Saturday, October 31, 2015

Taking A Writing Break

It's that time again!  Time for me to take a long break and work on a project--I'll be back in the spring.  I'm pretty excited about this project, and I'm working on it with another Midnight Freemason--it's like nothing we've done before.  There will be an announcement about what we're doing soon on the Midnight Freemasons

Even during this little hiatus, as usual, I'll still be contributing articles regularly on the Midnight Freemasons blog, so I hope to see you there!

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, October 29, 2015

FDR's Turkey Day Debacle

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.  The tradition of celebrating the harvest on a Thursday goes back to Plymouth and the Pilgrims.  The most famous of these was the three day festival in 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local Indians to join the Pilgrims feast.

But it wasn't until the 17th century that it became an annual custom.  George Washington, issuing the very first Presidential proclamation, declared November 26th, 1789 as a day of national thanksgiving for the United States Constitution.  But it never really caught on until 1863, when President Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November and the holiday began to be celebrated nationally.

Then comes Franklin D. Roosevelt, who decided after 75 years, he wanted to change what Lincoln had established.  He proclaimed Thanksgiving as the next to last Thursday of November.  Very few liked the change, and there was a huge controversy surrounding it.  Some Americans simply ignored FDR and celebrated Thanksgiving as they always had when they always had.  For the next two years, Franklin Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation.  Finally, in 1941, Roosevelt gave up on it.  He signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving.

And it's been that way ever since . . .

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Finding The Time

"Lost time is never found again."

~Benjamin Franklin

For decades I've been known as a die hard Chicago Cubs fan, so nobody was more thrilled that I was when they made it to the play-offs.  Of course I watched all the games--they were the only games I watched all year.  I'm not sure I watched any last year at all.  That would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  I'm not the fanatic I once was anymore.  You see, about ten years ago, I realized how much time I was spending watching baseball, listening to baseball, reading about baseball, and going to baseball games.  I balanced that against how much I still wanted to accomplish in life.  It wasn't easy, but I decided to invest my time on things I thought were more important.

In the ten years since I made that decision, I joined a Masonic Lodge, I've written six books, hundreds of articles, published in almost any Masonic publication you could name, and have received a fair number of awards and accolades.  My wife and I even had a child!  Not to mention serving as Master of my Lodge, then Secretary, and helping to start two new Masonic groups--the Illini High Twelve and most recently a new Royal Arch Chapter . . . Admiration Chapter U.D.  Even with all that going on, I've still have more time for my family and friends, and am a lot more focused on the things that are important to me.  My life is completely different now because I made one decision--to adopt an "all things in moderation" philosophy.

Time is something you can't replace.  Ben Franklin knew that.  He also said, "Do you love life?  Then don't waste time, because time is life!"  We have only one shot at life, and sometimes you have to look at how you're spending it.  Ask yourself what you're getting out of those activities that you so freely invest your time.  Are you getting a return on that investment, or is it habit?  Is it enriching your life, or just temporary entertainment?  When you get to the end of your days, you're going to wish you had more time. Perhaps now is a good time to address that.

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Being A "Behind The Scenes" Guy

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

~Bro. Harry S Truman
Past Grand Master of Mason, Missouri

I've always preferred to work behind the scenes.  That's where I'm comfortable.  That's the way I was brought up.  Don't blow your own horn.  Do your fair share.  It's not about you. 

As a manager, I put out fires, I plan, I anticipate, and I make sure we're always prepared for any contingency.  Success in my line of work is making sure nothing bad happens--so the less you hear from me, the better I am at my job, because believe me, bad things almost happen every day.  As a Lodge Secretary I do basically the same thing.  I get great satisfaction being the organizer, the orchestrator, and the manager--I'm the guy that's there first, makes sure everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing, then irons out any wrinkles that may come up during.  People know it's a hard job, so I don't really need to tell the Lodge every meeting it's a hard job--that I spent three hours on this, or five hours on that, or the complexities of getting permission to do this and that.  Nobody really cares about that stuff.  That's what the Secretary's job is, so I do it, and do it quietly (I'm sure you're aware that some don't).

My philosophy has always been that if credit is important for somebody, I'll let them have it whether they deserve it or not.  And people that take credit they don't deserve usually don't fool too many people.  But I don't do the things I do for the credit--I never have.  Not in my professional life, or in my personal life.  I do them because I believe the goal we're all trying to achieve together is important.

Everyone likes to brag every once in awhile.  I'm certainly proud of the work the Midnight Freemasons have done, and the huge readership we've built together.  But when you begin to understand your broader purpose in life, who gets the credit for the day-to-day stuff matters a lot less. 

Of course one of the pitfalls of being a behind the scenes guy, and being really good at it, is that it looks easy from the outside.  And it's not.  Of course, as Lodge Secretary, this is part of my plan.  If I let on how difficult the job actually is every meeting, how am I ever going to find some poor sucker to take my place one day?  Believe me, I'm beginning my 5th term, and I have no intention of serving as "secretary for life".

So I guess the broader question to ask yourself is this.  What are your motives in life?  Are you going through life with the goal of being noticed, or do truly believe the things you pour your time and energy into every day are truly important?   You see that's right at the crux of it--there's a big difference in striving to be successful, and living with a purpose.  And I know from experience you'll find one of those choices way more fulfilling than the other.

~Todd E. Creason
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