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Saturday, July 31, 2004
Once in a Blue Moon... 
"Once in a Blue Moon" means something that happens only once in a while. So, now that a "Blue Moon" is coming up, take the time to do something really different... if only to spice it up a bit.

........................

Tonight I ended up going out with a friend [F], his coworker [FC], her new boyfriend [FCBF], her sister [FCS] and her sister's coworker [FCSC]... got it? Basically, new people to spend time with. We ended up in a little crowded watering hole in Hollywood. Everyone was very nice; each one younger than the next one... til finally I realized I was old enough to be their father professor.

At one point, everyone scattered, and I spent quite a lot of time circling the place in search of them. Finally I caught up with FCS and FCSC, who had befriended a group of people at a table.

FCSC jumps up and the next thing I know, I'm lead to a small section of the place with loud music and makeshift dancing (ie Drunk people jumping up and down and bumping into each other). Her youthful exuberance was quite evident; and before long I found myself recreating scenes from various 80's movies.

The fact that I remembered these movies didn't help make me feel any younger. Let's just say I'm glad I go to the gym as often as I do... phew.


12:23 AM


Thursday, July 29, 2004
This one's for you... 
The idea for this came from Robert, who based it on a different idea from Corin, Robert said:
I was thinking maybe people can take a picture, may it be a self-portrait, objects, etc., for that certain someone or a friend... A one and only original photograph just for a specific person!! I think that would be very nice!!!
Well, Robert, this one's just for you...


Happy Birthday, Bobby!!

Got any pictures for me? Post it on your site, then come back and tell me about it in the comments.




10:39 PM


Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Like an onion... 
There are some things that can be overpowering, that anything over "a little" takes over and ruins everything.

........................

You know like when you add onion to something you're cooking and all of a sudden, it becomes an onion thing? I feel the same way about banana. I like bananas, don't get me wrong, but put them into a smoothie and it becomes a banana smoothie... so matter what else you've got in there.

My thoughts aren't really leaning towards food or drinks today, but onions and bananas just serve as good examples of overpowering flavors. It's a much lighter approach than to talk about what's been overpowering me today.

Pain. That's my flavor of the day.

It wasn't just stiffness, it was nowhere near "discomfort"... it was p-a-i-n. My hips and back just would not stay quiet today. They... just... hurt.

Yes, I took aspirin.... yes, I put on rub... yes, I took a hot shower... and used my massager... thank you for your suggestions, even to those who didn't get a chance to go down the list with me one more time.

Having been away from home the last two weeks definitely puts the guilt party here somewhere. Today, I'm tackling the bed. I ordered one of those fancy adjustable ones. My next target is that sofa. I don't need more-than-a-little to remind me. I got the message loud and clear.

In life, we're driven by the desire for pleasure and the removal of pain. It would give me great pleasure to remove this pain.


11:09 PM


Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Stay down for the count... 
Sometimes when you're knocked down, it's okay not to get up right away. It's better to enjoy the rest, then get up too soon.

...........................

I've been fighting a cold for the entire weekend. I figured that it was just allergies, since I had been away from my cat for two weeks... nope. It's one of those "things going around" or so I've been told.

By the end of the day yesterday, the lymph node on my neck was the size of a grapefruit and I was sounding like Harvey Feirstein. I figured it was time to dip into my 130 hours of accrued sick time and just stay home.

I need it.

I woke up at 3 am, in pretty intense pain. I went to my chiropractor last night. She did wonders for that node, but for some reason my hip decided to act up. I couldn't find a comfortable place for my leg yesterday; and by 3 am, yowzers! Add to that some stuffy-sneezy-coughing-yucky-so-you-can't-rest symptoms, and well... there goes your neighborhood.

Well, I walked around the apartment, wincing and whining like a puppy; sniffling and snorting all sorts of medicines... and sunk into my couch. My couch, by the way, is horrible to sit on, but great for sleeping. It swallows you up when you lie down.

After a few rough moments of tossing and turning, I fell asleep. Each time I opened my eyes, I'd just stay down and count.

Finally, around 10 am, I was done. The hip pain's gone. This "thing going around" still hasn't "gone away", but it's on its way out. I'll take the rest of the day to do what sick time is for.

No, not Catwoman... catnaps!


10:35 AM


Sunday, July 25, 2004
Hope blooms 
Don't give up. If there's even a little glimmer of hope, there's still a chance for success.

.........................

This story began a decade and a half ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles. The first plant I bought was a teeny tiny Ficus tree. It sat on the corner of my desk, ever so humble. It traveled with me wherever I moved, growing bigger by the year. It was still an indoor plant, so it was small by tree standards, but still, two feet tall was nothing to be ashamed of.

I don't know what it was -- the shifting light, a bad location in the apartment or what -- but about six months ago, it lost nearly all of its leaves. It wasn't winter, there was no snow in my living room; so I was baffled.

And sad. This tree represents "hope" for me. My goal has been to plant this in the yard of my first house; the "settling of my roots" if you will. For it to die would be a HUGE disappointment.

So I stuck it outside on the balcony. It's a tree after all, outside is where they go, you know. It looked sad with only three little leaves on it. People thought I was silly for watering it, and kept telling me to "throw it away, already!"

"La-la-la.... what did you say?"

Well, today was the first time for me to water it since I've went away on vacation. What a great surprise! It's fully in bloom, leaves everywhere!!

It looks happy.

And so do I.


10:12 PM


Saturday, July 24, 2004
They're not really ours... 
Children are their own spirits, we can guide them, teach them, love them; but ultimately their life is their own.

.........................

I went to a dinner to celebrate a friend's daughter's high school graduation. This was special because she was home schooled and graduated two years early. Her mother pushed her to excel, and it shows. Newspaper articles and everything mark her accomplishments across the years.

My only concern was whether this was really the daughter's life I've been watching all these years. From the invitation, all the way through the dinner, the emphasis seemed to be more on the mother's accomplishments than on the daughter's. Even during one (of several) speeches, she called her daughter a "project", and even her "guinea pig". I looked across the table to see how the daughter was reacting. She just stared off into space.

Now that she is becoming a woman, I asked her what her plans were for the future. "I don't know" came her reply. When I asked about her ballet, which symbolized so many years, and so many awards, she just hesitated and said "probably not full time...I dunno."

She has so much potential for success. All she has to do is listen to her own drummer, and not the voices of her past. I hope she finds her way soon, she's proven she can has what it takes.


10:57 PM


Friday, July 23, 2004
If at first... 
If at first they don't perceive, try try again...

.............................

Budget time again at work... you know that part where you figure out what you need, triple the numbers, pad it some more, and wait for them to trim it down to half of what you need. For me, it's a time to dust off that old wish list and try again.

I've been trying to get them to see why they need video production for three years now... and for three years now, the budget has gotten closer-and-closer to final approval before they cut it altogether. (Naturally I use my own stuff to make the videos they always need 'right away' throughout the year).

Only problem is, another department has been growing during this time and are calling themselves the media department. I tried to join them early on, but they 'can't afford me.' Now, as they get bigger, the perception is that we should use their services. Great idea, 'cept their needs are different than ours, and waiting for them to eventually get around to helping us, we'll end up the losers (I've seen this sort of thing before in other type projects).

I'm trying a different approach to get the results I need. Hopefully this time, they'll buy it... literally, as well as perceptively.


9:23 PM


Thursday, July 22, 2004
Grin and Bear It... 
Sometimes what's good for you, feels really bad.

.............................

Today was about doing stuff that I didn't particularly want to do, but knew they were important. Another day of reports-reports-reports. I mean, it's not like I wanted to do real work or anything. These reports will get my team some much-needed visibility, so I gave in... sure hope I can get back to the doing, and stop all this talking.

'Course, one way to stop me from talking is to shoot me up with Novocaine. I'm finally getting some pesky cavities taken care of. It was weird today, since the dentist spent the whole time on the wrong side of my mouth. I went to him for pain on the right side and he was working on the left. I looked over at the x-rays to see if he put them on the screen backwards.

I guess I'm not the only one who has more work to do.


10:44 PM


Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Fried Fish 
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime... wait for a man to return in order to teach him how to fish for everyone else and the whole village will starve.

................................

Not that I expected work to change in just two weeks, but I didn't really want to come back into the same-ole-same-ole games I left behind. I was greeted by a number of emails where people used my absence as an excuse to not do something. They were very capable of handling the situation, if they put their minds to it; but they were looking for an "out" to put it off. I specifically requested a few things so that we could be on track when I returned, but I guess they prefer fishy stories over fish dinners. So now we've missed two weeks of opportunity. Wouldn't be the first time.

I have the lemon and the tartar sauce, but no fish... no fun at all.



10:58 PM


Monday, July 19, 2004
Wrap it up... 
Endings are as important as beginnings, so wrap them up well when it's time to go...

..........................

It's hard to believe the trip is finally coming to a close. This is my last night in the Big Apple. It feels like it's been forever, that's just disappeared overnight.

This trip, I've lost a few things... credit cards, a contact lens, (for a moment, I thought) my pager (phew, I found that!) and about five pounds from walking 10 miles a day. I've gained a few things too... some good tips and tricks, some new friends, some good memories, and probably the five pounds back from a lot of bread (hey, these are authentic New Yawk Bagels, we're talkin' here!) and some awesome desserts.

It is time to wrap it all up, since it's three hours later than it is back "home" and I have a flight to catch in the morning. The wrapping is nice, but the gift of this trip is priceless.

See you all when I get back west... leave the light on!



8:37 PM


Sunday, July 18, 2004
E=MC2 
The more energy you put into the moment, the more time you will get out of it.
 
...................................
 
It seems like I've been away for MONTHS... but that's a great thing. Every day has been separated by three segments - a morning event, an afternoon, then a late night. They've been so different from each other that it feels like three different days rolled into one. Yesterday, for example was the gym and a quiet brunch in the morning, followed by a drive to an Italian restaurant in New Jersey with family, then coming back into the city, I ended up in a piano bar in Greenwich Village. Each wonderful and memoriable, but perhaps best served separately.
 
Now, sitting in an internet cafe in Times Square, fighting with the "c" "g" and "m" keys, I look back on another event-packed day and think I need a vacation from this vacation. That, and a new keyboard.
 




8:31 PM


Saturday, July 17, 2004
Not far from the tree... 
The fruit never falls too far from the tree...
 
...................................
 
My family is crazy. Most times certifiably, but on occasion in a very funny way.
 
I had dinner with them today, spending way too much for a rental car, and battling the crazy taxi drivers of New York to get out to a restaurant in New Jersey. Afterwards, we all went back to my one of my cousin's house for "dessert" (read: "Stuart's birthday cake").
 
Everytime "L" stepped into the kitchen for something, "J" would sneak some more whipped creme and fruit into her bowl. "L" would come back and just keep eating from her endless bowl, oblivious to it all.

I wish I had the camera for the next moment... "J" was sneaking splenda into her coffee, but didn't know that her sister was watching the whole thing from the hallway.

"Caught you!!" L screamed and they laughed and hugged like when they were little girls. Being in their 50's made it all the more enjoyable.
 
Then the whole group of them tried to give me directions back to the city by committee. "No, why are you making him go to the bridge, take the parkway!"
 
How I managed to get back, I'll never know... but I'm sure glad to be here.



 


6:56 PM


Thursday, July 15, 2004
Tempered Excitement 
Fire which is tempered can burn longer.

........................

The latest and greatest Canon XL2 Mini-DV camera is coming out. It's very exciting... and a bit expensive. Looking at it, I dream of my Work saying "yes" and actually commiting to professional video making... but I have to control myself. Previous years have showed me that no matter how much people TALK about doing videos, the commitment hasn't been there. Sure, Mr #2 of the company now wants video... but we'll see if that makes a difference.

If this dream comes true, it sure's gonna look good.



1:35 PM


Wednesday, July 14, 2004
The other half... 
You can only go half way into a forest. After that, you're on your way back out.

........................

The second half of my trip is underway. It's going smoother than the first. It's almost as if the incidents of last week never happen. Everything is back to where it should have been... so I can just relax and enjoy all the events.

I got to spend some great time with family and friends... and this week is like repeats, working my way through the group again. Although a lot of work, more pictures are up. They act as a wonderful memorial to this trip.

Time to do the next set of conferences, intermixed with vacation-type stuff. Life is good.


9:33 PM


Monday, July 12, 2004
Sometimes it rains... 
Sometimes it rains, and that's neither a good or a bad thing. It's just rain.

........................

Funny that I should mention rain the other day. Today, it just poured; all day. In fact, I can still hear the tap-tap-tap of the rain on the landing outside as I type this.

All day my mom complained about the weather; how "lousy" it was... and how disappointed she was that the weather couldn't have stayed "nice" during my whole trip.

I told her that it was "fine"... "enjoyable" even. After all, I don't see rain all that often these days. It's only water, and water dries... so I decided to just enjoy it for what it was.

It's just interesting to see how a simple event can be interpreted by others. We blame the clouds or fate or luck... but WE make it bad or good; all in the way we see it.

Changing our perception won't stop the rain, but it sure will make it more pleasant.


5:42 PM


Sunday, July 11, 2004
Yearly reminders... 
Birthdays act as reminders of Life... births, deaths, accomplishments and dreams... celebrate them. Not everyone is lucky to have them.

....................

Today is my reminder of Life. I look around me and think "hmmm." This is not exactly where I planned to be so many years ago, but y'know, I ain't doin' so bad. In fact, in many ways I've gotten what I've asked for. Life has a funny way of answering them differently.

Last year at this time, I went to lunch with co-workers who were once on my team... yet even when they no longer reported to me, they were still there for me. Loyalty, virtually and literally.

Today, I'm spending with my family; which I haven't done in umpteen years (I'm usually back East around Thanksgiving each year). It promises to be a special day. My parents are still alive to enjoy this day, as are my brother and sister-in-law, who has struggled with Multiple Myeloma for a couple of years now. We're going to Central Park to enjoy and celebrate Life. All of it.

I plan on getting plenty of Life Watches out of it. I love my Life Watches, I have to tell you. Not because I think they're the greatest bit of writing in the world; but because I have been taking more time to really notices the little moments that would have otherwise passed me by. It brings me closer to my own life; which is what living is all about!!


6:19 AM


Saturday, July 10, 2004
After the Rain... 
The moment after the storm is the best time to enjoy the clean air.

..............................

I checked out of the hotel this morning, thus ending the first leg of my trip. It was 'stormy' for quite a bit of it; but now I have even more clarity...

When I was in 'trouble' I turned to my company for help. I was told that they couldn't help me... afterall, there are 'rules' y'know. My friends, on the other hand, didn't hem-n-haw... their wallets and their homes were open to me, without question. In fact, they kept insisting on taking me to dinner.

Loyalty. It doesn't come with a policy. It comes with Time. It something you invest in, that pays you back when you need it most.

My work and my friends both showed their hands. It won't be forgotten.


8:42 PM


Friday, July 09, 2004
Ideas are gifts, so present them well... 
The root of "presentation" is "present"... a "gift" ... an idea that you GIVE to another. The present itself is not enough... HOW you wrap it makes all the difference in the way the idea is received.

..........................

A lot of the presenters at the conference are experts in their fields... award winners in fact. That doesn't, however, help them get their point across.

Some people just wandered all over the place. Some started off well, then just got sidetracked... and a few (very few) who did well.

There's just a few simple 'rules' to follow if you want to turn your presentation into a present...

KEEP EVERYTHING TO THREES:
  1. Tell them what you're going to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you told them
Break your idea into three main topics, and if you break it down further into subtopics, make sure they're three subs as well. Now if the subs are identical in concept, then you're really onto something. Throw in some examples, such as:
  1. I'm going to tell you about the Civil War
  2. The Civil War
    1. General Info about the war
      1. Who
      2. What
      3. Where
    2. The North
      1. Who
      2. What
      3. Where
    3. The South
      1. Who
      2. What
      3. Where
  3. This is what I told you about the Civil War
You see?

Most people only hold onto three concepts at a time; anything more and something has to go. So rather than throw more at you now, I'll take my leave... I hope you enjoyed my presentation.

:-)


8:53 AM


Thursday, July 08, 2004
Life marches on... 
Life doesn't stand still, so keep moving!

................

Although I'm still trying to cover from the fiasco at the Metro Card machine, I'm determined to make the most of my trip (It's in the Optimist's Handbook, you know... "always look on the bright side of life").

I had a productive day at the FlashForward conference, over at the delightful New Yorker Hotel. There, in between my sessions, I got to spend lunch with my dear friend Mick, whom I've known for, um, yeaaaaars.

After the conference was done for the day, I froze in the lobby, where they were blasting the air conditioner. I finally had to go back outside before turning into a Stucicle.

He felt bad about being late and recanted the whole story of work and computers and software that doesn't load (pretty much my Every Day, so I knew what he was going through). By the time he finished, we had made it down to an excellent restaurant called Good.

Wayne is so easy to talk to. He can move from subject to subject so easily, that you don't know where one conversation ends and the other begins. I tried to convince him to turn his blog into a one man show, being that he wants to be an actor and all. He thought about it... but then thought about dessert more.

Final pictures on the walk back, along a makeshift Memorial Wall... then farewells at Penn Station... and text messages until he got on his train.

So nice and genuine and generous... in this city of a million lights, he's one of the brightest ones.


2:19 PM


Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Reality Spills... 
Always have a backup plan to the backup plan...

......................

Fate was trying to ruin the trip from the very beginning. The first flight to San Francisco was threatening to be as much as two hours late, meaning I would miss the connection to New York. Plan B = Schedule the next flight after and sit patiently.

Then the plane actually makes it in time to catch the original flight... with just 15 minutes to spare. Back to Plan A, except add "run really really fast" and activate Plan C... Buy Ben Gay for the pain after carrying the two heavy carry-ons that were going to make this trip "convenient."

I **pant** just **cough** made **pant** the **cough** plane. Plan A still on, add "relax, breathe and rub shoulders... a lot."

From that point on, the trip was fulla Life Watches. I just took it all in. Sometimes I'd stare at two people on the subway and make up some sort of lifewatch, but then erased it, since I wasn't really observing anything.

I just took in every moment.. and as the sun set over manhattan, I was just entranced.

Reality spilled over over the floor as I reached into my wallet to pay for a Metro Card. ALL the contents spilled onto the platform!! I scooped it all up, shoved it back in, then got my card.

It wasn't until I got to the hotel until I realized that I hadn't gotten them all. TWO credit cards were GONE. Only the ones that were going to pay for the trip, so reality also bites, not just spills.

Plans C, D, E ad nauseum ad infinitum... lots of phonecalls, cancelled cards, more phonecalls, transferred funds. I think I've run out of plans, and the trip's just started.

Nothing like a little adventure to spice up a trip.

What was I going to do now? Oh right, go get that Ben Gay.


9:14 AM


Tuesday, July 06, 2004
There's no place like it... 
Sometimes you have to go away, to find home.

...........................

I'm going to see an old friend today... New York City. We've been through a lot together; and a lot apart. We fixed our relationship after she was wounded by in 2001. I miss her.

I'm going there (officially) to learn, but also to share... to see some old friends, and meet some new ones; to get away, and to get back.

It sounds like I'm going to start in with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

In a way, I am.


6:21 AM


Monday, July 05, 2004
Adjust a position 
To adjust to a situation, while keeping the goal in mind, is often more successful than trying to adjust the situation itself.

.............

For instance, I'm adjusting to use text messaging to send this message. Why? Not because I like small keypads, but rather cause I'm a blogaholic and can't be out of touch too often :-)

Besides, what are daily thoughts if you don't think them every day?


1:35 PM


Sunday, July 04, 2004
Declare! 
July 4th is known as the "Day of Independence." It was originally a declaration of "I am free to be on my own, to become what I am meant to be." Today is a good day for each of us to do just that.

It's a good time to identify yourself as an individual and realize that freedom and boundaries are just beliefs of ours. We have free will, so let's use it.

Other people ARE going to judge us, that's just them. That's their limitations based on their own belief system. They're threatened by the fact that you're not buying into it. Because you're "different" you must be wrong; 'cause if you're otherwise right, then where does that leave them?

You're both right; but be different anyway.

If you can't be unique, who can be?

Celebrate yourself today!



10:00 AM


Friday, July 02, 2004
Like sand through the hourglass... 
As the day slipped by, and I got closer to my last day of work before my two week 'vacation', it was amazing to watch how the priorities shifted.

First thing I wanted to wrap up the events of the past few days, then my attention shifted to all the promised projects I had left undone because of that darn TechFair. Lunchtime approached and it became "oops, those month end reports!" ... but that quickly shifted into "can someone else do it?"

All of a sudden, when faced with no time at all, what became important was what I was leaving behind.

Kind of like Life itself, eh?


10:16 PM


Thursday, July 01, 2004
Breathe... 
It's amazing... after you spend all day in a big event, avoiding hitting the wall; as soon as it's over the wall finds you.

I'm exhausted, but the event went off extremely well. Turn out was great and the tensions were minimal. Those tempers that did flair up were handled behind closed doors and didn't involve me. Much like wild fires, where the center has already burned itself out, but the outside is still flaring up. I'll just let them work it out.

I have to tell you, computers don't 'let you down', do they? They know EXACTLY when to cause trouble. The people I loaned my laptop to ran its battery down to zero and the BigBigBIG Boss was giving a presentation and needed me to download the latest for the speech... in TEN MINUTES. So naturally my computer is crawling as it starts up... starts up the virus check (cancel)... tries to load that new patch (ctrl-alt-del-end process)... starts up the home page of the mail system (click 'mail'- click - click - come on! - click).

We get the presentation, and someone else's battery... and we're off!

It was like that scene out of Broadcast News, just as soon as we get the presentation, we're weaving through the people, the laptop in hand. We arrive to smiles from B4 and a crowd of a few hundred. We plug into the projector, as they stall by holding the raffle first. Breathe, breathe...

"Installing new software..."

Oh, come on! (New projector? You couldn't have grabbed one of the old ones, eh?)

Next, next, next, finished!

"Installing keyboard..."

Keyboard, what keyboard?

Next, next, next, finished!

"Installing mouse..."

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

"Well," says B4, "I'll just start..."

(And I'll just die now, thank you very much)

"Please reboot..."

Ever so hopeful, B4 looks over, "How we doing?"

Ever so calm, ever so goofy, Stuart leans into the projector and (in front of 400 people of varying levels) starts to make finger puppets in the still empty projector light.

(Holding half a palm at the bottom of the screen, a 'car' pulls stops at the middle of the screen)

"Welcome to Juraissic Park!"

(The other palm, using a Vulcan-like motion, the 't-rex' attacks the 'car')

"Grrrr.... grrrrrr!!!"

It's a good thing I already have a reputation for being a goofball.

After the laughter broke the tension, B4 went on, describing the slides as best she could ("OK, well picture a triangle, with three other triangles in it"). I guess it was going for her, like it was going for me.

Finally, the presentation flashed on the screen and all was well!

Well, except for half the image missing.

I just stopped the presentation, moved the image around in Powerpoint, so it was on the screen and went through the slides manually.

When in doubt, improvise.

And most of all, remember to breathe.



11:18 PM


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