How You Pack a Grocery Bag is a Reflection of Who You Are

Grocery%20Bag-2How someone packs your groceries says a lot about who they are.

One day on the way home from work, I stopped at Super Target for some food. My check out experience was surprising for two reasons. (1) My bags were incredibly well packed; (2) I realized something insightful about people.

Before I go any further, I have to confess that I am a real stickler about how my bags are packed. I am very much like Mr. Monk about the whole thing (meats separate, frozen & cold stuff all together, etc). If you want to live, NEVER put Comet in with my milk, or a half-gallon of juice in the same bag as my eggs.

So, it’s no small feat that I was greatly pleased with how my cashier packed my bags. The most surprising thing of all was that I didn’t have to say a word. She just did it well.

I thanked her. Then I said, “you can tell a lot about a person by how they pack your groceries.”

Her response to my compliment was, “well, I just try to treat it like it were my own groceries, how I’d like them packed.”

What kind of a world would we live in if everybody was this conscientious about one another? If everybody were aware and thoughtful, even in situations that did not require it. My point is, this woman had integrity. It was part of who she was, and in my opinion her attitude could empower her to accomplish just about anything in life.

In my experience, many, many people (especially male grocery packers) do not take the time to put such care into what appears, at least on the surface, to be a mundane task.

How you pack a grocery bag is a reflection of who you are. It may sound ridiculous, but you either care or you don’t. You’re either mindful or you’re not. You either strive for greatness, or settle for mediocrity.

The good news is, no matter where you are on the “integrity scale,” you can improve.

This reminds me of the saying: treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s a simple, age-old concept, one that’s worth its weight in gold (just don’t pack it on top of my veggies).

And remember, you are not alone…

Great Local Business Story

Today I took my family out to the local Volkswagen dealer here in Middleton, Wisconsin. The experience I had with the salesman, Michael Garski, was quite incredible.

My boys, wife and I are all big Herbie the Love Bug fans, and we decided to go to the dealership to check out a Beetle, and hopefully take a test drive.

Michael was so gracious, and even though we told him we were just stopping by for a test drive, he treated us like family. It didn’t matter that we weren’t coming in ready to buy today. Michael was more concerned with providing outstanding service, building a relationship and honoring the philosiphy of his dealershihp (which is Zimbrick Volkswagen, on Century Avenue by the way).


My kids were given a brochure about the Beetle, as well as a few promotional DVD’s about Volkswagen cars. We were made to feel special and welcome, and I actually felt guilty leaving without making a purchase. When we’re ready, I know who my salesman will be when we purchase a Volkswagen Beetle (possibly two when my boys are old enough to drive).

Mike is the grandfather of two grand daughters, only 11-months apart. I could tell how much he enjoys and misses them by the way he treated my kids. Thank you Michael!

And remember, you are not alone…

The Latest Exercise Craze: The Cardio Mow

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For decades, people have been complaining about not having enough time to exercise. And when spring time rolls around, it gets even worse. Yard work starts to take up some of our precious weekend time.

Since you’ve become a dad, you’ve already given up naps, showers and sex — so what’s an aging guy with a growing pot-belly to do?

Fear not, all your problems are solved with…

The Cardio Mow!

Yes, that’s right, now you can combine a healthy cardiovascular workout with your weekend mowing, with the Toro variable speed push mower (estimated top speed is 5 mph).

Trim off those extra pounds as you trim your grass!

If you enjoy sweating profusely and having all kinds of insects stick to your body, then this is the perfect exercise for you. Plus the exciting feeling of seeing just how many dandelion weeds have turned into those spikey, deadly looking mutations can not be matched by traditional forms of working out.

And you thought sleep deprivation was exciting and rewarding.

And remember, you are not alone…

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The Daddy Brain Book Guide: Resources & Reccomendations


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This resource guide is designed for both dads and moms. As I put together the list, I realized that most of my sources were not “parenting books.” Rather, they’re books and audio books (perfect for people with long commutes) about all facets of life that have either affirmed or influenced me — as a parent, a husband and a spiritual being. Some help me develop philosophies on how to treat my children, while others enlighten me about what to teach them. Everything is linked to Amazon, so you can learn more about each book… 

Books by Dr. Mark Brady, PhD:
– A Little Book of Parenting Skills
– Right Listening (formerly A Father’s Book of Listening)
– The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad,
by Joel Schwartzberg

– – – –

– Conversations with God, by Neil Donald Walsch
– Good Book, by David Plotz
– Spirit Healing: How to Make Your Life Work, by Mary Dean Atwood
– Eagle Vision: Return of the Hoop, by Ed McGaa, Eagle Man
– The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs
(I highly recommend the unabridged audio book)
– Zen and the Art of Poker, by Larry W. Phillips
(you must understand the game of poker to get the most from this book)
– Zen in the Art of Climbing Mountains, by Neville Shulman
(no mountain climbing experience necessary)

– – – –  

– Tribes, by Seth Godin
– Zen in the Art of Climbing Mountains, by Neville Shulman
– Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. 

Books and Audio Books by Zig Ziglar:

– See You at The Top (definitely read this one first)
– Over The Top
– Zig: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar

Audio Books
– Goals
– Success and the Self Image
– A View From The Top
– How to be a Winner

– – – –  

(Note: all of Zig Ziglar’s books fall under this category as well)

– The Sedona Method, by Hale Dwoskin

Audio Books
– The Sedona Method,
 by Hale Dwoskin
(The CD’s are expensive, but they can also be life changing) 

– – – –  

– How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer

Books & audio books by Malcolm Gladwell:
(Highly recommended in audio book form, Malcolm is an excellent reader)
– The Tipping Point
– Blink
– Outliers

– – – –  

– Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
– Some Dogs Do, by Jez Alborough
– The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, Crockett Johnson
– The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Goals & Emotions

Goals are important.

Short-term or long-term, they have the ability to define who we are and what we do in our life (as long as we do our part to attain them).

I sure have plenty to work on, and with a 45-minute commute each way to and from work I have ample opportunity to listen to audio books on a variety of topics.

Lately, my CD player has been spinning tracks on leadership, inspiration, motivation and goals.

Although they’re very helpful, there is one aspect of the puzzle that’s missing — emotions.

The question is: how do we clarify our goals, let alone take steps to reach them, if our daily existence feels like such a struggle to survive?

Sure, there are some fantastic ideas on these CDs, many of which I use on a daily basis. Speakers like Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy really believe that each day can be chock-full of productive, goal-reaching actions. And they’re right.

But what about when we’re not feeling right?

I’m not talking about a bad attitude here, I’m talking about depression, exhaustion, anger or an upsetting matter that is weighing heavily on our minds — whether it’s a bad work environment, a sick family member or a personal illness — these are all issues that need addressing. They’re also issues that can very easily become obstacles to setting and acheiving goals.

Sometimes our day is full of coping. Whether it’s chatting with co-workers, surfing the Web, TV or some other distraction to get ourselves through the day (and night). So you could say that the immediate goal is to hold oneself together and survive, plain and simple.

Finally, the day ends. But will your sleep be peaceful? Will you wake up the next day feeling any different? Maybe, if your “problem” was a small matter that needed a day or two for you to let it go. But if the problem still exists, this routine can lead deeper and deeper into feelings of hopelessness.

Not good. It’s also not true — it’s just a feeling (albeit an extremely strong, oppressive one).

Like John Lennon said, “where there’s life, there’s hope.” I believe he’s right. I’ve experienced it. From almost dying of Crohn’s disease, to not being able to find a job, to ectopic pregnancies, I have faced situations that seemed unsolvable. But I was given hope by my lovely wife, and I am eternally grateful.

I know first hand that sometimes making it through the day is such a large goal, it feels like it’s all we can do.

But it’s not.

We have choices. The first of which is getting some positive thoughts into our heads to help us find some hope. Hope will lead to inspiration & motivation (that’s where these fantastic writers, speakers and loved ones come into play), which has the power to carry you out of just about any situation.

Second, if you need help, get help. Whether it’s depression, addiction, illness — whatever is bringing you down — get the help you need. Your life depends on it. Sometimes literally.

Just like I spoke about replacing bad habits with good ones in, The Four H’s of Self Destruction: When Hobby Becomes Habit, we need to do the same thing here. We need to replace a neutral or negative way of coping with a positive one.

Instead of taking 10 minutes to check Facebook or Twitter (which we just checked 20 minutes ago), or to kill time until 5 O’clock arrives, we can make a phone call to a specific person or organization that has the potential to help us move forward. Or we could read a few pages of a book that’s geared towards one of our goals.

If we don’t know exactly who to call or what to read, we can take that time to make a list or search the Web for resources. You get the idea. We’re still giving ourselves a chance to cope, but this option offers significant benefit, at the very least helping  us feel better about ourselves. I’m not encouraging you to avoid doing your work at work. But the law says you get a lunch hour. How you use it is up to you.

In my case, I started with small, manageable steps and then began to determine and place some of my long-term goals alongside this survival goal. When we do this, we move from surviving toward thriving.

Would you rather survive as a troubled person or survive as a triumphant one? I truly believe that if you make enough positive life changes, no matter how small, they will add up. Your life and your attitude will improve.

If we substitute real, focused goals for “water-cooler chit-chat,” then we’re really doing something about the current situation as well as our future. In other words, we can choose to kill time or use it to build a life.

Either way the time will pass, and we’ll accomplish exactly what we set out to do.

(Note: This blog is in no way meant to replace or substitute the help of a professional. I am not a doctor. Although I hope this article proves helpful, I do not have all the answers. But I do have lots of questions…)

And remember, you are not alone…

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I Need a Break! (but will it help me?)

I want a break. And I deserve a break.

But if I always take a break, I’ll never get a break from the thing I need a break from.

The break is short term, and changes nothing (if we’re lucky, it does help us feel more relaxed). After the break, I often feel the same as I did before I took it. Only now time has passed, so that gets me even more upset because I’ve “wasted” the little time I have to make a difference.

Taking that time to make changes has the potential to give me a permanent break from what I need a break from.

This may sound absurd, or like a line from a Gertrude Stein novel, but it’s true.

And remember, you are not alone…

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The Four H’s of Self Destruction: When Hobby becomes Habit


Oxford American Dictionary

In this installment of The Four H’s of Self Destruction, we’ll take a closer look at some of the factors that turn Hobby into Habit. If you’d like to read the first part of the series click here.

I’ve been investigating this topic for months. Although I’ve learned a lot, I have discovered that each new bit of information I uncover holds more questions than it does answers.

What is the tipping point where Hobby becomes Habit?
Let’s begin with a comparison of meaning between the two:

Hobby: “done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure” (harmless).
Habit: “a regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up / informal: an addictive practice, especially one of taking drugs, which can develop into a bad habit” (not so harmless).

According to my mentor, Zig Ziglar:
“Good habits are difficult to acquire, but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to acquire, but difficult to live with. Almost without exception, bad habits come slowly and pleasantly and, in most instances, the habit has you before you’re aware you have the habit.

Habit is a cable. We weave a thread of it each day until it becomes too strong to break. Then the strength of that habit cable takes us to the top – or ties us to the bottom, depending on whether it is a good habit or a bad one… All bad habits, trends, etc., start slowly, quietly and apparently harmlessly.”

It’s important to remember, not all habits are negative. In fact, some can be very positive. It’s a good habit to brush your teeth, eat three meals a day, exercise and shower regularly. Brushing your teeth becomes a bad habit when you’re doing it so much that you’re causing your mouth to bleed, or it’s interfering with your day because you’re physically, mentally and/or emotionally held hostage by the habit.

Habit appears to be linked to addiction, obsession, compulsion and dependence – and I wonder which comes first – the habit or the mental state. When something is a hobby, does one obsess over it until it turns into a habit (addiction)? Or does something become a habit first, and then one starts to obsess over it?

In other words, does a person with a habit develop obsessive/compulsive tendencies, or is someone with an obsessive/compulsive personality simply manifesting their mental state into reality in the form of a habit?

I also think that hobbies can become bad habits when we start using the hobby as a coping mechanism. If we’re using it to cope, then it takes on attributes that are designed to help us AVOID solving problems. I’m not talking about coping for a short period of time because of a major life event. I’m talking about using it on a daily basis under “normal circumstances.”

A person may sit down “to relax” and watch some TV instead of sitting down at the computer to update their resume and make a game plan to find a better job. The habit of watching TV is rationalized into a solution, but in reality only perpetuates the problem. Weeks, months and years may go by without any change in the resume, let alone one’s place of employment. Unless, of course, this person does indeed get on the computer after they’ve watched their show. In which case, the TV has not be come a negative habit, but is being used simply to relax before they get down to work.

Substitute a TV habit with any of the infinite other things that people find comfort in, and you’ve got a whole lot of people stuck in a habit of procrastination, among other things.

How do we procure a hobby into a good habit and keep it there?
Where is the in-between point where the habit is healthy and effective? It’s important to distinguish bad habits from good, and define the line that exists where fantastic turns to fatal because you’ve gone too far. I think it’s a question of dedication (which includes motivation, inspiration, determination and hope) vs. addiction (which includes dependency, obsession, compulsion and enslavement).

In Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, he mentions the Japanese word Otaku, which means “something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession. Otaku is the overwhelming desire that gets someone to drive across town to try a new ramen-noodle shop that got a great review. Otaku is the desire to find out everything about Lionel’s new digital locomotive – and tell your fellow hobbyists about it.”

Otaku is a place that seems positive. It’s got desire and determination built into it, without any negative baggage.

How do we get rid of a bad habit?
I need to start off by stating that I am not a psychologist or a doctor. Although I’d like to share my findings on the subject, this article is not meant to replace the help of a professional. But I do hope you find it helpful, or at least as interesting as I do.

In William James’ book, Psychology, published in 1948, James writes of “the two great maxims of treatment,” develoved by Professor Alexander Bain:

“The first is that in the acquisition of a new habit, or leaving off of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. Accumulate all the possible circumstances which shall re-enforce the right motives; put yourself assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; make engagements incompatible with the old; take public pledge, if the case allows; in short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know. This will give your new beginning a such a momentum that the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it otherwise might; and every day during which a breakdown is postponed adds to the chances of its not occurring at all. 

The second maxim is: Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again. Continuity of training is the great means of making the nervous system act infallibly right.”

Zig Ziglar speaks similarly on the subject. He mentions that to break a bad habit, first one must truly commit to breaking it. Then a person needs to avoid the unwanted habit for at least 21 days in order to “break” it. He also mentions that you cannot discard an old habit without replacing it. In other words, you’ve got to find a new, positive habit to fill the void left when you let go of the old one.

The next installment of the series looks at what happens when Habit becomes Harmful.

And remember, you are not alone…  

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Join Daddy Brain on ABC News!

Daddy Brain was highlighted
on the evening news.

The ABC News Affiliate (WKOW / Channel 7) in Madison, WI

– The air date was Thursday, April 9th @ 6 pm Central Time. If you missed it, just go to WKOW’s Web site to watch the video (enter key words “Daddy Brain” in the search box). 

Many thanks to Kim Sveum, Carol & Roland Beres, my wife & kids, and Phil the cinematographer for helping this manifest into reality.

And remember, you are not alone…

The Road to Nowhere: It’s not too late to recreate your reality

Those of us old enough to remember the band, The Talking Heads, know that this is the title of a fantastic song. But what about the roads we travel each day? The path that we’ve carved out for ourselves, or the one that we unwillingly walk because it’s the only one we see?

I often feel mixed emotions about my existence. On the one hand, I have a beautiful family that brings be great joy and offers me unconditional love. I am so grateful, and I feel there’s nothing more special or important than my wife and kids. On the other hand, my wife and I have been facing health issues, and like most “middle-class Americans,” finances have been tight. Although I believe (spiritually and in my heart) that there is always a solution to every situation, my thoughts often wander into feeling that there’s nowhere to turn.

The road I’m traveling feels like the drive that never ends, with no relief in sight. Or so it seems. And although I think most parents face this same dilemma, that doesn’t make it right, normal or particularly sane.

I believe that we create our own reality. I’ve written about it many times on this blog, including posts on Anything is Possible; The Magic Quarter: Creating Your Own Reality; and Positive Energy: Life Changing Energy.

How does creating, or recreating, our reality work?
For those of you who haven’t heard the concept before, it’s basically about being mindful about what you’d like to bring into your existence. Think and speak about what you would like to manifest in your life and it will come. It also involves action — doing your part — to help the manifestation occur. There are a bunch of books on the subject that will explain it to you better than I can (see a brief listing below), but that’s basically it. Think, speak, do — and eventually it will manifest.

I’d like to clarify that sometimes “doing” has nothing to do with what you’re really doing. It’s about who you are being in relation to what you’re doing that’s important. Doing will keep you busy, but it’s stagnant. Being is dynamic, and is a much more powerful way to live.

In a very direct way, how you change your child’s diaper is related to changing your life. Are you happy to do it? Or complaining because the poop stinks and you’re running late, and you didn’t get a restful night’s sleep? In life, do you take action on what needs to be done to better your existence, or do you let fatigue and lack of time (difficult reasons to overcome) stop you? It’s all about being true to who you are no matter what you are doing or where you happen to be. The more positive we are, the more positivity we attract into our lives. This is no easy feat, but if we can pull it off we become like a giant magnet, attracting our desires. The bigger the magnet, the faster we create. This is how we accomplish great things.

Otherwise, we’re on a road to nowhere.

And remember, you are not alone…

Recommended books on creating your own reality:
– Conversations with God, by Neil Donald Walsh
– Spirit Healing, by Mary Dean Atwood

Related posts:
Out of Energy, Out of Time, Out of Luck?
The Magic Quarter: Creating Your Own Reality
Anything is Possible