Monday, November 30, 2009

No, a mighty little word

How many times
did you hear your parents say no when you were a young child? Perhaps it was the first word that you understood. Maybe it was the tone of voice or maybe it was instinct, but clearly it helped us understand the meaning of no. I am sure that every one of us has little or no recollection of that learning process, but certainly we learned the meaning.

So what does it mean to us today? Usually, when one of us says no, it means that we don't want to do whatever! Sometimes it may be because the option is unacceptable or simply we don't agree. Regardless, no usually means no. It doesn't mean maybe; it doesn't mean ask me later because I might change my mind; it generally reflects one's commitment to a particular position at that moment in time.

What are the consequences of saying no? Certainly, for a parent it might prevent an injury or alter a learned behavior that is undesirable. For an adult, it just might mean that we are expressing our position with regard to a question or difference of opinion. Regardless, each of us has to be prepared to defend that position.

As for me, knowing when to say no is worth knowing, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Biking takes on a new low

So the calendar says November, therefore it must be time to put your bicycle away for the winter. Not so fast. For the die hard cyclist or triathlete, the date on the calendar really doesn't impact the decision to bike outside. In fact, if the weather looks enticing, the threshold to go can be just about anything.

For my friends and me, we used to set the threshold at 40°. This, of course, was barring any precipitation either present or already on the roads. Windchill really did not play a role in the decision to go. That may have all changed this weekend!

Certainly with the advent of the new technical clothing, outdoor activity in the cold weather is not the challenge that it once was. Sir Edmund Hillary or George Mallory would probably laugh at our concerns. However, safety and comfort need to be considered.

With the fall weather hitting temperatures in the 20s early in the morning, consideration for an outdoor ride came to the forefront of our group discussion. To a person, a unanimous thumbs up was given to our morning ride. The temperature was a chilly 26°. Fortunately, there was very little wind to contend with. So after recommitting ourselves, and bundling in multiple layers, we headed off for the hour long bike ride. It was delightful to say the least. In fact, it was much more than that. It was an hour spent with friends, communicating with each other and the outdoors, in the most simple way. At times, the obvious chill in the air went unnoticed by the group. However, after an hour or so, the harsh reality of the cold morning air took its toll. We were all ready for a cup of hot coffee.

So what does this all mean? Well, for one it means that if the conditions are ripe, take advantage, because there may be not be another opportunity in the near future. More importantly, however, if you can share your experience with other willing individuals, the experience often times is not so intimidating and it can fill you with the warmth of friendship!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday commentary

What is Black Friday anyway? Sure, I understand what Black Friday is. Generally, it's considered the day when retailers finally get their businesses in the black for the year.

But what is Black Friday really? It's the day after Thanksgiving when retailers advertise fantastic deals simply to get consumers into their stores. We've heard stories where people camp out simply to be the first in line in order to get the terrific promotional gift or sales price on an item. There have been tragedies associated with this behavior, as people have stormed into retail destinations in order to be that first person or one of the first 50 people or one of the first hundred people. What is this madness? Are these items that none of us can live without?

Remember the good old days when our parents would tell us that we'd have to wait until Christmas to get something that was on our list? Many of us would write a detailed wish list for Santa Claus and mail them off to the North Pole only to be overjoyed on Christmas morning at the prospects of receiving one of those gifts. Whether we received something from our list or not, it really didn't matter. I know there was disappointment for some of us, but most of us did survive in spite of ourselves. Our parents, grandparents and other relatives made sure that we did not go without, regardless of the circumstances.

Despite the news of global economic recession, Black Friday has become an obsession. That obsession has gone so far as to detract from the once relaxing holiday called Thanksgiving. People find themselves getting up early to be part of the mad rush. I realize that for some this is a social event, but I believe that it is more of a social commentary.

If any of you has listened to or read Susie Orman, she makes a very important distinction between needs and wants. Needs are things that are absolutely necessary, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Wants on the other hand, are things that we can live without. Sure each of us has lots of wants, but what do we really need? Hopefully, for most of us, what we really need, we have.

At the turn of the 19th century, people around the world were dying of consumption ie. Tuberculosis. As we have entered into this new millennium, the new consumption has become consumerism. If you look at the global financial picture, it is little mystery why we are in the predicament that we are in. The basic needs haven't changed much over the years. On the other hand, the balance between needs and wants has shifted dramatically in favor of wants.

As for me, I think it's a good time to reflect and reassess how my Black Friday was "spent". I may just finish a few homemade gifts and share them with my family and friends at Christmas. A gift from the heart can go a long way to keeping me out of the malls and traffic, and may be, just maybe, help me keep my perspective and checkbook in balance!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Cheer

The Thanksgiving holiday is coming to a close. What makes this such a special holiday is the relatively simple nature of the day. You awaken, maybe do some exercising, in anticipation of consuming a disproportionately large amount of food. The food preparation, the gathering with family or friends, all are part of the holiday experience.

There might be the traditional family football game, conversation around the table, the watching of football, or playing of games as part of the daily activity. All of this is what makes this holiday so special.

When it all comes to a conclusion at the end of a busy day, you ask yourself, have I had enough? Hopefully, the answer is yes. Yes that word enough means many things. It means that you have refueled both emotionally and nutritionally to face another day. We all ought to be thankful that we have just enough!

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