September Recap

In case you missed a post or two this month, here’s a quick recap of what I wrote about during the month of September:

Questions I Asked –

Why Can’t We Wear White After Labor Day? – The answer may shock you…or maybe it won’t.

What Was The Largest Victory In Presidential Election History? – It happened in 1920. Do you know who won?

What is it Called When You Learn About Something and Then See it Everywhere? – It has an odd name.

 

Things We Learned –

What the face of a fighter looks like – If you expect the face to be broken down and beaten, you are wrong.

Learning can be fun – Just ask this new teacher.

What great writing looks like – Compliments of Walt Freakin Whitman.

The Most Important Thing You Need To Know About The iPhone 7 – Hint, it has nothing to do with the camera.

What young writers need to know – Great advice from a writer for Saturday Night Live.

Maury C. Moose is back – And ninja-ier than ever.

And the new book may help your kids live longer – Seriously. Kinda.

What Amazing Precision and Design Looks Like – I don’t know how she made that.

 

Fun With Numbers –

5 More Reasons I Don’t Trust Coconuts – If you read a recent Wonder Why Wednesday post, you know I am leery of coconuts. Here’s why you should be too.

Top 10 Lines From ‘The First Phone Call From Heaven’ by Mitch Albom – #1 is my favorite.

6 Football Related Posts – In order to get you prepared for the start of football season, we looked back at everything I have ever written about the ol’ pigskin.

5 Things We Can Learn From The Arizona Cardinals – Yet another football post.

5 Good Things – Just a little reminder that there are good things going on in our world.

1 Thing Pete Carroll Hates – Besides losing.

4 Things the Most Resilient People Have in Common – Another example of something I wish I wrote.

1 Word That’s Destroying Your Chance at Becoming A Writer – Spoiler alert, it is not “time”.

10 More Strange But True Facts – I can’t believe #5.

 

 

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What Is It Called When You Start Seeing Something Over And Over?

My grandfather has always dreamt of owning a Cadillac. Recently he has started sharing with me the style, the color and the model he would like, if he ever does decide to make the purchase.

He would like a SRX, Cadillac’s mid-size luxury crossover. I am not a car guy, and my pay grade has never made buying a Cadillac a serious option, so I was not familiar with the SRX. When I told this to my grandfather, he was excited to show me pictures and ads online.

We looked at a bunch of pictures of the car and then a funny thing happened…I started noticing Cadillac SRXs everywhere on the road. I would spot one on the way to the grocery store. Another while getting gas. It felt like every time I was in the car, I drove next to one.

Was there a recently surge in Cadillac SRX sales that just so happened to coincide with my grandfather showing me pictures of the car? Doubtful.

So why is this happening, and does it have a name? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

What is it Called When You Learn About Something and Then See it Everywhere?

The feeling I am experiencing is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Sometimes known as frequency illusion or recency illusion, this phenomenon occurs when something you have just learned about or discovered starts showing up constantly. It feels like it happens out of nowhere and that everyone it talking about it.

That isn’t entirely true though. Basically what is happening is that we are just noticing it more. This happens because our brains get excited when we learn something new, and because we want to hold on to the feeling, we subconsciously start to look for that new thing everywhere. And after we see it once or twice, confirmation bias kicks in and we convince ourselves that we are seeing it everywhere we go.

The phenomenon’s name is a little odd. Rather than being named after the person who discovered it, it is  named for a militant West German terrorist group, active in the 1970s. In 1994, a visitor on The St. Paul Minnesota Pioneer Press online commenting board came up with the name after randomly hearing two references to Baader-Meinhof within 24 hours.

Source: How Stuff Works

10 More Strange But True Facts

1. The Summer Olympics used to feature ice hockey…or as it was known back then, melted ice hockey.

2. The 1920 Presidential Election was between two people who made their mark as newspaper publishers. Seems absurd in today’s world where the newspaper industry is dying. I like my elections between reality TV stars and subjects of FBI investigations, thank you very much.

3. The Statue of Liberty’s nose is 4 1/2 feet (1.4 meters) long. All she has to do is look in Southwest Airlines magazine to find a good New York surgeon who can trim that down to 3 feet.

4. The average person will spend almost 6 months talking about the weather in his or her life. Seems high until I think about how much time I spend looking at the weather app on my phone.

5. In Alaska, it is legal to shoot bears, but waking a sleeping bear for the purpose of taking a photograph is prohibited. Sounds like a law created by a grumpy dad at Thanksgiving.

6. Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Alf Landon in the 1936 Presidential Election. Apparently the public didn’t get behind Alf’s “Eat Cats” slogan.

alf7. The author of Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans, wrote the first draft of the children’s book on the back of a menu at a bar. Two questions: how big was the menu? and how long was he at the bar?

8. The word awful used to mean “worthy of awe.”

9. The word nice used to mean “silly, foolish, simple.”

10. The word silly use to refer to things worthy or blessed.

Let me be the first to say that my new book, Maury C. Moose and the Ninja Worrier, is not nice, but boy is it silly and awful.

One Thing Pete Carroll Hates

Synonyms.

The Seattle Seahawks coach just does not like them. He views synonyms like most people view Brussel sprouts – life is just better if we keep our distance.

In his book, Win Forever, he explains, why he hates Brussel sprouts, I mean synonyms:

We would always strive to create continuity and consistency. We were even very careful to be precise with our language and terminology. I don’t like synonyms and varied definitions when it comes to terminology.”

As someone who is big fan of a Thesaurus, I was a little taken aback (aka bewildered, or discombobulated) when I first saw this from Carroll. What is not to like about a synonym (aka metonym, or equivalent)?

But the more I thought about it, the more I came around to coach’s point of view. Basically what he is getting at, is that he wants his players and coaches to say what they mean. He is not against colorful language or beautiful prose, as long as the words get their point across.

As a writer, teacher, or leader, clarity is very important (or critical, or imperative…okay, I promise that is the last time I will do that). Sometimes, we try to get to fancy with our words. We want to show we have brush strokes like Monet, when finger paints would work much better.

Without clarity, a writer’s message is missed and misleading, a coach’s communication is complicated and confusing, and neither audience has any clue what is occurring. In case you missed the irony there, the previous sentence would have been much better if worded like Carroll:

If you want to communicate effectively, you need to be clear with the words you use.”

The 1 Word That’s Destroying Your Chance at Becoming A Writer

I am starting to think that trying to become a writer is a lot like trying to lose weight. In the beginning, we have a high level of enthusiasm, but if we are not careful, we will all drown in a gallon of peanut butter cup ice cream.

This comparison seems even more appropriate after reading an article by The 1 Word That’s Destroying Your Chance at Losing Weight and Being Healthy.

Dominique explains that when her doctor put her on a new diet, she was so focused on what she was not allowed to eat.

The list of things you can’t eat seemed infinite . . . no peaches, no wheat, no milk, no fruit juice or avocados or honey (there are quite literally hundreds of items). I focused so much on the “no” list that I had zero idea what to eat. I sat there paralyzed (and honestly, starving, with low blood sugar that probably exacerbated this situation). Panic started to creep in.”

She goes on to say that if she would have focused more on what she could eat, she would have realized that there were plenty of options to chose from. She could have had eggs, banana, oranges or oatmeal. But instead, she thought solely on what she was now allowed to have and it prevented her from doing anything.

I don’t know about you, but this happens to me a lot as a writer. I will come up with an idea for a book about, say, a pilot, only to talk myself out of it because I do not know enough about airline industry. I will brainstorm an idea for a thrilling court case, only to stop because I have never actually been in a courtroom.

There are more things I know nothing about than things I know a lot about. So, it is natural that I can more easily come up with a list of books I can’t write. This prevents me from making a list of books I can write.

And much like, and her new diet, this is paralyzing.

Luckily for us, Dominique came to a realization for how to step out of the I-can’t-quicksand.

The second I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could — in this case, it was “I can actually move my body forward for several miles at a slow pace without dying” — I opened myself up to an entire world of healthy activity.

There are plenty of things we can’t do. Forget about those things. By focusing on what we can do (or eat, or write about), we are more likely to lose a few pounds…or become a writer.

4 Things the Most Resilient People Have in Common

Many times, I will read something online and immediately think, “that was great, I wish I wrote it.” I may not have written it, but I can still share it.

Here’s the latest…

What the Most Resilient People Have in Common by Lolly Daskal

When life is tough, we can either quit or keep going. I often marvel at those who choose to keep going, even when everything is stacked against them.

How do they do it?

Lolly Daskal from Inc. has some insight. She recognizes that we aren’t born with resiliency — “it’s a habit you develop, a skill you learn. And it’s absolutely essential.” In order to help us learn this skill she has outlined four core habits of the most resilient people:

1. They’re connected to their emotions.

2. They don’t listen to negative voices in their heads.

Click here to see the remaining two and read her awesome article

 

 

#1 New Release

Maury C. Moose and The Ninja Worrier debuted as the #1 New Release on Amazon in the category of Children’s Martial Arts Books!

This is a huge honor for Maury, Mikey and our new ninja worrier friend Sam R. Rhino. Thank you to everyone who has supported the book so far. Click here if you would like more info on the book to find out why people are buying it.

maury-c-moose-book-3-amazon-rank

How My New Book Will Help Your Kids Live Longer

I have a few yes or no questions for all the parents out there:

  1. Do you want your kids to live longer?
  2. Do you want your children to lose their memory?
  3. Are you a happier parent when your kids sleep better?

If you answered yes, no, yes, then continue reading. If you answered any other combination, then it is time to rethink your parenting strategy.

Getting your kids to live longer, keep their mental health, and get more sleep sounds difficult, but it is possible. And I have a magic formula…

My new book, Maury C. Moose and The Ninja Worrier.

Okay, so maybe the book itself may not have magical powers, but the book’s message is powerful. What is this message, you ask? The story is all about finding your purpose.

Why We Need Purpose

Viktor Frankl, author of one of my favorite books, Man’s Search For Meaning, once said:

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, made this discovery as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II. This was a horrific time during which he lost his wife, his mother, his brother and many friends.

Life was about as miserable as one could imagine. No one would have faulted Frankl for giving up. But he did not. Mainly because, despite his many losses, Frankl did not lose one thing: his purpose.

He found purpose in his approach to psychotherapy and his work of helping others find meaning. This got him through even the most unbearable circumstances.

The Benefits of Finding Our Purpose

Recent studies have found that Frankl was on to something when he touched on the importance of finding meaning. Purpose in life is linked to many positive health outcomes including :

  • improved mental health
  • happiness
  • better sleep
  • decreased depression
  • improved satisfaction
  • personal growth

If that isn’t enough, purpose may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and help us live longer. That is right, finding your purpose may just add a few years to your life.

So How Do We Find Purpose?

I first read Man’s Search For Meaning in college. I was just about to graduate, and was thinking a lot about my future. Learning about what Frankl experienced, discovered and spent the rest of his life teaching others, was eye opening.

Frankl’s book isn’t the only one written about purpose. A quick Goodreads’ search will bring up dozens of titles dealing with the subject. You will find bestsellers from Rick Warren, Brene Brown, and Jack Canfield — authors who have sold hundreds of millions of books.

But you know what you won’t find?

Books for kids.

Like I said, Man’s Search For Meaning is a favorite of mine — I greatly benefited from having read it. But would I ever ask a 9-year-old to read a story about an Auschwitz concentration camp? No way!

Sure, a 9-year-old would definitely benefit from the message of the book, but the packaging is all wrong. It would be like asking a man to learn he is going to be a father by going on the Maury Povich show, rather than having a meaningful conversation with his wife. The result would be scarring and the message would be lost.

So it is clear that books are a great way to teach the importance of purpose, but what do we do if our kids are too young for the mature way the content is presented?

Enter Maury C. Moose and The Ninja Worrier.

My new book touches on the topics of purpose and meaning and does so via rhymes, jokes and by introducing a new character to the whimsical world of Forest Noel. Our new friend, Sam R. Rhino is fresh out of school and looking for what he will do next. He struggles to decide whether to blaze his own path or to follow his famous father.

How will Sam deal with this important decision? Will Maury and Mikey be able to help him find his purpose before it is too late?

These are important topics, yes, but they are framed in a story that children will relate to. By sprinkling in some puns, pictures and practical tips, the kids will enjoy the story and more easily absorb its message.

To get a preview of the story, check out the book’s introduction rhyme:

intro-rhymeIn his book, Victor Frankl said very much the same thing, only he put it like this:

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

No matter how you put it, the message is a very important one — one that kids (or people of any age) need to hear. If you are a parent, I encourage you to check out the book. Help your kids learn the value of finding their purpose. It may just add a few years to their life.

New Book Release Date

The wait it almost over…

My new book, Maury C. Moose and the Ninja Worrier, will be released this Thursday, September 22nd.

The story features a new character, named Sam R. Rhino (do you get the pun?) and guess what? Thursday is World Rhino Day, a day dedicated to celebrating rhinos. Seriously! It is too perfect!

Here’s a picture of our new rhino friend. He’s a little clumsy. Stay turned for all the information on how to get a copy of his story!

sam-jr-falling-copy