It’s Just Another Day by Rick London

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     It’s just another day.   When I awakened that McCartney’s tune “Another Day” came in and out of my mind…though for the life of me, I couldn’t remember all the words.  So I looked them up. Don’t you love The Internet?

     Every day she takes a morning bath, she wets her hair

 Wraps a towel around her as she’s heading for the bedroom chair

 It’s just another day….

     I got out of bed, kissed my wife, and brushed my teeth (maybe I should brush my teeth first in the future), and asked myself, “Why did that particular album have such an impact), and, now that I’m 58, how far have I come since that time?

     I was 15 years old (1970) when the album was released.  I was still wearing out my fifth copy of the White Album which had only been released a year prior to that.   Imagine how prolific the Fab 4 had been.  Imagine.  And now McCartney was flying (nearly) solo with Wings (including his late wife Linda). 

    I grabbed some clean sweats (my latest haute’ couture) and headed toward the fridge only to notice I was out of SILK organic soy milk which has become my latest daily breakfast (along with organic coffee du Kroger’s own “Simple Truth” brand) .   These are not product placement posts, friends, I promise. I doubt those folks even know I have a blog much less even who I am.

godzilla soy

     So, I hopped in the car and headed out to Kroger to get some more SILK and ended up finding another $62.75 worth of stuff we needed (after my Kroger card discount), purchased it and headed back home.   By then, Lee had already drunk her daily green tea breakfast and was on her second digital design for her gift line, and I’d not created anything for my own.  My mind was on one thing and one thing only.  Liquid soy protein milk.  Have I lost it?  Nahhhh. I’d never had it to lose.  

      After my “fix”, I headed for the computer to check my  email, only to find I could not send or receive any.   Only an error message that looked like my computer had been breached by the Chinese, taken to the pawn shop, and sold for $50.   I knew what it meant.  My feeble webmail was full and I had to empty it which took about 20 minutes out of my day.   I thought once I was an entrepreneur, people would run to my side to tackle such chores like that but nooooooooooo.  So I emptied the email box while Lee was making our delicious morning fruit/veggie smoothie.  Ever since she started making them over a year ago, she always asks me if I want one. I have never once refused. 

     So I look up at the news as my email slowly empties to see the talking heads tell me my country is going out of business.  My first thought is, “Is the cost of living in Tahiti high” but then remember I love where I live and nix that thought immediately and know, having worked in news, that things are never as bad as reported.  If news were reported as a “neutral static event” not many ads would be sold.

       I sit down to digitally design some products but nothing comes to me, so I write this blog instead. It’s just another day…….

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which has been Google #1 ranked since 2005 and Bing #1 ranked since 2008.  He is married to popular wildlife/nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who runs the nature blog HikeOurPlanet.com.  You can follow them both on Twitter @RickLondon & @LeeHillerLondon. 

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Beware Of The Sighs Of March by Rick London

 March is almost here. It marks several anniversaries that usually only I remember because they were milestones in my life.

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     On March 10, 2007, my late dog “Thor” died in my arms on the floor.  The vet believes (from his teeth) that he was approximately 22 years old.  Some don’t believe me when I tell them but actually for dogs on the b.a.r.f. diet (biologically appropriate raw foods) that is about medium age.  Many have reported having had dogs that lived to be close to thirty (human years) and cats that lived into their twenties.   There is a lot on the Internet about the b.a.r.f. diet for pets.  Thor went vet-free until nearly the end.  And he was an extremely happy soul all the way until his final journey on this planet. 

      March 19th marks the 15th anniversary of Londons Times Cartoons.  I announced that it was 15 years last year but I was mistaken.  I started it on March 19, 1997, and this year marks the 15th.  It had other names “London’s Bridge” and then “London’s Fawg” and finally I settled for “Londons Times”. I instinctively knew that might not be such a great idea by 1999, but we had so many cartoons with that credit at the top, I felt a bit silly trying to change it again.   Some of the web analytics assured me that most people looking for it, type in London Times. I didn’t believe it at first until people would call or write or whatever and call it “London Times”.

     I published our 15th anniversary book last year on Kindle, but it didn’t sell nearly as well as the 1st one, so maybe I’ll re-release it.  Who knows. I usually don’t know until the day or the day before I decide to do something like that; that seems oh-so-important, but of course is not at all.

     Occasionally people would ask me, “Won’t that big newspaper in London, England come after you for swiping their name?”.   Actually no, since their name is The Times Of London and only those who are not aware of that call them The London Times.  Other’s would say, “Are you strange? Isn’t your name Stetelman and ya’ll were part of that real estate group down in S. Mississippi?” 

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Yes, but nobody could remember, pronounce, nor spell Stetelman.  That is, in fact, fine in a town with a pace as slow as the one in which I was raised.  But, try living your life in New York City or Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. spending half your days spelling or pronouncing your name when you’re moving at warp speed, and you listen to advice.

      I had an agent in Washington who was younger than me, but smarter, and he asked me, “Have you ever considered changing your name to something easier?”  My first response was, “How does Floyd Stetelman sound”?   He didn’t even smile.  He said, “If you are going to ever make it, you better have a name someone can remember.”

     I suggested “London”.   He said that London is a great name and easy to remember but “why London”.  Well that was my mom’s maiden name.  He said “Go with it”.  That was 1988 and I’ve used it ever since when doing cartoon, writing or design business.

    One of the most interesting observations to me, after a lifetime of spelling my name for people, and how uncomfortable they feel for having to ask, is how comfortable they feel saying, “London, oh like the city”.  My wife, Lee Hiller-London, more often than not uses her own last name “Hiller” in her work.  I like her name. It’s easy to say and spell, and we get our business done rather quickly sans any spelling for anyone.  Now maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole Hiller.  Or maybe just a bad pun. Sorry baby.  It was there…in my head, so I typed it.  X0x0  Sigh! 

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Rick London is a writer, designer, cartoonist and songwriter.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997.  It has been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008.  He also founded Rick London Designs which is a wisdom/life/motivation/inspiration quote gift shop where he designs gifts of famous quotes with graphics of those who penned or said them.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London founder of Lee Hiller Designs where she designs her own brand of unique gifts and home decor. Both enjoy hiking in Hot Springs National Park which is their home, and Lee Hiller-London is a professional wildlife and nature photographer.  You can follow them on Twitter @RickLondon and @LeeHillerLondon.

Your Talent. Think You’re Too Old To Make It Blossom? Think Again. By Rick London

  I have written a variation of this blog on several occasions over the years, but as each year passes, I (hopefully) learn more and understand the essence of what I do in life to achieve more fulfillment; to feel better about self, and others.  I don’t always do it right, but I always try.

organic cows ruled world

      I have learned that we are most definitely not what we do.  What we do, say…for a living, is but a tiny part of our spirit and soul.  But it is just big enough to nourish it in a great way.  A lot of people call it “our talent” and I can go with that.  But from where does talent derive?   Some think our parents, a teacher or teachers, God, the Universe, etc., and none can prove any of it.  I would venture to say it is often a combination of all of the above, but that is not what is important.  What is important is that we do something with it.

       I have learned over the years that some of the happiest people I know do something with their talent; not the talent that “was handed to them”, not some talent or job (or career) someone coerced them into doing for their own agenda, but people who scratched their own talent that they got to know, play with, try, fall, keep trying, and finally succeeding to watch it blossom.  Likewise, some of the unhappiest people are the ones who did, and do the opposite. And of course those tend to point fingers and blame people who have actually tried and done something (whether it be a commercial success or simply a hobby the nourishes their soul), for their own failures.  People need “a demon” to blame.  We who are actually trying to do something call those people “obstacles of our past”. I hope you learn to look at them that way too.  They are the naysayers.  They are the envious.  They do not belong in your parade. 

       The good news is it is never too late to grow one’s talent.  And one can do it without “quitting the day job”.  It can be done little by little, and now, with such easy access to the Internet, it can be learned quite easily.  If one can’t find the information in research, most colleges teach courses in almost any field of interest. A lot of people don’t even give it a shot for fear of the outcome, fear of failure, fear of people asking why would I take up “this kind of hobby at my age” etc.  That’s sad. 

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      Andrea Bocelli didn’t start singing opera seriously until the age of 34. Some ‘experts’ told him it was too late to begin.  Phyliss  Diller became a comedian at the age of 37. She was told by many club owners that she was “too old” to become a success.  Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, was 43 when he began drawing his legendary superheroes and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four.  Julia Child didn’t even learn to cook until she was almost 40 and didn’t launch her popular show until she was 50.  Elizabeth Jolley had her first novel published at the age of 56. In one year alone she received 39 rejection letters but finally had 15 novels and four short story collections published to great success.  Mary Wesley was 71 when her first novel was published. Talk about not giving up!

Ricardo Montalban had his dream house built at the age of 68. That was when he was finally financially able to do so and he went full-speed ahead with it.   Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing as a columnist in her 40s. Contrary to a belief begun by the TV series about her family, the popular Little House books weren’t written when she was a young girl at all. They were written and published when the ‘girl’ was in her 60’s!  Grandma Moses started painting in her seventies (she quit embroidering due to arthritis) but never gave up.  The list goes on and on from Thomas Edison to Albert Einstein (both of whom are thought to have had learning disabilities). 

      Fortunately, I love trying so many things that require writing and design, I am not really sure “what I am”.  So nobody can really say I’m a success or failure at anything.  To me, I am a big success simply because I had the nerve to try it. Some monetary gain has happened, but that is not even that much of a factor for me. I started when I was 43 and I am now 58.  On March 19th it will be 15 years.  And though I don’t put myself on the level with any of the aforementioned giants, I can look at nearly most of them, given what I’ve read about their lives, and think of them as “spiritual mentors”.       

Rick London c2011

Cliick To Enlarge

        And though I create cartoons with my Londons Times Cartoons team, I really have just as much fun designing gift products bearing those images and marketing them.  I am fascinated by things I never learned and I was terrible as a young student due to a myriad of misdiagnosed and non-diagnosed medical disabilities.  Some of them still present obstacles but that is okay.  I returned to school at age 46 after a major heart attack and studied subjects I needed to know in business and Internet and after another major heart attack at age 56, I was already halfway completed with a totally different gift line that does not involve humor or cartoons.  When I began recovering, I started right back with it.    

      I started learning social media, and by then Twitter already knew who I was (I imagine numerous of their future or current managers were colleagues of mine in school, and they verified my account upon my asking).   Please follow me: I’m @RickLondon.   Anyone who has tried to verify a Twitter account who is not a film star, tv star,  Bill Gates,  or The Hilton Hotel chain (and trust me, I’m none of those);  I’m told it’s easier pulling hen’s teeth. 

     Not to worry, a verified Twitter account gives me no credence above anyone else, nor does it make me smarter, prettier, or richer than anyone else.  I was as surprised as the next guy to have one.  But it has turned out to be a very nifty tool in running a business and luring a large loyal following.  

     So you can see there are perks in at least trying.  My wonderful wife Lee Hiller-London aka Lee Hiller who has Lee Hiller Designs and runs the popular nature/wildlife photography blog Hike Our Planet, did not start her line/brand until 2009.  I didn’t have a clue if she was going to make a name for herself or not in that business, but I was proud of her for trying.  Still am.  As it turned out (and turns out) she is a “design/and arts machine) and sometimes she is at it nonstop all day, when she’s not hiking (and another perk I get is to tag along on the hikes) plus learn to take nature photos from the master with her old Sony camera (which she calls “The Magic Box”)  Long story. 

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

     3 years have passed rapidly and Lee has about 30,000+ gift products bearing her licensed images that sell everywhere from Sears to Amazon and through many associates in between.  One can’t help but feel proud.   She has a work ethic that anyone would want; and on those few occasions she makes errors, she simply researches it, improves it or fixes it, and keeps going. I like that attitude. 

    So if you’ve wanted to write a book, write one.  If you just like to write, write.  Today there are so many outlets.  Like this one.  Blogs are very popular.  Magazines and newspapers have scaled down and are often looking for freelance contributors.  I’ve written for both (and radio and tv).  You just never know who needs what you write, and you never know if you’ve got what it takes, unless you try.  And if, at first you don’t have what it takes, that’s a good sign. It means you’ve got learning and growth to do in that area, and to many (including me) the learning is the best part.  The “Ah-ha” moment is a sort of magic.    

     If you want to dance, dance.  Want to learn ballet?  Learn it. Take lessons.  Martial arts? It’s never too late? I can no longer do the Ishinru style I was trained to do in my younger days but Lee has been teaching me Tai Chi which we do about almost daily which I have grown to love. 

      There is so much you can do.  So where do you start?  Go to Bing or Google. Type in the subject.  There you have it. You are on your way. Please don’t give up if something doesn’t happen right away. You are on a “learning journey”.  Remember I’m on my 15th year and Lee on her 4th.  We love the learning as much as the doing, and we learn something new everyday. Good luck and most of all have fun! 

Shark Folk Singers by Londons Times Cartoons

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Rick London is a freelance writer, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 which have been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London founder of the popular nature blog Hike Our Planet and founder and creator at LeeHillerDesigns.com.  London also founded Rick London Designs which is a shop of Famous Quote Gifts including the graphics of those who penned or said them. 

 

It’s A Beautiful Day But My Back Hurts By Rick London

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 I love days like today.  When we awakened it was cold outside; and even though the heat was on and our walls are thick, somehow it sends a signal to our feet from the window so we know and turn up the heater in the morning.   My wife Lee, from Oregon, likes a cooler temperature inside than me, a southern wuss-hick from Mississippi who calls the EMT unit when the weather reaches as low as 80 to check for signs for pneumonia and or hypothermia.

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     But as Kroger organic coffee (blog product placement) left the pot into my large red cup and into my large (who knows, probably very dark brown by now) inside of my belly from years of Kroger organic coffee, I started to warm up.  Lee drank a few swigs of hers and she was fine. I don’t think she even notices cold weather.  Sometimes when we hike I’ve got on 3-5 layers and she’s got on this stretchy tee looking shirt that she swears keeps her warm.  And when we reach the mountain-top and the wind blows the cold northern air (and a few ducks and turkey vultures) towards us, she just shakes it off.  She looks behind her and I’m semi-hidden in the roots of a large oak tree hoping it will offer a bit of warmth.

    Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit but winter and I are not best friends. 

     I love our office.  Lee and I share one and I have the corner window.  I always wanted a corner window office when I worked in corporate America for a long time and my superiors, all of whom had corner window offices would give me a snicker and a look like “Are you serious”?  Of course I was serious.  Do you know who I am?”  And they’d have a look on their face that said, “Yes, and that’s probably why you’ll never get a corner office working here”.  Don’t you just  love the end of innocence?

     Twenty years later I finally have my corner office but it’s not quite as plush and roomy as the potential office in my Washington, D.C. job could have possibly offered me if I could have just hung in there about 5000 years.  But I’m here and they’ve been out of business for about a decade. Nah nah nah poo poo. 

      Anyway, today I woke up to my vulnerable office chair that has been my constant companion for about three years.  It was a good chair and fit my desk perfectly and positioned me just high enough to where I could see over my monitor out onto Hot Springs Mountain.  I could even see hawks, crows, and numerous other birds fly in and out of the lower foothills.  This always satisfied my connection with nature when I could not get out in it.  Due to numerous other health issues, there were times I could not get out in it (other than my stubborn back).

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     But today was nice because I worked for about an hour, designed a few products and turned off the computer.  Lee was about to work out, and I went back to bed.  She asked, “Are you okay, Baby?” I always appreciated that.  “Yes, thank you for asking.   But my back feels like it fell out of my body so I’m going to take a nap”.  She said, “That’s nice, so you may feel my feet at the end of the bed ‘cause when I do my sit-ups I use the bed for traction”.  “Ok, that’s nice”, I replied.

     So my point was, growing up, being sick or injured was much more difficult than today and required a small jury of my parents to whom I had to prove it was so.  “I’m running a temperature, and my throat hurts”.    My worried looking mom would feel my head and put the thermometer into my mouth. 98.6.  She would give me the bad news.  Well it must be the pollen in the air because there’s no temperature, no infection. Get ready for school.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!   I’ve got a big day planned in bed.  What in the world big day could I have planned in bed at age 13 and in 8th grade?  Oh, pull out the transistor radio and turn on WXXX and hear Jimmy Rabbit spin the top 30…and if I could pull it off, late that night, KAAY with Clyde Clifford in Little Rock (100,000 Watts mind you).

       But nooooooo. It was off to school.  And since I “was sick; that is suffering from allergies of some sort” mom decided I couldn’t even ride my bike. Mom felt it was better to drive me.   I so wanted to invent a device you could put in your mouth that would trick the thermometer into believing you had a temperature.  I finally figured it out, but it would never work.  Putting a penny or nickel on a stove would indeed make it very hot, but it would also burn a large hole in my tongue…..the size of a penny or nickel.  I nixed that brilliant idea.

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   I gave myself permission today to feel okay that I knew my back really hurt and I would not be making the 400 ft commute again to my desk to create more gifts for all the world to see.  Surely my customers would understand that I had a bad back today.

   And given all my other health issues that was actually pretty good news.  And even better news is the fact that I have no coin-size holes in my tongue….after all these years.

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    Rick London is a freelance writer, cartoonist and writer, songwriter/musician, avid hiker and nature lover.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons LTCartoons.com, Google’s #1 ranked Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts since 2005.  He is married to popular nature/wildlife photographer and online shopping gift designer Lee Hiller.  You can follow Rick on Twitter @RickLondon and Lee @LeeHillerLondon.