Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blackjack and Intuition

Recently I went up to Blackhawk to gamble. I like to play blackjack. Although it seems like most people play slot machines these days, I enjoy the games where you have a person dealing and other players in the mix.

In the old days, players used to mentally count all the cards that had turned up on the table, which meant that people with quick memory and retention could predict what cards were likely to turn up. So the casinos responded by putting several decks in a shoe so that it would be about impossible to count. Since they rotate dealers every half hour, you could play that long without going through a whole shoe. So it is still possible for intuition to have a rule alongside the logical rules of blackjack. It is a game where intuition and logic will battle. There were times when I just felt like I should take a card, and other times where the traditional rules served well.

Being aware of energies in a casino is an interesting experience because even though I know about following instincts, it is still possible to be pulled off course.

In the first hour or two, I was way ahead of my original stake. I was in the groove and rolling. I made small bets at first and then when I felt the groove, I kept increasing my bets.

Then the flow turned and I wasn't getting any cards. If I stayed on 20, the dealer would pull 21. When that energy shifted, I should have cashed in my chips and took a break from the table, but I was feeling that I could keep on building my winnings. But instead they dwindled, until I lost it all.

I noticed changes in energy with dealers too. Even though they are all trained and they all act professionally, there is definitely a difference. With some dealers, I was clicking like crazy while others seemed to only deal me losing hands.

I could sense when the energies were shifting, but still, I thought I could override my intuition and win anyway.

The other players and dealers were fascinating to watch and some were fun to play with. Next time, I will follow my instincts closer. Every experience is instructive, if we are alert and aware.

Have you had similar experiences?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rain. Coffee. Dancing

It was lovely to have three of my favorite things this weekend. I always love the rain and I wish we had more of it. A good cup of coffee is a much appreciated simple treasure in the morning. And dancing? Dancing is a great antidote to stress, conflict, boredom, and whatever else is temporarily interfering with your happiness. As soon as you start to dance, that stuff all melts away and fades into the background and you come home with a smile on your face.

Rain. Coffee. Dancing. All three of these things are wonderful. To have them all on the same day is like rolling in wave after wave of joy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reading the Beer Leaves

Whether or not you are a beer drinker, there are some interesting lessons from looking at what is happening in that business.

Back in our grandparents time there were lots of little breweries, beer gardens, local and regional brands. Then little by little, a few big breweries became the dominant players, buying up some of the smaller brands and adding them to their product line while other small brewers went out of business and a few others managed to survive as marginal players. The three biggest companies sold most of the beer in the whole country.

The dominant beers became pretty bland as they used the power of advertising to make light beers the most popular items.

But then during the last 20 - 30 years, small companies sprouted up all over the country, drawing on classic recipes for making beer, sometimes adding new twists like fruit flavorings, but often simply reverting to a greater emphasis on traditional ingredients like hops and in some cases using locally grown hops and other ingredients to make their brews.

The new brewers must be doing well in terms of creating profitable companies and new jobs because some of the more successful ones are expanding capacity, opening additional plants, expanding distribution.

The taste of the products from the microbreweries has created a loyal and growing fan base. Beer tasting festivals have become very popular events. Brew pubs where a person can taste the various offerings made right on the premises have become popular restaurant destinations. I know for myself that if I go to a party and all they have is light beer, I'll opt for water instead. I really enjoy the classic flavors, with a penchant for pale ales myself.

We may see a time where the situation devolves to the point where a growing portion of the beer consumed comes from the small breweries rather than the few giants. So the industry may come full circle again.

This observation may offer hope and inspiration to many entrepreneurs. Just as a growing market share wants produce from organic farms, and growing numbers of beer drinkers savor the flavors from the microbreweries, think of other businesses where this same model may work.

Some business that you might like to be in may be dominated by a few big players, but there is always room for people who doing things very well and only serve a small part of the market. With time and effort that small part of the market can grow. And in time, industries can shift away from a few giants to a number of smaller players.

Think about ways that can work for you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Keeping the Vibration High

It is important to focus on all the things that are going well for us and keep the vibration at that level in order to attract more good developments and people at that level.

It is easy to slip into conversations about what is not going well, and sometimes we can learn something that will help us improve this way, but we do not want to stay in that vibration so that we do not attract influences that are not what we really want.

Keep focusing on what is wanted, desired, intensely. Feel the joy of that choice. Feel it coming to you. Keep the vibrations at the highest level of joy and accomplishment, and they will be summoned to you.

When we see a problem, we need to find a solution as efficiently and effectively as possible and study the problem enough to learn what we need to learn in order to fix it and then resume the higher level of vibration we were on. The danger for some people is that they dwell on a problem for too long and that lowers the vibration of thought they have on their business or other endeavors.

So the challenge creates a disruption just long enough to become a learning experience, not enough to draw down the level of energy that is empowering the vision.

Keeping the energy level and our vibrations high is what propels us toward our goal, and so as we roll with the variations and steer around the obstacles is all about how we steer our way along our chosen course. It's about seeing how promptly we can bring the vibrations back in tune.

Look at your patterns and notice the vibrational variances. Notice when you are on track and how that feels. Notice how the path of least resistance is usually the best choice.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Asking Questions

Often the person asking a question reveals more than the question being asked. For example, the person who asks how you can do some offbeat sounding task for a living is often the equivalent of someone slapping themselves in the forehead and going "Why didn't I think of that? or Why didn't I ever realize that I had many more choices than I thought I had?" I use the phrase off beat sounding in this article but we all decide what that means.

Of course, what is offbeat to one person is the main point to someone else. After all, who decides that helping a corporation sell their new flavor of potato chips, corn chips or lite beer is more important than being an energy healer, a psychic, a massage therapist or a dog walker? We all know that the person who helps market ranch flavored chips will make tons more money, but is what they are doing really much more important? Of course, in the bigger picture, our society holds the belief that marketing ranch flavored chips is mainstream and that reiki healing is offbeat, but that's all a matter of perspective.

It is probably impossible to get accurate info on all these different things, but the more the corporate world keeps merging and acquiring and moving jobs to countries with cheaper labor, then more and more people will find that their only good choice left will be to create their own small business. And some of them may find themselves doing something offbeat. If being offbeat or odd or unusual is all in the eye of the beholder, then the only remaining question is whether you can make enough money to live on. If the answer to that question is yes, then being a psychic or a wedding singer or someone who travels around doing Renaissance Faires or being a pet sitter and walking other people's dogs is simply an array of different choices. There are some people who open a restaurant so that they can make money off their cooking, and some people who cook for their clients in the clients homes. There are people who do singing telegrams and people who do body painting. There are people who are caregivers for the old and the ill. There are people who make costumes and those who make and sell their own music, books and art off their own websites.

Even though some of you may be smiling as you contemplate doing any of these things for your income, the joy is genuine. If you have even been in the situation where some corporation told you that they suddenly no longer needed you and sending out your resumes got as many results as tossing paper airplanes into a black hole, one of these offbeat choices may be your future.

Yes, the short and simple answer to this question is that we make up all the answers.

Once we have that perspective, we have more joy in life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You're Doing What???

Choosing to make a living doing something unusual or different often elicits that kind of response from others, often parents, sometimes friends. You're doing what??? Can you make a living doing that?

Psychic work, energy healing and related things are unusual to a lot of people. But then again, it was not that long ago that making a living as a massage therapist or yoga teacher was an uncommon choice.

How about pet sitters or people who walk other people's dogs for a living? Or those people who come in and reorganize the stuff in your house for you? Or people who do singing telegrams?

There are lots of people now who do their work on computer, at home and then send the work off to their client via email.

But there are still people in our parents generation who still think of work as something you go to a factory,warehouse, office or store to do, and you have a paycheck and benefits and you have to ask someone's permission to take time off.

In the course of doing something they love for a living, people often hear parents and others ask the question "When are you going to get a real job?"

Of course my response always was that as long as I could pay my bills and afford to have some fun that I did have a real job, although it might not look like it if you were looking for me to clock in at someone else's place of business or to having to wear a suit and tie or a uniform every time I leave home.

That's the way most jobs used to look. But that was before the upheavals and earthshaking changes in the economy. That was before anyone was familiar with terms like off-shoring, downsizing, right sizing or free trade agreements. When those people, who really do have our best interests at heart ask when we are going to get a real job, they are referring to those disappearing situations where if you showed up for work every day and did your job according to the company guidelines you could expect a regular paycheck, health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay and a pension plan. But that was then. Less and less companies offer these types of situations, and so it is increasingly on us to create our own better situations.

What has happened is that situations have changed but people's mindsets and perceptions are still catching up to the new realities.

In some ways these new realities are simply going back to the pre-industrial age, when all businesses were small businesses and all farms were family owned.

For a growing percentage of people, our best prospects are to own our own small businesses, maintaining a low overhead and a flexible schedule. When you own your own business, you learn all the lessons about risk taking, but you also learn the joys of becoming financially independent. It is a joy to be able to decide when you want time off, and just arrange for it, without having to ask permission. In a big company, you might have great ideas for how to do something better, but those ideas will often fall on deaf ears unless you can convince an entire committee or hierarchy to listen to you and try it. On the other hand, when you are self employed, you can try your new ideas whenever you are ready.

There are whole categories out there that people outside of it might mistake for a mere hobby. But if you think about it, there is an entire segment of the population, although small compared to the whole, which makes its living doing Renaissance Festivals, or metaphysical fairs, comic book, fantasy and sci-fi conventions. There are merchants who make a fine living selling beads, art supplies and other items for customers to buy and do it themselves at home. There are people who support themselves doing energy healing, psychic readings, various forms of bodywork and various forms of consulting. Since the 1990s, there has been a whole subset of people who do web design, software design and similar stuff on their computers in their residence. Each of these segments of the population are small by themselves, but altogether, they form a part of the active economy, responding to the law of supply and demand.

Obviously some people have been forced into learning about self employment thanks to the machinations of their former employers, and some people simply choose to act on their dreams and joyously endeavor to make a living in ways that others cannot imagine.

It is funny, not in the ha-ha way but in the ironic way to listen to conversations of this type, but this is what it looks like when you are on the cutting edge of changes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Handling Unexpected Expenses

When unexpected expenses present themselves do you say things like this to yourself? "I knew it. Every time I get a little bit ahead, something comes up to snatch away the gain."

Or do you say something like this to yourself? "I will find a way to take care of this unexpected expense. I am staying on track with my progress. I am finding a solution to this problem and proceeding toward my goal."

I have had some of those unexpected expenses recently and decided not to let it ruin my day. Interestingly, my decision to stay happy about making progress with my goals has just intuitively felt like the right choice.

In the past I also had times where I felt like unexpected expenses were the universe's way of throwing stumbling blocks in my path.

Now, however, it feels very empowering to find solutions and proceed anyway. Staying happy lets me stay on track. Unexpected expenses still have to be dealt with, but it is interesting how the energy flows depending on the point of view you take and the attitude you express.

Yes, I have had unexpected expenses and remarkably good progress.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, check on which approach you are taking. See if it makes a difference.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

50 Years of Rolling Stones

I'll bet that when they got together and played their first gigs that the Stones never guessed that they would still be playing 50 years later. So their 50th Anniversary Tour will be next year instead of this one. Doesn't matter nobody else even comes close.

Why? Because they are a blues based band and blues is one strain of music that never goes out of style. Waves of popularity come and go along with the ebb and flow of certain popular musicians, but there is a simple reason why. It has always stayed close to its roots.

When they began their careers, they had a reputation as being bad boys. Their music always had sex appeal, their reputations as hard partiers is legendary. Their riffs and licks come straight out of the down and dirty blues. Their ability to crank out music that people find impossible not to dance to has spanned generations. They were never considered good looking, but their careers have flourished while other pretty boys came and went and are long forgotten.

What is it about the blues? Consider B.B. King. How old is he now? But the music he plays now is the same kind of music he played 50 years ago. Buddy Guy's new recordings sound just as good as recordings from years ago, and it is still in the same style. Koko Taylor sang the same kind of blues her entire career. So did Muddy Waters.

The evidence is right there in the roots. When the Stones came to America on their first tour, they were excited about getting the chance to visit the recording studios where Muddy and other blues and R&B greats recorded. Funny thing is is that at that time, American teenagers were so tuned into pop music that they were puzzled about who Muddy was and why the Stones wanted to meet him. Of course, the fact that the Stones recorded old blues tunes helped bring new attention and cash flow to blues music and blues musicians.

Martin Scorsese made a fabulous series on the blues for PBS called The Blues: A Musical Journey. It is definitely worth watching. I loved the entire series. Netflix has it.

See, the thing about blues musicians is that there are certain traditions to their forms which have worked very well and will continue to work for as long as men and women continue to have relationships, and for as long as men and women enjoy going out for dancing and drinking.

You don't find blues musicians hopping on whatever fashion bandwagon happens to be rolling by. That's why there is a long sustain in the careers of blues musicians. Some pop musicians face that painful question of whether to keep touring or hang it up because they had one big hit way back when and they have not scored another big hit since and the question is how long will people keep buying tickets to hear them.

Not true with the blues. I heard Buddy Guy years ago, and if you hear him now, you still got someone who can play with a lot of visceral appeal with a performance honed to a fine edge. Yet, you cannot name a pop hit single of his, because he never had any. His career was built on a body of work, so he never had a big up and down. Old blues players never ask themselves if people still want to hear this. They know they do.

So the Stones followed a more of a typical blues trajectory. Their popularity is not based on just one hit or a handful of hits. Sure they have had huge pop hits and experimented with various style twists, but underneath it all, still throbbed the old, insistent, funky blues. Strip down their R&B styles to the core and you still have blues. Strip down their dance numbers and you come back to blues.

That's the secret to their success. They kept on practicing until they got great and it never occurred to them to not get on stage any more. Maybe one of these days they will retire, but I have a feeling that they will continue to outlive their contemporaries and outperform them as well. All their inspirations did it this way. Muddy played till he died.

The very thought of the Stones being on a 50th Anniversary tour just sort of boggled my mind.

But then, keep it in perspective. Ray Bradbury wrote until he died at 91. People who do what they love keep going. There are many other examples. Who else would you name?