In the Mood!

in the mood

When my daughter was in college, there were all manner of dorm rules and restrictions. Some made sense (such as “no candles or open flames”), while others were quizzically arbitrary (as in “all Christmas decorations must be down before you check out for Christmas break”).

I’m not sure if my daughter found a loophole or if an acceptable workaround had already been established. Nevertheless, Christmas lights were deemed to be acceptable outside the holiday season if they were rechristened as “mood lighting.”

In an otherwise darkened room, the string of Christmas lights, oh, I mean “mood” lights did indeed set a warm and cozy mood. Even from the outside, their cheery glow beckoned to all, that this room was special.

At home, we have no such rules. Candles are enjoyed and appreciated. The same goes for Christmas decorations. I’m not sure why, but invariably we put up our decorations late and take them down late, enjoying them long after others have restored their homes to a “normal” state.

In the morning, I arise before my wife and make sure the Christmas tree lights are on for her when she gets up. Likewise, if she is out late, the Christmas tree lights are on to greet her when she arrives home. The lights set a nice mood in our household, a warm and cozy mood.

Lights set a nice mood in our household, a warm and cozy mood. Click To Tweet

Even still, it’s about time for the tree to come down, but perhaps we can keep the “mood” lights. Maybe if we draped them over the refrigerator…

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

New Year’s Resolutions

Traditionally, the new year is a time when many people resolve to make changes in their life. Making new year’s resolutions, however, is a practice that I tend to avoid.  It seems arbitrary and contrived to target January first. After all, if a change is warranted or desired, why wait? Set about it immediately, be it January first, May tenth, or October seventeenth. Any day is a great day to commence making life changes.

Therefore, if you made a new year’s resolution, I wish you much perseverance and great success.

Any day is a great day to commence making life changes. Click To Tweet

And if you forgot to make a resolution, don’t wait until next year rolls around, begin right away, just as soon as you realize that an adjustment is needed in your life or circumstances.

Regardless of how your year is starting off and the plans you have made, I hope that you will make it a great one!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Happy New Year!

It is hard for me to imagine, but 2019, which seems like it just started, has come to an end. 

The practice of staying up late to greet the New Year has always seemed like a strange practice to me. However, as a teen, any excuse to delay my normal bedtime schedule was a good one, so I willing joined in on the festivities, even though I was a bit perplexed by the whole idea of staying up late to do a 60-second countdown.

As I grew older, I became less of a conformist and more pragmatic. 

Ringing in the New Year is also a time when New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made. I’ve never figured that out either.  If you want to change something in your life, just do it—don’t wait for the year on the calendar to increment. In fact, by delaying needed changes, the result is merely allowing that particular bad habit or situation to become more ingrained, thereby making it harder to change.

If you want to change something in your life, just do it—don't wait for the year on the calendar to increment. Happy New Year! Click To Tweet

So, I guess I am a bit of a curmudgeon regarding late-night celebrations and timing the pursuit of needed change. Even so, don’t let my killjoy attitude detract from the party you attended last night or the resolutions you made.

I say with all sincerity, “Happy New Year!”

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for family, friends, and faith.

I’m thankful for food, clothing, and shelter.

Everything else is a bonus—and I’m thankful for that too!

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Take the time to reflect and appreciate everything you have. Click To Tweet

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Dealing with Job Obsolescence

I remember when I’ve been out of it for a couple of days. I had a cold and lost my appetite. (The only good thing about being sick and not eating is that I am back to my pre-Christmas weight.)

In the midst of my lethargic response to being ill, I watched Wheel of Fortune; which I’ve not viewed an entire episode in years. I noticed that much has changed. Initially, Vanna White was a “letter turner.”  Then, with advances in technology, there is nothing left to turn.  And although she touched each tile before the letter displays, I suspected that someone else was actually making it happen—after all, if they can make the tiles light up without Vanna’s help, they can likewise make the letters display, sans Vanna.

Sadly, Vanna’s original job had become obsolete and superfluous.  Correspondingly, it was likely, that sometime during our working lifetime, we, too, will be faced with job obsolescence.

There were two ways to deal with such a development.  One is to prepare for an alternate career.  Vanna has done some acting.  However, her leading role foray (Goddess of Love) was not well-received (for the record, I had no objections).

We can ascertain some great career strategies: 1) develop other options and 2) make yourself indispensable.  Click To Tweet

The other strategy of preparing for job obsolescence is to make oneself essential to the organization. This is exactly what happened.  Vanna, although was no longer performing a substantive role in the show’s mechanics, has nevertheless become so crucial to its ongoing success as to have been named the show’s co-host. This developed even though we are only allowed to hear Vanna in the closing seconds of each episode (though I am quite sure that her mic used to be on throughout the show, allowing her to cheer for and encourage the contestants.)

So, courtesy of Vanna White we can ascertain some great career strategies: 1) develop other options and 2) make yourself indispensable.  Either way, you’ll be covered.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Years ago, in a June issue of Inc Magazine includes an article, Innovation: The Outer Limits, which captured my attention. It detailed “the hottest, most mind-blowing high-tech products” looming on the horizon. It certainly grabbed my attention, causing me to shudder with glee—really.

First were quantum computers, promising to run circles around the current offerings, reducing hours of calculations to mere seconds.  Then there were devices that will detect and respond to brain waves—great for gamers and virtual reality projections.  Listed next was manufactured body parts: prostheses, replacement eyes, and synthetic organs. 

Another promising advance lies in the area of nanotechnology with the ability to alter substances at the molecular level and—my personal fav—nanomachines that could be injected into your body to repair, rebuilt, or scour.

Technology is exhilarating and its implications are exciting, but given the potential downside, perhaps I'm not quite ready to improve my memory after all. Click To Tweet

Last was the opportunity to chemically enhance the brain, thereby improving memory.  This really excited me.  Wouldn’t it be great to remember more and quickly recall details?  Sign me up!  But wait.  What about the things you want to forget?  That unhappy consideration dimmed my enthusiasm a bit. 

However, what really gave me pause was the recollection of a novel I read in high school (if I can recall something from four decades ago, maybe my memory’s not all that bad after all—but then, why do I sometimes blank on my address?)

The book was Flowers for Algernon (see the Spark Notes to refresh your memory—ironic humor intended).  Essentially, it’s about a mentally challenged man who undergoes an experimental process, which catapults him to the genius level.  Unfortunately, the mental improvement is short-lived as he soon regresses to his former self, with the implication that he could soon die.

Technology is exhilarating and its implications are exciting, but given the potential downside, perhaps I’m not quite ready to improve my memory after all.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Black and White in a Technicolor World

black and white

I dream in black and white. I’ve always assumed this was because I grew up watching black and white TV. Occasionally my black and white dream contains one item in color—a more recent cinematic effect that my dreaming has likely emulated. A couple of times an entire dream scene is blasted with vibrant, blinding color. It comes as such a surprise that I instantly wake-up.

Since I dream in black and white and grew up watching television in black and white, it shouldn’t be surprising that I enjoy black and white movies. (And for the record, I’m not a purest and I don’t object to the colorization of black and white films. A good movie is a good movie, regardless.)

In selecting older movies, I first consider those that are heralded as classics. I also give consideration to the classic films that Netflix suggests, based on my ratings that I’ve given to other films. A third reason why I will opt to partake in cinematic nostalgia is the people associated with a picture.

Since I dream in black and white and grew up watching television in black and white, it shouldn't be surprising that I enjoy black and white movies.  Click To Tweet

As far as directors, I opt for Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest, Vertigo, To Catch a Thief, and Rear Window are particular favorites.  Not surprisingly, the main actors in these films also capture my attention. For the males, it is Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant. On the female side, it is Grace Kelly, along with Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, and Audrey Hepburn.  Often I gravitate to anything that includes one of these four ladies.

Several years ago, I was again watching “To Catch a Thief” (a triple bonus: directed by Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly). There is a scene with Grace Kelly wearing a stunning white gown and adorned by a sparkling array of diamonds encircling her neck. Just then, my son walked into the room.  “What are you watching?” he inquired. I provided more information about this classic tale than he wanted to hear or needed to know. 

I then gushed about Grace Kelly and concluded by saying, “Isn’t she incredible?”

He stood silently for several moments, shook his head, and said, “I just don’t get it.”

How could he get a black and white movie? He probably dreams in color.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Fall Weather is Seemingly Upon Us

fall weather

Fall means that I won’t likely be watering the lawn anymore for the rest of the season and that mowing will occur much less often.  So you think that I would look forward to fall because it means a lot less yard work.  While this is true, there is one thing that I dislike about fall—the knowledge that winter will soon follow it.

Spring is my favorite season.  To me, spring means new life, fresh beginnings, and personal rejuvenation.  Summer is a close second, with the warm days and a break from the normal schedule.  Then comes fall, which weather-wise is an okay time of the year.  But winter is a time that I view as something to endure.  I know, I need to develop a more positive attitude about the season of cold and snow, but it’s hard for me to do—and seemingly gets harder every year.

One thing that I dislike about fall—the knowledge that winter will soon follow it. But I need not to dwell and instead enjoy while it lasts. Click To Tweet

I used to think that my dislike for the winter months centered around the lesser number of daylight hours, but it turns out that is more of an incidental issue, with the cold temps and blowing snow as the central cause of my angst.  By working at home, I can largely avoid those twin threats, but by mid-winter, I start to get cabin fever, which is about as bad.

But right now, I need to not dwell on it—and enjoy fall while it lasts.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Birds, Lawn Sprinkling, and Nature

sprinkling

Years ago, on a Saturday, my lawn was again in need of liquid sustenance and I was in watering mode, repositioning sprinklers in half-hour increments. During one mid-morning trek, there were two birds on my deck railing. I walked by them slowly, wondering how close I could get before they flew off in fear. They never did, even though I passed within a couple of feet. I’m not sure if they are immature, sickly, or both.

This continued for several hours, even when I made no attempt to slow my approach or quiet my steps. Desiring to snap a photo, I retrieved my camera. As I was setting it for an outdoor shot, I heard a loud thud. Looking up, only one bird remained on the rail, with the other staggering in an apparent daze on the deck next to the window. Soon his friend fluttered down to join him.

I thought I missed my shot, but 30 minutes later they were again on the railing, where they stayed a few more hours.

The next day, as I rounded the corner of my house, one of them was sitting in the grass and I almost ran into him. He studied me carefully before casually flying to a nearby tree.

Nature, for all its awesome beauty, can be awfully cruel. Click To Tweet

Sadly, the following Monday, there was a suspicious pile of feathers in about that same place. Today, the apparent survivor was alone, randomly walking on my driveway, as though not knowing what to do. Nature, for all its awesome beauty, can be painfully sad.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Woodpecker Wars

woodpeckers

I remember, years ago, I used to like woodpeckers, admiring their colorful beauty and stately appearance, being amazed at their peculiar characteristic of using their beak as a drilling tool to find food or make a shelter.

However, when I learned that woodpeckers had taken an interest in my neighbor’s house, I immediately checked mine. Unbeknownst to me, they had been hard at work on the shutters on the south side of my home—fortunately, it was only the shutters.

Anything that hurts or kills a woodpecker—or disturbs their nests — is illegal; they are protected. Click To Tweet

My bride, an amazing cyber-sleuth, quickly learned that:

  • It was usually just one or two woodpeckers that attack one’s abode, not a flock of them.
  • There were a variety of motivations: looking for food, establishing a nest, or trying to attract a mate.
  • There was no one guaranteed solution, but a list of possible ones— that may hinge on their motivation for pecking.
  • Anything that hurts or kills a woodpecker—or disturbs their nests — is illegal; they are protected. (Not that I would want to harm them, but recalling the tenacity and rapidity of their work, courtesy of the old Woody Woodpecker cartoons, I can envision things quickly escalating out of control.)

As a first step, I filled and painted the holes.

That solved the problem—for a few days. Though they never returned to the south side of my house, they moved their focus to the shutters on the north side, which have now been filled twice and repainted.

I made a daily walk around my home’s perimeter, scrutinizing it for the telltale signs of a woodpecker at work. I am was pleased to state that I had been woodpecker free for seven days.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.