On any given day, you will find me randomly humming, beatboxing or singing parts of a song that somehow crept into my subconscious. The annoying part for those around me is that it’s just a snippet – and that snippet is repeated on a semi-regular endless loop.

But it has to come out – and it doesn’t matter where I am. I mean, I can stop myself if I am at a funeral or a wedding – or an otherwise important meeting where I don’t want people to see how I really am. But those moments are, thankfully, few and far between – so I basically do this with impunity. Even at work.

But I have recently made a personal observation – and it hit me out of nowhere…

When I am going through some sort of mental or emotional issue – or if something is weighing on my mind or I am uncomfortable – it’s like a switch goes on and the singing ramps up. That realization hit me out of the blue, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t true.

It’s like a car in neutral.

I have already said I do this anyway, but it’s more intense in these cases – like sending up a flare or a mayday call.

My brother has a really cool song called “In Distress.”

I believe the endless-loop-singing stops if I make a decision or take action. I will be on the lookout for evidence of this.

But – what about the singing when all is well?

Sorry not sorry. That ain’t gonna stop.

What do you do to cope?

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I had an idea for a song come to me last night, complete with a hook and a melody. It came on strong, like ideas usually do, when I was engaged in doing something else.

In this case I was getting ready to brush my teeth.

I usually hum or sing random verses from songs many times during the day on some sort of endless loop – usually only part of a certain song – and it drives my girlfriend crazy. It’s probably some sort of sickness, but I have long since embraced it.

It has to come out, though.

But when this song idea came to me – I immediately started softly singing the lyric piece with the melody that was presented to me, and I was confronted by a choice soon afterwards: Go record it on my phone or wait until morning to capture it.

I grabbed my phone, rushed into my office and recorded what I had.

Without exception, that choice is always the correct one – and this could apply to anything from a story idea to a business concept, a personal development epiphany to a plan for your home.

The key is to strike while the proverbial iron is hot.

How many ideas do we let pass through our consciousness in any given day – only to ignore them or suffer from the delusion that we will remember them because they are “so good…”

These ideas – these flashes of inspiration – are gifts presented to us in the moment. Claim them while you can!

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There’s a Bible verse about worry, to the effect that each day has its own trouble and that we shouldn’t entertain thoughts about what drama tomorrow might bring.

It’s Matthew 6:34:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [NIV]

I have also seen or heard riffing about the fact that a large percentage of the things we worry about never come to pass. It’s all in our heads…

Here’s some input from 16th century French essayist Michel de Montaigne:

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

I have written here before about my moments of mountains-out-of-molehills, worst-case-scenario thinking that runs counter to my predilection for personal development – and I know that concocting scenarios can come to no good end. At best, this thinking saps my energy and makes for a “blah” day. At worst, I might be summoning a wave of negative energy that could be very difficult to quell.

Which brings me to a contrasting question:

When something good happens in your life – especially something that you have been wishing, hoping and praying for – how does that make you feel?

It could be something as simple as an unexpected check that covers an overdue bill, a passing grade on a daunting test, a phone call you have been waiting for – or as dynamic as a job offer from the ideal employer or a much-needed reconciliation.

When cool things happen like that, I feel a rush of joy, well-being and gratitude.

It’s important to be grateful.

If you are like me, you have experienced so many wonderful and serendipitous moments in your life – so many blessings – that, in the moment, you know these to be brushes with divinity.

I have experienced too many of these “God moments” to ignore them. That being said, however, why do we sometimes have trouble realizing that the “troubles of the day” can be met and overcome by the same cosmic presence?

Memory is a funny thing.

If we know that many of our worries never come to pass and that we have experienced examples of what I’ll call divine providence, why is it so easy to revert back to limiting beliefs and overthinking?

I want so much to remember once and for all that we have the power to choose our responses to any situation. We have complete control in this realm, whether we believe that in the moment or not.

Take it from the “Father of American Psychology,” William James:

“Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

Yes, please.

My Scribbles

An item I have had on my master list for far too long is one called “notebook review.”

I keep a journal also, and try to make at least one entry a week, usually on Sundays when I am planning the coming week. But my notebooks are separate from the journal.

I also maintain and contribute to an “editorial bible” – basically an ongoing log in Word of anything that strikes me as a story idea, a suitable blog post, song idea or potential action item.

A lot of them suck, but still.

The “notebook review” idea is this: Flip through my old notebooks in an orderly fashion. If something jumps out at me, I will then expand on these things or flag them for action in my current notebook. Some of these items would then go into the “master list,” others would get fleshed out in the editorial bible – or as talking points for my podcast with my brother.

There are song idea fragments all over the place, too.

I remember once listening to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez the Tim Ferriss Show podcast – talking about his compulsive notetaking and  his methodical way of indexing them for easy retrieval. While I’m not ready for such an arduous process of organization, I know that there is potential “gold in them hills.”

I believe that my plan of carrying forward the worthy items is a good way to eliminate the dross and revisit the good stuff.

Although I love the idea of things like Evernote, OneNote, Dropbox, et. al., I am still somewhere in that anteroom between paper/pen and technology.

The tactile response to scribbling – and that hand-to-eye-to-brain connection – is hard to quit.

Photo: Josh Bell

On an otherwise awesome trip to Asheville, somebody jacked my favorite hat.

I wouldn’t even consider myself a hat guy, but this one fit me right – and the brim was bent just how I wanted it….

And now it’s gone.

Am I really grieving the loss of a hat?

It was made well, a Legacy baseball cap, grayish dark brown with the words TINDER BOX (I work there) emblazoned on the front. It was my go-to whenever I reached for a cap on the way out…

…and it was almost like a signature or calling card.

I have many other caps – and some have emotional significance for me. I want to treasure a couple of them into my old age – like the Marine Dad cap my son gave me or the College of Charleston Dad cap from my daughter.

Why – oh why did I take it off when I was checking in at our hotel? Why didn’t I just leave the thing on instead of laying it on the front desk? Thing is, I wasn’t even gone ten minutes until I realized I had left it there and went down to check on it.

I asked – and the manager (I think) told me he hadn’t seen it and “maybe it’s in the car.” The guy who checked me in remained quiet.

My girlfriend thinks his answer was a little too quick.

But of course there’s no way to prove who took it – and it’s astonishing in this age of COVID-19 that anybody would be interested in somebody else’s hat.

Maybe somebody else took it while they were checking in.

This was one of my “overthinking” moments – creating a veritable game of Clue in my head, all the while knowing that I would never get it back.

The hat was old, but it was cool – but it was my hat. The sense of violation and loss about this was acute for a couple of days. Now, it just stings a little.

So long, my friend.

It’s Election Day, and I voted.

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Thankfully, the lines were not long at my polling place – and my girlfriend and I got in and out in just about an hour.

Certain figures would have you believe that some Americans are more American than others, but I don’t buy into the jingoistic claptrap intended to define what a “real American” is.

This country is far too diverse for that kind of pigeonholing.

I remember an exchange from the Blake Edwards film, “Victor/Victoria,” in which Julie Andrews (playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman) is talking to James Garner (playing a Chicago mobster) about real men and what is expected of them.

Here’s a screen grab of the quote from www.moviequotes.com:

See where I’m going with this? Just replace “man” with “American” and you get the idea.

And don’t get me started on the whole patriot thing. I love my country. Don’t presume that you love it more than I do. I’m every bit as American as you are, and you ain’t Paul Revere.

As I go through my day, I am subjected to the aggressive opinions of others with no regard for what I might or might not believe and whether or not those opinions are solicited – or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge from folks I might never have met before, as if I’m being vetted for membership in some sort of club I have no intention of joining.

It’s astonishing, this us-and-them mentality on crass display for all to see from people who really should know better – and clearly from those who do not.

What ever happened to keeping religion and politics out of general conversation? Can we vote on that?

When I was 12, I “gambled a stamp” and sent away for details on the Charles Atlas course.

Those of a certain age surely remember the above ad that appeared in comic books for years, featuring a guy who finally had enough of being marginalized, bullied and having sand kicked in his face.

While I can’t say I was physically bullied, somewhere in my childhood I was made to feel less-than by certain kids at school – and a daresay some adults I encountered outside of school. With apologies to my twin brother, he and I were the ones left standing when teams were being picked in phys-ed – until each side begrudgingly accepted one or the other of us.

We were different, Chris and I. Old souls, and literate before we started the first grade. (Math is another story. I still gaze slack-jawed when faced with a seemingly easy fractional equation.)

I never understood the sis-boom-bah – rah-rah-rah mentality attached to sports and foisted on kids who have absolutely no interest in participating. Most of the other boys embraced this mentality, but I wasn’t having any of it. Neither was my brother. I still don’t, and Chris doesn’t either.

But the Charles Atlas ad appealed to me in a visceral way, and when I got the booklet in the mail, I was ecstatic…

Here were success stories (modern marketing would call these case studies) of young men who had transformed their nerdy bodies into chiseled and rugged masterpieces.

I just had to order the course – if only to get even with those who ever doubted me. Not that I wanted the chance to compete with the other boys on the athletic field, but rather possess the ability to be ready and able to kick their asses if they decided to ramp up their disrespect.

But nobody actually beat me up or even tried to. Me and my brother never got jumped by marauding bands of street toughs. But it was enough for me that some of these kids were dismissive and that, if given the chance, they would exclude us from their reindeer games.

They didn’t understand different. And we were different in spades. The fact that we were finally embraced by kids like this after we started playing music is another story.

The course was expensive for that time. If I remember correctly, it was thirty dollars, payable in installments of five dollars each time a new component arrived. The course itself arrived, I believe, every couple of weeks or so – with each mimeographed section no more than like ten pages of instructions followed by what looked like ancient photos of Charles Atlas performing the “Dynamic Tension” exercises. These looked simple enough – and each installment focused on another part of the body.

“Dynamic Tension” was what many would come to call resistance training. The course also covered nutrition, grooming and some advice about the dangers of smoking and drinking to the physical specimen. I also recall advice from the strongman about being careful not to dissipate one’s energy on promiscuity. He didn’t use that word, but the gist was the same.

The first lesson was all about building up the pecs – and was supposed to continue throughout the three-month program – and then we were to add additional body parts as we went along. I can’t tell you how often I started, stopped, and started again.

I never finished the program, but even at 12 and 13, my chest was pretty well developed. I still have the course somewhere, and it would be fun to see it again.

At 57, I can tell you that the biggest bully I ever encountered was myself – and he beats me up regularly.

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There are so many avenues to explore – but be mindful about the potential rabbit hole of having too many options – or believing you do.

There is only so much we can accomplish in our lives, but what we can accomplish is likely vastly more than we believe we can.

Someone once said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a week but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. That makes sense. We cram so many activities and “busy work” into our to-do lists that we always have items left undone at the end of the week. But many people surprise themselves by the progress they have made at the end of the year – especially when it comes to the action they took toward a specific goal.

But we can also crash and burn if we lose sight of our goal, failing to see that consistent action throughout the year would have brought us the result we were after.

We all know about how crowded gyms are at the beginning of the year and how attendance usually flattens a short time later. Bloomberg cited an analysis from Strava, a fitness-tracking app developer, that found most Americans giving up on their fitness resolutions as early as mid-January.

We give up so easily.

What if we made consistent progress on that one thing– the overriding thing that keeps us awake at night – the dream we can’t shake…

Just a bit of progress every day…?

One of my favorite writers and broadcasters, Earl Nightingale, “The Dean of Personal Development,” is attributed with the following quote, but he might have found it somewhere else:

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”

Makes sense to me. To-do-lists are one thing – but taking daily action on that one thing can make all the difference in the world.

Remember: Successful people get that way by doing the things that others are not willing to do.

Of course, success means different things to different people.

This could be about getting exercise every day, saving money, or waking up an hour early (or going to bed an hour later) to learn a new skill or write that story, or devoting quality time to your family.

And make your bed.

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The overthinking demon has been at work in my psyche today.

In spite of what I know to be the truth, I’m concocting scenarios again…

If an email or text goes unanswered for longer than I think it should, my mind races to what I might have done or said – or what I didn’t do or didn’t say – to make this person want to ghost me.

Come on, man – ghosting you?

In my heart of hearts, I know that this is usually not the case. I don’t recall a recent instance of having been deliberately ghosted. And I have written about intentions several times on this blog. I would like to think my intentions are pure – and 99.9 percent of the time, I get an appropriate response in due time.

This has nothing to do with romance. I have a longtime girlfriend. We live together. I’m sure she feels like ghosting me at times, but that’s another matter altogether.

What I am talking about here is mountains-out-of-molehills, worst-case-scenario overthinking in my day-to-day interactions with others. Because I believe that I have an above-average EQ (or emotional intelligence), this doesn’t mean that the very same gift might not be misfiring.

You can’t interpret somebody’s aura unless they are interacting with you.

Am I some sort of entitled prick who thinks I deserve top priority at all times? Am I a narcissist?

Not tonight, Narcissus, I have a headache…

I think this really goes back to intention and process. My friend, motivational author and speaker Jeff Yalden, always says to have patience in the process, and that makes sense to me.

Roger: Nobody’s ghosting you. It’s all in your head.

“When you get in your head, you’re dead.” – Tony Robbins

Photo: Brenda Holderfield

On Sunday, October 11, we went down to Tidal Creek Brewhouse in Myrtle Beach to check out the debut of my friend Joe Czapla’s new zero-waste food truck, NO FKS Given.

On October 3rd, The Sun News ran my story about Joe and the truck. You can read it by clicking HERE.

Photo: Brenda Holderfield

As with the travail of giving birth, most entrepreneurs go through labor pains of their own, and Joe is no exception. After a couple of false starts and the fact that he began this odyssey in the face of the COVID-19 situation with its inherent challenges, the man prevailed…

And Sunday’s event proved this beyond any shadow of doubt – and is a testimony to Joe’s tenacity.

Even under rainy conditions, the if-you-build-it-they-will-come paradigm proved to be correct. People did come – and lots of them.

Joe’s wife, Dawn, was handling orders at the window – while Joe handled the cooking with Anthony Novielli. The folks standing in line to order and those waiting for their orders seemed to be a friendly bunch, and I didn’t notice any drama from the ranks – although I noticed recently on Facebook that Joe received some feedback about ticket times and is working on of streamlining this process.

This reminded me of a music gig. It was showtime for NO FKS Given, and the downbeat had already happened. Keep playing.

We ordered the craft burgers – mine with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and pickles – on a toasted potato roll. I also had freedom fries with sea salt and black pepper. Both items were piping hot and absolutely delicious. That potato roll, though – clearly fresh-baked and awesome.

Sunday’s Menu

Glad we got the chance to attend, and I wish the Czaplas the very best.

Joe Czapla