Is your inner voice calling you?

For years I have been saying a prayer, “God, just show me what I’m supposed to do. Why was I created?” I’m sure that I am only one in a billion that have ever uttered that prayer. Many times, we need that divine inspiration to be able to see our way, to understand why we are here in the universe. Other times, it has already been shown to us, but for some reason, we push it away due to past hurts or disappointments. The latter is what I have recently discovered I have been doing, ignoring it due to past hurts. I just figured this out, last night, to be exact.

I sold our business at the end of 2020 and also sold our big house at the beginning of 2021; two big changes. I did what I felt I had to do in order to fulfill my destiny. I didn’t know what that “destiny” was, but pulled the trigger based on faith that God and the universe would show me. I mean, I had been asking what my purpose was for over 3 years! Surely after semi-retiring and selling the big house it would be revealed to me soon. Cue the Jeapordy music. After a solid year of “enjoying” retirement, I found myself getting more and more depressed. When people would ask me what the “new thing” was, this was pretty much my reply.

Kip from the movie Napoleon Dynamite

Finding your voice

For several years, I had a social media guy that would help with our company advertising. He also would help me out on this blog. His constant reminder was, “You need to find your voice.”, so much that I didn’t want to hear that statement ever again. Even though I didn’t want to hear it, it was a constant drone in my ear. “What is your purpose? Where or what is your voice?” After a while, you get sick of the question because like Kip said to Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite, “At the moment, nothing comes to mind.”

Ignore the voice

Are there times when you are involved in an activity where you say to yourself, “THIS, I KNOW that I am good at.”? For most of us, it isn’t hubris, it’s an acknowledgement that we were given a certain edge, talent or skill, something that we can’t give credit to just hard work or constant practice. It is something that we become good at due to the enjoyment we get from that activity. There is a short feeling of fulfillment while performing that activity. Many times, we leave that activity and say to ourselves, “I am going to do something with this talent.”, but then walk away to get involved in some other sort of activity, leaving that spark of inspiration on the table, garage, court or instrument. We ignore the voice, just like Elsa did in the movie Frozen II.

Elsa from Frozen II
The Walt Disney Company

You’re not a voice
You’re just ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t…
I’m spoken for I fear

Listen to that voice during the activity

Many times, I share my constant flood of thoughts to my wife. I told her just last night, that unless I find my voice, my contribution of posts, YouTube videos and other activities would simply be a smattering of Gill’s endless imaginings. I did share that what seemed to bring joy to others, was when I would play the piano. I have played the piano since age 6 and KNOW that it is something that is not just due to countless hours of practice. I do enjoy it. It is my therapy. I get pure joy and satisfaction from either playing other’s music or writing my own. It is NOT a voice that I have considered calling my own for some strange reason. I have pushed that voice away, just like Elsa did. Another stanza in the song is:

I can hear you but I won’t….
Some look for trouble
While others don’t
There’s a thousand reasons
I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers
Which I wish would go away

It is time to answer the voice

There comes a time when it all makes sense, it all comes together. You have that aha moment or you simply collapse in emotional exhaustion and answer the voice that has been calling to you all of these years. It doesn’t matter if you are young and just starting out, or 66 like me.
It’s time to stop asking the question “Why don’t I pursue this?” and just begin. You may have some emotional hurts in the past that have caused you to push that voice away, but there comes a time when psychotherapy isn’t needed. Quit trying to understand why you ignore the voice and ANSWER THE DAMN VOICE!! Just begin, start, commence, initiate and stop shooting your voice every time it calls.

Don’t shoot your voice

shoot your voice

Make sure that the next time that your voice calls to you, you don’t shoot your voice.
At times we do so much to stop what we feel is it’s clamor. We acknowledge it, then we shut it up, almost keeping it hostage within us. The voice isn’t a bully. It’s a small quiet voice, (remember the voice that Elsa heard) almost the voice of God, for where did this talent or skill come from in the first place? It is a gift to you. We tend to take the gift for granted, due to it always being there.
Your voice is calling you from the deepest parts of your soul. Don’t wait until you are my age to listen. You were created for a purpose. You were given skills that set you apart from others. Listen to your voice. It won’t scream to be heard, just a quiet whispering, waiting to be heard.

The Metaverse sucks

So, why do I feel this way?

I’m no newbie to the online world, having made my living in it, but with the proliferation of phone automated menus and online chat, speaking to individuals who reside in our country is a rarity. We have had an issue with our Verizon account. I have utilized the mobile and desktop apps to no avail. Even though our account seems to be fixed each day, the following day we receive texts that our devices are once again unregistered. I went into the Verizon store only to find out that they could not help me. I HAD to go through their mobile app to resolve my issue. All they were able to do was to sell me a new phone. Ugh!

Is digital really better?
metaverse

Per Oxford Languages, “The Metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.” Isn’t that just peachy. Instead of face to face relationships, we get to spend MORE time behind our digital devices. More online chats, more voicemail prompts, more texting, more emojis instead of real smiles, more non-human contact. As if the past 2 years of the pandemic hasn’t separated mankind enough, the digital powers to be have decided that we need MORE solitude and people hiding behind their input devices.

How did you enjoy online shopping this Christmas?

Amazon smile

I’m a boomer. I remember the days when we actually went out and shopped for Christmas presents for our friends and family. There was an excitement in the air as we perused all the different options and had real conversations with the people selling their wares. An exchange of Merry Christmas could be heard as you left the counter to go on the hunt for that next gift, making sure to stop at your favorite place for lunch with friends or family. No Door Dash meal after simply clicking boxes off of your friends and family’s Amazon list, clicking the box for the ‘Gift Bag’ in those amazing colors. I don’t know about you, but seeing items disappear off of my Amazon list meant that someone had bought this gift for me. So much for a surprise, but then I did get what I wanted. Hmmmmm. So much of this Christmas was delivered in boxes that sported that “smile”. I felt so damn lazy after punching that “Submit Order” button. Also, the poor mom and pop stores that were paying people to wait for me to show up and buy something waited in vain!

Don’t let the Metaverse rob you of a REAL life

Girl on laptop
Toyota image

I’m not sure if you remember the Toyota commercial where the young lady on a laptop is viewing her Facebook feed, looking at images of a puppy. She says “is that a real puppy?” and then comments about her parents who are missing out on life by not living in their Facebook world. The next scene then switches to her parents riding bikes on a mountain trail, laughing and enjoying the fresh air. She sees her parents only have 19 FB friends compared to her 687 FB “friends”. Poor unconnected parents.

I intend to live my life large and real. I know that I cannot change the future for everyone, yet I can guide the direction of my own life. I will shop small and often. I will maintain and build real face to face relationships and I will keep my screen time to a minimum. This being said, signing off for today. Merry Christmas!

Troubleshooting is my game

30,000 foot view
30,000 foot view

When I ran my own company, I had the ability to take a 30,000 foot view of our company. Where was it headed? What was lacking? What did I need to apply my focus to? By not getting involved in the minutia, it gave me the ability to solve bigger problems. I was able to see the business through our customer’s eyes, not from an owner’s perspective.

One thing that I have come to learn over the years is that I have a knack for troubleshooting. Whether it is a business problem, mechanical failure or innovative ideas, this is where I excel. Owning multiple websites, both ecommerce and informational for over 20 years, I can spot what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to websites, I am a one man usability lab. I can tell you what is easy and intuitive to navigate or what makes me want to leave your site. How about your follow up after a sale or initial contact? Are customers receiving what they expect to receive from your company?

For building an mortar businesses, your relationship begins not when they enter your door, but what they locate about your business online.

Do you need a fresh set of eyes for your business or for your idea? Can’t see the forest for the trees? Give me a try. After learning about your business or idea and it’s inner workings, I will give you my feedback from a 30,000 foot view.

Tesla/Hyperloop/Starship hybrid

Here is an idea for @elonmusk and three of his companies. Create a hybrid of the launch power of the Tesla Plaid car, utilizing Hyperloop technology with the Space X Starship rocket. I know what you are thinking. How would you do that? Hear me out and I will explain.

Railgun powered rocket

I realize that this is not a new idea. NASA supposedly has come up with this idea, but Elon owns 3 companies that could combine their skill-sets and pull this off! Basically, you would install a rail, I mean a really long rail, possibly a 2 mile long rail. You would angle it at 30 degrees. Utilize electro-magnetic propulsion to slowly increase the forward motion to a max of 3 g’s. I would imagine that lighting the Raptor engines prior to energizing the rail would be best to be sure that they all fire. Once the rail system energizes, slowly increase the throttle on the Raptor engines so that by the time the Starship hits the end of the rail, it has been released from it’s carriage and has enough velocity to continue it’s flight.

Less LOX, more payload

Utilizing this method, you could put more resources towards payload and less to propellant therefore making a shorter spacecraft due to the propellant/payload ratio being lowered.

Image by SiteSeerX

It is worth exploring, and who better at utilizing resources that are at hand than the Space X, Hyperloop, Tesla team!

Beware of dream killers

Have you ever had a dream, only to be killed by a dream killer? Maybe it was someone that you looked up to, only to find out that they thought your dream was silly or stupid.

When a dream is in it’s infancy, they are very fragile. Sara Blakely of the product Spanx, made sure not to share her idea for a solid year. She knew that she had a great idea, but she also knew that well-meaning friends and family would shoot her idea down in the interest of “protecting” her from failure. Sara is now a billionaire thanks to her product Spanx. (Hey that rhymed! Thanks to Spanx, she laughs, going to her banks!) Eventually dreams need to be shared with others, especially if you need to bring others into your project for it to succeed, but take time to let your dream congeal and solidify before opening it up to others.

name tag hello my name is dream killer

It was 1971. I was 15 years old. I had an uncle that I looked up to. He worked on Capital Hill and felt that he was in the know. I shared with him my dream of becoming an aerospace engineer and going to work with NASA. Hearing my dream, he told me, “The moon mission is over. NASA will be on the way out. This is a bad decision. Go with something else.” Right then and there, I gave up on my dream. I had been interested in rocketry and the space program for as long as I could remember. I would even stay home from school just to watch the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. With one sentence, I gave up on my dreams. He was wrong. NASA continued to develop programs. Do you remember the Space Shuttle? It went on way past 1971.

Ever heard of FedEx?

In 1965, Yale University undergraduate Frederick W. Smith wrote a term paper on changing the logistics of expedited freight. He suggested creating a company that could deliver time sensitive items overnight. His term paper received a C from his professor. Smith’s professor was a dream killer. Fortunately for us that have benefited from FedEx over the years, Smith didn’t swallow the cynical pill that his professor handed him. He purchased controlling interest in a company called Arkansas Aviation Sales. He renamed it Federal Express and the rest is history

Are YOU a dream killer?

If life has handed you multiple disappointments over the years, it is easy to project this onto others. Maybe your job focuses on risk mitigation. We all want to minimize our risks, yet not at the expense of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Make sure when listening to someone’s idea or dream that you let them tell you all about it without giving them instant feedback on what they should not do. If you see them running head long into an important legal nightmare, simply tell them, “This sounds like a great idea, (even if you don’t think so) just be sure to look into X while you are developing your project.” What you do not want to tell them is, “I’ve heard about projects like this before. Let me tell you the problems that they ran into.” Your desire to “protect” them may just kill their FedEx idea as they continue to work in a job that they hate, watching their dream realized by someone else that had a thicker skin.

Keep your dream close to your chest

As Sara Blakely did, don’t share your dream with others until it is well seated within your being. Internally, work on your dream behind the scenes. You need to do the work that will give you the momentum to fight through the dream killers when you do go “public” with your dream. Even though friends and family want to “protect” you from failure or worse, a wrong word spoken in haste can kill the most promising dream.

It is better to have dreamed and failed than to keep the dream only in your mind and to never act on it. As adults, we have been told to face reality and not to dream. Dreaming is for children. Dreaming comes from the right hemisphere of our brain. As children, we spent more time utilizing the right side of our brain than the logical left hemisphere. Many of us have lost the ability or even desire to dream, having had them shut down by others. Dare to dream. Wake up that sleeping part of your brain and watch as dreams turn into reality, but watch for the dream killers. They creep about waiting to find yet another victim to add to the ranks of pragmatists.

dare to dream text over clouds

Patience, no thanks!

Patience is not one of my virtues. Living in a microwave world, many of the things that we have in life acquired instantly doesn’t help.
If you view the success stories of many, it appears that they became successful overnight; au contraire mon frere! It takes hard work and perseverance to become successful at anything. What we see many times is simply the end result of much hard work. We see articles titled “Overnight success” and “Instant hit”, but the real truth is deep within the article.

Haste makes waste

Typically I have found, if I do a project without the proper planning, I end up having to do much of it over again. This isn’t to say that some things in life shouldn’t require quick decisions and prompt action. More than not, most things should be like a good stew, taking time to simmer and let all the ingredients work together.

At my age, I feel that a wasted day is one day less that I will have to accomplish a goal. By not taking time to think and have ideas come to me, I tend to chase after ideas that are not well thought out. While I’m at it, I will throw in the word “relaxing”. I’m not good at that either. Combine little patience and not able to relax and you end up with a stress filled life and a nice helping of anxiety. Usually my body lets me know when it needs a break, not physically, but mentally. My body likes to manifest certain aches and pains that tell me, “Hey dude, I’m not enjoying life, and I am going to manifest this X to let you know!”

Chasing after windmills

Like Don Quixote, I am beginning to understand that I tend to chase after windmills.

I seem to be looking for the ever elusive idea or project that seems to elude me. Chasing after it, it seems to be always one step ahead of me, outsmarting me. I have talked to many that have said that their great idea came to them when they weren’t looking. They weren’t out there chasing after it. It was rather serendipitous. Relaxing and having patience are two virtues that I am going to begin trying to achieve. I have chased after these windmills and I keep getting knocked off of my horse.

The harder I work, the behinder I get

This statement seems counterintuitive. I know that multi-tasking has been a buzz word over the past 10 to 20 years, but can anyone really multi-task and do an effective job? There are those that say, the super competent only do one thing at a time, so as to limit multi-tasking to maximize productivity. Multi-task thinking also is part of my ‘no patience, no relaxing’ mentality as well. I want to get much accomplished at the end of each day, so I start multiple projects. At the end of the day, I simply have multiple unfinished projects. There isn’t much of a satisfaction feeling in that.

If you can relate to any of this, I challenge you to start to learn to relax. Allow time for creative thought and then slowly build a good foundation on those creative ideas that do come to you. Patience is a virtue that will help you build whatever that goal is that you have or that you discover.

Has Covid19 become your excuse?

I was talking to my parents the other day. They are both close to 90 years of age. I said, “Does it seem that people are using Covid19 as an excuse not to be sociable?” I don’t mean their actual physical presence, I mean just an excuse to not be sociable by email, phone or even text. They both said that they have noticed that many of their friends have sort of disappeared, even their digital presence is no longer present. Once Covid19 made them shelter in place, they also seemed to feel that reaching out to others was contagious as well. Sure, they see a Facebook post, but that is not reaching out.

social distancing

Covid19 seems to be the perfect excuse for cutting people out of your life. When a friend is ill or has a major life change that keeps them from being able to cook, in the past, I’m sure that you would have offered to bring them a meal. Now, it’s “Oh, I would help, but you know, Covid19 doesn’t allow me to get near you.” So, you can’t cook a meal, order a pizza and leave it on their doorstep? I call that lazy. I also call that a poor excuse for not being a friend.

I don't need you, I have wifi

Introverts love Covid19
Many introverts are loving this whole pandemic. This is the perfect excuse to not have to be involved with anyone. You get to work remotely. You don’t have to even get dressed. They can order everything online and wait for it to show up at their doorstep. This is their time to show everyone that they don’t need anyone.

Maybe I am one of the strange ones, but I need people in my life. Relationships are important. I know that we need social distancing, but this doesn’t keep us from calling our friends to maintain those friendships. It is times like these that show who your true friends are and who are just posers.

Have you allowed Covid19 to grant you an excuse for not being a friend? This pandemic is bad on so many levels. It’s not just your health that it is affecting. If you are clinging so tightly to this life that you insulate yourself from people that have brought meaning into your life, I feel sorry for you. What you cling to so tightly, karma has a way of peeling your fingers away to show you that whatever you are clutching can be lost.

You can’t go back again

It has been said that “you can’t go back again”. There is a novel by Thomas Wolfe with this title. This phrase has different meanings for everyone who experiences it. “Going back” may mean going to an old place of employment, your old neighborhood, an old club or many other things. People and situations change over time. When you have been gone for an extended time, you are out of touch with the changes that occurred in your absence.

Norfolk VA waterfront
Tourism Information in Norfolk Virginia – VisitNorfolk

I used to live in Norfolk VA many years ago when my children were small. We went to a great church, were members of the local swim club and had great relationships due to our involvement with all of these organizations.
We lived in an urban area where it was easy to get to know people. As the kids started to grow, I longed to get them out in the country to experience the type of environment that I had experienced as a child. We moved our family to the country in Chesapeake and raised our children until they were grown. Now they have children of their own.

Fast forward 30 years. We moved back to Norfolk where we raised our children. I had the desire to “go back again”. This time, instead of raising kids, we have grandchildren who come to visit us. I started to go back to the same church and places that I used to frequent 30 years earlier. I figured that I could just slip back into those relationships and organizations that I once belonged to. Well, 30 years is a long time to be away. The organizations were still there, but the people that I knew had retired. There were new people who didn’t know me from Adam. Trying to rekindle old relationships has been hard as well. My old friends have formed new relationships during the vacuum of my absence. We rarely get invited for their get togethers. When they have weddings for their children or go on European vacations, we only get to see the pictures. I gave up those relationships and others filled in the void as they should. I guess you can’t go back again.

Surely he will remember me

Today, I went back to another city where I used to have an office. It has been close to 20 years since I have been there. I stopped by a place of business a couple doors down from where I had my office and found the owner of the business that I used to see almost every day. He didn’t recognize me. I reminded him who I was and that I had the office next to his years ago. He then said, “Oh yeah, now I remember. Nice to see you. Take care.” and then he went in to his office and shut the door. No, “How has it been” or anything. I guess you can’t go back again.

When I was in my 30’s, I used to be on the board of several different organizations. When I returned to Norfolk, I joined one of these organizations, this time as a volunteer. Most of the volunteers were a lot younger than me. I felt like an old fogey. I still had the energy and ideas that I used to have, but I couldn’t relate to what they were going through due to the age difference. My ideas didn’t resonate with them. Not experiencing any of the old synergy with my compatriots, I decided to not continue to volunteer. I guess you can’t go back again.

table and chairs for board of directors

This isn’t supposed to be a whoa is me blog, really it isn’t. It’s just that I realize that people change, places change and that time doesn’t stand still. It waits for no one. You either are there while the change is happening and slowly you change and evolve with your friends and surroundings or you come back to change only remembering the past. I expected life for them to stand still, that I was the only one that changed. I have my memories, good memories, but that is all I really have. Time has marched on.

It is time to move on. I make friends easily and I am proactive. I tried to come back again but you can’t escape the passage of time. You can’t recapture it and plunk it down to live up to your expectations. Wherever I end up, I know that I will form new friendships and get involved in new endeavors. What I have learned is that the memories of each neighborhood and activity that I was involved in will never go away. They are tucked away, within the fabric of my mind. Enjoy the memories. Relish the laughter and the good times that I once had. I will create new memories each and every day, wherever I find myself.

Are you over 65 and boring?

I’m now 65 and I have realized that over the past 20 years I have started to take less risks. I am starting to feel boring. I do NOT want to join a retirement community or start wearing socks with my sandals. I feel that my nads have started to shrink. I just don’t have them like I used to. It’s not that I am afraid to take risks, fun risks, not stupid risks; I’m just less excited by them. This lead me on to an internet search of why older people tend to take less risks than younger people. It is due to a substance in our brain called dopamine. For every 10 years that we age, we lose X % of dopamine, the substance that causes us to be excited by risk taking. It is known as the pleasure hormone. When we work out or do a cardio workout we experience higher levels of dopamine, especially if we work out hard enough to enter the “zone”.

chemical structure of dopamine

As we get older, one would think that due to having fewer years in front of us than behind us, one would be more prone to increase risk. What do we have to lose? When I was younger and had less dough, I wouldn’t think twice of buying an old house just to flip it or buy a used car that I had always wanted only to sell it 2 months later. Now, even though I can afford it, the idea hasn’t even crossed my mind. This realization today was a major downer. At first I chastised myself for this lack of chutzpah, but after doing a little research I realize that it is due to this unfair waning of the hormone dopamine.

I’ve also noticed this among my peers. A couple of months ago my wife gave me a birthday present that allowed me to race super cars around a formula 1 style raceway. I gave it all I could give. I only got up to 140 mph, but it was a blast. I shared this with my friends who are my age and they looked at me like I was crazy. I then accused them of not having any balls, but today realized that I have also declined in risk taking activities as well. I don’t like it in my friends and I don’t like it in myself. At first I thought that it was just clinging to life that made me and my friends act like scaredy cats, but it’s not that. It’s dopamine leaking out of us all so slowly that we are like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled in a pot of water, yet never noticing it.

frog in boiling water

I would wager that most people don’t mind the slow acceptance of the safe life, but for people like myself that have learned to fly, buy and sell homes at the drop of a hat, learn to do pairs figure skating at the age of 45, quit a successful job and start up a new business, create my own rocket fuel and fly rockets, playing it safe doesn’t suit me. I detest it. I just didn’t notice that I was becoming that proverbial frog.

single engine aircraft flying

With all of this being said, as of January 1, I will begin to make a radical change. I will chronicle it as often as I can. I will “rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

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