Train of Thoughts


I am not an expert on happiness. I do not even have my crap together. But my biggest advice is to realize that our brain is wired to look for problems- problems in others and ourselves. It’s a survival instinct. That is why we are so quick to judge others and especially ourselves.

What should we do about it? Listen to our thoughts and realize they are just thoughts. It doesn’t mean they are the truth. Our minds are a train station. Thoughts come in, but we decide if they get off the train. We can always decide to let them go past. We can decide to send a thought packing.


Kids today don’t have a work ethic.

We tell teens and young adults that they are in the best time of their life. Because we wish we could be young again. We don’t think about how hard that time of life was. Especially today. Being adult is hard and becoming one is harder today- it seems can seem insurmountable. Good jobs that can take care of their bills and health care is scarce. Good relationships that can inspire are few and far between. Meanwhile social media shows them everyone’s best life (staged) and they compare it to the suck of their own lives.

Kids today don’t have a work ethic. True or not, it is unhelpful. I believe that many young people are paralyzed by intrusive thoughts- thoughts telling them that they can’t, they won’t. They won’t show it, but they are judging themselves harshly. When we judge them, we make it worse.

The video below deals with OCD thoughts, but explains why bad thoughts lead to more bad thoughts and how to deal with them.


How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts

More Than Chores

My children are grown now.  They are great people- smart and kind. Yet, if I would do thing differently. Maybe I would give them more chores. But especially in the summer, I would have them work on the emotional intelligence before video games and times with friends.

On my todo list, I’d have meditation. Just five or ten minutes a day listening to music and focusing their breathing or guided meditation. Then I would like them to do a physical activity. A walk or yoga. I know yoga sounds like new agey junk, but a friend of mine in his seventies once told me his advice is to stay flexible.

I would have them write in a journal. The action of the hands writing or even typing activates a different type of thinking and helps you get to know yourself. It helps you work out problems. Reading and writing (studies show) is the best way to grow and maintain your brain.  For a kid that hated writing, I have them color or do a craft.

These things connect the brain and the body. They reduce stress. Especially if they can do it for 21 or more days so that it becomes a habit.

What if abortion was treated like homelessness and hunger?

Conservatives and Liberals alike are involved in feeding people and providing shelter. Some people judge a person coming to a food pantry, but most people do not. They give their time and money without hesitation.  They do not ask how they became homeless. Only can we help you?

What if we approached women with an unwanted pregnancy like that? Just as we have man warming shelters and many, many food banks, it was common to have a place for a woman to go for help? If we were to change society so that they were valued and not judged for their predicament, they would seek out more options. Would there still be abortions? Yes. There were before 1973.

You say, we have food pantries and warming shelters and yet we still have hunger and homelessness. But I don’t think the resources for them are as much as those used in the name abortions.  If we could stop fighting about abortions, both sides would be free and richer to do something about it.

In the end, we provide food and shelter for those that need it. We want them to do things differently. Yet, we support them and believe that is the way to change things. I am only suggesting we do the same with abortions.


Remember Party Lines

I remember being on a party line growing up.  Picking up the phone to hear our neighbor on the phone.  Weird and slightly annoying. If we we were in the house and wanted to talk to dad in the barn, we could dial our own phone number, hang up and then pick up when it stopped ringing because that meant dad picked up.  Not sure why we would not just go out there.

In this post, I just want to record what my dad (78 years old) described to me when his dad used the phone.  Those first ones.

Grandpa used to turn the crank that powered the magneto that made electricity to turn on a light on the switchboard. Grandpa would have to wait a long time, so he would crank and crank the phone, thinking that it was also making a ringing sound at the switchboard. It was only a light though.

However, a lot of people on people on Grandpa’s party line would have their phone rung by the electricity he sent through the lines. His neighbors would hear his constant ringing.

Other fun facts about the phones back in my Grandparents day- The people on a party line did not need to go through the switchboard to call each other. If your neighbors signal that someone was calling him was two long rings and one short ring, then that is what you rang to get them to pick up the receiver.

Wisconsin Author Profile

A couple of years ago Dixie Jarchow and I began an interview show that premiered on the public access channel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Like the name suggests, we wanted to showcase authors that are in our neighborhood. Those authors you will not know. But we wanted to hear their story, find out what they know about writing, and make a pitch for their book.

Earlier this spring, we interviewed Kerri Luksavitz.  (I never thought I would be able to spell that name by heart,) In some ways she is the type of author we had in mind for our show.  Like many of us, she had that story she wanted to tell. She also had the writing bug. However, the publishing industry is tough today.


Here is a link to her interview: As I said, she had that story she wanted to tell.  Not only did she write it and write to get better, she went back to school to follow her dream.

The result is a YA novel called  Mystery Horse at Oak Lane stables.  Look for her website and check this book out.  As you might guess, Kerri is a rider and is passionate about horses. Enough so that she has plans for a trilogy.

I have not read the book as of this writing (Dixie has). However, I am intrigued by the way Kerri included the ins and out of horse competition.  It was so realistic that Dixie thought maybe it was nonfiction and to me those details that make a story sound real are crucial. Her future books will follow her main character  Cassie as she grows and progresses in competition. Just read part of this quick amazon review:

What a perfect gift for the horse lover in every family! The author, Kerri Lukasavitz, has created a story that pulled me into the plot right away. It was an engaging story with several twists that kept me guessing as to what would happen.

Cassie, the main character, wants a horse to call her own and to love. As she and her father search for the perfect horse for her, I felt the range of emotions that the protagonist experienced…every hope, every disappointment, every concern, everything. I didn’t want to put down the book.

woman standing near sheep

Photo by Tim Savage on

I hope you get as much entertainment and information from our interview as we got from talking to Kerri.

I Get To

Somewhere in my online travels I read about the power of I get to.  It is something you should say to reframe your mind when you are dreading something or are simply not happy to do it.

The example I thought of to drive this home is this:

As a teenager, I was busy (for the purposes of this story)  Going and seeing my grandparents was a drag and be boring. Now that they are both gone, I would do anything to spend time with them again.  If only I had thought I get to. I would realize that many people don’t get to spend time with the grandparents. But I get to. I am lucky,

I get to.

If you say it, your mind opens up and it gives you reasons why you should feel lucky.  Being volunteered to  facilitate a group on self-esteem, I had to use this phrase. I dreaded facillitating because, well, I didn’t think it would go well and I was nervous.  Then I remembered, I get to. With that phrase I began to think about how I have researched self esteem. I think it is important. I thought about how I want to help young people and that I think I can do a good job with it.  Then I could think how the young people I would be working with a pretty great and I would enjoy it.

So I thought about this and then I did go and enjoy it.


Hugs Not Hugs

I’m excited about my first grandson and all that.  So proud of my daughter. However, I spent an absurd amount of time thinking about something else. I was planning on hugging my son-in-law.

To date, I have not done so. However, his family and he too hug each other when they see each other.  He hugs Linda and other people. So it gets a little awkward in that I think I should hug him.

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s that I don’t think there is anything wrong with a handshake. My wife’s family shakes hands. The guys do it a lot. Its an affectionate show, but my father-in-law shakes hands like it a sign of peace at a very progressive Catholic church.  Greet each other good morning. Give each other a sign of peace. Go in peace!

As we have all gotten older in my family, we hug more.  The parents get an embrace when we arrive and a longer one when we leave. The rest get one dispensed (lovingly) at the end where we go off on our separate ways before we are tempted to hug again.

So In a way, I want to finally hug my son-in-law.  Sort of you’ve done enough to earn it. But not really.  I already love that guy. But the first hug, after its gone so long has to be impromptu.  For me, that means well planned out. Tell him, I’m more comfortable with a half a wave and a see you round, but I am fully onboard with a hug.

So I thought about it.  Sort of planned how it would go down.  I imagined the scenario and thought out the repercussions of it.

Then the baby arrived.  We came into the room and he was holding the baby.  So I went in to the bathroom and washed my hands.

Engagement averted.

Then it was time to leave.  He was holding the baby again.  Damn it. I want to get it over with. I hug my daughter as she laid in bed and gave her a big hug.  May have told her that I love her face to face for the first time.

As for the son in law, I clamped him on the shoulder.  He had his hand out to shake. I awkwardly moved in to shake it as well.

The planning starts over.  At the baptism?

Set Point-

Studies have shown that  people quickly (within six months) to their normal state of happiness after a significant event.  That thing that happened to you that made you depressed, there are lifelong consequences with some things, you will return to how you felt before.  The same goes for that wonderful event that was going to make you happy for the rest of your life. You fall in love or win the lottery, those are great and may change your life, but you go back to the same level of satisfaction.

That does not mean, however, that you are doomed to be unhappy.  The way you look at life is the way I looked at Algebra. When I was young, I did not like Algebra.  I thought it was confusing. It sucked. Now perhaps, you feel that way about life. That’s because young people do not have the knowledge base to handle life (like I did not with Algebra).

Algebra may not get better for some of us.  But it does get easier once you learn some ideas. I had a better outlook on Algebra once I mastered some of the concepts. The same with life.

Young people, life does get better.  You learn (from your mistakes). Once you learn things- life goes on, you will fall in love again, you must focus on appreciating what you have- you will get better at living and your attitude toward it will improve.

Each day, try to master the things that make people happy.  You will increase your level of happiness. Bouts of depression will hit you.  You will get sad, but with time (and maybe medication) you will eventually return to a level of happiness that people with money, fame or whatever don’t have

The Abstract Gifts of God

My wife and I had settled into a grove. That was when we decided to have our third child.  We ended contraception and we quickly had a bun in the oven. Thinking about that the other day made me think. We chose to create a baby. God didn’t answer our prayers or gave us that gift.

Well, He did in the sense that it is a the process of having a baby and children in general is a beautiful process. Perhaps God brings us that beauty. He did not, however, care if we had a child. He did not decide when. We did.

I know because our other children were not planned. We decided to create a baby by the act. Now you could think that was God’s decision to give us a baby for having premarital sex. To make our lives more difficult. Well, it may have been difficult, but our children have brought us so much happiness.

So the process of procreation is a beautiful miracle. A baby though is no more a gift than a warm sunny day. Does God give a baby as a reward?  Does He sometimes give a baby as a punishment? Does God play games with life?

Does God give us sunny days when we ask.  If I pray for a sunny day, does the bad person next door not get the same sunny day?

Can people be a fundamentalist Christian and not believe that God chooses to give or take a baby away? I think so.  You could believe in instances in the Bible where human life was given to some people from God. A true miracle.

Otherwise, other than giving humanity itself, God is not involved in procreation. I doubt that he judges and condemns by giving someone a baby.

What about the soul. God puts a soul in each of us? I ask another question. When does he do it for a baby that was made from a frozen embryo and a sperm sample?

I have many questions. But for me the answer of the soul is that we have a collective soul. That soul in each of us and connects us. A baby absorbs it as it grows.  A miscarriage or an abortion, the energy is reabsorbed and waits for another baby.


Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash