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Day 1 of Sharpen Our Tools: Working Harder but Getting Less Done?

rusty tools

We all seem so busy these days. Sometimes it feels like we don’t have time to take good deep breath. Sometimes it even seems that the harder we work, the less we get accomplished. You know what? That might actually be true. There’s a modern fable of a woodcutter, a very strong wood-cutter. This woodcutter sought a job from a timber merchant and got one – a good one with great pay and even great working conditions. The very good woodcutter was thankful for his good fortune and was especially determined to give this job his very best. His new boss provided him with an axe then showed him exactly where he was to cut down trees.

So on his first day, the very good wood-cutter worked hard and cut down an impressive 18 trees. It worked! The woodcutter’s boss was very impressed. His boss, no dummy, realized that yes he did indeed have a very good woodcutter – maybe the best he has ever seen and so he praised the woodcutter for his success that day. Well the woodcutter happily accepted the praise. In fact it motivated him to work even harder the next day.  So at the end of the second day after working even harder than the first day, the wood-cutter only cut down 15 trees, 3 less than the first day. So on the third day the woodcutter decided to try even harder and he did. At the end of the  third day, the woodcutter found that he had cut down 10 trees.

Every day the woodcutter tried harder and harder and every day he cut down fewer and fewer trees. After a while his boss, once his biggest fan, even threatened to fire him if things didn’t improve. The wood-cutter really needed this job, so every day he worked harder and harder to cut down as many trees as he could. He started working through lunch and breaks and staying late, but he could not cut down enough trees. He began to doubt himself and his ability. He questioned his strength. He feared he was losing it.

As you might have guessed, his boss’s patience became exhausted and he went out to the forrest to fire the once great woodcutter.  Of course the wood-cutter was very upset. He KNEW he had worked harder and longer and given this job all he or almost any other person could but he reluctantly and sadly gave his axe back to his boss.

His boss looked at the axe with amazement and asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?

“Sharpen my axe?”  I haven’t had time. I’ve been too busy trying to cut down enough trees.”

It’s so easy to see the error the once great woodcutter made and the price he paid in extra work and effort. We can imagine how worn out he must have been. What about us? Is it time to sharpen our tools too? That’s what we are going to explore this week. If you feel like you’re working harder and harder and getting less and less accomplished, maybe it’s time to sharpen your axe. Join us every day this week as we take a look at what might need sharpening and where to find a sharpening stone. What do you think? Share your thoughts at By the way, I tweaked my website a little and I’d love to hear what you think of it. Leave me a comment or a voice message. I would love to hear from you. Have a fantastic day and we’ll talk again!

Day 1 of The Importance of Forgiveness: What is Forgiveness, Anyway?


Many of the people I interview on Rockin’ Life have suffered seemingly unforgivable injury. It’s difficult to imagine how they or anyone could find peace and the ability to go on after suffering these things. Yet, we see and hear their stories of triumph every week. We hear the joy, the life in their voices.  They found a way to triumph over their circumstances. They found a way to forgive and stop allowing the past to steal the present. This week we’re going to talk about forgiveness.  We’ll discuss what it is. We’ll look at the amazing power and freedom we gain from it and how we can forgive others and ourselves.

As I prepared to share this topic by reading up on the subject, I was surprised how many different views there were. Most sources pointed to letting go of feelings of anger or the right to get even. As I looked a little deeper at the origin of the word, I found a more active meaning than simply letting go of feelings. Originally forgiveness meant to give – to give wholeheartedly at a cost to oneself.

What cost?  It’s easy to see what the cost is when we talk about forgiving something tangible like a debt. We know that it means we bear the cost of the monetary loss and cease collection from the person who legitimately owes us. We no longer require the person who caused us this loss to repair it. They may not have the ability anyway and our collection efforts end up costing us much more than the original debt was worth. It’s like suing someone for a hundred dollars while paying legal fees of 1000 dollars.

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It may be more difficult when someone has abused us or betrayed us causing sometimes catastrophic damage. It’ hard to realize that those people can almost never repair the damage they’ve done. They have broken a part of us and we bear that cost. We can spend our time trying to collect from this person who cannot restore what they’ve broken or we can forgive them. We can go back to them over and over again and try to hurt them in the same way or try to get them to see the damage or admit their responsibility. Every time we do, we hope they’ll behave differently. We can continue to try to collect or we can bear the cost and begin to restore the damage. I believe forgiveness is more than letting go of anger or resentment, or our right to be repaid. Forgiveness comes first. Then it helps us let go of resentment and our right to get even. It frees us to live today, to heal, and make healthy connections.

The only restoration I’ve been able to find comes from God. It begins when I stop trying to collect from the person who owes me because of damage they caused me.

Forgiveness is not denying the wrong done. It’s bearing the cost of it when you have every right to require it of the other. That cost, forgiveness, has been known to pay off in many ways including making us stronger, healthier, and better able to connect with others.  We all need forgiveness for many things and we all NEED to forgive.

As we go through this week, we’re going to look at the power and freedom of forgiveness, how we can forgive others and how we can forgive ourselves. I would love to hear your thoughts. I would also appreciate it if you would leave me a rating and review in iTunes. The more feedback we get the easier it is for other people to find Rockin’ Life.  Hope you have a wonderful day and I hope you will join us again tomorrow. We’ll talk again.

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Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness: What If We Loved Our Fellow Man?

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a poignant video on Facebook. It was obviously recorded on a smart phone by a man who understands the meaning of kindness. In it, he’s driving in his car and takes a shot of his brand new shoes then at a shoeless man walking down the street carrying all of his belongings. He stops to talk to the gentleman and learns that he is veteran and is trying to survive after getting himself into trouble. The shoeless man talks about the blisters on his feet and what it’s like to live on the streets. The driver of the car now in his socks hands his brand new shoes to a grateful man with an obvious new energy.  Where he had been weighted down with his baggage before, he was now ready to run and jump. He was smiling and giving thanks to God. Asking God to bless the giver.

We don’t know what happened after the video ends but we can imagine. Two people changed by this random or spontaneous act of kindness and generosity. I wonder what the rest of their day was like. I would imagine that this man with new protective shoes, walked with more energy and more importantly more hope. I imagine the gratitude he expressed went with him and changed all of his interactions with others throughout his day and even farther into the future.

And what about the man who took his new shoes off of his feet and went home in socks? I imagine his day was better too. A kind act or gift to an individual gives us hope. It can be overwhelming to look at the big problems of the world: homelessness, poverty, mental health issues suffered by post war veterans spilling over to their families, addiction, and the list goes on. It can lead to feelings of helplessness but if we focus on making a difference where we can one person at a time, we feel hopeful.

My friend who posted the video of the shoeless man added his own words. He pointed out how the VA failed this man and how the state failed this man but the individual helped him. Then responding to another’s series of what if’s, he asked, what if… we loved our fellow man.

I shared the video on my Facebook page if you want to see it and I’ll put a copy on my website Check it out and let me know your thoughts. If you haven’t already, subscribe to Rockin’ Life in iTunes. That way you won’t miss an episode and you’ll help more people find us. Come back for more on random acts of kindness and then a new life enriching habit next week. We’ll also have a fantastic interview with funny lady and youtube sensation, Mollyann Wymer. You might know her as the girl who introduced Drama-mine and Butt-ER. She funny and fun and what a personal story she has. You don’t want to miss it. Have a wonderful hope filled day and we’ll talk again.

Click Here to get to my Facebook page and see the video

The Woman Behind the Smile: Former Airforce Intelligence Officer, Debby Montgomery Johnson, Bilked out of a Million Dollars in an Online Dating Scam

Debby Montgomery Johnson

Debby Montgomery Johnson is a woman on a mission. In her book, “The Woman Behind the Smile” she shares her personal experience with a love that turned into betrayal and financial disaster and she removes the mask of shame and shows others how do to the same. Many of us have something, something we’re hiding, something we’re ashamed of, something that through no fault of our own or through our own making, something that we keep hidden and that,  in turn, keeps us hidden, from each other and the world.

From Vermont and a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Debby is the President of Benfotiamine.Net, Inc, a vitamin supplement company that provides an alternative for the pain of neuropathy, a nerve disorder.  (Benfotiamine.Net). Benfotiamine makes an extraordinary difference especially for diabetics and their families. Her background is diverse, from working as a paralegal and bank branch manager to being an U.S. Air Force officer, serving as an Intelligence Officer at the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency and in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Debby is just like you. A woman on a mission to live an authentic, joyful life as the Woman WITH the Smile rather than behind it.

Debby’s website

Contact Debby at Debby@TheWomanBehindTheSmile.Com

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Random Acts of Kindness Week Day 2: Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week

We may not feel like we can make a big change in the world but you just never know. The world doesn’t change but people can change. We can make a difference in one person’s day or one person’s moment. Life is made up of moments anyway.

Remember the movie Pay it Forward. The characters in that movie all received and then gave in different ways. They were helped and then they helped someone else. They looked for a need they could fill and filled it.  The way the person was helped was not the way they helped. We can look for opportunities to do something kind.

Here are a few examples of small things we can do that could have big impact.

  • Vow to give one sincere compliment per day. Look around for your opportunity.
  • Spend 15 minutes in your closet or closets to find clothing or objects to donate to Salvation Army or another charity you know will use it to help others. There are shelters, organizations that help unemployed people find jobs, or faith based charities. Bring those items to them.
  • Do you have an elderly neighbor? Offer to cut his or her grass, weed the garden, or hire a whole yard crew to spruce up the yard. Then be sure to help him or her outside to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Volunteer to read to someone at a school, the library, the hospital, or a nursing home.
  • Help someone you know is struggling.  Slip a gift certificate for an oil change or car wash under their door or leave on the doorstep, or their desk. Maybe buy them a gift certificate for a massage, pedicure or haircut.
  • Think about what it must be like to be one of your neighbors and what you would find uplifting if you were that person. Then, do that.
  • Send anonymous notes or post cards to all of your neighbors, or teachers, or coworkers, or some other group telling them individually what you admire about them. Maybe, just pick one person or one person per week.
  • Spend 30 minutes in areas you frequent, look for litter and pick it up.
  • Is there a group of people you admire, bring them a treat. You could bake them a batch of cookies, or pick up an ice chest full of mini smoothies and deliver them.
  • Do you play an instrument well? Go play something uplifting in a public place. Some people won’t notice. Some people will try to tip you but some people will be uplifted.  If you get tips, donate them to a charity.

If you have a great idea for us, please share it with me so I can pass it along. Leave me a comment on my website, or send an email to Tomorrow, the interview I’ve been waiting to share with you. Debby Montgomery Johnson the former intelligence officer who was bilked out of a million dollars in an online dating scam shares her story. Thank you so much for joining me today, please let someone know about rockin’ life and encourage them to listen too. Have a wonderful day and we’ll talk again.

Random Acts of Kindness Day 1: What Kind of World Do You Want to Live in?


If you’ve listened for a while you probably know that I read every morning – something to feed my brain and something to feed my spiritual life. I have been reading a lot lately about kindness, being kind, and being a caring person. Then in my spiritual reading this morning I learned that God told the Israelites to care for their brothers and their brothers’ belongings –not to ignore them. If they came across their brother’s property, they were to protect it and return it, or take good care of it until it could be returned.  So I thought that kindness and caring would be a great topic for this week. Then few minutes after making that decision, I learned that this week is random acts of kindness week!  Don’t you love it when things like that happen? I do so let’s celebrate and explore random acts of kindness this week. We’ll look at the what, when, why, and how and hopefully pick up a new life enriching habit.

I have a friend, a wonderful gentleman. He’s tough and strong, and believes that people should make the most of their natural abilities, take care of themselves and pay others for help when it’s needed. Yet, this self-sufficient man who believes government welfare is wrong is kind and quietly giving. He takes care of his surroundings and gives to people in need. He generously gives his money to causes he believes in. He gives his time, has been a Junior Achievement volunteer for years, a chemistry and economics tutor, and if you express an interest, he’ll happily teach you to tango. We talked about these things one time and the reason he gave me stays with me. He said, “I do these things because I want to live in a world where people do these things.”  That conversation comes back to me often. As I roll my grocery cart to the coral rather than leave to possibly roll into another car, I think, I want to live in a world where people put their carts away. As I let a single car into my lane in heavy traffic (not 5 to be rude to the people behind me) I think, I want to live in a world where people are courteous in traffic.

Kindness can be many things. Let someone in front of you in the grocery line if they seem to be in a hurry or have an tired child with them.

What kind of world do we want to live in? I can’t and I don’t want to coerce others to do what I believe is kind or caring but I can decide to be kind and caring. I can make that choice every day in small ways and sometimes in grand ways. All this week, we’re going to look at random acts of kindness. I would love to hear what you think. Happy Random Acts of Kindness Week! Please join me for more kindness tomorrow, bring a friend, and share this episode. Have a beautiful day and we’ll talk again.

Day 4 of Love and Relationships: A Good Conflict

Yesterday we discussed the need for conflict in relationships. According to research it’s actually necessary for a healthy relationship. Conflict can be an opportunity for growth when it’s examined and used to learn.  Instead of brooding over what he said or she said or blaming, or focusing on the details of the argument itself, we can use the opportunity to work together to work it out, see it for what it is and move on stronger and closer.

We can grow from conflict by exploring what a particular argument really means. Often an argument has little to do with the topic a couple is arguing. So what IS it about? That’s the important question for couples and individuals to explore. We can ask ourselves some questions to help figure out the real issue. What sparked the argument? What was going on as the situation escalated? What was going on inside our own head at the time? What are we saying to ourselves? What is the real issue that caused the conflict? What underlying issue or issues need to be resolved?  Once we know what’s going on inside our own heads, we can listen to our partner. We can listen to understand and begin to work through the underlying cause.

I found a clip from Anderson Cooper’s show of Dr. John Gottman giving three tips on the right way to fight. This is what he said. Number one, without blaming we should talk about what we need from a positive approach. Number two, we need to listen to our partner and try to understand their point of view. Number three, be willing to repair the relationship. We may need to apologize. If you’d like to see the clip, I’ll post it on my website.

We’ll spend one more day on love and relationships and we’ll make this one fun! Tomorrow I want to talk about some fun, wonderful, and meaningful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Then next week we’ll have a whole new topic and an amazing interview. This is a story that I can’t wait to share with you. My guest’s background an intelligence officer in the Air Force, then in banking and the legal profession exempt her from falling prey to an online dating scheme that bilked her out of a million dollars.  She bravely shares her story, her lessons, her hope and her “Woman Behind the Smile” project.  Hope you’ll join me and bring a friend. You can learn more about Rockin’ Life with Colleen Crain at Have a great day and we’ll talk again tomorrow!

The Anderson Cooper Clip I mentioned:

Day 3 of Love and Relationships: The Magic Relationship Ratio!


Today we’re going to look at the so called magic ratio.

You may remember that earlier this week, we talked about Dr. John Gottman.  He observed couples and predicted with remarkable accuracy which of them would stay together. So what did he say made the difference in these couples’ relationships? After years of study and research, he believes couples who have a balance between positive and negative interactions have successful relationships.  It shouldn’t surprise any of us to learn that negative has more weight than positive so more positive is needed for balance.  It may surprise us though to learn that an absence of negative or conflict is deadly to a relationship. Conflict actually helps couples grow. We need both, but how much of each for healthy balance?

Dr. Gottman says 5 to 1. Five positive interactions to one negative. So 2 negatives need 10 positives and 20 positives need 4 negatives. So how do we make sure our interactions are in balance?  We should probably remember that we still live in an imperfect world and we’re still imperfect people. That means our interactions won’t always be in balance but we can aim for it. Most of us won’t need help fitting in the conflict or negative unless we’ve already become indifferent. I suspect that’s not the case or we wouldn’t be interested in this topic. So let’s look at some ways we can increase the positive interactions.

First, we can be mindful of how important it is share the everyday moments. If we make positive interactions a priority and practice, soon they will become habit. We can start by replacing some neutral actions with positive ones. When we see or hear something funny, replace keeping it to ourselves with sharing it with our partner. Instead of just walking past our partner, we can look at them and smile or touch their shoulder or squeeze their hand as we go by. Instead of walking in from work and immediately getting involved in something, we can find our partner and give them a hug or kiss. There are countless ways to add positive interactions to our relationships. If we keep in mind how important these little things and an occasional grand gesture are, we’ll practice them.

Since we also need a little negative for a healthy relationship, tomorrow we are going to look at managing conflict. I’d love to know what you think of this week’s topic.  Leave a comment on my website Thank you for joining me today! If you enjoy this show please share it with a friend. Have a beautiful day and we’ll talk again tomorrow.

Day 2 of Love and Relationships: What’s Most Important in a Relationship


What is a relationship, anyway? Isn’t it a connection between people?  Actually, the very definition of a relationship is the state of being connected. Many relationship experts say that feeling of being connected is the most important thing in relationships. Most of us or at least I believed that relationships were all about communication. While communication is an important part of the connection, it’s that feeling of connection that is most important. The sense that our significant other is on our team, routing us on, supporting us. Good open communication IS important but the most important thing in a healthy relationship according to behavioral research is a sense of connection. Two people can communicate with amazing openness but without that sense of connection, there is no relationship.

What happens if we communicate our feelings, concerns, joys, or anything without feeling connected? We probably won’t feel heard or understood no matter how articulate we might be. Now, what about communicating when we feel connected.  We’re listening and responding, making an effort to understand and responding to cues in a way that makes it easier for the other person to understand.

So what if we’re in a relationship and we’re feeling disconnected from our significant other.  How do we increase our connection when we’re not feeling it.  Well, I went looking for that answer and found an interesting article, 7 Ways to Create Connection with Your Partner.  In this article, relationship expert Dr. Margaret Paul, writes that the first step is to connect with yourself and prepare yourself to be willing to connect with another. I found her first advice very interesting. Probably because I recently ready some neuroscientific research that showed the same part of our brain is active when we are evaluating ourselves (our feelings, beliefs) as when we are connecting with other people. So knowing ourselves helps us to connect with other people.

Before I go on to her other recommendations, I want to take a minute to thank our sponsor, Audible audio books and to remind you that you can get a free audio book. Audible has over 180,000 titles and they are offering Rockin’ Life listeners a free trial and free audio book download when you go to and sign up. If you cancel your membership, you still keep the book. If you do cancel, don’t forget to cancel before you’re charged. The website again is

The second thing Dr. Paul suggests is to be open to learning rather than trying to control others. We know we can’t really control anyone else, anyway. When we try, we lose control of ourselves. Our focus becomes the behavior of someone else rather than the only thing we can control, our own choices. So to create connection, we want to be open to learning about and accepting ourselves and our significant other.

Next, it’s important to be present. We all know what it feels like to talk to someone who is lost in thought a million miles away. We may as well be talking to a wall. So when we are with our significant other we need to be present and listen. Listen to understand. If we often find ourselves preoccupied when in conversation, Dr. Paul suggests examining what you might avoiding in ourselves. But maybe, we’ve just gotten into a habit of being disconnected. We can make an effort to be present.

The next thing we want to do is focus on what we value in the other person and in ourselves. We can choose to focus on flaws or on value. We may have gotten into a habit of only seeing the ways we believe another person lets us down. The week I talked about gratitude, I told of how Darren Hardy wrote down one thing he appreciated about his wife every day for a whole year. He said that action made a remarkable difference in his marriage.  His focus changed and everything changed.

While we’re doing all of this introspective work, we need to have some fun. Remember why we first felt a connection with this person who is so important to us. Make some plans. Do something enjoyable together. Have some fun. Find some joy. Laugh. It’s amazing what a little break from every day will do for you individually and as a couple.

Then we want to take another look at what brings joy to our significant other. Is it something we can enjoy too or at least support? Does he or she play soccer or sing in a band or group? Instead of sending him off by himself. Go be a fan. I knew a very sweet couple alive, in love after 50 years of marriage. The wife once told me that there was a time she thought she was becoming a golf widow. She decided to take up golf herself and they enjoyed his passion together. In the end they were almost inseparable cooking, and playing and laughing together.

Last, show compassion when your significant other needs it. Be there and be supportive.

If you want to read the whole article about making connections, I’ll put a link to it on my website Tomorrow, we’ll share our interview with Shannon Cunningham LeBlanc. She didn’t find love right away but finally got it right and now she helps other people strengthen their relationships.

Thank you for listening today. Don’t forget to share this episode with a friend or on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. And then come back tomorrow. Have a great day. We’ll talk again.

7 Ways to Create Connection with Your Partner

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