Do You Know What is Wrong With You? (YouTube video)

Have you ever had someone who you didn’t know tell you EXACTLY what was wrong with you? I have! Sometimes you can’t avoid The Law of the Garbage Truck.

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Do You Know What is Wrong With You?

Do You Know What is Wrong With You?

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to watch the video of this story on YouTube

Have you ever had someone who you didn’t know tell you EXACTLY what was wrong with you?

I have!

It was a Sunday morning in January, and Tonya and I were enjoying the beautiful Auckland weather. It was 70 degrees, a cool breeze was blowing, and I was with a gorgeous lady.

Life was good!

After about 40 minutes of leisurely walking around, we decided to return home to eat breakfast. The sun was shining and birds were chirping…

And then I met Papa New Guinea Guy.

As we were walking, we passed a rough looking gentleman who was waiting at a bus stop. He looked at us and waved us over. Wanting to be friendly, we walked to him and had this conversation:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Where are you from?”

Me: “America.”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Ah, America.”

Tonya: “Are you from Papa New Guinea?”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Yes.”

Tip from Terence: Tonya assumed he was from Papa New Guinea because of his look. Many of the people from that country have a very unique look, and she made an educated guess. Not all forms of profiling have to be negative.

At this point, I’m expecting to have a pleasant conversation. PNG Guy, however, had another idea:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Do you know what’s wrong with the black man in America?”

Me: “Uhhhhhh…”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “The black man in America is not clever!”

I had to admit, if I weren’t so offended, I might have been impressed! To have my gender, race, and nationality insulted within 10 seconds of meeting you… That takes skill!

He continued:

Papa New Guinea Guy: “We see you on TV being killed by the police. In my country, if that happens, we chop ’em up and put ’em in the toilet. You are not clever!”

What do you say to someone who tells you what is wrong with YOU?

Yes, the United States is not perfect, and there are very unfair things happening. But when did this guy become an expert on international affairs?

He went on for about 30 more seconds, and then Tonya said:

Tonya: “Okay, we have to go. Bye!”

And she walked off.

Why didn’t I think of that?

As we were walking away, the man continued to talk as if he didn’t care whether or not we were part of the conversation.

We went back to the apartment. I wasn’t exactly upset, but I wasn’t happy either. I did a forgiveness exercise, got the negative energy off of my spirit, and we sat down to eat breakfast and discuss what happened.

It turns out that Tonya had seen this guy a number of times. My guess is that he wanted to say something to her before, but that he didn’t think it was appropriate for him to talk to an American female who was alone.

However, with me there, all bets were off!

This guy had been waiting for a perfect opportunity to let someone know his opinions on the United States, and he could not wait to unload.

After discussing the situation with Tonya, I was reminded of a philosophy that Joel Osteen described called The Law of the Garbage Truck.

The Law of the Garbage Truck basically says that some people are like garbage trucks and go around all day collecting trash. Eventually, they will want to dump their trash, and they just might dump it on you!

Can you prevent everyone from dumping their trash on you? Probably not.

But you can keep your lid on tight!

PNG guy had his big bag of trash and was waiting for a United States trash can to walk by.

And I happened to be that guy!

After I had forgiven him, I had to laugh at the reverse of the situation. What if I had done the same to him?

Me: “Excuse me, sir? Are you from Papa New Guinea?”

Papa New Guinea Guy: “Yes.”

Me: “Great! Do you know what’s wrong with your country?!”

I can’t think of a better way to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

You don’t have to engage in any conversation in which you are being abused. Sometime it is better to just walk away quickly.

Incidentally, a couple of weeks later we were at a gas station and a Kiwi taxi driver pulled up to us and introduced himself. He knew we were American and was clearly happy to see us. We discussed some of his travels in the United States, and we ended the conversation by exchanging websites. He even encouraged me to give him a call if I ever wanted to play tennis.

After we parted ways, I told Tonya that interacting with this guy was the exact opposite of the Papa New Guinea guy.

You never know who you’ll meet while traveling. But, no matter what happens, keep your lid on tight!

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The Four Kinds of Dates (YouTube video)

There are four kinds of dates that you can go on this Valentine’s Day, but only one of them has a chance of succeeding. Watch and save yourself time, money, and heartache!

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Images in video courtesy of Stuart Miles, Serge Bertasius Photography, David Castillo Dominici, and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Four Kinds of Dates

Dates with couple

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to watch the video of this story on YouTube

Years ago, like many single people, I was swimming in the dating pool. Well, swimming may not be the best way to describe it. Like many singles, I was trying not to drown in the dating pool!

I’ve been with a woman who is a good match for me for a while. However, there were definitely dating struggles before meeting her. I thought about dating the other day, and I realized that there are four kinds of dates that a person can go on: “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy,” “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy,” “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl,” and “Boy and Girl couldn’t care less about each other.” Try and think of the past dates that you’ve had. I guarantee that they fall into one of these four categories.

Only “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” dates even remotely have a chance for long-term success. You cannot make somebody like you, somebody cannot make you like him or her, and you sure as heck aren’t going to be with someone for long whom you could take or leave. I’m not saying that you can’t have a relationship with someone when there isn’t chemistry on both sides, but there will be serious drawbacks. Drawbacks like cheating, stalking, and restraining orders.

Tip from Terence: In college, one of my roommates gave me a piece of brilliant advice. He told me that he only dates girls he would consider marrying. If I had actually taken his advice at the time he gave it, then I would have saved close to $10,000. Let that sink in, because I certainly have.

Let’s take a closer look at the four kinds of dates.

Right now I am going out on dates that fall into the category of “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy.” My lady is very attractive and I always have a good time with her. How do I know that this relationship is not one-sided? Because when I call her she is available. What is availability? Availability is accepting a date without hesitation:

Terence: “Do you want to go out this weekend?”

Tonya: “Sure!”

Note that she didn’t say, “What kind of car do you drive?”, “Will your cute friend be there?”, or “I can order steak and lobster, right?” She accepted without hesitation. She knows that details can be nailed down later. It is just important for her to be with me.

When you are in a “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” relationship, you’ll agree to things that you wouldn’t normally agree to, just to make that person happy. For a year, I cooked weekly spaghetti dinners for my lady, before she told me that she has bad reactions to flour. Tonya ate what I cooked because she knew I enjoyed it and wanted to make me happy. What’s something that I’ve done to make her happy? Move to other countries. I enjoy travel, but it took her being beside me to do it for years at a time. When you love someone, you’ll sacrifice for happiness.

The next type of date is a “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy” date. These dates suck. If you are head-over-heels for a girl, then your intelligence drops like a stone, and there is almost nothing that you won’t do in order to be with her.

My senior year in high school I met a German girl named Eileen. When I first laid eyes on her I could barely breathe. She was exotic, stylish, and pretty. After she opened her mouth I was smitten because of her European accent. The trouble with being smitten is that you become stupid:

Eileen: “Hi, my name is Eileen. You know. Like the song.”

Terence: “Yeah, I love the Beatles!”

Right after I said that I turned around and mouthed the words, “What the —-?” The Beatles? Almost anything would have been better than saying that! She smiled at me and thankfully chose to let my comment slide. We then talked for a while:

Eileen: “I run track. Do you run at all, Terry?”

Terence: “A little.” (This is a lie)

Eileen: “We should get together and run sometime.”

Terence: “That would be great!” (This is also a lie)

If you are on a “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy” date, you will compromise almost everything just to be with her. Even if she makes it abundantly clear that she is into someone else! Eileen was interested in a guy named Jake. I knew that she wanted to be with Jake, because she told me that she did. And I listened to her talk about Jake while on dates with her that I was paying for! I went after her for six months, until one day I realized that I’d never be able to have her. She wanted me as a friend-boy, not a boyfriend. Please, if you are going on these kinds of dates, then stop immediately!

The next type of date is a “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl” date. This is exactly like “Boy likes Girl – Girl couldn’t care less about Boy,” except in reverse. In this situation, the guy isn’t going to compromise hardly anything for the girl, because he knows that he doesn’t have to. If he acts like a gentleman, she’ll love him. If he acts normal, she’ll like him. Even if he acts like a jerk she’ll still tolerate him, because she wants to be with him so badly. The trouble for a guy in this situation is the conflict of “Nobility vs. Ribaldry.” Nobility says, “I wonder if I should?” Ribaldry says, “I wonder if she would?”

Years ago, I knew a girl named Joanne. Joanne and I were friends and she became interested in me, but my attention was elsewhere. There was a turnaround dance (a dance in which the girls ask the boys) at my school. Joanne wanted to ask a guy from another school to the dance. However, before she asked him, she asked me if the first guy did not accept would I go with her? I told her yes. The first guy was not able to go and she ended up asking me. I later thought about it and my ego refused to allow me to be the “backup guy.”

Because she had asked me second, I decided to let her know that was unacceptable:

Terence: “I’ll go with you to the dance, but you’ll have to ask me again.”

Joanne: “What do you mean?”

Terence: “I don’t know, but I didn’t like how you did it the first time.”

Sounds like I was a jerk, right? That’s because I was. If a guy doesn’t care, he makes it known by doing things that show that he doesn’t care. Things like telling a girl what she’s doing isn’t good enough for him. Now, if a girl likes him, she will ignore most of what he does and go along with his crap. Joanne brought me a bag with stuffed animals and candy the next day and “re-asked” me to the dance. I accepted the second time. Not only did she pay for the dance and the dinner, but she bought gifts because she wanted to appease me. “Girl likes Boy – Boy couldn’t care less about Girl” dates do not work out at all, because somebody is going to get the short end of the stick.

The last kind of date is the “Boy and Girl couldn’t care less about each other” date. Why would a guy go out with a girl he doesn’t care about? And why would she accept if she’s not interested in him? A guy may ask out a girl he doesn’t care about if he’s bored, lonely, randy, or his friends are out with their girlfriends. A girl may accept a night out from a guy she doesn’t care about if she’s bored, lonely, randy, or her friends are out with their boyfriends. The problem is that these dates are completely useless.

I asked out a girl I really didn’t care about named Amy. Amy was cute, smart, and driven; none of this mattered because I wasn’t interested in her and I knew that she wasn’t interested in me. I remember right before our second date I felt like backing out of it. We ended up going out to dinner anyway, but she was so close to receiving this call:

Terence: “Yeah, Amy. I’m gonna have to cancel.”

Amy: “Why? Did something come up?”

Terence: “Nope. I just don’t care.”

If you are in the dating pool, please remember that only the “Boy likes Girl – Girl likes Boy” dates matter. It may be temping to try out one of the other kinds, but in the end you will just be inviting heartache or wasting money. Dating can be fun and exciting, but really is only worth it if you are with the right person. Keep these four kinds of dates in mind and try not to drown in the dating pool!

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Praying for Supernatural Skill

Dove with Supernatural Skill

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

During one of my internships in college, I was a graphic artist and had developed skill with Adobe Photoshop. Despite my artistic leanings, after college I ended up in staffing and human resources. After deciding that human resources wasn’t for me, I looked for a way to use the artistic skill that I had developed to earn a living. Through a set of good breaks and connections, I was hired by a small online training company as a graphic artist. I was hired primarily because of my skill with Photoshop and Microsoft Office, and my main job was to make PowerPoint presentations look pretty.

Most traditionally trained graphic artists are familiar with Adobe’s suite of products. Photoshop and Illustrator are standard tools for professional image editing and artwork. Almost all traditional graphic artists have good skills with these programs. However, I was not a traditional artist. My degree is in marketing, but I’d been doing various kinds of art for years. I had good skill with Photoshop, but was weak in most areas of the rest of Adobe’s product line. I knew that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, because 99% of my work would be done in Photoshop and PowerPoint.

However, I knew that one day I’d be asked to use Illustrator, which was one of the tools that I didn’t know how to use well.

Today was that day.

Tip from Terence: Adobe is the leader in digital art software, but there are alternatives like Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is too unwieldy for me, but it is free. Some people swear by it and believe that it is as powerful, or in some cases more powerful, than Photoshop. However, those who have been trained in Photoshop may not be willing to deal with the “unlearning curve” necessary to use GIMP. I tried to use GIMP for weeks on Tales from Terence, but eventually signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud so I could use Photoshop. If you would like to try out GIMP, then I strongly suggest that you invest in a manual to help you. GIMP has less of a learning curve than a learning mountain, but the program won’t cost you anything.

I should have been learning how to use Illustrator either at home or during my downtime at work. I even had a student copy of the program that I had purchased while in college, but I never took the time to learn it properly.

Tip from Terence: If you KNOW that you need to develop a skill, please take the time to learn it before it becomes paramount to your success and/or survival. There is nothing worse than suddenly needing a skill that you should have learned years ago. Good intentions don’t produce results unless you put actions behind them. As Dr. Dave Martin puts it, “The more knowledge you have, the fewer miracles you’ll need.”

The company I worked for had recently partnered with another company on a new business, and needed a logo for the new business. My boss asked me to come up with a few logos for the new company, and I began working immediately. I was smiling on the outside, but on the inside I was terrified. I knew that the logo would need to be created in Illustrator, and that my Illustrator skills were slightly above non-existent!

Tip from Terence: Illustrator is a vector graphics art program that enables artists to create artwork that can be easily re-sized without any loss in quality. It is primarily used for logos, or other artwork that needs to appear in many sizes.

I went to my office, shut the door, and began creating sample logos. I struggled for about an hour, then looked at the creations. They looked TERRIBLE! One had pink artwork with weird bubbles in the background, and another had light blue ovals with bad lettering. I was assigned to create logos for a next-generation selling and training platform, and these logos looked like they were for a low-budget baby shower!

I worked a little longer, printed out the logos, and took them into the meeting room with my boss.

This is the conversation my boss and I had after he looked at the logos:

Boss: “Terence, can you give us some more options?”

Me: “Sure!”

However, this is the conversation my boss and I should have had:

Boss: “These are some wack logos.”

Me: “I know.”

Boss: “Can you make us some non-wack logos?”

Me: “I sure hope so!”

I went back into my office and shut the door again. I didn’t know what to do! Not only did I not have the skill to do what I was being asked to do, but I had told my boss that I could come up with new designs immediately.

I was sweating and panicking, because I just didn’t have the skill!

Then something came to my mind! I had recently attended a business seminar and learned that many successful entrepreneurs prayed and asked for help from God before they began working. I was a believer in Jesus Christ, but I had never asked for God’s help in my job. I bowed my head, and prayed for guidance, skill, focus, and strength.

Tip from Terence: If you are a believer, then you have access to supernatural skill and talent because of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you. Take advantage of this! I never realized how much of an edge this gives, until I started tapping into this resource. Before I do any work, I pray something similar to the following prayer: “Thank you Lord for helping me. I bind distractions in the name of Jesus. I loosen faith, favor, focus, joy and peace, in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.” And you know what? I am MUCH more crisp, focused, and productive than if I had attempted to do the work without tapping into the Spirit. Why try and do things all in your own limited strength, when you have the creator of the universe on your side?

The next hour was supernatural! I began creating work that was far beyond my skill level. The three new logos that were created were slick, polished, and all conveyed a message that would be suitable for the new partnership’s brand. Thank you, Lord!

Honestly, I couldn’t believe the quality of the work that was in front of me. One hour earlier I had done my best in my own strength and created junk. But now, after asking for help from the Lord, I had created work that I knew would be a good fit for the company. I then printed out the new logos, and brought them to my boss:

Boss: “Now this is more like it!”

He showed the other partners the new logos. They then chose one and gave suggestions on how to improve it. I made the changes, and they ended up using that logo for the new company. In fact, that was the company’s logo for the next five years!

If you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and that you are holy and righteous through the blood of Christ, then you already have access to this supernatural power inside of you. If you haven’t yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then I encourage you to find out more here.

Life can be a challenge, but you don’t have to go through it alone. God is with you, and God is for you! If you are already a believer, then go deeper in the Bible and learn about all of the promises that God has in his Word for you. If you are not yet a believer, then click here to learn more, and, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalms 34:8 NIV)

Be blessed, and please share this with others.

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When Traveling, Don’t Take This Taxi

Foreign Taxi

Image courtesy of Tyrone Acres at tyroneacres.deviantart.com

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

If you are traveling internationally, one of the first things that you’ll want to do when you arrive at your destination is relax. Traveling can take a lot out of you, and this is especially true when going to another country. However, before you get to your destination, you’ll have to leave the airport.

Nothing beats having someone who already knows the area meet you at the airport. Even if someone can’t meet you there, you should have a number of transportation options to choose from. Bus, train, subway, taxi, or renting a car being the most common (rickshaw being less common). However, before you choose a transportation method, you should ask someone else the best way to get to where you are going. The person you ask could be a friend, staff that works at the hotel in which you will be staying, or someone working at the information desk in the airport. The key is to ask someone who doesn’t have a hidden agenda, and who wants you to have as pleasant of an experience as possible.

Before I first arrived in Korea, I had booked a hotel that was near the airport that had free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. I booked the hotel before I left the United States. I was informed that all I had to do was have someone from one of the airport information desks call the hotel, tell the hotel staff that I needed to be picked up, and the hotel would send a shuttle for me. After arriving at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, I got my bags, went through customs, and left the baggage claim area. I found an information kiosk, had one of the airport staff call the hotel that I had booked, and was picked up by the hotel’s shuttle bus.

Tip from Terence: I am not a fan of going places and booking hotels when I get there. I have been burned by this before, and it is definitely not my preferred method of travel. Of course, there are times in which this is not possible, so you may have to travel on a wing and a prayer and just show up to a city and see what is available. Some people like doing this and think it is adventurous! I salute those brave souls. But as for me and my lady? We don’t do that.

I arrived in Korea a few hours before my girlfriend. Before leaving the United States, I had told her that I would meet her at the airport so we could go back to the hotel together. After showering at the hotel and resting for a couple of hours, I returned to the airport to pick up my girlfriend, Tonya. After I met her outside of the baggage claim, we set about getting transportation to the hotel.

This is where the taxi trouble started.

A guy was walking around the terminal, approached us, and asked us in English if we needed a taxi. I told him, “No thanks,” and continued to walk to the kiosk where we could call our hotel’s shuttle from. However, my girlfriend stopped to talk to the man.

Tip from Terence: If there is a guy standing outside of the arrival gates asking if you need a taxi, this is the exact guy you need to avoid. In fact, out of all of the options you have for getting where you want to go, this is the last one you want to take!

I pulled my lady aside:

Me: “Let’s go get the hotel shuttle.”

Tonya: “I’m tired. Let’s just go with this guy who is right here.”

Me: “The hotel shuttle will be quick. And it is free!”

Tonya: “But this guy is right here. And I am tired!”

For some reason Tonya thought that having this random dude take us to our hotel would be a good idea! I told her that we should have the hotel shuttle pick us up, but she insisted that she wanted to take the taxi, because she thought it would be quicker. I didn’t want to argue, so I reluctantly agreed.

We told the taxi driver that we’d let him take us to our hotel. He then happily helped us load Tonya’s bags into his taxi, confirmed our hotel’s address, and we began driving to our hotel.

The taxi driver was pleasant, but something didn’t seem right. He kept mentioning “airport fees” and I started to get nervous. It reminded me of being with a mechanic who keeps talking about all the things that need to be done to my car. The longer he talks, the higher the bill is going to be. Either the taxi meter started with too high a fare, or it was the driver’s continual mentioning of various “fees,” but I got the feeling that the driver thought the letters S-U-C-K-E-R-S were printed on our foreheads.

Because I had chosen a hotel near the airport, the drive was not very long. When we arrived at the hotel, the taxi driver stopped the car and said we owed 50,000 won, which was about $50 USD.

$50?! He had to be joking!

We were in the taxi for 15 minutes at best, and there was no way that our ride should have cost that much money. The taxi driver and I began to argue about the fare. My girlfriend and I owed him something, but there was no way I was going to pay $50 for a 15 minute cab ride!

After a minute of arguing in English, I told the man to hold on. I left my girlfriend in the taxi and I went into the hotel to get the concierge. I explained that I needed help with my taxi driver, and he came out to talk to the driver. The concierge was also surprised at the price of the ride, and began to negotiate in Korean on my behalf.

Tip from Terence: One of the downsides of foreign travel is that sometimes people will attempt to take advantage of you because you are a foreigner. However, there are almost always people who will help you. If you feel like someone is trying to take advantage of you, airport and hotel staff are good people to ask for assistance.

After negotiating, the hotel concierge was able to get the fare reduced by 30%. While I wasn’t happy with the outcome, it was better than paying the full gouging price that was first suggested. I paid the driver, and Tonya and I went into the hotel.

Before traveling, do as much research about where you are going as you can. When it comes to transportation, it is especially useful if you can find out the best ways to go places before you get to your destination. This will help you avoid people who want to prey on your wallet.

If you do find yourself being taken advantage of, and you can’t speak the local language enough to argue, get someone who can to help you. But whatever you do, if someone walks up to you in the airport and says, “Need a taxi?” just say, “No!”

SPECIAL NOTE: If you like the artwork in this post, then check out Tyrone Acres’s website. His art is amazing!

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You Mean I Can’t Flush That?

Original image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Original image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

There are so many things that you don’t know when you move to a foreign country. For instance, did you know that you can’t flush Kleenex wet wipes down the toilet in Korea? I wish I had known this. And I’m pretty sure that my landlord also wishes I had known this!

One morning, I was getting ready to go to work, when the intercom for my building came on. I had gotten into the habit of recording the voice messages from the intercom, and having one of my co-teachers interpret them for me. I recorded the message, then headed off to school. My Korean wasn’t very good at the time, but I could tell that the message was concerning something about my building.

When I went outside, construction was taking place in front of my building. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but the owner of the apartment looked upset while he spoke to the foremen of the construction crew. I greeted the apartment owner, and then went to work like usual.

At our first break, I remembered that I needed one of my co-teachers to interpret the message from the intercom. I had a wonderful co-teacher named Ms. Rose, who not only spoke English very well, but also was an angel to my family and I. She was my unofficial Emo “이모” (auntie in Korea).

I handed Ms. Rose my iPod and asked her to interpret what she heard. She listened to the message for a few minutes, and then we had the following conversation:

Ms. Rose: “They are having a problem with the sewer pipes at your apartment. Something like cloth seems to have been flushed down the pipes, and it has plugged up the entire apartment complex.”

At first I thought to myself, “Well, that puts me in the clear. I certainly haven’t done anything like that!”

But then I though to myself, “Aren’t the wipes that I use kind of cloth-like?” I looked in my bag and brought them out. Before then, I never really thought to double check and see if flushing them was okay, but figured that now might be a good time to find out:

Me: “Ms. Rose, are these okay to flush down the toilet?”

Ms. Rose: “Not at all! You see this little picture on the back of the pack with a toilet with an X through it?”

Me: “I do now.”

Ms. Rose: “That means that you shouldn’t flush them. Kleenex makes wipes that can be flushed, but these aren’t that kind.”

All of the English teachers in the building worked in a shared office, so everyone could hear our conversation. An American English teacher named Crystal then added:

Crystal: “Yeah, but even if someone did flush those wipes, they would have to flush a ridiculous amount to stop up a sewer system!”

The problem was that I did flush a ridiculous amount of those wipes. In fact, I was using so many of them, that I had started buying them in bulk packages!

I wanted to hold it inside, but my spirit urged me to tell the truth. I’ve learned over the years that when your spirit is unsettled, it will remain unsettled until you do what you know you should do:

Me: “Ms. Rose, I think I broke the sewer pipes of my apartment.”

I then explained to her that I had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to flush those wipes, and that it was truly an accident. I’d thought to myself, “How can something from Kleenex possibly be bad for toilets!”

I asked her to call my landlord and tell him what happened.

Ms. Rose then told me that it would be better if I didn’t say anything, because I might be liable for the damages to the sewer. I knew that she meant well, but I also knew that my spirit wouldn’t be settled until I had fessed up. I told her that I understood that I might have to pay, but that I wanted to be upfront with the owner.

Shortly thereafter, I headed home for lunch. While walking, it dawned on me that there was no way that Ms. Rose was going to tell my landlord anything! By nature she is a mild-mannered person who does not like to bring up sensitive topics. Talking to a landlord about how the resident foreign teacher broke his apartment’s pipes with Kleenex, is not a conversation that she had any intention of having. The only way this conversation was taking place, was if I made it happen.

I dropped my things off at my apartment, and went to the office of the building administrator. My apartment’s administrator was a middle aged lady who was very nice and helpful. She also didn’t speak any English, so on my way to the office I practiced what I was going to say in my bootleg Korean.

When she saw me, she ushered me into her office with a smile and asked how she could help. We then had approximately the following conversation in Korean:

Apartment Lady: “How can I help you, Terence?”

Me: “There is a problem with the bathrooms of my apartment. Yes?”

Apartment Lady: “Yes, there is a problem with the sewer pipes.”

Me: “Maybe that problem was from me.”

I then showed her the wipes that I had been flushing down the toilet.

Apartment Lady: “NOOOOO!!! Terence, how could you!!!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I not know. I’m very sorry.”

Apartment Lady: “Okay, okay. The apartment is being fixed. Don’t use these anymore, okay?”

Me: “Yes. I not use them from now on.”

Apartment Lady: “Good. Also, do not tell the apartment owner. Okay?”

Me: “Okay.”

To be honest, since the entire conversation took place in Korean, I couldn’t be 100% sure that she told me not to talk to the owner of my apartment. However, I seem to remember her holding one finger to her lips in a, “Shhhhhh. Don’t tell anyone,” kind of way.

I walked back to my apartment and was thankful that I had confessed. Even though it would have been nice to try and slide by and not tell anyone what I had done, I realized that wasn’t the right thing to do. My spirit tends to guide me on things, and whenever I choose to ignore it, things go poorly. My spirit told me to fess up, so I went ahead and did it.

As I walked back into my apartment, I saw a wooden plank beside its entrance. What looked to be a pile of dirty rags sat top of the plank, and the entire mess was positioned next to an open sewer hole. I was pretty sure that those “rags” were actually a mountain of non-flushable Kleenex, that I had been flushing down the toilet for weeks.

Tip from Terence: One thing that Westerners may find surprising about many Asian countries, is that you are not supposed to flush paper products down the toilet. This could be because their sewer systems aren’t designed for this kind of waste, or it could just be a way to prevent sewers from clogging. Most restrooms will have a special waste bin dedicated to used paper products, and you are supposed to throw all used paper waste into this bin. I should have realized that this was why I should not have been flushing paper ANYTHING down the toilet, but old habits die hard. I lived in South Korea for three years, and I can count on one hand how many times I put used paper in that bin. Whoops!

Later on that day, I received a knock on my apartment door. It was the owner of the building. He was an older Korean gentleman who used to work with the American army at one of the local bases, and he spoke English quite well. The owner never bothered to speak Korean with me, because he KNEW I would understand every word he said if he spoke in English:

Owner: “I knew it was you!”

So much for the owner not finding out about what I’d done.

Me: “I’m really sorry. I had no idea that I could not flush those wipes. I’ve stopped using them. Again, I’m really sorry.”

Owner: “How could you not realize this?”

Me: “I’m really sorry.”

Tip from Terence: In the words of the master of personal relations, Dale Carnegie, “If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” If you make a mistake, it is best to admit it as quickly as you can and not make excuses. Apologize sincerely and you will be given much more leniency than you might have received if you had tried to shift the blame elsewhere. Carnegie was an American, but his principles are timeless and work well around the world.

The owner’s face then softened, and he explained what happened because of the Kleenex. The reason the wipes caused so much trouble, was that one of the tree’s roots in front of the apartment had grown to the point of breaking through the apartment’s sewer pipes. My Kleenex wipes were caught in the roots of the tree, which is why the system had gotten backed up.

My mistake had illuminated a problem that the landlord didn’t realize that he had. In my mind, I was a hero for helping him realize his problem!

Of course, I didn’t actually say this to the landlord, but I did stop worrying about whether or not I’d be charged for the damage. The events turned out well (or at least not too badly) for everyone.

And yes, I did stop using the non-flushable wipes. I moved on to the actual flushable kind, because I still loved Kleenex wipes!

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Forgive Your Way to Freedom

Woman living in freedom

Image courtesy of phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Click here to learn the Forgiveness Exercise
Click here to download a PDF of the Forgiveness Exercise

Forgiveness is talked about frequently, but it is something that many people don’t know how to do. We are often told to forgive, but never given the steps of how to forgive. I was raised in a church going family, was told that I needed to “forgive people” and “let go of offenses,” but it wasn’t until I attended a business seminar at age 24 that I learned how to forgive. However, once I actually learned how to do it, I was able to get rid of a lot of offenses that were being stored in my mind and body. I had no idea how much anger and resentment was inside of me, until I actually learned how to release it!

Lack of forgiveness may not show on the outside of a person, but it is bubbling underneath the surface, and it can produce anxiety, tension, depression, and dis-ease (disease).

Think of an offense like a hot coal. Just like an actual hot coal, if you hold onto it, then you will be burned. Some people hold onto hot coals of offense so tightly that no one else knows that they are holding them. But no matter how justified they feel they are in not letting go of offenses, as long as they continue to hold onto them, they are being hurt by them.

When I was 24 I attended my first business seminar with Dani Johnson. Dani told us that she could teach us the tools, techniques, and strategies of business success, but that we wouldn’t be able to implement them if we still had offenses against others in our hearts. These offenses would hinder our thinking and stop us from talking to people we should be talking to. I believed what she told us, but it took years for me to fully realize the power of what we were taught that day.

Forgiveness Exercise Steps

1) Forgive yourself
2) Ask for God to forgive you
3) Forgive the other person
4) Ask God to forgive the other person

The following exercise can be done in your head, but I think that saying it aloud is more effective.

Forgiveness Exercise

1. Say, “I forgive you [your name] for being angry at [person’s name] for [specific action of the person] or [specific way the person made you feel].” Vent everything that you might be angry with yourself about related to that person.

2. After venting say, “I forgive you [your name], I bless you, and I release you.”

3. Say, “God, please forgive me for anything I have done. Please forgive me, please bless me, and please release me.”

4. Envision the person who offended you.

5. Say, “I forgive you [person’s name] for [specific action of the person] or [specific way the person made you feel].” Vent all of the rage that you are angry with the person about. Example: “I forgive you Jane for calling me stupid in front of my coworkers. What the heck were you thinking! I don’t do that mess to you!”

6. After venting say, “I forgive you [person’s name], I bless you, and I release you.”

7. Say, “God, please forgive [person’s name] for anything they have done. Please forgive them, please bless them, and please release them.”

8. You may need to do additional rounds of forgiveness for specific issues. Saying, “I forgive my girlfriend for being mean to me,” may not cut it. You may have to get specific. You might first need to say, “I forgive you for making me look stupid in front of my friends,” then later do a round with, “I forgive you for insulting the gift I gave you,” etc.

9. After doing the forgiveness exercise, you can do Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the problem if there is residual anger left over. Forgiveness without EFT works. EFT without forgiveness doesn’t work as well. Both together is crazy powerful!

Tip from Terence: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are very powerful tapping techniques (think of acupressure) that can be used along with the forgiveness exercise to gain freedom from emotional bondage. If you are not familiar with EFT tapping points, go here for more information. Tap on EFT points on your body (karate chop point on hand, collar bone point, armpit point, etc.) while doing the forgiveness exercise for added energy balancing benefit. Use two fingers on your dominant hand (pointer finger and middle finger) to tap the points on your body and opposite hand. Tap firmly, but don’t beat yourself up. The points are on both sides of the body, so tapping on either side (or both sides if you wish) is fine.

Your Path to Freedom

If you are serious about wanting to renew your life and walk in freedom, then I suggest doing what was taught to us that first seminar. Make a list of all the people who have offended you. These are the people who you need to forgive. The first person on that list should be yourself. List the people who have offended you and the specific offenses that they have done. You may notice that the people who are closest to you may have offended you the most in your life. List all of their offenses individually, and begin to forgive those offenses. Keep in mind that one event may have multiple offenses. Your list may have thirty, forty, or fifty offenses on it. That is good! The more you can write down the better. You want them all written out, so you can take the time to remove them from your spirit.

The shotgun approach may not work. You may not be able to simply say, “I forgive you [person X],” have that forgiveness exercise cover all of that person’s offenses, and be done with it. You may have to take the sniper approach and forgive specific offenses that a person did. This way you’ll be able to get rid of all of the offenses that make up an individual event, and will have more thorough emotional freedom.

I was told to make a list and systematically forgive people who have hurt me, but I didn’t realize the full importance of it until recently. The more I forgive hurts from the past, the more I realize how much I’ve been held back because of these unresolved hurts. It was one of the things that has been preventing me from flying as high as I want to fly in this life, and accomplishing everything that I know I’m built to do.

I do a lot of personal growth. But doing personal growth without having forgiven your hurts, is like driving a Ferrari with cinder blocks in the trunk. You need to dump the weight of those blocks through forgiveness, so you can drive your super-car the way it’s meant to be driven!

Tip from Terence: You can forgive anyone, even if the person is no longer alive. A person doesn’t have to be alive for resentment to be in your heart towards him or her. We aren’t necessarily offended by the person, we are offended by the memory of what that person did. Forgiving people who are no longer alive frees you from the hurt in your heart towards them, and blesses your memories of them.

Further Thoughts

I spoke about forgiveness with one of my friends recently. She had been offended by members of her family, and thought that she had forgiven them, but wasn’t sure. She talked about forgiveness with one of her friends, and her friend told her, “You’ve forgiven someone if you can fall asleep at night.” She told this to me, and I responded, “No ma’am! Some people can rob a bank and still sleep soundly at night. In fact, sometimes sleep is the only thing that gives you rest from the turmoil that’s happening inside.”

I then told her that you know you have forgiven someone when you can speak about the offending event without heat rise up inside of you. If you can’t speak about an event calmly, then offense is still there and more should be forgiven. Even if you think that you’ve forgiven someone, oftentimes there are multiple layers to an offensive event, and the different layers must be forgiven in order for peace to be restored.

After you have forgiven someone, the clouds from your mind are removed, and you are able to see the event more clearly. I remember a time in which I was offended at my girlfriend, forgave her, and realized during the process that I was the one who was wrong. I then went back to her and apologized.

Other times forgiveness may lead you to letting go of ties to someone. A few years ago, I forgave a lady to whom I loaned thousands of dollars. I forgave her for not paying me back, and for all the feelings that were associated with it. Later on I was led to forgive the debt. I forgave the debt, and sent her a message saying that the debt was forgiven. This not only helped release the emotional resentment against her, but it also freed me from my ties to her. I wish her the best, but we don’t need to associate anymore, and forgiveness freed me from the connection between us.

Some people claim that time heals all wounds. I don’t think this is true. Time heals certain kinds of wounds, but time does not heal offense. Offense does not go away on its own. I’ve talked to plenty of people in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s who still refer to past hurts as if the offense just happened. In fact, my grandparents still refer to offenses that they received when they were in their teens, and they are in their nineties now! Pay attention to what your parent’s and grandparent’s say. If they can’t tell a story without anger rising in their voices, then they are still offended by what took place.

Forgiveness is a daily process. We live in a flawed world and we will get offended, but we can let go of offenses quickly through forgiveness. If you find yourself feeling overly tense or short with people, think about what has happened throughout the day. If you remember something that makes you angry, then there is probably an event that took place in which you took offense. Forgive immediately, or as soon as possible.

Take the words of the Bible to heart, “…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Ephesians 4:26). Do your best to not go to bed with offenses still on your mind. Your subconscious mind is like a plot of land, and it will return what you plant in it. If you plant anger in it during the day, then it will process that anger all night long. Those seeds of anger will then multiply, and return a crop of bad fruit into your life. Forgive before sleeping, so your mind can process positive thoughts during the night. Then you can wake up to a fresh new morning!

The tool of forgiveness will help you to release many of the emotional brakes that have held you back in life. Please, teach this to your children. There is no better tool that you can give them than to teach them how to live emotionally free. Bookmark this page and share it with others, or download the PDF of the forgiveness exercise and send it to friends who could benefit from it. I wish you all the success in the world, and please use this technique as much as you need to.

Click here to learn the Forgiveness Exercise
Click here to download a PDF of the Forgiveness Exercise

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21 Days to Positivity

positivity_chalkboard.jpg

Image courtesy of Kromkrathog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Terence Cole @talesfromterry

Shawn Achor is a New York Times bestselling author who writes about the subjects of happiness and positive psychology. In a lecture at One Day University, Achor spoke about the differences between traditional psychology and positive psychology, and demonstrated how positive psychology can be used to bring people to new levels of happiness and success.

Achor writes that the point of traditional psychology is to return a person back to normal. However, what he studies is positive psychology, which observes the positive outliers of success in the world, people who have exceptional levels of energy, happiness, resilience, musical, intellectual, or artistic abilities, in order to learn from them. By learning from the positive exceptions, he demonstrates that the overall average of people can be brought up. The goal of positive psychology is to bring people to higher levels of positivity and performance than the norm.

His work is based on the premise that the lens through which we view the world shapes our experience of the world, and that even our bodies and immune system respond to how we view the world around us.

Achor also states that environment is not very predictive of a person’s happiness level long term. He found that control or understanding of an environment can only predict 10% of an individual’s happiness. His research showed that 90% of happiness is not because of our external world, but the lens through which we view it, and that the lens is created by experiences and genetics.

One of his biggest observations is that happiness can be a precursor to success, not just the result of success. When the brain experiences happiness or positive thoughts dopamine is released, which increases a person’s level of pleasure and turns on the learning centers of the brain. His research found that if you can get someone to be positive while performing tasks, you can dramatically increase the levels of intelligence, intellectual resources, creativity, and productivity available to that person.

Another interesting idea that Achor came across is called the Tetris Effect. Tetris is a game in which many people enter into a mental loop when playing, because of its repetitive and focused nature. This loop can cause people to apply the skills they use during the loop to other parts of their lives. For example, if a man plays Tetris for too long, he’ll tend to apply his Tetris skills to regular life. A similar mental loop, whether positive or negative, can be created for any kind of work in which a person may be engaged. For instance, a tax auditor may be good at looking for mistakes in tax returns. However, if she is stuck in a work loop when she returns home and scrutinizes her home life in this same manner, she will probably have relationship problems.

Another concept that Achor refers to comes from science. In chemistry, activation energy is required in order for a chemical reaction to occur. In order to catalyze a reaction, a small amount of energy must be expended initially, in order for a large amount of energy to be released by the reaction.

It works the same in our minds. If you want to increase the likelihood of change, then lower the initial energy that must be expended for that change to take place. For instance, if you want to work out after work, rather than go home before the gym, put your gym clothes in your car and drive directly to the gym after work.

The reverse is also true. If there is a habit that you’d like to change, then make it more difficult for you to indulge in the habit. If you want to watch less television, then remove the batteries to the remote and place them in a room where the television isn’t. You may still end up watching television, but the extra activation energy required to do so will make you think twice about sitting down to watch it.

Critics pointed out to Achor that many great artists and musicians were depressed and were still able to create great works of art. Achor is not saying this isn’t possible, but he is stating that all things being equal, the brain functions better when positive, than when stressed, neutral, or depressed.

Achor admits that negatives are part of the world, and that they allow us to learn and experience a range of emotions. However, he’s saying that if you raise your emotional baseline, then when you experience downs they will be shorter, and that overall you will demonstrate higher levels of creativity, intelligence, and engagement on tasks that you work on.

Your Action Plan:

If you want to make your outlook on life more positive for the long term, then Achor has a five-step plan that you should follow. According to William James, the father of modern American psychology, if a person does the same action for 21 days straight, then a life habit will be created. Thus, following Achor’s plan for 21 days consecutively is key. You may think these ideas are common sense, but remember that common sense may not be common practice, and that information is not necessarily transformation.

21 Days to Positivity Challenge:

1) Gratitude – Write in detail three different things you are grateful for each day.

2) Journaling – Write for five minutes about one positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours.

3) Exercise – Three to five days per week.

4) Meditation – Meditate daily for 20 to 30 minutes.

5) Random Acts of Kindness – Email someone a “thank you” note or compliment about something daily when you first open your email.

What you think about has a direct effect on how you feel, and you can use Achor’s plan to change your thinking in order to increase the level of positivity in your life. It only takes a few minutes each day to become a more positive you. Give it a try!

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