A Good Start Finishes Half The Work

  

A Good Start Finishes Half The Work

You probably have not heard the Russian proverb I used in the title; however, you might have heard the story about the two competitive wood cutters. While one of them worked nonstop, another one was taking breaks. At the end, the first guy was surprised that his friend cut twice as much wood. “How did you manage to do it?” he asked with amazement. “Very simple. While you were cutting, I was taking breaks to sharpen my ax.” This is how I felt after last year. Working nonstop for long hours, thanks to low mortgage rates, I felt that my “ax” needs to be sharpened. Besides, I needed time (physical and mental) to continue to work on my next book. We are now in Maui, where we came for a weeklong vacation, as an excuse to commemorate my birthday on January 13th. 

Ordering “42 Encounters with Laughter” can be a gift for you and your friends, as well as a gift for me, and it can be a good way to start the New Year. The book is going to be available on amazon.com in a few weeks. If you want to pre-order, please send me an email to mannykagan@comcast.net. Let’s make 2021 a Year of Laughter. And to help you to have a good start, start with a smile while looking at this beautiful rose and its transformation.

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Fridays With Manny

  

Say “Yes” to Positivity


During our walks with Max in our neighborhood, we often pass a “Little Library” – a box on a pole, where neighbors exchange books. One book caught my attention by its controversial title, “Saying “No” to Negativity. How to Manage Negativity in Yourself. Your Boss and Your Co-Workers”, written by Zoie Kaye. The author probably did not realize that the title, in spite of its intention, contained a negative connotation. To demonstrate the difference between “No” and “Yes”, I want to share a joke with you.

“What is the difference between a diplomat and a virgin?”

“If a diplomat says “Yes”, he means “Maybe”; if a diplomat says “Maybe”, he means “No”, and if a diplomat says “No”, he is not a diplomat.” And at the same time if a virgin says “Maybe”, she means “Yes”, and if she says “Yes”, she is not a virgin.”

Jokes can teach us a lot about how to relate to life positively and not to take things seriously. This was one of the reasons why I put together a new photo-story book “42 Encounters with Laughter”. The book is going to be available on amazon.com in a few weeks. If you want to pre-order, please send me an email to mannykagan@comcast.net.

Meanwhile, to practice being positive, say “Yes” to these images of roses. 

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Fridays with Manny

  

Let’s Make 2020
A Year of Laughter


Happy New Year, Dear Friend!

I decided to start the New Year not only with a new look for my essays; but also, with a new spirit, which I would like to share with you. Together we will make 2021 the Year of Laughter.

To help us, I published my next photo-story book “42 Encounters with Laughter”. It is going to be available in about two weeks. The book has 42 + jokes and images of laughing people. I guarantee you will laugh as well. In the book you are going to be reminded, first of all, to laugh at ourselves, laugh when life presents you challenges, to laugh with a friend. Like the guy who laughed at the joke three times. First when he heard it in the bar, the second time when he told the joke to his wife, and the third time the next morning when he finally got the punchline. Speaking of punchlines, jokes sound better when they are told to a friend. If you do not have one, just tell a joke to a stranger, and will have an instant friend. As you can see, I do it all the time.

You can preorder “42 Encounters with Laughter” on amazon.com.

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Fridays With Manny

  

Fridays With Manny

It is a common practice to start the New Year with something new; new expectations, new resolutions. In our family, one of the traditions is to wear new clothes on December 31st. It can be something as small as underwear, socks or a shirt.

And of course there can be more significant things, like changing the name of my Friday essays that I write for you. I started sending weekly emails to my clients eight years ago. A friend suggested that I should create a weekly question and answer email regarding the mortgage business. Thus, “Ask Dr. Manny” was born. As time progressed, my writing improved (to this day it is edited by our daughter, Tamar). In 2017, I created “Encounters Publishing” to enable me to publish my “42 Encounters” books, and the name was changed to “My Encounters”. Sometime later, “My” was dropped and for the last two years, you are receiving “Encounters” every Friday. Usually I write feel-good stories, accompanied by 4 images that I took, which many of my readers appreciate, and I receive positive comments.

For a while, I felt that I wanted to do more, to deflect the flow of negativity, which floods our lives. To do that, I was considering creating a website named “Good news 4U”, in which I thought to bring to my readers some positive information. However, I soon realized that it is going to be one too many projects to add to my already busy work day. A friend told me that she recently saw the film “Tuesdays with Morrie”. I read the book many years ago and when I decided to read the synopsis, it dawned on me that Morrie shared with the author, Mitch Albom, similar ideas (good news) which I have been wanting to bring to my readers. Stories about light, love and laughter. As a result, I decided to change my weekly essays to “Fridays with Manny”, which I hope my readers will share with their friends through social media. The new format will only have 3 images, which are going to be posted weekly on Instagram as well. After 2021 is over, I am considering to put 52 essays and 156 images in a separate book. Stay put.

P.S. The holiday season has brought a lot of light into our lives, as these four images of Xmas decorations in our neighborhood can attest.

Happy Holidays!

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Manny Signature

Why Do Birds Sing?

  

Why Do Birds Sing?

A few weeks ago I wrote that in my attempt to isolate myself from negativity, I stopped reading newspapers. However, my wife Elfa still does, and she recently showed me an article which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 26, 2020 written by Nora Mishanec titled, “With less need to yell, birds’ singing is best in decades”. It describes the experience of ornithologist Jennifer Phillips, who “was astonished by hearing that the birds sang more softly in the relative quiet of the pandemic-stricken city. They began using a lower register — a more seductive trill — that hadn’t been recorded locally since the 1950s.” 

This might be exciting news, but I wanted to find out why birds sing. Online, I found ten articles that answers this question. In the website “The Conversation”, I learned that birds spend so much time and energy singing for “two main purposes, and they are connected. First, male birds sing to mark territories. The second purpose of singing is to attract a mate for nesting. Female birds often choose their mates based on some blend of visual and vocal cues. Even male birds with beautiful breeding-season plumage can have trouble finding mates if their songs don’t measure up.” We recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled, “Dancing with Birds”. To attract mates, not only do birds sing, but they also dance.

Birds’ singing sounds are as natural in the natural world; however, why do humans sing? I googled the two questions. Surprisingly, there were ten websites (the same number as for birds) that listed the reasons. I liked one titled, “5 Reasons Why People Who Sing Are Happier, Healthier And Live Longer (Regardless Of How Well They Sing)”. The most appealing reason for me was, “They will live longer” and “They have better posture and look younger”. So if I am planning to live a long and happy life, I should consider learning how to sing. Unfortunately, I do not have a good ear. Oh well, one cannot be good at everything.

P.S. We are surrounded by birds, but when was the last time that you really saw or heard them sing? I hope that my four artistically rendered birds will get your attention.

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Manny Signature