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12 Tips to Help Alleviate Shyness

Posted by on 2:04 pm in Evolve, New | 0 comments

12 Tips to Help Alleviate Shyness

“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.” – Jane Austen Nearly half of all Americans claim to be shy. (Psychology Today) Some are so acutely shy that any social event or interaction is nothing less than an unscalable wall. If you are shy, know that there’s nothing wrong with you, even though it may seem that way. It’s now time to make a shift and consider shyness as a natural phase in your personal evolution. Here are some points that have been proven successful. Hopefully, you will have success with these as well. In addition to the following strategies, you may find the C&S articles “Journey Overcoming Shyness”  and “Practical Assertiveness”  helpful. 12 Tips to Help Alleviate Shyness 1. – Lead with your strengths. Where do you have proficiency or excel? Join a group or club that pertains to these interests. If it’s chess, join a Chess Club. Bird watching, join the local Ornithology Club. Biking, join a bicycle club. You will already have something in common with its members and a familiar dialog. 2. – Frequent local businesses. Become a regular at your favorite restaurants, deli, coffee shop, liquor store, hardware store, gym, meditation class, church, mosque, or synagog, etc. These businesses want you to feel comfortable. They are eager to help and answer any questions. They want to know their customers. You can utilize this advantage to develop light conversation skills. Ask questions about their products, their business. Ask the sales person if they’re from the area. Remember their names. Make eye contact and smile. 3. – Get involved with social media. Often, it’s America’s preoccupation with social media that gets the blame for more and more young people becoming reclusive. But, for those suffering from acute shyness, this is a valuable tool to help learn to reach out and extend oneself. It’s a good way meet people in a noncommittal way. Follow, follow, follow. Add comments on your favorite sites. It’s light, casual, and easy to walk away. Nothing too deep at all, but again; you’re learning to reach out and extend yourself. 4. – Develop new interests and hobbies. Take a class. Join the company’s softball team. So, you stink at softball? Be the scorecard keeper, be a fan, bring the beer. It’s about having fun, not impressing anyone. Use these new endeavors to get in involved. 5. – Knowledge of sports, music, and art are perfect topics for conversation. Anyone can acquire enough conversational knowledge in these areas within a short amount of time. You don’t need to be a know-it-all, just enough to converse, chat, or ask questions. Everyone wants to give their opinions; especially, New Yorkers! 😉 6. – Join local charitable organizations, PTAs, political campaigns, volunteer fire departments. Newcomers are always welcome. Volunteer, volunteer! 7. – Refresh and update your personal style. Buy some new apparel. Shine those shoes. Get a new hairstyle – go with class and sophistication. Yes, the winning look; whatever that means to you. Exercise. Lose weight. Start to feel great about yourself. 8. – Get a dog. Dogs are a great ice breaker. As they greet each other, talk about each other’s dog. Ask how old it...

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Arthur Rhames: Defining Greatness

Posted by on 9:42 am in Evolve, New | 0 comments

Arthur Rhames: Defining Greatness

Before meeting Arthur Rhames, his legendary status had preceded him. Even though he was only in his early twenties at the time, he was probably the most talked about up-and-coming musician on the New York scene. Arthur, with a heralded virtuosity on the piano, guitar, and saxophone, possessed incredible promise for a successful career. His musical goal was to extend the work of John Coltrane and the great masters of Jazz. His career goal was to be considered the greatest musician of the century. Upon meeting Arthur for the first time, what immediately impressed me was the enormity of his hands, height and body-builder physique. After getting to know him better, what struck me most, though, was that he did absolutely NOTHING in moderation. Talking, eating, working out, practicing music, staying awake for days, sleeping for days, studying and practicing nutrition, then later doing drugs and drinking – all done with voraciousness. He pushed the limits of what was humanly possible to everything he did. For a couple of years, we were next-door neighbors. We would get together whenever possible to practice/play together. Even though we were the same age, he was more of a teacher to me. Still, he would always ask me what I was playing and show him; what fingering was I using, etcetera. His insatiable hunger to learn about everything was infectious! My favorite moment performing with Arthur (which I recounted in a One Final Note interview ten years ago http://www.onefinalnote.com/features/2005/finn-james/  ) was when we played an outdoor block party on the Fourth of July in New Paltz, New York. There were a few hundred in attendance. Arthur was on an alto sax and I was playing the tenor sax. We never would speak about what we were going to play beforehand; we would just start playing. (It was a tradition I maintained  for almost all of my performances and recordings; the height of spontaneity.) Appropriately, Arthur started playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Immediately, echoes of Jimi Hendrix came to mind. Right away, it was shaping up to be a transcendent musical experience. As we simultaneously improvised an epic concerto embellished with reharmonizations and modulations, the intensity continued to build towards nuclear proportions. About 10 minutes into the construction of this musical monument the audience began to cheer. 10 minutes later, the waves of cheering and applause escalated with intensity. It was an ocean of urging enthusiasm. By this time, I was completely drenched in sweat; finding myself playing from the knees. We were on this Fourth of July playing for God, for Country, for the Spirit of Freedom, for all the Brave who had given their lives for us to be here and now stretching out on this anthem. We were performing for this astonishing audience; everyone sharing their energies; all of us beholding this moment in common – bearing witness together. The entire concert set was this one uninterrupted song. The power of the music and the support of the audience propelled us both into a state of boundless, elevated energy. For a brief moment, my eyes opened. There was Arthur, in silhouette, also playing from his knees! The sky had turned a brilliant shade of majestic purple, purple haze; the ebbing sun crimson, set in brilliance. Soon after the musical apex or climax, we...

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33 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage

Posted by on 8:30 am in Lifestyle, New | 0 comments

33 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage

“The key to our marriage is the capacity to give each other a break. And, to realize that it’s not how our similarities work together; it’s how our differences work together.” – Michael J. Fox   Every marriage has its ups and downs. That’s just the way it is. After twelve years of marriage and a nine-year-old daughter, some ideas and concepts have proven to be helpful. Take what you need and leave the rest. 33 Ways to Enhance Your Marriage #1. – Always remember that during an argument you have 1 of 2 choices: 1. You can choose to be right… …or, 2. You can choose love. What would happen if you chose love? Your pettiness would be tossed aside and you could enter into a meaningful dialog. You would be able to face the real reason that you’re arguing; which is usually not the one you think.. Ask yourself, what are you trying to accomplish at this moment? What will being right get you? Immediate gratification? Venting of your anger?  At the cost of alienating each other? Selling your spouse out because of your need to make a point? That’s right. If you select the second option; to choose love – then you can bypass the ugliness and begin to resolve your issues. #2. – Remember, in the end, the winner of an argument is always the loser. (This could be a new Yogi Berra-ism?!) #3. – It only takes one person to heal a relationship. That’s right. Think about it. #4. – Doing chores will often keep you out of trouble, at least until you’ve finished them. Seriously, partaking in household maintenance and helping with the children means that you care. #5. – Be on the same page with raising children and finances; especially, on how to discipline them. See: “Why Every Child Needs and iPad.”  #6. – Meet once a week at the same time, if possible, to discuss household financial affairs. (Preferably, not before bedtime and not when the kids are around.) Make this the one time that you discuss the topic. It will save You both from much stress. If you both have the same goals and plans, then you can work together as a partnership. #7. – If you have any problems with your spouse, discuss them when the children are not present. Also, try to not bring up problems when you are angry. #8. – Designate one night per week as your official date night. It doesn’t have to be a lavish evening. It could be a slice of pizza and a movie, or simply an evening stroll. #9. – Find one activity that you both like to do and make it a regular occurrence. My Aunt and Uncle enjoyed attending minor league baseball games every weekend. They loved each other very much. #10. –  Try not to debate “He said, She said” types of arguments or any events or particulars that happened in the past. Try to uncover what is bothering you right now and speak about the present, in the present tense; not something that happened three days ago. Talk about how and why what just happened today affects you and hurts. #11. – Remember the Idea #1. It’s essential. #12. – Don’t argue in the bedroom. It is where...

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Get Happy!

Posted by on 9:24 pm in Enhance, New | 0 comments

Get Happy!

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde Hey, if we have the time to consider our happiness, then things can’t be all that bad, right? We’re not running for our lives; chased by a wooly mammoth or saber-toothed cat. Isn’t it all relative? For the 11% of Americans, 12 years of age and older who are depressed (National Center for Heath Statistics), this comment doesn’t help. Possibly, we’re running from other monsters and demons? One would think that because life has become more convenient – with the inventing of household appliances, the internet, air travel, and technology that our sense of well-being and happiness would have increased proportionally. Isn’t that what advertising has told us would happen? Then why are 23% of American women between the ages of 40 and 59 taking antidepressants? Women are 2.5 times more likely to take antidepressants than men, but 75% of all suicides are committed by men! (NCHS) These statistics imply that perhaps women are more apt to do something about their grief before it’s too late. What is the primary environmental condition for depression? There are undoubtedly causal effects from chemical toxicity via pollutants in the air, food, and drinking water. Or, it’s from the bombardment of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) waves from cell phones, electricity, and harmful ultraviolet radiation caused by a depleting ozone layer? Perhaps, the increase in depression and resignation is due to world politics, terrorism, injustice, and poverty? Or, changing societal values and pressures and the multi-generational erosion of the nuclear family? Yikes! Obviously, there are too many variables to pinpoint one particular environmental cause for unhappiness. For most of us, a dip into the jar of malaise is usually not the result of any one situation, but a domino cascade of adverse personal and career related events. These, coupled with additional external factors challenge even the strongest to maintain their rudder in such a maelstrom. Aristotle said: “Happiness depends on ourselves.” If this is true, then what can we do about it? For a start, like the A.A. credo suggests: We can only look at changing what we have the power to change and hopefully have the wisdom to know what we can’t. Even though most of us are more or less happy, isn’t it impossible to be happy all of the time? Maybe. Perhaps, those who claim perpetual happiness are just a few sandwiches short of a picnic? It’s feasible that having the strength and ability to bounce back are essential ingredients to happiness? Optimism brings with it a certain resiliency. Aren’t we supposed to toughen up, pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and march on. But, how? Socrates said: “Happiness is living well.” For most mortals, this means getting wellness back on track. To accomplish this, most of us initiate little routines. It starts with some stretching, light exercise and improving our diet. That doesn’t mean just eliminating toxins from our food consumption, but also noxious television news, too. Yes, the TV, A.K.A. “idiot box,” goes off, except, in our home, sporting events. We can always check the headlines at Reuters.com. Spend the remaining time reading positive material; such as this website. 😉Then, begin a new project that’s fruitful and enjoyable or help someone out. After a short time, the...

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THEY Are Not the Enemy

Posted by on 2:06 pm in Evolve, New | 0 comments

THEY Are Not the Enemy

“By our trust in the divine beauty in every person we develop that beauty in ourselves.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan   In Circle and Spear’s short life, it has already hosted readers from 88 countries. After the USA, Canada, and Europe, the subsequent largest readership is in Russia and Saudi Arabia. Today, after receiving 1000+ Twitter followers from Russia, Turkey, Kuwait, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, memories of my trip to Russia, 24 years ago, and subsequent thoughts stirred up this essay. World history teaches us that the way to begin creating an enemy is to convince the People that another group is different. This tactic combined with forging a strong sense of nationality and establishing that the opposing group is a threat, is the way to get young people seeking meaning and purpose in their lives, and who also have a need to identify with something larger than themselves, become united combatants for a cause. Often, that cause has been manufactured and manipulated by greedy, power-craving-self-serving politicians who have the backing of a powerful and wealthy few who can potentially reap windfall profits and gain increased power from the call to arms. These leaders almost always rise from the ashes of an impoverished nation that identifies and attributes its economic recovery to the leaders in power. Are the people of these distant lands the enemy? Or, is the enemy devious, manipulative politics and general gullibility, ignorance, loss or lack of meaning, and the need for identification with something larger than one’s self? Who is this enemy that these leaders claim? Often, they appear differently, speak differently, worship differently, do things differently. When it comes to those things that matter most, those qualities that make us human, how differently are they? The terror of the Cold War and Russian Communism loomed over my generation’s childhood. We lived in the wake of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. In grade school, we endured regular air raid drills sounding by the ominous and haunting siren, familiar in World War Two bombings of London, echoing for miles. We were instructed to cower under our desks; shielding our heads with our arms. Yes, we believed a missile attack could happen at any moment. The “Godless Russians” with their dour wintry faces adorning dead animal hats and coats, wielding hammers and sickles, wanted to destroy us. They were the enemy. We accepted that Communists were among us, in America; infiltrating our society. Many believed the Vietnam Anti-War campaign was instigated by Communist agitators whose added purpose was to undermine all that was good about the America we loved. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, one of our favorite childhood cartoons, pitted the cunning, evil Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale speaking English with thick Russian accents against our innocent do-gooders Rocky and Bullwinkle. As children, we assumed all Russians wore dark colors and resembled those same cartoon characters. Years later, as a young man, I was playing a swing-jazz gig at the General Electric Plant in Schenectady, NY. Russian diplomats were in attendance. Days later, I was informed that they loved the music and invited us to Russia as official guests of the government. They would provide for all the arrangements. It was to be an adventure of a lifetime. So excited about this invitation, I threw myself headfirst...

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37 Tips to Reduce Stress

Posted by on 11:38 pm in Health, New | 0 comments

37 Tips to Reduce Stress

75% of all Americans feel negative stress at least twice a month. Half of that number claim it’s severe! (CNN Health) In other words, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Many times, we are under so much constant stress that we don’t even realize how stressed out we are! There are four groups or classifications that stress manifests. The common responses of “Fight or Flight” – negative ways of dealing with stress are found here. If you can check off a couple symptoms from any group, then you could be stressed and not even realize it. Many of you can claim multiple checks. The more checks, the closer you are to a critical stress overload. A. Cognitive Symptoms Memory problems Inability to concentrate Poor judgment Seeing only the negative Anxious or racing thoughts Constant worrying B. Emotional Symptoms Moodiness Irritability or short temper Agitation, inability to relax Feeling overwhelmed Sense of loneliness and isolation Depression or general unhappiness C. Physical Symptoms Aches and pains Diarrhea or constipation Nausea, dizziness Chest pain, rapid heartbeat Loss of sex drive Frequent colds Eating more or less Sleeping too much or too little D. Behavioral Symptoms Isolating yourself from others Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax Nervous habits such as nail biting, pacing, wringing hands, rubbing two fingers together. The last one I call “drummer’s leg.” You’ve all seen it; the leg that rapidly goes up and down while sitting. The following tips will help with stress management. Some you have seen before and others will be new to you. All have been proven successful on some level. Tips for Reducing Stress 1. – The most innovative and perhaps controversial solution, since there has not yet been any psychological testing, as far as I know, is to not suppress or avoid your stress but to allow yourself to feel it. Go into it. Experience it. Discover the real cause behind it. It’s almost never what we think it is. It is usually an elemental fear such as; abandonment, death, loneliness, not being loved, etcetera. The anticipation of pain and suffering is often more stressful than the actual experience. A strange phenomenon occurs when we allow ourselves to feel pain or discomfort and experience it fully; it mitigates and then goes away. Poof! Our brains redefine the signal. To prove this point; the next time you have a small pain or discomfort in your leg or arm or anywhere, devote all of your attention to that pain and allow yourself to feel it fully. “Be that pain.” It will go away. I guarantee it. It’s like magic! The brain makes a shift. 2. – Write the cause of your stress down on a piece of paper, crumple it up and toss it in the trash. You are more powerful that it! Say this, while tossing. It will help. 3. – See your doctor if your stress is chronic. In other words, when no matter what you do, there is no reprieve. Ask him to check your blood work for vitamin deficiencies.. 4. – Exercise releases endorphins that help the body release stress and relax. Just about any exercise will help; take long walks, jog, do yardwork, gardening,  or do any other favorite physical activity. Yesterday, there were two guys in Riverside Park...

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It’s Not Your Wedding!

Posted by on 12:31 pm in Lifestyle, New | 0 comments

It’s Not Your Wedding!

“I sang a song at my sister’s wedding. My mother forced me into that, too. But that one felt all right. – Adam Sandler   Today, in Central Park, an intimate wedding was held at the lakeside gazebo. The lovely ceremony was soulfully conducted by a young female interfaith minister. After the final pronouncement, everyone seemed so happy and excited until… …the Guy-With-The-Ponytail! …started strumming his folk guitar with a flat A string and began singing: “New York, New York.” His amateur rendition, reminding of Bill Murray’s SNL character: Nick The Lounge Singer included the intro, every verse and added repeats. It went on infinitum; at least twice as long as the ceremony! Then, the finale just wouldn’t end. Where’s the Gong? What was most impressive during this performance was the crescendo of impatience that the parents of the newlyweds were exhibiting. The father of the groom’s face progressed into deeper shades of red. The pony tail dude must have been a friend or a relative of the couple. Perhaps, the groom’s brother? Wow, he was so fully self-absorbed in his “amazing-not” talent while the forlornly polite audience was “held captive.” When he finally ended on an extended bittersweet high-note the applause was more apologetic than enthusiastic. A-w-k-w-a-r-d. I thought to myself. Ah, my next essay! Title: “It’s Not Your Wedding!” There is a certain type of maturity, consciousness, and self-awareness that comes with being able to assess a situation and act accordingly. Children stuck in the Freudian “id” phase of development just don’t have this skill. That’s why parents have such developed secret-service-like bouncer skills. We can remove a toddler from a room faster than any stage hook. What if the person in this id phase is an adult? Ah, there’s the uncomfortable rub! Even worse, what if it is us and we don’t even see it? (Eyes right.) “Emotional maturity” has become a popular term over the years. There are about as many books on this topic as any other in Pop-Psychology. If you have read my articles, you already know that I don’t profess to have any more together than the next person. But, when I see a fellow member of my species metaphorically pick their nose and eat it?! I feel that the humane thing to do is discreetly hand them a tissue. If it’s a friend, I might mention that it’s not a healthy choice. Or, a foe, perhaps offer them a taste of the air conditioner filter? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely altruistic. Sometimes I just get tired of hearing them whine about their not understanding why they can’t get a date. Yes, these are the same sophisticates who tell me that my article titled, “Where to Meet Quality Singles in NYC” is preposterous; they never met anyone in a laundromat! Of course not! It most certainly has nothing to do with their psycho-slow, meticulous folding of those stained tighty-whities?! So, how do we avoid getting kicked under the table or tagged with the scarlet letter “L”? My wife might say that I’m still working on this one! No, seriously, I think a good start is to realize: This Is Not Your Wedding! How? Here are 10 tissues: 1. Learn to lay back; they call it self-control. You don’t need to be the...

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Nothing to Prove

Posted by on 2:07 pm in Enhance, New | 0 comments

Nothing to Prove

You got a fast car I want a ticket to anywhere Maybe we make a deal Maybe together we can get somewhere Any place is better Starting from zero got nothing to lose Maybe we’ll make something Me myself I got nothing to prove – Tracy Chapman, 1988 –  Lyrics to “Fast Car”       You’ve heard all the cliches, “Show us what you can do.” … “Show them what you’re made of.” What if you had nothing to show, nothing to prove? Isn’t having the intention, to prove yourself, likely to “get in your head” and take you out of your game; preventing you from “playing within yourself?” – to use more cliches. Okay, yes, we have to succeed in job interviews and auditions. These are often necessary aspects of career development. But, what if you didn’t feel as though you needed to try so hard? What if you viewed auditions, tryouts, and interviews as mere formalities? What if you didn’t have the intention that you had to show or sell yourself to anyone? To that prospective date? To that needed opportunity? Rather, you already knew you were qualified, and that was enough. What would happen if you didn’t need to show people that you are more successful than you are? What happens when we don’t try to “be” anything, but just give our sincere best effort? People can see through someone’s craving for attention and adoration. Can’t they? What would happen if you didn’t have to show people how smart you are? At one time, that was me. I used to do that. As a boy, I was always told how smart I was and how much potential I had. For years, I tried to prove everyone right and show the world. Then, one day, I met this girl, in class. She could recite the Canterbury Tales in Middle English, read Homer’s Iliad in a couple of hours, and then recall any passage by page number. She got paid for taking IQ tests in high school and received full academic scholarships to Harvard and Yale. This girl changed my world. My brain was probably closer to a monkey’s than to her’s. I learned to stop arguing “who said what” because she could remember every word from every conversation. Eventually, I had given up trying to prove that I was smart. In so many ways, it was liberating. Working to show everyone how intelligent I was proved to be a heavy burden to carry. At the time, I wasn’t perceptive enough to realize this weighted load until it was lifted. Now, I could just be me, with nothing to prove. I could look into the mirror and see myself as the person I truly am. I’m not brilliant, not “amazing,” not even anything special. I’m just me; living this day with as much gratitude as I can muster; lucky to be above ground and have a family that loves me. This revelation was the key to unlocking a door to a world I may never have discovered. That door was the promised end to self-delusion and denial. I am just a man; subject to all the trappings and mistakes of any other. I’m no better than the worst and no less than the best. We all share...

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Take Your Game To the Next Level

Posted by on 11:22 am in Featured, Lifestyle, New | 0 comments

Take Your Game To the Next Level

“What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive.” – Arnold Palmer   In “Performing Under Pressure,” Part One the discussion was on specific techniques to help prevent “choking” under pressure along with the concept of developing “quiet confidence” to establish a foundation of composure. In Part Two, we will investigate taking our “performance” ability to the next level. From there, your emotional maturity, determination, and insightfulness will delimit how deeply you can go. You may remember that Part One was titled: “Don’t Choke!” – Performing Under Pressure What does the word performance mean to you? The Latin word for performance is effectus, which means: doing or executing a work or task, to effect. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as: “the execution of an action, or a public presentation or exhibition.” Today, the word has taken on other connotations. A performance is also called a concert or show. We hear pro athletes talking about their sport as a business, often called entertainment. We hear the phrase: “athletic performance.” Musicians are called entertainers. You attend a show. I’ve heard people say, “We went to see Stevie Wonder.” Or, “Bruce Springsteen was amazing!” The idea of performing, for many, puts added pressure on the individual performer. Some people also get stage fright from the pressure of performing before crowds. We hear the phrases: “putting on a show,  rising to the occasion, being clutch.” These type of phrases place the center of attention on the individual, on oneself. We can change the perspective, of a hyper-focus on the self, by changing the language. Let’s go back to music. Making music has different meanings for different cultures. In Africa, music often has a playfulness about it; bringing the community together to share and bond. In the Muslim qawwali, we hear the song of devotion, collective oneness, and religious fervent. In Latino music, we engage in the dance of inter-generational family togetherness and love. The common thread between these cultures’ music is of the groups’ sense of communal shared harmony and not on the performers. What if we took the word perform out of the dialog altogether? Some of us enjoy cooking for people. When in the kitchen, we get into a zone; focused on preparing the meal. It’s peaceful, meditative, and enjoyable. When the meal is cooked, it’s time to serve. This is how I look at giving a concert; serving up a delicious dish of music. Do we go out to a restaurant to judge the food or hope and expect a wonderful meal? When we go to a concert, do we go to judge the performers or do we want to hear inspiring music and have a great time? When we buy tickets to see our home team, are we going to heckle or do we want to see them thrive and win? When your employees give presentations, do you want them to do a great job; conducting an engaging presentation with inciteful ideas to enhance the business, or do you want them to flounder? These are questions for the self-conscious performer to keep in perspective. I’ve been a judge for auditions. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to hear was a bad audition. If we take the time to attend a...

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Don’t Choke! – Performing Under Pressure

Posted by on 10:08 am in Lifestyle, New | 0 comments

Don’t Choke! – Performing Under Pressure

We see it all the time; “This could win the game, the final shot. She’s at the foul line; it’s UP! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh …rolls off the rim. Noooooooooooo! The hometown crowd groans. Game over!” We see misses or errors in every sport. In that big moment, almost every botched opportunity could be attributed to the phenomena we have all experienced. For a split second, we lose full command of our faculties. In sports, it’s called “choking.” Did you know that actual choking occurs during this particular moment? No, not the severe choking as when a food particle gets lodged in the throat, “like an apple.” (Pardon me.) But, for just a brief moment, we stop breathing, our rhythm changes, muscles tense and sometimes our mouths dry. The culprit is the stress induced from the intensity of the moment. Unfortunately, this choking is a natural reflexive response. An exaggeration is when we’re suddenly startled and momentarily gasp, or lose our breath. Are chokers doomed forever? No. There are some things that can help someone not choke in a tense moment. 1. Keep the air moving. 2. Keep the mind still. And, 3. Keep the body calm. Singers learn that if they have an active tongue, one that isn’t tight or rigid while they sing, they will produce a sound with more resonance. The tongue, vocal cords, and breath are all connected and work together synchronically. Try this experiment. Sit back in a comfortable chair and notice the way you are breathing. Now, relax your jaw and allow your tongue to rest naturally and lightly between your lips. Take a few relaxed breaths and observe your breathing. It’s now deeper and calmer. You are much more at ease and comfortable. (If you don’t feel this, then protrude your tongue a little further out until you feel this sensation. Some of you could almost fall asleep doing this. Watch the tongue wagging of Michael Jordan and his greatest imitator, Kobe Bryant. You don’t have to have it flop around like that, but releasing the tongue will take your state of calmness and composure to another place. Try this while shooting free-throws. Learn to slow and calm down your breathing. Breathe from your core. Take a breath. Exhale. Take a second breath. On the exhale of the second, around 3/4’s of the way through the exhale – Shoot. Make it a natural extension of that breath release. Let it all flow together. Isn’t that better? Now, do this in the big game. This same approach can apply to golf, bowling, pitching a baseball, shooting a rifling; just about every sport. Quiet Confidence There’s also something else you can acquire which is even more significant. You have heard of the term “quiet confidence.” What does it mean? It suggests that whether you are a male or a female, you have some cojones. Hablas Espanol? Oh, okay, I admit, this is over-simplifying it. Here’s a story that some of you may enjoy. One beautiful day, I got a phone call. The guy wanted me to play my tenor sax with some R&B band; a guy from Los Angeles at Tramps, a club downtown. I said sure, tomorrow is a weekday, I’m available. (It was just a midweek R&B gig, so I didn’t bother googling the guy.) The next...

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The New American Revolution

Posted by on 1:22 pm in Enhance, New | 0 comments

The New American Revolution

We live in a society where the media mantra is: “BE ALL YOU CAN BE.” Yes, of course, “You’re not where you need to be yet, but WE know how to get you there.” Listen to the experts, those with credentials, the pundits.”  Join the Rat Race. Win at all costs. Be Desirous. Shop and Save; Spend, Spend, Spend, and then show off what You’ve accumulated. Become Famous and Adored. Be AMAZING! BE AWESOME! Take a Smart Pill. Build bigger muscles, no even Bigger! Get a bigger penis! Bigger boobs! Bigger lips! Bigger! Richer! BIGGER! More Cowbell!! First, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not a guru and don’t profess to have any answers to anything. Heck, I’m still learning how this thing called Life, works and sometimes, not doing such a great job at it! What I share are only perceptions and conclusions based on experience; a lot of trials and a lot of errors. Many of us work very hard. We become accomplished, acquire expertise, or earn a college or vocational degree hoping that our lives will change, improve. We live responsibly, do all the right things, follow up and network. Then, we find that people still don’t return our phone calls or emails. They cancel appointments, show up late, forget, and disappoint. Even though, they are also probably up to their over-scheduled necks, we often think that it’s because we are just not worth it to them. And, in many cases we’re not. It’s frustrating. How can we get ahead; “be all we can be,” if we don’t even get the chance – can’t even get a foot in the door? There is a saying in the music business that is all too sadly true. “When you need them, they don’t need you. When they need you, you don’t need them.” From my experiences, this is how it that world works, and every other business I’ve been involved. How does this apply to all of us, though? The other day, the answer rang out, clear as a bell. I met a stranger who lives in the neighborhood who also has a Boston Terrier. While our dogs frolicked as Boston’s love to do, he began telling me his story. He feels sorry for himself and his situation. Additionally, he will speak badly of himself so that people will comfort him and give him love. Yes, that’s right. It is a form of power snatching. Now, he has had difficulty, but many have it much worse. Some of you, know that I wasn’t going to attend his Pity Party. At one point, he said, “I know, I’m an ass.” Without saying anything, he knew I wasn’t buying into this show. I told him that I didn’t care for him talking about himself that way. I said, “Based on what you tell me, you have one of two choices: either you are going to resign from life and wait to I said, “Based on what you tell me, you have one of two choices: either you are going to resign from life and wait to die, or you are going to choose to find something that gives your life meaning and the will to live?” At that moment, I believed that was the kindest thing I could have said....

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Artful Negotiation

Posted by on 6:59 am in Enhance, New, Wealth | 0 comments

Artful Negotiation

“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero In Part One, The Quality of Being, Silence was in the setting of personal benefits for our inner life. Part Two will address applications and advantages of Silence to serve us when advocating for ourselves or our causes.     In the game of chess, the original placement of the pieces on the board is the strongest defensive position. Of course, there is no game without a first move. Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest Grandmasters of all time, said; “Since the rules require a move on his turn, the player is forced to weaken his position.” We can equate the moving of a chess piece to speaking in a negotiation. Like a chess master, we must be mindful of every move that both we and our opponent makes and its future implications for various possibilities.   Despite the countless books and articles published on the inner game of negotiation, blunders occur all the time. If this essay presents one point that you have not previously discovered or reminds you to use silence effectively, then it is well worth the effort. When negotiating, what is not said is often more pertinent than what is. It takes a thoughtful person to consider their words wisely and a strong mind to maintain conscious self-control while speaking. The focus of this paper is on aspects of negotiation concerning business deal making. Hopefully, this essay will help you expand your ideas and refresh your negotiating skill. Before the Meeting: 1. – Accumulate current and up-to-date knowledge of your opponents strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to ask around. Find out what they’re up to. Future plans may have an effect on your deal. It’s amazing what I learned about Google’s future plans last week while on a tour of their Manhattan headquarters. It’s the little guys that will give you the skinny, not the savvy leaders. 2. – Figure out what they really want. How urgent is their desire. For example: They may be downplaying their interest in buying your building, but what you don’t know is that they already own the remainder of the block in a secondary holding company and are planning to build a strip mall.  3. – Never underestimate your opponent, they may be holding a trump card. It can be: A. Information or soon to be news that is not available to the public right now. B. Knowledge of another deal contingent on this one happening. C. A personal connection, unknown allies, or a favor owed. D. Yes, it could be anything! 4. – Know what you want and what your bottom line is. Often, you will be asked for your bottom line. Never disclose your actual bottom because this is what you will get. Your bottom line needs to be what you will accept to be happy with the deal. 5. – Have some contingencies, compromises, and counter-offers in your back pocket. Have numbers ready for counter-offers. Always be ready with all sorts of alternative offers to make the deal more enticing. It doesn’t have to be all about money. For example: Offering a discount to use your courier service. We’ll cater their next holiday party. We’ll fund a branch of your wife’s charity, etc. Know which...

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Finding Your Stride: Inspirations From American Pharoah

Posted by on 9:41 am in Enhance, New | 0 comments

Finding Your Stride: Inspirations From American Pharoah

This past Saturday evening, while walking up Amsterdam Avenue to retrieve our daughter from a Minecraft Party, I noticed dozens of barflies spilling out onto the sidewalk from the Bourbon Street at 79th. All were hushed and captivated by the televisions behind the bar. The Belmont Stakes had just begun, and the favorite American Pharoah was out in front. Being early for pick-up, I joined the crowd and immediately became transfixed on the leader. American Pharoah found a relaxed and steady stride that soon became hypnotic. He and jockey, Victor Espinoza, were undaunted by the fury. Appearing as floating ghosts; their inertia created a serene, effortless momentum that had the elegance of Michael Jordan driving to the basket or the flowing life force of a Tai Chi Master practicing Qigong. The two, entwined, seemed to be enjoying the feeling of freely running, akin to two young boys racing across a grassy field in Springtime – just to feel the wind. I had beheld all of the greatest horses win the Triple Crown including Secretariat, but THIS was a special stride I had never seen before. As American Pharoah crossed the finish line, chills traveled up my spine. Watching this miraculous horse triumphantly run the race of his life was a “gift of the moment.” The first thought, at the conclusion of this magnificent performance, again was of THAT stride and how they held their lead with conviction. Once a leader feels right about a path or choice, they have to hold on to their convictions regardless of nay-sayers, eloquent advisors, and personal fears. When you are in your truth, you have no choice but to but to follow through unless circumstances change, then, of course, you have to adapt, modify, and possibly compromise. The second thought was regarding the discipline that they both had had; to be zoned in and completely focused on timelessly traveling in their space – their personal and defined expanse. This event caused me to think of countless lessons given to former students about discipline and creating momentum; to working with a child-like carefree pleasure while being engaged and involved. Most of us know how “finding our stride” can feel. As we enter into a daily zone where; what we are passionately doing becomes simple enjoyment. A lightness of being elevates our soul. Whether it’s work, a hobby, exercise, eating well or developing healthy sleep habits; there is a feeling of peacefulness to this routine that just flows freely and naturally. The sense of well-being is reward enough. It’s a state of delight and satisfaction. But, what about the other times; when we fall out of this zone? Regret, remorse, and guilt may pile up. Connecting what we ought to be doing to what we are doing can seem improbable. It’s so much easier just to go grab a coffee or a beer, shop, phone a friend or any other diversion. For students with discipline issues, I would relate; “You have to pull the mule, and YOU are the mule!” Sometimes, our higher self has to tug on our lower self, for our own good. A Freudian would say that the super-ego has to dominate the id. Regaining one’s stride is usually a 3-day affair. It requires real effort and determination; making yourself, forcing yourself...

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Try a Little Tenderness

Posted by on 11:20 am in Enhance, Featured, Health, New | 0 comments

Try a Little Tenderness

Emotions will be forever with us. They shape our individuality and distinguish our humanity. We can’t control what specific emotions will surface, but we can control what we do with them once they well up. If we are fortunate, we will most often experience calm waters. There will be turbulence, but hopefully the storms will be short-lived; ebbing and returning to calmer seas once again. “Water is one of the elements in ancient Greek philosophy, in the Asian Indian system Panchamahabhuta, and in the Chinese cosmological and physiological system Wu Xing. In contemporary esoteric traditions, it is commonly associated with the qualities of emotion and intuition.” – Wikipedia In Taoism, water is used as a metaphor to teach wisdom and the changing nature of all things. Ancient Egyptians believed the world emerged from prehistoric oceans; the God named Nun. In Native American culture, water signifies creation and the flow of life from Mother Earth. Sigmund Freud proposes in The Interpretations of Dreams that it symbolizes sexual desire. Water, this incredible substance, the chemical compound H2O, is also a significant component of the human body’s composition. On average; 60% of our body weight is of water. The brain and heart are 73% water. Our lungs are 83% water. Human beings are not only comprised of water, we also have strong tendencies to be very much like it. If you slowly and gently touch the surface of a pool of water with the palm of your hand, it is very soft and giving. Your hand will easily break and penetrate the surface. However, if you slap it with your palm using force, it is extremely rigid and resistant. Your hand will repel off the surface and sting. Water will assume the shape of any container, vessel, or mold. It will always flow downhill and take the path of least resistance. But, water can also have intense, overwhelming, and destructive powers. When it is agitated, it can destroy cement barriers and lift buildings off of their foundations. There are many idiomatic expressions that involve water: in deep waters, head above water, in hot water, blown out of the water, like a fish out of water, a flood of emotions, sunken into the depths of despair, and drowning in sorrows. Emotional and physical distress are aspects of life, intrinsic to the human condition. No matter how good someone may seem to have it, they too will bear their trials and tribulations. Aren’t the people in our lives what matter most? Without them, what are we? Lonely, miserable, and isolated. They are both impactful and effectual on our inner world. They shape the quality, mood, and condition of our surroundings and reflect the essence we extend or project. Shouldn’t we regard and nurture them as we do ourselves? For the Lakota, caring for them IS caring for self. Must not we do what is possible to enhance their lives? Are we not the gardeners and caretakers of our duration? When we lose patience, become aggressive, or angry; we get hard. Like water, people don’t respond well to this. When we tell people what they should do, try to control them, or are forceful and overbearing, aren’t we being hard on them? Aren’t we pushing them away, often inducing the opposite outcome we intended? Why is...

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Why Every Child Needs an iPad

Posted by on 2:51 pm in Featured, Lifestyle, New | 0 comments

Why Every Child Needs an iPad

We all know that kids love tech. Our daughter’s favorite possession is her iPad. She has a desktop and a laptop. Soon, she’ll be getting my iPhone 5s. Technology is here to stay. It makes our lives easier and facilitates learning. Some private schools are now accessorizing their students with iPads to support student-teacher communication and the educational process. Tech and the internet have created multiple spin-off industries. But, wait, there’s more… Some of us, unfortunately, know first-hand how damaging corporal punishment is for children. It diminishes self-esteem and can cause even worse issues. Yelling and screaming at our kids can also have the same psychological effect. Children will always test us. No, they are not possessed by the devil! Testing their’s and our limits is an essential aspect of them defining; themselves, their boundaries, and place in the world. Whether they rebel consciously or unconsciously, it will invariably be an on-going issue for us. Relax; it’s healthy. They need to do this! In the end, it will only make them stronger and more independent adults. But, this can surely take its toll on us! There’s a new and healthier way to assert our power and influence as parents. It’s a modern approach to show them how to establish personal boundaries – by standing up and establishing our own. How? Yes, you guessed it! …by removing their one possession that they cherish more than anything else in the world; their iPad! The more that our children become attached to their technology, the mightier the leverage is for disciplining them. (Please, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not advocating to go out and buy tech for your children just so that you can take it away as punishment – that would be mean and twisted. Simply, it works for us. Our daughter responds well to this form of punishment. And, one couldn’t ask for a sweeter kid. The proof is in the pudding!) It sure is better than many other forms of discipline.  While she is on the reprieve from her iPad, she often finds other sources of enrichment to replace it, such as; reading, drawing, or playing the piano and singing. During these periods, my wife and I will agree that this has been such a productive time for her. Regardless, when she has done her penance, she is quick to remind us. If only my dad knew how important my baseball glove was to me. He could have saved himself from elevating his blood pressure. Yes, there’s no need to get excited, just calmly say, “Son, we’ve talked about this before. You know that you have crossed the line…that’s gonna cost you two days without your iPad.” And, if that doesn’t work… …”Oh, I see that the removal of the iPad wasn’t effective…now, there’s no iPhone for a week!” (Our daughter loves sweets, riding her bicycle in Riverside Park, and play-dates. Those are more things we could use as leverage. Hmm.) Yes, the more tech they have, the more leverage. I just recently purchased a Canon Powershot to take better photos for the website. Our daughter pointed out that there happens to be 1080p high-def video recording with this camera, also. She loves posting her book reviews on YouTube but has been recording at 720p. You guessed it again....

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Are You a Pimp…Or, a Ho?

Posted by on 9:04 am in Enhance, Featured, New | 0 comments

Are You a Pimp…Or, a Ho?

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning It was December of 2000; we were in the last months of Bill Clinton’s administration and the work in NYC for corporate functions was at an all-time high. My bread-and-butter gig for paying the bills, when I wasn’t touring, had 23 corporate holiday parties in the 24 days before Christmas! I had been with this agency band for a few years. Having steady work with relatively good pay was much appreciated. Yes, the wages were sufficient for working in town, but despite the top-flight musicianship, I was getting bored and jaded by the music. Of course, being a professional, I did my best to conceal my feelings. One night, while on break at the Marriot Hotel in Times Square, our charismatic and talented singer named Michael A., originally from the Brooklyn ghetto, approached me in the men’s room and got “all-gangsta-up-in-my-face.” Now I know Michael loved me, and we were goods friends, so immediately, I took his posturing as theatrics. Vigorously waving his three fingers indicating a gun near my eyes, he exclaimed, “THERE ARE ONLY TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD; PIMPS AND HO’S! WHAT ARE YOU?…A PIMP OR A HO?!”   Whoa! My first reaction was thinking that this is an incredibly ridiculous and crass thing to ask. Then, being the clown that he was, he proceeded doing his schtick to everyone else in the band. But, his gesture did the trick; it got me thinking, “What an awful choice to have to make.” What do these two occupations, I guess you can call them that, suggest in a symbolic or metaphorical sense; that surely is what he meant. More connotations came to mind: victimizer vs. victim sadist vs. masochist aggressive vs. submissive active vs. passive assertive vs. unassertive Free Will vs. Fate self-actualized vs. unfulfilled engaged vs. disenchanted  Are you “doing life” or is “life doing you?” Within more subtle contexts, I began to question the source of all my motivations. Were they a result of being the “doer” in consciousness or the “doee” where actions were driven by unconscious forces or fears? Were actions and decisions made with thoughtful and purposeful intent; with a calm clarity of understanding, humility, and love? Or, were they executed from impulse, compulsions, unconscious drives, greed, avoidance, anger, or even hatred? Were actions and decisions made with thoughtful and purposeful intent; with a calm clarity of understanding, humility, and love? Or, were they executed from impulse, compulsions, unconscious drives, greed, avoidance, anger, or even hatred? I applied my prevailing situation. After all, why was I still doing this gig? It was affording me quite a nice lifestyle; I enjoyed the camaraderie of the band members and the proximity of the work. However, I didn’t much care for the repertoire or the volume. Reflecting on Victor Frankl’s quotation and Michael’s question, I decided that I was doing what I wanted. I almost always did what I wanted. That’s why I was a sax player and not a businessman. What was my attitude about playing in this party band? Was I a...

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Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Posted by on 2:13 pm in Enhance, Featured | 1 comment

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin, a Renaissance Man of the Colonial Era, is considered one of America’s greatest thinkers. One can find within the pages of his autobiography: The 13 Virtues and Precepts; which he developed in 1726 as a guide for his own process of development into manhood. Ben Franklin maintained a disciplined practice; keeping a thorough daily account of his activities and how they rated on his self-designed chart. (shown below) Although the concept of virtue goes back at least as far as the Ancient Egyptians, the word itself probably originated from the Latin word Virtutem: meaning moral strength and high character. Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Anglo-French and Old French word for conducting oneself with excellence in the moral life; Vertu, eventually, was Anglicized and became Virtue. In the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the word moral comes from the Latin mos; meaning custom or habit. It is a translation from the Greek ethos which means ethics. *As with any list of rules for self-improvement, having perspective and using good judgement is always best.     The Virtues and Precepts of Benjamin Franklin  1. Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. Don’t stuff yourself; don’t drink or do drugs to get high.   When stressed, some have a tendency to overeat. Some ideas that you might find helpful: 1. Drink water throughout the day; especially one hour before mealtimes. 2. Be conscious of chewing your food well. 3. Put the fork or spoon down after each mouthful. 4. Be aware when the tank is full. Then, stop shoveling. 5. At that point, excuse yourself from the table for a breather. If you feel like you need to eat and just can’t stop until you’re stuffed or drink and do drugs to get high, then that’s telling you something about your life right now. The virtuous would look at this and begin to make the required changes to rectify this situation. There’s nothing cool about someone drinking so much that they become impaired; slurred speech, staggering, smelling like a drunk, etcetera. Or, being so stoned that the person is disoriented, unsure of themselves, or just “out-of-it!” While drinking alcohol; 1. Try to be aware when you feel just right and take a pause. Savor the feeling. Often this is midway or at the end of your first drink; depending on what proof alcohol content it is. 2. Have a tall glass of ice water on hand (in a bar it’s called a “water back”) to drink in combination with your alcohol consumption. 3. Always try to have something to eat while enjoying an alcoholic beverage. It often enhances both the drink and the food. 4. Learn to savor the tastes, find a slower more relaxed pace, enjoy conversation and the company of friends. 5. Refrain from imbibing when you’re upset; at least not more than one shot!   Learning balance and self-control are essential to living a life of virtue. 2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Don’t speak ill of someone; either to their face or behind their backs. And, avoid gossip and small talk. (In the 1700’s, the word trifling could still have connoted meaning from the Middle English troeflen; meaning to mock.) Most of this is obvious. Within...

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Practical Assertiveness

Posted by on 9:08 am in Enhance, Featured, Wealth | 0 comments

Practical Assertiveness

Most, if not all of us could use some refinement when it comes to achieving the right balance between overbearing or controlling assertiveness and reticence or timidity. In how many situations did we feel as though we either didn’t know what was best to say or later wished we could have a do-over? Wikipedia’s definition of assertiveness infers this need for balance. It defines; “Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.” Assertiveness has many synonyms: commanding, authoritative, bold, self-possessed, firm, emphatic, determined, insistent, forthright, insistent, feisty, pushy, resolute. It might be helpful to reread these words and notice if any invoke negative attitudes or feelings. No one is going to learn about becoming bold by reading articles about Viking Gods or watching action hero films on Netflix. One doesn’t learn to play the sax or hit a baseball by reading about these activities in a book. They’re learned by actual doing; with thoughtfulness, frequency, and repetition. We’re going to master assertiveness by practicing and living it. Let’s start by looking at recent encounters where we did or did not strike the right balance for ourselves or the other party. Ask yourself: 1. From this encounter, were my needs met? 2. Was I calm and collected, or was I uncomfortable, agitated, numb? (Yes, numb. Many of you know what I mean by this; everything stiffens up, and you can’t even think.) 3. Did the other person seem satisfied and comfortable? 4. Did they express agreement, satisfaction, acceptance, recognition, or did they appear threatened, insulted, marginalized, intimidated? Some of us are just naturally shy. Some had a parent or influential person in their lives that was domineering, threatening, or did a poor job helping you to define your boundaries or them defining theirs. The result was a person not being self-possessed, self-assured, secure in themselves with strongly defined limits, borders, and sometimes: not even having knowledge and awareness of their personal rights. (You can read about some of my personal experiences with shyness in “A Journey Overcoming Shyness.”)Journey Overcoming Shyness I remember lessons with the great jazz musician and teacher Tom McIntosh. In a master class at music school, Mr. McIntosh asked the class to point out the one quality that I had that no one else in the class possessed. (Being singled out was somewhat embarrassing.) He said BOLDNESS! No, I surely didn’t have that starting out! But, if you can play the saxophone on Quincy Jones’ TV show “Vibe” for millions of viewers or blow a solo on the stage of Royal Albert Hall with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, then you know something about boldness and assertiveness. Right? We see assertiveness in action every day; the mother trying to pass through a crowd on a busy sidewalk with her three children, the store manager telling the clerk he didn’t like the display, the bus driver telling everyone to move towards the rear of the bus, the taxi driver honking his horn, the deli man yelling, “No soup for you!” Like the professional musician or a beggar in the street, many are launched or pressured into being assertive on one level or another. As I wrote in ” A Journey Overcoming Shyness,” being confident in one area of life doesn’t necessarily make one assured in...

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Discussions on Creativity: Part 2. Programming Adaptive Cognition and Creative Motivation

Posted by on 6:15 pm in Evolve, New | 0 comments

Discussions on Creativity: Part 2. Programming Adaptive Cognition and Creative Motivation

Within the coming score of years, we will find ourselves on the precipice of significant technological and social innovation, some produced because of our scientific curiosities, and others burst upon us. Although discussing programming creativity into an Artificial Super Intelligence is still premature, it surely is a topic that will eventually have its day. In Part One, it was noted that if we aim to program computers to possess a tantamount flexibility and versatility as that of the human mind, then we need to include the creative capacity to maintain unbiased scientific back-end perceptions. This capability will increase the success rate for accurately analyzing data results. It will also best ensure accurate interpretation of all implications for future applications. This premise, therefore, presupposes that we also examine programming our computer to be open-ended on the front-end; as to its intentions, objectives, and assumptions before initiating an assignment. I will explain. Can a computer’s processors develop adaptive cognition and expanded heuristics to maintain the same broad scope of thought as a human’s mind if its design or planned function for creating is single-purposed? Let’s see if engaging a new aim with a singular function ergo impinges on the creative program or simulated mind of the ASI, and, thereby limits its functioning. Here’s an anecdote to help flush out my point; the inception of the online blogzine you’re currently reading: Circle and Spear. On April 23, 2015, I woke from a dream that I was running a successful “adventure magazine.” Except for a few power tool and measurement device reviews, I hadn’t written an article in 5 years! Upon awakening, my “dream” magazine had swiftly become a men’s interest magazine. Why the shift? 1. Most of my adventures live solely in my imagination. Who cares to read about that? 2. Due to the rising costs of Gillette blades, I had been researching the latest men’s shaving products. The range of merchandise we now have access to is impressive. 3. With further online browsing, I found that there was a void of men’s magazines that were interesting, relevant, or compelling. The writing was dry and superficial without regard for originality, underestimating readers. Thus, I concluded that there was a barrenness that needed planting. While reflecting on what a men’s interests magazine is or could be, the male symbol came to me; hence the name Circle and Spear. The first eight articles followed within the parameters of “men’s interests.” Soon, it became apparent that just as many women were reading these articles as were the fellas. Also, reasoning that setting boundaries or implied restrictions to purpose and viewpoint, meant for me, having a “men’s interests magazine” was not only limiting on a multifariousness of levels, but silly. After letting go of this restricted purpose or mission, a bounty of ideas floated to the surface. Certainly, remnants of the original function were and are nevertheless present, but now there’s a more unified, open-ended, and complete connection between gut instinct and inspiration. This openness released energies earlier occupied by filtering, funneling, and channeling material. An open outlook enabled everything in the universe to enter as a potentiality for consideration. The category for most or all of the Circle and Spear articles could still be considered men’s interests. But, because that is not the front-end purpose...

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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) …a natural cure?

Posted by on 2:01 am in Health | 0 comments

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) …a natural cure?

NYC could be considered the “stress capital of the world.” It’s no wonder why so many New Yorkers have GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease! But, there may be other reasons for this ailment. According to Healthline, 60% of all adult Americans will experience GERD at some point. Many with GERD, sometimes referred to as “acute acid reflux,” don’t realize that a food allergy may be causing their stomach burning. According to a friend, biochemist Dr. Tom Brennan, we can develop allergies to the foods we crave or eat most often. Some examples are foods containing wheat, dairy, tomatoes, and more. Some folks just become sensitive to certain foods such as; wheat, dairy, eggs, tomato-based foods, sugar, chocolate, beef, onions, garlic, fried foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, citrus, mint flavorings, and of course; spicy foods. You can test yourself by eliminating one of these at a time, for a week, and note what happens. If this doesn’t work and you’re still thinking of buying stock in Tums, then you may consider asking your doctor for a food allergy testing. Other causes of reflux could be: 1. AstraZeneca, maker’s of Nexium, claim that: “The main cause of acid reflux disease is a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle. This muscle, which is the “valve” between the stomach and the esophagus, normally closes tightly after food has passed through the stomach. The LES does not stay closed in people with acid reflux disease. When this happens, acid and stomach contents may back up (reflux) into the esophagus. This acid backup can sometimes cause the painful, burning sensation known as heartburn or other symptoms.” Nexium will work for a short time, especially if you have a constant sore throat from the reflux, but there is concern that it may cause bone weakness and dependency. 2. The stomach contains Helicobacter Pylori. It is a helix-shaped bacterium that feeds on the mucous lining of the stomach. Untreated, it can lead to colorectal polyps and cancer. It is eradicated by antibiotics. 3. Stress – If this is chronic, learn ways to deal with it or see your doctor. 4. Being Overweight – puts added stress on the diaphragm 5. Over Eating – Try to eat until satiated. Often we over-eat because of stress. I’ve found that taking more time between mouthfuls gives me the chance to check-in and notice if I am already full. 6. Smoking – Nicotine gets into your stomach and causes irritation. 7. Wearing clothing around the abdomen that’s too tight is known to aggravate the stomach. There are many over-the-counter antacids and several prescription H2 Blockers (block acid from forming in the stomach) and Proton Pump Inhibitors that will decrease the acidic levels in the stomach. “Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the production of acid by blocking the enzyme in the wall of the stomach that produces acid. Acid is necessary for the formation of most ulcers in the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, and the reduction of acid with PPIs prevents ulcers that exist in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum to heal.” – Medincinet.com Personally, I don’t care to ingest man-made chemicals on a regular basis. One thing that Jack Lalanne and I have in common.  The research shows that none of these medicines cures acid reflux, they just make it manageable. You may have some...

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Discussions on Creativity: Part 1. Programming ASI and the Creative Mind

Posted by on 9:50 am in Evolve, Featured | 0 comments

Discussions on Creativity: Part 1. Programming ASI and the Creative Mind

With strides being made each year on the march towards Artificial Super Intelligence, we can’t help but wonder what the possibilities for the future are. Within our lifetimes, many computer scientists believe that we’ll see the advent of computers that can function on the level of the human brain and beyond. With this new resource, will we be able to program machines to have creative thought to further our needs? Will it be the ASI that finds the cure for cancer,  discovers and develops how to travel at warp speed, slows or brings to a halt our aging process, interfaces with our minds to extend our lives, purifies the atmosphere and oceans? How will we go about programming these incredible computers to think creatively to further assist our scientific efforts? Actually, some creativity can already be programmed into computers. When most of us think about programming, we think of a man inputting data and the processor collating and interpreting that data with qualifiers and quantifiers. Well, that is true, but computers can do much more. This article is addressing the potential capability of functioning with the laterality of the human brain. In this series, I will introduce discussions or musings from decades of thought and investigation into creativity.  Let’s first begin with speaking about creativity closer to home. Most Highly Creative People wouldn’t know what to say to a compliment about their having abilities to create, other than to thank the person who extended the compliment. It’s because this is the daily modus operandi a creative person functions. It’s nothing special or hocus pocus. It’s simply a natural state of existence, often taken for granted. What does it mean to create? There are many connotations to the word, but let’s choose one that’s relevant to this discussion. The Macmillan online dictionary defines creativity as, “to make something new or original that did not exist before.” A saxophonist improvising a jazz solo would ipso facto be creating, but if he were clearly parroting Charlie Parker’s previously recorded musical lines and reorganizing them, then we would conclude that this was less creative than Parker’s original improvisations. Therefore, the condition “newness” is an important factor of creativity. You can see from the previous example that there are various levels or degrees of creativity that creatives often frequent. (These levels will be discussed in further detail in another chapter.) Creativeness, or creative-ready, could also be considered a state of being. It’s how one conducts oneself in each moment. I’m convinced that everyone has the potential to be creative if only they didn’t place conscious or unconscious filters on a natural brain function ability. Most people who say that they’re not creative, may not realize just how creative they already are or potentially could be. Within socially acceptable conditions, the witty turn of phrase could be considered a moment of single-minded or single-purposed creativity. Other examples might be the writing of an acceptance speech, toast, eulogy, or love letter. Creativity could exist on an elemental level of choosing between two or more options and then extending the choice selections onto a larger set: as in the case of an interior design, fashion, or even the planning and realization or execution of a menu. These are all socially accepted applications that require a certain level of cleverness and inventiveness,...

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Can We Increase Our Intelligence?

Posted by on 10:10 am in Enhance, Evolve | 0 comments

Can We Increase Our Intelligence?

From the beginning, we have been told that we come into this world with a certain amount of innate intelligence. Many people believe that creativity is something one either has or doesn’t have. So, we accept this as fact and learn to live and work with what we have. What if all this were not true? What if we could learn to increase our brain function and intelligence? What if we could activate our intuitive and creative powers? Years ago, before my private teaching had become in-demand in Manhattan, I taught instrumental music at Chaminade High School, in Mineola, NY. Chaminade is a private, parochial school run by the Marianist Order of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also my alma mater.  I was one of the three woodwind teachers. There were several others who taught the other instrument groups. One day, I was summoned to the Head Principal’s office. “Oh, no! I thought. What did I do?” He stated,”It has been brought to my attention, Mr. Finn, that you have an unusual number of students who place in the top ten of their respective class, year after year. What is your secret?” Phew! I was relieved! I told him that after my first-year teaching at Chaminade, I had developed a theory of how the brain worked. (Disclaimer: I’m not a neuroscientist.) I then conveyed this theory to all of my students. They were challenged to have the discipline to practice every day for one month before they began their homework or in the midst of their homework session. (This IS a challenge because Chaminade gives tons of homework!) I guaranteed my students that they would, in a few weeks, find that their brains were working better. They would have a greater attention span, need less time to study, witness improved retention and see their grades begin to increase. Interestingly, students who successfully practiced each day for one month continued practicing throughout their schooling at Chaminade. Their enjoyment of music increased as did their GPA. One student had even emailed me from Johns Hopkins Medical School relating that he was still practicing every day! I had a simple term for my concept. It was called BRAIN BALANCING. Was it based on science? At the time, no. But, it intuitively made sense. The idea is that playing a musical instrument causes areas of the brain to activate and make connections that no other activity can. All day long, the student sits in classes, listens to the teacher, takes notes, reads and memorizes notes, takes tests, etcetera. They are using the same parts of the brain over and over again. What if the student’s brain could get a relief break and instead use parts of their brain that lay predominantly dormant all day? It would perhaps give the over-taxed part of the brain a chance to rest and revitalize. Wouldn’t it? What if a car uses all of it’s cylinders simultaneously? Surely it would have much more power and efficiency? Students were learning to coordinate brain functions that they wouldn’t necessarily use for anything else. Musicians use their arms and fingers independently in coordination with their breathing. (Unless you type, most of us solely open, close, or clasp our hands, most of the day.) They use their inner ear, sense of intonation, voice,...

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Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings

Posted by on 2:22 am in Enhance, Wealth | 0 comments

Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings

It’s the little things that can say so much about a person. One of those, and maybe not such a little, is punctuality. When someone shows up late, it often implies the message that your time is not as valuable as theirs. There’s an unspoken disrespect or apathy.    King Louis XVIII of France, the post-French Revolution restored Bourbon King, ruled France from 1812-24. A child of the Age of Enlightenment and student of Voltaire, he was known for his wit and manners. Most historians agree that it was King Louis XVIII who first coined the phrase, “Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings.” The implication is that if a king can show the courtesy of being on time for a meeting than surely we can too.    Tardiness for a job interview or an audition almost always spells doom. Being late for work can earn a big, fat demerit. Lateness for an appointment may portend that you’re not dependable. Lateness for a personal engagement often delivers disappointment.     How can we ensure that we will be on time? There’s one uncomplicated method that will almost always get you to an appointment on time. It’s the “count-down-backwards method.” Let’s make up a hypothetical meeting time. Say, 9:00am on a Monday. The first step to punctuality:    Have your route planned out well in advance. In this case, the preceding day; Sunday. In your planning, leave a certain amount of time for the X-Factor (unexpected circumstances for example; train delays, rubber-neck delays, weather delays, etc.) Your running time, (that’s a transportation term meaning; the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B,) plus the X-Factor will determine the latest that you can leave your home.    So, if you calculate an hour to drive to your destination,  then allow for at least half that in “what-if” time. So, with our reverse countdown, this means leaving the house at 7;30am at the latest. The second step:    You need to know how many minutes all of the tasks require for you to be ready to leave your home. A. Will you have to grab a bite at home before you leave? In this example, you would have your meal planned out on Sunday or Saturday. Or, at least know that there will be enough food unless you eat the same thing each morning. * If this meeting was scheduled at the last minute, ask the other party if you can have a window of time that you can get together. B. Shower and shave? Make-up? Know about how many minutes this takes you. Time yourself next time you shower and shave. C. Pick out your clothes and get dressed. If it’s a morning appointment, set your suit on a clothing horse and shine your shoes, the night before.     So, if the total amount of time to get ready is an hour, then this means stopping everything you’re doing and begin to get ready at 6:30am.    Hint: Use your smartphone timers to help.    For most significant appointments, I will plan on showing up an hour early. Yes, I am usually the first one to arrive, but I’m also the one who is the least stressed from the trip. Use your extra time to relax, grab a cup of coffee, or...

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Relate With Your Kids Better

Posted by on 10:29 am in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Relate With Your Kids Better

Most of our interactions with our kids are a result of our doing something for them. We are the chauffeur, repairman, techie, chaperon, motivational speaker, personal groomer, chef, waiter, busboy, drill sergeant, nurse, bodyguard, lifeguard, training officer, lost-objects locator, behavioral analyst, police officer, and warden. Where’s the fun in this? It can be exhausting, right? We have a 9-year-old daughter who’s growing up so fast. Even still, it’s difficult finding common-ground topics for conversation.  There’s only so much Pinkie Pie, Taylor Swift, Sponge Bob, and the latest things made in pink, that a guy can take. She’s quickly forming a self-identity and becoming increasingly independent.  She’s relying more on interactions with her friends. We don’t want this time to slip into the abyss. We want to have good relationships with our children. Relying on our conversations about favorite colors or “I spy with my little eye,” are not necessarily going to bring more understanding of each other or bring us closer, but finding activities that we can both enjoy will! The idea is so that we can both enjoy each others company and build our relationship from doing things together. (BTW, this concept works just as well in my marriage.) These activities provide us the opportunity to learn about what kind of people each of us are, and provides us many fond memories to last many years to come. We learn to flow and work together, to play and learn from each other. It’s a great way to heal scars from one’s particular childhood and break generations of bad habits, patterns, and negative belief systems. We recently found a new activity that we both love to do together, making pizza.  Any of you can do this. Keep reading. It began with me reading the directions and guiding us. We found a way to cooperate and work together. Now, she has taken the helm, with confidence, and except for me dealing with the oven and cutting hot slices, is all her doing. I can be there to support and assist her while she proudly takes charge and makes a delicious pie. To make pizza, you’ll need: A Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan Cuisinart or Oxo pizza cutter Rolling pin – I like the French style that’s just a basic wooden pin. Stainless steel dredge for flour Flour Sifter Ladle for adding gravy to pie Short stainless steel spatula for serving the slices Misto olive oil sprayer – to spray the pizza pan Oven mitts Cheese grater Make the Sauce:Italian Gravy   Other Ingredients: Papa Sal’s frozen packaged dough, dough from local pizza parlor Or, pizza dough from scratch How to Make Pizza Dough Mozzarella cheese Parmesan cheese Olive oil Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees 2. Sprinkle flour on hands and counter top surface. (We have a large butcher-block counter/wine cabinet, I built last summer.) 3. Spray a little olive oil onto the dough, just to make it easier to roll. 4. Roll out into a rough circle, until it’s about 15 inches wide 5. Spray the Lodge pizza pan 6. Transfer the dough to the pan. 7. At this point, I like to cook just the crust for about 5 minutes. It will ensure a golden brown crust with a crispy bottom, just like a good Brooklyn pie! 8....

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The Best Places in NYC to Meet Quality Singles

Posted by on 2:30 am in Enhance, Lifestyle | 0 comments

The Best Places in NYC to Meet Quality Singles

Every day New York singles are out and about, living their lives in this bustling city. Many of the most interesting, dedicated, and inspiring people in the world come to live and make their dreams come true in our great city. They are people who not only have to do the typical mundane tasks of daily life, but they are also vibrant personalities engaged in interesting hobbies, passions, and activities. Here are some ideas of places where you might bump into someone fascinating and make a spark. Don’t try too hard, be yourself. The people who you are looking to meet will notice you if you are living in your truth and power. Carpe Diem! 1. Sotheby’s live auctions or any live auction 2. Community Service Projects 3. Political campaigns 4. On the sidewalk, while walking the dog. Yes, cute dogs are definitely conversation starters! 5. Laundromats 6. Dance classes 7. Church or synagogue coffee hours 8. Art Exhibit Openings 9. Book signings 10. Open-mic Poetry readings 11. Open-mic Folk music 12. Any long line – banks, tickets, shopping, concert, etc. 13. Fitness Clubs 14. Out-of-town day or field trips 15. Dog-Run Parks 16. Non-credit classes 17. Volunteer work at soup kitchens 18. Lunchtime eateries in Midtown 19. Wine tastings 20. Various clubs – bike, dog, bird watching, chess, bridge, etc 21. Martial Arts Dojos 22. Street Fairs 23. Book Stores 24. Flea Markets 25. Crafts Fairs 26. Rock Climbing at Chelsea Piers 27. Ferry Rides 28. Historical or Educational Site Tours   * For single parents, you can add: 29. Playgrounds 30. Any activity you accompany your child; dance classes, little league, art classes, orchestra rehearsals, etc. 31. PTA meetings * Remember, this is all about chance meetings with cool people. If you’re some yahoo on the prowl, you will most likely fail every time. Be yourself and remember that you’re lovable, too. Enjoy this...

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Leadership Via the Lakota Path of the Warrior

Posted by on 3:04 am in Enhance, Featured, Wealth | 0 comments

Leadership Via the Lakota Path of the Warrior

  Izzy Heart Man is a Lakota Indian from the Black Hills of South Dakota. He’s the Medicine Man for his tribe, primarily the spiritual leader and traditional healer. Izzy is a bear of a man, with a deep, mellifluous voice. His confidence, conviction, and bravado emanate. Years ago, having had the privilege of studying the Lakota Indian Path of the Warrior, it changed my life. I will always be grateful to Izzy. When asked how he had come to be the Medicine Man for his tribe, his reply was brief, “I had to earn it!” Merit/ accomplishment/ respect/ admiration/ and established honor commands status. All Lakota men are warriors foremost. The essential attributes are the service to the tribe, fearlessness in battle, strategic prowess, fighting skill, honesty, responsibility, wisdom, stature, distinction, and strength. We can find many useful parallels to connect the essence of modern business culture and this ancient tribal culture. Let’s take a look at each of the earlier mentioned traits and apply them to today’s organizational culture. Service To The Tribe: 1. Each warrior’s sole purpose is for the betterment of his tribe. In caring for his family, he’s caring for his tribe. In caring for his tribe, he’s caring for himself. We can translate this ministration into the service to one’s company.  It implies working with a primary purpose; to keep its mission statement in mind, at all times. It’s not about being noticed or personal advancement. This self-serving source of motivation is usually apparent. 2. Here’s a big one! – Never complain about anything to anyone! Don’t even be found saying the all too familiar obsequious and craven phrase, “If I did complain, no one would listen.” Complainers always look weak. It’s because complainers are chicken-hearted.* I have a friend, B.C., who had survived various mergers and recession layoffs. He not only kept his job throughout all of this but rose through the ranks to becoming Vice-President of Sales of a major tech company. He recently retired with an agreeable package. I asked B.C. what his secret was. He answered,” My secret is simple, “I never complained about anything!”  Also, B.C. would never join the complainers’ conversations, either. I like the Yiddish word for the word “complain”: kvetching. Learn to politely excuse yourself from being sucked into this vortex of despair. Ask yourself, “Is this the most productive use my time?” Use phrases like,”Please excuse me, I have something that demands attention.” Yeah, my job! 3. It’s never about ME. Share the credit every occasion. If your boss praises you, even in private, mention who was helpful. If there’s a photo-op, ask your associates to join you in the picture.  It’s not about you; it’s about service to your tribe! This magnanimous energy will radiate and permeate. It will make you bigger than yourself. A petty and vindictive attitude will reap what it sows. Those who have to politic in order to get ahead are just advertising that they don’t believe that they’re talented enough for promotion. 4. Be efficient and conscious of cost-saving. Don’t be a drag on the company’s account. For example; make post-its from scrap paper, turn your lights off when you leave your office. If this were your company, wouldn’t you want your employees thinking this way? Yes, this IS your company,...

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Everybody Needs a Friend

Posted by on 2:41 am in Health, Lifestyle | Comments Off on Everybody Needs a Friend

Everybody Needs a Friend

  New York City, one of our nation’s most densely populated cities, is home to so many lonely and isolated people. Feeling disconnected can have a powerful effect on anyone’s well-being. “Oh, but to have a friend who is always exuberant to see me, who listens to my woes without offering advice, who always wants to accompany my walks in Central Park, who never phones with problems or complaints, who never makes suggestions of what I should do next, who never talks politics” Oh, snap! You saw the picture. We have one! – Scooter, our Boston Terrier. If you live in an apartment, which most New Yorkers do, you could certainly find a Boston Terrier to be the perfect dog. They have a great capacity for love and devotion for their human peeps. They don’t bark when you leave the apartment or when someone is outside your door. (This keeps away the noise complaints, which we have yet to receive and probably never will.) They don’t take up much – space because they only get to a max of 30 pounds. They don’t shed much at all and are easy to bath. Most dogs have to go out to relieve themselves a minimum of three times per day, Hey, it will get you out and moving. Get out of that easy chair and move those bones! When you take them outside, you will find that they are happy-playful dogs who get along, quite well, with people and other dogs. They love children! Scooter is tireless on long walks and brings many a smile. He’s an instant conversation maker, for most owners, but especially with other Boston owners. It’s a real ice-breaker for all you single folks. And, what a hoot when two Bostons get together to wrestle! Yes, everyone needs to feel loved and have someone, or something, to love. After all, dogs have feelings, too! Scooter brings much delight to our family and now he’s considered a member. We’re renting a house this coming summer, up in Massachusetts. The primary requirement was that we could bring Scooter. I’ve heard that dog owners who live alone will live longer than those who don’t. This is understandable. Feeling loved, on a daily basis, is an essential ingredient for our mental health and happiness. If you’ve been feeling alone and isolated, perhaps having a little guy or gal like Scooter around will cheer you up, help you to not feel so lonely and apart, It’s helped me; maybe it would help...

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New York City Etiquette

Posted by on 11:28 am in Enhance | Comments Off on New York City Etiquette

New York City Etiquette

   New York City is the most densely populated metropolis in the United States. New Yorkers spend their entire lives sharing a relatively small plot of land. 1.63 million people live within 22.7 square miles or 59 square kilometers. On any given weekday, there are 4 million people on Manhattan island. On weekends, there’s 3 million. That’s over 176 thousand per each square mile on weekdays, 101 thousand more per square mile than live here! Considering that most of the footage is taken up by buildings, roads and vehicles, that’s quite a squeeze!     Yes, it’s also quite an invasion of out-of-towners! Many people, visiting New York City, seem to enter with the attitude that “Hey, I’m in New York, now I can act rudely!…After all, aren’t all New Yorkers rude?” This couldn’t be further from the truth!     Requisite crowding has caused generations of  New Yorkers to develop a code of behavior and etiquette that separates the sophisticated New Yorker from the majority of out-of-town riff-raff, faster than a New York minute.     These rules for etiquette, that which seasoned New Yorkers have come to naturally abide, often seem completely undisclosed to most out-of-towners. (Yes, visitors from Long Island and New Jersey are out-of-towners, too!…In fact, they’re often the most grievous offenders of good manners and social taste.)  To all those of you from the Mainland and beyond. Know that the violation of these rules may cause the immediate antipathy from established Manhattan Island inhabitants.    For most reading this, since you’re already hip enough to be on this site 😉 you will find most of these points to already be common practice.   New York City Rules of Etiquette: 1. Be sensitive and aware that you may be blocking someone from passing on the sidewalk.     2. Smoking while walking down a crowded sidewalk leaves a wake of smoke for everyone to inhale that is behind you. Smoke your cigarette off to the side in a well-ventilated area.   3. Only take up one seat when using public transportation. Sitting on a crowded subway taking up three seats, with your legs outstretched,  sends a bad message.   4. Always leave a tip for your servers, doormen, repairmen, and building superintendent. Can’t figure out how much for a restaurant tab, just double the tax!    5. Always hold the door open for someone pushing a baby carriage or carrying bags.   6. Restrain your dog when it’s getting mean and nasty to another dog.   7. Refrain from honking your car horn on a residential side street. It disturbs the elderly as well as infants.   8. Always help someone struggling with a heavy door. Pass it forward.   9.Climb stairs with light feet, in an apartment building.    10. Refrain from holding subway doors open. The trains run frequently enough and it’s dangerous.   11. Always hold an empty elevator for someone with the “Door Open” button.    12. Leave all trash in the proper receptacle…coffee lids, cigarette butts, gum paper, receipts, etc.  NYC has made a great effort placing at least two bins (trash and recyclables) at most intersections…and littering is still against the law.   13. Bag your dog’s poop. Tie a plastic bag into a knot and dispose of it into a proper receptacle.    14. Thank someone when they hold the...

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Cynical? …No, Thanks! We’re Having a Great Day!

Posted by on 12:06 pm in Enhance | 0 comments

Cynical? …No, Thanks! We’re Having a Great Day!

  Who doesn’t find it hard to be around them? I’ll feel like I can’t even bring up a topic, in conversation, without them consciously or unconsciously trying to either make me feel inferior or make themselves feel superior or both!   In New York, I run into a lot of cynical people. They must be much smarter than me because they seem to have it all figured out. If you call them on it, forget-about-it, they act like they don’t even know what you’re saying. “You talkin’ to me?” Now, you all know the expression, “That when you are pointing your finger at someone’s fault, there are four pointing back at yourself.” This colloquialism is usually true. Hmm, I don’t see myself as cynical. Am I? Maybe there’s a part of me that is? After all, I am a New Yorker!” I’ll have to get back to you on this one. George Carlin, the late comedian, said, “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” There’s some painful truth to this statement. Anyone who lived through the Vietnam War and the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X might feel this way. To witness the gap widening, each year, between the wealthy and the poor can be disheartening. To experience our cultural heritage being destroyed by commercialism and see that “some things never change,” would cause anyone to become disenchanted. In many ways, this is nothing new. In 500 B.C., Lao Tsu was so displeased with human nature that he left society to spend his final years in the desert. Greed, fear, and evil have ravaged our world for millenniums. The question is, in this short lifetime, what do I choose to focus on? What is my point of view on this world and my life? I love the scene in the 1994 film, Don Juan DeMarco, where the burnt-out and embittered psychiatrist, played by Marlon Brando, tries to get the apparently delusional Don Juan DeMarco, played by Johnny Depp, to see that he is insane. Don Juan’s reply is something to the effect of, “I’m very happy. I see a world filled with beautiful women and opportunity. I live in a Perfect World. But you, sir, are a miserable wretch who lives in a very dark world. You are bitter and cynical. I ask you, which one of us is crazy?” There is some truth to this. Is my focus going to be more that the world is fear driven or love directed? Our brains cannot possibly fire synapses and dendrites the same exact way today as they had fired yesterday. If you tried to count one second of synapses firing in your brain, it would take 32 million years to count every synapse. This is a staggering fact to comprehend. It’s not possible to make one’s eyes move the same exact way that they moved the day before, to repeat every pathway and glimpse. Everything in this room has a slightly different perspective than yesterday. The light given off from the sun is casting different shadows. There are new and different sounds outside. So, that you might ensure or check that you are not cynical, and on the path to miserableness, try to conduct an exercise, a sort of daily walking meditation. It is based...

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Insomnia Undressed – 36 Tips to Help You Sleep…Plus, and New #37!

Posted by on 11:10 am in Health | Comments Off on Insomnia Undressed – 36 Tips to Help You Sleep…Plus, and New #37!

Insomnia Undressed – 36 Tips to Help You Sleep…Plus, and New #37!

    Insomnia is often an unexplainable condition with a simple description: You either can’t fall asleep or you wake up wide-awake and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes the solution is a quick fix, other times it’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. So, what’s a reasonable night’s worth of sleep? Most doctors agree that it is about 7.5 hours. The amount of sleep required for each individual may vary, usually from about 6-9 hours. If you wake to feel refreshed, then you’ve slept enough.   There are two biggies that cause most insomniacs to suffer from an almost incurable sleep deprivation.     1. Depression – the elephant in the room! Depression is the most common cause of insomnia. Be open to the possibility and talk to your doctor. There’s a multitude of courses of action one can take, with or without the need for anti-depressants. 2. Stress – the other elephant in the room. There are all types of stress in our lives. Take an inventory. Figure our what you can and can’t control. Implement small steps towards making some changes or shifts in your life. Find something that you look forward to doing. Maybe start a new project that has a potential for some new experiences or income. Again, if your stress persists, then talk to your doctor. Go back, if the first thing that he suggests doesn’t work for you. The following tips have worked for many people I know.  Hopefully, that they will prove useful and effective for you.          36 Self-Tested and Proven Tips: 1.Try to set up an evening sleep ritual. In other words; develop a scheduled pattern of behavior preceding bedtime. Begin this at least one-hour preceding sleep-time. This includes no screen viewing of any kind. 2. Make a list of everything that you need to do for the next day. Put the list in the same place every night and let it go. That means that you’ve done everything you can do today. Tomorrow is a new day to work the list. 3. Refrain from eating or drinking anything sweet three hours before bedtime. Most say no alcohol, but self-experimentation proves that a dram of Scotch is OK.  There are no initial sugars in whiskey, unlike wine, only when it processes during digestion, and this isn’t significant. (See the article,”Taming the Beast Within.”) 4. In theory, deleting all caffeine from one’s diet should help with insomnia. Chinese masters of Chi Energy (Life Force) believe that stimulants disturb the balance of Chi by “tricking” the adrenal gland. (Chinese Doctor  T.K. Shih) However, many insomniacs have a limited success from the omission of caffeine. It’s best to avoid the afternoon or evening cup unless you’ve been drinking coffee all day. In this case, like other stimulants, after the first dose or two, they tend to act more as depressants. The drinker may think that they’re getting the lift from the caffeine, but it’s the water in the coffee that’s giving them the energy boost. Dehydration from the previous cups of coffee was the likely cause of the tiredness. 5. Many insomniacs also have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.) Some call it acid reflux. If you’re thinking about buying stock in Tums, then you probably have it! Refrain...

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