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Asinine Lessons Learned in the Dish Room

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One of a kind. Meet David Bailey.

David Bailey hated it when people would tell him the day would come when he’d see his adversity as the best thing that ever happened to him.

“What an asinine, terrible thing to say,” he says.

Months later, he tells this story without realizing that he keeps recounting all of the things he’s learned and done since the day he was laid off at age 61.

Not long after he left his job as executive editor of Sky magazine for Delta Airlines, he sent me an e-mail that ended with this bombshell: “Did I tell you that I’m going to start work as a dishwasher in a fancy French restaurant here on April Fool’s Day?” I was dumbstruck. He was one of the most talented journalists I’d ever worked with and a larger-than-life character. I could not believe this gifted man was going to wash dishes for $9.50 an hour.

His story has a happy ending. He was promoted to cook. And then, to something much better. But, it’s the lessons learned in the middle that are worth sharing.

When we talked last night, he’d just come back from a fine dinner at the French restaurant where he’d been the dishwasher. He’d just dined on beef bourguignon on the terrace by candlelight, but before leaving, he stopped back by the dish room to visit two men from Niger, with whom he’d washed dishes.

“I hugged them both. They said, ‘When are you coming back?’ I had a stab in my heart. That’s the thing about a kitchen. You have this relationship with these people and it’s just like being in the newsroom. You are working extremely hard. You are producing something excellent. It feels good.”

That was more important to him than taking time off, collecting unemployment and coming up with a new career strategy. “I just had to get back to work,” he said.

“The real irony of unemployment is it robs you of your ability to do the thing that makes you feel good about yourself,” he said. “Taking a job that may not be, in many peoples’ view, worthy of my skills, gave me a place to go and a thing to do to validate myself and feel good about myself. That was a good thing. It gave me a community of people I could be around. Those people are still good friends. They are still very important to me.”

When he started this odyssey, he feared he would lose his house. Now, he says, “If I’d lost the house, I would have gotten over that.”

He didn’t find the comedown from the white-collar world to the kitchen sink demeaning in the slightest.

“What’s demeaning about washing people’s dishes and cooking people’s food? What’s demeaning about cleaning a toilet? I don’t find it demeaning. We were put on the planet to serve others.” He’s not defensive when he says this. It comes from his heart.

The French restaurant where David worked is owned by Dennis Quaintance, a man who was fascinated by his willingness to start out at the bottom. Most of the people who wanted to work for Quaintance in a transition capacity wanted to walk in and be maître d’ or sous chef.  David just wanted to work and learn the business – even if it meant pushing a broom. In time, Quaintance promoted him to be marketing director for his company, which also includes two Greensboro, N.C. hotels. One of the hotels houses the restaurant where David started.

“I’ve had people tell me that, ‘We knew you’d come out on top.’ Well, damn. I didn’t. I was worried. I’m still not comfortable. But, maybe that’s good. Maybe we’re not meant to be comfortable.”

He’s not making half of what he once made, but you can hear excitement when he talks about the company’s efforts to make the Proximity Hotel profitable and sustainable.

“Sustainability is a metaphor for my entire life,” he says. I wanted to live a sustainable life. I never wanted to be rich, but I wanted to be sustainable. When this whole thing came down, I was unsustainable. I was a person who could not sustain my family.”

But, he did. And he sustained himself. Not such an asinine lesson, after all.

 

 

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Trading Places With Mackenzie Phillips

She’s a year older than I am. When we were teen-agers, I looked up to her. I wanted to be her.

I was an awkward and nerdy teen, and Mackenzie Phillips was not. She was rich and famous and cool beyond words. What I wouldn’t have done to trade places with her.

Ten minutes ago, I read the report that Phillips said she had a long-time, incestuous relationship with her famous father, John Phillips,  which began with rape and then turned consensual. He injected her with heroin. He violated every boundary.

Several years ago, I was supposed to interview Phillips about her highly publicized rehab efforts for my second book, Mustang Sallies. She was in town appearing in the Vagina Monolouges and I called her hotel room at the scheduled time. She was so incoherent that I couldn’t decipher her mumblings before she hung up. I called back again, barely making out that she wanted me to call back in an hour — which I did, wondering if she was just a Hollywood type that slept until mid-afternoon and had trouble waking up. But, an hour later, she didn’t sound much better when she gave me her home number and asked me to call in a week. When I called again, she was just as unintelligible. I kept saying, “Mackenzie, you asked me to call. I am doing a book on bold women and …” It was useless.

A year ago, she pled guilty to a felony charge of cocaine posession.

I know people will speculate on whether her stories are true, made-up or the product of years lost to a drug haze. I believe her. If she were going to make something up to get attention, she could have stopped with incest allegation without taking that leap into the admission that the sexual relationship became “consensual.”

What a sad, tortured life. It’s amazing she’s made it to 49.

I keep thinking how I looked up to her when I was a kid. That whole time that I was wishing I could have traded places with her, she probably would have done anything to trade places with me. Sure, I was a bit of a goober back then, but I grew up surrounded by love and trust and faith. I had good parents. I had a good home.

I was safe.  I feel so sad that she wasn’t.

Stepping From Despair Into Transition

Two days ago, I wrote how cynicism and negativity were defeating a former co-worker’s spirit in the midst of sudden unemployment. Leave it to Rosemary Goudreau to add another dimension to it.

“Maybe more than cyncism, what your friend faced was depression,” wrote Goudreau, who I worked with a million years ago when we were both reporters for The Miami Herald. “There’s a lot of it going around these days as journalists, even optimistic journalists, face the loss of their occupation…Few of us find the perfect opportunity out of the box. But as we explore this and that, we will find our way…Defining small steps might help your depressed cynic find a sense of direction again.”

Goudreau was laid off last November from The Tampa Tribune as its editorial page editor, but quickly regrouped and positioned herself as a communications consultant specializing in public policy and advocacy. She got her first contract two weeks after she lost her job.

And, she’s right. Instead of pointing out how destructive cynicism is, I should break down the re-invention process into manageable steps.

 So, that’s what I’ll do here. If you want help figuring out what you need to do with your life, check out the column I wrote earlier this week. I really believe the answers are really “out there.” But, so much of the re-invention process comes down to making the decision to play to win — then positioning yourself to actually do it.

10 Steps from Depression into Career Transition

1. Get dressed in the morning. Look good. Feel good so you can deliver. 

2. Exercise. Do you stop exercising because you get depressed or do you get depressed because you stopped exercising? Do whatever you need to do in order to keep your depression at bay. Take your meds. Pray. Take care of yourself so you are able to deliver at your greatest level of performance.

3. Take charge of your brain. If you put negative in, you get negative out. Put positive in, get positive out. You have tremendous power to control what you are thinking and, when you start hearing the negative tapes, just give yourself a verbal “Stop” cue. Deliberately replace your negative thoughts with something positive. It’s easier if you have a list of five positive things to go to for those low moments. For example, “I’ve been so successful in the past. I’m smart enough to get through this.”

4. Know that these tough times will not last forever. As much as it feels like you are sinking into a bottomless pit of quicksand, you aren’t. Don’t let yourself slide into the mentality that says you may never get another job, that you may never make as much as you once made, that you will have to work until the day you die. All that does is make you struggle more.

5. Remember who you are and who you are not. I see a lot of people who experience rejection and then process it as failure. They forget how talented and viable they are, so it becomes harder to project themselves as desirable. That poises them for more rejection. You have not lost your talent. And your setbacks have not erased your successes. They are just obstacles. You have succeeded in the past and you will succeed in the future.

6. Choose your friends carefully. If you surround yourself with hopeless people, you’ll lose hope. This can be hard if most of your friends are former co-workers who were also laid off. And, that can be even worse if you are competing for the same jobs against your friends. You’ll constantly wonder why someone got an interview or job that you didn’t. For the time being, be around people who will propel your success.

7. Network. Duh. We’ve all heard “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Well, it is also how you know them. Don’t network to make business connections. Network to make relationships. It is more important that you know that somebody likes to watch Grey’s Anatomy and loves pizza with anchovies than it is that you know their job description. Make important people fall in love with your personality and leverage those friendships so they take care of you professionally.

8. Listen. What are you supposed to do with your life? The universe will send you many prompts. Great turning points often present themselves in passing.

9. Don’t limit yourself to the classifieds. Executives are constantly asking other executives, “Do you know anyone who can…” They don’t want to advertise jobs because they don’t want 8,000 resumes. Network, network, network. Figure out where you want to work, then start writing key people to introduce yourself. There is a lot more on this in my book, Finding the UP in the Downturn. 

10. Know your weekly goals and achieve them by setting daily tasks. Then, DO THEM. Do something every day to move you closer to your goal. Whether you spend time networking or writing letters or taking classes or attending job fairs, do something to keep yourself in the game.

The most important thing is to have faith. Things will work out. I am not being flip. I am not shrugging off your pain or uncertainty. Things do have a way of working out. I don’t want to minimize anybody’s suffering or delude myself into thinking that hope conquers all, but the truth is that there are very few of you who will wind up eating out of garbage cans. There’s so much you can’t control, so give it to the wind.

 

It’s the Cynicism That’ll Kill You.

“Oh it’s just humiliating as hell. And no, I don’t frankly give a rat’s ass that I’m not alone and others are suffering, or that the universe is bigger and my problems are small by comparison. None of that shit helps. No offense.”

That note came in a recent e-mail from an old newspaper colleague who is now unemployed and financially desperate. I’d called a day earlier to check in, but apparently my usual hope and optimism didn’t go down well.

I don’t know why I expected it would. Almost all of my former journalism colleagues have one trait that makes us clash when we talk about what’s ahead for them. This characteristic is not reserved for journalists, but it is pretty widespread in the profession.

It’s cynicism.  I used to be one of the most cynical of all. As journalists, we always saw the negative, because that’s where the news was. When I finally started seeing the world through new, open eyes, I had vast new power to control my success and enjoy life.

For the journalists who might see this, please don’t think this is being written by some marshmallow who worked a couple of years for some puny paper before getting a job writing fluffy press releases. I got my first newspaper job when I was 15 and spent 25 years in the business. Reporting was the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life until the day came when I realized I’d done it and was over it.

I wanted out, and at least I had a choice. So many of my former colleagues who are forced to transition and re-invent actually expected to report for newspapers until the final days of their careers. Change of this magnitude was so unexpected that most are shell-shocked and clueless about what to do next.

Unfortunately, most have a handicap that will hold them back at every turn. It is the skepticism that made them good journalists and the cynicism that festered in the newsroom.

I have become the kind of person that I used to roll my eyes at when I was a reporter. And yet, I am happy. I make a living talking about manifesting success and believing in positive outcomes and all those things that I used to think were a load of bull. I believe every word I say. I had to heal and overcome and open up. It was a very long process that began with my leaving newspapers to write my first book, then being forced to persevere as it was universally rejected. I was so embarrassed by my failure that I spent almost three years underground, ashamed that my old cynical colleagues might be laughing at how I’d left my career to fall flat on my face.

And yet.

I didn’t quit.

Somewhere in all of that failure emerged a spirit that told me that I could do anything if I believed I could do it and did not give up. Someone suggested I read Think and Grow Rich, the 1937 classic by Napoleon Hill. Imagine a journalist buying a book with a title like “Think and Grow Rich.” I thought to myself, “What a crock.” But, it wasn’t.

Hill’s book introduced me to the concept of the Law of Attraction, which basically says that we manifest the reality we believe in. So, if I say my schedule is overwhelmed with speaking engagements, it is suddenly jam-packed. Back when I was  a journalist, I would consider such a concept a total crock.

But, it isn’t.

It just isn’t. It made me a lot of money.

One of my old friends once said to me, “You don’t actually believe that crap, do you?” And the answer is, “Yes, I do.” Completely. With all my heart. I believe we have the ability to create success or wallow in defeat. That our mindset is something that we can program to be positive or negative, and whatever programming we do will deliver results in-kind. I have friends who tell me that I just don’t understand the obstacles they are up against in this job market in a dying industry and I think of the time when I had no money in the bank. None. Nothing. And I had a mortgage, an electric bill and loan payments. Durring that time I was without insurance, I would call to get free life insurance quotes but they never met my budget…In the end, it all worked out. It just did. And, it always does.

In the world of self-employment, you have good years and bad. There are times when I don’t have to hustle for anything, yet the business comes without effort. And there are times when I have to work it, work it, work it. But, as long as I keep my head in the game, certain that I will manifest success, guess what? I manifest success.

There is power in hope. There is power in positive expectation. I realize that everything I am writing can be twisted and mocked by the people I used to respect as friends and colleagues — and that’s all okay by me.

They’re just being cynical.

Confused about what’s next? Listen up.

Today, my favorite server at my favorite beach restaurant sighed and said, “I need to do something different with my life, but I don’t know what it is.”

Yesterday, the exasperation came from an acquaintance who e-mailed, “I’m still trying to find my passion – envious that you have found yours!” 

I am asked the “What should I do now?” question all the time. I always say, “Put it out there and the universe will send you a signal.”

My life’s most pivotal changes occurred because I listened when somebody made a remark that could have easily been lost in passing. For example, in 1991, my friend Betsy Cannon suggested I rehab from knee surgery by training for Ride the Rockies, the classic Colorado bike challenge sponsored by The Denver Post. I did that bike trip and have taken a cycling vacation almost every year since. I cycle almost every day. It is my sanity and my salvation.

On top of the Molas Divide in Colorado on that first Ride the Rockies.

On top of the Molas Divide in Colorado on that first Ride the Rockies.

In 1998, as I struggled with my duties as a manager, I went looking for a book that would teach me how to succeed as a strong woman in a harsh work environment. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, a friend said, “Well, you’re a journalist. Why don’t you write it?” That led to my first best-seller, Hard Won Wisdom. As I waited for that book to finally find its publisher and make its way into print, another friend threw out a suggestion. “Hey, you ought to be a professional speaker,” she said. It had never occured to me that I could have a career standing up in front of people and talking. That was the most significant and rewarding prompt that the universe ever gave me.

Those three remarks led me to my three strongest passions today: speaking, writing books and cycling. Although my friends made the suggestions, I had to be open to them. I had to follow-through with action. The cycling in the Rocky Mountains took endless and exhausting hours of hard training. My life as an author began with constant rejection and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And my work as a speaker began by me doing things like driving six hours to Miami for an unpaid event where only 19 people showed up.

Even when I have been on my path, there have been countless opportunities for detours. Several years ago, I was courted for a job that came with a really fat weekly paycheck, great benefits, good vacation and a secure future. It didn’t feel right for me, and I continued on my more uncertain route of self-employment as — gasp! — a motivational speaker. I had no idea that my route would ultimately prove much more stable and lucrative. I kept growing my business, and two years after I turned down that job, all the senior managers at that company were booted out.  Some sought advice from me.

It’s important to know what you love and be mindful of the subjects or activities that are so exciting to you that you get completely lost in them. You’ll often find the roots of passion there. But, also, listen up. Hear what others suggest and dare to take the steps to check things out. Try new things, but don’t force the universe. You won’t find great success by forcing yourself to love something that you don’t even like.

And, if you are confused about what to do next, take heart. So are millions and millions of other people. The answers are out there. You just have to hear them — then act.

Cycling the Arkansas River Valley in Colorado on that 1992 trip.

Cycling the Arkansas River Valley in Colorado on that 1992 trip.

How to Age Without Getting Old

I don’t especially like to watch myself getting older, but there is good news:

1. No matter how old I get, Vicki Smith will always be older than me. She turns 70 next week, one day before my 49th birthday. That is comforting.

2. If I have to age, I can be like Vicki and not get old.

Vicki Smith still monkeys around.

Vicki Smith still monkeys around.

Before I go on about this, I will now insert a photo of Vicki shot yesterday when she was climbing a tree and making monkey noises.

I met this great woman a few years back when I was working on my novel, Mermaid Mambo. Vicki first started performing as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee back in 1957 and resumed her mermaid career at the Central Florida theme park in the 1990s. Vicki helped me to understand the magic of the spring and the wonder of the historic mermaids.
 
The first time I went tubing down the river with Vicki and the other mermaids, I watched as the then-67-year-old woman climbed a tree, grabbed a rope swing, let out a yell and flew through the air to the river, landing with a spectacular splash. I thought to myself, “I want to be like her when I grow up.” So much heart. So much spirit. So much life.
 
Okay, so this 70th birthday thing. Vicki wants to keep it low key, but don’t imagine that she is letting this day pass without proper commemoration. I will now post the photo of the tattoo Vicki got after consuming a few martinis in Ybor City in Tampa. She put it near her ankle because, she says, she didn’t want it anywhere that might have a wrinkle.
 
The Tatt.

The Tatt.

“Who wants a wrinkled tattoo?” she asked me. “Name anybody who wrinkles at the ankles.”
 
“An elephant,” I answered.
 
She rolled her eyes.
 
p9040255We went kayaking yesterday and I made her show that tatt to every person kayaking, canoeing or swimming that we encountered on the river. I told one woman that Vicki had always dreamed of being a Weeki Wachee mermaid, so on her 70th birthday, she decided to get the tattoo. The woman told Vicki to hold onto her dream and apply at the park. Maybe they’d take her! Maybe she could really be a mermaid! Vicki thanked the lady she and promised to call the park to apply.
 
Today, we’ll go to the river again and I will tell people that Vicki got the tatt for her eightieth birthday. I don’t think it’ll tick her off because people will then tell her how she doesn’t look anywhere near 80.
 
I will now post a YouTube video of some of Vicki’s greatest hits while we were down in Key West this year.

And just so you see the magic of what Vicki is all about, here are a couple of pictures of her taken in 1960 as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee.

 
Vicki went kayaking last night with some of the other mermaids who wanted to go out and play in the river under the full moon. They stayed out for the longest time. When it was time to paddle home to Vicki’s house on the river, Vicki decided to paddle home naked. That’s our girl. At 70.
 
Vicki doing the "Deep Dive" in 1960

Vicki doing the "Deep Dive" in 1960

Vicki does "The Leap," again, circa 1960.
Vicki does “The Leap,” circa 1960.

Something’s wrong with this picture

p8300134  Not even two minutes after my friends and I launched our kayaks into the Chassahowitzka River on Sunday, we were approached by a manatee mama and her baby. They swam right up to us and playfully poked their heads out of the water, wanting to socialize.  I tried hard to capture the moment with my camera.

What a mistake. When I write that “Something’s wrong with this picture,” it’s that I stopped to take it at all.  I thought the manatees would hang around for a good while, but they didn’t. I lost most of that precious moment to taking a picture so I could show other people what happened to me. But, it didn’t happen to me fully — and that was my fault.

Just another reminder how most of us lose the wonder of the moment because we usually focus on something else. Instead of thinking of what is going on right here and right now, we’re thinking of the future or the past. About things that might not happen or things we can’t change. We forget that the moment we are living is spectacular and fleeting.

It’s hard to remember that when you are facing some of the hardships that exist today, but seriously, you don’t get a do-over with any of your time. If you are living and breathing, it is up to you to make sure you are finding joy in the experience.

p8300136-1

My great friend, Vicki Smith, with two precious visitors.

The manatees didn’t come back, but I didn’t miss another gift of that gorgeous day. We paddled the first mile into the national wildlife refuge and were continually annoyed by the antics of two airboaters who seemed intent on polluting everyone’s solitude with noise. My friend Vicki spotted a creek that veered to the left and we headed that way in hopes of finding some solitude. Did we ever. We paddled up what we would later learn is called “Butt Crack Creek,”  a silent wilderness that was both stunning and intimidating. I’m game for just about anything, but this was a narrow creek where we could see the matted down areas on the banks where alligaters had been a few hours (or minutes?) earlier. At one point, the creek narrowed and the water’s surface clouded with an unfamiliar, foamy substance. It looked like we were going straight into the angriest part of the Everglades, where we’d be consumed by hungry alligators or bit by poisonous snakes. The others wanted to turn back, but I kept paddling, certain that weirdness in the water would open up into something really good, which it did about five minutes later.

Me gliding through the spring on an old rope swing.

Me gliding through the spring on an old rope swing.

As I kept paddling further into the wilderness, one of my cohorts kept insisting it was time we turn around. I ignored her, certain we were heading somewhere, where we’d find something that made it all worthwhile. Finally, the creek ended at a lush, tropical spring with deep, crystal-clear water. Our reward for braving the uncertain twists and turns of that creek was a secret piece of paradise where we could frolic like kids.

Afterwards, we paddled out to the main river and the airboat jerks were gone. It was peaceful and pristine and we headed to another spring where we free-dove to a limestone tunnel eight feet below the surface. We went down one side, swam through the tunnel, then out the other side. My first fear was that I’d get stuck in the tunnel and drown, but once I broke the surface on the other side, I felt exhilarated. The summer sun hit my face, and I was alive. What a great moment to breathe in.

Give Pits a Chance

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Vincent J. Marcus, 1999 to 2008

One year ago today, I said goodbye to one of the great loves of my life: my dog Vinny, the one-in-a-million mutt I’d found who’d been hit by a car while living on the streets. He was 8 months old when he came up to me, hobbling on three legs and needing surgery for a broken hip and treatment for skin infections, a bladder infection and the millions of fleas that crawled all over him.

I miss him every single day. So much that I am crying right now as I write this because he was absolutely the coolest, sweetest, most precious little muffin in the whole world.

Right after I found him, a neighbor said, “You’re not keeping him, are you? That dog is ugly.” She knows I never forgot or forgave the remark. But, it shows how so many people are about animals. They want this breed or that breed, a beautiful, perfect dog. Well, Vinny turned out to be a pit bull/Chow mix — an amalgam of what most people assume are the most vicious dogs in the world. And yet, my little brindle dog with the “catfish whiskers” was the most giving dog that ever lived. He made me laugh all the time. He liked life better when he was shaved down, so I kept him shaved — but gave him a Mohawk. People would come up to him on the street and the first thing they’d want to touch was his hawk. He knew it was cool. Some people were actually dumb enough to ask if it grew like that naturally.

Every year, upwards of four million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters because they don’t have homes. I get so mad at people who don’t spay or neuter their pets. We have enough animals. What we need are more homes.

I was devastated by Vinny’s quick death from lung cancer. He was only 9 and I never thought my younger dog would die before my senior citizen Golden Retriever Reggie who, by the way, was also rescued. I came home from a cruise in Alaska and the dogsitter said she thought something was the matter with Vinny. Three weeks later, I had to let him go. It was that fast.

I grieved hard and am still grieving, but it’s been a little easier since I was given Louie for my birthday in September. Louie is a 6-year-old pit bull mix. I used to assume so many things about pits

Me & My Louie

Me & My Louie

before Vinny, but now I know the truth. For every aggressive pit, there are hundreds who would never turn on anyone. I woke up this morning and Louie had crawled into my arms so he could sleep on his back, cradled like a baby. He is so different from Vinny. Louie is shy and quiet — he is vulnerable. And darling beyond words. I swear I kiss that boy at least 200 times a day. And, you can see that he returns the favor.

Louie was adopted from a pit bull rescue in Tampa from a man and his wife who would become two of the best friends I have. Art Fyvolent and Lisa Presnail gave me so much with that little guy. To thank them, I want to encourage others to learn the truth about pit bulls. Think they are scary? Nasty? Aggressive? Well, the American Canine Temperament Testing Association tests every breed of dog for aggression. Nearly 83 percent of the American Pit Bull Terriers pass the test, compared to an overall average of 77 percent for all breeds of dogs. They do the test by putting the animals in confrontational situations and chalk up a failure at the first sign of aggression. Of the 122 breeds that are tested, pit bulls rated the fourth best. Not fourth from the bottom — fourth from the top. Surprise: Golden Retrievers are worse. And Schnauzers. So, you have to ask why communities are banning pit bulls instead of Schnauzers.

I should note that when pits are raised to be vicious, they are especially vicious. So, is the problem the dog or the owner? Art saved my Louie who had only a few hours left before his scheduled euthanasia. I can’t imagine my world without him in it. Louie was lucky that Art saved him. But think of the thousands that are killed every day.

Art is a marketing wiz who came up with the slogan, Give Pits A Chance. I sure wish you would.

Nap time at Art and Lisa's house.

Nap time at Art and Lisa's house.

Go with the flow — even if it means going upstream

Dean Krakel is one of the best photojournalists in America. Period. I say that, having worked with him for eight years when I was a reporter in Denver. His images captured the West like no one else.

Dean Krakel. Friend of Fawn.

Dean Krakel

So, it was devastating to hear that he had taken a job cooking Chinese food for $8 an hour after the Rocky Mountain News went under earlier this year. Fresh out of a heartbreaking and financially ruinous divorce, he was forced to re-invent himself at age 57. He did the wisest thing he could possibly do.

He blew the rest of his severance and booked a trip to Africa, where he will spend a month traveling down the Omo River.  He wrote in a recent blog post, “In times of trouble I have always turned to moving water for comfort and answers. Rafting or kayaking always seems to put things in perspective for me. Despite the cliché, it really is true, life is like a river. You learn to go with the flow, even if that means sometimes going upstream; life’s challenges are a bit like rapids, you study the current, pick your line and then paddle or row like hell. One way or another you usually come out the other side.”

There is so much to learn from him. The biggest lesson is to stop trying to force the universe to solve anything. Live your life and it will solve itself.

It’s funny that I’d reconnect with Dean today because, just yesterday, an acquaintance told me the story of the near death experiences of the business she and her husband have built. She jokingly wrote, “When I get finished maybe I will write a book How I Survived Losing a Million for the Third Time. The only problem is that this million is our ONLY million and we have not one thing to fall back on. The last two times at least we at least had property and other things to fall back on. This time we have lost EVERYTHING!”

Like Dean, Deb has stopped trying to force things to work. Her situation is made perilous by customers who owe her business a lot of money but won’t (or can’t) pay up. The bank came after her and recalled a $100,000 line of credit. “When the bank says ‘You have to give us $100,000 in 10 days,’ what can you do? Its so outside reality you can only say, ‘Okay, come on. I called the guy and said, ‘How do you feel about running a steel company? He’s in a bank in Orlando.’ I had to laugh.” When she laughed at the absurdity of her bad luck, the seas parted. Payments have been delayed until November and there is hope.

The common theme here is that you can’t force the universe. This whole saga of 2009 is going to unfold the way it is going to unfold. You just have to go with it. Especially now, go with the flow — even if it means going upstream, like Dean said. Live your life. Things do have a way of working out.

—————–

Now, to give you a moment of absolute tranquility, it is my honor to present some of Dean Krakel’s West.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2009 Dean Krakel. All rights reserved.

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