Sometimes you only learn by doing – such as “when I post an update to my blog, how does it look on Facebook?”. Hence this post šŸ™‚

Dread

This morning my car started flashing a service engine light as Karey and I began a long drive. We’re at the service center now, and should be back on the road around noon (a bit lighter in the bank account, but with a more reliable vehicle!). As I sit here, I think about the sense of dread I feel when I know I have a pending car repair. How long will it take? How much will it cost? How serious is it?   Will the mechanic be busy? All questions that nag at me while waiting for the repair to be completed.

And it makes me wonder – would I have wanted to know about this issue late last week, when it was likely I would have had to wait until this morning to even get the ball rolling, or is it better to find out on Monday morning? They say ignorance is bliss, and I know for sure that I would have felt uneasy (“a disturbance in the force”) all weekend when I should have been more present, enjoying life. Humans tend to want more information rather than less, and it’s interesting how that abundance of information can make us unhappier than we otherwise would. 

Never Been Said

I did a Google search today for the phrase “my relationship with my wife is the easiest thing in my life”, and this is what I got:

Relationship

Google is a full text search engine, which means that, apparently, according to Google, no one has ever said that phrase before. In my experience, when you are with the right person, your relationship is not marred by regular conflict, and I’d choose spending time with my wife over dozens of mundaneĀ things because it’s easier (I.e. Spend time with her or solve a Sudoku puzzle: I like Sudoku, but I’m not in love with it.)

So I’m writing this post to rectify the situation. Yes Google, someone out there does say:

my relationship with my wife is the easiest thing in my life.

Pass the Phone with Piece of Mind: Guided Access

If you’ve never heard of guided access and ever have the need to pass your phone around (to share a photo in a small group, a phone number, etc…), then you’re missing out. Guided Access is built in to iOS and might as well be called Phone Lockdown – it lets you lock the user into a specific app, disabling any control you choose (in fact, you can disable all controls and buttons) ensuring that when your phone gets back to you, no one has stolen a glance at your email or done that tempting slide over to see other photos. You simply turn it on and set a passcode. Then anytime you want to freeze the screen, triple-tap the home button, set whatever options you like (disable controls, set a time limit, etc…) and hit “Start”. No more snooping!

Costs You 1 Minute, Has Infinite Value

Before you do anything else, do me a favor:

1)Ā Pick a random person you consider a friend. Preferably someone not super close to you, but also not someone you barely know. Someone you talk to every so often.

2) Send them a random complement. Perhaps something like “I know you’re working hard on project X right now, I know it will turn out great” or “You don’t get enough credit for the hard work you do”, or simply “I really appreciate having you as a friend”.

Go ahead – do it, then come back here.

Assuming you did it, you probably have no idea how much that simple, unsolicited complement had on the person who received it. I’ve done this a few times over the past years (always thinking I should do it more frequently) and the impact I’ve heard from people is astounding. It amazes me because it is, on my end, the simplest and easiest thing I can do. It’s literally easier than checking Facebook or reading a news article. Yet it has so much more impact on the world.

By: Zyllan FotografĆ­a

Make your friend’s world a better place, one small complement at a time.

Mourning Resolutions

Through the wonder that is FaceBook, I just received word that a high school classmate of mine, one that I hadn’t talked to in years (but was a FaceBook friend), passed away yesterday. Sudden heart attack at the age of 30.

Shock is the right expression for how I feel. Then sadness, because even though we weren’t close by any stretch of the imagination, it is always sad when someone who brings joy and life to the world exits it, abruptly or not.

It got me thinking of the “resolutions” I’ve been trying to live by over the past few years in order to avoid the guilt sometimes associated when people are sick, in need, or dying, and to be a better friend. So here they are, in case situations like this make you wonder what could be done to not only ease future pain, but grab life today and hold on to it before it flits away.

  1. Keep Contact. Fred Rogers famously woke up at 5 AM every morning to have time for a number of things we rush to do, including writing correspondence to friends and fans. A few years ago I realized I was losing contact with people as I moved from place to place – always meaning to stay in touch but rarely doing so except for once or twice a year. So I started a list with reminder times on it (it’s actually part of my To-Do list). Every 30-50 days I am reminded to “Call X” (Which in reality might be a call, a text message, an email, a wall post, etc…). This helps me stay in touch when life gets busy, and avoids the pain of having to apologize for not reaching out “since last Christmas” or “since the reunion 2 years ago”. It’s not hard to do – It takes less than 5 minutes of my day, and to the people I reach out to, it can mean a lot.
  2. Times are rough when you’ve got too much “stuff”.Ā One of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs includes a paraphrasing of that line, which reminds me regularly to collect friendships and experiences, rather than material goods. It might be nice to have a big house full of cool things, but it means nothing if you don’t have anyone to share it with, romantically or platonically. Make the high points of your year visiting friends, versus big-ticket purchases.
  3. Never be afraid to reach out. In January 2013 I read a FaceBook post about a former student in dire emotional turmoil. Rough days had turned into rough months, and medical issues had further complicated life. I wrestled with the fact that my heart wanted so desperately to reach out to this woman – just to let her know that someone cared, that someone would listen; but my mind kept telling me “Don’t be creepy – you haven’t talked to her in years! You were just her Psychology professor – you don’t know her well enough!”.
    In the end my heart won, and I posted a comment. We exchanged a few messages, and I felt good knowing I’d reached out. A few months later she sent me a private message (in response to something I’d commented on) that included this sentence: “On one of the hardest days of my life you contacted me offering support, and I am forever blessed.”. I tear up every time I read that. Reach out – if you get rebuffed, swallow your pride and move on to reach out again. Because more often, you make a difference you’d never thought you could make.
  4. When it comes to death, never feel guilty about how you feel.Ā I’ve lost people in my life that I’ve been very close with and felt very little. I’m sad, but I’m not devastated. On the other hand, I’ve lost people that I’ve only known a short while or haven’t talked to in years and it’s shocked me to my core. We don’t know what exactly resonates when we lose someone – and we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that. We all mourn in our own way, and our strength comes from using mourning to not only celebrate another’s life, but also better structure ours. Perhaps by making resolutions and keeping them.

I’m sure I have other resolutions, but those 4 seem most important today. My heart goes out to the family of my classmate, and to all those affected by her loss.

Amazon Raises Prime Price to $99 a Year

Just got an email from Amazon – they’re raising Prime’s Price to $99 a year. A far cry from the $149 that people had feared might happen, and in general for the level of service, I think $99 a year is reasonable. Hate any increase in price though, however small!

Dear Jon Westfall,

We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $99 when your membership renews on April 19, 2014.

Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

For more information about your Prime membership, visit our Prime membership page.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Prime Team