Category Archives: Thoughts

Thoughts that pop into my head. Things that I ponder from time to time.

New Project to Highlight Disney Imagineers

Have you had a chance to watch ‘The Imagineering Story’ on Disney + directed and produced by Leslie Iwerks?
I don’t know about you, but I love how Leslie has tapped into the mind and heart of the Disney Imagineers.
At Unlimited Ideas, we are taking the stories of the Disney creatives and building something that while you are in the parks, will bring you the details of what they have created in the past, present and future.
Stay tuned!

The creative mind as a flywheel

What is a flywheel anyway? Per Wikipedia, A flywheel is a mechanical device specifically designed to efficiently store rotational energy (kinetic energy). Flywheels resist changes in rotational speed by their moment of inertia.

image of a large flywheel
Flywheel on Trevithick Locomotive

The large round thing in the image above is an example of a very large flywheel. Basically, they keep the piece of machinery in motion. It’s not very easy to stop all of that momentum once it gets started. That being said, it’s not easy to stop our minds once they get going either. Shifting mental gears is quite a feat. To be creative, I find that it doesn’t come naturally.  My mind is quite content to keep on spinning, keeping my thoughts going on what my routine expects.

Find a different place to think, a new location

Mark Batterson says that a change of pace + a change of place = a change of perspective. To slow down the flywheel of our mind, sometimes a change of place is required. I do my best creative thinking when I am not in familiar surroundings. This change of place, automatically changes the pace of our life, allowing our minds to slow down enough to start the creative process. New sights and sounds stimulate that part of our brain that help get our creative juices flowing. I do my best thinking away from my office.

Take a walk, get your blood flowing

It’s not enough to just go find a new place to think, I find it best to also be doing something while in new surroundings. I have a favorite spot where I go to think. I go to my local zoo in the morning when nobody else is around. I’ve tried to pick a spot to sit and think, but I find that I do my best thinking when I walk around the zoo taking in the sites and sounds.

3 elephants
A zoo is one place out of your routine

The key is to change up the routines of your day. Routine is comfortable, it is safe, it is …..well…..routine.  Get out of your comfort zone. Routine produces routine results. If you are happy with the results, don’t change, but if not, why not shake things up a bit and see what your flywheel, headed in the other direction can produce?

Stop the flywheel and let the creativity begin!

Am I sitting on my hands?

To sit on one’s hands per the Cambridge Dictionary means “to do nothing about a problem or a situation that needs dealing with.” What if you are uncertain as to what needs to be done? Would this be considered sitting on your hands? I know that for the last couple of years, I have tried every which way to get some momentum going to go in a new direction vocationally. It seems that every option that I look into, the door is sealed shut. If you know me, you know that I do not like to sit around and do nothing. I love new ideas, especially when I am the one to come up with them! It feels like I am in a straight jacket. cartoon character in straight jacket
Not that I have ever been in one, but I would imagine that after a while, you just give up and sit on your hands or rather lean on your hands as they are wrapped around your back. Fighting a straight jacket is rather pointless, unless you are Houdini.

If all of your doors close, what are you to do in the meantime?

I mean, if after trying unsuccessfully to move in a positive direction, what is one to do in the meantime? I have found myself cleaning my garage, washing my car, washing the windows of my house and doing anything else that I can do just to NOT sit on my hands. Now some of you are probably saying, “Well, God probably wants you to just rest in Him.” Thanks, I’ve been doing that for 22 months. I have rested in my God created straight jacket and just prayed, read the bible and meditated for hours some days. I get up at 6AM every day just to do this. For a long time I felt that God was going to reveal His plan to me, that it was just around the corner, but now I’m not so sure. Is this a God created straight jacket or have I created my own straight jacket, stitch by stitch? Either way, I don’t like it.

In the pit of my stomach there is a churning

Have you ever told a child to sit in the corner and they obediently obey, only to hide the kinetic energy that is within them? They go to their corner, sit there and all seems well, but inside, there is a spring wound tightly that is ready to spring into action.

cartoon of dennis the menace in the corner
Hank Ketchum

The old cartoon series by Hank Ketchum about Dennis the Menace often showed Dennis in the corner for some act of neighborhood terrorism. You knew that there was still a lot of energy in Dennis, even though he was being obedient to go to his corner of punishment.

It’s not that I feel that I am being punished. I just feel lost, without a purpose. I’m a project guy. I like to be creating something new. I feel that I have had pretty good patience for almost two years, but geez, how long can a kid wait? All of the potential projects that I have thought of or been presented with have ended up being closed doors and I don’t mean doors closed politely, I mean doors slammed shut!

My last post was about the dream collapsing. When a dream collapses, you eventually wake up, if not, then you have what is called a nightmare. Enough of this nightmare, I want to wake up! I’m tired of the straight jacket and I’m tired of sitting in the corner. I have to do something different so that I will not end up with the same results. 2020 HAS to be different, if not, I will NEED to be put in a straight jacket! Until then, you will see a house with shining clean windows, not a speck of dust on the floor and absolutely no leaves in my yard. I’m running out of chores. Let me know if you need your house cleaned. I’ll run right over!

The Dream is Collapsing

A dream within a dream within a dream.

Have you ever dreamed that you were dreaming while having a dream? Now, how about dreaming about the dream where you were dreaming within a dream? That is a whole lot to wrap your mind around. Are you living within a dream right now? Do your dreams seem real to you? Does your life seem real to you? Science has proven that our minds do not know the difference between “reality” and simply imagining something. This blurs the edge between reality and your imagination.

inception the movie
Inception

It feels more like an implosion

This is going to be one of those transparent posts, not the encouraging post that I typically write. If you want to stay encouraged this Christmas season, then please skip this post and go find a funny meme that someone else has posted.

If you have watched the movie Inception and watched a building imploded, you will understand my analogies below.
Currently, my life feels as though it is imploding. I have personally witnessed a tall skyscraper being imploded. It was a strange sight. One moment it was there, and the next, it was a pile of rubble. Many of us who were alive remember seeing the twin towers imploding after the 911 attack.

In my life as in a tall building, the foundation was solid, no reason to believe that anything would change, but slowly, the weight of the top stories of my life began to grow heavier and heavier to where the walls of my life could not stand the pressure of all of that weight. The foundation, which for me is my faith in Christ was still solid, but the weight that was being added to the top stories of my life was growing. First, it was realizing that not living the purpose for which I was born, added an emotional weight to daily living. Next, it was our family business.  We had moved to Colorado to open a new branch, but within a year, employee issues back in VA started to draw us back to VA. We were spending more and more time flying back and forth to VA than building our business in CO.  The dream to open a new branch in CO was starting to fade.  After four years, we sold our mountain home in CO and moved back to VA with our proverbial tail between our legs. We were having multiple employee issues; people leaving with no notice, unable to rehire people to replace them. We were operating on a skeleton crew. The market started to change and our sales started to drop. The walls were now starting to bulge in our “building”. I experienced my first anxiety attack after back to back losses in sales. This anxiety manifested itself as muscle twitches. For 2 months, due to my PCP mentioning the letters, ALS, I was put on anxiety and anti-depressants. The “building” took a direct hit, exploding with the force that shook my entire soul.
My entire shipping department less one person slowly quit and we couldn’t find anyone to ship our products except our shipping supervisor. The glass windows in this “building” were now starting to break.  We decided to begin letting our staff, other than the warehouse work remotely from home. Maybe this would help us retain employees if they were able to work from home. The offices were now empty and quiet. I would go to work, only to find an empty building except a few people on the first floor. Due to not having warehouse staff, we decided to close our offices and warehouse and move the shipping operation to a fulfillment center in Denver. That move cost us a month of sales which affected cash flow. In the midst of all of this, we found a vendor in Taiwan that would manufacture a few of our products, thus reducing our cost of goods. We were now starting to make money again after 3 months of losing money due to the move to a fulfillment center. The dream was becoming clearer, the dust was starting to settle, but in November, this vendor’s email account was hacked. We thought we were wiring funds to them, but in fact, we were wiring funds to an unknown account in the UK, a fraudulent account. We lost the entire amount of the purchase order, for us a large dollar amount.
buildings being implodedRealizing that our sales were dwindling and that fulfillment centers were not cheap, we decided to put our house on the market to reduce expenses.  We were shoring up the collapsing “building”. We had a contract on our home in 22 days. The dream was becoming clearer and we thought that it was not collapsing. We felt as though we knew what we were supposed to do.  Maybe we can save this “building”. A few days before Christmas, our agent called to tell us, while we were at a Christmas party that the buyers were canceling the sales contract due to a small issue that was really of no consequence, but in this day and age of residential real estate, buyers can walk away from a contract for almost any reason. The dream was starting to get fuzzy, was it collapsing once again?

The dream is imploding

As of today, our sales are down 20% compared to last year. This, combined with losing a boatload of money in wire fraud is causing the dream to implode. The potential buyers renigging on the contract, (the 2nd house which they have done the same thing on) plus the money issues at work are causing this dream to collapse.

My lovely wife had her knee replaced at the end of August. The surgery went well, but the surgeon failed to tell us or schedule physical therapy for two weeks after the surgery. This has caused scar tissue to build up on her knee and she does not have the range of motion that she should. This is also causing her pain. She is currently walking with a cane. Her dream is collapsing, the dream of walking without pain, being able to start doing some of the things that her bad knee would not let her do seems like a dream unfulfilled.

Can you stop a dream from collapsing?

Now the question is, how does one keep a dream or “building” from collapsing or can you? During the beginning of a collapsing dream, everything seems to go in slow motion, but once it gains momentum, all one can do is to hold on to something and ride it down. For me, it’s my faith. I have to know that neither death nor life, nor powers or principalities can separate me from my foundation. I may end up in a rubble or awake from this dream. The inception of every dream has to have an end, and it appears that the time is now. The top has stopped spinning, but one day……..it will start to spin, yet again.

bronze spinning top

This Dream is Collapsing

 

Are you a large or a small?

I’m one to live large. I do not believe in simply existing and going with the status quo. If I want to do something in life it’s going to be on a grand scale. I was born for a reason, for a purpose that is larger than myself. If I were to live small, just trying to eek out a living, being a cog in the big wheel of life, I would be denying the very reason that I was created. I’ve tried to ignore it; I’ve asked for it to be taken away, but it can’t be removed. It’s like your height, you can’t make yourself taller or shorter, you are who you are.

I don’t want to work just to earn money, I have to have a purpose for living. I don’t want to have just a great business idea. I have tried that. The money satisfies for a very short time.  As George Bailey told Mary in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, “Now, you listen to me! I don’t want any plastics, and I don’t want any ground floors, and I don’t want to get married – ever – to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do.”

George on the phone with Mary
It’s a Wonderful Life

I believe in doing things only one way, big and dazzling, compared to doing things small and just to get by.

We only have one life to live. You can make it a wonderful life or you can be satisfied with what life gives you. The choice is yours. What’s the opposite of a wonderful life to you?

The muse can’t be ignored

Have you been kissed by a creative muse? If you have, then she cannot be ignored. She will be happy to be left alone for only a time, but will grab you with a vengeance and demand your attention. Of course, I am speaking of the mythological 9 muses. Zeus’s 9 daughters.
If you are one of those that has been “kissed” with a creative bent, then you will not survive very long before this muse demands attention. If you ignore her too long, she may curse you to a life of boredom from which you will not return.

The 9 muses

What is that creative Muse’s name?

The question is, “who” is that creative muse in your life or should I say “what”. Ok, so you know that you are creative, but creative exactly how? Are you a creative artist, musician, cook, playwright or thousands of other areas that require creativity? I have been blessed to be gifted in several things and my interests are wide and varied. I’m an excellent pianist, trained classically. I have high mechanical skills and have put that to use over the years. I love to take things apart to see what makes them tick. I like to see what I can do to make them work better. Both interests require curiosity and creativity.

For the past 10 years I put away my wrenches and my piano to make a living. I have spent it running a company. Now I type on the computer and try and figure out how to maintain our market share. Sure, it does require some creativity, but not daily. I have ignored this muse for quite a while, but now she is walking down Mt Olympus to have a very serious chat with me.  I can hear her say, “Ok, I have been quietly watching you, hoping that you would return to me, but you seem to be stuck. It’s time to return to me.”

Don’t let your Muse quit on you

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King

There is a time for sitting and waiting and then there is a time for action, the key is to know if this is a time of waiting, or if this is a time for action. I don’t believe in staying busy just to be busy. I think it important to stay actively involved in the area in which you know where your muse lives. If you are a writer, then spending all of your time on the golf course isn’t going to help you learn to write. It may give you some time to think, but you must at least practice writing until that great story arrives.

Demeter

If you are one to get depressed, waiting on your muse to bequeath you with that one great idea, then get to work doing something in the area of interest to get the creative juices flowing. It seems that harder I sit and consternate about what I should do, the less ideas pop into my head. This is a delicate balance. Busy enough to keep the inner demons at bay, but not so busy as to keep every creative thought from being able to rise to the surface. Many great ideas occur by accident instead of by sitting in a lotus pose waiting for that great idea to pop into our heads.

Top 7 things to keep your Muse alive

  • You need to spend your time with others that help you get your creative juices flowing.
  • Find groups of people who are like minded in the area of your muse. Even if it is only one or two people, get together with them on a regular basis to stay encouraged.
  • Stay away from those who squelch your creativity. You want to plant yourself in good soil that will be watered.
  • Limit your time on social media. It can be a creativity drain.
  • Spend time with pen and paper. Create your own images.
  • Just get started doing something.  Even if it is only 30 minutes per day, you will feel better afterwards.
  • Momentum only occurs once you start moving.

The microwave life

Slow tedious craftsmanship and hard work has seemed to come to an end. Today, we see to have evolved to a sort of microwave living. Social media has pushed the success of so many, summed up in less than 500 words as though anyone can fall upon success, as if it was something that chance and being in the right place is all that is required.

Downloads are for computers, not for humans

At least not yet that is. I’m not Neo from The Matrix. I can’t suddenly know Kung Fu.  As cool as it would be, that’s cheating. To become a master at anything, it takes time and practice.Neo has just downloaded kung fu to his brain It also requires patience. I’m not good at being patient. Owning an e-commerce store, I know that I can create a web-page and upload it to the web in less than an hour. YouTube videos can go viral creating a superstar of almost anyone overnight. Don’t even get me started on the lottery. Too much, too fast is not good for anyone as Hollywood and fame has a long trail of ruined lives that have paved Hollywood Blvd.

Building something with your hands

I used to be a general contractor. I restored homes which sometimes took years to complete. I enjoyed seeing the progress of each day, room by room. In the end, it brought a very satisfying feeling seeing what I had done, but that was years ago. Now that I have been in the eCommerce world for fifteen plus years, my patience has waned. I seem to enjoy writing a check for others to do the work I once did. I’ll admit that I am older and my body doesn’t recover as quickly as it once did, but I want things done instantly. This microwave life that I have created has lost the satisfaction that building something with my hands had once brought. It has also removed the problem solving that goes into building something as well.

Ed and Rowena Waghorn from Herefordshire

Ed wanted to build a home from scratch, using his own designs and available materials for $100,000. It has taken him and his family over 15 years in the process. They have lived off of the land while building it and the life that they created while building, has been to focus on the journey.

Ed and Rowena's handcrafted home
Grand Designs

As I watched this episode on the Netflix series called Grand Designs,  at first I said to myself, “Jeez, he makes everything by hand. Why not just go out and buy a metal hinge?” Instead, he carves them out of scrap wood from trees that he felled on his own property. He painstakingly will spend days putting detail into items that you and I would simply have overlooked.  I used to have more patience to attempt something on a much smaller scale, but not anymore. I blame myself, but I also blame allowing technology too easily to replace tasks that I once enjoyed doing the analog way. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Today, maybe it wouldn’t be built at all because we just don’t have the time nor the craftsmanship that it would now require.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”     ― Theodore Roosevelt

Excuse me, for now I am going to go to my garage to build something, anything. I don’t care. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to see what I can create once again, and I don’t care how long it takes me!

Is Dubai creating Walt’s original idea of Epcot?

Dubai water fountains

The Prime Minister of Dubai seems to believe in “Go big or go home.” He also believes in making dreams a reality. Where else can you find the tallest building in the world, an island created in the shape of a palm that is a housing development or an indoor ski resort?

The Bur Khalifa building has 163 floors and stands 2,722′ in the air. It is the tallest building in the world! It is obvious that it has the tallest elevator in the world. What a fast ride that is!
Tallest building in the world
Burj Khalifa

If you run out of land, why not create new islands in the shape of a palm tree and build homes on the newly made land?

Dubai Palms Island

The Dubai Fountain is another attraction that would make the water show at The Bellagio jealous.

Dubai Fountains

Let’s not forget that indoor Ski Slope including ski lifts. It’s inside of a huge shopping mall where the “mountain” is 25 stories tall. The air is just a little bit below freezing, so you get the whole ski resort effect.  It has 5 slopes of varying difficulty including a black diamond run. There is also a snow play area for those that aren’t into skiing which includes toboggan runs and an ice cave.Indoor ski resort in Dubai
Dubai Indoor Ski Slope

Hyperloop

In Dubai, they don’t like to be outdone. Five years after Elon Musk talked about his Hyperloop, Dubai decided they wanted to build one. The proposed Hyperloop between Dubai and Abu Dhabi will ferry passengers along the Arabian coast at speeds of up to 1,200km/hour, (746 mph) cutting a 140km journey from 1hr 20mins to just 12mins. Around 10,000 people will be able to travel each hour.  RedherringThey have the resources to do this. People who said that their Palm Island couldn’t be built were sa(n)dly wrong as they built it despite all odds.
There are several reasons the UAE has been chosen as Hyperloop’s petri dish. Dubai is home to the world’s third-busiest international airport, behind Atlanta and Beijing. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both being developed as “smart cities”, and each aims to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2023. Hyperloop is the “logical next step” towards that goal, Hyperloop One’s Marcia Christoff says. (Redherring)

Dubai Expo 2020
Dubai water fountains

Ok, but what about the original Epcot and Dubai? One of the closest similarities to the original Epcot will be the Dubai Expo in 2020. The expo is designed similarly to the original version of E.P.C.O.T. Center with a central hub and various buildings extending out from that center section. Look at the picture above. What does it remind you of?

Dubai Expo 2020
Mobility Pavilion

Instead of Walt’s people movers at Epcot, there will be hyperloop tubes underground quickly connecting each section of the Expo.  There will be Pavilions showcasing over 40 different countries, not just 11 countries like at Disney’s Epcot.  That’s nothing, there is currently a Museum of the Future whose webpage states:

“We will be a showplace for a new era – a center of creativity and hope where you can see, touch and shape our shared future. Combining elements of exhibition, immersive theater and themed attraction, the Museum of the Future invites you to look beyond the present and take your place within possible worlds to come. “ Dubai Expo 2020

How about a pseudo Walt Disney quote?

“The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai

Maybe Walt was reincarnated as the Prime Minister of Dubai!

We may have lost our chance to build what Walt originally wanted to build. What Walt originally wanted to do was stated by him so clearly

“It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”
Walt Disney

In my other post ‘HEY ELON MUSK, BUILD THE ORIGINAL EPCOT!’ I suggested that Elon Musk take on another project. Why not, he seems to be able to manage running multiple companies. Elon has some great ideas and has been compared to Walt Disney who said “When you are curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”  I’m glad that someone is on the road to creating something that may be more than just an Expo, Worlds Fair or a Theme Park. Maybe Dubai can pull it off.

Dubai Expo 2020 sounds like an incredible event, one that I would love to attend, if I could afford to stay there. It opens on October 20, 2020, 10/20/2020. Make plans to attend. It should be an event of a lifetime!

Don’t give up, your answer is around the corner

Yes, you heard me right. Don’t give up, your answer is around the corner. If you have been pressing in to get an answer for something that you have been focused on for quite a while, I’m here to tell you that your determination will not go unrewarded, especially if you have committed it to God’s care. He hears your heart, He sees your frustrations. I know that it seems as though things will never change, yet God works behind the scenes in your life.

If you are going it on your own and you have not committed this to an entity that is more powerful than you, then you will have to just live with the results of your own efforts. We alone can’t change others or circumstances beyond our control, but God can.
“God can do anything, you know–far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20

I know that it seems like this has been going on forever, yet if you have been faithful to commit this to Him and have been listening for HIs direction, it will arrive.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our current condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28

What color are your handcuffs?

Have you heard the term “Golden Handcuffs”? I hadn’t heard of it until my brother mentioned it to me in a conversation a few years ago. Typically this refers to deferred benefits to keep an employee
Golden handcuffswith a company for a stipulated amount of time. What if you are self-employed?  There isn’t anyone that is holding you there, but there is another type of golden handcuffs that has nothing to do with employment at all; whether you are self-employed or work for someone else. Golden handcuffs can be self-created. You forge them yourself through obligations that you have made to mortgage companies, auto loans, private schooling, vacation clubs, resort fees, etc. The list goes on and on. When we see the glitter of something that we desire that has a hefty price tag on it and bite, we are not much different than a fish striking an attractive lure. Many times we find that the lure isn’t real; it’s just a pretty feather, shaped like a fly or worm. Either way, it has a hook in it. It’s called monthly payments or the outgo of cash in exchange for that thing or service we desire.

Take this simple test to see what color your handcuffs are

Hopefully, you have some record of where you spend your money per month. You can go online and find a sample budget. Here is one here.
Step 1   Find out how much you spend
You have to remember to add all of the things that you spend money on per month. Don’t forget things like:

  • Nail salon
  • Coffee breaks
  • Life insurance
  • Home repairs
  • Gifts (Christmas, birthdays)
  • Vacation
  • Auto repairs, licensing, taxes, and tires
  • Lesson Fees
  • Clothing
  • Medical deductible fees for office visits
  • Vitamins
  • Cosmetics
  • Haircuts
  • Subscriptions
  • Bank charges
  • Credit card payments
  • Dues
    colorful sample budget

These things above aren’t even big things like Rent, Food, Utilities, etc. Once you add all of these things up, write down the total. Now, take this amount and divide it by .70. (federal and state taxes) This amount is the gross amount you need to earn. Hopefully, you make more than this amount. Were you surprised?

Step 2    Go through and change the amounts or eliminate those things that you are willing to live without.

How did you do? You will quickly learn what color your handcuffs are. If you can’t cut anything, your handcuffs are made of gold. If you can only cut back on a few things, they are made of silver. If you can cut back 25%, your handcuffs are made of brass. If you can cut back 50%, your handcuffs are made of wood, and they aren’t handcuffs at all! What most of us find is that we have become accustomed to certain creature comforts and we aren’t willing to give up any of them, even to reduce stress and launch out on something that we are passionate about. We would rather have our stuff and perks than to change our lives. So, is it time to put up or shut up as they say? This depends on:

A. Do you enjoy what you are doing and the money is merely a result of doing something you love?

B. Do you dislike what you do and would instead do something else but the money that you earn from it is too hard to turn down?

If you answered A, congratulations, you are not wearing handcuffs of any color. If you answered B, what color are your handcuffs?

different color handcuffs