Looking for the upside

the road that got worse

Sometimes things in life don’t get better. Or they do, but not on our timetable.

I ride my bicycle to work once or twice a week. My bike’s skinny tires and thin rims transmit variations in the road surface very accurately to my palms and rear end.

During the past four months, the city of Centennial tore up a road that’s part of my commute. It was much better before the destruction than after.

Maybe they will repave the whole road, but I am not expecting that to happen anytime soon.

So it is in our lives… injuries happen. We lose our jobs. People leave. Things happen that are the exact opposite of what we’d choose.

And then situations don’t always change the way we’d like.

But all is not lost. Sometimes we grow stronger because of a difficult situation.

One of the most inspiring people I know has a physical challenge that makes communication difficult. But she has not let that get in her way. She runs circles around many people who don’t face the challenges she does.

I’m not going to say, “Look for the silver lining.” You might be so deep in your challenge that a silver lining is not even on the far horizon.

One reality that I’ve found is God’s way of fixing stuff that appears unfixable. Ask God. Why not… what do you have to lose? (My caveat is that God is not a magic button that you push to get instant results. God’s timetable is usually different than ours.)


As to bad roads, one upside was remembering that the worst roads in Centennial, Colorado, are better than the best roads in some other places I’ve lived.


And one of the silver linings in my life is my son Ben. Today is his 21st birthday. Things got better when he arrived. (Sometimes it does get better.)

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I need to change

I need to change my attitudes.

It’s really easy for me to think my way is the best.

Heather and I recently bought a used car to make our lives less complicated. We carefully chose the model that had the very best balance of fun and fuel savings. And we love it.

I also have taken a lot of satisfaction in the thought that this is a car that few people choose. It’s fun to be off the beaten path.

But I tend to look at other cars and attack their lack of practicality or wasteful use of fuel. And then I judge their owners for their shiny, new vehicle-of-choice that does not fit my narrow set of parameters.

So I’m working on changing my attitudes.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (from here).

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It’s a luxury

sunset from the athletic club

I had a free week.

I won a visitor’s pass to a luxury athletic club not far from where I work. It was like getting to test drive a Ferrari — something mere mortals like me rarely experience.

If I were to rate the establishment on Google, I’d probably give it 5 stars. But would I ever join? No.

One simple barrier keeps me from making that part of my lifestyle… I can’t afford it.

Yes, it was great to put my clothes in a mahogany-faced locker. I loved the gourmet shampoo and body wash (in two flavors). I liked the fact that I could get a few free initial consultations with a professional trainer, so I could learn how to exercise better.

But for approximately five times what 24-Hour Fitness charges, I can’t justify the hit to our monthly expenses.

Heck, I can’t even justify 24-Hour Fitness at the moment.

Gotta stick with free bicycle commutes.


(I took the photo from the balcony, overlooking the tennis courts.)

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Under the surface

partially hidden gears

We just don’t know what’s going on beneath the surface.

People around us are going through a lot. They might be having a good day or a bad day. Their marriage might be in a difficult place.

And many of the people in our lives won’t tell us.

So let’s give everyone around us a little extra love today. One small act of kindness can make a big difference. Maybe we can nudge their dial a little in the direction of having a better day. Or just coping with their next 24 hours.

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Lawyer overkill

warning label from CD package

It all started with spilled coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through.*

Well, not really. Our American tendency to sue for everything probably started long before that.

How many people would buy a CD and give the thin plastic wrapper to their baby and say, “Play with this wrapper — it will do you no harm”?

Anyone who reads magazines today is used to flipping past pharmaceutical ads that use two full pages of fine print after the actual ad that could be summed up in one simple sentence: “Use of this drug is possibly dangerous, and you should consult with your doctor before using.” The television equivalent is 10 seconds at the end of an ad that are some of that fine print, read at 300 words a minute.

Please, please, America…

Just don’t be stupid.


* That incident happened in 1994. And she won the case.

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White teeth

I don’t do teeth whitening.

Before you read further, please understand that I am not judging anyone who likes to do teeth whitening. This is merely a description of my personal journey.


The photo above is my teeth — altered by Photoshop. Reality is dark, stained teeth that have seen years of coffee drinking, tetracycline ingestion as a kid, and general abuse. (However, many of you know that I am a fan of toothpaste.)

Why don’t I invest in making my teeth whiter?

  1. Time. It would either require a laborious application of teeth-whitening strips or several visits to a dentist. And then, a year from now, more of the same.
  2. Money. Strips are expensive, and visits to the dentist for whitening are more so.
  3. Lack of caring about cultural trends. I don’t care enough about what our culture values to participate in this particular exercise.
  4. Saving the whales. Studies have shown that excessive use of white strips causes stunted growth in fetal whales, from the chemicals being washed out to sea and entering plankton.

Well, that last one is made up.

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Take time to visit a museum

spider-like antique chair

This amazing spider-like chair currently appears in the Denver Art Museum. It totally reminded me of a Tim Burton movie.

Even if you live in a very small town, at least in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, there might be a museum you don’t even know about. Do a little research to see if there is one down that other street.

I guarantee you’ll learn something new if you spend at least an hour and read some of the exhibit plaques.

Footnotes:

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You can’t force it

Lincoln Continental print ad

Lincoln bought the emperor’s new clothes.

This ad appeared in the February 2017 Fast Company magazine (in a very high-priced spot — the inside front cover). Lincoln paid a massive amount of money for the ad series, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Agency Hudson Rouge made out like a bandit.

But Lincoln did not think about their real audience. Showing a 20-something person behind the wheel of a $60,000-ish luxury car, newly-minted from a marque typically bought by people above 60, will not make 20-something people want to buy one. Nor will it make 60-year olds who want to be 20-something want to buy one.

No matter how much the critics like the car.

Yes, it would have been appropriate for Lincoln to push the envelope in their marketing — but not so far.

Maybe they should have put kids under 10 behind the wheel — that audience will need to buy cars, eventually.

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