Tag Archives: woodpecker wars

Living Beneath Your Means

Years ago, I and my bride were talking with a young engaged couple and the subject of finances came up. I shared my thoughts and seemingly gave them something to ponder.

I said that most people in the US live beyond their means. They live paycheck to paycheck, are overextended, and one little glitch sends their world crumbling.

A few people in the US “live at their means.” That is, they spend their money wisely, save for a rainy day—which will eventually happen, don’t try to keep up with everyone else (who are actually living beyond their means), are careful using credit, and make careful investments. In short, they live fiscally responsible lives.

Should you try to live beneath your means? Click To Tweet

My goal, however, is to “live beneath my means.” That is, to live more simply than what I can afford to. This certainly doesn’t imply that I’ve taken a vow of poverty or anything of the sort—I have been too spoiled to attempt that—but I have sworn off extravagance and am largely content with what I have, be it home, car, clothes, and other possessions.

It is most freeing to be not always wanting more and yearning for what is unwise or unwarranted. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals—I do—but they aren’t materialistic in nature. I’ve learned that possessions can weigh you down and often make demands of you: be it time, attention, more money, or worry; plus you really don’t own them anyway—they often own you.

So, let’s keep it simple; it’s much more prudent and a whole lot less stressful.

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.

What I Learned From Rabbits

What I learned from rabbits?

Although I live in a rural area, my immediate surroundings are not; I reside in a subdivision. Even so, wildlife abounds. During the non-snowy months, I can, at any given time, look out my office window and see at least one animal and usually more; I’ve spent the last five months verifying this to be true.

The most common sight is birds. Squirrels come in second; sometimes they’re in pairs: darting, jumping, chasing, climbing.

I also see rabbits; they are common, but not a daily sight (though I don’t spend my time gazing out my window either.) When I see a hare, it’s always alone, which is a bit sad to mention.

But today I saw two: hopping, playing tag, hangin’ out. Then a third one appeared. One hops to my left, the other scurries right, while the third goes in a circle. They were on the smaller side, perhaps siblings from this year’s batch.

Then to my delight, a fourth one-hopped into view. A bit larger and more deliberate in movement. I surmised this to be their mom. For quite a while I admired their comings and goings, their freedom and their life.

I’m glad I took the time to watch them frolic; it was good to slow down—and to marvel.

It was good to slow down and to marvel at times. What do you do to slow down? 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.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

planning

I remember when my wife and I were building a house. Actually, we watched someone else build a house for us. Though there were times I wanted to help, I suspect they would have charged more if I tried.

The early stages clipped by quickly: digging the basement, pouring footings and basement walls, framing the house, putting on the roof, roughing in the mechanical systems, adding insulation, and installing drywall. We enjoyed stopping by each night to see the progress and snap pictures to chronicle the birth of our home.

Then things slowed down. They warned us this would happen. Some days saw no progress and occasionally a whole week would march past with seemingly little to show for the passage of time. Much of this was normal, but some resulted from delays in shipping critically needed products, exacerbated by the holidays.

Added to the delays were inevitable cost overruns. While a few of these were our doing, most were not. It seems a quote is merely a guideline for intent, the possibility of what may occur—or not. We were over budget, which made all the worse since our starting point was higher than originally conceived when the project was hatched.

Then there were deviations from design, instigated by well-intended construction folk. Some of these were out of necessity, others were spontaneous decisions that worked out well, but a few were contrary to our wishes, with displeasing results. Of course, there were also instances where the reality of construction didn’t match what we envisioned from the black and white lines on the two-dimensional blueprint.

Whether building a house or living life, things don’t always go as planned. We are not in charge, and we can’t dictate the outcome, but we move forward in faith. Click To Tweet

While we hoped to move earlier than we did, the building inspector had other ideas, pointing out two minor items he objected to. We sigh, we waited, and we prayed for approval.

Building a house is a lot like life. Though we have a general direction, we aren’t in control. Things can cost more, take additional time, and may not end up as expected—regardless of the degree of planning and our attention to detail.

Whether building a house or living life, things don’t always go as planned. We are not in charge, and we can’t dictate the outcome, but we move forward in faith, confident the results will work out—and they will, for our house and our life.

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.

Email Insanity

email sanity

Several years ago, I ordered an inversion table online. Part of the ordering process was to give them my email address.

Once they had my email address, they did the logical thing and began sending me email messages. One or two of them were offers for complementary health devices and exercise equipment, but most were for inversion tables. 

In case you are wondering what an inversion table is, it is essentially a device that allows you to hang upside down. That might cause you to wonder why anyone would want two.  It sure makes me wonder. Maybe I’m missing something.  Perhaps my enjoyment would be doubled if I had two.  Could it be that other purchasers of inversion tables turn around a buy a second one a couple weeks later? I think not.

Apparently, their marketing department wasn’t thinking either. Why else would they insist on trying to sell me something I had already bought from them?

Likely they reasoned that it costs next to nothing to send an email to me—no matter how nonsensical. After all, I might decide that I need two: one for the basement and a second one for the living room.  Yeah, right!

Because of an ill-conceived email strategy, they have forever lost the opportunity to sell me something else. Click To Tweet

Their logic is shortsighted, however, because it will cost them something—my business. You see, in exasperation for their thoughtless barrage of messages, I opted out.

Now, because of an ill-conceived email strategy, they have forever lost the opportunity to sell me something else.

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.

Happy Fourth of July!

To all my friends and followers living in the United States of America, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July (Independence Day, if you want to be formal).

While there are certainly reasons for concern, worry, and even complaint, we do live in a wonderful country. We enjoy wide-ranging freedoms, abound in opportunities, and—despite the naysayers—reside in prosperity.

I’m glad to be a citizen of the United States of America and pleased to live in this amazing nation. I thank our forefathers who made this all possible and salute them for their foresight and sacrifices to form our country.

Happy Fourth of July! 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.

Haste Makes Waste

I pride myself in having the discernment of knowing when to not take shortcuts, those times when doing so would likely end up costing more work or taking more time. Conversely, I also know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile. This applies to travel, repairing things, performing work, and so forth. Although I don’t believe in luck, some people seem to have better fortune than others. If you’ve seen—and happen to remember—the movie “Just My Luck” you were treated to both extremes of this situation: one person who expected everything to always work out—and it did—and the other who expected that everything would go wrong—and it did.

I remember when I did an uncharacteristically “low percentage” move, one born out of laziness or haste or a combination thereof, it was a decision with a high likelihood of disaster.

I was hand mowing around my house with the push mower; I neglected to first pick up the hoses. Upon seeing the first hose, not wanting to stop the mower, I tipped the deck up, slowly and carefully pushing it over the hose. Everything went as I hoped. At the back of the house, the process was repeated for the second hose. This time, it was done a little less carefully and a little quicker—the results were not pleasant, with bits of rubber flying in all directions. Now I had to stop the mower.

Know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile, for HASTE does indeed make WASTE. Click To Tweet

So, for not wanting to take a few seconds to stop the mower and move the hose, I ended up spending about a half an hour, going to the hardware store, buying a replacement fitting, and wrestling it into place. Now my hose is a few feet shorter as a result.

Haste does indeed make waste. I hope I learned my lesson.

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.

Stop Selling and Start Serving

selling

Once when I needed to order some ink cartridges for my printer—the kind I can only buy directly from the vendor. There was a problem with the website, so I picked up the phone to place my order.

I told the agent I wanted to order two black ink cartridges.

Not surprisingly, she suggested I buy a package that included two color cartridges as well. “No thank you, just black.”

Upon discovering the age of my printer, she tried to sell me a new printer. “No thank you—I just need ink.”

When I acknowledged that I own several computers from her company, she asked if they were working okay and did I… “No I just want to buy ink.”

Then she offered me a special price on anti-virus software for only…, “No, I only want ink!”

Next, she inquired if I was interested in a maintenance plan to… “NO, just ink!”

When the call took twice as long as it needed to, I became irritated. Click To Tweet

Perhaps she was supposed to try to upsell me five times or maybe she was on commission. I don’t know. What I do know is when the call took twice as long as it needed to, I became irritated, and the likelihood of me buying another printer from them is highly unlikely.

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.

In Memory of

Memorial Day

This Monday will be Memorial Day in the USA. It is a national holiday set aside in memory of military personnel who died while serving their country. As such it should be a solemn day of remembrance, attending parades and visiting the graves of loved ones.

Memorial Day is also an appropriate reminder to thank all those who have served their country through military service. Regardless of your opinion on the politics behind the various US involvements in which they serve, commend them for their many acts service; they put their future and their life on the line for their compatriots.

Memorial Day is also an appropriate reminder to thank all those who have served their country through military service. Click To Tweet

Additionally are those who return from military service with life-altering injuries, both physical and mental. Too often they are forgotten or marginalized. Remember them too.

Some observe Memorial Day by doing these things. For others, it is a day to relax or have a cookout. However, too many have lost sight of why this holiday exists, seeing it merely as a day off from work (for most people) or a long weekend. Aside from enjoying the day, one can take in a parade, visit a gravesite, thank a military man or woman, hire a vet, or do whatever they can to show respect or appreciation.  But whatever you do, remember to remember—today and every day.

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.

Do You Lie to Your Doctor?

lie to doctors

Eight years ago, I received at work, a shocking press release. In part of it said, “It’s an open secret in healthcare communities: patients lie.”

Sometimes when we lie to doctors, it's simply to keep them from reaching a wrong conclusion and subjecting us to needless pain. Click To Tweet

The reasons were many. Some lie because they don’t want to admit unhealthy behaviors to their doctors. For others, by not voicing a concern they subconsciously deny its existence. Still, others make their own determinations as to what’s important and what’s not, lying to keep from revealing what they deem to be irrelevant.

Yet I think I understood this. I’ve made casual comments to doctors and the next thing I know they would want to schedule me for a series of tests unrelated to my visit or they would prescribe a medicine for a minor issue and the drug’s side-effects were worse than my minor ailment.

Sometimes these trivialities were verbally regurgitated visit after visit, long after I’ve forgotten them. As in, “Are you still suffering from blurred vision?” I respond, “That was three years ago and I haven’t accidentally poked myself in the eye since then.”

Too often doctors only half listen. Once they hear a certain keyword, they tune out the details that surround it. They leap to diagnosis or treatment for a problem that isn’t there.

Sometimes when we lie to doctors, it’s simply to keep them from reaching a wrong conclusion and subjecting us to needless pain.

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.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

We just recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Though most view it as a secular holiday, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has a religious origin. This has been lost over time, with his work and accomplishments having been long forgotten by most people.

After embarking on your favorite St. Patrick’s Day rituals and routines, don green attire, or imbibe in adult beverages of questionable coloration, let’s have a quick review. But, don’t worry; you will not be tested on this material.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Click To Tweet
  • Patrick is not really a Saint. That is, he was not canonized by Rome.
  • He was not Irish. He was English.
  • He did not rid Ireland of snakes. That is folklore.
  • Patrick did go to Ireland. Actually, he went twice, the first time, unwillingly as a slave; the second time willingly, as a missionary.
  • For 30 years, he traveled Ireland, promoting Christianity and setting up churches and monasteries

He died on March 17, 461 (yes, a long, long time ago), marking the day that we commemorate his life—by celebrating his myth.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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.