I’m Fantastic

This is a true tale that reveals, in real life situations, how powerful positive thinking and a sincere positive attitude can be.

Many years ago, in the later half of the 1960s, there lived a bright young man in his twenties who had descended from a successful, productive life with a very promising future to a homeless tramp living in doorways and cardboard boxes.
He selected doorways and boxes in lower Manhattan because that was the Financial District and the part of the world he had become most familiar with in his brief but fast moving career after graduating from college.
He had worked in this area of New York City and in fact had been working while attending school from age fifteen, so he was intimately familiar with work and the earning of money.
Somehow, in his alcohol soaked brain, he was able to connect the dots, even if his home was to be doorways and his needs meager, he would have to make money somehow.
After much analysis and a few visits to public restrooms where he could get a good look at his less than executive appearance, he brilliantly concluded that his new career path had to be something that did not require an interview… nor too intense of a background check, like name and address.

In a stroke of lucidity he hit on it…our tramp was about to move up in the world from tramp to panhandler and he knew just the corner to set up shop.

The corner of Broadway and Canal Street is one of the busiest traffic intersections in lower Manhattan. Broadway is the main artery from midtown.  The Holland Tunnel between New Jersey and lower Manhattan brings over 50,000 vehicles onto Canal Street heading for Broadway…where they are stopped for up to 66 seconds for a traffic light.
50,000 people with coins and dollar bills that our ‘panhandler’ was going to target for handouts each morning.
But our panhandler knew he would need a gimmick or these busy working people would only throw garbage at him. He hadn’t come up with that gimmick but he figured it would pop up as he developed skills in his On-The-Job-Training at his new career.
This is where our entrepreneurial alcoholic panhandler would learn a lesson that would last him the rest of his life and one he would spread to all who would listen; The Power Of Positive Thinking.

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The next morning our panhandler rose from his sleeping place ready to go meet his market… busy, impatient, frustrated and harried motorists trying to get to their destinations.  They really didn’t welcome the filthy looking derelict tapping on their vehicle’s window and asking for a handout.
The first day at a new job is always stressful but as the end of the morning traffic rush hour drew to a close, he was coming apart.  Badly needing a drink and he hadn’t garnered even a dime.
Auto windows were quickly rolled up if they were down, epithets were screamed at the poor fellow like “Get a job ya bum”, “You’re too young to be a bum, get a job or join the army”, or simply “You’d be better off dead and if you were, you wouldn’t be bothering me”.

And then it happened…that moment that changes the rest of your life!

When the next car rolled up to our less than successful beggar, the driver stopped, rolled down his window and from inside his immaculate luxury vehicle said, with an obvious anticipation of an opportunity for mockery, “How are you today?”
Something clicked inside our drunk’s alcohol sodden brain, maybe a break through the fog of his prior capabilities and his thought process went something like this:
~ Wiseguy, how do you think I am?
~ But that is what every bum on this corner would say.
~ I need to be different.
~ I need some money.
Instead he answered,

“Fantastic Sir, I’m Fantastic and how are you on this glorious morning?”
…and at that moment, when our panhandler looked at the face of  his hoped for benefactor he knew he had his Gimmick.
The startled driver burst out laughing, said “Wow” took out his bill fold and handed the beggar a five dollar bill.  He then rolled up his window and still laughing drove off.
Our homeless, derelict panhandler had, in that instant, completely grasped the power of thinking and living positively but most importantly the incalculable value of the projecting of positivity to  all who one encounters.

We will leave our panhandler providing my readers with a few biographical notes.  Shortly after the life altering awakening above, he found by practicing his positive approach to begging and controlling his consumption of alcohol to what we will call ‘maintenance level’, he moved out of the streets and into what were then called flop houses that cost a buck a night for a private cubicle.
He was a slow learner and it would be another eight years before he achieved solid AA based sobriety and was back on the ascendancy to many accomplishments.  In 1982, eight years after his last drink, he  married his wife, to whom he is still married and very much in love.

About thirty five years later our panhandler had evolved into a much sought after consultant concentrating on technology based solutions to complex process issues for multi-national organizations.
In 2002 he had completed the design stage of the complete re-engineering of the global operations of The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.  This is the organization responsible for the administration of the pensions of hundreds of thousands of employees and retirees working or retired in 195 countries.

At that time he was one-third of the way into the six year project, designed, managed and implemented by the consulting firm founded and owned by he and his wife.
This was the point where he explained to the management and union delegates representing those employees and retirees how the obligations of the pension fund were to be fulfilled into the new millennium.

He gave a three-hour presentation to over 250 attendees in the United Kingdom room of the UN headquarters on First Ave in New York City, which was simulcast to the 104 organizations in 195 countries that were part of the pension fund.
On stepping down from the podium and after shaking hands with the most important of the attendees, like the Secretary General, he left to go home to his waiting wife.
On entering their apartment on East Forty-Sixth Street his wife asked, “So how did it go?”
His answer, “It’s really weird, what kept flashing into my head was panhandling on the corner of Broadway and Canal. I know it has been well over thirty-five years since those bad days, but how did I get here?”
His wife looked at him, smiled and said in her happiest voice, “I don’t know, but we are going to find out and package it for the world.”

It took over a year and a lot of research but his wife discovered  there is an absolute commonality on how people who come back from a dark place make that journey. They think positively, make their ascendancy in baby steps and always seek a hook to move to the next rung on the ladder  out of the darkest point in their lives.  Whether it be a loved one passing, a crippling disease or wrecked relationship.
Look For The Hook  A guide to finding Happiness, Purpose and Fulfillment
One Baby Step At A Time,
a book on positive thinking, was the result of that research.

and now, the rest of the story

The book was widely read and accepted.  Shortly after publication, requests were made for the author to speak on the lessons to be learned from following the twenty Baby Steps.  The author spoke with her husband at venues ranging from five star spas to the staffs and executives of corporations, all to raving reviews.  But to the author and her husband the repeated presentations made to the staff and residents of one of the most prestigious trauma rehabilitation centers in the United States were the ones that proved the value of the contents of the book.   
On first entering the auditorium of this remarkable institution both of the presenters were taken back… every attendee except the institution’s staff were in wheelchairs.
As the author proceeded through summations and discussions on the various chapters she came to Chapter 14 the baby step called I’m Fantastic!
Since the center had booked the author for a series of three appearances, when she reached Chapter 14  she informed the attendees in wheelchairs there would be a homework assignment at the end of that chapter.
At the conclusion of the session she told the audience, when they went out on excursions and anyone asked ‘How are you?’ they were to look up, smile and announce in a self assured voice, “I’m Fantastic!”

On the return visit to this center of hope the author was mobbed by those who had attended the prior session.  They were anxious to report how their interaction with folk, after answering the query as to how they were, had been like nothing in their lives to date.  People smiled, started talking to them and treated them with respect, cordiality and even friendliness.  It was the first time they didn’t feel like they were in a wheelchair.
In one instance, where the resident of the center was a pretty teen aged girl, the clerk, a late middle aged woman, in a supermarket,  came from behind the counter and hugged the youngster.

And that demonstrates the power of thinking and living positively but most importantly the incalculable value of the projecting of positivity to  all who one encounters.

By this point some of you may have figured out, because I have so much knowledge of the story and am such a firm believer in the power of positivity, that, over fifty-three years ago, I was that panhandler.

G. Hugh Bodell is an Author, Freelance Writer and Blogger
Visit him and his books at:
ghughbodell.com

© Copyright G. Hugh Bodell 2019

…maybe next New Year’s Eve!

Times Square ~ New Year’s Eve

Here I am standing in Times Square at 11:30 at night on New Year’s Eve. For the last nine years, my wife and I never miss being right here.

This is the most famous location for New Year’s celebration in the world.

Our first New Year’s Eve celebration together happened on this very spot where we are tonight, twenty years ago.

Let me start at the beginning and tell you the whole fantastic story from that fateful night so many years ago.

I’m Victor McCarthy and I work as a senior actuary for a large life insurance company. Boring so far, right?

Well twenty years ago, I was six months out of college and six months into working for the company I still work for. Getting the picture? I have been a rather unremarkable person since birth, reliable and predictable.

Except for one adventure I decided to go on twenty years ago tonight.

I woke up New Year’s Eve in the small apartment I had rented in New York City’s upper west side and suddenly a strange feeling came over me. I had a growing compulsion to go to Time’s Square that evening and watch… no, be part of the most publicized New Year’s celebration in the world, the ball dropping at midnight.

I didn’t have a lot of friends then… still don’t for that matter, so this was going to be a ‘lone ranger’ event.

Me, the guy who didn’t go into crowded restaurants because I was painfully shy. Me, the guy who had never taken one girl on a second date because I couldn’t get up the nerve to ask, was going to go into a crowd of one million people and celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

I believe very strongly that there are no coincidences. All events happen because they play a part, regardless of how small, in moving us along the path our lives are supposed to take. I have believed this most of my life because my Grandmother held it as one of her deepest convictions and passed that faith onto me.

I therefore accepted this inclination to do something completely out of character and prepared to spend hours in the cold streets of mid-town Manhattan awaiting that magical moment when the ball (aluminum studded with red, white, and blue bulbs twenty years ago, crystal today) slid down the seventy-seven-foot pole and lit up.

Although it was cold that night it was not unbearable, one million people tend to generate a lot of body heat. So, at one minute to midnight, I was on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street joining the crowd in the countdown to midnight.

At midnight people all around me were hugging and kissing each other, passing glasses of champagne about (definitely against the law in New York City streets), and screaming ‘Happy New Year’. Of course, I was not one of the participants in those festivities. My God, being there was a huge leap for me, grabbing a strange girl, hugging and kissing her was to me just an unattainable fantasy.

It was taken out of my hands!

Before I knew it an adorable, smiling, screaming little blonde beauty, tapped me on the shoulder and when I turned to see who was doing the tapping she threw her arms around my neck, said “Happy New Year” and kissed me.

I believe she was about to turn and do the same thing to another reveler when the crowd started moving north up Broadway… as a crowd. There was no separating at that point; we were part of the largest moving mass of humanity one could imagine.

Somewhere between 45th Street and 50th Street we began holding hands and at 51st Street I started easing, with her in tow, towards the east side of Broadway and at 52nd Street turned east into a far less crowded thoroughfare.

I knew this area well because my office was six blocks away.

At this point, I mustered up enough courage to introduce myself and ask her if she would like to have the first cup of coffee of the New Year with me. My knees started to buckle when she said, “Yes”.

We spent over an hour together in an all-night coffee shop I knew would be open. She told me her name, Annemarie Padelford, and a little about herself. Mostly we were silly and laughed a lot. There was not a minute of awkward silence and I wasn’t shy for even a second, for the first time in my life.

It was the best New Year’s Eve of my life to that point… hell, it was the best hour of my life to that point.

At one-thirty she said she had to go, but we swore that we would get together in the New Year. She gave me another kiss and left.

It would be another hour before I realized I had no idea how to reach her nor did she take any information about me.

Annemarie Padelford and the happiest hour and a half of my life had slipped from me forever.

Destiny had another plan!

~~~~

For the next eleven years, I worked hard and smart at the insurance company rising to the position of Senior Actuary, Director of Actuarial Services. I made a good living, had a much better apartment and dated occasionally, sometimes for even more than one date.

However, without fail, I returned to the same corner each New Year’s Eve, always alone and always looking, hoping and praying to find the girl of my dreams, Annemarie Padelford. Finally, after the vain effort nine years ago, I decided to become proactive.

I woke up one Saturday morning two weeks after the New Year and said to myself, “How many girls in their late twenties or early thirties named Annemarie Padelford can there be? Find her, it is either meant to be or it’s not, but use your head… and technology and find her.”

Well, I did just that.

First, let me point out there are a hell of a lot more Annemarie Padelfords than you would ever believe. But, by narrowing down the field, I wound up with a list of three that fit all the characteristics I knew… which were very few. Once I had the list, I composed a letter and sent it to all three, one via e-mail the other two on Facebook. Two answered that they had never been to New York at all, much less on New Year’s Eve eleven years earlier. The third didn’t answer for two months, and then one day I got an e-mail saying she thought she might be the ‘Annemarie Padelford’ I was looking for and she enclosed her picture.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was my dream girl, petite, blonde and a smile to die for. Sure she changed a bit in the intervening eleven years, but who hasn’t and probably my recollection of her was less than accurate.

Well, the rest is history. Since she lived in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, we got together for dinner. It was a repeat of that fateful New Year’s Eve twenty years ago. We laughed, we talked non-stop, we closed the restaurant, but this time I knew how to get in touch with her… which I did the next day. We dated for three years and six years ago we were married.

My advice to everyone: don’t fight destiny, listen to your instincts and if a strange feeling is encouraging you to do something, listen to those feelings and do it. The path to happiness is not always straight, so watch carefully for the signs along the path.

I never thought I would be as happy as I was that hour and a half on New Year’s Eve twenty years ago. I listened to those feelings that day and again eleven years ago and I am the happiest man I know. I love my Annemarie and I am loved by her more than I ever thought possible for me.

~~~~

I’m Annemarie McCarthy, formerly ‘Annemarie Padelford’ and I’m going to add a few lines to this tale of destiny, love and happiness.

When I got Victor’s e-mail, I was completely negative on relationships and had accepted that I would be alone for the rest of my life. His e-mail read like some kind of fairy tale. I didn’t erase it for some reason and then one day I decided, ‘why not give it a go’, so I answered him and as he says above, the rest is history.

I cannot believe I have been blessed with the man of my childhood dreams. I was so skeptical of men and relationships that I held off his efforts, to make the relationship permanent, for three years.

Thank God he didn’t give up on me; he is and always will be the center of my universe as I know I am his.

However!

  • I was in New York City that New Year’s Eve twenty years ago.
  • I was at the celebration in Times Square to watch the ball drop.
  • I never got below 57th Street and Broadway.
  • I didn’t kiss Victor or have coffee with him.
  • I realized this three months into our dating, but didn’t want it to end.
  • I promise myself to tell him each New Year’s Eve… but don’t.

I thank who I call ‘the original Annemarie Padelford’ at least thirty times a month for her giving my husband that wonderful hour and a half twenty years ago and me a life beyond my dreams.

…and I am the strongest believer in my husband’s advice, “The path to happiness is not always straight, so watch carefully for the signs along the path.”

Oh well, I’ll probably tell him… maybe next New Year’s Eve!

New Year’s Fireworks
New York

If you enjoyed this short story you will want to visit Mysteries With A Twist by G. Hugh Bodell



G. Hugh Bodell is an Author, Freelance Writer and Blogger
Visit him and his books at:
ghughbodell.com

© Copyright G. Hugh Bodell 2019

MEDDLING ~ An American Obsession

by the Blogger G. Hugh Bodell

“…because they are making the wrong choices.”

Believe it or not this is the reason given for meddling whether the meddler is; a parent in the life of a grown adult child, an adult child in the life of a parent, or a bureaucrat in everything from what you eat/drink to what you let your children read.

The very scary news is that regardless of the reach of our insatiable appetite to meddle, the results appear to be consistently the same…disaster!

My awareness of the meddling obsession began quite unexpectedly.

My wife Susan and I speak before varied groups about her bestselling book on finding happiness and fulfillment, ‘Look for the Hook’.  For the most part, folk attending these events are unhappy and don’t know why.  After the first two sessions, we began to observe that the majority of these unhappy people were not distressed over their own actions but were seriously bothered… to a degree that kept them awake at night…by the actions or lack thereof of others.  These ‘others’ included spouses, siblings, parents or adult children.

Why?

“Because ‘they’ are making the wrong choices!”

Over several events we learned that the ‘wrong choices’ these adults were making ran the gamut from where they lived, what they did for a living, who they choose as a partner even as far as their having a child.

The meddling adults had excuses galore for their right to meddle, all of which resonated with insults to those guilty of ‘wrong choices’ and the epic arrogance of the meddler.

We usually try to nudge the unhappy folk who are doing the meddling to read the lyrics of the hit song of the 1970s, ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, written and performed by Joe South.  Although the song and the underlying theme concern racial tolerance, the concentration is on ‘perspective’… an attribute generally ignored by meddlers.

The following verse and chorus is a great example (in my opinion) of the thoughts going on in the mind of the object of meddling:

If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your ego
I believe you’d be, I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind

So, unless you’ve lived a life of total perfection
Mm-mm, you’d better be careful of every stone that you should throw

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

I have outlived the folk in my life that may have been inclined to meddle, but the awesome surprise and fortunate for me, they never meddled.

They may have thought, justifiably, that choices I was making appeared to be bad ones, but they thankfully made not a sound and let those bad choices run their course… and about 75% of the time, they were bad or more appropriately ‘insufficiently analyzed’.  However, I learned and grew from each experience and after getting beyond the disaster of the bad choice I would say, “Wow that was dumb.”

The other 25% turned out to be good…for me.

I learned three things from each of these experiences:

1] The only person that could know all the facts surrounding my choices was me, therefore the only valid participant in that choice was me.

2] I learned, never to forget, the results of bad choices

3] Go with your gut and the results of your own analysis.  Make a decision and leap into it with both feet.  If you succeed cheer, If the choice results in disaster, learn from it, put it behind you, and move on.

This of course is a tough way of dealing with those we see making a bad choice… from the perspective of our yard stick, however, the meddler and the meddled both win when the practice of shutting our mouths and staying out of another’s life is exercised.

The meddler does not become one of the legions of unhappy folk because another adult is not living according to the meddler’s plan.

The meddled make life decisions based on their analysis and their place in life and whether the outcome is good or bad they move along the path of life with an experience, more knowledge and a good feeling about themselves for standing on their own.


But enough of the small-time meddling, let’s look at meddling on a grand scale and how it is seriously affecting the lives of over 300 million Americans.

For openers, the “Grand Scale Meddlers” (henceforth referred to as GSMs) have two basic characteristics in common with family level busybodies;

  • They overtly or by innuendo insult those guilty of ‘wrong choices’ (including whole cultures)
  • Their arrogance knows no bounds

A few examples of GSMs around us today:

Mr. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, pushed through a local law prohibiting all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and food carts from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces (0.5 liters).  So Mr. Bloomberg, a prime example of a GSM, decided that if you wanted 32 ounces of Coca~Cola to sip during your afternoon of diligent labor in the City of New York, you could not do it with a single 32 ounce cup from the local fast food joint…you had to buy two 16 ounce cups.

Mr. Bloomberg’s rationale summarized; “I believe that sixteen ounces of a sugary drink is not bad for you but seventeen ounces is, therefore I am saving you from yourself by preventing you from drinking seventeen ounces conveniently.”

My summary; “New Yorkers, you are too stupid and incompetent to look after your own welfare so I in my infinite wisdom (and arrogance) will decide what you can and cannot do… in any area of your life that I choose, so let’s start with what you eat and drink.”

Fortunately, some of the US Judicial System believe that these decisions are not appropriate for the arrogant, bloated bureaucracy to make, thus, On June 26, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule, exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.

How much did that meddling escapade cost New Yorkers?

We of course can look around us and find many other examples of arrogant bureaucrats that find meddling their right and chosen vocation.

  • Pre-Teens introduced to birth control and ‘alternative’ life styles from age ten in many public school systems over a majority of parents objections
  • A Federal bureaucrat decides you cannot continue to go to the physician who has been caring for you for twenty-five years because the bureaucrat knows what medical care system is better for you than you do
  • Children punished for using the word ‘gun’ or ‘God’ in public schools
  • San Francisco has implemented a ban on Happy Meal toys to protect vulnerable tots from Big Corporate Marketing
  • At public schools, all over the United States, the lunches that little children bring from home are now inspected to make sure that they meet USDA guidelines, not the parents knowledge of the child’s need.

But this is a drop in the bucket when compared to meddling on an international level as carried out by US administrations:

  • Telling/dictating the way 1,400-year-old cultures should change to be more like 350-year-old cultures

We all know how that is working for them.

  • Picking out and supporting one side in internal civil wars because American politicians know what is best for them. Let’s see, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, etc, etc

We all know how that is working for them.

  • Picking out and supporting individual businesses in the energy sphere.

We all know how that is working for them.

The point is, meddling in affairs that are not yours, whether it is where your son and his family choose to live, the food your constituents can eat or to whom in a conflict you elect to provide billions in military gifts, it appears to always turn out bad for one side or the other, The Meddler or The Meddled.

Regardless of the level of meddling there are two common attributes in this intrusive activity, insult and arrogance.

There is a lesson to be learned here.


G. Hugh Bodell is an Author, Freelance Writer and Blogger
Visit him and his books at:
www.ghughbodell.com

© Copyright G. Hugh Bodell 2018