Being George Bailey

Remembering What’s Important At This Time Of Year

(This is an article I wrote last year on another blog. I thought it was appropriate to repost it. I hope you enjoy it!)

While walking my crazy dog Skittles this morning, I was struck by the character of George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. As I’m sure you know, the character of George Bailey was played by the master of understatement, Jimmy Stewart. What I thought about this morning was that George Bailey was a man who always did the selfless, generous thing, and he resented it.

George throws a couple of “Fits” during the movie. The first one is when he confronts his bride-to-be, Mary. He loves her but realizes that life with her will be the end of many of his goals and dreams. This conflict within him results in a rather rough treatment of Mary before he finally breaks down and confesses his love for her.

George’s initial bad attitude that evening stems from the fact that his brother Harry, who George was counting on to take over the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan, has come home from college with a wife, and a job. That, in addition to an embarrassing conversation with Violet Bick, has gotten him into a foul mood before he stops by to see Mary.

George gives up his dreams for others’ benefit. While this results in George wedding Mary and living an exemplary life, it also increases George’s frustration that he was meant for “Bigger Things”. Mr. Potter catches George in a weak moment and offers him a job as his “Right Hand Man”. George considers the idea for a minute, thinking about the money, travel, and fantastic lifestyle that he and Mary would have if he was working for Potter. Then reality hits him and he realizes that “his ship would come in” but everyone else in Bedford Falls, who depend on him, would be destroyed by Potter. This results in George calling Potter a “Scurvy Spider” as he storms out of his office.

As the years go by, George becomes resigned to the fact that he will never see his big dreams come true. He is happy that God has blessed him with a beautiful wife, and four beautiful children. He isn’t happy with his job at the Building & Loan, but he realizes how important it is to the citizens of Bedford Falls.

Everything comes to a head when Uncle Billy accidentally gives Potter $8,000 that was meant for a bank deposit. Uncle Billy and George retrace his steps but to no avail. Even though Uncle Billy was the one who lost the money, George is facing prison, because he is the Executive Secretary of the Building & Loan. He could have tried to throw Uncle Billy under the bus, but he wouldn’t do it. Instead, after hearing Potter say, “You’re worth more dead than alive!” George loses it when he gets home from work. He yells at Mary and the kids and storms out of the house. Then, George is standing on the bridge contemplating suicide. Why was this happening to him? Hasn’t he been selfless and generous his whole life? This is his reward? Realizing the economic and social catastrophe he was about to inflict on his family, George utters the immortal words, “I wish I’d never been born!”

It is only after this statement, that George sees the positive impact that he has made on the lives of his family and friends. This realization hits home as the whole town shows up to rescue him and Uncle Billy from financial ruin and jail. Up until the moment when George has this epiphany, he still has a massive chip on his shoulder. “Why me, God? I’ve lived a good life, put others needs before my own, why am I being tortured like this?” What George had never realized was that God had a different plan for his life. If he embraced that plan, instead of fighting it his whole life, he would have been a whole lot happier.

I guess for me, what it all comes down to is that George was doing the right thing by living a generous, selfless life, but he was resentful of the life that he could have had. Living your life by putting others needs before your own isn’t just a noble pursuit, it is the key to happiness in your own life. This article is entitled, “Being George Bailey”. Not the George Bailey who feels cheated by life, but the George Bailey who realizes that by putting others needs first, he truly has had “A Wonderful Life”.

This Christmas Season, I resolve to be more like George Bailey. How about you? I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

[I am taking off a couple of weeks for the Holidays. My next post will be Monday, January 9.]

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Movie and TV Extra

Do You Wanna Be In Pictures?

Thank you for joining me for this week’s Brown Parachute Club. Today, I have decided to change things up a bit. I am going to interview someone who is experienced with the Side Hustle: Movie & TV Extra.

I know that sounds crazy. How can I be in a Movie or TV Commercial? Where would I begin? How does it work? How do I get paid? Do I get to meet the star of the movie? These were all of the questions that I thought of, so I decided to talk to someone who is an expert in this field.

Jakey Staley has been a Movie and TV Extra for 10 years. She has been in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and more recently Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She has been in many other movies as well. I sat down with Jakey to pick her brain on how it all works.

TBPC: Hello Jakey, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I wanted to talk to you about your career as a Movie and TV Extra. Since I know you have done this for a while, you seemed like the perfect person to talk to about this subject.

TBPC: How did you get started becoming a Movie and TV Extra?

Jakey: Thanks, Jerry. A friend of mine talked me into doing a free movie. She had seen it advertised in the paper. It was when the movie scene was first getting big in Detroit, so we showed up and got to be in a parade. It was for a Made-For-TV movie starring Sigourney Weaver, called “Prayers For Bobby”.

TBPC: Which company or companies do you work for?

Jakey: At the filming of Prayers for Bobby, we saw cards on a table for an agency called “Real Style”. My friend and I both signed up for Real Style, posted our pictures, and met the ladies who started the company. They knew the industry was going to start to get big in Detroit. They saw a need for Extras in the movies and all of the Producers who come to town know which agency to call when they need Extras. Real Style is how I got started in all of this. Your name and picture go into a database and they send you emails on everything that’s coming out.

TBPC: How long have you been doing it?

Jakey: I’ve been doing it for about 10 years. Prayers for Bobby (filmed in Royal Oak, MI) was the first time, so it has been about 10 years.

TBPC: Do you work with Real Style exclusively?

Jakey: Yes, I work exclusively with Real Style. They are THE agency for Movie Extra and Commercial work in the Detroit area. They work primarily in Michigan. I recently got an email for a commercial for a furniture company in Grand Rapids.

TBPC: How much do you get paid and how do you get paid?

Jakey: You get paid minimum wage. It’s mostly an hourly wage ($7.40/hour in MI). It can be a set dollar amount, say $300 for the day, or something like that. It’s always right around minimum wage. You are paid directly by the Production Company and receive your tax forms from them as well.

TBPC: How many times do you “Extra” per month?

Jakey: I’ve always had a full-time job, so I’ve had to take vacation days. I’ve never been able to do a week or longer shoot. Sometimes the Production Company will ask for 2 or 3 days, with “Whip It”, I did 3 days altogether. It’s normally a string of days in a row for the bigger movies. The smaller movies usually get their shooting done in one day.

TBPC: Is it difficult to get jobs?

Jakey: It’s all first-come, first served. When you get the email, if you have the date available, you respond to the agency. They are very organized. They will respond to you with all the details. Sometimes you click on the link and it says, “Sorry, we’re full”. When I first started it was a lot easier to get into the movies. I had more time available back then.

TBPC: If I was going to get started, how would I do it? Just contact Real Style and let them know I want to do it? Would I need a headshot and all of that?

Jakey: Yep, they do them right there. They’re a great company, I’ll plug Real Style!

TBPC: To me, it sounds like something that would be fun and interesting to do. Something out of the “norm”. When you’re in my situation, suddenly you’re open to trying something different.

Jakey: Yeah, it is. There were a lot of retired people, who had days available, they just need bodies in the background for movement. They can’t focus on your face. They need as many bodies as they can get.

TBPC: So when you’re talking to someone, your lips are moving, but that’s it, right?

Jakey: Yep, always quiet on the set, you feel like a Mime.

TPBC: Are there any costs for the Extra?

Jakey: The only cost is $25-$50 to get into the database and add your headshot. You can have up to 5 pictures in the database. You should always keep them updated because the Producers do look for Extras by age, height, weight, and so on. You don’t do any speaking roles, because if you speak on camera, you have to join the Union (Screen Actors Guild). That’s expensive! However, I do know someone who joined and has had a featured role in a movie, so you never know. I have heard that Shia LaBeouf started as an Extra.

TBPC: How long is the average Shooting Day?

Jakey: Well, on “Whip It”, one of the shooting days was 16 hours! There’s a funny story. I had taken the day off work, I did a 16 hour day on “Whip It”, got home, showered, and went back to work! That was a long day! Most shooting days are 8-12 hours. Not everyone gets picked. There was one movie where there were about 50 of us and they only needed 20, we all got paid for an 8 hour day. We sat in a big tent and played Euchre all day.

TBPC: Based on the amount of time spent, what do you figure is your hourly wage?

Jakey: You get paid the minimum wage. If you get paid in a lump sum, that is generally for commercials. These Producers have been doing this for a long time, so they know how to watch every dime and are very strict when it comes to the budget for the movie.

TBPC: Do you get to meet the stars of the production you are working on?

Jakey: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

TBPC: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from filming?

Jakey: “Whip It” was cool, even on the 16 hour day, it was about 100 degrees in there. Drew Barrymore was on skates and a bundle of energy even though it was, like 3 a.m. and we were all dead tired. She picks me and my friend Karen out of the crowd for a scene and says, “You two look cool!” She sets us up at the edge of the roller derby rink. There’s a part in the movie when Ellen Page, one of the stars of the movie skates by, and grabs a poster that Drew Barrymore had given my friend Karen. Ellen Page grabs the poster and tears it up and throws it. The camera was aimed right at us, so we think, “This is it! This is our big break!” When the movie comes out, you can only see the side of my face and Karen’s hands, that’s it! Movie Magic! 

There was another time when I was doing, “Gifted Hands” (The Ben Carson Story) with Cuba Gooding, Jr. He was very nice, a friendly guy. There was a scene when he was standing in front of me. I was a nurse at a desk and he was right in front of me. After the movie was released, I saw my boss on the escalator and she said, “I just saw this movie with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and your twin must have been in it because she looked just like you!” I said, “That was me!” She thought it was great.

Also, during the filming of “Whip It”, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore were terrific and kept all of the Extras entertained and fired up during the 16 hour night of shooting. They were great.

Well Jakey, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I’m sure your information will be a great help to our readers! We’ll certainly keep an eye out for you in those movies! Thanks for your time!

A list of Jakey’s Movies:

Whip It
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Prayers for Bobby
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
This Must Be The Place
The Amazing Cynical Man
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

To find a movie extra casting company in your area, do a search online, or you can go to Casting 360, which has jobs all over the country. I’ll see you in the movies! Break a leg!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Giving Tuesday

Don’t Forget To Give!

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club and the Holiday Season! By this time, you should be preparing for Christmas and had all the turkey you can handle (no, I’m not talking about Cousin Eddie).

This year, I learned about a new charity event. Have you ever heard of Giving Tuesday (#givingtuesday)? I put the title all as one word, with the hashtag for a reason. This is a campaign that was started by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y(MCA) in New York. They use Social Media Influencers to spread the word and encourage giving at this time of year.

Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday each year. I would have scheduled it the day before Thanksgiving and called it Giving Wednesday. After blowing your bankroll on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot left over for Giving Tuesday.

However, it is a reminder to take care of your charitable giving early. Before the “Christmas Steamroller” plows through December and you wind up in January with a mountain of bills, wondering what just happened!

Since Giving Tuesday is a Social Media-based event, it gives me hope for the younger generation of this country. The Selfie-Generation seems so self-obsessed, it is encouraging that a campaign like Giving Tuesday has caught fire. It is promising that this age group can count their blessings and consider giving to others, who are genuinely in need of their help!

During this extremely busy time of year, it is difficult to sit down and figure out which charity deserves your donation. The hassle of trying to figure out who should receive your hard-earned money can become more of a chore than a blessing. Also, how do you know which charity you can trust? How do you make sure the money you donate is finding its way to the people or animals who really need it?

Unfortunately, many charities make a living off the generous nature of its donors. Check out this article that details The 20 Best Charities in America: 2010. You may not be familiar with many of these charities, but they have the lowest overhead of any charities reviewed in 2010. That means that virtually every dollar donated goes directly to the people or animals that need it the most.

Here is another chart that details some of the best vs the worst charities. There are a lot of terrific military charities listed. So if you want to give to our Heroes, here is a great way!

As far as animal charities go, I have always found it is best to stay local. I avoid the national money-grubbing charities that tug at our heartstrings, with commercials of neglected and abused animals. Petfinder has a great way to find a local shelter in your area that can use your donation of money (and time).

I know what you’re thinking. “I would love to give to charity, but I don’t have two pennies to rub together. I am barely making ends meet as it is.” I know it’s a lot to ask. However, since I have started donating 10% of my income to a different charity each week, I have found that a string of blessings have been coming my way. I can only account for these blessings by my charitable giving. It’s like “Indiana Jones and the Leap of Faith” I mentioned in my last article about Goals. Sometimes, you just have to take that first step and see what happens!

I hope you decide to donate to a charity of your choice this Christmas Season. Just remember, no matter how bad things are for you right now, there is always someone else who is worse off.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


Reaching For The Sky

This week I want to discuss something I have been doing in earnest since I was fired from my job of almost 26 years. Setting and Achieving Goals. I came across this concept many years ago, and like Journaling it is something that I should have been doing all along.

To many of you, this may be an idea that you are already very familiar with. However, I had not run across this concept when I was young. It wasn’t until I read the classic “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, that the notion of Goals, as a defined course of action, was presented to me.

All of us are familiar with the concept of setting and achieving goals, but not in such a structured format. I use the example of learning to tie your shoes. Every child wants to learn how to tie his or her shoes. Little Bobby defines the goal, tying his shoes, and he gets to work on achieving that goal. He learns a series of movements or actions steps he must take to achieve his goal. He pictures himself tying his shoes and with practice before he knows it, he has tied his shoes.

The previous example is a very simple one, but the principle is the same. To quote that great Jedi Philosopher Yoda, “Size matters not!”. Regardless of the size of your goal, the formula is the same. I am going to give you an overview of this concept, along with some resources where you can learn more.

“Psycho-Cybernetics” sounds very robotic, but what it means is “putting your mind to work on reaching your goals”. Much of the book is about improving your self-image, but I found the part about using your “goal-striving mechanism” or “success mechanism” to chart your course in life very interesting.

I am going to keep this overview very “high-level”. Listed below are the basics of goal setting and achievement and why each is so important. At the end of this article, I will list several resources that I have found helpful in getting me to set and achieve my goals. Let’s get started!

    1. Your first step is to “Define Your Goal”. What is it you want? You need to think hard about this. Do you want to make more money? How much do you want to make and how are you going to go about getting it?
    2. Is your goal in alignment with your Values? Sure, everyone wants more money, but most of us are not willing to rob a bank or knock over a liquor store to get it!
    3. What are the “Action Steps” you need to take to achieve your goal? In the example of tying your shoes, put the shoes on your feet (check), cross the laces (check), make the rabbit go into the hole, or make bunny ears, etc. (check). You get where I am going with this. Every step you take to achieve your goal should be written down, no matter how big or small.
    4. Start working towards your goal! You will find that breaking your goal down into small, manageable steps will make reaching it that much faster. You will also find just STARTING to work on the goal will often create a series of coincidences (some verging on the weird) that are necessary for you to achieve your goal. Picture Indiana Jones taking the “Leap of Faith” in The Last Crusade. You have to take that first step!

If you read my article about Journaling, in it I mentioned you should review the previous week’s entries. This will show any items that may have been skipped on a particular day. These items may have been Action Steps toward one of your goals that occurred to you while writing in your Journal, but they didn’t make it into your Goal Plan.

One crucial step in the Goal Process I left out is “Defining Your Dreams”. That is a whole separate subject, but it needs to be done before setting any goals. I left it out because it is a much larger concept and I wanted to keep this article about the mechanics of goal setting and achieving. However, any book or resource about Goals that don’t start with Dreams should be avoided!

The importance of goals cannot be under-estimated. I heard about a study, done many years ago, involving recent Harvard Graduates. They were all asked what goals they had for their life.

      • 84% said they had no specific goals, except to kick back and enjoy themselves over the summer.
      • 13% had goals for their future but they were not written down.
      • 3% of the students had written goals to chart their future.

Ten years later, the 13% of students who had unwritten goals were making twice as much as the 84% who had no goals. The 3% of students who had clear, written goals were making ten times as much as the other 97% put together! The 84% of students with no goals are working for students who had written or unwritten goals!

I have heard that you can take a homing pigeon, put it in a box, drive a thousand miles in any direction, open the box, and it will circle 3 times, then fly straight to its starting point or “Home”. The only one other “animal” on this planet with this “goal-striving mechanism” is the human being. Pretty cool, huh? However, it’s always good to have Google Maps.

The one thing I have NEVER been able to understand is why the Goal Process is not taught as a course of study in grade school, high school, or college. What other subject is more important in helping you get to where you want to go in life? For some reason, academia has decided that kids will “pick it up” as they go along with their studies. How? Have you ever been “educated” on the steps I have listed above? If we truly want our youth to excel in life, these lessons need to be taught and reinforced at every grade level!

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Here are the resources I mentioned on the subject of Goals:

Maxwell Maltz: He was a Plastic Surgeon who realized that sometimes fixing someone’s face didn’t fix their life.

Brian Tracy: He has written many books on the subject of Goal Setting. His YouTube Channel is full of priceless info.

Napoleon Hill: He is an oldie but a goodie. He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview the top businessmen of the age and discover their secrets! The resulting book was Think and Grow Rich! The number one secret? Goals!

Book Authority put together a list of the Top 100 Goal Setting Books!

The software that I use to track my goals is ToDoList by AbstractSpoon. It can be downloaded for free at It is not a web-based product, but it is invaluable in organizing and keeping track of your goals! I recently discovered a great website that will help you track your goals and tasks online, or by using the handy dandy app, for FREE! Todoist (not the same as ToDoList) is an excellent way to log your Goals, Habits, and Tasks. It keeps you on target, and I highly recommend it!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


How To Keep On Top Of Your Health And Fitness Goals!

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. This week I am going to talk about something that I came across while I was unemployed. I am referring to the amazing Health and Fitness website: SparkPeople.

After I had been laid off for about 8 months, I was feeling pretty low. Despite some initial positive interest, my small business startup was floundering. I needed to do something I could control when so much of my life was out of control. I decided to take action on losing weight.

After losing the weight, I felt great, but I was stumped on how to keep track of my weight, food intake, water, exercise, etc. It was crucial to stay on top of my weight after I lost it. This is where SparkPeople comes in. I initially discovered the app trying to find a way to keep track of all of the areas I just mentioned. SP is a Godsend!

The app and website help you to keep track of your weight, food intake, water intake, exercise, and much more. My only complaint about the website is that it is geared mostly toward women. However, that doesn’t mean that men won’t benefit from the website. Far from it!

In addition to keeping track of all of your health and fitness stats, SP has a huge library of articles and videos on just about every health and fitness subject you can imagine. You can also use SP to track your exercise goals and it can sync with many fitness trackers like Fitbit.

On the front page of the website, you will log all of your daily food and exercise information, plus keep track of your goals. You can also create groups to make it easier to track your food and exercise. Below that is the Challenges area. There are several personal challenges that you can sign up for, from Taming Your Sweet Tooth to the New Member Challenge. Most of the challenges run between 21 and 30 days and are a great way to keep yourself motivated and accountable during your journey.

In addition to the Trackers and Challenges, the front page also has a Community section. In this area, you can post your fitness journey and get support and feedback from people who are all on the same fitness road as you!

The best thing about SP is that most of the content on this website is FREE! You do have to sign up and get a login and password, but there is no fee and they don’t need your credit card on file! There is a paid option that is very affordable. It will allow you to use the website without ads, which is a major consideration since the website is very ad-heavy.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to all that SP already does, there are healthy recipes as well! There are also more apps! One is for recipes (SparkRecipes) and the other breaks down the nutritional values of all the fruits and vegetables that you’ll be eating (Perfect Produce). All of the apps are available on Google Play. Just type in SparkPeople in the search box.

I only wish that I had discovered SP BEFORE losing my weight. It would have made the whole process so much easier. I am probably going to ride out the holidays at my current weight, but after New Years’, I plan on putting together a Challenge that gets me down to around 220. I should be able to use SP to help me get there and stabilize my weight in the 215-225 range.

In the jumbled chaos that makes up the Internet, once and a while, you find a diamond in the rough. That diamond is SparkPeople. I have already shared the site with all of my Friends on Facebook. This article will hopefully let more people know about the website, apps, and how great they are at helping you live a healthier lifestyle!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Shipt

A Different Wrinkle In Driving Income!

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! Today I am going to talk about a new side hustle I am exploring. Becoming a Professional Shopper with Shipt. I’m really looking forward to it.

Food delivery services are one of the fastest-growing businesses out there. After a long day working the 9 to 5 grind, or in our case, pounding the virtual pavement, wouldn’t it be great to have your groceries delivered to you? The answer for many people is a resounding, “YES”!

So far, I haven’t actually done any shopping for Shipt, but I have been approved, and I will be having my orientation soon. Shipt claims you can make between $15-$25 per hour driving for them, by shopping and delivering groceries. It appears to be like Uber for food.

The customer uses the Shipt App (available on Google Play or iTunes) to pick out their groceries, then a Shopper is pinged with the list. The Shopper decides whether he or she can pick up the groceries and deliver them to the customer within the allotted time. Pretty neat.

There are many reasons I am looking forward to driving for Shipt. The increase in pay will be nice, but the main reason for me will be the decrease in miles, on me and my car. Recently, I drove a guy to Detroit Metro Airport from the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. It was a nice fare, mainly because I had to do some creative driving to get around the traffic caused by Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Eastern Market in Detroit. However, I got him to the airport in plenty of time.

I got pinged right away for a pickup and drove to the “Arrivals” area at the North Terminal. My riders were two college girls wearing Maryland sweatshirts. Of course, they were visiting Ann Arbor to watch their Terrapins get destroyed by the Wolverine Juggernaut. This was a half an hour drive in the wrong direction. By the time I got home, I had put 125 miles on my car and I yelled “ENOUGH”! I had already applied to drive with Shipt and I decided to take a couple of days off to work on my car. I needed to replace a missing hubcap, clean it out, clean all the windows, etc.

The application process with Shipt seems to move along fairly quickly. Hopefully, after my orientation, I’ll be able to start driving right away. Once you’re approved, there is a Shopper Portal where you can learn everything you need to know (hopefully) before you start to shop.

The main attraction for me is being able to drive close to home and keep down the miles on my car. I will be shopping at my local Meijer store, which is about 3 miles from my house. With the upcoming holidays, there should be no shortage of people who need food deliveries.

Even though Shipt is only available in the following states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) there may be other grocery delivery services available in your area. A quick search on the web didn’t come up with anything, but if you check with your local grocery store, they may use a similar service. Just make sure it is a large chain grocery store, like Kroger, Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. I would think larger stores like these would be the only ones to offer these types of services.

That’s all for now. After I hit the road and get familiar with how it all works, I’ll follow up with a “Tips & Tricks” article like I did with Uber and Lyft. Wish me luck!

P.S.: My biggest fear is I will become so good at grocery shopping my wife saddle me with all of the shopping! Oh well, one of the hazards of the job I suppose!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!


Britney does this, you should too!

Hi and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! This week, I have decided to write about something I have been doing since I was laid off from my job. This activity is essential to organizing your thoughts, working on your goals, and just plain venting.

I am talking about Journaling or keeping a Diary. When most people hear the word “Diary”, they think about Britney, writing about her latest crush and which girls at school are so mean! Yes, I’m talking about you, Tiffany!

Keeping a Diary or “Journaling” has come a long way since you ladies kept one in high school. It is now a widely accepted practice among business people, who want to organize their thoughts, create fresh ideas, and figure out what steps to take next. It might even change your life!

I kept a journal on and off during my “Employable” years. Now and then, when an important life event would come up, I would make an entry. However, the morning after I was let go from my job, I fired up my PC and wrote some blistering commentary on fairness, loyalty, and the lack of both in the business world. I also wrote some choice words about the people I felt were responsible for the layoffs, and which biblical plagues should descend upon them! Like I said, venting!

Once I got all of that out of my system (mostly), I decided to start Journaling every day. This helped me to search (in vain) for a job where they would appreciate my talents, hire me on the spot, and give me a big raise! Problem solved!! Yeah, we all know how that worked out! However, Journaling has helped me to organize my thoughts and figure out my next move. I’m sure it will help you as well.

What follows are some suggestions on how to get started, based on what I have learned on my own, and what I have learned about Journaling from other sources.

Start by figuring out how you are going to Journal. “Old School”, with a spiral notebook, or joining the digital age by using Journaling Software. Being a techie guy, I use iDailyDiary to record my daily thoughts. It is a free download from There are also many other Journaling options, such as Microsoft’s OneNote, and online Journaling sites, such as Penzu, JRNL, LiveJournal, and others. These sites give you the added benefit of being able to record your thoughts on your PC, tablet, or phone. Also, you don’t have to worry about losing all of your entries if you misplace your spiral notebook or your PC blows up. They are all safely stored online.

You may also want to consider having more than one Diary going at a time. This is very helpful if you want to have one Diary for recording daily events, writing down ideas, and venting. Plus another Diary for posterity. Sharing your infinite wisdom, thoughts about current events, and why the college football playoff system STILL sucks!!

Getting started. Most people are terrified of a blank page or screen in my case. To make it easy on yourself, just write down what you did yesterday. You may want to put a prompt at the top of each page to help you remember.

Mine says:

Weight Status (2 years ago, I lost 40 pounds so I keep close tabs on my weight)
Health / Workout Status
Morning Driving
Before / After Lunch
Evening Driving
Anything Else
Top 10 Goals
Scripture of the Day

As you write about the previous day, you may remember a task you weren’t able to check off on your to-do list. Put 3 asterisks (or any special character) at the start of that sentence. ***You see how it makes the sentence easier to spot on the page! You will appreciate that when you proceed to the next step.

Weekly Review. Writing down all your thoughts is great, but what if you need to do something with them? I suggest you take about half an hour at the end of each week, to review the entries for that week. Make special note of any sentences with special characters that will require further action.

At first, you may find you won’t be able to write down more than a few lines of text. However, as you get used to putting your thoughts down on paper or PC, you will find you eventually get into “The Flow”. The words will just start to pour out of you onto the Journal of your choice.

An example of why this is a good practice. I have been using iDailyDiary for quite a while now, but I haven’t been happy with the fact that I have to back up the entries myself. Researching this article has inspired me to start using JRNL to record my daily Journal entries. I never would have thought to do this, if I wasn’t writing this article about Journaling, and the idea to write the article came to me while writing in my Journal!

I hope this article inspires you to take up the habit of Journaling. Getting your thoughts down on paper or in digital bits is always a good thing. Whether they be good or bad, it’s always good to get them out of your system. It is cathartic. Plus, I have found that new ideas will often occur to you that you haven’t considered before. It’s a great way to tap into the universe of new ideas.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Uber & Lyft Driving Tips

What to know before hitting the road for your first time!

As I mentioned in my previous article regarding Uber & Lyft, this is a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” I have picked up in my past year as a driver. These tips are meant to show you the ropes if you decide to become a driver. I drive in the Detroit Metro Area. You may find that some of the items listed here are not a problem in your neck of the woods. Instead, you may run into an entirely different set of issues where you drive. If you do, please contact me ( and I’ll share them with the rest of our readers!

I am assuming that you have already signed up with Uber and/or Lyft and you are now driving or will be driving soon. You already know that you have to be at least 21 years old (not a problem for our age group) and your car has to be 10 years old or less for Uber and 12 years old or less for Lyft (this number may vary by city). Now for the list.

Driving Times: As I mentioned in my previous article, I like to drive the morning and evening rush hours. From 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm. Outside of the late-night bar pickups, this is your best shot at making some good money.

Surge & Prime Time: These are the Supply and Demand features that Uber and Lyft use to pay their drivers more during peak driving times. It is my understanding that 100% of these bonuses go directly to the drivers. It is a carrot to get more drivers out on the road during busy times.

The Uber and Lyft apps: As you may know by now, there are two apps for Uber and one app for Lyft. Lyft chooses to combine their Driver and Rider apps into one app, with mixed results in my opinion. Both companies are constantly updating their apps. In true technological fashion, they fix one problem with their latest update, then cause two more. This can be very frustrating as a driver. However, you don’t have any choice but to roll with it (pardon the pun). Be consoled with the fact that a team of code monkeys is hard at work, fixing the mess they just created!

Getting Paid: This is one of my major beefs. Both companies pay you by direct deposit, late Wednesday or early Thursday. However, there is a huge difference in how they let you know how much money you are owed. Uber lets you know immediately after each ride how much money you just made.

Lyft also lets you know, but they do so in what I like to call “Lyft Money”. You see, there are three different amounts that Lyft uses. The first amount is the fare the rider is charged on the rider app. The second figure is the fare that pops up on the driver side of the app when the ride is complete. But is that how much money you just made? Of course not! Lyft still has to take a cut out of that amount.

Good luck finding out what you made on your last ride! To find out that amount, wait until the next day for your Daily Driver Summary email. This will give you all sorts of info about your previous day, EXCEPT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MADE! For that, you will need to click on a link in their email, then logon to their website and maybe you will find it there! Honestly, I have no idea why Lyft Drivers haven’t gone on strike over this one issue alone! Can you tell this gets me a little steamed?

Pickup Times: This is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a driver. What is the furthest distance, in minutes, you will drive to pick up a rider? I use the pickup time of 15 minutes. That means the amount of time I accept to pick up a rider is usually no more than 15 minutes.

After you accept the request, Google Maps (or another map app) will update the pickup time with the current traffic conditions. This means the time to pick up Tiffany at the Mall just went from 15 to 18 minutes. Not bad if Tiffany lives 30 minutes away from the Mall, but more than likely, she lives 5 to 10 minutes away. This is the risk you run as a driver. To maximize your profits, try to keep your pickup times to 15 minutes or less. More riders equals more money!

Map Apps: This brings me to your most important new partner in your driving career, the Navigation App. Most drivers use Google Maps or Waze. I prefer Google Maps. It comes as a pre-installed app on Android Phones. However, it may not come pre-installed on an iPhone. If not, it can be downloaded for free from iTunes.

Google Maps will drive you crazy at times, but for the most part, it is very reliable. To use this app effectively, be sure to learn as much as you can about it. Practice using it whenever you are driving yourself around town. Put in the address for your destination and use the map to get there. Practice muting the audio directions. Touch the time estimate at the bottom of the screen for turn by turn directions. This will show you the next turn and give you a better idea of where you are going. Learn this app backwards and forwards and you will be a much more confident driver!

Also, consider getting a phone mount, so you can have the map app in easy view while you are driving. I use Clever Grip which attaches directly to the vent in the dashboard for easy viewing.

Potty Breaks: This is a major concern for people in the 55 – 65 age group. Especially us guys. I drink one large cup of coffee in the morning before driving. I go to the bathroom twice before leaving the house and there’s a good chance I will still have to find a pit stop while I am out driving. I know too much information. However, this is a major concern for us mature drivers. Trust me, you don’t want to be on a run to the airport with an urgent personal problem going on. I speak from experience!

The solution: fast food restaurants. McDonald’s, Burger King, Tim Horton’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts can save your life. Contrary to popular belief, not every gas station will let you use their restroom. I found out that one the hard way! Keep an eye out for these restaurants while you’re on the road and you can head off trouble before it starts!

Well, that’s it for now. I have given you a lot to absorb and there’s much more to learn. I will cover more of those items in a future post, but for now, those are the basics. If you have a question that I haven’t covered, please feel free to send me an email at

Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Uber & Lyft

Is driving for Uber or Lyft right for you?

Thank you for checking out The Brown Parachute Club. This week’s topic is the Side Hustle: Uber & Lyft.

If you haven’t heard of Uber and the lesser-known Lyft, they are ridesharing services that have exploded in popularity over the past 5 years. How they work is relatively simple. The passengers install an app on their smartphone that enables them to request a ride. The GPS in their smartphone allows them to pinpoint their location for the driver. The driver has an app that pings when there is a rider in his area who needs a ride. It’s that simple.

The great news about these services is that they are always looking for new drivers. Uber is the more popular of the two services, but Lyft is more popular in certain cities. The great news is that you can apply to drive for both of them! The even greater news is that you can set your schedule. You drive when you want to earn some extra money, period. You don’t have to drive the “Drunkmobile” in the wee hours of the morning. That can be profitable. However, the late hours, along with the possibility of having your vehicle’s interior redecorated with late-night nachos and beer, is a turn off for many drivers. I have found if you drive during the morning and evening rush hours (6am-9am & 4am-7pm) you can still do quite well.

You can apply online using your PC. Just click on the following link for the company you want to apply to Uber or Lyft. You will also need to launch Google Play or Amazon on your smartphone, to install the Driver app for Uber, and the combined Rider / Driver app for Lyft. You do not need a Commercial Driver License to drive for Uber and Lyft.

To drive for Uber, your car has to be 10 years old or less and with Lyft it has to be 12 years old or less. Uber requires you to take your car to your mechanic and have him fill out the Vehicle Inspection Form and you send it to Uber. Lyft takes a different route. You are contacted by a “Mentor”, who walks you through the app and the basics of picking up and dropping off your rider. The Mentor then inspects your car and takes a picture of you and your car for the Lyft Rider app. This way people will recognize you and your car when you arrive.

For Uber and Lyft, the issue of safety is a major concern for both riders and drivers. The rideshare system works because of the information that is available to the companies. From the passenger side, the rider’s home address, along with billing information is put into the app, so the rider can be picked up and automatically billed for rides. From the driver side, each potential driver is certified with a background check that reveals any red flags that the companies need to be concerned about.

Once you’re approved by one or both companies, you’re ready to hit the road! There is something very exciting about getting your first ping from Uber or Lyft! You are now one of the many drivers who are setting their own hours and making great money by driving for these companies. Now for the bad news. You are NOT a cab driver! You cannot expect the kind of money a cabbie makes during a 2-3 hour shift. Because Uber and Lyft provide an alternative to taking a cab, they charge their passengers less and therefore you will make less.

The good news is that most people who take advantage of these services are very nice folks and very appreciative that Uber and Lyft are available in their areas. Whether you currently have a full-time job or not, I recommend that anyone looking to earn some extra money should consider becoming a driver. This is a great, low-hassle way to earn money. I chose to write about this Side Hustle first because it is easy to get started and you can be earning money relatively quickly. This is a major consideration when you have been given The Brown Parachute. It’s pretty depressing when I think of all the money I could have made driving for Uber and Lyft if I had just signed up right away when I was laid off. Instead, I went through Plans A, B, and C to replace my income, when I should have been bringing in money every week with Uber and Lyft.

There is certainly a hit to your pride when you go from managing the data backup operations for a major law firm to driving Tiffany up to the Mall. However, there is no shame in honest work. Also, I have found that driving can become “Networking on Wheels”. I got the idea for this blog while driving and talking with one of my riders. I almost forgot to tell you the best part. As I mentioned before, both companies are always looking for new drivers, and this is where you can cash in. If you recruit a new driver, and they drive the required number of rides in the first month, you get a Referral Bonus that can be $200 or more! This offer changes frequently, so be sure to check it out with each company once you sign up.

Also, both companies offer rewards programs for their drivers that offer special discounts. These are usually automobile-related, but other special deals are also worth looking into. Once you have racked up the required number of rides, many of these deals are “unlocked”.

There are also many resources out there to help you find out more about ridesharing, and whether it is right for you. One of the first websites I found was The Rideshare Guy. This is written by a guy named Harry Campbell. He used to be an engineer, now he blogs about Uber and Lyft and other available services. It’s a great website and worth checking out. YouTube has a lot of videos detailing the pros and cons of driving as well. You will want to watch some of those videos, to see if driving is right for you.

Well, that’s it. I plan on following up this article with a list of what I have learned as a driver. What to do and what not to do. It should help any newbies to learn the ropes much faster. If you decide that you want to give driving a try, please click on the Uber or Lyft names below to sign up. Also, click on The Rideshare Guy name below to go directly to his website.

Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy and may you have a soft landing!

The Rideshare Guy