Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rooting for the Salmon

I recently traveled to Alaska. What a beautiful state! I gazed at glaciers, spied two caribou nibbling in a meadow, and marveled at the spectacular scenery. It was something like 110 degrees when I exited the Phoenix heat in search of fun and chilly adventure, and Alaska exceeded my expectations. 

Even at the hotel in Anchorage I could look out the window at thick groves of trees and dense foliage. With the exception of golf courses, I don’t see a lot of water and greenery outside my desert home. 

Another thing that took me by surprise was how our 49th state is considered a world-renown angler’s paradise. Fishing is a very big deal in Alaska – particularly salmon fishing. It is one of the few places (perhaps the only one) where every type of salmon lives.  I am not interested in fishing, but I developed a different hobby while on holiday. One of my favorite activities was watching the salmon make their way upstream to spawn. The mighty fish swim against the current, jump up waterfalls and make their way to the place of their birth. It’s a bummer they die after they succeed in their quest.  

As I watched the salmon making their way to their final destination I found myself cheering for their success. Yes, it’s true they were fighting their way to their inevitable death, but you really had to hand it to the scaled critters for their tenacity and verve. I squealed with delight each time each time one successfully made their “leap of faith.”

This behavior is not unusual to anyone who knows me. I have always been known to cheer for the underdog. It probably explains my affection for the Chicago Cubs. If they ever win a pennant or World Series I might have to entertain the thought of switching my allegiance to another losing team, but something tells me I will die a Cubs fan. If nothing else, I am a loyal fan and friend.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, I have been very fortunate to have many good friends. Several have been my comrades since my awkward days in junior high. This trio of ladies has helped see me through some good and dark days. I’ve also had my fair of acquaintances. Ironically, something I noticed is that some of the people I thought were my pals deserted me when things got tough, such as during and after my divorce. The opposite was also true. When things turned around and I became more successful, there were a few who must have felt threatened when my so-called station in life did not match their own. This made me sad, but it helped me in my understanding of human behavior. This eventually led me to co-writing a book with my friend, Jacqueline Howard.

After our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within was published I was a guest on several television and radio shows. One of the topics that came up was the importance of good friends. I describe it in more detail in Chapter 3 – Anything for Acceptance. It chronicles the life of Maria who was sexually abused as a child and because of her lack of self esteem, made poor choices. She hung out with kids who introduced her to drugs and she became hooked on meth. After her boyfriend nearly killed her, she was able to leave town and live with her aunt and uncle in another part of the state. The good news is she became involved with a better group of friends who helped her overcome her addiction.  

Maria found it odd when she was surrounded by people who sincerely cared about her happiness. But we shouldn’t be.  We should take care to allow people into our lives who can make an impact on our behavior. This is especially true from the time we are 13-25. People will do research before purchasing a new television or smart phone, but will accept people into their circle of friends without much thought. Here are a few tips on choosing good friends from my book.

Erase Negativity
·         Erase negativity by stating your desires in a positive way. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to be sick” say “I enjoy vibrant health.” Don’t just say “I want friends.” Say, “I want good friends who care about me and want the best for my life.”
·         Illegal drugs, as well as drugs that are not prescribed to you by your physician pollute your mind, body and soul. Don’t take a chance. Stay away from drugs. Find healthier ways to make friends and enjoy your life.

Embrace the Magic Within
·         Pay attention to your intuition when making new friends. An uncomfortable feeling in the gut is usually a warning. A warm feeling in the heart is generally a good sign.
Another question to ask yourself is whether that person is encouraging good or bad behavior. The buddy who suggests “one more hit” or another drink, is not someone interested in your well being. The same is true of individuals who put down your successes.
Personally, I am a cheerleader of sorts. This is a harder concept for some than others. The way I look at it is happy people who are accomplishing their dreams are less likely to think, say and do bad things. More happy people will improve society as a whole. It creates a ripple effect toward a happier planet.
I know this bit of advice may seem foreign to some. If so, fake a more altruistic outlook until you can genuinely own it.  Challenge yourself to enjoy the successes of others.  In time you will feel better yourself, and once you focus on happiness rather than anger or envy, you might just get hooked on the feeling.