Sometimes You Just Feel Like a Hotdog

 Grilled hot dog

As we meandered in and out of casinos on the Las Vegas strip, I suddenly realized I was famished. About that time we were in Caesar’s Palace, so I suggested we head over to the Mesa Grill, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. My mouth began to water when I started thinking about some of his famous Southwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, my taste buds were in for a disappointment. We were too late for lunch, and too early for dinner. Knowing my stomach would not hold out much longer, I spotted a food court and went off in search of something healthy while my husband selected an all-American vendor who served up hot dogs, hamburgers and beer.

I snagged a table as my husband approached with a burger and ice cold beer. Taking his seat, John related a story about a man in front of him placing his order. Apparently, the server identified him as the chef of a local high-end restaurant. She was delighted to have him at her food stand, but puzzled and politely inquired why he was not eating at his establishment. The chef shrugged his shoulders and replied with a smile, “Sometimes you just feel like a hot dog.”

I love that story because it smacks of simplicity. Keeping it simple is definitely a good option. We have a tendency to over complicate our lives. For example, do you break out in a cold sweat when you cannot find your phone? We do derive benefits from our high tech toys, however, we should not be “on call” 24/7 unless we work in an industry that mandates it. It is perfectly acceptable to “unplug” and withdraw from all communication modes and enjoy some tranquility.

Simplifying life is not just about buying less and managing down time. Are you a slave to your social calendar? Do you say “yes” to every invitation? Do you feel obligated to spend time with people when you’d rather be home reading a great novel? Understand this…”no” is a good word. If jazz is not your preference and the gang is off to hear some band jamming Coltrane’s work, politely opt out. If your friend, Nina Negativity, wants to bend your ear for hours about all the drama in her life, find a way to distance yourself.

And finally, if throwing gourmet dinner parties for your friends causes stress and involves spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, simplify the menu, or suggest a pot luck. If all else fails, just serve up some hot dogs with a dollop of mustard and lots of love.

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Everything I Know I Learned from Listening to the Radio

Beach bag

I recently learned the true definition of a memoir. Manuscripts categorized in that genre must be based on a “life changing” event. The definition prompted me to search my soul. What major experience changed my life? While tripping down memory lane, I honed in on a habit that set the stage for living my “Life on the Sunny Side.”

Early in my career we moved to south Florida. Happily fleeing the brutal Michigan winters I chucked my windshield scraper and traded snow boots for flip flops, balmy ocean breezes and days dripping with bright sunshine. Jobs were plentiful in the technology sector. Our newly adopted city, Boca Raton means “mouth of the rat,” but for me life was a beach.

In addition to a home with a pool, a promising future in human resources and the Atlantic shoreline down the road, I tumbled head over heels in love with another area feature… a local radio station.  No, it wasn’t rock, cool jazz or country. In fact, the station did not play music. To my sheer delight I could tune into motivational radio 24/7. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen became my heroes before they published the “Chicken Soup” series. Brian Tracey, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar graced my personal top ten list mesmerizing me with their wisdom. At every opportunity I listened in as my personal mentors encouraged me to work hard, take risks, and maximize my potential.

Learning to set career goals, and increase my motivation I discovered possibilities in any given situation. These pros taught me the art of time management and how to boost my productivity. My college education paled in comparison to what I derived from such positive role models.

By applying lessons learned, my career gained momentum and I scored an exciting promotion and relocation to northern California. Before I could catch my breath, I was unpacking boxes in the Golden State scanning the broadcasting waves for the Silicon Valley version of motivational radio. Sadly, such programming was severely lacking. My solution was to load my home, car and office with motivational CD’s. To this day, I continue to fill my personal air space with my old favorites and a new generation of motivational masters.

Life changing events may not always strike like a thunderbolt spinning you into another dimension. Perhaps it is not one single explosive moment that turns the tide. I am living proof that sometimes life can change by simply flipping on the radio.


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Turning a Wish into Reality

The little girl on a lawn with a puppy in the sunny day

A particular television commercial fills me with delight. Perhaps you have seen it. An adorable little girl declares she would like a “chango machine” so she can turn her little brother into a puppy. Thank heavens I never got my hands on that magic machine growing up! My poor baby brother would have been a soft furry canine before you could pronounce “presto chango.”

As refreshing as it is to imagine instant change, we know changing course takes time and effort. But just for a moment, imagine you were granted one wish. Visualize stepping into the chango machine and then out again. What one thing is different? Did you find yourself in the corner office, or married to the woman of your dreams? Perhaps you now live in Hawaii, or you reappeared as an executive chef working at a trendy five-star restaurant.

What occurred in your fantasy machine you can duplicate in real life. You need no secret formula to accomplish the change you want most. It just takes planning, focus and a dose of grit as evidence by the story of a young college graduate named Ken Ilqunas.

Finding himself deep in debt upon graduating from the University of Buffalo, Ken moved to Alaska to secure employment and pay off his $32,000 college loan. With dedicated hard work he paid back every dime in two years. Determined never to pile up debt again, this enterprising fellow sought a master’s degree. Staying true to his vow, Ken creatively invented a way to live in his van while attending grad school at Duke University. Wow!

Not all of us have Ken’s super-sized moxie, but his inspiring story provides the impetus to move forward. Whatever it is standing between you and the goal line, I doubt it means working at a remote Alaskan truck stop or living in your van.

Now that you have a clear vision of that one thing in your life requiring change, commit to facilitating action. Draw up a plan and stay the course. Big leaps are made of many tiny steps. If you start today the time will arrive when, like Ken, you can take a bow and reap the benefits.