The Art of Good Vibrations

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The art of good vibrations is a mixed method of study that will bring you really enjoyable results. We all know that how and where we focus our attention and intention creates much of the mood-scape that we live within.

It is obvious to me that I can sometimes get stuck in a negative mind-set. So here is a simple question for you, and for me:

Do you want to feel happy, or do you want to feel not-happy?

The answer helps us to figure out which direction we want to be going towards.

The question is important to ask, especially when we are spiralling down into the yucky horror of black thoughts and dark moods.

It is a simple fact of modern science that we can positively change our mood, and thereby transform the way we react to incoming impressions. IF we take the time to clean out the mental filters we use to process information, we have a good head start over the primitive centers of our brain.

Let me explain a bit more:

We all have a brain, right?

In our brain there is a physically small part called the amygdala. Consider this to be your reptile-stump brain. It operates very quickly, and has a BIG effect on what you think and feel. It does not know about past, present or future. It is all about fight, flight or freeze.

The next bit of the brain that includes the amygdala is the limbic system. The limbic system deals with:

  • spatial memory
  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • long term memory
  • smell (olfactory functions)
  • fear
  • pleasure
  • processing new memories
  • intentional movements (go on, raise your hand)

This is a partial list and indicates how this very old part of our brain can quickly get us into trouble. We can get ‘triggered’ to react based on our immediate survival instinct.

The old-brain is intimately concerned with running every incoming sensory impression through the following set of questions:

  1. Can I eat it?
  2. Can it eat me?
  3. Can I dominate it?
  4. Can it dominate me?
  5. Can I mate with it?
  6. Can it mate with me?
  7. Can I kill it?
  8. Can it kill me?

These questions are being asked 24/7, 365 days a year, no holidays. This survival instinct is at work, often in the background, and usually we are not aware of it’s presence.

Now we come to the frontal lobes of the brain. This is the major part of the brain we are going to use in our simple, mental exercise program.

Here is a sample list of what the frontal lobes are up to:

  • executive functions;
  • considers future consequences;
  • attention span;
  • inhibition;
  • judgement;
  • makes choices over-riding socially unacceptable behaviours;
  • determines similarities and differences between people, places and things;
  • helps to distinguish relationship between memory and emotion;

By consciously engaging the frontal lobes of the brain, you are going to influence the highly reactive survival instinct. The result is you are going to change your moodscape. And here is how you are going to do it:

  • The next time you get angry, mad, sad, anxious, tense, freaked-out;
  • When you become consciously aware that you are spiralling into the not-happy frame of reference;
  • Ask yourself what it is that is going on that you are NOT enjoying;
  • Answer this question as clearly and succinctly as possible;
  • Use the answer to ask yourself, “What is it, now, that I do want to feel?”

As soon as you begin to use the cognitive part of your brain that is reflective and thoughtful, the faster you short-circuit the fight-flight-freeze reflex.

Here is how you do this in the real-world, right-now:

  • Let the noise in your head go by;
  • Be aware of the thoughts crashing through;
  • Do NOT try and stop thinking the thoughts, NOT YET;
  • Just be aware of the thoughts;
  • Take a few moments to experience being aware of your thoughts;

This brief and important few moments of actually being present with the activity of your thoughts and feelings gives you the opportunity to do this next part:

  1. Now, as the thoughts flow, zoom, or crash by, insert one thought of your own choosing.
  2. Make sure you insert a thought that you actually want to have in your awareness.
  3. Choose a thought that is positive. Keep it very simple. State something in the present moment.
  4. Insert this thought and let it go.
  5. Get ready to create the next thought of your own choosing.
  6. Insert this next thought, and let it go.

This gives you the power to take back the thoughts you think. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your mind. You can begin to think thoughts on purpose, NOT just because your brain is held captive by mental habits of worry, anger, fear, hatred, anxiety, sadness, jealousy and so on.

Here are some examples of on-purpose thought over-rides that you can insert into your very powerful mind:

  • I can think new thoughts now;
  • I am thinking new thoughts right now;
  • I can whistle right now;
  • I am thinking right now;
  • I am able to insert this thought right now;
  • I can make a different choice right now;
  • I am okay;
  • I can do this;

This is a beginning. You can create more assertive and positive thought constructs, too. You can begin by stating how you want to be feeling:

  • I want to feel good;
  • I want to feel happy;
  • I want to feel peace;
  • I want to feel joy;

Those are a few examples. They are very simple statements. You can create similar thoughts and think these self-made, little ideas. Here are some closing tips:

  1. Think a new thought and watch it go;
  2. Let the next wave of thoughts that rise up come by, too;
  3. Observe as a witness these thoughts;
  4. Now, come up with the next, new thought;
  5. Insert the new thought;
  6. Repeat the process;

Being a witness to your own thoughts is very intriguing, and so is the idea that you can deliberately encourage a “good vibration.”

Take it as it comes, and enjoy the ride!

By Robert Farmilo

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Closet Organization – A New Way For 2010

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I want you to do something in a few minutes. Read this article first, then go through your closet and pick out one item or outfit (or poorly fitting undergarment) that signifies low self-worth. Most of us have at least one item in there that doesn’t feel great when we put it on. Clothing, like all things, is created from Source and therefore has vibration. Purging your closet of things (with vibrations) that no longer match your inner vibration seems to me to be a natural practice. We have to get rid of the old to make room for the new. No better time to do this than the New Year.

When my personal transformation really kicked in a few years ago, I got rid of almost all my clothing. I pared down to a small suitcase of clothes. I wore the same things over and over. My soul craved simplicity. My old self no longer fit and neither did the clothes. It was something very necessary to do at the time and never once did I wonder what I would wear in the future. I was leaving my old self behind and could only practically take a few items with me. It was simple to discard what no longer fit. Something strong was going on inside as I turfed almost everything, taking only essentials with me. When I settled back down into civilization, I accumulated what I could through charity. Homeless and jobless initially, I sorted through the bags of donated clothing at the transition house. It was a humbling experience and that was the point.

I confess, my current wardrobe is not what I want it to be (yet), but I cannot deny it as a reflection of my inner landscape at some point in my life. Otherwise I wouldn’t have attracted these pieces in the first place. Something about each piece of clothing I own made me say, “Yes, okay, come into my world”.

It may have had something to do with not really caring what I had as long as I had something. A wardrobe by default. How many pieces of clothing do you own simply because they were “cheap”? What does that say about your self-worth? Clothing is an outer reflection of how we value ourselves and is the image we project to the world. How we dress gives others permission on how to treat us. When we dress down (sometimes way low down), we project to others a low self-image and that it’s okay to treat us poorly. We don’t value ourselves, so there is no reason for you to value us either.

Have you ever put on a beautiful outfit and felt like a million bucks? Do you know that feeling? If you don’t, why not go and try on something beautiful in a store? See the difference a quality piece of clothing – that reflects your magnificent self – really feels like. Maybe you’re not ready to dress that way every day. Maybe you don’t want to. Do you have a hangup about expensive clothes? Yes, quality usually does cost more. There’s no surprise there. If we keep buying crappy clothes because they are cheap, we’re going to keep feeling crappy in them. This holds you back from being your magnificent self and from sharing your magnificent self with the rest of the world.

The idea of sorting through your entire closet feels like a monstrous, day long commitment. I’m not asking you to sort through your whole closet. Just start with one item. That’s all. I went to my closet to pull out one item. I ended up hauling out six.

  • An old, bland-looking skirt that I never wore. It was second-hand when I bought it. It looks bad on me. It IS old.
  • A blouse with 3/4 length sleeves and too-tight cuffs. It snipped the fabric around the cuffs a bit to make it feel more comfortable and vowed to wear it under sweaters only. Instead, it feels like I’m wearing a tattered blouse that has been cut.
  • Another shirt, although I love the fabric and color, is flattering to my bust but not the rest of my figure.
  • There’s another polyester (ie inexpensive) top that provides me with a self image that is less than flattering. I won’t go into details. Not wanting to amp up the vibe on that one. It’s comfortable when it’s on, and I’ve had a few compliments on it, but I don’t feel great in it.
  • Then there’s a bland, beige cardigan, although practical for my nursing job, was second hand, and has seen better days. I’ve already replaced the buttons on it and is now frayed at the seams.

 

  • And lastly, a black, unisex sweatshirt. I’ll never wear it. I’m sure. The old me would have. For camping maybe. And maybe I’ll regret ditching it down the road, but I haven’t worn it and can’t see myself feeling comfortable in it. It looks like a black sack on me. Nice (not).

It was easy to rid myself of those six items. I won’t miss them. At least today I think I won’t. If I’m going to be true to my magnificent inner self, then these pieces of clothing that make me feel less-than magnificent have no business in my closet. Sure, there was a bit of a twinge of “what will I wear then if I get rid of everything?” It was only a twinge. A tiny yelp from ego. Look at each item hanging in your closet and ask yourself, “How do I feel wearing this?” It doesn’t matter if it was expensive or not. If you don’t feel fantastic wearing it, it has no business being in your closet. Maybe it just needs a little tailoring. Haul it out and get it tailored then. If you’re the kind of person who says this but never gets around to it, pass the piece on as is. Are you holding on to an item for emotional reasons? I have a couple of things at the back of the closet that I may never wear but cannot yet discard. All kinds of excuses come up, but dealing with them is for another day. Today we rid ourselves of one item. Or six.

Ridding yourself of clothes that no longer fit you – either physically, emotionally or spiritually – creates space for more. The Universe abhors a vacuum. You can expect those holes in your closet to be filled, perhaps beyond your wildest expectations. Go and rid yourself of one item. Or six. Come back and share your experiences as a comment on the blog. Happy purging!

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Dining Terror

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Dining in total darkness! All is completely obscure. Your food, your companions, your eating utensils, even your own hand. Total darkness! When my husband, Gary’s assistant mentioned a new restaurant in London, Dans le Noir, I was most curious. The twist on this place was that one ate in total darkness. I mean, total darkness. You were assigned a blind waiter and he was your “guide”.

We had already planned to take one of Gary’s school colleagues and his girlfriend to dinner. Consequently, I had one of my many brilliant ideas.

“Gary, lets surprise them and take them to Dans le Noir!”

Gary immediately agreed. (I sometimes wonder how often he regrets agreeing to my ideas.) For two weeks this couple were held in suspense. They pleaded to know where we were taking them. I was silent! I couldn’t wait to surprise them with this treat. Of course Gary was very well acquainted with Sam, a transplanted Yank. I had only met his girlfriend, Natalie, a young teacher at the school once. She was a Brit, born and bred and I looked forward to getting acquainted with her over a nice dinner. Albeit, somewhat dark.

I had told my daughter what we had planned. She related a recent episode of CSI in which a diner had been murdered in a restaurant like this. This sordid tale did not deter me. I reassured her with a quote from the restaurant’s website, “infra red cameras are used and keep records to ensure visitors’ welfare and safety. Please be assured that we only watch the records in case of an incident or on customer request.” That was good enough for me.

We arrive at Dans Le Noir. I can hardly wait for them to join us in this experience, which, granted Gary and I had prepared for two weeks. They were still oblivious to the type of restaurant.

We are met at the door by a very French maitre d’, who addresses us,

“So, Mesdames and messieurs, you are ready to eat in total, pitch darkness, oui?”

Sam heard what the man said, but could not fully comprehend it. He just stared at the man in disbelief. Natalie, on the other hand, obviously had not heard or understood exactly what he had said. She was still smiling and ooing and ahhing over the subdued lounge décor.

“Natalie,” I enunciated every word and slowly repeated what the man had just told us, “We are going to eat in total darkness. Pitch black. Won’t this be fun?” It never occurred to me that she would not be as delighted as I.

The smile left her face to be replaced by a pasty whiteness. It was my first hint that perhaps we were in trouble.

I knew that if it were at all feasible, Natalie would have bolted. Her whole demeanor changed. She was no longer the bubbly young ingénue. She was now a most disturbed individual, who could not order a double shot of vodka quick enough.

Natalie immediately informed us she sometimes got claustrophobic. Oh great. She was readily assured by the maitre d’ that she could leave the blackened dining room at any time, if she so desired. They didn’t mention a seeing eye dog would be assisting her. Good sport that she was, she said she’d give it a whirl. Well, not a whirl, she probably would have fallen down.

We are assigned our blind waiter, Roberto. And he instructed me to put my right hand on his shoulder, and the others to follow suit with the person in front of them. Somewhat of a conga line, without the music.

We enter hesitantly through black curtains and soon we are in total, total darkness. However, we do hear voices, lots of voices. Natalie just stopped. No more going forward for her. Consequently I couldn’t proceed any further. She was squeezing muscles in my shoulder I didn’t even know still existed. Roberto said to me, “you cannot stop, or we’ll never get to the table.” I pleaded with him, “I’m not stopping, the lady behind me is.” I relay Roberto’s message to Natalie and she hesitantly continues. Much like someone being lead to the guillotine.

He points out the exact position of the chairs, where the table is located and we fumble our way sitting down. Natalie and I sit down next to each other. Gary and Sam are sitting across from us. However, Sam realizes that Natalie is not directly across from him. In fact, he realizes it in a most stressed voice. And I suddenly become aware that he has not said a word since he heard, quite clearly from the maitre d”, “So, Mesdames and messieurs, you are ready to eat in total, pitch darkness?”

Gary and Sam switch places.

Natalie whispers to me Sam sometimes has anxiety attacks. Lovely.

Should he bolt, which he is threatening to do, you can see nothing. He starts calling in a most embarrassingly loud voice, “Roberto! Roberto!” And thank god Roberto answers and Sam says, “You are right here, all the time??? ALL the time?” And Roberto, who is probably, unbeknownst to us, rolling his blind eyes, says, “Yes, sir, no problem”.

When you first sit down Roberto points out where your big glass is, your small glass and your knife and fork. We had ordered a jug of water and bottle of wine and they put the wine right next to the wall, where I was sitting so I was the official wine pourer. The only way I could do it was put my finger in the glass, but let me tell you that didn’t bother Sam and Natalie one little bit, they were downing that wine.

Sam starts to calm down a little. I asked Sam how his appetizer was and he said, “I can’t eat because I’m holding Natalie’s hand.” Natalie noted that he was not holding her hand, he was crushing her hand. Natalie continually felt my hair and petted my sweater. Weird, but as long as it kept her from bolting, okay by me. I kept thinking back to the couple in the Rocky Horror Show.

Sam kept talking about disembodied voices, just “floating” around us. He even started to converse with a feminine voice near him. Her name was Teresa. He asked her how her food was and she replied, “Great, Sam, how’s yours?”

We soon abandoned all precepts of using a knife and fork. You haven’t lived till you’ve eaten stewed vegetables with your fingers. The food was good, at least it felt good.

We finished eating and Roberto lead us out into the light of the lounge. Glorious light! Even I was relieved. My babysitting job was over. And who should be there to greet Sam in the lounge? Teresa! They are now fast friends, as people often are who have shared a night of terror.

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To Judge? Or Not to Judge

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With the vast number and wide variety of car show events vying week to week for participants, the issue of judging can make or brake any car show! Sad to say, but for many car show participants, there is an air of stress at the simplest mention of the word JUDGING! Currently there are a wide spectrum of events available all with their own merits and problems related to judging, all having their place in the Car Culture Community! The range actually stretches from Non Judged to Spectator Choice / Participant Pick to the most involved Team Judged events. The main factor that needs to be addressed is keeping an event FUN for the participants and judges alike.

Many organizations (Car Clubs and Civic Groups) who host car shows have opted to hand out random cash awards, billing their event as a Non-Judged “Fun Meet”. This allows all participants to have an equal chance at driving home with cold hard cash rather than going through the judging process. This process saves a lot of the hosting organizations time and energy from physically inspecting each vehicle, processing each of the judging sheets then coordinating a trophy presentation at the end of the event and dealing with any complaints of “why didn’t I receive an award”. See in the next section my fix to a vast majority of the complaints. The only real downside to this type of event, is Non-Judged events lack of competition.

There are still those participants who live for the competition side of an event, where the best vehicles are awarded on their merits as decided by a judging body. The simplest of these would be Spectator Choice and Participant Judging. Both are about the same, however both have been questioned by many as actually being a good old boy, buddy system at work! While I do admit that this “could” be the case, I find that the majority of either spectators or participants who are judging are honest car hobbyists or car enthusiasts. They go out and judge honestly see either what they like in the spectators case or actually the best vehicles by the participants. As mentioned in the positive side of the Non Judged “Fun Meet”, there is the likely hood of complaints resulting from the judging. As a chief judge at a local show and In an attempt to keep the peace “I” had a an ace in the hole to make an unhappy entrant less unhappy with the days events. The ace you ask… well I kept four honorable mention award just in case the situation arose at the end of the event with an unhappy participant. I would call it a Win – Win the owner left happy, and will more than likely return the following year.

Then there is Team Judging. This type of judging is usually the format used by the majority of the National Clubs, Marquis Specific Clubs and Concours D’Elegance events. This could be noted as the most stressful of all of the forms of judging discussed here. One thing to remember by both judges and participants is that a Judging Team can be a formidable presence. I suggest the judging team act in a friendly manner with the participants and thank the owners for bringing their pride and joy to the event! For those new participants to this style of judging, it can even be a bit overwhelming. I do have a few suggestions for a new “Judged” Car Show participant to lessen the stress and help in making it what it should be all about, the fun. First, the entrant should read the information provided regarding the judging of an event either in the clubs publication or website. I would also suggest the owner have a knowledgeable yet impartial friend walk their car and noting any problem area and correcting them. Any owner can become a bit jaded so fresh disinterested eyes could spot that drip from the transmission, grease over flowing from a fitting or cob webs hanging from the exhaust. Last but clearly not least, I would suggest that the entrant go to the club judging seminar, judges training and or participant orientation to get a clear feel for what the judges are looking for. With these tasks completed, it should relieve a lot of the “unknown” Stress, making this what it should be a fun event. After the show is completed I also suggest the owner contact the host of the event and request a copy of the judges sheet for what areas need correction so they can work on those items for future events.

With these few suggestion, I would hope that the entire car show experience could become a FUN experience for both the participants and the judges alike!

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How to Fix "Tasklist" Error

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“Tasklist.exe” is a Mirosoft Windows program that lists the processes that are currently running within the computer system. It is available in Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista. If you’re using Windows, you probably have it.

This exe file is useful in knowing what the computer is doing and discovering errant tasks. You can utilize this on a local or remote computer by accessing the command prompt and typing tasklist. Upon doing so, you will see a list of the names of the computer process and their respective PID (Process ID), location, session number, and memory usage. You may type the following on the command line to execute more specific actions:

“/S” then the name of the system to display the tasks in a remote system

“/M” for modules

“/SVC” for hosted services

“/V” for verbose tasks

“/FI” filter for tasks that are related to a specified criteria such as status, image name, PID, session (session number), sessionname, CPUtime, memusage (memory usage), username, services, windowtitle, and modules (for dll)

“/FO” format to show the data as a “CSV” (comma-separated values), “LIST” or “TABLE”.

Tasklist > process.txt to save it in a document

Error Notifications

You may be alerted that there’s something wrong with tasklist when the computer is starting up or when you try to access this program. You may see one of the following:

Tasklist.exe is not found. The tasklist cannot be found anywhere in the computer or it is not in its usual place at c:windowssystem32.

Tasklist.exe unable to locate component. A component of the tasklist is missing.

Tasklist.exe is corrupted. The program is corrupted by a virus or bad programming.

Fixing the Issue

Before you do anything, you should log in an administrator account. Only those who have administrator accounts can see important files and make changes in the computer system. You can either borrow someone’s account, have an administrator change your account, create a new administrator account, or change your account’s settings by clicking on User Accounts in the Control Panel.

Look for the program in “c:windowssystem32”. Use Windows Explorer to look for My Computer. Click that to find Local Disk C:, then Windows, then System 32. Before opening this folder, you will be told that you must not modify the folder’s contents to avoid harming your computer. You need not worry about this but just click “show contents of the folder”. You should find the exe file here; you’ll find it easier if you arrange the icons alphabetically. If you didn’t see it, you will need to do either of these:

1. Find where tasklist is then put it where it belongs. You can open your file folders one by one or use the search function. Once you see it, go to where it is, copy it, and then paste it to c:windowssystem32.

2. Reinstall the program if you didn’t find it anywhere. Get your Windows installer program and reinstall it or you could look for the specific file online then install that.

3. Do a system recovery. Press Start, then All Programs, then System Tools, then System Restore. Select a point of time where you’d like to restore the system. This may bring back the missing Windows program if the loss was caused by recent system changes.

If the tasklist is still there but it’s not working, you need to know if a virus is causing it to malfunction. Other than that, a virus may pretend to be the tasklist but it is doing something else. Get a good antivirus program to weed the problem out. Removing viruses may make the program run again; if not, try installing a clean copy of the exe file.

If the virus scan turns up nothing, the tasklist may be damaged not because of a virus but because of other things. If so, you have to reinstall it also.

There are exe and “dll” repair tools you can use to make your computer run more efficiently. You can find these online and download them. These enable you to scan your computer and find programs and applications that need fixing. This may solve the problem or not. Before downloading and running any repair program, check whether it is virus-free and reliable. Searching for reviews about it usually suffices.

When you have made changes to your computer system, you have to restart the computer so that it can be implemented fully. Once it restarts, check for the tasklist again. If all things fail, you can go to a computer repair shop or Microsoft Windows service provider to get professional assistance.

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5 Ways to Stop Yourself Smoking

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OK, firstly let’s get the horrible facts out of the way.

• 90% of all lung cancer victims are smokers or have been near to smokers.

• A cigarette has more than 3000 chemicals in it. All of them go INTO your body.

• Smoking gives you high blood pressure.

• The tar from smoking clogs up the lungs, making it difficult to breathe fresh air.

I could go on, and on, but I am sure you know most, if not all, of the 100’s of problems that smoking tobacco does to your body. You wouldn’t be here and reading this if you didn’t know them and want TO QUIT and NOW!

So let me, the one who quit 20 years ago give you some good news and easy ways that will help you.

• Throw all smoking habits and products away

Get through this bit and you are 80% of the way there.

Throw the cigarettes and lighter away. If the lighter is expensive – put it on eBay!

Tell everyone you have stopped smoking for good, and be proud of it!

Spray and clean the house to clear it of the stale smoke odour. Again make sure you tell everyone that your house is a smoke FREE zone. (Don’t worry your friends will still stick with you!)

Wash your clothes for the same reason.

DO NOT sit around moping that you need a fag or drag.- NO YOU DO NOT!

There you are 80% there – now DO THE REST.

• Self Hypnosis

Now don’t panic. This is not sending yourself into a pile of stress and worry that I am asking you to do something spooky. Simply I did this and it works. If you have been smoking for years, the body will keep telling you that it needs and wants some nicotine etc. Tell it to ‘go away’ because your life is so much better. BUT and this really will make a difference, when you go to bed, tell yourself 20 times (count with fingers and thumbs) that you are an ex smoker, you feel great and you are having a fabulous life – all of which you now are.

• You smell

I did, and so you do. Smoking gets into everything – hair, skin, home furnishings, clothes and so on. No matter how you wash and clean the smell is always there so long as you smoke. I can smell a smoker at 10 paces nowadays, and I am sure it does not attract the opposite sex, if that is what you are hoping for. The smell of stale smoke has been likened to stale cabbages. However if you have QUIT so will the smell. Also so will you ability to sniff and smell – God’s clean air for the first time in years. Well done, New friends, new NICE smell and loving everything around you. Grab, love and be proud of yourself.

• Join a group and make friends.

Think now what you would like to do socially. Because my friend – you can now do it. People won’t avoid you and your smell, or your cigarettes. You are now a person to be liked. This will make you realize that smoking was and still is stupid and nowadays expensive.

• Eat Fruit

I know it sounds a bit crazy. But the day you leave the weed behind you for good, all sorts of things creep into your life that you had forgotten were there. One thing was taste. Taste of fresh food, especially fruit. It won’t happen overnight, but over a few days and weeks it will return. So get going now. I started on bananas (I love them to death) apples and pears. Try blueberries or raspberries on you morning cereal, they are brilliant, and believe me help you feel great.

• Start walking and Jogging

This is what my wife Maggie and I did. We took up power walking. Remember I had experienced a heart attack. So I needed to exercise. We took up ‘power’ walking (normal walking but a little bit quicker). Boy did it work I lost weight, and missing cigarettes – not a second. My life by now was so busy, I didn’t have time to stop and puff. Besides which I wasn’t out of breath any more. I felt and still do feel great. By the way – after a few weeks look at yourself in a mirror. You will then realize that the smoking had another effect on you. It crinkles your skin, and makes it pale and lackluster. Now the glow will be back and you look 10 years younger. I promise you this really does happen.

This all happened to me, and I am now looking still 10 years younger than I am. In fact when people ask me how old I am., I tell them I am as old as I look. They always get it wrong. My social life is fabulous and we have many, many friends.

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I Had an American Dream

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Poverty is blind, but it will claim anyone who wanders close. Once it claims you, it holds you like quicksand – struggle is futile.

I had a dream, a dream that I lived in poverty, in squalor, and it clung to me like the dirt under my fingernails and the scabs of untreated wounds. Every day I awakened only to find that the dream wasn’t a dream at all, it was reality, a reality that I could not escape even when my eyes were closed. There is hope in my dream, but none in my reality.

I didn’t start out to be poor. My life was productive, it had purpose; I loved and was loved in return. I never had much, but at times there was enough to help others. I had a home, a car, a mortgage, a wife and children. I voted in elections, worked hard, raised a family, paid my bills and planned for a sustainable life. They called those like me, the middle class. It was the American Dream; it was my dream, and it ended.

No one picks poverty as a way of life, but once it finds you, poverty is grudging, unyielding, and escape without help is all but impossible. No longer welcomed by the American Dream, you sleep in public toilets, alleys and places where you are permitted to gather with others who share your plight. Your meager possessions are tattered and soiled. Poverty is a shared existence unlike the one hoarded by the rich.

Many who spend their lives here never had a taste of prosperity. Those who did are left with bittersweet memories. There are generations that have been in and out of poverty, never escaping its despair. You’ll find children here, babies, innocents who will never know the warmth of humanity, only its disdain. These are truly children of the damned, victims who grow up in a semi-feral life of ignorance and scarcity.

The American Dream isn’t dead, it is being hoarded. With each generation more and more are condemned to poverty and homelessness; they need help, not isolation. They are imprisoned just as assuredly as criminals locked up and kept apart from society. They are fed and clothed while they serve their sentence.

The homeless and the poor are treated worse than criminals. We pay corporations a profit to house and care for those convicted of crimes while the alleys and streets, the bridges and abandoned buildings shelter the poor and homeless. How can this be acceptable? Do people whose crime is being poor or who have been victimized by others deserve less consideration than an inmate? On the rare occasion when the rich are convicted of a crime, they are sent to camp where their wealth continues to buy them privilege.

It hurts being poor, the pain is real, tangible. A good day is sunny when everything you possess isn’t wet and clinging to you like your circumstances. Here a good day is a gift, not a birthright. The wealthy ride elevators to their spacious, climate controlled environment while the poor huddle beneath them with their cherished, filthy blanket around a steel drum burning scrap wood to survive the cold. They are the fortunate ones. Others huddle under bridges in the paper lodgings hoping that there’s enough warmth to get them through the night, one hour at a time.

That’s how it is in poverty, it’s abject. When it is cold, you are frozen out. When it is hot, whatever touches your sweat-covered skin is baked on in layers.

There is no such thing as petty theft among the impoverished. Every possession serves a purpose. A blanket or a salvaged dumpster meal become the measure of one’s wealth. I clung to my father’s watch. He wore it proudly on his vest. I shared that pride; it is one of the few things left that comforted me. I pawned it before it was stolen for a few hot meals and a bed.

If there is a heaven, will the rich own it too, will the poor still be poor? If the answer is yes, I don’t think I want to go there. If the answer is no, then why is it so important for some to have everything now?

It’s immoral and criminal to hoard wealth, or at least it should be. The poor envy wealth, they don’t begrudge it. The wealthy don’t have to give up much to stop the poverty cycle for the many. Go out on the street, meet the homeless. Walk the impoverished neighborhoods and see what they come home to. See for yourself what it looks like, what it smells like to live in poverty. If you can do that and walk away, you have helped to create the problem.

Income inequality has become conspicuous. We’ve all heard the statistics – it isn’t opinion, it is reality. Years ago I visited Bombay, India. There you could smell caste poverty on the streets, but not in the numerous world class restaurants. It had to be laundered from your clothing and polished from your shoes in the hermetically sealed hotel. I fear for the future of our great nation. We seem to be oblivious to the signs and stuck in denial that it could happen to us. Look around, with the decline of the middle and working class, the schism has grown deeper. We build walls to keep the wealth and the wealthy safe.

The wealthy use the law to build the walls, and we stand all too ready to defend them.

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The World’s Most Powerful Force

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In 1918 one of the most devastating epidemics in history broke out; the Spanish Flu. In just two years the virus would claim a stunning 30 million lives. Believed to have been brought to the United States through soldiers returning from World War I, the flu would claim over half a million victims in America. No cure was ever found; the rest of the world’s population just seemed to carry an innate immunity that sent the virus into remission.

It is believed that the epidemic spread more rapidly due to ignorance. In fact many people took very few precautions. For instance, a number wore simple masks and nothing further, continuing on with their lives with far more interest in the World Series and Babe Ruth than in being concerned about the deadly outbreak.

It seems that it is when we ignore the silent killers that they are most deadly. Two thousand years ago Paul of Tarsus shared, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Counselor Neil Anderson said that if we memorize and live by these words half our problems would disappear overnight.

Found in Paul’s statement is one of the strongest forces ever known, the power of the tongue to build up or destroy. In fact, James the Just said that no one can tame the tongue without divine help, and the one who gains control of it “is a perfect man” (James 3:2).

Humorously, author Chuck Swindoll shares the following epitaph found on a tombstone in England:

Beneath this stone,

a lump of clay,

Lies Arabella Young,

Who, on the twenty-fourth of May,

Began to hold her tongue.

How important it is to control this force before it is too late. Indeed, like with the Spanish Flu, everyone has been impacted by the power of the tongue, either for good or bad. Hurtful words are some of the most destructive elements on earth, causing unseen damage and death in heart after heart, poisoning the insides and leaving scars for untold years to come.

In the same way words can be used to build others up in their time of need, lifting someone’s spirit and elevating them by the strength of love. Yet rather than just some pop psychology, let me give a specific meaning and action plan to follow when it comes to curtailing the tongue and choosing instead to use it to bring healing.

It has been said that the most important conversations that we have are with ourselves. The unspoken language patterns that we use when talking to ourselves help to drive our emotions. In the same way we can impact other people’s emotional response by the words we use.

Once we label an experience we give it meaning, so it is imperative to carefully choose the descriptive terms that we use. The particular words that we choose have tremendous driving power. An example I like to use is found in romantic relationships where using the words “never” and “always” can be especially damaging, giving a sense of finality or the inability to make a change.

So let me share a simple but memorable equation that anyone can use that can vastly improve their communication, eliminating the destructive force of the tongue and instead unleashing its power to build others up. It is a common leadership principle, and the equation to remember is simply “win-win.”

Every decision leads to one of two outcomes, either constructive or destructive. Dr. Paul Dobransky notes that all behaviors are either win-win or win-lose. For some people to “win” they believe they must make others “lose” by criticizing them or tearing them down with their words. Healthy relationships are built on two people seeking the best for one other, i.e. a win-win relationship.

If a conversation or relationship or an interaction will have a win-lose outcome, then simply avoid it. Only engage in win-win relationships and discussion, and only be a person of win-win character. Even the most difficult talks that we must have can be constructed in a way that leaves a win-win outcome.

So from now on, before engaging in a relationship or dialogue or interaction, simply ask, “Is this a win-win situation?” If it is not or it can’t be made into one, then make the decision to walk away.

Follow this principle and I promise you that you will be spared much pain and instead find that you are becoming a vessel for building others up and taking their lives to a new level of growth and experience. There really is nothing more powerful you can do.

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Promoting Starts Now

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With the publication of your book, you have every reason to be proud of yourself. You deserve a break, a time to relish in the knowledge that you are a published author. Give yourself the kudos you deserve, several pats on the back and if you’re so inclined, take a few days off to celebrate your success. Then, you’ll need to get back to work.

I know it sounds strange, but promoting your book isn’t just your publisher’s responsibility. If you think you’ve done the hard part and the publisher should be able to take it from there, you’re in for a sad awakening. The book is yours and so is the job of marketing that wonderful masterpiece you’ve written. So how exactly do you promote and market your work of art? And what happens if you’re a brand-new author and you don’t happen to have the budget needed to guarantee your book will be a best-seller? What I’m going to share with you now comes from years of experience, determination, and extremely limited funds.

This may sound like information you already have, but the Internet is an extremely useful tool when you’re looking to promote your book. Chock full of websites for writers and places to list your book, the Internet is a veritable gold mine of promotional opportunities and all it requires is the investment of your time. One of the best websites for authors is The Romance Studio. All it requires is free registration and you can post news, contests and book releases for free and you if don’t happen to have a website yet, you can’t go wrong using The Romance Studio’s services. They’re reasonable, fast and extremely easy to work with.

Most related websites are eager to hear from published authors, especially since the goal of those websites is to assist aspiring writers. Seeing the culmination of someone else’s dream can be a shot in the arm. And if you visit a website and it doesn’t appear to offer you the opportunity to post your information, ask. It never hurts to send the webmaster an e-mail and inquire about listings. I’ve found that most owners of these types of websites are open to authors and even if they don’t allow postings, they’ll know about your book and perhaps keep it in mind when they’re looking for something to read themselves.

The next outlet available online is newsletters. Many writers’ organizations and groups publish newsletters and/or ezines which include news and/or announcements for authors. Even if you’re not a member of those groups and/or organizations, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you could submit your information, especially if you’re a first time author. Again, it’s an encouraging sign for other authors when an aspiring author succeeds. It brings hope to the masses and gives you the added benefit of a rousing toot-toot of your own horn.

Then, book clubs are eager to read new books and donating one of your books to online clubs can generate income even if it’s only a few books at a time. You may want to start with smaller book clubs. They’re easy to find online and with Google, they’re plentiful. You may have to do a little research to find the appropriate person to send your request to unless you get lucky and there’s a submission form online. Either way, submit to as many clubs as you can, at least twenty, as your response rate may be low at first.

And lastly, don’t forget the importance of submitting your own press releases. PR Web, Press-World.com and PRFree.com all enable you to submit your press releases free and with the right amount of pizzazz, you just might catch a reporter’s eye. Receiving billing in any newspaper, even a local one, can generate interest and income and all the press release costs is time. You may not think you can write a press release, there are many places on the Internet which give you tips and sample releases. The guidelines are generally the same for each website I’ve listed above and with a little practice, you’ll have the newspapers eating out of your hand.

These are just some of the areas in which the Internet can be a writer’s best friend. The investment is minimal in monetary terms, but priceless when it comes to generating income. Many more areas exist for new and returning authors when promoting online and I hope you’ll expend as much time and energy promoting your masterpiece as you did writing it. After all, a book without promotion is a paperweight.

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Truth and Prosperity

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In today’s economic crisis many are cleaning out their financial closets, getting rid of clutter and attempting to put their lives in order. Some are asking what true prosperity means to them. If you have lost a lot financially and materially over the last years you have probably started to question what is important in life and what isn’t. Many of us have been forced to look inside our financial closet. We are cleaning out the clutter and removing the spider webs that are there. How far are you willing to go to set your records straight? What then is true prosperity? Is material wealth enough to make you feel happy and content with your life? Do you allow yourself to have a spiritual connection that gives meaning to your life?

There is so much help and inner guidance available to us spiritually. It’s there for the taking and only a small percentage of people are open to that or seek it. “Spirituality” means a variety of things to people but whatever it means to you – that is the correct definition for you. The problems develop when we try to define another person’s spirituality or force our beliefs. Spiritual Freedom is allowing others to believe whatever they want to believe.

How many children are raised in homes where they don’t share their parent’s beliefs and values? In fact they may have opposing views. There there are those who blindly accept the beliefs that they are exposed to and they don’t question those beliefs and just follow along without ever asking themselves “What is my truth? What do I believe?”.

Life doles out many problems and difficulties. Faith provides answers for why that happens. When your Faith cannot give you the answers that you are looking for, it is time to look elsewhere. There are paths that provide the answers. There are principals that we can live by and not only feel good about ourselves and our contributions to life, but also get along with those who don’t share our beliefs or view of the world.

The truth about prosperity is that true prosperity can only exist when we face the truth about ourselves and the world around us. Direct experience is the only teacher that will show you what truth is. You can hear and read things that sound either interesting or unbelievable but until you have experienced them first hand, you won’t be convinced that what you hear is true. Even if you are very open minded.

Prosperity requires service in the highest sense of the word. That means not doing for others what they can do for themselves but allowing them to learn and fail through their trials and tribulations while being a loving and supportive presence in their lives. We can share our successes and our techniques but we can’t fix anyone else. When people fill themselves up with things they are really searching for something else. It’s something that can’t be found in a relationship or a new house. It can only be found through inner peace and a deep connection to your inner wisdom, higher power,

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