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Uh oh. Another holiday letter. If you throw this away unread you won’t miss much. Just my story about how Martha Stewart screwed up our holidays awhile ago.
We’d had a great year, actually. Our son Jared (then a teenager) and I didn’t drive each other or Vikki from the house. My business and Vikki’s psychotherapy practice did well. We entered the holiday season full of good cheer and ready to rock the Christmas Muzak and roll out the Holiday greetings to our friends and family.
Then Vikki saw Martha Stewart on TV. Martha showed this neat craft thing that she did by turning picture frames into artistic serving trays. We decided to make a team project out of it and surprise all of our family members with these specially decorated trays.
The project destroyed our holiday season. We worked horrendous hours and I cursed Martha during every one of them. The project seemed innocent at first, but then it got complicated.
It began with the requirement to make picture frames from molding.
Have you ever had to measure and cut 45 degree angles on molding? So that the pieces would fit together? Exactly?
I can’t even use a paper cutter to cut evenly.
So I figured I’d automate — great excuse to go power tool shopping. I decided to buy and learn to use an electric compound miter saw. Good idea, except they come in a pretty big box. I tweaked my back trying to put the crate into our back seat. So before we even start, I’d crippled myself. The resulting pain pill haze makes remembering the whole experience less embarrassing, but also less clear. Probably just as well.
We live in a town house and there’s no room for a work shop in the garage. It’s pretty full with camping gear and suitcases, bicycles and gardening tools. So I had to cart the saw and the pieces of the project in and out of the garage whenever I wanted to work on it.
I worked outside — in our postage-stamp back yard — between rain showers (did you know that wet sawdust makes good garden compost … and floor cover?). In spite of the awkward working conditions I didn’t get shocked by the electric cord more than a few times, and I didn’t get hurt by the electric saw.
No, it was cutting the glass to fit into the trays that almost required a tourniquet. I’d never cut glass before — who would have thought glass was so fragile? It’s also slippery when you need to cut it with hands that are wet and numb.
Meanwhile Vikki turned our kitchen table into an art studio with paint and paper collages waiting for assembly or gluing or drying (or sometimes, repair). For weeks.
We had no lives. We didn’t do letters or cards. We didn’t give parties. We didn’t even decorate our tree till some friends took pity on us and came over and did it for us.
But when Vikki finished putting her art on my craft, I have to say the trays were beautiful. And we still loved each other.
Some of our relatives have the trays hanging on their walls as art. When I see them my back gives me a twinge, and I feel a little swell of pride. And Vikki still watches Martha Stewart, but with a cautious eye.
So in case you’re reading this, Martha, we don’t really blame you for our botched holiday; we DO wish you a Merry Christmas. I just have no business working on a crafts project. Vikki hasn’t made the same mistake since.
In life’s constant stream of experience we can usually find nuggets of meaning and humor, love and joy. It was true for us, and we pray that the year was, on balance, a blessing for you.
Of our many blessings, we are particularly grateful for the wonderful people that touch our lives. Your existence is a gift to us, and to many others around you. Take good care of yourselves and enjoy each other and the Holidays, and have a wondrous New Year.
Here it is. I’ve been around a lot and have learned quite a bit.
Even as “smart” as I am, occasionally it takes the Universe a LOT of work to get me to see an important lesson.
In other words, sometimes I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Once in a while I get so focused picking up a coin from the ground that I brush diamonds out of my way without even noticing what I’m missing.
In this case, I was overlooking something that could make a huge difference in YOUR life, YOUR business, and YOUR relationships.
Fortunately for me, that’s when the Universe steps in.
I was working on an article – rewriting it actually. It was an article that basically listed the things I’ve learned about living during a long and adventurous life.
Seemed simple. Just type out what I know so others can benefit without having the dramas that have made my life so “interesting”.
I wanted to share the things I’ve learned in a life that included being a teenaged cowboy, military service, work as an undercover agent, a successful inventor, a serial entrepreneur and a happily married grandfather (with a couple ex-wives as friends).
It’s taken 40 plus occupations and what feels like half a dozen lives.
I thought if I could save someone else a black eye or a business failure or a lost relationship, why not?
Then I began to work on teaching others HOW to get these attitudes and behaviors into their lives.
Boy. There’s a helluva difference between “what” and “how”.
I set out to take a half century of learning life’s secrets the “hard way”, and turn it into an “easy way” to get these Tips and Rules of Thumb.
In over my head. Again.
But the most important thing I’ve learned is – don’t quit. Ever. So I kept at it, and I’ve discovered several things that I want to share with you.
The first important thing I’ve discovered while trying to make these principles easy to understand — is that they are not just “philosophies” or wise sayings.
They are the basic Rules for successful living. Physically, financially, emotionally socially and spiritually.
That’s a big claim, but if you try these on and judge from your own experience here is what you will find:
1) These principles will lead you to peace of mind.
2) And more health and energy.
3) You will confidently pass through life enjoying each day and appreciating the others around you.
4) These principles will make it impossible for you to fail in business. Like the casinos in Las Vegas, you suddenly have the “House Odds” of the Universe on your side. You are “favored” to win your endeavors. It may look like “luck”, but it’s not. It’s the force of Natural Law on your side.
5) You will get along better with others. And with yourself.
These principles are the basic Rules of Success and Happiness. And they actually strengthen and support each other. They build on each other.
Things get really easy – it’s downright spooky how easy – when you apply these principles.
I just learned them over such a long period of time that I didn’t really make the connection about how easy things got as I crossed some sort of critical threshold of knowledge.
There are a number of ways to get this knowledge.
1) Anyone can learn these secrets in maybe 20 years if they pay attention. It took me about 50 years, but I was frequently not paying attention, being too “busy”.
2) Depending on your learning capacity, you may need to make some pretty disastrous mistakes. And survive them. I tended to do lots of things the hard way, and that provided me with plenty of opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I made a LOT of them.
3) You would also need to read a lot of books. I’ve read thousands. Or you might REALLY study the Bible or some other world scripture. And understand it. It’s mostly all been said, by people a lot wiser than me.
The most important thing I’ve discovered is that these Principles ARE teachable, in a lot less than 20 years and without the pain and adventure that it took me.
And the most thrilling thing I’ve learned is that — due to sheer good fortune and the persistence of a glacier, I am discovering how to deliver these secrets so that they are easy to get and put to use in your life.
It only takes a few minutes a day – or a week – depending on how interested you are in changing your life.
It doesn’t have to take you 50 years or more.
I’m here to make sure it doesn’t. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.
P.S. If you don’t want to wait, if you’re impatient, you can learn some more here.