Why Things Always Work Out In The End

Things always have a way of working out because our problems are temporary.

We assess life from a narrow perspective which blinds us to the truth.

Knowing things work out in the end does not prevent untoward events occurring. However, we appreciate these are minor elements in a larger scheme working behind-the-scenes.

For example, during a live theatre production, an actor forgets their line and you rationalise the entire play will be dreadful. Though, an hour into the production, the play proceeds effortlessly and you realise it was a minor gaffe in what is a delightful performance.

Suspend judging situations and trust things are working out, despite your opposition to them.

It’s unreasonable to expect something not working out, when pieces of the puzzle are still forming.

Ask yourself, “What could be going on behind the scenes that I’m unaware of?”

We must take a long-term view of life, if we wish to find happiness and contentment in our everyday circumstances.

If you set out on a road trip and encounter rough terrain early in the journey, you might conceive the entire trip to be challenging. However, once the destination is reached, you appreciate the journey in its entirety replete with the highs and lows.

Don’t judge your life based on current circumstances since this is one facet of it.

“We worry because we do not trust ourselves to handle what happens to us. We worry because we do not trust that the way the chips fall will work out for the best. We worry because we have not yet said yes,” states psychotherapist David Richo.

Whilst you shouldn’t ignore short-term setbacks, explore the key lessons they represent, a delay is not a denial.

Everything that follows is perfectly orchestrated and there’s meaning contained in each event.

We may realise the lesson further down the road while other times we may not understand why the experience took place.

Instead of dwelling on unfortunate conditions, see them as obstacles that provide inner wisdom and personal growth.

The universe brings forth unforeseen circumstances when you least expect it. From the unexpected arises your greatest gifts if you will suspend judgement.

Author James Hollis writes in What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life, “If we are free, as free as we want to think we are, then our lives should rather easily take care of themselves. We would make appropriate, proactive choices, and life would work out pretty much as we consciously plan.”

When things don’t eventuate as you expect, focus on what’s important instead of becoming embroiled in circumstances that mean little in the end.

A person on their death bed will tell you their three regrets are: having worked too much, not having loved enough and not having the courage to express their feelings.

There’s a purpose to your life and your task is to unearth it. When you do, it will be as though you are reborn.

“Author and inventor Buckminster Fuller once said that you “never change things by fighting the existing reality.” To change something, he wrote, “build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete,” states author Sean Patrick in Awakening Your Inner Genius.

You are called to trust life because what needs to happen will do so, nevertheless. Everything works out in the end since there’s a natural order to life, regardless of your fears and doubts.

The most you can do is to embrace your current experience. Acceptance means to acknowledge life happens through you, not to you. Don’t be a victim since this reinforces your suffering.

You are powerful beyond measure. I know, I know it may not seem this way. This type of thinking results from perceiving your problems through a victim lens instead of an empowerment lens.

If you lose your wallet, you accept it and retrace the steps to find it. Similarly, to accept your current conditions means to yield to your challenges and allow life to lead you to solutions.

This simple act reaffirms your intent to lean into your conditions instead of retreat from them.

How do you know things always work out in the end?

Look to your past when you encountered similar conditions and got through them.

My greatest breakthroughs emerged when I was ready to give up. Surrender is the greatest step forward. It’s an inner declaration to surrender to universal intelligence that knows precisely how things will unfold.

I enjoy this take from author Bernard Beitman who writes in Connecting with Coincidence, “Believing in the usefulness of coincidences means acting as if the section of reality you inhabit is a you-friendly place. Call it positive paranoia, or pronoia, meaning that things will work out in your favour, that “luck” is on your side.”

Don’t be invested in your difficulties. If you focus on what’s not working, it becomes your main point of attraction.

If you’ve ever been to a wildlife sanctuary or open range zoo, you’ll see animals stand perfectly still as they weather torrential rain during a storm.

Yet, the moment the rain has passed, they shake water off their coat and continue on.

Make this your undertaking during unpleasant circumstances. Fully experience what is happening and once it has passed, as it no doubt will, continue on your journey.

I remind you of the Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

With this engraved on your mind, approach your next challenge realising that difficult moments unearth your true character.

Why?

Because your duty is to respond to life as a warrior and greet it with vigilance and courage.

Best Grand Canyon Airplane Tours for the 4th of July Holiday Week

You should use this year’s first major summer holiday, July 4th to the best advantage possible. You will enjoy flying over Grand Canyon and exploring its beauty if you will be visiting Las Vegas. As tickets are selling like hot cakes, it’s better you make bookings within the next few days so that you don’t miss out!

You can fly from the South Rim and also the West Rim. If the weather is clear on July 4th, you will enjoy the breathtaking views from the flights which serve all through the day’s daylight hours.

Flight Departs From Las Vegas

The reservoir of Lake Mead and the marvelous structure the Hoover Dam are the first things you get to see as you fly out from Vegas. If you think your excursion trip starts off with a kick, be ready for the best which is yet to come. Upon reaching the canyon you get to execute a spectacular and picturesque flyover before returning to Vegas. My personal recommendation however is to opt for the landing tour which gives you a chance to find out all about the West Rim and whatever it has to offer.

It’s worth having a look at some for the sensational observatory points or explore some of the walking paths once you land. The Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is well-known for its glass and steel stand situated more than 4000ft above the Canyon’s bottom.

According to my judgment, the Canyon base is where you experience the most excitement.Tickets for a landing helicopter journey from the top of the West Rim all the way to the base and right next to the Colorado River are available. This is where you can pack for a picnic and enjoy a riverboat stint. As long as you make the right plans which work for your pocket, you will enjoy exploring the many opportunities West Rim has to offer.

South Rim Trips

There is a direct flight you can take from Las Vegas to Tusayan in Arizona. This brings you exactly outside South Rim’s entrance, which is Grand Canyon National Park’s entryway.

You have many options to choose from here, just like West Rim. If you select the bus trip inside the park, it will take you to all the important landmarks and places of interest.

There is an additional lengthy airplane ride to enjoy 50 minutes of wondrous sightseeing at South Rim. The trip spans all the way to North Rim from Tusayan and even extends to the eastern borders of the park premises. This tour thus gives you a scenic view of more than three-quarters of the expansive National Park!

Don’t Delay Bookings!

It is better to make ticket bookings as soon as you read this guide as in my opinion, tickets should be booked two weeks prior. These trips are so famous that you have to make advance bookings. As these tickets sell like wildfire, you don’t want to miss and not get your tickets. You are assured of confirmed rates and the cheapest tickets if you make your bookings online using your credit card. Even if you can’t book tickets immediately, make it a point that you do not book your tickets much later than 5 days from your expected date of departure. You will have to pay a fee amount in addition to the basic ticket rates as last minute reservations do not get concessional rates.

In a Nutshell

I wish this gives you a rather extensive idea of what the Grand Canyon has waiting for you. Excursions by air is cheap with airplane rides and are a better option for large crowds of aides, families and associates. The extensive 50 minute flight at South Rim and West Rim’s landing flights are my recommendations. If you ensure you stick you to your budget, this 4th of July will be extra special with this spectacular sightseeing trip.

RV Tip: Top Five RV Insurance Claims & How to Avoid Them

After doing some research on RV insurance claims I discovered what one insurance company listed as the top five RV insurance claims filed. Today we’re going to discuss what these claims are and how you can avoid them.

Claim #1

This insurance company stated that it receives at least 400 claims each year involving fires around the back of the refrigerator that are caused by leaking propane lines. If you’re using your refrigerator in the LP gas mode, with an open flame, you definitely don’t want a leaking LP gas line.

How to avoid it

To avoid becoming a statistic I recommend that you take your RV to an authorized RV repair facility annually and have the entire LP gas system checked. RV technicians have the proper equipment to check the system for leaks and to make sure the LP gas pressure is adjusted properly.

You, the owner, can periodically inspect for LP gas leaks. To do this turn the main gas supply on, but do not light any pilot lights or other burners. Take a bottle of approved LP leak detector solution and dab around all gas fittings. If there is a leak the small bubbles will grow into larger bubbles. Tighten the fitting and repeat the leak test. If the problem persists turn the LP gas supply off and take it to an RV repair center to have it checked out and repaired.

Claim #2

The next claim the insurance company listed was RV’s hitting gas station overhangs and bridges. RVers forget or don’t know the height of their RV and enter areas that don’t have enough overhead clearance.

How to avoid it

The first step is to measure the height of the RV from the ground to the highest point, usually the top off the air conditioner. Manufacturer brochures often times include this information. Check the footnotes to make sure it includes optional equipment like the air conditioner. For safety measures add an additional six inches to the overall height. Write this information down and post it in the RV or tow vehicle where it can be easily seen and will serve as a constant reminder for you. When you exit the interstate to refuel select an exit that has several fuel stations so you can pick one that is easy to navigate, and has plenty of overhead clearance. If you travel on roads less traveled be sure and check clearances on all overhead bridges before attempting to go under them.

Claim #3

The insurance company lumped retracting the RV steps and awnings together in this claim. Traveling with the awning properly secured is one concern and stowing your awning in bad weather is another concern. Since the claim was not very specific about the awning I will address both issues.

How to avoid it

When I worked for an RV dealership I saw the end result of not retracting the steps on more than one occasion. It’s easy to forget the RV steps when you are getting ready go on a trip or leave a campground. I have two ways to avoid this from happening to you. First you should always use a pre-trip checklist anytime you plan to move the RV. Second you should always walk around the entire RV a second time just before pulling out. You’ll be amazed at some of the things you missed the first time you walked around the RV. I have a very thorough pre-trip checklist available in my “Checklists for RVers” e-book at http://www.rveducation101.com.

The first thing we’ll cover concerning the awning is stowing it properly for travel. Make sure the awning is properly stowed against the side of the RV and the roller tube lock mechanism is in the retract position. Make sure the awning arm travel locks are latched and tighten the black knobs on the back of the awning arms. The awning makes your RV six inches wider and you must always keep this in mind when you are traveling. I have seen many cases where the awning roller tube and fabric gets damaged by hitting or rubbing on something and the awning arms get damaged by catching on something. When navigating in close quarters, such as at a campground, use a ground guide to make sure you have enough clearance to avoid damage to the awning.

I’m not sure if the insurance company gets more claims for travel related damage to the awning or storm related damage. I think I have seen more awning damage caused by rain, wind and storms. You should always lower one end of the awning to allow for water run off. The weight from water pooling on the awning fabric can cause extensive and costly damage. Any wind over 20 miles per hour can also cause extensive damage to the awning and to the RV. Never leave the awning out unattended. If everyone is leaving the campsite, store the awning in the travel position. When you go to bed, store the awning in the travel position. Even when you are at the campsite, you should use awning tie downs to prevent any sudden damage caused by a high wind gust or a storm that moves in quickly.

Claim #4

The next claim the insurance company listed was for damage caused by tire blowouts. I have seen extensive damage to RVs caused by tire blowouts. Tire blowouts on RVs are caused by overloaded tires, under inflated tires, old tires and tires damaged by the ozone and UV rays.

How to avoid it

Just like the axles on your RV, tires have load ratings too. The maximum ratings are molded into the side of the tires. You need to have your fully loaded RV weighed to ensure that the tires are not overloaded. The only way to know if a tire is overloaded is to find scales where you can weigh individual wheel positions in addition to the overall weight, and the axle weights.

Another leading cause of tire failure is under inflated tires. The load rating for a tire is only accurate if the tire is properly inflated. Under inflated tires cause extreme heat build up that leads to tire failure. The appearance of the tire can look normal but the internal damage is not visible and the tire can fail at any time without warning. If you find any tire 20 percent or more below the correct inflation pressure have it removed, demounted and inspected. Driving on a tire that is 20 percent or more under inflated can cause serious, permanent damage to the tire that may not be visible.

Ideally you should check tire inflation, and adjust it if required, everyday that you move or drive your RV. If you can’t get into the habit of doing it on a daily basis you need to make it a point to check all tires weekly, at a minimum when you’re traveling. You always want to check the tires when they are cold, meaning that you don’t drive or move the RV before checking inflation pressure. The only way to correctly measure the inflation pressure in your tires is with a quality inflation pressure gauge. Don’t ever depend on your eyes to check tire inflation. There can be as much as 20 PSI difference between tires that look the same. You need to invest in an accurate inflation pressure gauge. You should get one with a double, angled foot. This makes it much easier to check the outer tire of a dual set.

The age of your tires is another factor that contributes to tire failure. If your tires are more than seven years old they should be replaced. All tires manufactured in the United States have a DOT number. You might have to look on the inside sidewalls to find it. The last three or four digits in the DOT number identify how old the tire is. Older tires used three digits. The first two identify the week of the year that the tire was built and the third identifies the year. Newer tires use four digits. Again the first two digits are the week of the year and the last two identify the year. For example 1005 is the 10th week of the year, and 05 is the year 2005. If you question the age of your tires, especially on a used RV, and you can’t find the DOT number have them inspected by a qualified tire center.

Ozone in the air and UV rays from the sun shorten the life of your tires. It’s not uncommon to see RV tires with low mileage and plenty of tread that are ruined by the damaging effects of ozone and UV rays. Ozone in the air causes tires to dry rot and deteriorate. UV rays from the sun make it happen quicker. This is especially true of the tires sidewall. Inspect your tires for checking or cracks in the sidewalls. If you notice any damage the tires should be inspected by a professional. To protect your tires from sun damage keep them covered with covers that will block out the sunlight when not in use.

Claim #5

Number five in the top five RV claims was for damage caused by rodent infestation. When RVs are stored for the winter it’s not uncommon for mice and squirrels to make their winter home in the RV. These animals are notorious for chewing through vehicle wiring and plastic and rubber lines, debilitating the entire vehicle.

How to avoid it

I don’t know if there is any proven, full proof method for keeping these rodents out of your RV but there is a long list of ways people have tried. I will list some of these ideas that you can try to keep these unwanted guests away from your RV.

Possibly the most important step is to try and prevent mice and other rodents from being able to access your RV. This can be difficult because they can enter the RV through some very small areas. Start by inspecting the underside of your RV for any gaps or holes. Fill these gaps using silicone or expanding foam. A word of caution, if you never used expanding foam before you should experiment with it on something other than your RV first. When it dries it can expand a great deal more than you expect. Next, open drawers and cabinet doors inside your RV. Look in all of the corners and crevices, especially where plumbing and wiring enter the RV. If you can see any daylight mice can get in. Fill these areas with silicone or foam.

Remove all food from the RV when it’s being stored and thoroughly clean it to remove any remnants of food that might attract mice and other rodents.

If at all possible try to park or store your RV on a solid surface like pavement or concrete. Try to avoid grass, fields or wooded areas.

If it’s a motorized RV start it every week to run any squirrels off that may be making the engine compartment into a home for the winter. This is where a lot of chewing damage occurs.

If you don’t mind the smell of mothballs scatter them throughout areas of the RV to include storage compartments and the underside. I have been told that mothballs will work for a while but eventually rodents will get used to the smell and it will no longer deter them.

Others say the alternative to mothballs is dryer sheets, like Bounce. People swear they work and the smell is much more pleasant. The problem with dryer sheets is once they dry out they are not really effective.

If you are close to where your RV is being stored you may want to use conventional mouse traps and check for mice every few days. The only problem with traps is the bait can actually attract mice. I don’t recommend any type of poison. It can take several days for the poison to work and the mice will usually die somewhere that you can’t find them. If this happens you may never get rid of the smell. If you do use poison make sure pets can’t get to the areas where you put it.

I have talked to RVers who suggest you spray some type of insect spray (that contains mint oils) around the tires to discourage mice. The only problem I see with this is you would need to do it every few days if the RV is stored outside.

There are numerous ultrasonic pest controllers on the market. Some even offer money back guarantees. Again, I have talked to some people who swear by them and others who insist they don’t work. I have never tried this method.

After a great deal of research on this topic I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really keep rodents away is to get rid of the rodent’s altogether. Continue to set traps for mice until they are gone and in the case of squirrels it may be necessary to trap and relocate them if there is no other method available to get rid of them.

I was surprised that damage to TV antennas did not make it in the top five RV claims. I have seen many TV antennas and RV roofs damaged by forgetting to lower the TV antenna. The damage isn’t just from the antenna hitting something when it’s in the raised position; it’s also because the antenna cannot withstand the force from highway speeds when it’s in the raised position. There are a couple of ways to avoid damage to your TV antenna. One is to stick to the trusty pre-trip checklist before you move the RV. Another way is hang the motor home or tow vehicle starting key, or something like a piece of colorful ribbon on the TV antenna handle whenever it’s in the raised position. This will serve as a reminder to lower the antenna before you move the RV.

Armed with this advice, hopefully you can avoid becoming a statistic in the top five RV insurance claims. Be safe and have a great time exploring this wonderful country in your RV.

Happy Camping!

Mark

Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101

The Route to Democracy

Fifteen hours is a tremendous barrier. It is the obstacle preventing one village from attaining the assistance of another and surviving a drought. It is the reason a trip to the hospital, or receiving an education, aren’t realistic options. Fifteen hours is what stands in the way of commerce between two provinces. It prevents communication between neighbors only 80 kilometers apart. Fifteen hours is the reason for isolation. Before Task Force Pacemaker began work, the drive between Kandahar and Tarin-Kowt took fifteen hours. Upon completion of the road it will take only three. The end of geographical isolation will be a new beginning for hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan.

An international effort, the road connecting Tarin-kowt and Kandahar, or theTK road, is a project involving the support of the United Nations, Indian contractors, and United States Army troop labor. Construction of the road has spanned fourteen months, 117 kilometers, two adjustments to election dates, and two different Army Engineer rotations. Road construction began during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) 5 with the 528th Engineer Battalion, out of Louisiana. They competed 46.5 kilometers of road between July of 2004 and February of 2005. When TF Pacemaker took over construction during OEF 6, they were told that the estimated completion date for the TK road was early spring of 2006. Since assuming the mission in April of 2005, Task Force Pacemaker has demonstrated a need for speed and focus on the objective.

Road construction in theater involves route planning, surveying, jobsite security, sustaining the flow of material and water, and continual maintenance of heavy engineer equipment. It is best described as an endurance sport; not for the faint of heart or the easily distracted. Traditionally progress is made a few hundred meters at a time, using the same methods and techniques every day. Efficient use of equipment crew rotations, establishing and working from Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), using material along the route, and relying on soldiers to adopt roles outside of their military occupational specialties are some of the techniques which TF Pacemaker has used to streamline the process. The soldiers don’t view this road as just another project, and perhaps that’s why they’ve been able to sustain such a furious pace. TF Commander, LTC Paul Paolozzi explains that the attitude of his troops stems from partially from their understanding of the mission’s importance. “It’s inspiring to be a part of the long-term success of this nation… I can’t think of a more permanent and significant impact than making a road to connect people.” No matter the source of their motivation, by mid-September, TF Pacemaker will have completed a remarkable 70 kilometers of road work directly through some of the toughest terrain Afghanistan has to offer.

To finalize the exact path, surveyors and a security team are sent ahead of construction to determine which parts of the terrain best accommodate the road. The climate and terrain of Afghanistan (thick dust, deep waddis, and harsh weather) have presented many challenges. Often, designs which looked good on paper, involve moving mountains on the ground. It is critical to establish the projected route prior to entering any towns. Soldiers must be able to articulate their intentions to the surrounding locals, in particular the village elder, before barging through. There are often different factions within a town and the path of the road has been adjusted by mere feet to accommodate the wishes of local farmers. 1LT Brian Meister, the earth moving platoon leader of C/864th lists civilians on the jobsite as the single biggest security challenge in the south. “They are everywhere and impossible to keep entirely off. The enemy is not easily identified, so anyone driving a pickup through the jobsite could pose a potential risk.” 1LT Patrick Sullivan, the earth moving platoon leader in A/864th has experienced the same type of concerns on the northern effort.

While we were standing on the hill, looking down at the proposed route, an audience began to form. The children came out first, and then the men of the village… as the crowd grew larger… I began to get just a little nervous. I told the captain who has been in the country for about a year; he quickly turned around and began shaking hands with the crowd, so I followed… It was an event that I will never forget. There are some bad people in the area, but for the most part, the population is tired of the last twenty years of war and corruption. They were just happy to see the guys who were building them a road.

Road work is divided into three basic teams of heavy equipment operators. The first team clears and grubs the area with dozers, taking off the top layers of soil and pushing through hills or small plants. The dozers are followed by a grader, which levels off the area. The next team raises the sub-base with material harvested from the borrow pit, an area determined to have the best material for use on the road. Dump trucks and scrapers are used to put between 8 and 12 inches of material on top of the cleared path. Graders then go over the path again to even out the road and start putting on the crown, a slope off the center of the road for drainage. Finally comes the finishing team. A water truck is used to wet the soil so that the rollers can compact the material in a series of lifts. Once complete, the soil dries and hardens into a road. In order to reach their deadlines each day, all of these teams must work together at a steady rate. As A/864th commander, CPT Chad Suitonu puts it, “It’s not a question of if we will meet our goals; it’s a matter of how.”

It is a continuous challenge to keep up the flow of water and material for compaction. TF Pacemaker has relied on what they could harvest along the way, setting up borrow pits as they move down the route and asking local towns to share their wells. The standard for road construction is twelve inches of the best available fill material on the existing grade of the road. Attaining 95% compaction of that material is what makes a road a road. Finding the right material is so critical to achieving compaction that earthmovers have hauled over five kilometers in order to continue use of particularly good fill. Earthmoving platoon leaders are primarily responsible for scouting out these potential dig sites. 1LT Sullivan compares finding the best material to digging for gold. It is either buried somewhere, or covered with something, and you can never be sure what you’ll find until you dig. The soldiers do their best to identify areas with shale along the hillside. After they’ve identified a potential site, they send a dig team to check it out. “The stuff we’ve found so far that has worked best is a red shale, it’s also been black…it’s a good material, “said 1LT Sullivan, of the material being used in the north,” It compacts very well, breaks up nicely; there’s not big chucks after you roll it. It gives you a real nice, compacted, firm sub-base.”

1LT Brian Meister, the earthmoving platoon leader in C/864th faces the same challenge from the south. “Finding good material involves identifying what soils provide optimal properties for constructing a road that is both durable and smooth, “he says. Once the crews find a material they think they can use, they send it out to be tested, which takes about three days. Testing is done by Lewis Berger Group, an Indian contracting company that has become one of TF Pacemaker’s greatest allies. “Working with LBG has been great,” says CPT Stan Wiechnik, the commander of C/926th,”They have built roads in third world countries with similar geography and technical restrictions. They have been a great asset to me to determine the best method of construction and the best materials to use.” LBG weighs the mass of material and compares it to material compacted to 100%. Once they gain approval, the earth movers can scrape off the topsoil in that location and open up a new pit; ideally close to the construction site. Finding resources along the route just ahead of where the road crews are currently working takes both luck and timing. TF Pacemaker’s ability to consistently plan ahead and find that balance contributes to their steady speed towards completion.

The leadership at Pacemaker is all about efficiency. With a few key pieces of equipment driving the construction effort, maintenance is critical; conducting regular checks and services on the vehicles are an essential part of the work cycle. The Animals have supplemented their earthmoving platoon with soldiers from headquarters and the vertical platoons in order to have enough manpower to support two crew rotations. The first team shows up at 0015 Zulu to begin preventative maintenance checks and services (PMCS) of the equipment. They receive a safety brief at 0040z and roll out the gate by 0100z to begin work on the road. They operate for five and a half hours, from 0130z to 0700z. From 0700z-0715z the operators of both teams conduct a fifteen minute shift change; discussing any problems with the equipment and what remains to be completed that day. When the first team returns, they eat lunch and do another half hour of maintenance. Team two’s work day starts at 0500z, when they pull maintenance on any downed equipment. They receive their safety brief at 0630z, eat lunch, and head to the jobsite to conduct a shift change with team one. Team two works until 1430z. This rotation schedule allows the Animals to get thirteen hours of work on the road each day, and pull the necessary maintenance, without driving the equipment operators into the ground. As CPT Suitonu tells me, “A soldier can’t sit on a dozer twelve hours a day; seven hours is okay though.”

TF Pacemaker began work on both ends of the road with A/864th and C/926th in the North, C/864th in the south, and the support of HSC/864th in both areas. It soon became apparent that to maximize time spent working on the road, they would have to minimize travel time to the jobsite. The Task Force would need to work from another start point; FOB Pacemaker. 1LT Sara Cullen, executive officer of the Animals, explains that,” The mission here is to provide a forward operating base between FOB Tiger and FOB Ripley so that we can work from the middle towards completion of the road… right now each location is commuting over an hour…” Prior to occupation of Pacemaker, soldiers were spending 90 minutes each way just getting to the jobsite, leaving precious few hours of actual work on the road. Since the unit’s jump to the FOB, their production rate has nearly doubled. The same increase in efficiency is soon expected from the engineers at FOB Kodiak, a new forward operating base to be occupied by C/864th.

The Alpha Company Animals built FOB Pacemaker from the moon dust up. A big part of their mission included accounting for force protection in an area new to US Military forces. The First Sergeant of A/864, 1SG Martin Pullman, describes their first few days saying, “We didn’t know if there was enemy in the area, so we had to assume that there was. We had to balance between setting up force protection and pulling security … using over watch positions allowed us to put the maximum amount of effort on building the FOB itself.” In less than two weeks, they were fully operational. Recently, FOB Pacemaker has served another function; supporting combat arms operations in the area. A small but steady flow of Special Forces and Infantrymen have benefited from Pacemaker hospitality, enjoying a meal, shower, or place to rest between missions. Though they don’t have much, Animal soldiers don’t mind sharing and generally agree that it’s nice to have our comrades in arms in the area.

In addition to security on the FOBs, soldiers must maintain security on the jobsite. This is challenging for a road project because construction requires troops to go directly against many of the fundamentals of defense. They work in the same spot, headed in the same direction, using the same equipment rotations day after day. There is nothing covert about the Scraper, a 33,000 lb piece of equipment. Since they can be seen from kilometers away, the Pacemakers adopt a fierce posture. Engineer soldiers man the vehicle mounted crew served weapons at both ends of the construction site. They halt vehicle traffic and search the personnel before allowing passage around the construction site. A roving security vehicle is used to patrol the surrounding areas, and observe the area from different positions. An interpreter and a female soldier are always included in the security detail, available to assist with communication or searching local national females. These measures have resulted in 100% success rate; not a single Pacemaker soldier has been attacked while working on the road.

Continued development is essential to peace building in Afghanistan. The road between Tarin-Kowt and Kandahar will provide developmental access to rural areas which never existed before. As 1LT Sullivan puts it, “This road is not just an engineering feat; it is a show of political force.” The five month reduction in project duration by Task Force Pacemaker becomes five months gained by the new government towards progress. The fifteen hours of travel cut down to three are hours gained by Afghan citizens towards opportunity. Every cut of the TK road is another blow to the primary weapons of the Taliban, isolation and hardship. When Pacemaker soldiers watch the ribbon cutting on September 15th, every soldier can exhale with relief, joy, and pride in a job well done.

9 Ways to Play More Consistent Golf

On the golf course we have all glimpsed what it’s like in the ‘zone’. For some, the zone is more elusive than for others. Think back to that round where all of your putts just seemed to drop or where you hit fairway after fairway with scary straight drives. We all have a little Tiger in us but it’s like trapping lightning in a bottle. Consistency is what drives golfers crazy, from touring pro to amateur. But there are things we can do to set us up for success on the links. Here are 9 ways to play more consistent golf:

9) Warm Up. Don’t wait until the 5th hole to feel fully loose and ready to play. By then, a couple of double bogeys have already ruined a potentially low round. Spend a half hour stretching your core muscles and hitting some balls and visit the practice green to develop some feel for speed. Hit some long lag putts because that’s probably what you are going to face.

8) Develop Amnesia. If you do hit a bad shot or two, forget about it. Use the remaining holes as an opportunity to redeem yourself. Dwelling on a bad drive or chunking a chip shot will only lead to negative thoughts and duck hooks.

7) Play within yourself. You know what shots you can make and those you can’t. Play to your strengths. That may mean laying up on a par 5 or pulling out an iron off the tee but playing smart leads to more consistency. And lose the ego. If you are a 15 handicapper, than the back tees are not for you. Play the tee blocks that are designed for your handicap (generally, the tips are for 0-9 handicappers, the forward tees 30+, and the middle tees for the rest).

6) Stay away from the beer cart. Unless you are buying a bottle of water or sports drink. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages promote dehydration. To ensure optimum performance, you need to stay hydrated on the course. Dehydration will lead to cramping, fatigue, a lack of focus, and ultimately, higher golf scores.

5) Play more club and read more break. In a recent round with my club pro, I asked him what mistakes amateurs make the most. He said that the most common mistakes he has seen are players who do not take enough club when hitting into the green and don’t read enough break in their putts leaving them short and on the low side.

4) Schedule off-season practice sessions. Take advantage of all that indoor training facilities have to offer. Make a point of using a simulator with the sole purpose of just actually practicing. While hitting balls in the driving bays, make sure to use all of the clubs in your bag and not just the big dog. In your mind, construct potential situations that you might face on the golf course and design shots for them. Make the practice session fun and before you know it, you’ll groove a more consistent swing. Oh yeah, and before you go home, take your putter to the practice green for a half hour.

3) Exercise regularly. Your regular 18-hole Saturday game, complete with golf cart and 6 pack, does not constitute exercise. Develop a daily exercise routine that focuses on flexibility, strengthening your core muscle groups, and promotes endurance and solid balance. This might mean taking a trip to your local fitness center and talking with a personal trainer.

2) Set specific goals. One of my favorites is to see how many balls I can avoid losing during a round. Invariably, if I have only lost one or two, my score is better. Challenging yourself to hit fairways and greens is also an excellent way to focus on a goal. Start with a few and work your way up. Perhaps the most important one is putts. Keep track of how many putts you take during your next few rounds and record your lowest number. Take this number with you each time to the course with the goal of beating it. Reduce the number of putts you take per round and I guarantee you’ll shoot lower scores consistently.

1) And if you find yourself in the middle of a low round, don’t get ahead of yourself. Stay relaxed and calm. Nothing defeats the ‘zone’ more than tension and lack of focus. Worrying about that 200 yard par 3 coming up won’t matter if you blow the next 4 holes. Stay in the moment and play the shot that’s in front of you now. Focus is like a shared internet connection. It’s not effective when there are too many demands on it.

While we can’t always play like PGA touring professionals, we can spend some time in the ‘zone’. The trick is getting their more often and knowing how to handle it when we are lucky enough to experience it. Playing consistent golf is a challenge for us all but the answer to overcoming this obstacle lies in the path we chose for our journey.

The Lost Adams Diggings

Somewhere out there in a deep trough-like box canyon a small creek flows. There lies the Lost Adams Diggings, as rich as any of the lost treasures of the west, and perhaps the most legitimate in terms of factual evidence. It is a tale corroborated by more than one individual.

The man named Adams was a teamster on his way to Los Angeles with 12 horses. Adams (his first name was variously given as William, Edward, Henry and John) was an overland freighter, hauling goods for a price, between Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona. He was married, with a wife and three children in Los Angeles.

After his last trip, Adams camped in the vicinity of Florence, Arizona. Apaches, making off with his horses, awakened him. Adams gave chase and recovered the animals.

When he returned to his encampment, he found his wagon burning and all of his other goods, including the two thousand dollars received from his freight delivery, were gone. The Apache’s had simply used the horse-stealing ploy to allow them to plunder the camp of its real valuables.

With his valuables gone, save for the 12 horses, the penniless Adams went to a friendly Pima Indian village at what is now Gila Bend, Arizona. There he listened to miners trade stories about prospecting. A half-breed Mexican-Apache nicknamed “Gotch Ear” listened as the miners voiced their desires to find gold. The lad was called Gotch Ear because of a deformed and crumpled lobe of one ear.

Apaches captured Gotch Ear and his brother when they were young boys living in Mexico. Gotch Ear was now on the run from the tribe because he killed the Apache who killed his brother in a fight.

Gotch Ear finally approached miner group. If you’re interested in gold, he told them, he knew of a canyon ten days away on horseback, where a creek literally flowed with gold nuggets. All he asked in return was a horse that would take him back to Mexico.

It was in 1864 that Gotch Ear guided the group of 22 men to the site. Gotch Ear led the gold-lusting group down the Gila River in a general northeast direction for several days. On or about August 25, the group camped in the low area between two lofty peaks, believed to be Mt. Ord and Mt. Baldy.

This has led to confusion for treasure seekers, however, as Mount Ord is located north of Phoenix and is wrong for the journey taken by Gotch Ear and his followers.

Since Adams had all the horses, the gold-hungry miners chose him as their leader.

After four days of travel through heavy timber, the Mexican youth led the miners around a high mountain which Adams and John Brewer, another one of the miners, say was the White Mountains of eastern Arizona.

The group finally reached what appeared to be a box canyon. Here they camped for the night. In the morning, they rode up the canyon toward a reddish-colored bluff, but which was really a solid rock wall sixty to seventy feet high.

Gotch Ear led the men around a huge boulder at the base of the wall. There, through a hidden portal, they went into a zigzag canyon, so tight Adams said later, that a rider stretching his arms wide could touch both sides.

Running along the floor of the canyon was a stream, which they followed to an acre-sized meadow. Here they made camp for the night.

The miners had hardly settled and began gathering the yellow metal before a band of Apaches, led by Chief Nana, appeared in the meadow near a waterfall.

Nana told the miners to take what they wanted from the creek, but to make no effort to locate the gold deposits further up the canyon above the waterfall. He also ordered them to leave soon, and never return.

While the gold held no allure for the Indians, the canyon where it was located did. The canyon, called “Sno-Tah-Hay” by Nana, was a very special religious site for the Indians.

The Apaches also believed that gold was the “tears of the sun”. Nobody touched the tears of the sun because it was the source of all life.

The gold seekers remained in the canyon against the orders of Nana. Not only did they stay, but soon began construction on a cabin. In three weeks time, they had accumulated about sixty thousand dollars worth of gold, which they placed in a container and hid in the hearth of the unfinished cabin.

The intent was to later distribute the gold evenly to the men in the prospecting party, with the exception of a German named Snively. Snively took his share each day and kept his gold apart from the others.

Supplies soon ran low. A party of five miners, led by John Brewer, was assigned to go to Fort Wingate to restock the camp. The miners carried with them nuggets–some as big as turkey eggs–to use as payment.

At the fort, when the miners paid for their supplies with the huge gold nuggets, the storekeeper carefully noted this fact.

Meanwhile, the Apache Chief Nana, unseen, continued watching the activity at the creek, and also noted the surreptitious nighttime trips up the canyon to seek the source of the gold.

He was not pleased. He ordered his Apache warriors to kill the five-man supply group as it returned from Fort Wingate. This was done with the exception of one man, Brewer, who escaped.

The Apaches then killed all the miners in the canyon except for two men who were a distance away from the Anglo encampment. Snively, the German, who had already taken his gold and returned to Germany. Years later, Snively verified in detail the existence of the gold.

One of the two men who escaped the Apache massacre was Adams, and the other was Jack Davidson. The only reason the two men escaped the Apache wrath is they had gone in search of the long overdue Fort Wingate supply crew.

Adams and Davidson decided for safety it was best to head for Los Angeles to avoid further contact with the Apaches. Traveling at night, they became lost.

They were spotted by U.S. soldiers and taken to Fort Apache, according to one story. This casts some doubt on this version, however, as Fort Apache was not established until 1872.

Jack Davidson later claimed they were taken to Fort Whipple, east of Prescott.

Adams and Davidson did not know that John Brewer, who headed the supply party, had also escaped the Apache massacre. Brewer climbed up the canyon wall and reached friendly Pueblo Indians. Brewer eventually went to Colorado, married an Indian woman and raised a family.

Adams returned to his family in California and remained there for ten years. He was afraid to return to New Mexico to look for the diggings.

Adams did return in 1874. He searched and searched for the lost “Adams Diggings” until his death in 1876, but was never able to relocate the gold mine.

There are stories galore about attempts to retrace the path taken by Gotch Ear and his Anglo followers.

A man named Edward Doheny, traveling across New Mexico into Phoenix looking for a job, reported he had traveled down a box canyon before he realized he could not cross it. He noticed the ruins of a burned-out cabin before turning back, but, at the time, he knew nothing of the Adams story.

When later grubstaked, Doheny was unable to find the location again.

A cowboy named Jack Townsend claimed to have found the site of the Lost Adams Diggings in New Mexico in 1894, while working out of Magdalena, New Mexico. This was never confirmed.

Once, during the period when he was trying to relocate the “gold river”, Adams met a Bob Lewis in a saloon. Lewis, too, had been searching for the “Diggings”.

“Go and look for the bones of those men who were carrying supplies in the canyon. Show me the bones, and I’ll show you the gold.”

According to an account by Lee Paul, on a website called “The Outlaws,” Lewis did find the bones. He found them thirty years later. Stacked into a crevice were the skeletons of several men covered with pieces of packsaddles and rocks.

Lewis was in the Datil Mountains of New Mexico. While he found the bones, he could not find the secret door. It is believed that an earthquake, which shook southern Arizona and New Mexico in 1887, had rearranged the scenery in the Datil Mountains.

Many, many efforts have been made to trace the path laid out by Gotch Ear. None have proved fruitful. It seems The Lost Adams Diggings will remain just that–lost.

Test Your Food Prejudices!

Do you have food prejudices?

If you think about it, we all have foods we think or feel negatively about, and would not eat at all, or only unwillingly. What is often behind such a food prejudice?

1. Childhood Food Trauma

Often, a negative reaction to a type of food may stem from unpleasant childhood experiences with those food items. For example, many people have an aversion to vegetable types such as spinach, broccoli or pumpkin, perhaps because their parents made them eat large amounts of them, or made them eat them against their will.

Additionally, a food item or a dish may be associated with a specific traumatic or painful event such as choking as a child, or it may have been served when something negative and painful happened.

In parts of the world where food shortage is common, people may develop an aversion to foods that they have been forced to eat repeatedly due to lack of affordable alternatives.

2. Negative Associations

Sometimes, food prejudices may stem from negative visual, semantic, historical, social, personal or other associations attached to a food item or a dish. For example, some people who did not grow up near the sea find it difficult to eat shrimp, prawns and other delicacies because they may visually remind them of unsavoury creatures such as caterpillars.

Sometimes, food items are also associated with a social or historical stigma. In many places, for instance, there are foods which were called ‘poor peoples’ food’. Only later did such foods – including pizza and dumplings – climb out of this designation into the league of favourite foods of the world.

3. Lack of Familiarity

We often react negatively to foods whose acquaintance we have not yet made, or whose acquaintance we made late in life. Often, they do not belong to our circle of comfort foods, to which we have developed a strong positive emotional bond.

For example, many people who live in Europe or America many not be able to enjoy cooked banana the first time they try it, just as many Africans may need time before adopting radish, black bread or types of cheese.

Besides, we may feel that our taste circuitry is already wired for life. We may be unwilling to interrupt or modify this pattern of tastes.

4. Social Prejudice

The most disturbing form of food prejudice is when it is rooted in a prejudice towards a specific group of people. How often we hear phrases such as ‘these people are like this and that because they eat this and that’.

There are many people who extend their negative view of an ethnic group or other social group to the foods these peoples cherish as delicacies, such as snails, frog legs, sheep, sheep’s head, locusts, cassava leaf, dog meat, insects, caterpillars, as well as methods of eating, such as eating with the fingers.

Of course, choosing to consume certain food items or not is a purely personal choice. It is only unfortunate when our food prejudices betray a more dangerous prejudice towards other human beings, other cultures, or other ways of life.

Here is a short exercise to test your food prejudices:

1. Make a list of all the foods you plainly hate, dislike, or eat only unwillingly.

2. For each food item or dish, write a sentence about what comes to mind when you think of, smell or see the dish or food item.

3. Decide whether it is due to a childhood food trauma, negative social, visual or historical associations, or whether the food prejudice is related to other, deeper prejudices. Or you may have another reason not discussed here.

4. Write down one sentence about what you think would help to change the food prejudice, and whether this step is at all necessary.

Top Ten Ways To Have An Affair And Not Get Caught – Provides the Road Map to Affair Busting

An article on EzineArticles.com titled, “Top Ten Ways To Have An Affair And Not Get Caught… ” is also a list of ten ways to discern if your significant other, spouse or lover is being unfaithful.

Regardless of what leads someone to be unfaithful, you need to know if you are in a relationship with someone who is unfaithful. The following Ten Ways to Not Get Caught Having an Affair is listed below with the requisite Tips to discern if your partner is unfaithful.

o Never bring your lover to your home.

However, rest assured there are tell-tale signs in other areas that you have access to–coat and pants pockets, purse, briefcase or vehicle with obvious items that belong to a woman/man or are from unfamiliar hotels, restaurants or night clubs. Check the passenger car seat–is it positioned different? Comment about this difference and note the reaction or explanation from your significant other. Look for items in the car–such as: lipstick marked tissue, hair pins, paper with unfamiliar information, pen, glasses or other items that don’t belong to either you or your significant other. Ask your significant other about these items and note the reaction or explanation.

o Never go to your lover’s home (unless they are completely single and free from the ties of marriage and/or a serious relationship.) If they get caught by their significant other, chances are your spouse will also find out.

While you may think there is nothing you can do to discover if your significant other is going to his/her lover’s home, there is. Check the mileage on his/her odometer–you can then discern if he/she drove to work and worked late, as she/he stated or if there are additional miles. Then the question is: What created the additional miles? The next step is to ask the obvious question. ‘You said you worked late last night, where did you go?’ If your significant other uses his/her car for business away from the office this tip won’t work. However, the other tips will be adequate for reasonable cause for further investigation.

o Never call your new companion from your home phone and/or your cell phone (if your spouse has access to your phone records.)

Getting a new or another cell phone without your knowledge is a high probability. Check in obvious places where he/she might keep a cell phone–purse, briefcase, pocket, car trunk, car compartments, under the seat, behind the visor and besure to check the waste receptacle if there is one.

Make a note if your significant other sets up a new e-mail account and doesn’t tell you about it. Ask about the account and note his/her reaction/explanation.

o Never give your new friend your home phone number.

This tip is primarily worthless, because if the ‘new friend’ knows your significant other’s first and last name there are many ways he/she can obtain a home phone number. Many times an unfaithful partner has rued the day they started the affair, because their ‘new friend’ obtained the home number and made phone calls to his/her home hoping to catch him/her at home. So, although, this tip seems worth gold it isn’t worth much. Furthermore, if a ‘new friend’ wants to find more information about where their new lover lives, etc. there are many ways to obtain the information.

In the era of electronic communication, social media, texting, sexting and avatar games the opportunities to not only have an affair or emotional affair and not get caught seems to have quadrupled. Not so fast would-be cheaters. There is an app for that. Yes, indeed there are many inexpensive apps to track activity on a cell phone, computer, iPads, etc.

You can find revealing information without professional help by looking in a few key places on a shared computer or his/her personal computer, Ipad, etc, or any social media or dating sites.

Data recovery tools, tracking and monitoring software and hardware, are easy to obtain. If you do not have the time or inclination to be the investigator you can hire a private investigator. Investigators have access to a myriad of new tools and technology with which to gather information and track activity.

A woman, I know, who suspected her husband was having an affair or was searching, decided to check dating sites. She was shocked how easy she found his profile, by searching by age, town, and basic details she surmised her would have in his profile. Once she was sure she had selected the right profile, which did not include a photo, she set up her profile with details she knew would attract him. She contacted him and asked for his photo. In a few hours, she received a photo of her husband, who requested a photo from her. She delayed sending the photo and engaged in a text conversation to the extent, he decided to meet with her sight unseen. At the appointed coffee date venue… she greeted him… You are busted.

You can find revealing information without professional help by looking in a few key places on a shared computer or his/her personal computer, Ipad, etc, or any social media or dating sites.

There are ten ways cheaters can be betrayed by technology, often the same technology that is aiding them in their indiscretion.

o Keep a low profile when you are out with your lover. You would be surprised how many people know you and/or your spouse, who unbeknownst to you may see you lavishing inappropriate attention on your new companion in public.

This tip is also a perfect tip how you can discern if your significant other is being unfaithful. When you socialize with his/her co-workers listen carefully what they say about your significant other. Such statements are worth gold. One woman, whose husband was having an affair, flirted with all the single women at work related events. She considered this flirting harmless since he was flirting in front of her. She reasoned that if he flirted in front of her, that he was just having fun and there was nothing to it. It wasn’t until one of his colleagues said to her–“You should see how her flirts when you aren’t around.” The colleague had credibility with her. She reviewed all aspects of the relationship for the past six months. She investigated some now logically suspicious incidents and discovered a few weeks later that he was having an affair with her best friend. Having an affair with a spouse’s best friend is highly common.

o Do your best to meet with your lover out of town–somewhere far enough away from home that you do not know people and people do not know you.

While this tip seems fool-proof it can be what trips the scale in your favor. How often can your significant other take a trip out of town without raising your suspicion? Unless, she/he travels regularly for business, this tip works more in the favor of the faithful partner. However, if your significant other does travel regularly, there are many tell-tale signs if she/he is being unfaithful. Notice any changes in his/her travel habits–leaving Sunday A.M. instead of the usual P.M., returning Saturday A.M/P.M. instead of Friday P.M., change of hotel, failure to give the hotel name or number, having an open return date, etc. What to do if you suspect your significant other is traveling with and/or meeting his/her ‘new friend?’ Doing some detective work is in order.

o Try to set up a regular schedule of ‘dates’ with your lover. If your spouse expects you to be out of town for business overnight every Wednesday, he/she will not suspect anything when you maintain this schedule and include your new friend in your overnight stays.

A specific day every week can be managed in town as well as out of town. However, the wise person, who wants to know the truth about his/her partner’s life apart from them, will pick up on the minute changes that every unfaithful partner exhibits. Notice if she/he has stopped bemoaning having to travel as often, or work late. Notice if she/he exhibits nervousness or excitment as she/he gets ready to leave for a trip. Notice what clothes she/he packs. If she/he is having an affair–she/he will buy new clothes or take an additional set of clothes. Notice if she/he comes home with new clothes atypical of his/her style.

o Do not become too confident in your ability to deceive your spouse. If you become too sure of yourself, you will get sloppy and you may get caught.

Psychologically, every unfaithful significant other wants to be caught. Being unfaith is not the problem–the issue is that the person is using unfaithfulness as a way to solve the ‘real’ problem. Therefore, if you want to know your significant other is being unfaithful, he/she won’t be able to be careful enough to stop you from knowing.

o Do not tell everyone you know about your illicit trysts. You should trust very few, if any, friends with your secret.

Even if your significant other hasn’t told anyone about his/her unfaithfulness rest assured colleagues/friends will notice a difference in his/her demeanor, style, etc. Trust yourself if you want to know if your significant other is unfaithful and you will know sooner than later.

o Do not make promises you cannot keep. Nothing will prompt your lover to reveal your affair to your spouse quicker than your failure to fulfill some insincere commitment to end your marriage for him or her.

It is ironic this tip has the most foreboding warning. Note: An unfaithful partner is having an affair with a person, who is also being unfaithful–not only to her/himself, but to men/women. Unfaithfulness is being unfaithful to your integrity to yourself. And notice the betrayer will betray the betrayer if she/he is scorned. Maybe that is why we have the cliché “Hell, hath no furry like a woman scorned.” A more accurate cliché–“Hell, hath no furry like a person scorned.”

Other tips your significant other is unfaith are:

-The most significant tip is: Asking yourself the question in the first place. Are you pretending what you are seeing, sensing or observing isn’t what you think it is. Are you ignoring or explaining away what you are seeing, sensing or observing?

-Your significant other seems less comfortable around you and is “touchy” and angers easily.

-He/she loses attention to the activities in the home.

-Your intuition (gut feeling) tells you that something is not right – not the same or there is unexplained tension.

-He/she has a definite change in attitude towards everyone in the home.

-He/she has a “glow.”

-Atypical behavior.

-He/she is frequently gone longer than stated.

-He/she is more difficult to reach by phone.

The percentage of people who will cheat despite the breach in ethics or risk of discovery is unknown.

Last, but not least, there is an app for that and you are it. You are the only one who can prevent you from knowing if your significant other, spouse, lover is having an emotional affair or a full fledged affair.

Aspire to Inspire Before You Expire

Quite a mouthful isn’t it? Say it fast and you’ll trip over the words most likely. I saw this phrase on a church marquis as I was driving and it sparked my interest to the point that I thought about what it could mean. Here are my thoughts.

To aspire simply means to have a yearning or desire to do something and strive to do it. An aspiring individual is ambitious, hopeful and enthusiastic. This is the kind of person you’d want as a team player in your business for he would keep spirits up and the momentum flowing.

Inspire on the other hand refers to the spirit of encouragement as well as the ability to stimulate creative activity. It is that internal spark needed to make things happen – basically to get off the sofa and get into action. An inspiring individual is uplifting, stimulating, exciting and motivates. This person can light the fire needed to begin the action.

This is exactly what a coach does – lights a fire within their client to make changes. What is a coach? Simply a guide who ascertains a perspective outside the life “game” that the client is in the midst of. As a player in the middle of the game it is hard to see all perspectives since that person is concentrating on their position and viewpoint. An outsider can often see the greater picture and offer new thoughts while encouraging and stimulating the individual into action.

As individuals travel their life path they often find themselves in a place of feeling stuck. Perhaps they’ve been playing their life “game” for a while and are tired of the same playing field. Change is necessary but they can’t see the big picture because they’re still on the playing field. Or maybe they simply want to do something more rewarding and different. Perhaps you’ve been in this place; maybe you are there right now.

Inspiring someone to make changes and become “unstuck” so they can move in a new direction in their life is such a rewarding endeavor. Supporting an individual who needs to know someone cares can uplift both individuals to a place of inner satisfaction. As a wholeness coach, helping people see their potential and gain understanding that if they can imagine it they can do it is the most fulfilling aspect of my life. Watching an individual make positive changes in their life and see the smile spread across their face once they “get it,” does indeed make my heart soar.

But we can take inspiration a step further and reference a deeper meaning. Inspiration can also refer to divine guidance. In this context it means breathe into or draw into the lungs as the breath of life. Inspiration here is the flow of a divine energy that enters one’s thoughts and heart easily without any forethought or contemplation. My books come in this way and I’m sure most authors would attest to this kind of inspiration while writing their works. In fact, I am routinely influenced with divine wisdom every day of my life and cannot imagine life without this guidance. An inspired life such as this leaves the ego outside of the equation for the most part.

I believe that allowing yourself to become inspired and then sharing your thoughts, words and actions with others so that you inspire them in some way, is the ultimate fulfillment in this lifetime. We each came here with a gift to share and our responsibility is to uncover it with inspired guidance, allowing inspiration to help it unfold, and then taking inspired action to do it. Inspired living is spirit-driven whereas a usual lifestyle is ego-driven.

Perhaps you’ve been nudged to move forward in a new direction – change your vocation, write a book, take some training, open a new business – but you are hesitating because you doubt you have the time, resources or capabilities to do it, or you’re simply in a state of fear about moving in this new direction. You are most likely receiving divine inspiration and if you follow that guidance it will bring you amazing results that will include peacefulness and inner fulfillment. Maybe you’ve felt guided to help others in some way, to support, love, guide or encourage them on their journey.

There is no joy greater than knowing you inspired someone into action. Many leave this planet with their music still inside them, and what a tragedy that is. Maybe all they needed was someone to inspire and stimulate them, to believe in them and help them see their potential. What a gift that would be for that person to receive. And think how awesome it would be if you were the giver of that gift!

So in summing up the meaning of the phrase aspire to inspire before you expire, it simply says to have the desire to arouse and positively influence an individual into action so that they fulfill their innermost desires before they die and leave this planet. And it also applies to you – allowing inspiration to flow through you so that you too experience an inspired life. As always, the choice is yours! Be the inspiration!

Cuba – A Birdwatcher’s Paradise

Cuba has so many beautiful birds, many of them unavailable to see in their natural habitat anywhere else in the world. The Cuban government has made concerted efforts over the years to preserve wildlife habitats, even before the current environmental movement made it politically popular. Because of those efforts, Cuba has preserved much of its wildlife in the unspoiled, natural beauty in which it thrives.

One of the more colorful birds you will see on your visit is the Cuban Grassquit, a tanager that is related to Darwin’s finches. These birds live in lowland forests and tropical or subtropical dry shrubland. You may not have to travel far to see one as they are very common in Cuba. They are hostile toward other birds of the same species or who share the same colors of plumage. Male Grassquits are easily recognizable by their black mask, the black patch on their breast and a yellow-orange collar that extends to just behind their eyes. Their crowns and bellies are gray, creating a pleasing contrast. The females are basically a faded version of the male. Although not a threatened species their numbers have been decimated by trappers who sell them as caged birds. They are marketed as the “Cuban Finch” and are quite popular all over the world.

The Black-cowled Oriole is not exclusive to Cuba, although they are quite common there. They have a wide range that extends throughout the Americas so you can see them in Canada or South America as well as in Cuba. The male is quite colorful, notable for the blue area at the base of his lower beak. Black wings and a black breast show off the bright yellow of their back and belly feathers and if you get to see one in flight you’ll notice the bright yellow feathers on the underside of its tail. They like to build their nests in palm trees from palm frond fibers; the nests look as if they will fall at the first gentle breeze but are actually quite sturdy and well attached, resembling a small hammock.

Crested Caracara-open lowlands and sometimes in forests and marches. Found mostly in the southern United States, Central and South America, and Cuba. 19-23″ long with a 4 food wing span, they can weigh up to 4 pounds depending on where the live and the variety and availability of food. The Crested Caracara is a carrion feeder, part of Nature’s sanitation team, but will also eat small animals, fish, reptiles, insects, and worms. They have no compunctions about stealing food from other birds or devouring other birds’ babies in their nests. Part of the falcon family, they have distinctive hooked beaks that are gray at the tip and orange around the middle, extending to a black crown that tops white neck feathers. Their body feathers are black and when in flight their wings are tipped in white; their tail feathers are white with black barring. Part of the falcon family, you can also see them walking or running on the ground as frequently as you see them in flight.