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Men are Simple

Here at the Marvelous Minutia blog I like to celebrate the little things in life that often go unnoticed.  Little things that, if we take the time to look for them, can have a profound effect upon our day.  These little things are often simple in nature and because of their simplicity they often go unnoticed.
Today I would like to talk about something that, because of their simplicity, is often misunderstood… men.  By nature, men, unlike their counterparts, are extremely simple creatures. Men say what they mean, are generally direct, forward to a fault, and do not hold grudges. Women on the other hand are complex, often say what they do not mean, conceal their feelings, and have a better memory than an elephant.  Recently I read an interesting article on Yahoo by Amy Spencer.  It is titled “For Guys: A Guide to Girl Talk.” Amy writes, “If you’ve ever spoken to a woman, it’s fair to say you’ve been confused by one. Yes doesn’t always mean yes, no doesn’t always mean no, and most of us have once in our lives even admitted, ‘Well, I may have said that, but I didn’t mean it.’”  Later in the article Amy cites an example of what a woman says versus what she really means:
What she says: “If you want to have a guy’s night, go ahead, fine.”
What she means: “I really, really don’t want you to go. And if you do, I’m going to be upset.”

Geesch! In camparison men are simpletons! With men and women having completely opposite communication styles it is no wonder John Gray sold millions of copies of his book "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus!" I think the following, which I received via e-mail, about a husband and wife writing in their respective diaries at the end of the day, sums up the nature of men and women nicely while poking fun at the communication disconnect:

Her Diary:  Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird.  We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner.  I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it.  Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much.  I asked him what was wrong; He said, 'Nothing.'  I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset.  He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it.  On the way home, I told him that I loved him.  He smiled slightly, and kept driving.  I can't explain his behavior I don't know why he didn't say, 'I love you, too.'  When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.  He just sat there quietly, and watched TV.  He continued to seem distant and absent.  Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed.  About 15 minutes later, he came to bed.  To my surprise, he responded to my caress, and we made love.  But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep - I cried.  I don't know what to do.  I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.  My life is a disaster. 

His Diary:  Boat wouldn't start, can't figure it out, at least I got laid. 

The point of this post, while hopefully being humorous, is that it is important for both men and women to recognize each other’s differences in order to communicate better, because it is only then that we can happily focus on the things that are of real importance in this life, together.
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There are unexpected little things that each of us encounters every day, little things that have the ability to block out all negativity, little things that have the power to make us feel, if we only take the time to notice them that is.
Every weekday for me starts out basically the same, wakeup, shower, take my daughter to the bus stop, drive to work and finally start my work day.  Today was different however; I encountered one of those little things.  Several months ago I stumbled upon a sticker.  Truth be told, I am not sure where I found it or how it is that I came to posses it.  It is green in color, soft to the touch, in the shape of a heart and has the word “hope” on it.  In hind sight, I do remember peeling the paper off the back and sticking it on a mostly unseen part of my desk in my office at work.  Months have passed since then and the sticker, for the most part, has gone unnoticed, until today.  Today, for whatever reason, my attention was drawn to the sticker immediately snapping me out of my routine.  A smile crept across my face as I ran my finger around the edge of the heart. 
Hope is a wonderful thing.  In fact it is one of the greatest tools in the optimist’s satchel.   Hope gives us the power to push through our darkest hour and keep sadness at bay.  Hope is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.   In a life filled with so many uncertainties, hope allows us, no matter the situation or the level of despair, to believe that circumstances in the future will be better.   In my humble opinion, hope is one of the greatest gifts mankind has ever been given.
Embarking upon Christmas and a new year, it is my sincere hope that, no matter what your current circumstances are, hope finds you and guides you to a better tomorrow.  Merry Christmas to you and yours. 
They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.
-Tom Bodett
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Game Changers

Yesterday I experienced a “game changer” and it was awesome.  These things, events if you will, or better yet, unplanned occurrences, are extremely powerful and rare.  You don’t know when or where they will strike, but when they do they hit you right upside your melon and knock any pessimism you’ve been experiencing right on its ass.
Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right? You know, one of those days where you think that if one more thing goes wrong you are going to pack it in and go back to bed? Well I was having one of those days yesterday.

The day started with my alarm going off and me hitting snooze one too many times. Already running late, I proceeded to kick the corner of the dresser while rushing to get through my morning routine. Needless to say I was late for work and in a foul mood before I even sat down in my office. Trying to be optimistic, I gave a valiant effort to shake off the morning and focus on the day ahead. My positive thoughts only lasted a short while however as the wheels came off the bus.  Damn that bus driver! Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The world was out to get me. I was sure of it.

I stumbled through my day genuinely pissed off, but eventually the work day came to an end and it was time to go home.  I knew what was going to happen. My foul mood was going to ooze into the house like a thick fog and it was going to infect everyone in its path. If my wife and daughter were in a good mood they wouldn’t be for long. Projecting your foul mood upon others is very hard to prevent after all.

Arriving at home, I parked my car in the garage, mumbled to myself and walked into the house. Once inside my wife met me at the door and laid a kiss on me. And boy what a kiss it was! Now she had no idea of the day I was having, sleeping in too late, the kicked dresser, or foul mood. She was unaware that the wheels came off the bus; it crashed, caught fire and burned.  After a few seconds the kiss ended and she asked “How was your day?” Do you know what my answer was? I responded to her question with one word, “Great!”

WTF!  Wait a minute! My day wasn’t great! My day was far from great!  Why did I say “great?” I had just experienced a game changer.  In three seconds my day went from terrible to great. The day was great!  At least now it was. 

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Aldous Huxley
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How Not to Have a Bad Day


Normally I am a very optimistic person. I see the world through rose colored glasses and frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way. I cannot imagine going through life being a pessimist, always sour about something. Every once in a while however, like most people, I have an off day. We all encounter things throughout our day that can turn us from Happy into Grumpy in a heartbeat. That was a Snow White reference in case you missed it. It might be something as simple as misinterpreting an e-mail to a heated exchange of words with the boss. These things, when they transpire, can change a great day into an abysmal one very quickly. It is our own fault really. We give other people the power to ruin our day. But I digress, that is topic for another post.

It is unfortunate many of the things that transpire, causing our day and mood to head south, are, more often than not, initiated by other people.  Because of this, it is impossible to prepare or guard ourselves against something that may or may not occur during the day.  If we knew in advance when something was about to occur we could seek alternative action to avoid the situation altogether.  But since this is not the case, I find it advantageous to make sure I am enjoying my day as thoroughly as possible in order to create a buffer against any negativity that may confront me.  In order to accomplish this, I find it extremely beneficial to ensure my mornings include some of the things that make me the happiest, a good morning hug from my little girl for example or a kiss from my wife before she or I head off to work.  As it turns out, one of the most effective ways to ensure a positive state of mind and overall happiness is to start off the day singing.  Yes, I said singing.  Singing can be a great release of tension and for some reason it seems impossible to be in a bad mood when signing along to your favorite song.  Have you ever found yourself tapping your foot or signing while in a bad mood? Me either.  That is the power of music. 

Music is entertaining, sometimes hypnotic and, more often than not, relatable.  A great song, one that strikes a chord, can tug at the listener’s heart, make the listener smile, or even make the listener feel empowered.  The right song can turn even the most abysmal day around.  There is some factual evidence supporting my claim as well.  Studies have shown that productivity increases and stress is reduced while listening to music.  Further, history shows us that music has been used to treat illnesses and restore harmony between mind and body. Recent studies have found that music encourages coordination and communication, helps to reduce stress and anxiety, can alleviate depression and increase self-esteem.  In other words music improves the listener’s quality of life.

Don’t believe me?  Tomorrow morning, either at home or in the car, load the CD player with your favorite song and sing along.  Do not be demur about it, sing with feeling, play a little air guitar, dance, release your inner rock star.  It does not matter if you can sing well or not.  I couldn’t carry a tune if it was in a basket and strapped to my back.  When the song ends, analyze how you feel.  I’d bet my bottom dollar that this simple exercise will have started you down the path to a most excellent day.  A day where you enjoy the gifts given to you, a day where you are able to shrug off drama like water runs off a duck’s back, a day where your positive mood is infectious to others you come in contact with.  Best of all, this simple exercise is repeatable and if you’re like me, once you find how effective it is, you’ll find yourself singing a lot more often. 
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Time, It Goes Too Fast

Time, it’s the one commodity that each of us have and how we choose to spend it is as unique to the individual as the individual is to the populace.  Like the money in our wallets, time is a limited commodity and often in short supply.   
At an early age, due to a Catholic upbringing, I began to believe most things that impacted me positively were gifts, a belief I still have to this day.  Gifts seemingly come in many different forms with varying degrees of impact.  Some are fleeting and others seem to last a lifetime.  While most gifts appear to be distributed randomly, some of us for example are given the gift of what society deems to be good looks, others are brilliant in mind and others the ability to have a profound effect on people whose lives they touch, time is the one gift given to us all.   
Unfortunately I am not referring to the length of our lifetime.  It seems all of us have lost a loved one whose time was cut short by illness or accident.  I am referring to the rate at which we pass our time here.  We all have sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour and twenty four hours in a day.  This is a constant that applies to every one of us. 
The older I get, the more I realize that there are things that siphon time away from me.  Not much different from how unused electrical appliances drain electricity just because they are plugged in.  When we are young and relatively concern free, every day is an adventure, every day is new and therefore memorable.  As we get older, things start to get in the way of what we once enjoyed.  Instead of life being an adventure it becomes mundane, overridden with tasks and lists of things that need to be done, instead of things we want to do.  Our jobs become stressful and for whatever reason we seem to focus on the stress instead of the things that can affect our mood positively. 
So how do we break free from the stress and drama that seems to be slung at us every day?  For me the answer is easy, I fish!  I love everything about fishing, the smell of the water, the breeze wafting through the trees, the way the sun reflects off the water during the day and the full moon casts shadows at night, the strike on a well placed fly, the way a spinner disappears suddenly as it is inhaled buy a previously unseen predator, the way my daughter holds my hand when we fish together, I love... well, you get the idea.  Fishing to me is memorable.  It breaks me free from the things that get in the way of living.  Because if you, like me, believe this life is a gift then that’s kind of the point isn’t it?   
Someday, before it is all said and done, I think there will be a moment for each of us when we look back on the life we lived and remember how we spent our time here. What we won’t remember are all the menial things that get in the way of truly living, the drama, the stress… the time stealers. To that end I have started asking myself, at the end of each day, “What did I do today that was memorable?  Did I spend my time wisely?” 
This simple change in my bedtime routine has had a profound effect on me.  I find that I now focus on things that might have slipped through the cracks before.  No longer do I stress over work.  I perform my job to the best of my ability and the rest is just filler.  My thoughts are more focused on being happy and positively affecting the lives of my family.  Time has substance and is treasured rather than forgotten.  Seemingly, life no longer gets in the way, rather it is lived, all from a simple change.
I wrote a post on my other blog, The Average Joe Fisherman about change and why it is good.  You can read about it here.  The post, I believe, can be applied to life in general.  The fact of the matter is we need to break out of the mundane, eliminate the drama and free ourselves from the time stealers by any means necessary, because there is nothing worse than looking back at the end wondering where the time went.   
Time, it’s the one commodity that each of us have.  Did you spend your time memorably today?
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Introducing Marvelous Minutia

Marvelous Minutia
Marvelous - mar·vel·ous: extraordinarily good or great
Minutia - mi·nu·tia: a minute or minor detail

Relish the moment.  That is something that seems to have been lost in the fast paced world of today.  We have been conditioned to constantly ask, “What’s next?” instead of truly enjoying what we have before us.

During a time, not all that long ago, when we were young and had our whole lives stretching out in front of us, summer seemed like an eternity.  We were not concerned with material possessions.  We were concerned with wringing the most enjoyment we could out of each and every day.  We did not hold grudges.  If we had a disagreement with a friend, it lasted about as long as it took to walk across the street.  In our youthful exuberance we were masters of having fun and embracing life.  Why do you think as an adult you smile while watching children play? 
Somewhere on the path to becoming adults, the abilities we once possessed as children were lost.  No longer do we focus on the little things.  Long gone is our ability to find enjoyment in the most mundane tasks.  Instead our minds are preoccupied with work, lists of things that must be completed, and keeping up with the Jones.  Life has become stressful.  As our focus began to shift so did our concept of happiness.  We bought into the belief that bigger was better; bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger TVs, and bigger credit card limits.  To add insult to injury, as adults we do not even enjoy what we have just acquired before looking to what’s next. 
Ingrid Bergman once said, “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.”  What every one of us “gets”, no matter our income or the amount of money we posses, is a life filled with little things that happen to us every day.  Things that, if we take the time to notice them, can fill our lives with happiness and contentment.  The fact of the matter is that each and every one of us has been blessed, but it is up to us to develop the skills necessary to not only notice the little things but to take the time to enjoy them. 
The Marvelous Minutia blog is my own personal attempt to not only recognize the gifts I have before me each day, but to relish in them, and by doing so unlock the secret to true happiness.   Truth be told, I have no set plan, no course charted, no direction in which to take this blog.  Rather, it is my intent to let it take me; take me on a journey of self discovery and hopefully self fulfillment and if you come along, you just might do the same. 
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