Chapter 2

Where there is a will, there’s a way

What did Rolf mean,  “I didn’t mean to pull the trigger.” ? He didn’t pull the trigger of the Luger that night in the Abbey cemetery or had he? I felt my chest as if to reassure myself that I had not been mortally wounded that night long ago. I continued to read the letter, not believing that Rolf had made it through the war. “Captain, that night in the Abbey, I knew you were probably going to be there. Leisl had contacted me earlier that evening when you performed at the concert hall in Salzberg. I also knew that there was a pretty good chance that they would catch you, you see Herr Zeller had all of your movements followed the minute you returned from your honeymoon. I told Leisl that if I were the one that found you during your attempted escape, I would do my best to put on a show almost as good as you and the children did. I replaced the bullets in my gun with blanks so that if I found you and were being watched, it would look as though I was attempting to shoot you when you tried to escape. I was so nervous that night. I quickly realized at what lengths the Nazi commanders were going to go to assure your return to naval service.rolf blowing whistle in the cemetery
You were either going to serve or die trying to escape. When I heard Leisl gasp behind the tombstone in the cemetery, I knew that you and the family were hiding there. It was better for me to find you than for my superiors. When I told you to come out, and I drew my gun, my hands were sweaty and shaking so bad. I didn’t mean to pull the trigger. I just wanted to put on a good show and let you run off with the children. I guess that my hand slipped and the gun went off. I remember the look in your eyes. You couldn’t believe that I would do such a thing. I don’t know if you didn’t realize that you had not been shot, but you took off and escaped as I hoped you would. It’s been many years. I heard about Leisl’s passing. I haven’t been able to get that night out of my mind for years. Leisl never forgave me for shooting you. She didn’t know that the gun didn’t have real bullets in it. She thought that I just missed. ”

How many years had it been? It had been 50 years since I left my home and my beloved Austria with my family in tow. We left everything behind. There were so many good memories, yet short-lived when had to leave that fateful night. Our home was taken over by the Nazis. Our friends had been dispersed throughout Europe trying to evade the evil that had come upon our little country. I turned the letter over, seeing that there was another paragraph.

von trapp home
Our home as it appeared when we were living there

“Captain von Trapp, if you can see in your heart to forgive me, I wanted to let you know that your home in Austria has fallen into disrepair. After the Nazi’s lost the war and left Austria, they left your home in a hurry. Your home was taken over by the state and sold to a Viennese family that owned it for many years. They just recently passed and they had no extended family. In their will, they stated that when their time had come, they wished to convey the property back to you and your family.”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Was this true or was this just some hoax and why would Rolf keep tabs on our old home? I had vowed never again to think of that boy, even though that night was etched in my memory. I almost closed the envelope when I realized that there was something else in the envelope.  Included with the letter was a copy of the will. It had the section highlighted in regards to the home and the wishes of the owners. Even if this was true, we had a new life here in Vermont. We had a successful lodge, and the grandchildren were touring the states singing like their parents used to do. I grabbed my phone and fumbled with it until I could find Maria’s number. After a few rings, Maria answered, “Hello, Georg, I’m on my way back…..” Before she could finish, I interrupted her. “Maria, you’re never going to believe this. I want to show you something I just received in the mail today. It’s from a ghost of the past.”

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Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 3

Has your creative brain left the building like Elvis?

Do you remember what you said to your mom or dad when you were young in the middle of the summer? “I’m bored.” I don’t know about you, but I sure did. We lived in the country. There were three television stations at that time and AM radio. During the day there was hardly anything to watch on TV. We either played outside, read a book, built plastic models or did anything else that would keep us busy. At the time, I wished I lived closer to the city, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I didn’t. I had a chance to be genuinely bored, but I came up with some creative ideas! There was nothing that I couldn’t do. I built 12′ tall rockets, underground forts with tunnels, tree houses, bike paths, go-kart tracks, and my own bobsled track in the winter.I'm bored picture. Get creative!

The typical day for many

See if this describes you, or maybe someone that you know. You wake up, and you check your cell phone for texts, after that, emails, then all of your social media posts. After this ritual, you shower, grab a quick breakfast sandwich, get in the car and then head to work. At work, you keep your email open and check the inbox every 90 seconds. It’s time for lunch, so guess what you do during lunch? You check your cell phone for texts, then emails, then all of your social media posts.social media icons on cell phone

At the end of the workday, you leave work wondering what you got accomplished. You drive home fed with the latest news and music blaring. After dinner, you watch your favorite shows until it’s time to go to bed. You head off to bed, checking your social media posts one more time, then drift off into dreamland. When you wake up in the morning, you repeat this whole process.

Boredom births creativity

To be creative, you have to get away from pretty much all distractions. This requires being bored. Constant stimulation doesn’t allow our minds to have to work with that creative side of our brain.  If we are always spoon fed input, our brains start turning off these circuits of creativity in our mind. The neurons in these creative areas of our brain almost say, “Why should we try to bridge that synapse? You give me constant input from the time you wake until the time your head hits the pillow. I’m not needed any longer.”  The creative part of your brain has just shut down. It’s going to take a while for those rusty wheels to get going again.
A creative and colorful rendition of a human brain.

Can I be creative with a welder?

I started welding a few years back. This past Christmas, I received a book on using welding for making some artsy designs instead of just repairing broken things. I had a few pieces of metal in my garage, but for the longest time, I just stared at them. I couldn’t think of a thing that I could make. I almost gave up, but after about 30 minutes, I took these two pieces of metal and said to myself, “What can I do with these two pieces?” I held them up in all kinds of different positions until I finally came up with something, but it took just staring at them, no music in the background or TV to distract me. Finally, I figured out that I could put a design on the metal, thanks to the craft book. After I created a design, I thought of a use for the old muffler pipe, and voila, an idea had been birthed! This could not have been done if I had any of my distractions to keep me from creating something. Give it a try. Be bored on purpose and sit there with a pen and paper. Who knows, you might come up with something that we will all be reading about!
My creative genius. A welded artwork pencil holder by Gill Trotman

Perform these 7 daily tasks to ensure you don’t repeat 2018!

Do you want something different out of 2019?

I would imagine that many of us want 2019 to be different than 2018, even if 2018 was great. Life is about change. We don’t stay at the same age we were last year. Things change around us, and so do we. Our friendships change. We form new ones and old ones many times drift away. The friendships that we keep, they evolve. They tend to vary based upon what life brings our way.  The world around us changes. Staying stuck in one era is not healthy. Who wants to live in the past? This robs you of the joy of the present. For others, 2018 was a learning experience. I hope that you learned something from 2018, and apply what you learned to 2019.

new year saying, a new chapter, new vers, or just the same old story? ultimately we writ it. The choice is our. Alex Morritt

Band-aids, do-overs, rinse and repeat et al

Here on my blog site, I have covered the band-aids in our life that need to be pulled off, do-overs that are done the same way and how life can be a rinse and repeat of the previous day, like Groundhog Day.  Today, I will start the new year with this encouraging and eye-opening thought. Unless you apply what you learned from 2018, you are destined to repeat it in 2019. New Year’s day is all about resolutions, but I feel that unless you can look back on 2018 and write down what you did that brought value to you and others and what you did that detracted from your life, 2019 will be a repeat.

Take one hour to do this and 2019 will be different

Take some time to sit down where you will not be disturbed and where there are no distractions. You may have to get up early or stay up late to do this, but it is essential.

  • Write down those things that you did this past year that brought you joy and peace.
  • Write down those people who are in your life that encouraged you, challenged you and who you want to grow deeper in a relationship with.
  • Look at areas where you wanted to grow, learn or change and pat yourself on the back for doing so.
  • Now, look at the past year and write down what brought you stress, heartache and a sense of unfulfillment.
  • Are there people in your life that you need to distance yourself from to stay emotionally healthy? Write these people down and how you can distance yourself or talk to change the relationship honestly.
  • What did you pour a lot of effort, not just token effort, but a lot of effort into that did not bring back much of a return for the time that you invested? It’s time to stop that, our if you can’t stop it for whatever reason, not put as much effort into it knowing that the effort will go unrewarded.
  • Write down what you are going to focus on in 2019. There are only so many hours in a day. To begin something new, something old has to be given up.

the time for change is now
So, the challenge is, will you take the time to make 2019 one of the best years of your life? If so, put down that glass of champagne and take a look back in the rearview mirror. It’s worth it. You don’t want to back up over your former self. Be careful that you don’t repeat those things of 2018 that made you less than you were meant to be! You deserve it; it’s your life.

Strive to be a Fezziwig instead of a Scrooge

Do you remember old Fezziwig in Charles Dickens Christmas Carol?

He was Scrooges old boss when he was an apprentice. The man was a jolly old soul who wanted his employees to stop their labors and enjoy the holidays, so he cleared the work tables and had that first office party!image of old fezziwig
Scrooge should have learned from old Fezziwig, but he didn’t. He chased after the money and left his memory in the past.

I want to be a Fezziwig instead of a Scrooge

Typically, I’m a Fezziwig on the outside, but a Scrooge on the inside. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, I seem to have work always on my mind. One of the things that I am learning is this thing called mindfulness. For someone my age, it’s a new concept. You see, in the back of my mind, I feel that if I keep this constant thought of work going, it will solve itself while I’m doing other things. Well, this hasn’t worked too well. I want to be fully present this Christmas season.

When the ghost of Christmas past brought him to his old boss Fezziwig, Scrooge said, “Bless his heart; it’s Fezziwig alive again!”
“Yo ho there! Ebenezer! No more work
tonight! He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to
make our service light or burdensome. The happiness
he gives is..as if it cost a fortune.”

It wasn’t how much that Fezziwig spent, it was that he knew when to stop working and to enjoy life. He exercised mindfulness before it was in style! It’s not that work isn’t still there, but when we are with our families this Christmas, let’s fully be with them both consciously and subconsciously. Let’s give them 100% of our attention, interacting with intent. If you start to sense Scrooge creeping up inside, remember old Fezziwig and how much joy he brought to those around him. God bless us, everyone.”

I don’t have a choice, it’s time to take that first step

It has come to the point that I don’t have a choice. Writing my previous blog on ripping off the band-aid has made me come to grips with a particular band-aid in my life. If you keep a band-aid on too long, what happens? The skin starts to turn white and instead of it healing, it starts to retain too much moisture. This is called skin maceration. It’s not very appealing.  Well, it’s also not very attractive when we put off pulling the metaphorical band-aids off in our lives. If we just kind of pick at it, then it’s not only annoying to ourselves, it’s annoying to others. Do you think everyone else doesn’t see what’s going on; our indecision? We are not doing this for others, but it affects those people in our lives when something that is not healthy for us continues to be front and center in our lives. It’s sort of like the proverbial elephant in the room.
elephant sitting on a couch with two people in the room.

Make the first step

Inaction breeds only more inaction. We have to start somewhere. If we just begin to make that first step, then the other steps will follow. I know that it is hard to make that first step. What if my first step is in the wrong direction? What if my first step is wrong? What if, what if…… Ok, here is a what if for you. What if you don’t make that first step to rip off the bandage? What if your health, both emotional and relational suffer even more? Can you imagine being in this same spot next year, going over the same questions and living with the same consequences that you are living with now? How would that feel? If it doesn’t feel right now, then next year, amplify it about three times, and that is what it will probably be like.

Take the first step

stair steps first step.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.  It doesn’t matter if it is dark or if it is the middle of the day. You can feel your way and make that first step. Hanging out in the basement of your life, any stairway will take you up to where the light is. Pick a staircase, put your toe on the first step and raise your body one step into the light. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to leave the musty basement behind.

“Should” and “Shouldn’t”

Should and Shall

Based upon Webster’s dictionary are a command, law, regulation, inevitable, expectation, determination, obligation, propriety or to soften a direct statement. Shouldn’t merely is should with ‘not’ attached, in other words, a command NOT to, a law Not to, etc. So, what is the big deal? I know that there are things that I
should do and there are things that I shouldn’t do, but WHY is the BIG question. Many times, it is under a moral obligation that I should or shouldn’t do something, and this is a good reason. What would be a lousy reason not to do something? I would say if you do or do not do something due to a feeling of guilt or duty. We should do things because we feel they are the right thing to do; it agrees with our moral compass. We shouldn’t do something because we feel obligated to do it.

do and don't thumb up and thumb down. Should and Shouldn't

In my opinion, doing something for that reason is not fair to the person or purpose at hand. Unless we can do something with our full heart, then why do it at all? I am not talking about obeying laws and rules that are meant for our protection or other’s protection. I’m talking the more gray areas like going to an event that we honestly do not want to go to or visiting friends out of obligation, not out of true friendship. This may sound selfish, but I believe that we do ourselves and others a disservice if the reasons for our acceptance or denial of the event are out of the wrong motivation. We need to be honest with ourselves and the people making the request. This is the only way that we will truly build meaningful and honest relationships.
card invitation. Should I attend?
Growing up, I heard a whole lot of should and shouldn’t statements. Many of these reasons were for my good, but many of them looking back, was to be socially polite. As adults, we have the option to opt out if it does not fit within our schedule or if we are not interested. The key is to reply with honesty, “I’m sorry, I will not be able to attend your event.” You don’t have to go any further if you do not wish but at least RSVP. Not replying is rude. If asked why you will not attend, then be as honest and courteous as possible.  The person asking deserves an honest answer, and you deserve the respect of the other person for your reasons that you do not wish to attend.

I’m going to try and be as honest as possible the next time I have the should or shouldn’t question facing me. I want meaningful relationships. I want to be honest with my friends, and I want them to be honest with me. Anything other than that is a pseudo-relationship.

Stop! Don’t start your day yet!

Please, don’t start your day yet.

Stop right there. You are getting ready to put your life on auto-pilot. Your life is not a Tesla. Don’t start your day until you have finished it.
Red Tesla model S - auto pilot

Autopilot is only for planes and some cars

You do not need auto-pilot for your life. You only get one shot at this. If someone said, “Here, I have deposited $1 million dollars into your bank account. The only stipulation is that you must be purposeful as to what you spend it on.” Would you then go and spend it on whatever hit your fancy at the moment until you had nothing left in your account? No, of course, you wouldn’t, but why do we do this with something that is worth much more than money, our lives. Learn to start your day on the right foot.

Every day is a do-over

Yep, every day is a do-over. We have the opportunity to right the mistakes of the previous day. We don’t have to treat life as if we were shampooing our hair. Rinse and repeat.  When you wake up in the morning, there are of course specific routines that we perform that are good and necessary for all of us, but after these routines have been performed, now it is time to figure out how you want today to be different than yesterday. In this age of texts, emails, voice mails, Skype, Hangouts and the plethora of other means of communication, we have to turn off, shut off, disable those things that demand our attention. Many of these things are merely digital reminders. They aren’t even human! If this day that you have been given, and by the way, each day is a gift, is worth living, then give yourself the best chance to make it better than yesterday.

Each day is like a ski jump

For me, each day is akin to a ski jump. Once you leave the gate, it’s all downhill. Gravity takes over, and there is no stopping.
sitting at the top of the ski jump

I don’t know about you, but it is almost impossible to stop that quick gliding down the slope. Once you start your day, it seems as if gravity takes over.  I liken it to standing at the gate, without your helmet, maybe one ski isn’t fastened in the bindings properly, you left your goggles at home, and then it begins. It’s too late. Your day has already started and at this rate, it’s not going to go well. You have to prepare before you make that long ascent to the top of the ski jump. At home, you would double check to make sure that you have all of your equipment, your skis are waxed to the condition of the slope, you have had ample protein and hydrated your body so that you are ready to go. Also, spending time in prayer or meditation will settle your mind. If I was going to go down a ski jump, all I would do is pray “Oh God, why did I agree to do this!”

Finish your day before you start it

Yep, you heard it right, finish your day before you start it. Know what you want to have accomplished before the end of the day. Know what is going to make the most significant difference in your life today and for others. Make that a priority. Carve out the time required for this. Don’t let anything short-circuit your plan. It’s not enough to think about it.
cartoon character holding oversized pencil with a task list. Start your day right with a to-do list.I find that writing things down solidifies them in my mind. Doing this at home NOT at work is the only way to clear your mind from the distractions. The nonspoken demands that just being in the atmosphere of work tend to kill that quiet space. Once you are at work, you have started that slide down the ski slope.

You will find that this works

I challenge you to try this for one week. If this does not work, then you can unsubscribe to my blog. For those of you that are not subscribers, if it does work, then subscribe.  I have found that this method does work. It is VERY powerful if you will do this in quiet before you begin your day. The goal is to stand at the top of the slope, confident that you are prepared, then let the wind blow through your hair as you glide to the best day of your life!

ski jumper flying in the air

Who loves pulling off a band-aid?

I don’t know about you, but I hate pulling off a well-adhered band-aid.

Knowing that the band-aid is probably going to take off some of the hair on my arm while I quickly yank it off makes me want to leave it there. Ok, it’s getting dirty, and it has gotten used to it’s home on my arm. Do I need to pull it off? They say that just pulling it off quickly is the best practice. Pulling it off slowly only lengthens the pain.
image of a band-aid

Where am I going with this analogy?

I’m at a spot in my life where I’m not comfortable with where I am.  I’ve painted myself in a corner. Even though at the same time, I don’t want to exert the work required to make a change. It’s sort of like, well, pulling off a band-aid. You know that something needs to be done because we can’t live with an old band-aid on our arm, but it’s going to hurt to make the change. There are uncertainties. Will the wound be healed underneath? Will I have to put on another band-aid? Well, you know, the only way to find out is to rip off the band-aid or make that change in your life so that you can find out.

I know I need to make a change.

Yes, I know that I need to make a change, it’s become obvious.
I told my wife, “We can’t go another year like we just had. Work has gotten to the point where it is affecting us physically and mentally.” We were looking for that buoy that we could sail to. Without the buoy to navigate to, we were merely going to sail in circles.
red buoy in the ocean

You see, that buoy that we are circling, has a long cable that goes to an anchor at the bottom of the channel. It’s not going anywhere, but then, neither are we. To sail away from this buoy means going into the open sea where we can’t make out where the next buoy is. Ok, I’ve skipped to another analogy. Hey, this is my blog, deal with it! I need word pictures to make sense of my thoughts. I’m sick of the buoy that I am circling, but like a band-aid, it’s gonna’ hurt to rip it off and leave.

What to do when there is no clear direction.

If you have been living with this band-aid way too long or circling this buoy so long that you’ve begun to talk to it and gave it a name, then it’s time to make the change. Rarely do we make changes so radical that we can’t retrace our steps if it is a bad decision. If this is the case, then why do we delay? It’s what I call the band-aid pain aversion syndrome. You know that there ARE changes that you could make today so that tomorrow isn’t a repeat of today, but the question is, will you? Even if there is no real clear direction, after a while, we have to have faith that some action is better than none.

There is a whole ocean out there with different lands to explore! Can looking at the same old life buoy be that pleasant compared to the mysteries of what life has to offer? Deep inside, you know that NO decision IS a decision.

Come on, pull off that band-aid!
image of band-aid with text rip off like a band-aid

Update on ripping off MY band-aid

I ripped off the band-aid and the hardest thing was the unknown results. Sure, it was tough to do, but after 6 weeks since ripping it off, our sales have not fallen one bit. As a matter of fact, our sales are up a bit compared to last year. My focus has returned to what got us here in the first place. Our margins are better and we have reduced a lot of wasted energy on products that we just needed to let go.

 

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