The Holidays, Surgical Procedures and Lessons Learned

“The Road to Success is always under construction.”      Anonymous.

What is with Hollywood?  I don’t get it.  Here we are just coming out of the Christmas/Chanukah Holiday season and many of us are going through some very tough times.  How ‘bout some inspiration, huh?  How about some giggles?

It seems the only thing enlightened Movieland Mandarins provide these days are dire formulaic crap and unfettered corporate hack access.

There is very little in any flicks released today that is uplifting, much less humorous.

And, then they wonder why box office receipts keep heading in a southerly direction.

Sure, I’m over 50 and don’t fit the flick-biz prime demographic. OK, but even Millennials are staying away from Popcornville in droves.  What does that tell you?

I’m not looking to bring back the “good old days.”  Just give me something to enjoy, especially this time of the year. Please?

For me, the months of November, December and through the beginning of January are insufferable times.

I totally agree with Actor/Producer/Talk Show Host Craig Ferguson who said, I think holidays create so much pressure because people feel they should be having a good time. But you shouldn’t. ”

Normally, I try to keep these pieces motivational, aspirational and a bit humorous. On this go-round, it’s a wait and see proposition.

I’ve spent so much time looking for some smart, light and amusing quotes to start this piece but can’t seem to find one that is appropriate. And, maybe there’s good reason for this.

Bear with me, I’m venting but leading up to something more positive and resolute.

For me, I give thanks for the Holidays.  I am grateful they are finally over.

It’s a season where I shut down. For me, it’s the most painful, most abhorrent and dispiriting time in the yearly calendar.  It is like some loathsome monstrosity, an energumen, invading my normally upbeat manner that crushes any elements of personal joy, gratitude and expectation.

There is no religious significance nor bias attached to this misery.  I believe in a higher power and will leave it at that.

Sure, there is the over-commercializaiton aspect of the Season; that can wear anyone down.

Then, there is Holiday Standard Time (HST).  For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to those yearly commemorative occasions that spawn disregard, suspend accomplishment and creates “an aura of coerced placidity.”  The Germans know how to sum things up.  Check out the word Gleichshaltung.  It sez it all, baby cakes.

On a smaller scale, there’s July 4th, Labor Day, Easter, Passover, Memorial Day, etc.  But, it is not just the festive occasion itself.  It’s the days prior and subsequent to the respective Holiday.

And the biggest HST culprit is that month and a half stretch leading up to Thanksgiving, going through Christmas, Chanukah/Kwanzaa and persisting non-stop to the week succeeding New Years Day.

HST is when most people are going through the motions.  Why?  Because, it seems to me that most everyone has ceased to function.  In my line of work as an Author, Speaker, Trainer and Coach, most everything comes to a screeching halt.  Nothing happens.  Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.  If so, I beg your indulgence.

Reading this, it probably sounds like I’m having a bad day at the Happiness Exchange.  That disposition is a “was.” It is the past.  The Season of Shutdown is over.

Thankfully we are into a new year, which bestows the acknowledgment and promise of a new beginning.  It is the initial, although meager, “ray of hope” beginning to glimmer.

Let me put it this way, lately my life has been arresting.  I use that word in connection with the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”   It’s been very interesting.

Health wise, the last few years have been a bit challenging.  Without going into boring detail, I’ve been experiencing abdominal pains; sometimes uncomfortable, other times extremely painful.

I have seen so many doctors, specialists, surgeons, herbalists and even 2 notary publics.  I have gotten so many second opinions and the one thing on which they all agree is “you’re ugly too.”

I been over examined, probed, prescribed, x-rayed, MRI’d and scanned.

So much so, that if a cannibal reviewed my medical records prior to ingestion, he’d probably consider me too genetically modified for human consumption.

However, a recent scan and x-ray discovered 3 large kidney stones that had gone previously undetected.

Well, a few weeks ago, I went in to have them emulsified, smashed and crushed.  Unfortunately, the procedure didn’t get them all.  So, next week, it is back to the hospital for Round 2.  Love those slipper socks.  I prefer blue.

Hey, bear with me. Things do get better.  I don’t want to turn this into my personal pity party.

And, in between the two procedures, my wife had hip replacement surgery that hasn’t gone well.

So, what’s the point to all this?

Sometimes in life, there is nothing you can do at the time.  For me, getting through the end of year holidays is normally my biggest struggle. The surgery and procedures have been icing on the cake

But, life only gives you what you can handle.  No medal, just reality.

Woody Allen once said, “death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.”  So, slow down, stick around, don’t give up. Things do get better.

Is this the answer you’ve waited patiently for?  No, of course not.

Going through tough times can be unmerciful and seemingly unending.  However, tough times do come to an end. And, just like you, I have to overcome these challenges.

It’s like the story about the old man immersed in agony who looks upwards to the sky and pleads, “why me”?  Then, out of nowhere, dark, black clouds appear, massive lightning strikes occur, torrential rains begin to fall, howling, tornadic force winds level everything in sight.  Suddenly, from the heavens, comes a sonorous, booming and thunderous voice which says, “because you piss me off.”

As I said, there are times in life when there is nothing that can be done.  In fact, nothing at the moment is just about everything you can do.

It sucks.  Believe me, I know.

It’s a time to reflect on choices, on life’s options.  This is not a time to be so hard on yourself that you diminish vision and promise. Hey, it’s cold outside even in LA and pity parties don’t attract crowds anymore.

The only compensation: as with everything in life, eventually, the pendulum does swing back in our favor.

Here’s one of those “ain’t that the truth” comments from Artist Jennifer Yane who summed things up nicely, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”

Amen to that.

Author/Speaker/Trainer and Coach. That is who and what I am. How can I do what I do if I can’t help myself?  So, I have vested interest in overcoming my own challenges so I can help others.

I’ve been there and overcame this and that but still have a ways to go.  And, perhaps like you, every now and then, I get lost but find a way to get back on track.

I can’t give up. If I do, then I’m a fraud. If I’m a fraud and, let’s face it, those of us over the age of 50 can whiff BS a country mile away.  If what I offer is not truth, then what right do I have of even considering assisting others?  That becomes a case study in self-delusion;  kidding no one besides myself.

We are over the age of 50.  We have our faults, our shortcomings and have lived long enough to know wisdom when we see and hear it.  And, what is wisdom? Wisdom is the quality that comes from experience.

Guess what?  We have experience.  We have wisdom.  That is what we bring to the table. That is our worth and value.

Consider your options.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. How can you help others?  Things do get better.  Unfortunately, it’s rarely on our timeline.

And, let me know if you hear of any good flicks.


Going from Nowhere to Know Where

“All truth passes through three steps: First, it is Ridiculed.  Second, it is Violently Opposed.  Third, it is accepted as Self-Evident.”                                                                   Arthur Schopenhauer, Philosopher            

You may have heard the story about the world’s most brilliant mathematician.  The man was a genius.

One day, he decided to just pick up, run away and join the circus.

Previous status and superior smarts mean squat along the midway. So, being the “newbie”, he was handed a shovel and told to follow the elephants.

One day, friends ran into him.  They were shocked and stunned by his transformation.  This was a man held in high regard throughout the world. He had an MBA from Harvard and two Doctorates from MIT.

Puzzzled and confused, they asked what was the allure of “the three ring.”  There had to be more to life than scooping up pachyderm poop, and when would he be returning to his former life.

And the genius told them, “what and leave Show Business”?

It’s so easy to get lost today.  So much is expected while so much is uncertain.

We are told by Marketing and Advertising that residing in the 50 Plus demo is equivalent to being legally dead.  What BS!

Recently, I was asked to consult for a Business Incubator down in Orange County.  If you are new to this concept as I was, Business Incubators are set up to assist young Entrepreneurs in Development, Promotion, Marketing, etc. essential to the successful launch of product/service.  In short, it shows them “the ropes.”

Most of the workshop attendees were in their late teens to late 20’s.  Listening to them was intoxicating and eye-opening. It made me realize how little I knew as well as how much I needed to learn in order to be more coherent and consequential in today’s ever changing marketplace.

Just as I getting ready to write myself off as somewhat irrelevant, something happened.

As each young Entrepreneur got up to give their “elevator talk”-that 30 second spiel about themselves and their product-it became immediately apparent that although these kids were beaucoup brainy, they had little or no presentation skills, whatsoever.

They knew what they knew and knew what they knew very well, but their preferred communication delivery system is non-verbal.  They text, they tweet.  Email is out.  In fact, Instant Messaging via “chat apps” has now supplanted texting.

What I’m saying is that younger demos are so accustomed to data-inarticulation. that verbal skills become suppressed and diminished.

Today’s non-verbal communication structures limit correspondence to less than 200 characters.  This does not allow for much transmission of passion, shading and inflection; let’s not forget meaningful bonding and rapport.

So, when compelled to give face to face submissions, they lack an indispensable enthusiasm and context so essential to communication and success.  What is missing are the qualities of beguilement and seduction that captivate and seal the deal.

Their deficit is one of our selling points. Sure, we need to bone up on the technical, but what good is the latest and most significant development since the creation of Fritos-one of life’s nutritional essentials, I might add-if it can’t be communicated adequately.

The 50 Plus Adult is adept at face to face communication.  It is what we have done all our lives.  We pick up on inflection or lack of it in conversation.  We read body language.  We can smell BS a mile away.

And, we are not as old as our parents were at our current age.

We are much too young to be old.  We fight age with a vengeance.  Take a look at Honda and their 3 wheeled motorcycle.  Have you noticed there is a gym on just about every block.

Every time I turn around, there is another spa opening up; so much so that I’ve stopped turning around.  Take a look at those $60, 000 plus sports cars.   Outside of Silicon Valley billionaires and Rap moguls, these awesome freeway spectacles target the 50 Plus Adult.

We turned going out to dinner into something theatrical.  Hello Plastic Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacements and Breast Augmentation!

We are adapters.

Not too long ago, I held a workshop.  It was geared to the 50 Plus Adult in workplace transition.  The attendees were either employed but wanting to make a career change, underemployed or “in between success.”

In the back of the room was a man I didn’t know but knew so well.  He was me from years ago. He was there but not there.  He wasn’t even pretending to be interested.  His body language screamed disinterest, anger, discouragement and depression.

About an hour or so into the presentation, I called on the man in the back of the room.  His arms were tightly folded.  There was no way he was going to accept anything he heard in this workshop.

I asked him what kind of work he did.  He told me that he had been a printer, who had worked overnight in order to stay out of office-politics.  However, he did such great work, that many times he was called in to do daytime shifts because his knowledge,  craftsmanship and work ethic were so good.

His self-description was not boastful. He also shared with all of us that he had been unemployed for about 6 months.

I asked him about business cards.  What kind of type, color, thickness and size would be best for what I do?  He took a look at my current business card and then gave me his opinion.  I needed a new card.  And, I knew he was right.

Then I asked if he would put together some new business cards for me.  That started an avalanche.  Other audience members wanted to know how to contact him to do their cards.

He then went on for 20 minutes.  He gave a talk on business cards, stationary, envelopes etc.  He was tremendous!  He actually picked up a few clients at that workshop.  On the second day of the workshop, he was no longer sitting in the back of the room.

By the way, my cards look great and the man who sat in the back of the room, whose arms were wrapped tightly around himself, is now working as a printing consultant.

This is a man who went from nowhere to know where.

These days, it is all so easy to become insulated, believing that what we have to offer is meaningless.  We are over the hill.

That is such nonsense.  As I have said many times in these pieces, “people hear what they want to hear and only hear what they need to hear when they are ready to hear what they heard.”

We are over the age of 50.

We are adaptable.  Sometimes we forget how important we are and have to be reminded of our value.

It reminds me about the old Henny Youngman story.  His Grandson would wake up every morning with a headache. And every day, Henny had to remind his Grandson, “when you get out of bed, feet first, Larry, feet first.”

And, don’t be afraid to fail.  Failures are steps on the way to Success.  Learn something new.  After “learning the ropes”, then it’s time to integrate past knowledge and experiences into the new endeavor.

You are much too young to be old.  Feet first, feet first.  The time is now to go from Nowhere to Know Where.