Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pig Wrestling

By Julie Rahm

Pig farming is an important commercial activity here in North Carolina. Our state is a leading producer of pigs with sales topping $3 billion every year. In North Carolina, there are 9,535,483 people and 8,800,000 pigs; almost a pig for every person! But, there are no pigs in the Town of Oriental. And yet, pig wrestling is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in town. I see pig wrestling everyday. How can there be pig wrestling without pigs? The answer is simple. Pig wrestling occurs when, during a conversation, a person tries to muddy another. My husband, John taught me about pig wrestling 17 years ago following our first meeting and coincidental first argument. “Never wrestle with a pig. The pig likes it and you get muddy,” he said with a Cheshire cat grin. The only person who likes “pig” wrestling is the “pig”. The “pig” lures you into the mud pit with an opinion you can’t resist challenging. Once in the discussion mud pit, the wrestling begins. Mud flies. There is no way the “pig” will ever change his opinion. He is not interested in hearing other points of view. He doesn’t care about the facts. His view is not intellectual. His joy is in raising your level of frustration. He gets satisfaction by seeing the energy you’re wasting. And, in the end, you’re muddy trying to convince the “pig” he is wrong.

As a small example, I recall a leash law conversation at The Bean. In Oriental, few topics evoke more emotion than a leash law for dogs. The emotion makes leash laws a great topic to bait someone into the mud pit. And, sure enough, one morning at The Bean there was a highly charged conversation when a “pig”, looking for a mud wrestling opponent, proclaimed there needs to be leash law in Oriental. Someone took the bait. And, during the conversation, they got muddy and the “pig” liked it. Nobody’s viewpoint was changed. Only the “pig” got satisfaction. If you really want to see pig wrestling in action, attend a town council meeting. “Pigs” are drawn to this forum and use the venue as a mud wrestling arena. Everyone gets muddy. The “pigs” like it.

The solution when faced with a “pig” is to remain steady. My metaphorical tools help. Use the level to sense when your emotional balance begins to tilt. Shine the flashlight to reveal the motive of the “pig”. Use the pliers to pull out your argumentative thoughts. Remain calm and allow the “pig” to be. Use the utility knife to cut any emotional ties to the subject. Hammer in the framework for dealing with a mud-wrestling “pig” and enjoy your new found fortitude to remain outside the mud wrestling area of ridiculous opinion.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via

Friday, April 22, 2011

Paint Your Toenails

By Julie Rahm
My husband, John makes us watch the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) on the television. I don’t care much for the individualized violence. The appeal of the fighting is probably testosterone driven. Regardless, it is impossible for me to wrestle control of the remote and change the channel. This week, the UFC event involved an eccentric fighter who paints his toenails bright colors. This fighter’s opponent did not take him seriously. UFC fights are a tough primordial event. There is no place in the UFC for exotic pedicures. Everyone expected the free-spirited, nail-painting fighter to lose. The unknowing judged this book by its cover and didn’t give Mr. Neon Pedicure the slightest chance of winning. Well, right from the start, Mr. Neon Pedicure completely ravaged his opponent. Mercifully, the fight finally ended with a choke hold. There was no doubt about the outcome at any moment during the fight. The bigger, more experienced fighter got a severe beating by the free-spirit with painted toenails. It was a good life lesson for all the other fighters and for us as well.

Too often we judge and then underestimate others. In Oriental, we are an eclectic town full of mixed characters. One never knows the experiences of a fellow customer at the Bean. For instance, I have witnessed a novice bragging about his sailing experiences to a circumnavigator. It was painful to watch as the circumnavigator and I exchanged knowing glances. The circumnavigator was gracious and the conversation ended politely without any embarrassment to the braggart.

As another example, a wealthy man often spends time at the fishing pier. He is eccentric and dresses like a homeless person. I guarantee our towns folk have no idea or he would treated differently. Townsfolk see him at the pier and think, “That poor soul is fishing for his dinner”! Nothing could be further from the truth.

I also find it amusing when new friends start discussing the military with my husband. With a pony tail and a few extra pounds, no one would figure him for 26 years in the Marine Corps. In a conversation about the military, unlike the gracious circumnavigator, he will let out enough rope to entangle the unknowing and self-absorbed.

We know Oriental is full of eccentric people. They metaphorically paint their toenails like the UFC fighter. They are comfortable in their own skin without fear of judgment. They are authentic. This authenticity is the ingredient that makes Oriental a special place to live. And, for those with naked toenails, consider my metaphorical tools to help free the real you. The pliers can pull out thoughts of unworthiness and fear of rejection. The flashlight illuminates the spirit inside of you. Be bold. Paint your toenails, be the real you and enjoy the blessings of life.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boiling Frogs

By Julie Rahm

Boiling frogs is an acquired skill learned through patience. Frog boiling expertise gets passed from one person to the next by mentorship and example. The challenge to frog boiling is that placing the frog in already boiling water will result in the frog jumping out of the pot. Even worse, the frog will not get back into the pot once he knows the water is hot. The secret method to properly boiling a frog is to start the frog comfortably in a pot of cool water and gradually turn up the heat. Soon, the frog is boiled and he didn’t see it coming.

So often, we rush in with boiling water in order to get our way. We want the 100-percent solution immediately. The impatient throw the frog right into the boiling water. And, the frog jumps out. Like the frog, people are driven by self-preservation and are rarely changed by having “boiling water” or harsh words thrown on them. A better method for change is to build consensus. Then, slowly turn up the heat and work out the things you don’t agree on.

As a personal example, I boiled my frog husband, John into cooking some of our meals. Instead of demanding he cooks now that he has retired, I suggested he try cooking as an outlet for his creativity. When he did cook, I boiled him with lavish praise. Soon, he was doing a lot of the cooking. Now he shops for food and plans most of the meals. It took more than a year. He is completely boiled into cooking and he didn’t see it coming.

As another example, I wanted to adopt “Tank”, our puppy from the Pet Parlor. John said no! So, I started bringing Tank home for afternoon play days. We returned Tank to the Pet Parlor after a few hours. Soon, John was sad to see Tank go home. The frog was boiled and Tank is now part of the family. And, John and Tank are inseparable.

If you’re feeling badly for John, no need. John has been retired for three years. I am still working. And we have two boats. I have been the frog.

So, my message this week is to have patience. Don’t rush in to pound others into your way of thinking. Consider my metaphorical tools to help achieve your desired end state. The level tells you emotions are too high and the water is too hot for the frog. The flashlight lights the way to compromise. The pliers can pull out those feeling of impatience and the hammer can construct a good long term plan that everyone can live with. However, one word of caution, its good to know if you’re about to be the frog!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via

Top curve