Thursday, October 30, 2014

Freemason Wisdom: Benjamin Franklin On Critics

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and 
complain and most fools do."

~Brother Benjamin Franklin

As you can imagine, as a writer I'm not unaccustomed to harsh criticism.  I get quite a bit of it.  I don't mind fair criticism of my work, but it's the unfair criticism I get on occasion that sometimes gets to me.  For example, I got into a political discussion a few days ago on Facebook.  I enjoy a good debate--not screaming and yelling, but making points and counterpoints, and discussing facts.  I didn't know the person I was debating with, but needless to say, he didn't agree with my position, and was unable to make his own position clear.  So he googled me, gathered some information (most of it incorrect), then engaged in a personal attack based on what he perceived as my lack of education and accomplishments.  He also questioned my morals and character.  He even called me an "empty narcissist."  All because I disagreed with him politically, and he couldn't make his point.  I should know better than to be ticked off by someone like that, but I was.  I even googled his name to find out who he was exactly.  I figured he must be a very accomplished man to be so harsh in his criticisms of the things I'd done.

Do you know what I found?  NOTHING.  Not one single thing about him.

I really wasn't surprised.  That's very often the case.  It's easy to criticize the things other people do.  It's much harder to actually do things.  It's always been easier to destroy than to build.  Remember that when somebody criticizes you.  There's no sense in getting upset about it.  Their criticism about you says a lot more about them than it does about you.  People like that are their own worse enemy.  They'll most likely never know the joy of building something where nothing existed before.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

I'm Melting!

I was sitting in a very dull meeting the other day, and one of my co-workers leaned over and whispered to me, "Are you wearing your dad's shirt?"  It made me laugh.  I have been looking sloppy lately, and my pants fit about the same way the shirts do--badly.  I've lost a little weight.  About 19 pounds in eight weeks--just slightly over two pounds a week.  That's about five inches around the waist, and at least an inch around the neck for me.  How?  It isn't that complicated.

The photo wake-up call: Labor Day at 216 lbs.  I was waiting in line for a corn dog with my grandson when my eldest daughter Jaclyn (who is now out of the will) snapped this lovely photo.  Same day I got stuck in a giant chair I couldn't get out of.  It was time for a change.
Americans spend billions a year on weight loss products, diets, supplements, etc.  Get on the subject of weight loss, and you'll have no shortage of advice--mostly from people that could stand to lose a few pounds themselves.  They have lots of advice because they've been on twenty different diets over the years, and obviously very little of it works at all.  Losing weight is easy.  You eat less, and you exercise more.  I've made no dramatic changes at all.  I've cut down on beer.  I've cut down on ice cream.  I've cut way down on snacks, and make better snack choices when I do snack.  But I haven't quit anything.  What modest changes I've made I view as permanent changes--I'm not on a diet.  I'm eating differently. 
Two months and nineteen pounds later--just over half way to 180.
And then there's the exercise--also something I view as a permanent change.  I walk over the lunch hour.  I used to do that every day, but got out of the habit a few years ago--oddly enough, about the same time I starting putting weight on.  No elevators.  I take the stairs.  I also ride a stationery bike for 30 minutes three times a week--that wasn't easy at first, but it's gotten easier over time as I've gotten into better shape.  Now I look forward to it.  It's time I spend listening to music, reading, or updating my calendar. I've also gotten back to one of the things I really enjoyed when I was much younger--nature hiking.  I've been all over the local parks over the last couple months--even took my youngest daughter on a hike along the Middle Fork River a couple weeks ago.  She had a blast. 
FitBits come in different models, but all work the same--they track your activity. 
And it's cost me very little.  I already had the exercise bike--we used it as a clothes hanger as many people do.  We spend less at the grocery store, so it's actually saved money there.  One investment I did make was in a FitBit.  That's actually worked very well for me.  It clips to my pocket, and I wear it day and night.  It links to my phone, and it keeps track of my daily activity.  It also monitors how much sleep I'm getting (which as it turns out wasn't nearly enough before).  I also keep track of how much water I drink (which as it turns out was also not nearly enough).  I plug in what I'm eating and it helps me stay in the zone to lose about two pounds a week.  As competitive as I am, I find I compete with myself--always trying to improve what I did the day before.

Everybody is different, but you don't have to spend a fortune to get into better shape.  You might be surprised just how easy it can be with just a few modest changes.  It's a secret the multi-billion dollar a year weight lose industry really wants to keep under wraps.  Of course, the hardest part is keeping it off.

I'm just over half way to my goal.  Should be there by Christmas.  I have few doubts I'll get there.  I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot of clothes for Christmas this year.  And I have a feeling Goodwill is about to get some very nice dress shirts and pants at about the same time.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Few Words About The National Anthem . . .

I originally posted this on 3/19/12, and considering it doesn't have anything to do with Freemasonry, it got a lot of attention.  I believe a lot of Americans feel this way. 
The author of this piece is unknown, but I saw it in the most recent newsletter of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  I couldn't agree more with the piece, and since I know many Americans feel the same way, I thought I'd share it.  It goes like this:

The National Anthem: A Brief Editorial
So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the National Anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts.  Just sing this the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten straight up, no styling.  Sing it with the constant awareness that there are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world.  Don't make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification.  Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and US Flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love, not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician.  They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourage.  Sing the Star Spangled Banner with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America--not you!

~Author Unknown

I couldn't have put it any better myself, however, there is just one thing I would add . . .learn the words!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John Wayne On Being Bullied

originally posted 12/18/12
“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

~John Wayne from The Shootist
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56
Tuscon, Arizona

It's hard to believe, but even "The Duke" was razzed and picked on by bullies on the playground.  It wasn't easy growing up with the name Marion.  "Defending that first name taught me to fight at an early age," John Wayne once remarked.

He earned his nickname when his family moved to California in 1911.  His constant companion was the family Airedale, and the local fireman, who watched him pass the firehouse each day, began calling the dog "Big Duke" and the boy "Little Duke."  The name stuck.  When he showed up at the firehouse one day with a black eye and a split lip, one of the firefighters, an ex-boxer, began teaching Little Duke to defend himself.  It wasn't long before the bullying stopped.  "I really looked up to those guys. They were heroes in my book," John Wayne remembered.

Big Duke & Little Duke

We live in a world today that spends a lot of time talking about bullying, and trying to eliminate it from schools and playgrounds--but it's always going to be a fact of life.  There's always going to be that overly assertive person trying to punch your buttons--and sometimes pacifism isn't the answer.  It's important not only to teach our kids not to be bullies, but also how to stand up for themselves when it inevitably happens.

Some people my age and older have a different view of the problem  Many of us had that one defining moment back in school when they finally got tired of dealing with a bully, and turned on them.  I had this conversation with a few of my old friends.  Each had a moment like that, they still remember the bully's name, and remember the look on the bully's face when they finally got fed up and confronted them.  They remember it as an defining moment in their life--the moment they stopped being the victim.  When they realized the pain of a black eye hurts a lot less than living their life in fear.

And it doesn't just happen to kids--there are grown-up bullies as well.  Most of us know one.  Most who had that defining moment in youth know how to deal with people like that--those who didn't wind up being pushed around by them even as adults.

Kids learn a lot on the playground--not all of it is pleasant.  By removing adversity, are we making our kids stronger, or weaker? 


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014
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