twenty-five years ago, I would have read it and thought  that’s too risky. Last chance to live in Carmel-by-the-sea or New York City, or Arizona, or Paris?  Without a lot of money, it was out-of-the-question. There’d be time for that, I rationalized. And, so, dreams died.

          Fear stops many of us from living life fully and happily because we live as we have been taught.

I was 45 years old before I understood the real meaning of fear. I never looked at fear in an honest, understanding way. For one thing, I was moving too fast, and, secondly, no one ever explained to me that those almost daily worries about things like money, were, in fact fear. To me it just meant work harder, make more and ignore the “worry,” or being “nervous” about it.

I’m a reasonably intelligent man, but sometimes I wonder why I didn’t recognize all those little worries, or things I’d be bothered by, or I was nervous about for what they were—fear. Instead, as many of us do, I lost sleep, was unhappy and lived a “This is very serious business, life” existence.

Finally, with help from the big guy upstairs and quite a few friends down here, I learned the meaning of fear, and more importantly, how to deal with it.

When I was afraid of not getting my way, I learned to accept that it was all right.  With that acceptance came the understanding that I had a choice: to believe what was happening was indeed best for me.

Time would go by, I’d get antsy. OK, how’s this been good for me? I’d question. When I did, I’d start getting agitated, unhappy and, you-got-it, fearful.

When I accepted that I might never understand why certain things happen to me, and that wasn’t important, I felt better. When I came to understand surrender was not defeat but victory, I became freer.

What do you think?  How has fear taken from your happiness? And, what are you doing about it? Write and let me know.

                                       *

 


For September 12, 2003

  Are you still a prisoner of the past, of never being wrong?  

©2003 Jerry Stanecki  

  

   “I was wrong.”

          When’s the last time you said that? For some it was, “Ah, ah, I can’t remember.” For others, it was never.

          It’s fascinating how difficult it is for us to say we’re wrong or mistaken. It’s equally as fascinating, that we seem also prone to quickly blame others. 

That’s when those old unhealthy pictures do what they were designed to do—destroy your happiness.

For years, I had difficulty admitting I was wrong.  But, for a long time now, I’ve freely admitted my errors. I say “freely,” because that’s exactly what happens when I accept responsibility for my actions.

Once, there was a woman I loved very deeply. She said she felt the same toward me. Yet, at times, I’d feel like I was walking on eggs, which is not good in a relationship. I wanted to marry her, however one issue from her past, became a wall to high to climb. Here’s the story.

Beautiful, intelligent, talented, Kim was the answer to my search. However, she told me that as a child her mother was constantly criticizing her, instilling in her fear and the belief that she was worth less than others.

Feeling blamed and punished unjustly for things she didn’t do, Kim’s answer to survival was to become perfect.  In perfection, there can be no criticism, blame or unjust punishment. But, as many come to understand, perfection is unattainable, because it is not real.

 In our relationship, when something would trigger those frightened worth-less feelings in Kim, the wound would bleed, and when bleeding doesn’t stop, the wound cannot heal.

Here’s what I mean. There’d be a need on my part to talk about something in our relationship. Because of the work I’ve done over the years to improve my life, I would try to discuss what was troubling me, rather than avoiding the feeling and chancing resentment.

 “Because I love you,“ I’d say to her, “I need to talk about something I feel can make our relationship more intimate and loving.”

As I’d begin, I’d see her tense up. When I finished, she would react defensively saying something like “ If you’d…“ or, “What about your…“

 As we know, when we feel criticized the first reaction is defense. In defensive, we shut out what’s being said to us. Next, we shift into anger: “How dare you say that?” which is almost always followed by attack: “Oh yeah, if you would…“

I am convinced that Kim was not hearing a loving request to strengthen our relationship. She was hearing old-picture criticism that told her that she was less than perfect. That was frightening, because it meant unfair blame, unjust punishment, and worse, the possibility of being abandoned.           Sadly, it was her inability to deal with the degrading issues of her childhood that led to a very sad and painful parting because Kim was unable to trust me. So deep is the wound, that it stops her from even a willingness to change, thereby, always maintaining a “protect thyself at all costs,” existence.

 Wow, that got kind of heavy.  Hopefully, it shows how loss of happiness can be prevented if we step up today with courage and determination to change.  Remember, what happened in childhood, and/or the fear of abandonment, has no power today unless you give it the power. Yesterday is not reality today. 

Dealing with yesterday’s demons, frees you to live today’s dreams.      

                                       -0-

To order Jerry’s book, Life is a Joke and God Wrote it!  and/or contact Jerry please go to : www.jerrystanecki.com or write Jerry at PO Box 121, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303.  Jerry answers all email and appreciates your comments. If you’d like a copy of his book signed to you, or a friend please state in order. The book is $19.50 and that includes tax and S & H.

 


 

©2003 Jerry Stanecki                                              

When you’re ready to criticize someone, look in the mirror 

 

A Viennese music critic died without leaving enough money for his burial. His friends approached a well-known composer and asked him to contribute.

“What’s my share?” he asked. 

“Thirty kronen,” they replied.

            The composer thought for a second and said, “Here’s 60 kronen.  Bury two critics.”  

           I don’t recall where that wonderful story came to me from, but I’ll bet it’s a contribution we’ll all like to make.

Let’s talk about criticism, judging others and yourself.

As we all know, there is good and bad judgments. Unfortunately, it seems, we’d become a society of more negative than positive. Quick to judge others, when we are taking other people’s inventory most of the time we forget to do the most important thing— sign our name to it.

          I’m reminded of another story. A story from biblical times.

          An angry crowd was gathered in a circle around a very frighten woman. She was accused of being a harlot, accused and judged by the angry mob that stood, rocks in hand, ready to stone the poor woman.

          That’s when Jesus arrived on the scene and said loudly, “Let ye, without sin cast the first stone.”

A little old lady slowly bent over and picked up a huge rock, Straining,

she lifted it above her head and tossed it.

“Mother,” Jesus reportedly said. “sometimes you really made me angry.”

Ba-da-bomp.

Yes, it’s a joke, one almost as old as me, and I tell it because it’s a marvelous way to deal with critical, judgmental people when the target is you.  Laugh at them, because one thing for sure is, they are being critical of you to avoid looking at themselves.

Why does being judged and/or criticized sometimes bother you so much, you wonder?

          Because we all want to be liked, accepted and no one, absolutely no one on God’s green earth wants to be told they are less than.  Think about that for a second. Less than translates into worth less. No one wants to feel “worthless.”

Criticism and judgmental temperaments of others can easily trigger a deep seeded, most difficult emotion to label. It’s shame. As a kid ever hear, “Shame on you”?

          Shame destroys self-esteem and most of the time is a ponderous emotion to carry. Shame is so sneaky it pushes us to feeling inept and powerfully bad in a matter of seconds. Shame is quite difficult to identify, especially when your healthy ego is under attack by those old negative pictures.

James Bradshaw defines shame very simply. “You make a mistake, feel badly and apologize. That’s human,”Bradshaw explains. “Shame says you are  a mistake.”

How many times have you confused shame with quilt, or with simply being human? How do you feel when you are in that state of mind? Pretty sad, isn’t it? Not to mention emotionally exhausting and joy depleting.

So, what do we do when we’re feeling badly and we pinpoint it as shame? If we’ve done something that is shameful, we acknowledge it then apologize. And, remember an apology is only as good as the behavior supporting the apology.

This all contributes to a dilemma most of us face at one time or another in life—being self critical. For some, it’s way to often.

Being hyper-critical of self only destroys. Too many times many of us tend to blame, beat and defeat our personal growth by staying stuck in old unhealthy pictures.

Is it time to bury the super critic in you?

                                    -0-

 

More powerful suggestions for growth are available on Jerry Stanecki’s audio cassettes, and in his book, “Life is a Joke and God Wrote it.” www.jerrystanecki.com

 


 

©2003 Jerry Stanecki          

 

 

             Nasty people usually bring gifts to the party of life.

 

 

          About to pull in a parking space, I was startled, actually shocked, by a red blur.  A second look, and the blur was a woman wearing a red sweater, in a red Bravada SUV. 

Like a crazed maniac, she shot into the parking space in front of me. Yes, the one I’d been sitting there waiting for. I gave her, “The look,” which she gave no indication she saw. So, as I drove around again looking for another parking spot she came marching toward me.

“I was waiting for that parking spot, “ I informed her, nicely.

          At first she tried to ignore me, when she was a step past my window she screeched, yes, screeched like a wounded owl:  “Beat me up for it.”

          Hmmm, a most unusual request, but she’s got the wrong man.

          “Madame,” I said. “I cannot oblige you, but I do owe you a big thank you. Seeing how miserable your life is, has just filled me with gratitude because mine is so terrific.”

          And, I did feel terrific, mainly because I didn’t react out of an old picture which would have been a nasty scene and more importantly made me feel badly.

“Beat me up.”

A strange reaction to poor manners, perhaps guilt?  Why would someone choose to say that unless she’s a masochist . . .or a victim of domestic violence?

          When I finally found a parking place and went into the store, I looked closer at her face. It was a very unhappy, pained face.

          It made me feel better. No, not because she was so unhappy, I felt better because I thought I had things bothering me. One look at how miserable she was and my problems seemed gold plated.

 I felt another rush of gratitude thinking how when the demons of life attack my thinking, I have a way to cast the bastards into the sea and get happy again

          It’s called being responsible for my actions and feelings.

I remind you of the story of  “Upchuckin’ Rick.”

Suffering from food poisoning, the absolute worst case of it, Rick found that he couldn’t do the one thing he hated most—stop throwing up

Suddenly, he realized that his body was working for his good, pushing the poison out. That’s when he relaxed and stopped resisting. The muscles relaxed and he felt  better as nature took its natural course.  

When you change the old picture, you ease the journey.

When things get hairy in my life, when what I want isn’t happening and so called bad things are happening, I sometimes have to suffer before I realize that acceptance of what is happening at that moment is my relief.

When I accept what is, and surrender my will in trying to force change, I relax and feel better. Remember: Things always change, nothing stays the same,

The lesson from the woman in red at the grocery store parking lot? 

Only I can change how I act, and react, thus forming how I feel. And, as we all know, what you think is how you feel.  Choose to feel happy, joyous and fear free.

It’s so easy to fall back into the old role as victim, so easy to slide into self-pity and the “beat me up “ role.

New pictures are sometimes difficult to develop, but, if you keep taking the action, the new powerful ways to feel god soon develop.

                                       -0-

                                       -0-

To order Jerry’s latest book, Life is a Joke and God Wrote it! and/or contact

Jerry please go to : www.jerrystanecki.com or write Jerry at PO Box 121,

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. Jerry answers all email and appreciates your

comments. If you’d like a copy of his book signed to you, or a friend please state in

order. The book is $19.50 and that includes tax and S & H.

 

 


                                         

  

©2003 Jerry Stanecki          

 

 

Sometimes strength comes in unusual ways

 

  

It was an absolutely horrible time in Lydia’s life, perhaps the worst she’d ever known. Separated from her husband after years of marriage, enmeshed in a very bitter and angry divorce fight, she was working 70-80 hours a week to support her daughter and herself. 

Lydia moved into a secured condo. The doors were locked but the doorbell was outside.  Her soon-to-be- exhusband was obsessed with making life miserable. Unable to get past security, he would do things like ring the buzzer nonstop.

Life for Lydia was close to insane. Then it all got worse.
One summer evening, her 16-year-old daughter, who we’ll call Mary,

was raped in a parking lot next to where they lived. 

The girl was angry and badly frightened. To make matters worse, Mary’s father, the man Lydia was divorcing, would call his daughter and talk for hours about how terrible his life was, how terrible things, like the rape, were constantly being done to victimize him.

The teenager—caught in the middle—was struggling.

Then came word that a suspect had been arrested. Lydia’s daughter was scheduled to appear in court to testify. 

Lydia was beside herself trying to think of a way to teach her daughter how to take care of herself.

“I was in the bathroom the morning before going to court worried about how my daughter could keep focused,” Lydia said. “I mean we had to get this guy who raped her off the street and her father was adding great stress.”
That’s when Lydia reached into a drawer and pulled out 15 cotton balls.  She had found her answer.

“I went into my daughters room and explained to her that all of the energy she had in her life at that moment was represented in the15 cotton balls. That’s all she had and could get no more. Then, I explained how to manager those cotton balls.”

Lydia suggested to Mary that she alone was in total charge of the cotton balls and if she wanted to give all of the cotton balls to one person that day, she’d have none left. If she needs 5 or 7 cotton balls for school, deduct those. If she needed five cotton balls for court, minus those and so forth.

Mary picked up the theory quickly, and Lydia was delighted and relieved.

“Tomorrow,” Lydia told her daughter, “You must determine how many cotton balls of energy you will need to do what you have to in court.”

The next day Mary was ready, focused and courageous and she stood tall in the courtroom. When that was over, the rapist was ordered to trial and Mary, she still had cotton balls left. . . for her.

Today, the cotton balls still play an important part in Lydia’s life.

“When I see a friend or someone who’s stretching themselves too thin and giving away all their energy to one thing or one person, I take a small gift bag, put 15 cotton balls in it, and drop it by their door.”

How easy it is for some of us to give ourselves away. How easily we, acting out of fear, give all of our energy to a spouse, child, and lover because we think we have the power to fix them.

How painful an existence like that can be.

Is it time in your life to start thinking about taking care of you first? If

the only person you truly can control, fix or save is you, and you are powerless over others, then perhaps now is the time for you.

How about it? Think Lydia’s cotton balls might help you learn balance in your life?  After all, you deserve it.

                              -0-

To order Jerry’s latest book, Life is a Joke and God Wrote it! and/or contact

Jerry please go to : www.jerrystanecki.com or write Jerry at PO Box 121,

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. Jerry answers all email and appreciates your

comments. If you’d like a copy of his book signed to you, or a friend please state in

order. The book is $19.50 and that includes tax and S & H.

 

 


 

 

 

©2003 Jerry Stanecki

 

Life is just a tire swing when you’re doin’ what you want

 

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was late afternoon when I pulled into the historic Pierce Point Ranch at the base of Tomales Point at the northern most end of Point Reyes National Seashore.

I’d driven past several dairy ranches, inhaled the sweet smell of the

sea and tried not to inhale the odiferous perfume of the diary cows.

My plan was to visit the Tule Elk reserve, but when I reached the

ranch, I discovered that it was still a pretty good hike to where the elk might,

or might not be. In other words, it was a crap shoot.

Instead, I chose to hike down the cliffs to McClure’s Beach—a choice

that brought a wonderfully rewarding experience.

About a quarter of the way down the steep trail, I spotted a whitehaired man dressed all in black. With him was a towheaded boy and a dark, curly haired little girl.

Stopping to catch my breath, I watched, wondering why the three

were moving so slowly.

Then I saw why. I was witnessing an ultimate act of patience and

support, and a similar one of sheer determination.

The boy was slowly rolling an old tire, complete with metal rim up

the cliff’s trail. Hand over hand he rolled, pushed, lifted and slid the tire,

sometimes only inches before he’d have to stop and rest.

“Hi,” I said approaching the trio.

They said hello, and we talked.

“I’m Jerry Stanecki.”

“David Hudnut,” the man in black said. “And, these are my grand

children, Wyatt and Isabella.

They had spent the afternoon at the beach, David explained, and when

leaving, young Wyatt had decided to push the old tire all the way up the cliff

to the top.

“Just to see if you could do it?” I asked.

“Nah,” Wyatt replied, shaking his head. “I wanted to make a tire

swing.”

I was taken back by the simple logic of this 12 year old. Find a tire,

make a swing. The journey up the cliff—all part of the fun because he

wanted to do it.

.         David asked where I was from, and when I told him, he smiled and

said he’d worked for the Ford Motor Co. in the legal department. He and his

wife had moved to Tiburon, Ca., just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the

early1970s when he retired.

Small world.

I looked at Wyatt and asked if he kept a journal.

“No, no, I don’t.”

“It might be a good idea to begin one, “ I said. “Writing the summer

adventures of a 12-year-old can be very rewarding years later , when you

reread the adventures. I’ll just bet you’ll be happy.

The boy looked interested.

“That’s a very good idea, “ Grandpa said.

“And, if I were you, I’d make the very first entry today’s story of the

great tire challenge: how patient and suportive your grandad was and how

you achieved a very hard task just because you wanted it badly enough.

“Isabella helped me too,” Wyatt said, not wanting to leave his sister

out.

Isablla gave us a melting smile.

We talked a bit more than bid our farewells. Watching them move

slowly up the cliff, I thought it didn’t matter that the beat up old tire was

probably too small for young Wyatt to fit into.

It didn’t matter that he’d probably ended up skinning a few knuckles

before he got the tire off the rusty iron rim, but he would get that tire off, all

right.

What mattered was when an older Wyatt looks back. I imagine he’ll

remember the day of lessons learned at Mc Clure’s beach with a warm

smile: the old tire, patience and love from granddad, help from little Isabella

Life delivers precious moments when you are available to them.

-0

To order Jerry’s latest book, Life is a Joke and God Wrote it! and/or contact

Jerry please go to : www.jerrystanecki.com or write Jerry at PO Box 121,

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. Jerry answers all email and appreciates your

comments. If you’d like a copy of his book signed to you, or a friend please state in

order. The book is $19.50 and that includes tax and S & H.

 

           

 

 


    Run, but you can’t hide from—feelings

©2002 Jerry Stanecki

 

            Melody Beattie, a noted author in the recovery-personal growth field, suggests that we learned how to deny a situation, or certain people and their actions, because of the way it felt to us. We trained ourselves; to deny or ignore how we felt because we had no choice or no say in the matter.

            Why? The answer is pain. Rather than continue to feel pain, disappointment, rejection, we develop a way to cope until we could escape the situation. Or, mistakenly, we think we’ve escaped.

            My thoughts are this applies especially, but not exclusively, to men raised for the most part to deny and avoid feelings.  “Big boys don’t cry, Men don’t cry.” Ring a bell?

            One day while sitting with a group of men in recovery, someone suggested we talk about feelings. Gino the Razor started singing, “ Fe-e-e-e-l-i-n-g-s.” Several guys laughed, others groaned at the dreaded song, but we didn’t run, we talked at gut level openly and honestly about our feelings regarding death. It was a powerful and rewarding hour.

            Stuffing your feelings, denying them, leads to a lot greater pain.

            Addiction and/or obsession to food, alcohol, drugs-street and/or prescription, work, sex are some of the ways we deal with feelings. If life hurts—eat. Life hurts—drink. Life hurts, don’t feel, focus instead on work,  shopping or… .

            One of my most exciting moments came a few years into recovery when I realized it was OK to feel, OK to take care of myself. And, with those feelings came a stranger knocking . . .grieving.

            I realized that years before, when my father died, the shock stunned me into numbness, a numbness that stayed  for 30 years. Oh, I was sad, but it felt almost like and actor playing a role of sadness. I controlled the degree of feelings and stood tall with a stiff upper lip.

            I was raised believing that fear was to be met, lived with or buried. You thought about it, then either charged head-on into it or you lived with it.

            I buried and avoided those feelings, only to contribute more to self-destruct. Like someone who finds food ease’s the pain, I drank.

            For a lot of folks that solution doesn’t work, because when the fear or pain gets too intense, they turn to the medicine—food, drink, drugs, shopping—anything to feel better, to help cope, to deny and avoid the feelings.

            Sadly, I heard Gino was back in prison somewhere in Florida. He apparently couldn’t deal with all of his fearful feelings and emotional pain because he went back to the monkey, heroin. While in an altered state I heard he did something that sent him back to prison.

            Here’s a guy awarded two Silver Stars (our country’s second highest award for bravery) while in combat in Viet Nam. Today, at fifty something, Gino sits in a cell.

            I wonder where Gino would be, if he’d learned during those years of support groups, how to deal with his feelings rather than make fun of them.

            Ironically, Gino used to say, “A lot of people create the illness to get to the medicine.”

            Turns out he was talking about himself. Or, could he be talking about you?

            Feel life; embrace solutions that come from feelings—then celebrate your victory.

* * * * * *

Jerry frequently speaks on happiness and life, including lowering stress in the work world. His book “Life is a Joke and God Wrote it” can ordered through www.jerrystanecki.com or PO Box 121, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303.The total cost is $19.40.

   Melody Beattie’s latest book is “CHOICES” —now on sale.

 

 


The fury of the sea, friends in the mountains

©2002 jerrystanecki

 

Petalidi, Greece, September

          The usual hypnotic rhythm of the sea is far from a gentle lullaby this morning. The rains came last evening, followed by heavy seas.

          Slowly at first, deceptively, the dance began. By twilight, the sea became more and more frenzied.  Sometime before midnight, the fury of the wild sea snapped the metal bracket and 1-inch-thick rope holding the jet boat to it’s mooring.  Like a toy, the sea threw the sleek yellow racing hull into the waiting rocks of the cliff.

 Somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, perhaps near Africa, deep in the bowels the Mediterranean Sea it had occurred.  Perhaps an earthquake. The earth rumbled and shook under the sea, stirring it like an over filled bathtub. As if suffering from a huge stomachache, the sea belched with a tremendous force that set forth a fury that knew no boundaries.

Just after midnight, I’d searched in the darkness for the brightness of the yellow boat. In minutes, I discovered her, capsized and trapped against the jagged rocks, each wave thrashing, battering, tearing at the body of the $22,000 ski boat.

          At dawn I find her more torn and battered. Like a fishing bobber, perhaps 10 feet from her body, a large chunk of her topside bounces up and down in the water

          By 7 a.m., under dark clouds, she’s gone.

          The scene on the beach is a frightening one. It’s as if an airliner had crashed at sea and debris washed ashore. Life preservers float aimlessly in a large tide pool. Chunks of fiber glass, foam padding, and the skeleton from one of the four seats are scattered across the wet sand.  Helplessness comes over me standing there, as the rhythm of the sea continues, a song that never ceases.

The sun begins to warm the coast, and, as the salty mist stars to lift, so does my mood, as I recall the afternoon before.

          I’d driven south from the villa. Rolling along the narrow road, passing through a village, I spotted a side road almost hidden between two ancient buildings.  Looking like a road less traveled I took it, and started a climb that led into the clouds and to the top of a mountain in the southern most part of Peloponnese, Greece.

Entering a village not on any map, I’d come upon ancient houses made of stone and mud lining each side of a narrow road, a road wide enough for only one car. I turn a corner and I am in front of the only store in the village. An old woman sits on a rickety chair in front of the door.

         A huge grapevine covers the one story building. A trunk as thick as a big mans thigh grows up the side of the store. The vines cover the roof almost hiding the Coca-Cola sign. Big, deep purple bunches of grapes hang above our heads.

          “Kalispera,” (Good evening) I say and smile.

          “Kalispera,” she replies matching my smile.

Inside, I reach into a cooler and take a coke, then notice another woman, a smaller woman, standing behind an ancient cooler in the back of the single room. Behind her lined up on a shelf are dust-covered bottles of Ouzo and other spirits.

          “Yassus,” I say. She answers with the same hello.

          The coke and a bottle of water is 90 cents.

          She follows me outside to where the other woman has now been joined by an old man with a cane. The woman gestures to an empty chair and I sit. I drink, she smiles, and the storeowner comes out and says something. She too smiles.  I smile back.

          I point to the grapes above and give them thumbs up sign, they all respond with something said in Greek and more smiles. We are communicating.

          I grab my digital camera and take a picture of the three. In seconds, I show it to them. As the picture fades in, the brightest smiles appear on all three and their smiles light the darkness of the overcast day.

 They are amazed. They are delighted. We have become friends.

* * * * * *

                                    

 


The day begins with thanks

©2002 Jerry Stanecki

            I was visiting with friend Elmore Leonard one afternoon and he told a wonderful back story about, “Be Cool,” the book he wrote as a follow-up to “Get Shorty.” Be Cool is about the story of Chili Palmer expanding his horizons from the movie business to in music business.

            While writing “Be Cool, ” Aerosmith came to Detroit, performing for two or three nights. Dutch found himself back stage with lead singer Steve Tyler after the concert—research for “Be Cool,”

            “Where do you get all those costumes?” Dutch asked.

            Tyler walked over to a huge standing wardrobe trunk and threw the doors open.

            “Wow,” Dutch said, staring at 412,000 silk scarves. . .just kidding. The wardrobe was full of colorful, flamboyant, rock star costumes.

            “ I really got a kick out of you at the music awards when you thanked your higher power.” Dutch said shifting subjects.

            “The program (Alcoholics Anonaymous) saved our lives,” Tyler said. “I’ve got over 11 years.” The “our” reference to lives is the entire Aerosmith band. All are in recovery; all are still clean and sober.

            “I’ve got 22 years, myself,” Dutch said.

            With that statement, Tyler threw his arms around Dutch giving him a big hug.

            I’m reminded of that particular story because one day while Dutch and I were sitting around talking, he explained how every morning, the first thing he does when he wakes is thank his higher power, and ask that God to run the show that day.

            “My purpose here is to be an instrument of God’s will, which to me is God’s love, and to be a channel to be used any way God wants.” Dutch said.

“I don’t think God’s will is a tornado, or a car crash, or a child dying.”

            My first thought was Dutch was talking in a pretty religious way, then I realized he was speaking of a higher power, whatever it may be to you. For him, it’s God. For me, a recovering Catholic (I can enjoy the pleasure without the guilt) it’s God and for others, higher power may be Allah, a group of people, a mountain, animals, the sun.

            I thought of that this morning, and how it’s become part of my morning ritual.

            When I wake, the first thing I do is wrap a pillow around my head. It’s my helmet pillow. I try to make my first thought is usually, “Thanks, God, for another day, for being alive and for the adventures that lie a head that day.”

            If I fail to accomplish living my day in a peaceful way and I’m thinking about the SOB from yesterday, or a week ago, I know I’m feeding resentment. That’s when I really need to shift my thinking from old pictures to new.

            Here’s a simple meditation you can work anytime. Find quiet place; put in foam earplugs—the kind that expand to block sound. They’re also terrific for travel.  The first thing I do after sitting down on an airplane is put the plugs in to block most of the outer noise. They’re also sensational while driving so I can’t hear noise like beeping, obscene yelling, and other disturbing noise like sirens. . Of course I’m kidding.

Anyway, find a quiet place, put in earplugs and focus on your breathing and only the sound of breathing. In, out, in, out. After about ten minutes, you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll be.

            Let me know how it works for you.

* * * * * *

 


Talk is cheap—action speaks. Is fear  stealing your happiness?

©2002 Jerry Stanecki

 

 

 “… Or, will you go to your grave with unlived lives racing through your veins?”

 

            These powerful words from screenwriter Mike White set the tone in “The Good Girl,” a fascinating film directed by 37 year-old Miguel Arteta. Those words drove me to the lobby to find a pen to write them down.

And, those words triggered a lot of thought.

            In voiceover, we hear Justine’s thoughts as she stands behind the cash register in the Retail Rodeo. She is reflecting over her past, present and her potential future, and life ain’t looking like a bowl of cherries. Justine is bogged down in the dread of a life and knows she must change, or be stuck forever.

            As Justine, Jennifer Aniston is impressive. She shines in the role and intimately draws you into Justine’s life; feel her feelings, her fears and confusion as she struggles with lust and complacently.

          Gee, sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?

            Director Miguel Arteta made a stop in Detroit recently and we talked about his work and life.

Born 37 years ago in a small town in Puerto Rico not too many miles from San Juan, Miguel at 16, moved to Boston where the seed for magic making began to grow. A soft spoken, intense, interesting man, Arteta says he became obsessed with filmmaking.  Not unlike Justine, he made a decision to live his life his way, and he’s not looking back.

But we can. Arteta has shown he has the touch with previous films, “Star Maps” and “Chuck and Buck.” Like “The Good Girl,” these are people pictures that draw you into the characters like honey draws bees.

Driving home from the visit with Miguel, I realized that I’ve let myself down in the past. If there were something I wanted to do in life, I would always say I’m going to do it. I didn’t want to be 65 years old, sitting in a rocking chair and wondering, if I could have.

Mike White’s line “… Or, will you go to your grave with unlived lives racing through your veins?” held my feet to the fire. It made stop and think about how many times in the past I’ve allowed fear to “interfear” with my happiness.

How about you? Are there things you want to do in life but are afraid to try?  Change jobs, move to a new town, buy a farm, get married, divorced, ride a bull, sleep in the desert, whatever it is?  Now, have you nailed what’s stopping you?

“I just didn’t have enough money to make the move” Or, the “what ifs” blocking you.

Sure, I can hear you, but that’s not important—you have to hear you. It’s only you who needs to recognize and realize then choose to change what’s stopping you from living those unlived lives. 

 It’s you who has to look fear in the face and answer it with faith. Believe that whatever you do, life will work out just fine. . .well, maybe with the exception of pulling a bank job, or maybe being a CEO these days.

You’re the one reaching for the brass ring. So, R-e-a-c-h.

Unlived lives?  Haunting words. How many of us greet the evening with “ Gee, I should have done,” or “If, I only would have?”

Before you come down too hard on yourself, remember, it’s only the evening you’re greeting, not the twilight of your years. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. . . that is, unless you allow it to be.

* * * * * *

 


It’s not easy eliminating those rent-free negatives in life

©2002 Jerry Stanecki

            Hurling through space and time, the Lufthansa jet lifts from the Athens runway. Six minutes after 6:00 a.m., on schedule. 

             Bidding farewell to Greece, my eyes shift to the east and the moon silhouetted magnificently against a crystal-clear, still very dark sky.  The dark side of the moon showed with only the bottom in crested light.

            The jet climbs, the sky begins to redden; daylight filters through the darkness of dawn.

            Quite suddenly, I’m whisked away to the magnificence of Monument Valley, Utah, as scattered clouds jut up, silhouetted against the beginning of day. The clouds look like monuments, just as it did as the sun rose over the valley in Arizona and Utah.

            Witnessing the beginning of another day, I realize I can paint any picture I want. Good, bad, bright, dark, happy or one of stress and unpleasantness. What this day would be was my choice.

            Thank you God for the journey that’s brought me to this belief.

            In a heartbeat, I flash back an hour. It was in the lounge of Lufthansa business class in Athens. Cup of coffee in hand, I searched for a place to sit.

            “Excuse me, is that seat available?” I asked.

            A man mumbled something that sounded like “Yes.” On the small round table in front of the vacant chair was an empty coffee cup. With my free hand, I picked it up and was going to take it to the dirty dish tray.

          “Would you mind?” the voice had an unfriendly edge. “That’s my cup.”

            “ Oh, I was just going to clear it for you,” I said pleasantly, giving the guy another chance.

            “I can lift my own cup,” he said sarcastically.

            Old picture options flashed in my mind.

            Should I drop the cup and say, “Oh, how clumsy of me?” Should I grab him by the thro—you get the idea. Instead, I simply told him:

           “ I will not subject myself to such an obnoxious person so early in the morning. Life would be miserable being you.”

            Ten minutes later, I caught myself still allowing this idiot to live in my life rent-free. Now, an hour later, I was still giving the jerk my happiness. I decided to shift to a new picture.

            The sun helped as it made its first appearance sending golden rays through the Jet’s window.

            “Excuse me, sir.” The accent is German. It’s the flight attendant.

          “May we offer you breakfast?”

            “Please,” I said.

            The tray is loaded with seasonal fresh fruit— slices of pink and white grapefruit and a slice of orange and one big, plump grape. The fruit was accompanied by a scoop of Greek yogurt.

            This is living, I thought, and glanced back at the jerk. You know who. \“Hey,” I shout in my mind. “Stop!”

            A selection of chilled breakfast specialties helped me shift: Prosciutto ham, bell peppers with slices of Kassen and Manouri cheese. Clutch you chest heart smart eaters.

            The entrée came. Scrambled eggs blended into a crepe pancake with ham and cheese and Ratatouille on the side

            Yes sir, I love air miles that upgrade you to business class. Especially on extended flights.

            The meal was wonderful, the service? Perhaps American carriers ought to have their employees trained by Lufthansa. This was my third flight on Lufthansa and it just kept getting better.

            As we landed in Frankfurt, for just a second, I thought of the jerk, and how difficult it is to break those old pictures. Yeah, it takes work, sometimes-hard work to eliminate negatives in life.  But, then, you’re worth it, aren’t you.

* * * * * *

You can reach Jerry at www.jerrystanecki.com. Or write him at PO Box 121 Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. Jerry’s newest audiocassette. “New Power from New Pictures,” is $12.50 total. ,” Actor/Comedian Tim Allen.

Says Jerry’s book  “Life is a Joke and God wrote it,” is “A full meal for your heart and soul

©2001 Jerry Stanecki                                                                       

 


Evening news brings bad news-the commercials

 

            It’s been a mystery and one I didn’t understand until recently. I never used to be queasy about these things, but in the last couple of years that’s changed. This  all came to mind because of a recent phone conversation I had with a young woman.

            We were to meet in the afternoon for coffee so I could give her some  promotion posters  for a speech I would be giving at her place of business.  She didn’t show. When I called to see where she was,  she became upset and told me she had written on her calendar for the next day.

            No problem, I said, then remembered that she had mentioned she had dinner plans for that evening. Thinking if they were near by I could leave the posters there, I mentioned this to her.

            “I canceled the dinner,” she said, “it’s my time of the month and my stomach feels like it’s going to explode.”

            “Ugh, thanks for sharing,” I mumbled.

            “Well, it’s nothing—

            “It’s more information than I need,” I said.

            She laughed, l-a-u-g-h-e-d at my uneasiness. That got me thinking that it’s probably the evening news that’s turned my long time open and liberal  acceptance of certain unmentionables. 

            That’s it!  I’ve become more sensitive instead of desensitized.  It really bothers me when, a couple of years ago, they started advertising Kotex, then mini-pads, then Tampex.  It makes me cringe when, during the evening news, a time a lot of people eat dinner, we’re getting blasted with medicine for vaginal dryness, hemorrhoids, constipation and,  blaring at us with the theme song  “Are you ready”, erectile dysfunction.

            Geez, it used to be if a guy was having a problem rising to the occassion the last thing he’d want is to be on TV at dinner time.

            As a society, it seems we’re becoming more and more desensitized to private matters, and that’s sad.

            Personally, I don’t want the image of a beautiful woman tainted. by knowing she’s looking for solutions for her hemorrhoids, or she’s constipated, or is “free again” because she’s found the answer to vaginal dryness.

            Gimma a break.

            I’m pretty sure women feel the same way. It’s hard to look at a hottie stud-muffin with a firm butt, when he’s talking about jock itch.

            I still feel sorry for Kevin, that little kid at the circus. It appears he’s with his grandfather, or maybe it’s  just some old guy with money who got lucky and married a 20- year-old. The poor kid misses the show because the old guy has an overactive bladder—”a medical condition”— the announcer tells us.

            I wonder how those actors who do those distasteful commercials feel when they’re in public.

    “Hey, there’s  Kevin’s  grandpa or dad. ‘Hey, hi, how’s your over active bladder?’”

            Or, when the stud with the jock itch is spotted at the local pub. .  “Hey, pal, it’s good to see you with both hands on thge bar.”

            I’m saddened by the way  our much more, faster society has desensitized us. Thank God for the mute button on the remote.

            Writing this,  I wonder what happened to the liberal-thinking Jerry?  This sounds more like a conservative George “:Dubya” Bush way of thinking. Maybe. But one thing is for sure: In this information society, sometimes the information highway gets  a little too busy for this guy to travel. That’s when I like to take a back country side road.

            At least when I stop at the diner the evening news isn’t on.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that after watching all these aw-ffensive commercials, I really need Maalox and aspirin for an upset stomach and headache.

            * * * * * *

Jerry would love to hear your thoughts and comments. www.jerrystanecki.com or write: Jerry Stanecki PO Box 121 Bloomfield Hills, Mi 48301.  Order Jerry’s latest inspirational book—Life is a Joke and God Wrote it- now, by calling toll free 888-732-8500 or sending  $14.95 plus S&H , a total of $19.50 to the above address.


 

©2002 Jerry Stanecki     

 

Courage doesn’t come easy and sometimes victory isn’t sweet

By Jerry Stanecki

 

            A friend started to tell of an experience he had  at a 12 step recovery meeting. It had to do with self pity; you know, my problem is always bigger then yours.

            I protested, “But, isn’t it violating anonymity if you tell me?”

            It wasn’t, he said,  because he had changed  names.  He felt it was such a powerful example of a problem a lot of folks struggle with, that it was important to share the story.

            We sat there drinking coffee as he told the story of a young man struggling to stay sober,  and a middle aged man who had found meaning and strength.

                                      * * *                    

            With  killer good looks of a young Brando, the 22 year old sat there. Black hair, dark eyes  filled with anxiety, the man was shaking slightly as he sat  in the church basement  on a cold October Saturday night.

            “My name is Mike; I’m an addict.” He said. “  I’m here tonight because I really want to drink, I mean, I feel it in my heart.  I worked 100 hours this week and I just want to go out and drink until I pass out.”

            Mike explained that he had been straight and sober for six months——this time. Twice  before, he had relapsed, and the last time had made a promise to himself to stay straight—-but promises are easily broken when it comes to addiction.

            “ A couple of friends called and asked me to go out drinking tonight,” he said, “Instead,   I came here  because I’m so afraid.”

            What Mike wasn’t understanding, my friend explained,  was the fear that comes with  not being “in the now.”   Mike was afraid  he would fail.  But,  by being there, at that meeting,  Mike  was winning.

            A few more people shared  their feelings. The last to speak was  Dick, a man old enough to be Mike’s father.

            “  I remember  when I was six months sober,” Dick said quietly. “ That was 7 years ago. Six months sober, and  doctors told me I had cancer. But I didn’t  drink over it. “

            “A few months later,” Dick continued, “ as I was recovering from a cancer operation,  a moving van pulled up in front of my house, and my wife of 24 years  packed everything into it and left me.   I didn’t drink over that.” 

            My friend says you could hear a pin drop.

            “Two years ago I met a woman in this program and found what I had been looking for all my life.   She gave me unconditional love and taught me how to love.  It’s like these tables, there’s love here, people don’t  judge you here.”

            Dick talked even quieter now.

            “ Last  August we were on vacation when she turned yellow.  A short time later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer”.  Dick paused and swallowed.  “ Two days ago she died in my arms.   I didn’t drink over that.”

            Dick looked  directly at Mike and said,  “Mike—–you don’t have to drink either.”    

            Power.  There is, without doubt, incredible power at these tables of strangers,  who share an  intimate bond even before they meet.   Strangers, who  come  believing they are so different, so unique,   that no one has their problems.

            Yet, these brothers in arms, sit next to each other and share their secrets, experiences and hopes. Surprise is common with  the realization that the person talking,  is not talking about  your secrets, but their own secrets,  and theirs are yours.

            Power and strength, gifts that remind one that life really doesn’t necessarily  get better— bad things still happen— but YOU  get  better. 

            Alone,  is almost impossible, but together anything is impossible. 

            I can’t—–WE can.

* * * * * *


 

 

©2001 Jerry Stanecki

Don’t put it off—Take time to play

  It moves all to fast—life that is. And too often, we’d don’t take time to really play. I mean play like a kid.

 

          The rain stopped and the sun came out. It was Sunday afternoon and Jeremy, my middle son, came over to fly my Father’s day gift from him.

            He had given me a Firebird XL, a remote control, radio-operated, ultra HobbyZone mean flying machine.

            We headed to a local football field for action.

Oh, I wanted to read the directions, but Jeremy said he’d already flown his Firebird and it there was nothing to it.

What he didn’t tell me was he had two planes already, and crashed them both. The first, a birthday gift from his girlfriend, Dana, lasted all of 20 minutes before he hit a soccer goal post.

          “It never wanted to fly again,” Jeremy said, but he got the urge again and bought another Firebird XL. It soared all right, so high that it crashed on the roof of a school.

At $150.00 bucks a plane, at the rate he was going, he’d soon be able to buy a real one

Back to Sunday.

            “Ready?” He yelled from the bull’s-eye of the football field.

          I pushed the left control all the way forward. Fifty yards away, Jeremy started running, holding the plane up high, ready to launch.

It was then, an amazing thing happened.

My son, Jeremy, so heavy with life most of the time, actually started to skip like a joyful 10-year-old. I felt a deep warm feeling of love and closeness watching my son play.

I hit the throttle and he launched the plane.

“Yahoo.”

Higher and higher the Firebird flew. It was sensational. I started getting confident and moved the plane into a right turn.

“Look out!” Jeremy yelled.

Whoa—I pushed the right control. Nothing happened. The plane wouldn’t turn. Within seconds my brand new Firebird has crashed about 50 feet up in a huge pine tree.

“Damn.”

Looking up, then at Jeremy, I cocked an eyebrow. He smiled and I laughed and it started to rain.

A warm light summer rain fell, as two little boys stood there staring up at the plane.

“We’ll never get it,” Jeremy said

“Never say never.”

I reached down and grabbed a dead branch and launched it at the tree.

“Wow, you just missed it.”

I tried again. . .and again. . . and again. The plane wouldn’t budge.

“ Will it out of the tree, Dad,” Jeremy said and I laughed.

More throwing of sticks and rocks and a half-hour later we had managed to shake the plane loose.

“Yea!” we yelled, then watched helplessly as the plane fell and got stuck on a lower branch, this one about 25 up.

“Damn.”

Standing in the rain, soaking wet, a father and son realizing they were deeply happy, enjoying each other.(which doesn’t happen too often when kids grow up)

“To the car,” I said, and we drove home.

Grabbing the stepladder to take back so Jeremy could climb the tree, I spotted the solutions.

“My son, when you are as patient a man as I have been all my

life, the answer comes.”

            Jeremy laughed at the absurdity of my using “I”

and“patience” in the same sentence.“And we, have been patient.”

I grabbed two 20 foot long quarter round pieces of oak floor molding and a roll of duct tape.

Back at the tree, we taped the pieces together and within

minutes had the plane out of the tree. Surprisingly, it was in pretty good shape.

“I want to buy their helicopter,” Jeremy said. “These planes

and trees are too hard to manage.”

“Let’s go get dry,” I said, “and maybe read the directions.”

The rain stopped and the sun slid through the clouds. I realized

what is, is , and at that moment life was very good.

 

* * * * * *


 

©2001 Jerry Stanecki                                            

 

 Reality is living in today with faith

 

            It’s raining.  It early on a late October morning and the rain started awhile ago with a flash of light followed by a clap of thunder.  It’s warm out—nice, I thought, but something was wrong, something was troubling me.

            I turned on the Today Show, and Matt Lauer was interviewing actor Kevin Kline about a new film he’s in.

            The drift of the story in the movie is that a man is told he’s dying of a terminal disease.

            Perfect, I thought, initially I was pleased that I wasn’t greeted by an avalanche of news about anthrax. Now, I was thinking, “What if?”  What would I do if?  Than, it hit me.

            The warm October rain accompanied by the lulabye of thunder didn’t bring the peace it usually does. I thought of rainy yesterdays. Of being on vacation up north and getting a rainy day. It usually came after a few days of sun and fun and plenty of activity to tire you out. Then, the rain came, giving you time for inner peace, time to reflect, maybe read, nap—replenish your body and spirit. 

It’s not there now.

It’s been replaced with uneasiness, fear, sadness, alarm, and anger. All because some spoiled brat didn’t get enough attention when he was a child. Now, the spoiled brat has become a madman and he’s using millions of dollars to buy attention, to promote the twisted scam and con job that he is God. An insane brat is stealing our peace of mind.

Ever since September 11, Americans have been living uneasy with the reality that we are, like everybody else in this world, vulnerable.  It was (italics) shocking—reality always is, but it seems the past reality really hasn’t affected us in the way the Trade Center attack has.

I’ve seen brutal death on more than one occasion . . .too many occasions, in fact.  You don’t forget. Six bodies, still sitting in their seats in the debre of a plane crash—all looking like plastic manikins—details of individuality gone. That was 30 years ago, and I still feel the reality of it.

Or, another time looking down at what used to be a living man, laying there, bullet holes stealing dignity.

Real, very, very real.

I’ve worried for years about how movies and television desensitize our children—hell, adults too. A zillion people die in movies, on TV and it’s not real.  It’s desensitizing.

“It’s the story of a man learning how to live, really,” Kevin was saying, breaking my thought. “He’s told he’s going to die, and learns how to live.”

Kevin Kline’s words brought me back to today. What would I do, if I were told my time on this planet was limited? Hell, what am I going to do, period?

Well, I’m not going to think about dying. I am going to continue on the thought path that Kevin put me on when he said—“learned how to live.”

I’m going to accept that life today is good. I’m feeling physically good. Today is now and now, if I can be grateful and peaceful, I win. I felt better with Kevin’s words realizing that I’ve learned a lot about living over the past 15 years—living in the now, today, this moment.

Wow, the door is open so I can hear the rain and a couple of chipmunks just let loose with a chorus of loud cheeping. Something pushed their buttons. 

I smiled.  

* * * * * *

                                                *


 

©2000JerryStanecki                                                 

 Now, is your chance of a lifetime

 

             Take a moment—just a moment—and think about the words, “Now, is my chance of a lifetime.”

            Got it?

            The total quality of our lives  depends on how we treat the meaning of those words. And, believe me, it’s all up to you. 

            Those words tells us it’s about choice. It’s about procrastination. It’s about fear.

            When we freeze and/or put off taking an action we need to take, we lose the moment. And when you stop and think, there’s far to few moments in life. We are only here, in the world as we know it, for a very short time.

            Too many times, in my past, I’ve  chosen to not remember how limited my time is.  Those are the times I wasn’t happy because of one thing or another—but mostly because I forgot that “Now, is my chance of a lifetime.”

            When something is causing me pain, and I remember those words, I can take action and choose a new healthy picture that usually brings peace and happiness, instead of turmoil and pain.

            When I am unsettled, nine times  out of 10, it’s because I am  experiencing some form of fear. Throw away all the reasons why I’m afraid— the bottom line is, I’m afraid because I’m not going to get what I want. We all want what we want.

            I saw the film,  Almost Famous  recently, a  delightful  movie about  hope, determination, persistence and success.  A 15 year old with a dream of becoming a rock music writer, Cameron Crowe  doesn’t really know how to do it, other than, just do it. 

            He’s befriended by an editor of a struggling rock magazine who gives Crowe his greatest gift—the editors  ear.  Always available to advise and answer the many “why’s,”  and always to encourage, the editor mentors the boy.

            Crowe persists and is humiliated, abused, made fun of,  but finally gains the trust of a struggling rock group.  On tour with the band, Crowe gets the story and writes it as it happens with all of the grit of reality.  This is no puff piece. The boy who writes deeply from his heart with seminal focus lands the cover story of Rolling Stone  magazine.

            It’s  a delightful story of  Cameron Crowe. 

            What? The name rings a bell other than from Rolling Stone?  How about the Oscar-nominated director of  the movie Jerry Maguire.?  Yup, one in the same.

            When I’m feeling beat up, knocked down, stressed out,  I need to remember the attitude that’s brought me so much pleasure in life; Just do it. Just like a 15 year kid,  I  go ahead and try. . .and try. . .and try.

            People would say, “Aw, that Jerry just don’t know no better.”  And, I wouldn’t, which was great, because when you “don’t know no better,”  you sure don’t fail because of disillusionment.

            Those victories  are memories now—yes, most of them ended with terrific success because I didn’t forget, ”Now, is my chance of a lifetime.”

            When unpleasant things happen in my life today, I choose to believe it’s happening for my good.  When I believe that, I stop from getting bogged down by  self-pity, anger and  resentment— things that steal my happiness.

            In this insanely stressful world, I must remember, I am responsible for me. When I’m stressed, angry, fearful, only I  can bring about sanity and happiness.

            Yes, I know it’s easy to say and difficult to do, but—”Now, is my chance of a lifetime.”

                                                            * * * * * *


©Stanecki 1999

What holds us back from helping others?

 

            I’d been writing for a  couple of hours and was feeling lethargic. Stopping, looking out the window at the dark, I figured a cup of coffee would juice me up.

            Walking  up the stairs in first morning light, the sun was starting to send out pink rays, as a  deep red glow filtered into dawn.

            The morning was quiet, as all Sunday mornings around here are with no traffic on the road. It was peaceful— I was troubled.

            Deep in thought, I poured the coffee and just as I put the pot down, I heard a loud thump. I knew exactly what it was. A bird had flown into the glass doors.

            I looked out and there on the porch, sat a little chickadee. It was stunned, so stunned that when I opened the door and walked out, it didn’t try to fly.  So stunned that when  I moved my hand close to pick it up,  it didn’t move.  Gently, I lifted  it into my other  hand. and it sat quite still.  I suppose I’d be quite still too if I’d just knocked myself for a loop.  Half the size of my hand,  it looked at me as I stroked  its  head.

            It  shivered for a second, just enough to make me realize it was cold before the sunrise, so I blew warm air into my hand.. It seemed to like that, seemed to be comforted by the warmth.

            I walked down the road to get the newspaper and my new friend rode along. When I picked the paper up, the chicadee started to squiggle and squirm.. A good sign, I thought; it was ready to fly again. Blowing into my hand  I warmed  it one more time.

            Opening  my hand, the little  chickadee looked at me for maybe a second or two and flew off. It managed  about 20 feet before falling to the ground. 

            I walked over, picked  it up, rubbed  it’s head, and set it in the top of a Austrian

p ine tree. The chicadee shook its  head and seemed  to get a second wind.  Both of its feet gripped the branch as  it perched in the tree looking  like it was going to be just fine.
Funny, how most of the time, humans don’t think twice about  helping a wounded animal, yet when it comes to helping their fellow human beings, there is something that holds us back. Something, whether it’s fear of lawsuit, repercussions or whatever, stops us from reaching out and extending a hand with absolutely no motive other than to help, comfort, heal.

            Recently, a woman at the grocery store was suffering chest pains and said she’d had some heart problems.  Having  my own heart problems, I offered her one of my  nitroglycerin tablets. With chest pains, you take a  tablet, and if the pain eases it means get to the emergency room fast.

            A couple of days later, I saw her and she told me the doctor said she was OK.  But she sure had a headache from her doctor ragging on her, and  I had a pain in the you-know-what, from people telling me I was crazy to offer help— I could get sued.

            Why have we come to that, I wondered sadly.

            My deep thought was broken by the sounds of  my grand children, who had spent the night, waking up.  I told them the story of the chicadee and suddenly realized something very special.

            “ As long as that little chickadee lives,” I said to Heather, Shayna and Dylan, “it will be different from all other birds.  Different, because it will always remember that on a quiet Sunday morning, when most of the city slept, and  it was hurt, alone and afraid, a stranger—a human— touched it  in a way it’s  never known and had given it hope..

 

* * * * * *

 

 


©1999 Jerry Stanecki

A tip from one old dog to another

            The black dog suddenly appeared ahead at the curve in the trail. His tail wasn’t wagging and I guessed he hadn’t seen me yet. I moved ahead cautiously on my late afternoon walk in the forest, a walk I had delayed , doing everything I could to avoid it , because I was feeling discouraged.
The dog got closer. Suddenly, a woman came around the curve. An older woman she was with thick white hair and a cane. She was walking maybe twenty steps behind the black dog.
About six paces in front of the woman, moving at about the same slow-but-steady pace, was a small, short legged ruff looking mutt. It was probably of the terrier family.
I approached the black dog and could see he was young. His tail started wagging and I figured I wouldn’t have to fight this beast to the death. Imagination adds excitement to a walk.
“Hi there,” said the white haired woman as I approached her. Short stuff still trotting in front of her looked up at me. It seemed like the dog didn’t see me.
Turning my attention back to the woman, who had stopped and was now leaning on her cane, I replied,. “Hello, How are you doing? ”
“And how’s the little one?” I asked looking down at the dog, who had paused .
“He’s 18 years old,” she said, with a smile, ” blind at night and stone deaf, but he thinks he’s a young lion.”
The little dog, tired of this social chit chat in the middle of his evening walk, trotted ahead alone.     Clearly, he was tired of waiting.
“God bless him. He thinks he’s Don Quixote.” I added, thinking of the old, tired Don Quixote, locked in a prison cell, shouting, ” Sancho, my sword, my armor, ” as he dreams of conquering the impossible
“Yes, he’s quite a lover,” she added.
Just then, for some reason, I know not why, the little dog stopped, turned and looked directly at me. It was as if he was saying to me: “You’re discouraged, depressed, huh? Have you forgotten, you are what you think.” He turned and, I swear, started strutting as he headed away.
I smiled at the old boy, then at his mistress as she said farewell and walked on trying to catch up with her old, blind and stone deaf lion.
It’s exactly what I needed  –  a reminder from one old dog to another who was feeling discouraged.
I walked further into the woods, thinking about how life serves up wonderful messages  –  most of time, right when we need them. Again proving that if one pays attention to the universe, the universe will guide you, will give you help.
I thought about feeling blue and the frustration of not being able to put my finger on why. That’s the toughest thing about any kind of depression, not being able to nail the cause down.
I thought again of Don Quixote. Though he lay hopelessly in a prison cell dying, he still had faith.  He still dreamed of accomplishing the impossible dream.
As I walked past the pond, it was starting to get dark. I realized that I, by my thoughts, by my discouragement had put myself in the prison cell of my mind. It was not the impossible dream to get out of the darkness. I didn’t need my sword, my armor  –  all I need was my Sancho, and my Sancho was a little old dog who’s name I didn’t even know.  It was dark now, but my spirit felt lighter. I started home whistling “The Impossible Dream”.

* * * * * *

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To contact Jerry. please email: jstanecki@yahoo.com or write Jerry at PO Box 121, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303.