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When Your All is Not Enough

Not too long ago, after thirty years of blood, sweat equity, tears and prayers, raising a family, building multiple businesses and giving back to my community ten fold, the non-recovering small business economy finally won. Asset after asset in real estate, construction and retail, spiraled downward, slowly at first, occasionally offering teasing glimpses of hope, in this otherwise dismal recovery. False hope I soon learned, followed by empty promises and broken dreams, beginning, not with me, but my customers, then their customers and then my friends.

Astute enough to read the tell tale signs, splashed across the walls. I changed directions, throwing everything I'd worked for over the past three decades, into a Senior Living Idea that was years ahead of its time. A life changing project so revolutionary, IT COULD NOT FAIL. It even had a non-recourse, 80% HUD guarantee behind it. But, it did, in spectacular fashion. This outdoor living, memory care project never fully got off the ground, mired in bureaucracy, miles of red tape and impossible requirements that changed by the month. Add to that, the sudden passing of the person I had entrusted the management side to, I was royally screwed.

What was once a slow spin, soon became a death spiral, as note after note came due, stamped DO NOT RENEW. The last two years, I've died a thousand deaths, watching my balance sheets, fade from healthy black to unsettling red. My blood, my sweat, my equity, my all, for the first time in my life, was no longer enough to stop the bleeding, let alone begin the healing.

Looking on helplessly, each time an asset disappeared, a thousand times faster than it took me to create it, this question has repeatedly crossed my mind, "Where do small business owners go to die?"

I failed, I got it. That's the risk you take to own your own business. I got that too. The words, nothing ventured, nothing gained are empty and hollow, that to me, no longer ring true. For the first fourteen years, I worked twelve to fifteen hours a day, insuring every employee, every vendor got paid, before I ever thought of taking a check. Nothing ventured, you jest? I gave it 'my' best, I gave it my all.

And it paid off, not just monetarily. I nurtured and developed raw talent, turning book wise kids, into street wise entrepreneurs. I taught them to do it right the first time, give the customer exceedingly more than they ever hoped or imagined, and lastly, quality always surfaces in the end.

We also gave back, leading by example, delving into one community service project after another. After all, we're all in this together. At least I thought we were, until my 'friends' treated my demise the same way they would treat an encounter with the plague, they fled.

The question remains, "Where do small business owners go to die?" Possibly here, but I regress. A few months ago, I applied for a managerial position that I was more that aptly qualified for. My interviewer was a twenty-three year old assistant whose first question was, "Have you ever applied with us before?" Knowing immediately where this was going, I politely informed him, that he was in luck, his company was the recipient of my first ever job application and he was conducting my very first job interview. He passed. I did too, of sorts. He was kind enough to call back the following week and make me a rather generous offer, ten to fifteen hours a week, tutoring those he hoped would fill 'the job.' Yep, maybe this is one of the places where small business owners go to die, quickly, in misery.

I'm a survivor. I'm not ready to toss in the towel quite yet. During the last two years of living this painful death spiral, I've found solace in writing. In March, my first novel went to print and just last week I finished my second. And no, they are not about my current trials and tribulations.Those are ongoing, painful enough to live through each day, let alone rehash them by transposing them into a book.

For the moment, since I can't get a satisfactory answer to my own question, nor do I want to for that matter, I am writing fictional, sizzling, action adventure, romance stories, sprinkled with truth, catering to women. Have I found my niche, who knows? Readers read to escape, therefore, why can't writers write to escape? Especially, has been, washed up, small business owners, such as myself, who can no longer afford to live, let alone, afford a place to die in peace.

Taking an excerpt from my book, Everyone deserves a second chance; some even need a third, fourth, and fifth. So, when fate knocks, answer the door. Throw caution to the wind, and play with gusto the hand you're dealt. And never, ever let 'them' see you sweat.

Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It's Learning to Dance in the Rain. author unknown

Goin for the Gold in Sochi

Sochi has suddenly become a word, synonymous with greed, corruption, bribery and ineptness. What did you expect, it’s Russia? Can a leopard change its spots? Can a nymphomaniac regain her virginity? Can Vladimir Putin suddenly become as pure as the driven snow? Uh, never mind, sometimes my brain wanders when we know beyond a reasonable doubt what’s going to happen, yet we hope beyond hope it won’t.
    Therefore, I’m asking all who read this to join me in going for the Gold in Sochi. I’ve put in a request to Fed Ex and UPS to have planes waiting to deliver essential items  to all the non-Russians in Sochi. Desperately needed are gold shower curtains, gold towels, gold pillows and most importantly gold porta-potties that will accept ( excuse me ) toilet paper. I am humbly requesting everyone in Tennessee, we are the Volunteer State, as well as others, across our great land, to please drop off any and or all of these aforementioned necessities that you may have lying around, to your nearest Fed Ex or UPS store.
    We need bottled water too and lot’s of it. The gold colored water provided by the hosts may be a nice gesture on their part ( they mostly drink vodka anyway), but I’m sure it’s probably laced with laxatives and other scary things to even the playing field with the very best of the West. 
    I mean, come on, can you imagine our bobsled team having to sit for long periods of time, under the possible influence of Montezuma’s revenge without the comforting thought that a charmin roll was just within reach. The integrity of this years Winter’s Olympics is at stake here for everyone, other than the Russians, because of the deprivation of these western expected necessities.
    Oh, and we need gold digital movie cameras, a rather long, gold embossed telegraph wire stretched back to the good old U.S. of A and Golden Eagles trained as carrier pigeons, that can duck AA on their way out of Sochi. I’m sure everyone, from Olympian to cameraman is being hacked, duh, it’s Russia. The former head of the KGB is running this no show and all tell, we should expect, no less.
    I’m sure Tennesseans will rise to this challenge. Americans everywhere will follow as we load plane after plane with all these taken for granted here, necessities. And to insure this 54 billion dollar debacle does not succeed in winning the home country, the majority of gold medals, we probably need to send a few thousand pairs of name brand blue jeans and tennis shoes too.
    It’s Russia, what would you expect? Their society is built on graft, that’s how things work and only how things work. With everyone looking the other way at all times, it’s how business is done. Rarely, is anyone ever prosecuted because there, because  witnesses do not come forward.
     It happens here too, I know, just ask a former New Orleans Mayor, currently using the same argument as his defense.
    I digress. In all sincerity, let’s do this, let’s go for the gold together and show our athlete’s how proud we are of their efforts and commitments to be the best our country has to offer. Is it to much to ask us to sacrifice so little, when so much is at stake?
    Yes, it’s troubling when a plan doesn’t come together. It’s even more troubling to know that the power’s that be who selected Sochi, knew long before hand that it was all a pipe dream. The runner ups, Austria and South Korea, along with everyone from the West are all losers here. Hoping for hopes sake is not enough, especially when dealing with the history of Russia and their business practices and Vladimir Putin.

It's Time We Rise from The Sunken Couch

Whether you've been unemployed, one week, one month, one year or even longer, it's time to rise from the sunken couch you've resigned yourself to and engage the world around you, beginning with your neighbors just beyond the front door. You have talents worth exercising, gifts worth giving and priceless wisdom worth sharing, to the deserving masses, within your midst.

Without an immediate resurgence of small business growth in a country based on it's entrepreneurial spirit, long term unemployment will continue to drag down consumer confidence, and in turn small business; along with the jobs we so desperately need to employ us. There are small steps all of us can do, currently employed or not, to begin this resurgence, one kindness at a time.

When I started my first business, I had no clue what all it entailed. But what I did have, was an endless supply of encouragement, assuring me that I could do it. You know what, I did it, some thirty plus years ago and many more times since then. Starting to write my first novel last year was an equally daunting task, where I struggled immeasurably, because it was far outside my comfort zone. Imagine me writing a steamy, romantic, adventure thriller, sprinkled with truth and threaded with the theme, paying it forward no matter what, whew! Yet, there were people who believed in me, thereby empowering me to continue.

Guess what, Ride to Redemption published last month. More amazing, we've designated one dollar from every purchase to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Those folks know how to stretch a dollar like you wouldn't believe. They'll wrangle almost four meals out of it. I'm proud to tell you, novel two is well underway, why? Because of encouraging and glowing reviews from my peers. I've come to see, first hand, that anything is possible if there are people in our midst who share of themselves, their time and their talents. You too, can be that encourager to another struggling individual who needs a little help to believe, to keep on keeping on. Brain power, coupled with man power can do most anything. You just have to believe and be present.

Confidence breeds confidence, encouragement breeds encouragement, faith breeds faith. That's where you and I come in, by giving ourselves away. We have unique talents and gifts, specific only to us that can be used to make an immediate difference in the lives of others. My businesses have long since gone, swallowed up by a life altering recession and an economic collapse, most of us didn't see coming. Yet my talents remain, along with my heart. I'm doing my best to put them to better use, this time around.

While you're waiting for your next employment opportunity, continue to hone your valuable, marketable skills, by volunteering to serve, to encourage, to inspire. Look around you. We're hurting here. There's relatively few places one can go today without seeing need based service's struggling to meet their ever increasing demands. There are very few, if any community based organizations today that will turn down volunteers, in any shape or form.

Seniors need some type of assistance and or interaction everyday, be it changing a light bulb, reprogramming a remote, trimming some shrubs or just someone to talk to. Young people need mentoring, as well as tutoring, in Boy's Clubs and Girl's Clubs and Y's. Peer's need encouragement, inspiration and hope, if they too are in the throes of financial or emotional distress. Empathy goes a long way when others know you have walked in their shoes.

I can't promise that by venturing off the sunken couch and into the community, sharing your skills and passions with your neighbors, (We're all neighbors here) will get you employed any faster. But what it will do is keep your skill set sharp, your mind engaged and your heart in tune to the world, just beyond your door. I learned long ago, to give whatever you need the most of. So far in my life, I can tell you from my own personal experiences, it works. Many times it comes in unexpected ways, you will never fathom or imagine.

Here's a really kind review of our first novel, along with a link if, after reading it, you'd like to buy it through Amazon. Either way, Thank you. If you've got an extra dollar or two, send it to a Second Harvest Food Bank near you.

Thankfully, 2013 is behind us and 2014 has enveloped us right smack into the middle of the here and now. May I indulge all of you for a few moments who are glad to see 2013 fading quickly from sight in the rear view mirror? Last year kind of wrecked havoc on many of us, so for those of us in the throes, this year needs to be exceedingly, if not exceptionally, better.  

If you please, find a quiet place before you continue this read. Now, go get a blank sheet of paper and lay it down in front of you. Now read it. What does it say? Nothing, absolutely nothing. And that's a good thing. No, that's a great thing, because now we can cast off what is behind and begin anew at this moment, uncluttered.

All the triumphs, as well as, all the failures that we experienced last year are behind us. Before us is a clean slate called 2014, whereby we have the opportunity to write down the positive events we create today, today and write the positive events of tomorrow, if there is to be a tomorrow, tomorrow.

The first thing we must do today is be genuinely thankful for that which makes us who we are. No matter where we are in our life journey, a spirit of thankfulness will make all the difference going forward into 2014. Join me in writing down all the things you are thankful for. Your health, I sure hope so, your family, me too, your friends, absolutely, and finally your stuff, of course. Just remember in the end, it's just stuff.

Second, write down some things you'd like to change in yourself this forthcoming year. Be kinder to others, excellent, be more patient and understanding, good choice, be more forgiving, that's the spirit,  learn to be more appreciative, awesome, learn to give away whatever you need the most of, "Oops, where did that come from, I'm in it, to win it all, not to give it away."

Third, now that I've got your utmost attention, write down all the great stuff you've accumulated through the years that you plan taking with you when you're gone. Gotcha again. Silly me, you can't take stuff with you when you are taking your last curtain call, or can you? Many have tried I suppose from as far back as King Tut. Needless to say, all the beautiful, wonderful things that were included in his tomb, never made it beyond the door.

The good news is there are some things you can take it with you. I read a recent article about a slew of hospice patients reflecting on the good things throughout their lives. What created the greatest joy and evoked the warmest smiles was not all the stuff they accumulated over the years, but the fond memories of those whose lives they touched and the memories of those whose lives touched theirs.

By giving we receive, by getting we receive, priceless memories that we can take with us. Lifelong memories that, in turn, can be left with those most precious in our midst, long after the stuff has decayed and gone away. Memories created by giving and receiving whatever we need the most of. If you need love, give love unconditionally. If you need time, give time without constraint. If you need money, give all you can and then give some more. If someone gives you something, accept it graciously and joyfully. Otherwise, you will rob them of the joy, I'm asking you to join me in creating this year.

No matter our lot, be it content or in need, 2014 is our year to make it our best ever. Before us, today is the paper, our life the pen. Let us choose how we write it, in this moment, in this never before experienced time in our lives. I can't guarantee everything will be perfect, but I can guarantee that by giving whatever you need the most of, your life will be full and running over throughout the year. And by receiving with a grateful heart, any of that which we lack, will be little indeed.

Let's commit to building memories in 2014 that we can take with us into the years to come. Life is far too short, to contemplate otherwise.

Join us in paying it forward. $1.00 donated to Second Harvest Food Bank can be turned into four meals. What an awesome opportunity to be a part of something this amazing in 2014. Just imagine, forgoing 1 night a month eating out and giving the money to Second Harvest will provide up to 160 meals.

David Wilson Designer and Writer

 Woo Hoo's Rule

Since the beginning of time, she who has the woo hoo has always made the rules. Reflecting retrospectively over the last thirty years, I've come to realize the absolute power wielded by the receptive woo hoo; as well as the subtle empowerment of men, when graciously received, albeit through continuous seduction or repeated acquiescence. Sitting beside the gas pumps this morning, at a station in Kingston, Tennessee, in my seven year old pick up, I was startled to see a somewhat attractive young lady, in a relatively new car, make an abrupt right turn off the highway and head straight at me.

With a smile reflecting the initial innocence of Ana, straight out of the shades of gray and projecting the confidence of a well endowed, brass balled monkey, she said," I'm on empty, I left my wallet at home, I'm late for my baby's first doctor's appointment; (pointing to something or someone unseen through the dark tinted windows in the back seat) go ahead and fill me up too."

No please sir, no will you help me, no can I borrow twenty dollars, no please give me your name and address, so I can repay you; "just fill my car while you're filling yours." Dumbfounded by her audacity, I immediately moved the nozzle from my truck to her car and continued pumping gas. Once, about twelve gallons had been deposited into her tank and her gauge, evidently leaning towards full, she said," that's enough, please put the cap back on securely," which I did, just as she drove away, offering only the gesture of wave in her rear view mirror, as she disappeared from sight.

It was in this brief encounter, on this beautiful crisp, Tennessee summer morning, that I realized, she who has the woo hoo, makes the rules. Let there be no mistake; she, who willingly shares it, controls him, who graciously receives it, whether he knows it or not. To be clear, this young lady offered me nothing, but projected the confidence developed through the history of her own woo hoo, that allowed her to make her rules. Speaking as a member of the male species, with a lifetime of experience, both historically and personally, I can attest to the fact that a receptive woo hoo has and or continues to alter the course of history for the better, while a contentious, unwilling one can bring forth catastrophic results. Kudos ladies, I'm all for empowering men to move mountains on your behalf, through your willingness to give, to get what you want. Where do you think the words, "behind every successful man, stands a successful woman, came from?"

From the beginning of time and with proper etiquette being what it was and is, society has just implied, but not stated in writing, the four most important words that complete this quote, stands a successful woman, "with a receptive woo hoo." To men across this country, I hope my introspective blog has enlightened you as much as this recent experience has me. If you're still not convinced, just stand at a gas pump with a forlorn look on your face, or better yet, stand by yourself, with a receptive heart, plus an open wallet and wait. Within moments, you will be immersed and empowered, with these aforementioned thoughts, while the women currently in your life or soon to be, will enlighten you, enthrall you and direct you to be the best you can be.

A little richer maybe, a little poorer maybe, a little wiser definitely; for she who has the woo hoo, makes the rules.  
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