Just Stop The Excuses

I have a lot of excuses. Believe me. If I don’t have a real one, I can whip up something off the top of my head if necessary. I bet you have excuses too. Most of us are better than we need to be explaining why we don’t do something that we want, or should, do.

Excuses begin early in life and stay with us until we die. Age only enables us to perfect the practice. We all just need to stop it.

High achievers amaze me. Yes, sometimes a person is just really smart, or very talented. I won’t deny that. I’ve known people who found most things easy, or at least easier than other people’s experience. Still, much of what human beings accomplish isn’t always the result of intelligence of talent. I know some pretty smart, talented people who haven’t done much at all. Instead, they have excuses.

I cannot explain how one person, with the same 24-hours in a day, manages to do so much more than the next guy. Except that Mr. Next Guy is full of excuses while the other one just gets on with things.

People say, “I don’t have time.” Long ago, I came to believe that we all have time to do whatever we want to do. Yes, we all bump into those legitimate excuses like illness or things truly out of our control. But for most of us, that’s not every day. I once heard a motivational speaker say that we make a huge mistake in our thinking about motivation. We look at one person, high-achiever, busy, always doing things, and we say, “Wow, that guy is really motivated.” Then we look at another person who just sits around, inactive, wasting time, and we say about that person, “Wow, that guy just isn’t motivated.” He said we’re wrong. The truth is that both people are motivated. It’s just that one is motivated to do something and the other one is motivated to sit around doing nothing.

So what’s your excuse? Every one of us has something we say we’d like to do, should do, need to do. We have things we’d like to accomplish or learn. Why aren’t you doing them? Don’t have time? Wrong. You know that’s not true. You have time do whatever you’re doing except what you say you’d like to do. The truth is you want to do something else more, even if it’s just to stare at the TV. The first step at eliminating excuses is to identify them.

For me, I’ve never found an easy way to overcome excuses. They are pretty powerful little critters. They attach themselves to our mind, emotions, energy, and will. There is no simple answer requiring no effort. Excuses are tough to overcome. I guess that could become the next excuse.

So I’ll just challenge you to join me in the battle. If you think I’ve got the excuse thing all worked out, you’d be wrong. It’s a daily battle. If you are an excuse maker, I can only say welcome to my world. But both you and I are better than our excuses. It’s a daily fight, but you won’t beat your excuses unless you get up, toss your excuses away, and get on with things.

Are you resisting what I’m saying. Stop it. That’s your excuse-making mind setting you up for more inaction. I wish you well in your personal war against excuses.

On a personal level, if you’re wondering why I’m writing about excuses, I’d suggest you look at the date this article was published, then look at the date of the last article in this blog. I don’t really have an excuse for the gap. Well…. I do, but none of them are legitimate.

Just An Average Day


Life is made up mostly of average days. That must be true or it would mess up the whole definition of extraordinary or dull. Chances are you don’t even pay much attention to the average day. They’re not particularly memorable. After all, they are… well… just average.

Down here on the Mississippi coast, my average day is unique. Today, for  example, I spent the day getting some work done, doing some chores, running errands, making phone calls, and putting together a storage thing for shoes. Oh, I  also stopped by the harbor in Biloxi to take a few photos. That’s where “average” for me connects with “special” for lots of others.

I watched a lady with two young boys do a bit of fishing over the outer harbor wall. Those guys will long remember catching fish from the Gulf of Mexico. I saw a boat full of young folks headed out to do some parasailing. I bet that one goes down in someone’s digital scrapbook. Plenty of folks were in boats going out with fishing guides. Some of those people might come back with the catch of their life! Others were cruising along the coast getting a nature tour, learning about shrimping, and getting lessons on life along the coast. Then there were the shrimpers with coolers loaded down with gulf shrimp chilled with crushed ice. Somebody was going to have a rather tasty supper.

I got to see all that in about 30 minutes this afternoon. Every one of those people I saw was enjoying anything but an average day. They were vacationing, trying new things, making memories. Me? I was just observing it all, enjoying the view of other people enjoying the day. Pretty much an average day down here on the beach!

I write this, not to brag that my average day beats your, but to say that I love it that my average is made up of other people’s anything-but-average. If you start looking around at your “average” days, you might discover that it is also made up of special or unusual snippets of activities. I’ve wasted a lot of time ignoring how very special my average days are. They have taken on new meaning since I started to notice what my average days are like. Turns out, “average” isn’t a good word at all. There is a constant variety, things are always changing, and nothing is really the same every day.

I had a pretty special day today. But that’s average for me.

Spring Has Sprung!

For a guy with a blog title that includes the idea of “speaking out”, I sure have been quiet lately. I keep saying I’m going to post more frequently on the little “Speaking Out” forum, but stuff keeps getting in the way. Today, it’s raining. The weatherman says it’s going to rain pretty much all week, so I have a few extra moments to jot down a few thoughts.

Spring has definitely sprung down here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The dreary skies and water soaked ground isn’t allowing the beauty of spring to shine just yet, but it’s here. Of course, my yard is already knee-high in places with weeds. Or is that “wildflowers”? Yeah, wildflowers!

I did get out for a little bit this past Saturday afternoon to shoot some photos. One of my favorite places is the old POW Camp out in the woods of north Harrison County. Pretty little lake, some interesting revetments of some kind left over from the WWII era, and supposedly an alligator (though I’ve never seen one!). Airey Lake just over in Stone County is a great little spot too. It’s at one end of the Tuxachanie Trail, some 22 miles of hiking trail. I’ve walked some of it from both ends, but 22 miles is a bit much for me to walk! Boy Scouts like to camp there a lot, and some of my Mississippi Gulf Coast Photography Club friends love it for taking photos of stars.

So to give you a little idea of just how pretty these places are, here are a few photos I took this past Saturday. If you have a chance to visit, I think you’d like both these places a lot. They are both popular for picnickers and campers, and if you want a place to take photos with great water reflections, either lake will do quite nicely.

These first shots are from the old POW Camp:

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The next photos are from Airey Lake:

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Here’s hoping you will enjoy the spring weather, even if it’s raining at your house today. Despite being behind on mowing the yard, I have done some work around the place already. I planted three trees! I’ve got flowers in the ground (at least some – the front flower bed is due for a total remake!). I even planted some elephant ears! I sure hope they grow. For some reason, I just like those things.

Go do your part to make your little corner of the world a prettier place. Spring is the time to cooperate with nature and get things growing. It’s a fantastic world God has given us.

Get A Hobby!

Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s also easy to become negligent! I have personified “lazy” when it comes to this blog. Months have come and gone and I haven’t written a thing here. Not that I haven’t written anything, just not here. So, let me re-enter the fray with a little suggestion: get a hobby.

Back in the spring of 2014, I decided to buy myself a digital camera. Years ago, I used to take lots of photos with a Minolta SLR. Got pretty good at it. Then came marriage and children, and those who took photos back then will remember that film got expensive, as did getting it developed. So, I dropped photography. Other than a few snapshots with a point-and-shoot, I took few photos.

Last year, I invested in a Nikon (save it, you Canon freaks😉 ). Great little camera. It can do 10 times what my old camera could do. I also joined a local photography club. Well, “club” is questionable. We have no official meetings, no dues, no officers, etc. It’s a loosely organized club based around a Facebook page. Some of us locals do get together occasionally for “group shoots” where we all gather somewhere and take pictures together. Sometimes we have “models”, people who will stand still for a few minutes while the rest of us wrestle with our settings to get a shot! But we share knowledge and expertise, learn a lot, practice, and improve our ability to take decent photos. Great fun, and we’ve got some fantastically talented photographers, even some pros who are always ready to give guidance or helpful tips.

It’s been years since I’ve enjoyed anything quite so much. It’s something very different from my everyday world. I get to know and enjoy lots of people I probably would not have met otherwise. I’m learning new things, and producing some pretty nifty photos, even if I say so!

So, why should you get a hobby. Some of the reasons are in what I already wrote, but let me give you a short list of benefits;

  • It reduces stress and provides positive relaxation
  • It gets your brain working, exercising mentally, to keep you sharp
  • It provides a sense of fulfillment different from your daily life
  • It gives opportunity for making new friends and acquaintances
  • It’s an opportunity to become helpful to others
  • It’s fun, and there should be more fun in life
  • It causes you to get up, get out, and get involved
  • It can connect you with young and old, which always broadens your perspective
  • It makes your real work more enjoyable because you’re rested and fresh

You don’t have to be a photographer. Of course, if you’d like to be, I can suggest a nifty photo club. It doesn’t really matter. Be a woodworker, become an artist, whatever. Find others who enjoy the same activity and get involved with them. I’ll leave you with a recent photo I took just to say that here’s a tangible explanation why I enjoy what I do.


The Beauty of the Mississippi Coast

It’s one of those well-kept secrets. Even people from Mississippi don’t know about it. I’m referring to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Yes, Hurricane Katrina did major damage, but the communities along the coast are well on their way back to recovery. Are there things to do and places to see still missing? Yes. But you would do yourself a favor to drop in on the coast to see for yourself.

Want just a few photos to whet your appetite? Here you go.

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Attention Mississippi Republican Party

I’ve hesitated writing about this simply because I’ve been pretty ticked off. I’m referring to the recent primary elections here in Mississippi. Down here on the coast, the only one that really mattered much to me was the Republican primary for Senator. Thad Cochran, long-time Senator from Mississippi was running against Chris McDaniel, an upstart newcomer who (in the opinion of some) is a bit controversial. Yes, there was another guy, but he didn’t really count.

It should have been just a normal primary election. Ah, but this is politics! I should have been ready. In the primary election, McDaniel actually got more votes than either of the other candidates, including Thad Cochran! The problem was that McDaniel didn’t get to the 51% mark, so that required a runoff between him and Cochran. This is where it gets interesting.

If you’re really interested in the details, you can read up on the news reports, but here’s my summary. The old-guard Republicans were evidently shocked at the primary results. Instead of allowing Mississippi’s registered Republicans to choose the candidate they wanted, the party chose to enlist the help of Democrats! There was a concerted effort to get Democrats to cross party lines and vote for Thad Cochran. It worked! In the runoff election, Cochran won, defeating McDaniel. I’ve read somewhere that if you remove the Democrat votes, McDaniel would have won the election by eight points, give or take a little.

So what’s the problem? Call me idealistic. Call me picky. Call me whatever you like, but if we’re going to have primaries where Democrats (voters!) get to choose their candidate and Republicans (voters) get to choose theirs, then let’s do it that way. Instead, we get an election where Mississippi’s registered Republicans didn’t elect their candidate. Democrats chose both theirs and the Republican candidate. One could fairly say that the Republicans don’t really have a candidate this time around. There will be the legitimate Democrat-chosen candidate (Childers), and the “illegitimate” Democrat-chosen Republican candidate.

So, here’s my heads up for the Mississippi Republican Party. Since all I have to choose from are two candidates chosen by the Democrats, I think I may as well just vote for the Democrat. I mean, why mess around with Thad Cochran who couldn’t get Republican voters to keep him in office? Since we’re going to allow the Democrats to decide the candidates, why not just go with them all the way?

Some will say, “Well, McDaniel wasn’t really the best candidate anyway.” I don’t know, maybe that’s right, maybe not. But we’ve usually allowed the voters to do the electing. That didn’t happen this time, at least the way it should have happened.

Thad Cochran has been up in Washington a long time. I think he’s been an overall good Senator for Mississippi. But everybody knows he’s going to retire. McDaniel offered a viable alternative. There was nobody else among the Republicans who either wanted the job or offered something the people wanted. If the Republican Party didn’t want McDaniel then throw him out of the party. He may now run as an Independent or a write-in candidate, and could result in dividing the Republican vote enough to get the Democrat, Childers, elected anyway!

If Cochran wins the election in the fall, then chooses to retire before the end of his term, Mississippi’s governor gets to appoint his replacement. Likely, it will be one of the old-guard Republicans who chose to not even run for the office. I don’t know about others, but I’m about tired of the games and tricks. No wonder Republicans are gaining a reputation as the party of, “No”, and viewed as the party of do-nothing.

Unfortunately, I’ve developed an attitude about politics and politicians. Especially on the national level, I do not believe there is a single politician who cares two-cents about me, my family, my friends, neighbors or anybody. All they care about is power, position and money. That’s it. They will sell me down the river in a heartbeat for any one of those three things. Call me jaded. Call me pessimistic. Call me when there’s a reason to think differently.

So, this is just a heads up to the Mississippi Republican Party. Right now I’m still a registered Republican. I might not be for long.


My Birthday Present To Myself!

I know! I’ve neglected this blog for too long, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been learning a new skill, and it has everything to do with the birthday present I bought myself. Somewhere in my late 50s, I decided to learn how to play the guitar. I bought a cheap acoustic and began the ordeal of learning chords, how to strum, and then how to make it sound somewhat like music. I should have learned when I was much younger. I managed to play a handful of chords.

Thankfully, most of the music from the 1960s can be played with three or four chords. It also helps to learn to play “cheat chords.” No, it’s not as good as the real thing, but it works! But I really wanted to do a bit better, so a friend suggested I learn how to play using an open D tuning on my guitar, and maybe learn to use a slide. My son-in-law donated a nicer guitar than what I had, and I found a real, honest-to-goodness bottleneck slide at a local music store. And yes, that works! So I was getting a bit better, and playing a wider range. That open D tuning can even be played barring all the chords! But, it still wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

Browsing the Internet, I came across a lot of options for musical instruments. Dulcimers looked interesting, and a guy from church had one. He loaned it to me and the within an hour after I got it home, I was playing tunes. Not great, but playing. Searching more, I ran across a video with a guy playing a zither. “Zither” is sort of a family name for a host of instruments that include dulcimers. This one is made by a guy named Tony Meeks, owner of the Zither Music Company.

They make a nifty line of zithers right there in Bonham, Texas! I decided that was the instrument for me, and since my birthday was coming up, I decided to give myself a present. I ordered myself a zither! You can choose from various models, different wood, and a few other customizations.


The photo above is a photo of my custom made Zither! Cherry wood with oak accents, with black mesquite fretboard. It’s really quite beautiful to look at, and even more beautiful to play. Tony Meeks assured me that his Zither was easy to play. The backstory relating how it came about is interesting. You can read about that here. If I can play a Zither, anybody can play it. It’s just fun!


That photo was taken right after I got it. I was learning where the notes are on the fretboard. While it looks like a small guitar, it’s not. It frets like a dulcimer, with the strings upside down (meaning the bass or drone strings are on top, and the melody strings are on bottom). That makes it play more like a guitar You need to keep in mind that as I write this, I’ve been playing less than a month. I don’t read music, so everything I play has to be a melody in my head. I’ve a long way to go before I’ve mastered the mechanics of fingering the frets to get the right notes at the right time, but I think I’ve done quite well.

A Zither won’t be for everybody. But anyone who, like me, waited until they were “too old” to learn a new trick, would be pleased with this little gem. I get hours of pleasure out of it. You can play real tunes without much of the frustration that comes from guitars. While it basically plays like a dulcimer, it will give you a greater ranger of artistry than a regular dulcimer. I decided to post a little practice session from this afternoon. It’s my version of “Like A Bird Without Wings,” followed by “Danny Boy,” “California Blue,” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”.

Yes, there are a some mistakes in there. Yes, it could be played better. But how many people of my age do you think could play this after working with an instrument for a month? I’ve talked to Tony Meeks on the phone a few times, and he even sent photos of my Zither as it was being made. He’s a great guy and seems excited when his customers love their Zithers!

People who are much better musicians could take this little instrument and do a lot more with it! So, thanks to Tony and his crew. I highly recommend the Zither Music Company. Do yourself a favor. Buy yourself a birthday present.

Click on the link HERE for the MP3 file.