Posted in How-To Guides

5 Tricks to Get Along with Others

We see our friend from across the room. He smiles. He laughs with his buddies. When we slowly navigate our way through the crowd to offer our hand, he takes a step back and looks at us as if we had just dropped from a nearby galaxy.

Life could not be more perfect.

Why are some people so difficult to appreciate? Is there a sign on our foreheads that invites others to walk all over us? Or, are we simply too sensitive to understand the nature of relationships and how they work?

1. Be Honest

Every relationship we have comes from an event we either approved or disapproved.

The relationship is there, it is alive, and it will not be going anywhere. Good or bad, it will always be there.

The first step to cooperating with one another is to admit we have to cooperate with one another. As simple as it sounds, it is one of the most challenging things to do. Being honest with those around us will make all the difference.

If we are in a situation where someone asks us our opinion, we need to tell the truth all the time. Some may feel that is a drastic step. Why tell the truth? Why expose us to possible criticism?

Because it is easier to remember the truth than to remember a lie.

2. Show Manners

We walk into a store, find the item we are looking for, and head to the counter for the purchase. Somehow, the cashier has not had the best of days, and she is looking to us as another excuse to vent her frustration with life and the pursuit of happiness.

But we decide to engage her on another level.

She hands us the avocados, and we say thank you. She asks if we will need a bag. We say yes, thank you. We ask her to hand us the receipt instead of placing it in the bag, please. She does so.

We walk out and notice, looking back, a slight smile cresting on her face. Could it have been something we said?

A please and a thank-you can change a situation quickly, diffusing bad feelings, and transforming a potential nuclear event into a kitten’s purr.

3. Appreciate Everyone

When was the last time we patted someone on the back? For some, it may be a meaningless gesture, but for others, it translates to a positive experience.

Let us take a moment to think about how it would feel if someone came to us and expressed their gratitude for something we did. Picture their face. Hear their words—if there were words.

Random acts of appreciation bond people.

Whenever we take it upon ourselves to make someone happy, we, in turn, by extension, make ourselves happy. Silly, is it not? It is true, though. Can someone say feelings of euphoria do not course through our veins when we show gratitude toward others?

That little bit of wonderful happens whenever we give of ourselves to others in a selfless and meaningful way.

4. It Is Not All About Us

Sometimes we are the ones who are the biggest stumbling blocks for others.

Either we face the reality that the world will continue on its merry way with or without us, or we continue believing everything we do deserves a spotlight.

There comes a time in one’s life that being a contributing member of society is far better than living in drama.

Here is an example: Johnny decided he was not going to attend his best friend’s wedding. He could not bring himself to shake the jealousy he feels when he sees his best friend with the girl who once rejected him. So he came up with the flimsy excuse that he will be in Europe that same weekend. What Johnny failed to tell his best friend is that he made his plans for Europe the very moment he received the wedding invitation.

Another example is the story of Mary, who hates that her sister bought a new home. Every time her sister posts a photo of the house on Facebook, Mary skips the post and moves on to other items on her newsfeed. One day Mary came upon one too many photos, that she unfriended her sister. Yes, it was an awful thing to do. Of course, she did later regret it and tried to explain it away. Apparently, Facebook had a glitch that unfriended people on her list arbitrarily. Or so she said.

In both cases, Johnny and Mary allowed envy to take root and skew their perspectives. Instead of being happy for his best friend’s upcoming marriage, Johnny drove a wedge between them that will forever affect their friendship. As for Mary, she may have gotten away with lying to her sister this time, but how many more times will she do the same and not hurt their relationship?

Any one of us can become Johnny or Mary.

To prevent this from happening, we have to remain focused and not succumb to the temptation of always wanting to be the center of attention.

5. Help Whenever You Can

The homeless person on the corner of that hectic intersection needs something to eat. What do we do? Do we give money? Do we hand over a portion of our lunch? Or do we extend an invitation for a meal together?

It is easy to turn away people in need. All we have to do is say we are busy and look the part. No one bothers busy people.

But is that something we want to do?

Days before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:34-40 ESV).

Getting along with others is not just about agreeing and moving forward. It is about getting involved and making a difference in someone’s life.

This also means helping those who do not like us.

Imagine what a world it would be if we all did that.

Posted in My Journey

The Cost of Change

I had a good week last week. When I think back at everything that has happened, I wonder how I did it. I have my neck problem that appears occasionally, but I have been able to manage it. I am meeting new people, and my family life has never been better.

As for the new church I have been attending, I can truly say I am enjoying it. The organization is not the cult group that I was a part of twenty years ago; therefore, I am thankful knowing I can be myself without worrying that I am breaking some stringent directive. Given many may describe it as an evangelical church; the messages have a general theme aimed toward changing the heart.

My writing has also gone through a change, which is really a reflection of what has been happening inside me lately. No longer do I have the root of bitterness that has held me captive for all these years, inspiring me to write horror. Now I wake up in the mornings with God on my mind and with thoughts of how I could glorify and praise him. The stories I am writing deal with people who overcome spiritual and physical challenges at the cost of moral obligation.

All these changes did come with a price.

I no longer post articles three times a week. My focus has shifted toward God first, family second, and friends third. And my book Resilience, which I had written over the winter, currently does not have a publication date.

Regardless of these things, I am happy.

For years, I suffered insomnia, averaging two hours of sleep a night. Now, not a night goes by that I do not have a solid six to seven hours. It reminds me of the other day when I was watching Saving Private Ryan. In one of the scenes, the sniper character was able to sleep through anything. He was God-fearing, and he recited scripture whenever he delivered a bullet to an enemy. One of the other soldiers wondered how he could sleep through the night, given all the bombs going off around them and the number of people he had killed. Another soldier replied that the man had a clear conscience.

When I think about it, I suppose I, too, go to bed with a clear conscience.

The other thing I have done is to reconcile with almost all those who have considered me their enemy. I found it surprising that everyone I offered my hand to in renewed friendship embraced me with open arms. Of course, I had to humble myself before them with apologies and sacrifices, but overall, almost all responded positively to me wanting to put the past behind. This experience has prompted me to write a long bible study on forgiveness, of which, one of these days, I will publish here. For the time being, however, I cannot say it is ready, as I have yet to write a conclusion.

Is there anything else I can say about the price I paid?

All things considered, the recent changes in my life have introduced me to new things that I do not think I could have experienced had I not found God again. Just knowing I am free from the burden of having done wrong has brought a new hope I will surely appreciate no matter what life throws at me in the coming months.

So, yes, with my whole heart I can say I had a good week.

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Real Steel: Max Kenton

Every now and then, everybody needs a hero. But what if that hero is an 11-year-old boy who believes in the impossible? Is it possible? What if that same 11-year-old boy sets the standard to win so high that not even those older than him would believe in him? Would you trust a kid to lead a charge to win? Will he be your hero?

Dakota Goyo as Max in Real Steel
Dakota Goyo as Max in Real Steel

Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo) is Real Steel‘s hero and today’s Wednesday Warrior. And if you haven’t seen the movie, therein awaits spoilers.

Unwanted, rejected by those who he thought loved him, Max is a kid who decides to take his fate in his own hands in the futuristic battle bot movie Real Steel.

In a junkyard, as the rain pours and thunder threatens Max’s very survival, the boy falls into the hands of an equally rejected character called Atom. At first, Atom is nothing more than a pile of junk the kid hauls out of a heap to call his own. In a world where robots fight one another, Atom is the lowest grade of robot ever made. It doesn’t have a life, neither is it ready for anything beyond walking.

Through his perseverance though, Max manages to put Atom back together again. Piece by piece Atom becomes whole. All that is missing is a heart.

Atom
Atom

When Max turns Atom on, he is not so sure what he is in for. Atom doesn’t seem like the robot that could stay in the ring one round, let alone go the distance and win a fight.

Yet, something magical happens. Max believes. He believes Atom is capable of greater things than what others think of it. He believes in the impossible.

Max’s first fight with Atom becomes a lesson in humility when Atom falls to a knockout. In spite of this, Max doesn’t give up on the little robot. He believes. On his hands and knees, he dips his head next to Atom and screams, “Get up, Atom.” Within a matter of seconds, Atom rises as the little robot that could. The second round becomes the proving ground for Atom’s eventual first win in the bot wars.

The story of Max and Atom is well known. It is a story familiar to many. Only this time, it makes Max the unlikely hero.

Max took a robot that no one wanted, Atom, built it back into shape and believed the machine could perform miracles. And miracles it did perform. As Atom’s opponents became large and faster, Max would not give up on his robot. Right from the start, he knew Atom would be a champion among rivals.

Imagine that. How could a kid’s faith have turned a small machine into a winner?

What others don’t seem to understand is that as the world viewed Atom as a robot, Max viewed him as a friend. And if Max believed in his friend, his friend could win any fight—even if the opponent in the fight was impossible to beat.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Have you seen Real Steel? Do you find Max’s friendship with Atom unique?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Dominic Toretto

A Western has that moment in the story when the hero makes peace with his broken life and decides it is better to die in a blaze of gunfire than to live out the rest of his days as an ordinary gentleman.

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) of The Fast and the Furious franchise is that hero. He is also the focus for today’s Wednesday Warriors.

From an early age, Dominic took to cars, tearing them apart, putting them together. He had within him the ability to make things go faster. Eventually, his hobby turned into a money machine where he spent most of his time souping up old pieces of junk into gleaming bullets that would scream down a track and win challenges without effort. His girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriquez), who grew up with him, had a similar passion and made the perfect match for the speed demon. They had an understanding—she would be by his side and he wouldn’t tell her what to do. Then again, Dominic was the type who didn’t like anyone telling him what to do either.

But something exists within Dominic few know about—a darker side.

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto

Apart from his thriving business in car restorations, Dominic also has a side business. It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t something he has to do. The thrill of beating an inferior vehicle on the track isn’t enough for the turbo-seeker. He needs a bigger thrill.

Jacking trucks is that thrill.

When Brian (Paul Walker) shows up as the young hotshot on Dominic’s turf, suspicions arise. Who is this guy who no one has ever heard of to become all of a sudden the pedal-pounder’s best friend? Does he too have a secret life no one knows about?

As much as anyone would want to pin a felony against the NOS burner, Dominic is the fastest man on the road. He can race against the best in the world, drifting his way to the prize without much work other than his courage and strength to carry him across the finish line.

The life of Dominic Toretto is more than cars, though. In the bursts of octane, the crowds cheering, and the smell of diesel, lives a man who will do anything to step in for a friend and take the proverbial rap, if that is what he has to do to save a buddy. He will surrender everything he has worked hard for and give it all away, if it means he would be rescuing those who need his help.

Brian may not be who he says he is, but he recognizes Dominic’s loyalty to his friends. He understands early in his friendship with the road warrior that Dominic wouldn’t betray those who had supported him.

When you’re a friend with Dominic, you’re a friend for life.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Have you seen The Fast and the Furious? What do you think of the character Dominic Toretto?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

What Excites You?

An article in Psychology Today eloquently titled What Excites You?—yes, you can smack me later for ripping off the title—states that the prevalent thought in psychology according to Silvan S. TomkinsAffect, Imagery, Consciousness is that humans have an inherent need to maximize positive and rewarding emotions while minimize negative ones.

Pizza with tons of toppings
Pizza with tons of toppings

Given it’s Freedom Friday, I figure the best way to maximize positive thought is to provide you a peek into what excites me. Later in the comments, you can tell me what excites you. How does that sound?

A Good Song: First up, nothing can really replace a good song. You know when it happens as soon as it hits your ears. Your feet begin to shuffle, your fingers begin to tap, and you’re off bobbing your head to the rhythm of the beat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a lousy mood only to rise from the dumpster when one of my favorite songs is playing on my earbuds. My secret weapon for curing the blues is three hits of AC/DC, two chasers of Led Zeppelin and one shot of John Williams.

Good Food: How can I describe the feeling I get when sitting at the table anticipating my mom’s home-cooked meal? There’s a whole method to the act of patiently waiting. I’m Italian, so a meal doesn’t only consist of the main course but it includes the antipasto, the salad, dessert and other foods I can’t bare writing about without eating part of my anatomy. The whole experience is reminiscent of a grand opera served on a platter. Delicious.

Exercise
Exercise

Good Exercise: I love taking walks. I love doing my stretching exercises. I love physical activity outside. Actually, let me qualify that last bit. I love physical activity outside if there’s a goal to achieve. Cleaning up a garage is not my idea of a physical activity I like. I’ll do it, but it’s far and away not on my Top Ten list of things I love doing. Okay, back to my walks. When I go for a walk, I grab my phone, plug in my earphones and soak the tunes while I perform a half-hour jaunt around my neighborhood. The music helps me focus and my love for my neighborhood allows me the convenience to say hello to all my neighbors. The activity is also great on the heart.

Good Friends: Lastly, meeting with good friends over a meal or a ball game makes for one of the most wonderful times ever. I’ve known my best friends, those people who I can call on and say they are my friends, since I was a single. We go to each other’s houses, have BBQ’s, picnics, etc. and we simply enjoy each other’s company. What’s not to like? People change, but the friendship always remains. That time together will one day become a memory worth talking about.

These things excite me. They thrill me, lift me up and inspire me to do better in all that I do.

What excites you?

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What activities do you enjoy doing? What would recommend that I ought to try?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Rob Hawkins

He doesn’t have to think about it. He knows what he has to do. Above all, no one or anything can stop him. Beth needs him, and that is all that matters to him. He will save her. He will risk his life for her. If he dies for her, then so be it. He will not have died in vain.

Wednesday Warriors. Cloverfield‘s Rob Hawkins.

Cloverfield's Michael Stahl-David as Rob Hawkins
Cloverfield’s Michael Stahl-David as Rob Hawkins

When falling in love, no one knows where it will lead. There may be periods of indescribable joy, and there my be episodes of unbearable pain. So it is with Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) when he shows up at a surprise going away party in his honor. He is heading to Japan and leaving his friends behind. He is also leaving Beth McIntyre (Odette Annable) behind whom he loves.

The night couldn’t be better. His friends have determined to make his farewell bash the best party ever. And it is, until Beth appears with her new boyfriend. Soon after she leaves though, he and his friends plant themselves on the fire escape and talk about forgetting about Beth. As much as he would like, Rob can’t do that. He loves her and he doesn’t want to leave for Japan without having some sort of resolution with his former girlfriend.

That’s when it happens.

The earth shakes. The walls quake. And the lights go out.

Something sinister falls on New York City and everyone, including Rob wonders what it could be.

Rob Hawkins
Rob Hawkins

When the lights come back on, the news states something has attacked lower Manhattan, rendering it helpless. Fleeing to the top of the apartment building, Rob and his friends survey the city for damage. He doesn’t know it yet, but what will happen next will change his life forever. An object screams down from the heavens blasting the city’s core, laying it waste. Debris flies over Rob’s head pushing everyone to dash to the stairs to the street below.

All would have been fine hadn’t Rob received the call. He can’t help himself, he has to find out how she is. Beth made it home, but she needs help. Rob is the only one she can count on to save her.

And the boyfriend? What happened to him? It doesn’t matter. All Rob cares about is Beth. He wants her safe.

Against the advice of his friends, Rob takes to the city streets in search of his friend, stranded by whatever had befallen her. Through the military maneuvers and the train tunnels he roams, fighting against exhaustion, overcoming perilous attacks from forces unseen. Rob’s only focus is Beth, saving her life and redeeming himself of what had torn apart their relationship in the first place.

The eventual outcome of the story rests on friendship. Rob Hawkins doesn’t have to think twice when it comes to Beth. As awful as their breakup was, he will still offer his life in order that she might live instead.

Isn’t that what true friendship is all about?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen Cloverfield? What do you think about Rob Hawkins and his friendship with Beth?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Chief Martin Brody

Before Jaws, there were no summer blockbusters. In 1975, all that changed with the film of a great white shark terrorizing tourists off the coast of Amity Island.

Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody
Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody

Today’s Wednesday Warriors is all about protecting the townsfolk from the dreaded watery beast. Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the new chief of police is that protector.

Having recently moved from the city, Chief Brody wakes up in a town filled with people who want to make the beach their home until Labor Day. First day at work and everything seems to be going fine until Brody finds himself investigating the mysterious death of a girl whose body lies in tatters by the shore.

His first instinct is to pay a visit to the town’s general store to purchase art supplies for making signs to close the beach. But once the mayor (Murray Hamilton) hears of the news that the chief wants to shut the town’s life supply of tourist dollars, Brody gets an earful from the political echelon. Forcing the beach to remain open, he takes steps to prevent anything from happening again. He had already determined the girl died of a shark attack and he didn’t want any of that happening again. Not on Brody’s watch.

Joining Chief Brody on his quest to rid the coast of the great white is Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) from the Oceanographic Institute. Unlike those working with him, Hooper’s reluctance to participate in a lynch mob against the shark sets him apart to tell the chief they are dealing with a very large shark.

Jaws Movie Poster
Jaws Movie Poster

The story turns sinister when everybody, including Amity’s bar hopping crowd, wants to get in on the killing. They want the shark to pay for the death that it caused, regardless if their use of dynamite could kill anyone caught near the blast.

As for Brody, he’s stuck in the middle attempting to appease the general public that he’s doing everything he can to catch the monstrous horror brutalizing the town’s tourist season, and wresting control from an ignorant mayor who prefers to see progress rather than closure for the town.

When a little boy disappears in the water however, the chief has no one else to blame but himself. Despite the protests of the mayor and the town’s commercial sector, he closes the beach until further notice. He won’t be taking any more chances.

From there, he develops a friendship with Quint (Robert Shaw), the town’s voice of reason. Although Quint might not be the type of character Brody would normally associate with, Brody gains the courage to go out in the waters to hunt and kill the great white with Quint’s help.

And here is Brody’s greatest character trait. Frightened of the water, he doesn’t balk at the fact that he needs to face his problem. He embarks on Quint’s boat and takes it upon himself to forget his fears in order to fight the very thing that is causing Amity’s trials.

When Brody comes to realize his fear of the water is nothing in comparison to seeing the great white in person, he utters one of the most famous lines in the movie:

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen Jaws? What did you enjoy most about the film?