Be Amazing, Inspiring, and Pivot!

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson

Inspiring Moment Seattle Aquarium Sunset 2

My long-time literary agent and friend, Lisa Ekus, is a woman of amazing talents, with a super-warm and generous heart and an always-upbeat attitude.

Way back in January of 2011, she sent along an email that I found particularly interesting, so much so that I’ve saved it all these years.

With a subject line of  “Pursue Possibilities,” Lisa’s email urged me and other clients to BE AMAZING!

Here is the body of the email:

*Excuses bring an overall sense of being a victim:

*I don’t have time to work out (I am victim of my schedule, my family, my boss).

*I don’t have anyone to go with (I am victim of my singleness or my spouse’s schedule).

*Blaming others or a situation for how you feel and what is happening may make you feel “right,” but it isn’t going to make you feel better. When we take the role of victim, we take on an attitude of defeat and powerlessness without realizing it.

*Blaming makes us feel right when often we are not…there are few situations where we do not have some responsibility for the outcome, even if it is an outcome we did not want. The sooner we own our part in a negative situation, the sooner we are released from its negative hold (resentment, bitterness, blame) and can move on to the life and business we want.

*Blaming without owning your contributions to a negative situation can make you feel “right,” but it robs you of self-esteem and creativity. Don’t sacrifice the life you want in order to be “right.”

*You cannot hold on to a negative past situation and pursue all positive possibilities available to you.

*As you turn the negatives into neutrals, you will experience a new peace and world of possibilities!

*When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

-Dr. Robert Anthony

To conclude, Lisa urged us to have a FUN and PRODUCTIVE day!


I responded to Lisa’s email with the following:

In addition to “being amazing,” I also try to be “INSPIRING”. . .my new word for 2011.


Lisa’s client and our mutual dear friend, Kate Heyhoe, a prolific writer and artist who submitted the very first story, Alma’s Grace and Style, for this website, chimed in with yet another angle to the “Pursue Possibilities” theme:

I would add an action I try to take: PIVOT.

Pivot out of the situation or mood or situation that’s not working. Don’t think about it, just turn on your heels, pivot and mentally move in a different direction. Done. Onward…towards the amazing and inspiring.


Are you PURSUING POSSIBILITIES in your own life, being AMAZING and INSPIRING?

When things aren’t going your way, do you have the courage to PIVOT and move on?



The Promise of 2013!

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on January 7, 2013

I want to wish each and every one of you the happiest of New Years and also share an update about the Five More Minutes With website.

Since starting on March 26, 2010, we have published 593 Featured Stories, Poems, Short Stories, Editor’s Notes, and guest columnists’ columns, as well as countless Inspiring Moment photos for your enjoyment.

Now, we are taking a few months off to clean out our office, as well as to refresh, reflect, and reinvent at the start of the New Year.

We’ll continue to post submitted stories and photos, in addition to our guest columnists’ work every so often, but not  with the same frequency (Mondays and Thursdays) as in the past.

Thanks to all of you who have submitted stories, photos, and comments. We appreciate your support over the years.

Cheers to the promise of 2013!

More stories from: Featured Story

Is Five More Minutes With Your Cup of Tea?

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on November 8, 2012

Since officially launching this Web site on March 26, 2010, I’ve had many people reach out to tell me they think it’s really an interesting idea, but they just can’t see themselves submitting a story.

Fair enough. As I mentioned in a prior post, this will not be everybody’s cup of tea.

But for others, Five More Minutes With has proved a real tool to help them deal with, and ultimately overcome, their grief.

One of these people is Carole, my friend, fellow writer, and total food professional. Here’s what she said about her experience of writing not one, but two stories for FMMW.

“Truth-be-told, I’ve had these two stories rumbling around in my head for a few years—a fretting kind of thinking, troubled and unresolved. Your new project was just the impetus I needed to write them down.

“I completely understand the woman/friend and the relative/man you mentioned (in one of your posts) who don’t want to/can’t contribute. No doubt their memories are either painful or just too emotional. Writing them down isn’t always cathartic; it can really hurt. But in my case, writing the stories at this point in time is hugely therapeutic. You have no idea how huge.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s like a light bulb went on or a stuck door opened or a spring rain poured down, and now the sun is out after a storm and the world seems fresh and new.

“Seriously. I probably could not have written these stories a year ago. It is nothing short of providence that brought you to me at the precise moment that I was ready to, and had a reason to, finally write these stories down.

“In fact, I almost blew it off on Monday figuring I’d get to it sometime next week until you responded in ALL CAPS that you WOULD LOVE THAT (if I sent them in).

“So I stopped what I was doing and wrote them down and I cried the whole time (happy tears, tears of understanding, tears of ‘ah-ha’ I-get-this-now, and I can put these thoughts away and stop fretting).

“Today it feels as if a heavy, heavy weight has been lifted.

“So if anyone needs to be thanked, it is me who needs to THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to get it all out.

“So thanks! And keep up the good work.”

More stories from: Editor's Notes,Featured Story

A Young Man with Curly, Light-Brown Hair

Written by JoAnn Looper on November 5, 2012

Lee Looper FMMW

Top Photo, Lee and his fiancé, Cathy.

My Darling Lee,

I have chosen you because you were one of the middle children of four.  You arrived early, weighing only 4 ½ pounds so you were rushed to Chattanooga Children’s Hospital to stay until you weighed 5 pounds.

I remember the dear Swedish nurse who taught me how to care for you before bringing you home.  You were the only child who looked like my side of the family.

Thank you dear Lee for having such a sweet spirit and caring heart.  You rescued so many hurt critters and brought them home to nurse them back to health.  The one I remember most vividly was the darling little raccoon that you named Bandit.  You were the only one who could touch him.

The last Christmas that you were home, you helped me take down the Christmas tree and store the ornaments. Then we chatted in the garage as you were getting ready to return to the University of South Carolina for your junior year in college.  I cherish those last moments and big hug before you drove away.

I could see you on the screen of my imagination returning to the little rented cottage on Lake Murray.  You were able to keep your little boat and trailer as well as your beloved dog, Buckshot.  Your love of nature was evident in the choices that you made.  That has made me appreciate our beautiful rivers, mountains, sunsets and all the wonders of our world even more.

I often see a little green car, a guitar, or a young man with curly light brown hair and think of you.  We found your camera filled with gorgeous snapshots of the rising and setting of the sun over Lake Murray.

You and Cathy were making wedding plans even though you were not quite 20 years old.  It was exciting to hear the two of you making plans for your future.

That same weekend, the Lord called you and sweet Glenn Home in a terrible boating accident.  Our world fell apart and my heart melted within me.

I would not have survived if God had not comforted me with His precious promises.  I remember the Apostle Paul writing, “ …absent from the body and present with the Lord”.

I believe that you and Glenn were escorted into the presence of the Lord by angels.

I can’t wait to see you again, as well as your Dad and brothers!  And there are so many others!

I understand more clearly now that children are a gift from the Lord.  You were such a special gift.

We were so blessed to have you almost 20 years. I shall love you forever.

Editor’s Note: This story has particular importance and meaning to me. Lee Looper was my cousin. Gone too soon.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Son

On the Road for Some Inspiration and Refreshment

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on November 1, 2012

We skipped any sort of real summer vacation this year and, while manning the Five More Minutes With website is very rewarding. . .not to mention inspiring. . .it is a lot of hard work.

So over the next few weeks (beginning next Monday), while we are away from the computer, we’ll be reposting some of our very favorite stories and editor’s notes from FMMW’s first year in existence–items you might have missed or simply don’t remember.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I have, and continue to do!

Braiden Rex-Johnson, Editor/Founder of

More stories from: Featured Story

Uniform Races

Written by Brad Rex on August 30, 2012

Here is the fifth offering from one of our frequent guest columnists, Brad Rex. Not only is Brad my beloved brother, but he’s head of The Brad Rex Group, a consultant, noted public speaker, husband for 30 years, and father of three.

I’m proud to report that Brad’s new book, “The Surpassing! Life,” was published in May, so is now available for purchase here.

And I’m also honored to be among the first to excerpt parts of “Surpassing!” in the coming months.

Here’s his chapter entitled, Uniform Races, which gives valuable insights into something many of us struggle with on a daily basis: time management.

Uniform Races speaks to the Five More Minutes With zeitgeist because we should all value every moment, since life is fragile and precious and there are no guarantees. Carpe diem!

There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it.

Malcolm Forbes

He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.

Victor Hugo

All my possessions for a moment of time.

Elizabeth I

How does a project get to be a year behind schedule?

One day at a time.

Fred Brooks


Besides active listening, the second most important skill for successful leaders is time management. A common refrain heard when talking about great leaders is, “How do they manage to do it all?”

The secret is effectively using every minute of every day. There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How well do you use each one?

I learned the value of a minute at the Naval Academy during my first year (Plebe) summer. Plebe summer is an intense training period when you are indoctrinated into the military way of life.

During the two months, you are purposefully required to do much more than can be physically done in the time allotted.

One of the favorite exercises during the summer is “uniform races.” All the plebes are lined up in the hall. An upperclassman yells out a uniform and a time (“Dress Whites. Two minutes. Go.”).

You are required to race back to your room, change into that uniform, and return within the specified time. Sometimes, you are required to take a shower or shave in between changing. Other times, you will be given instructions to put on different combinations of uniforms.

For the first few uniform races, very few plebes make it back in time. But, as the summer progresses, you learn how to optimize and shave seconds off each step in the process.

You start off thinking that you could never change in two minutes, and end up finding out that you can do it with time to spare. You find out just how much you can do in two minutes.

I learned the value of uniform races when the academic year started, and I had to change clothes quickly during the day. I also saw the value when I entered the business world, and often had to race from a late business meeting or flight and change clothes for dinner.

The best use of your time is to take a great time-management course. Lee Cockerell, former EVP of Operations for Walt Disney World, teaches a comprehensive and highly effective time management program. Lee is so passionate about time management that he taught the course to thousands of Cast Members when he was at Disney, and continues to teach the course to business leaders today. I encourage every leader to take this course.

A few of my suggestions regarding time management are:

• Write down your tasks. The strongest mind is no match for the weakest pen and paper. My to-do lists when I led Epcot often had over 150 items. There is no way I could ever remember that many things. By writing them down, I could ensure that nothing slipped through the cracks.

• Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Some people use an “A, B, C” system, while others use different symbols or time periods. No matter what you use, you have to make decisions about what needs to be done first.

• Review your items first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. This gives you a plan for the day, and then feedback about how well you executed on your plan.

• Delegate and “automate.” I’ll talk about delegation in a later section. For “automate,” I am referring to creating habits for the things you do daily. For example, you shouldn’t have to think about working out or where you fit it in your calendar. You should have a daily habit of exercising at a particular time and just do it then. Your exercise time might be 6:30-7:30 a.m. every day. It is in your calendar that way, and you know that is when you work out. Morning and evening routines are not boring—they are a great way to simplify your life.

• Schedule time for the “important” as well as the “urgent.” Oftentimes, urgent items crowd out important items, when the important items are more critical to your long-term career. You should classify tasks into Urgent-Important; Not Urgent-Important; Urgent-Not Important; and, Not Urgent-Not Important. Clearly, the Urgent-Important tasks should have a high priority, while Not Urgent-Not Important tasks can most likely be delegated or not even done.

• Schedule thought and “blank” time. Leaders need thought time to develop strategies and process plans. You also need blank time to take care of the urgent items. One of my leaders, Eddie Carpenter, who was the Chief Financial Officer for Disney Parks and Resorts, would typically schedule the day before and the day after his vacations without any meetings. This allowed him to get everything accomplished before he left, and have a day to catch up when he returned, greatly reducing his stress and increasing his productivity.

• Be ruthless about getting rid of non-productive time. Always have something to read or do with you. With smartphones, you can answer e-mails, read newspapers, and make calls using your handheld device. Time is money, and work time is time that you could be spending with your family. Imagine that you are a lawyer that bills $500 per hour—over $8 per minute. Spending twenty minutes in an examining room waiting for a doctor would cost you $160. Don’t read old magazines—spend your time on your smartphone doing productive work.

• One of the best pieces of advice from Lee’s course is to “do something today that will benefit you in five years.” Many people get so caught up in the moment that they don’t do anything that will help them in the future. This might include taking care of your health, rebalancing your investment portfolio, or contacting someone you haven’t talked to in awhile.

John Lithgow said, “Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.” His statement is both humorous and accurate. You need to take control of your time, or risk getting squashed by life.

Action Items

• Recognize the value of time. A minute is a long time if you use it well.

• Take a time-management course and use either a paper planner or smartphone software to plan your day.

• Prioritize and review.

• Delegate and automate.

• Use waiting time effectively.

• Do something today that will not benefit you for five to 10 years.


A full, rich, rewarding life with accomplishments beyond measure.


Five More Minutes With His Mother

Written by John Paul Carter on August 27, 2012

Today our frequent guest columnist, John Paul Carter, an ordained minister who writes for the Weatherford (Texas) Democrat, reflects on how our own life experiences continue to shape our memories of our parents in his story entitled, Still Getting to Know Mother. 

“How they do live on, those giants of our childhood,” writes Frederick Buechner, “and how well they manage to take even death into their stride because although death can put an end to them right enough, it can never put an end to our relationship with them….they live still in us.”

My mother, who was born in 1903, has been dead for 32 years now. But strange as it may seem, I feel I know her – and my father – better now than I ever have in my life.

After my parents’ passing, I became aware of so much I didn’t know about their lives – especially their growing-up years and ancestry. This led me to trace their genealogy and learn more about the people and historical context that shaped them.

However, apart from this more recent gathering of data, knowing my parents better has been a long and gradual process, like the fermenting of grapes into fine wine.

As the events of my own life have unfolded and I’ve had time for reflection, a deeper understanding of my parents has evolved.

“Memory is more than a looking back to a time that no longer is,” says Buechner, “it is a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change with the life that is in it still.”

Many memories of my mother were my perceptions of her from a child’s perspective.

Some of what I remembered was accurate but other impressions were distorted.

As the Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…”

Only later, as an adult, when I had children of my own, did I really begin to know my mother better.

One of many unforgettable insights happened as I drove home alone after leaving my daughter Kristen at A&M at the beginning of her freshman year.

From 25 years before, my mother’s face flashed into my mind as she weakly waved goodbye to me while I excitedly drove away to attend graduate school in Scotland.

After the guilt of my insensitivity had receded, I was grateful to better understand my mother’s mixed feelings.

When over the course of our lives, we, like our parents, have loved, worked, struggled, achieved, lost, rejoiced, grieved, enjoyed good days, survived hard times, aged, and looked death in the eye, then – and only then – can we come close to understanding and appreciating our parents and those who have loved us from the beginning.

Our own experiences continue to shape our memories of our parents.

To borrow a phrase from the title of a well-known book, sometimes it’s like meeting our parents again for the first time.

And, Buechner would add, “If they had things to say to us then, they have things to say to us now too, nor are they by any means things we expect or the same things.”

Lord, thank you for my parents and our still growing relationship.




Are You REALLY Listening?

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on August 16, 2012

I do lots of reading on American Express’s Open Forum. It’s a great resource for everyone in business, but is especially meaningful and useful to a small business person, such as myself, who works out from home and doesn’t have the typical office interactions that those who work outside the home in corporate settings do.

This article by Stephen Shapiro, self-described “Chief Innovation Evangelist” and author of “Best Practices Are Stupid,” the #1 Innovation Book of 2011, really got my attention.

He recounts being on an airplane when things went wrong. Although fellow passengers (and he) didn’t really listen to the crew members’ instructions before the flight began, once there was an inkling of trouble just before landing, everyone aboard really started to listen.

Shapiro offers up several hints to listening better in What It Means to Really Listen:

The first step to listening better is to recognize the fact that you don’t. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Are you really hearing what others are saying?  Or are you only passively listening?

• Are you focused on their words?  Or are you thinking about what you will say next?

• Are you putting yourself in the shoes of the other person?  Or are you only interested in meeting your own objectives?

• Do you ask a lot of questions?  Or are you doing all of the talking?

• Are you hearing what they are really saying?  Or are you too colored by your own perceptions, judgments and filters?

This last question is critical. If you are honest, you will most likely begin to see that your filters are getting in the way of communication. By recognizing that you even possess these filters, you can become more aware when they begin to color your interpretations. This allows you the choice to set them aside so you can create an effective opening to listen.

Are you really listening to those around you today? Do you register what your family and friends are saying, or just nod and go along with the status quo? Can you be a better listener, starting today?


More stories from: Featured Story

Lost Summer Romance: This Wonderful Surprise, Part IV

Written by Barry A. Popkin on July 26, 2012

Staring off in the cold grey dawn

wondering if I was wrong.

I remember the look in your eyes

now hazed as I cry.

In the silence of a dead calm

now there is no place in our time.

The past rushes over me and I become blind.

Like the torrid waves in my mind

fades to nothing down a black hole of time

of now memory of regretful past.

But still I had love that will last.

Thinking now of the dark rain

as it always seems to happen

in a tidal wave of despair

and an ever-darkening pain.

From the shadows of the past

my sad thoughts echo in measured tones

like weights of ancient stones.

The web of gloom surrounds me

like black castle walls trying to defeat me.

But my disturbing memories

blazed into my mind’s fires

now lost without your desires.

Starry nights to silvery moons

turn now to nights in many dooms.

To wading deep in worry now

until the gentle breeze of time

pushes them back to sublime

Now I see them in a new view.

Like love and lost encased in a bubble

pops open to new potentials.

Now soft mystic winds are blowing

as my wholeness floats back to me.

I now can feel my heart trigger

as I warm to a new glow.

With a young and strong heart

I am now ready to depart.

I now walk alone

solid as a stone.

Into the abysses of loss.

But they are sucked into the past

through a wormhole in time.

Thirty years later

perhaps being the greater

I ponder where we had walked

now in the footprints to talk.

I find myself in a floating sea of maybe.

Now I am traveling alone down that highway of bird sanctuaries and sand dunes.

To the highway and island of memory and time.

I am now courting past memories piercing the heart sublime.

I feel the love for what has been.

Looking back thinking my heart can recover and win.

I am the lonely figurehead defined as some body with no real powers.

Then rain shadows my heart and eyes with showers.

Dark shadows now behind me overcoming my life’s rhythm.

Is this dark shadow my consequences catching up on me?

Or is it here to jettison me on.

I now feel its power pushing me forward.

But is this a godly trick?

To push, me back, to my chaotic mix.

Now the rain has stopped and the moonlight crown

has shown upon my head.

But now darkness consumes me and I feel dread.

But it is only the night and I now start to feel anger in red.

Yes I am sad, but I am also inflamed and stormy.

This now torrent rain is trying to defeat me;

in a never to know, potential, to consume me.

Then the sky clears from a never ending rain to one of anger and disdain.

Then suddenly I realize it is not raining it was just my tears.

On this fast road I now see a reflection shimmering in a heavenly pool.

A reflection of a memory suddenly I realize is cool.

Now I see only sunshine as I realize she was a great love.

But as my second oldest brother’s wisdom said,

“It is better to love and lost than not loved at all.”

Thirty years later,

perhaps being the greater,

Linda has found me.

She tells me she loved me and always will.

Sorry you left suddenly as we never talked about how we parted.

But now gives me a kiss.

As now nothing is amiss.

The past had merged with the future and although we are worlds apart;

It is good to know in closure that we pierced each other’s hearts.

Editor’s Note: Barry A. Popkin is the Delaware-based author of four books in multiple genres including military history and family biography. They include: “My Year in Vietnam,” “The Savior The Prophet The War,” “Worlds Collide,” and “The Death of God in New York City.” All the books are available on his website or on

Lost Summer Romance: This Wonderful Surprise, Part III

Written by Barry A. Popkin on July 23, 2012

Like all dangerous things that happen to us, first we get frightened, then excited, and now there is nothing in the room except excitement and chemistry between us.

Her scent and fragile state makes me most loving and protective, and soon excitement and chemistry totally takes over.

Her delicate hands were holding me tightly, as I lightly hold and kiss her.

She follows my lead from a soft waltz as the soft music plays in our heads and emotions to whirling care for each other, to loving swelling exotic need, to hot love and desire.

The incident had frightened her but now that has turned to out-of-control excitement, and she rushed to be consumed by my embrace. The coupling is intense and long as we merge into one harmonious union.

We are now in perfect harmony with each other’s existence and with loving each other.

The loving entity of love brought to blissful flowing joy.

Then she burst out loud laughing saying, “You are so crazy, but I love you so much.”

We fall asleep peacefully spent on the couch like two dead people.

Ten days later I had to appear in court. They took my license away for the next 18 months. But I bought a new low-profile steel, gray, ordinary-looking sedan, and snuck out when I absolutely had too.

Soon I started coming home to my Queens Village place that I hadn’t seen much of during the summer, as I was always some other place.

This apartment was close by my parent’s apartment that they were now living in.

It was almost weekly I found Linda at my mother’s place. This should have been a signal to me that something was on Linda’s mind.

But I was distracted by other things. I’m not necessarily religious, but I have always felt spiritual.

And looking back, I feel perhaps that God had given me bad timing, or bad judgment.

I was distant that week when she needed me the most.

Soon when I was over her house she started getting calls from some man. I know Linda, and something was amiss.

I now could see her manner and demeanor were different towards me.

Furthermore, I could tell as she talked on the phone I was no longer her special someone.

I pondered this moment, and, in a flash, I knew my special time with her was over.

But I walked away totally in love with her and with loving pride. I only wanted the best for her, and knew I wasn’t quite ready to say, “I do.”

This was my loss, and my forever absolutely wonderful memories of her.

It’s strange the times you find love in your life. It is actually real and does exist.

Thank god in that memory amiss, there is bliss.

Editor’s Note: Barry A. Popkin is the Delaware-based author of four books in multiple genres including military history and family biography. They include: “My Year in Vietnam,” “The Savior The Prophet The War,” “Worlds Collide,” and “The Death of God in New York City.” All the books are available on his website or on

Read the Final Installment of Lost Summer Romance: This Wonderful Surprise, on Thursday, July 26.


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