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Awareness of Your Personal Value

How are you feeling today? What kind of day are you going to have?

Whatever you have decided about the day and how you’re feeling in it so far, it is possible to make it better. Not perfect. Better.

When you decide your personal value is the foundation of every judgment and decision you make throughout the day, you are immediately on your way to having the kind of day you want instead of reacting to the day that happens to you.

Economics is based on scarcity. If everyone has the same thing it has no value. The item might be extremely useful, appreciated, necessary, but as far as monetary value is concerned, there is no demand because everyone already has it. If only a few have it, the demand is high because everyone believes they have to have it, and the price is high because there is not enough. That is economics, advertising, commercialism, and the common understanding of value in a paragraph.

Your personal value has nothing to do with economics, but you are trained to believe it does. You are constantly bombarded with messages that remind you you do not have enough, there is not enough, you can’t get enough, and no matter how hard you work, it will not be enough. The most damaging message that comes from all of this is, YOU are not enough, and never will be. You are constantly reminded that unless you have this, unless you go there, unless you’re wearing this, unless you’re eating that, unless you’re driving this, unless you live in that, you have no value. Oh, not in specific words, but that IS the message.

None of it is true.

Your value is you. There has never been another you. There is no other you. There will never be another you. We are all snowflakes! There are no two people exactly alike. There has never, in the history of humanity, been an exact repeat of anyone. Nor will there ever be.

Your value cannot be measured because there is no comparison. Your value has nothing to do with how you look, act, feel, live, think, like, dislike, hope, dream, work, play, eat, smell, run, throw, sit, or stand. Your value has nothing to do with abilities, talents, grade point averages, status, careers, awards, stars, accolades, applause, or friends. Your value is you.

Here is the key. Your value has nothing to do with anyone else’s value. You do NOT have value because someone else does not. You do NOT have less value because someone else has more. Your value is not in relation to anyone but you.

If you do not accept your value, then you will spend your life and effort trying to find it. You will value yourself when others value you. You will value yourself when you finally are able to buy that car the ads tell you to drive. Value will finally be yours when you can afford that house, get that promotion, go on that trip, receive that award, get that attention, be seen with those people. And then you will be left alone with not an ounce more real value than was yours all along. Your value is you.

The most damaging message that comes from all of this is, YOU are not enough, and never will be.

Your value is not a feeling. But not realizing your value will affect and drive your feelings. Your value is not your personality. But not realizing your value will affect whether you react or respond, whether you stagnate or grow, whether you trust or fear. Your value is not behavior. But not realizing your value will affect and drive your behavior.

Your value is you. Say it. “My value is me.” Say it until you’re tired of saying it, and then say it a bunch more.

Dale Parsons MA LPC

Seniors’ Discount Coffee

Let’s admit it. Coffee is not about the taste as much as it is about having a cup in your hand. Trips go better with a cup of coffee. And it doesn’t matter how long the trip is. If you have to be in the car and actually drive somewhere, then it’s coffee time.

I am well into senior land, but the first time I received a seniors’ discount, I was only 45. In fact, it was on my forty-fifth birthday. My wife and I were in the drive-thru at McD’s, and I asked for two small coffees with one cream in each. When we arrived at the window the girl said, “That will be fifty-two cents.” I said, “I ordered two coffees.” “Right. I gave you the seniors’ discount.” My wife and I just looked at each other, I didn’t know what to say. I took the discount.

I wonder if seniors’ discount coffees are skimped in some way to make up for the loss in revenue. Maybe they pull the cup out from under the magic coffee spout just a little early and add hot water. Maybe they have a “seniors only” pot that only contains three-fourths the amount of grounds that a normal pot does.

Isn’t the idea of a discount backwards? It seems, after having four children, that there should be a range of discounts for parents with kids, depending on how many you have. For example, thirty-six years ago, we had triplet boys. Total surprise, boom! We went from one child to four. Coffee should have been free from that point until our kids were out on their own. At the window the McD person could say, “Do you have children? How many? Three? Ok, your order will be twelve dollars and ten cents, instead of eighteen dollars and forty-two cents.”

I have to admit we had the McD meal down to a science. We got one large drink, split if four ways. Four hamburgers, one large fry – four way. Loads of ketchup works like gravy or soup if you have enough.

Bill Knapp’s, God rest it’s soul that is so missed, was like heaven for us. Since our kids’ birthdays are all within a week of each other, we always headed to Bill Knapp’s. We could get a free chocolate cake for EACH child for their birthday. We walked out of there loaded with chocolate birthday cake, which lasted about a month if we froze some! Man, I miss that! No wonder they went out of business!

Seniors’ discount coffee doesn’t taste any different, no matter what they do or don’t do to it. But ask yourself. What does the seniors’ discount mean? Are we being rewarded for actually making it to this age? Are we being emotionally penalized for still being around? Are they saying, “We don’t expect as much from you, so we’re not going to take as much”? Or are they saying, “We know your taste is fading, so we’re not going to charge you as much for something you can’t taste anyway.”

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know the seniors’ discount is available. Coffee at a lower price. What could be better?

Where’s my coffee?

Free Fun

Do you love a campfire? Isn’t there just something about the crackling sound and constant change of the flame that is mesmerizing?

I love coming out to the fire pit after a great campfire the night before to see if there are enough remaining hot coals to start it up again. To be genuine, you have to start it naturally. No blowing on the embers. You have to find small, dry twigs, stack them over the hottest part of ash, and see if they’ll ignite. It’s a thrill to see that first flicker of flame.

Why keep a fire going on the second and third day? Just because I can. No productive reason, other than pleasure. Yes, just like a kid. Our record is four days. No charcoal lighter, no paper, just dry sticks in the coals.

Why do you like sitting by a fire? What is it that makes you stare? To me, there is a calming effect that is hard to match.

When I was a kid it’s a wonder I didn’t burn the house down several times over. I remember making a stove out of a coffee can and a tuna can. I used a can opener to make holes around the closed end of the coffee can, lit charcoal in the tuna can, then turned the coffee can upside down over the burning coals. The bottom of the coffee can is the grill. My grill meat of choice was balogna. Baloney. Ummm, sizzling, curling balogna, fried to perfection in the garage.

There are lots of simple things to enjoy. A campfire is one. There is incredible pleasure in returning the second or third day and finding enough coals to ignite the flame again. It’s something about ashes that look cold, finding fuel, and discovering the coals are still alive. Flame. Not an inferno, just a nice, constant but ever changing flame.

Makes me want coffee. Where did I leave it?

The Pleasures of Traveling

Do you love to travel? Do you have a long list of the places you plan to visit?

We have had the privilege of traveling to all but ten states in the Country. Unlike many people I read about, I don’t dream of visiting other countries and then saying I’ve travelled. I have loved traveling across the United States.

A few of the career opportunities we have had through the years came with many miles of travel and some very nice accommodations. Probably the best, though, has to be Waikiki. I was conducting a brain-storming session for the sales team at our company. During a lull in the action, I kept writing on the white board until suggestions started again from the group. I wrote “Send Dale and Mary to Hawaii” on the list, and thought nothing more of it. Later, during a dinner trip into town with the team, the owner of the company said to me, “If you’ll visit a few places for me while you’re there, I’ll send you and Mary to Hawaii for a week.” Shocked, I said, “Are you kidding me?” “You suggested it, didn’t you?” he asked. “Yes!” He said, “Done.” We spent a week on the beautiful sands of Oahu and Maui. Amazing. Truly incredible was our introduction to Kona coffee. Oh, wow!!

I always said the best job in the world would be traveling to places and not having to do anything when you get there. I imagine that being a company pilot might be like that, but I’ve come pretty close in recent years. I just enjoy getting out and going places.

With one group we worked for, I was thrilled to pick up a brand new custom luxury van and drive it to Florida from Texas. This was in the 70s, so it was one of those big vans with the cushy seats, paneling, colored lights inside, a fold-down couch, a sink, and a fridge. Oh, and a CB radio! Man, that was living in those days!

On one trip that included flying, I got on board with the boss, he “turned left” (to first-class) and I turned right. I didn’t care, we were flying. On another flight we were both bumped to first class because of a ticketing error. I wasn’t paying, so I didn’t care about that either!

The first long trip in my life was in 1967 when my older brother and I accompanied our grandparents on a cross-country trip on historic Route 66 to California. I wish I had paid more attention to the route and taken lots of pictures. I have been to California many times since, never dreaming at the time I would ever be back. All that is left of Route 66 is stories and old photos.

Now we don’t have to go far to enjoy the trip. It doesn’t have to be someplace new. The drive can include sights we seen many times and we like it just as much. Many good miles don’t include distance.

Where did I leave my coffee?

These Taste Great with Coffee

To real coffee drinkers, coffee is a food group. You know that question about what you would want if you were stranded on an island? There’s only one answer. Coffee.

Coffee alone is wonderful, as long as you have something to munch on. No, really. Coffee, by itself, is amazing. Nothing else is needed. Except M&Ms with peanuts. The hierarchy of needs should be topped by coffee, then M&Ms with peanuts. After that, anything else goes.

Have you ever wondered why coffee is offered in just about every office of any kind, anywhere? It’s because serious-minded people know life functions around coffee. If coffee was removed, life would end as we know it. Nothing would work after coffee.

What to eat with coffee is a question discussed around the world. After M&Ms with peanuts, the next best choice is Dove chocolate. Preferably dark chocolate. The little hearts are just the right amount. Next on the list would have to be nacho chips right out of the bag. Have you noticed that the best nacho chips are in the bottom of the bag where you can reach in and masterfully grab a stack of chip crumbs? Lucious!

Another great companion to coffee is McDonald’s pancakes, no sausage, and extra syrup. The little plastic trays they have are great for eating in the car. I’ve done it many many times, syrup and all. No spills! While I was working on my counseling master’s degree, on weekends for over two years I had pancakes at McDonald’s every Saturday morning, without exception.

Every list of what to eat with coffee has to include no-bake cookies. We were recently introduced to peanut butter no-bakes, which are, essentially, the original no-bakes someone made and forgot the dark chocolate. I don’t know how you forget chocolate, but the resulting cookies were fantastic!

After M&Ms with peanuts and Dove chocolate, can you seriously come up with something better to eat with coffee than Bush’s baked beans? Come on! Really! Doctor them up with a little brown sugar and some barbecue sauce, and you’re sitting on the top rung. Coffee and baked beans. Oh, wow!

Here are a few more suggestions you might want to try with your next cup: Frosted Mini-Wheats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Ritz Crackers, Mini-Saltene Crackers, carrots, apples, cheese of all kinds, potato salad (without mustard), hot dogs, cold bean salad, potato chips, raw almonds, sliced almonds, baked almonds, cashews, Cocoa-Puffs, and ice cream.

I think I have some M&Ms with peanuts somewhere.

Where’s my coffee?

That Coffee Thing

Have you ever wondered why you love coffee so much? Think about it. Is the taste so good that nothing else compares? Is the aroma of your favorite brew so delightful that pressure and anxiety disappear? Does the sound of coffee pouring into a mug open your imaginary special place? Do pleasant memories flood your thoughts when someone says the word “coffee”?

My first cup of coffee was more like coffee-milk. The little cup held less than a measured half-cup, but I remember it just like I’m holding it now. I talked my mother into sharing and I was immediately hooked. More than a half-century later we still have the canisters that held the ground coffee from which I always asked for a sniff.

I have again discovered the pleasure of perking coffee on our gas stove in an antique glass pot. Coffee creates ambience and the aroma lingers in the kitchen well into late morning. Painfully, I also discovered that glass cook-top stoves do not work well with glass coffee pots. A large bubble under the stem exploded spewing scalding coffee all over my hand. That was about fifteen years ago, so I was happy to find gas works well for old fashioned coffee making.

I really became a serious coffee drinker while my wife and I were dating. She knew how to make great coffee taste even better with just the right amount of cream and sugar. We found over the years that coffee was something we could enjoy in a restaurant cheaply. From the Golden Bear in Kankakee, to the Junction in Dekalb, the Sunrise in Geneseo, to Coco’s in Ft. Worth, all places we hardly had two nickels to rub together, coffee sustained us.

I have to say, though, there really is something spectacular about Kona coffee in Hawaii. Oh my gosh! You can make a meal out of it! Delicious!

I don’t understand people who don’t like coffee. There are people who can’t even stand the smell! There is something wrong with that.

I wonder what kind of coffee Jesus drank. Probably the same kind God drinks. Obviously, it’s not drip coffee because that type is really not that old. Probably one of those brewed by putting grounds right in the water and then boiling it until just the right moment. Things would have been a lot easier if there was a verse that read, “Thou shalt drink Maxwell House.” Starbucks is out of luck, they’re too new.

By the way, Sanka is not coffee. It shouldn’t even be mentioned in a conversation about coffee. Postum really isn’t bad, but it’s not coffee either. Tea is for another post.

Where’s my coffee?

An Exercise in Patience

Are you tired of waiting for patience?

Model railroading is a great exercise in stretching your ability to wait for something good to happen. My current layout project began, literally, on the floor. The room I am using was a storage place for all the overflow stuff. I had to move, package, stack, sort, discard, retrieve from the discard bin, and re-stack, so that I could actually begin building a model railroad.

I’m trying things I’ve never done before. This is definitely the most pain-staking, detailed layout I have ever attempted. The bench-work is very sturdy. In fact, I have been ON TOP of the bench several times, working on the styrofoam risers, also something I have never used before.

I purchased the risers from Rider’s Hobby Shop in Flint, MI. I’ve had layouts with mountains for the trains to climb through, but the inclines were too steep, so the engines could only pull a few cars. Not this time! I’m using 2% inclines, which require 16 feet of space to lift the train four inches. Since my layout space is 21 feet long, I have plenty of room for a 2%, four inch lift! Voila!

I have two total loops, so I can continuously run two trains. The town of Maple Valley is going to be an attraction for those who climb aboard the old-fashioned passenger cars, pulled by a vintage steam engine. Beautiful!

Back to patience. It has already taken me over a year to get to this point. I still have not placed a single section of track. The bench work is incredible. The 1 1/2 inch foam underlayment is terrific. The 2% risers are all in place. The scratch-built bridges are really cool. They still have to be painted. Mountains are beginning to take shape. I have built a huge number of houses and buildings. I am scratch-building floral wire trees. Also something I’ve never done before.

If my plan was to run trains as quickly as possible, I would have quit a long time ago. Here’s the point. The process is the fun! But, the process is also the patience growth time. The secret is to be pleased, or at least “okay”, with where I am right now. If I do my best with each step of the process, then I can leave the layout at any time along the way and be satisfied.

I am not yet where I’m going. The goal line is not placing the last tree and bit of model grass. The process is the goal line. It isn’t stationary. The goal line is constantly evolving. The beautiful thing about model railroading is I can change my mind at any time, just because I decided to do something different.

Life is not fixed. It’s a process. Constantly evolving. Patience is a project of effort, trust, and satisfaction.

Coffee please.

Will Covid-19 Ever End?

I read a book a while ago (I’ve read a ton of books in the last couple of years), and there were several paragraphs that have stayed with me. Especially now.

The story was fiction, but the implications are startling. The section that keeps rolling over in my mind concerned what the author called, “the economics of fear.” He wrote that the media, by the design of some higher and secreted power controls the population, and therefore, the economy, by the words they continually use. The narrative changes as time passes and new descriptors are used because the public grows accustomed to the old ones.

New words selected bring another wave of fear so the public will once again hang on every word the media says, even though they keep saying the same things over, and over, and over again. Network selection doesn’t matter, the words and phrases are interchangeable. The purpose is to corral and herd public feeling and reaction. In this very interesting novel of fiction, it worked.

I haven’t been able to get the author’s words out of my mind. It feels like reality. I don’t want to mention the author or the book title because it’s not my intention to start a discussion about either one. It just struck a chord with me.

I’m sure I am totally wrong. I’m thinking nonsense. Quarantine has left me babbling, unable to make words fit together in any meaningful way. Instead of clouds passing overhead, I’m seeing fluffy forms of catchers squatting behind plates, and outfielders making heroic plays.

It’s fiction we’re being herded. Told what to believe. We’re not really being conditioned and trained. The media hasn’t been informed which words to use. Startling, breaking, unrelenting, endless, broken, terrifying, contagious, rampant, breathless, Covid-19, second wave, third wave, collapse.

Obviously, there is no economy of fear. We know what to believe, we’re not fooled by anything that isn’t true. We don’t react to fear in an unreasonable way.

I really just need to forget about the book I read. It’s fiction. I should spend my time watching news shows so I can stay informed. I’m sure there are enough programs to keep me occupied during all of my waking hours. That would be much more productive than reading. Especially fiction.

I feel better now. Thanks for your help.

Anxiety: The Short-Circuit

How would you define anxiety? Feeling nervous? A lack of self-confidence? An inner uneasiness?

However you define it, anxiety is real. Since it is experienced in so many different ways, and affects so many parts of life, it is difficult to nail down. Anxiety tends to lurk in the shadows but makes its presence known, often at the worst times.

Anxiety is not the same as a sense of nervousness about a new situation. For example, anyone would feel fearful about speaking in front of a group of people for the first time. That person, however, would find with each experience it gets easier. While speaking, the person with anxiety might be thinking about what listeners are thinking, whether they like what she is wearing, if her hair is sticking up in back, if he has something in his nose, if his zipper is down, what she would rather be doing, and why she agreed to do this in the first place. And no matter how many “that was wonderful” she receives, there is still an underlying uncomfortable something.

Anxiety can be a life short-circuit. It can divert energy and motivation to itself with no explanation. No matter how perfectly a circuit is designed, a short not managed becomes the focus.

What does anxiety mean to you? How do you function with it?

Your value is in you. Your life is not defined by anxiety.

Your Value

Nothing you do, no matter how you try, will add to your value. Your value has nothing to do with what you own, the size of your income, where you live, who you know, or how many know you.

Your value is in you. Nothing you do will decrease your value. Your value is yours alone.

You will always be disappointed if you look to others for your value. It is already yours.

Realizing and protecting your value is your responsibility. These affirmations can help. Speak them to yourself.

  • Words do not create value.
  • Value is in me, not in words others say about me.
  • Worth is mine alone, not in what others approve.
  • No amount of compliment will add to my value.
  • Worth and value are mine in the absence of any words of approval.
  • Touch is not my source of value.
  • Value is in me, it is mine.
  • My approval is in me, not in what others say about me.
  • I affirm my own value, it is mine alone.

Write these down and keep them with you. Repeat them to yourself until they become part of you. Then, and only then, keep reading them to yourself.

Your value is yours alone. You already have it. Stop looking.

Time for coffee.