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Personal Brainstorming with No Agenda, on Random Topics

A simple way to proceed effectively on a daily and weekly basis in this ultra-hectic world

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In the course of my day or week, I find myself sitting at a table, on a bench, on a couch, or someplace pleasant. During that time, I might be waiting for someone to arrive, listening to music, or otherwise have a few minutes to myself. Invariably, I reach for a pen and a piece of paper, of any size, and start making notes.

What kind of notes do I make? They are random in nature and purely personal. I might list items that I need to pick up on the way home. I might list things that I want to accomplish in the next few days. “Is there a room or space in my house that needs cleaning?” “Do I need to take the car into the service station?”

500 Personal Brainstorms

These random notes, at random times, have proven to be invaluable.  In the last 10 years, I likely have created 500+ lists, roughly one per week. The notes are like personal brainstorming sessions. I write down whatever comes to mind.

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Not every item that makes the list represents a ‘to-do.’ Some items are merely observations, keywords, or random phrases.

Soon, I mow down the items to the best of my ability. I don’t let any list items linger; I either transfer items to my master to do list, or handle them on the spot. In any event, I cross off or transfer everything, and then discard the original piece of paper. This ritual helps me to feel whole and complete.

Let’s Do it Again

The next time I’m out and about, which could be the next day or sometime next week, I might generate another list. I put the minutes I have to good use – waiting, listening, or reflecting. Or I’ll make a new list, knowing it contributes to peace of mind, greater focus, and an enhanced sense of personal energy.

If you’ve never tried brainstorming for one, I heartily recommend it. You can write down random items like I do, or you could focus on a particular issue. It’s your choice, but in any case, you’ll find the techniques to be satisfying rewarding, and a simple way to proceed on a daily and weekly basis in this ultra-hectic world.

For Your Eyes Only

Here is a sampling of random notes to myself as I mark them down, with no rhyme or reason, but it all works for me:

* Send current topic list to Nancy
* Ask Ashley if there’s any renewed program interest
* Send 50 topics where else?
* Update with lecture bureau
* Check out CDs on wealth, retirement, travel, and leisure

* Ensure that “The voice” is on my DVR recording schedule
* Where to send the UPS article?
* Greensboro properties, Winston-Salem properties
* Find the green sun screen
* Strawberries still good?

* Visit Cary Town Center
* The snow scraper goes
* Replace remote batteries
* Re-pot all the plants
* Add these notes to this article as examples for readers.

The great benefit of creating these lists on the fly is that I feel whole and complete when I return to my house or my office, because I have no lingering thoughts spinning around in my head. My current thoughts are all on the little slip of paper.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Wrongly Imprisoned Real Estate Broker Demands Investigation of Ohio Prosecutors

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The Obama administration targeted sole proprietors and small businesses in the real estate industry after the crash of 2008, while letting the big banks off the hook with bailouts. One of most horrific cases involved Republican real estate broker Tony Viola, who served nine and a half years in prison as a juicy target of Ohio Democratic prosecutor Dan Kasaris. He was convicted of supposedly tricking banks into offering mortgages with no money down. But in reality, the banks were knowingly offering those loans — evidence the prosecution withheld from him. 

Viola only got out of prison due to an employee of the prosecution, Dawn Pasela, becoming so disgusted with the suppression of evidence showing the banks weren’t tricked and other corruption such as missing computers full of evidence that she changed sides, helping Viola conduct a successful appeal pro se from prison.   

But nothing happened to Kasaris or the federal prosecutor involved, Mark Bennett. Pasela’s parents, Edward and Karen Pasela, who have remained fairly quiet until now, are so outraged that they participated in a a press conference with investigative journalist Brian Douglas last month exposing what happened in Viola’s case and how bad corruption is in the Ohio criminal justice legal system. 

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Douglas put together Viola’s story in a two-part series which included former colleagues of Viola’s testifying to his impeccable character. For his efforts, Douglas was threatened with a lawsuit by Kasaris’s attorney, which Douglas included in his investigation so people are aware of the intimidation. Douglas has been forced to hire his own attorney.

Pasela was threatened by several FBI agents with prosecution if she did not leave the state and avoid testifying. They said they would bring charges against her for violating an NDA — but she never signed an NDA.

Pasela was found dead the day she was supposed to testify in court in Viola’s defense for the first time, and it was blown off as alcohol poisoning with no real investigation. The parents of Pasela want a full investigation into their daughter’s death. 

Kelly Patrick, who was married to John Patrick, the brother of Kasaris, revealed how she discovered that Kasaris intervened as county prosecutor to prevent his brother from being prosecuted for domestic violence against her and for a marijuana growing operation. She also has evidence that Kasaris was having a longterm extramarital affair with the prosecution’s key witness, Kathryn Clover, documented by over 100 pages of Facebook messages with his wife Susan. Bennett admitted that Clover, who was a paralegal for the prosecution, not really much of a fact witness as she was portrayed, had committed perjury but would not let her recant her testimony on the witness stand, even though she wanted to. 

Elsebeth Baumgartner also spent several years in prison due to legal corruption in Ohio. She discovered $1.4 million being misspent related to schools, and, as a lawyer, initiated federal racketeering lawsuits against those responsible. Kasaris got her indicted for intimidating a judge with the lawsuits — even though no federal judge ever ruled that her lawsuits were without merit. 

She believes she was targeted because she ran a blog exposing all the corruption. She said the corruption and cover-ups are so bad she’s been unable to get any justice, “There is no place to go to bring public corruption charges against a public official.” 

Brenda Bickerstaff, a private investigator, explained how as part of her job, she tried to talk to a witness in a high-profile case, and Kasaris threatened to have her indicted if she did. 

Bob Grunstein, who wrote “Bad Minds, High Places” about how powerful people in the criminal justice system in Ohio misused the system to attack him after he dared to criticize an Ohio judge, relayed how common the corruption in Viola’s case is. He said the problem is the corrupt are untouchable. “Any new rules and laws don’t matter since they won’t follow them, and no one will hold them accountable. No one will come forward because they’re terrified of what they’ll do to them. The federal courts protect their friends in the lower courts, because that’s where they came from.” 

Viola said his case comes down to four key facts: First, the prosecution has never turned over the $20 million it collected as “restitution” to the “victims,” big banks. Instead, it’s been used as sort of a “slush fund” for prosecutors, buying laptops, hotel rooms, etc. Viola calls it money laundering. Second, the FBI admitted it did not know about 10,000 documents in its possession — many that exonerated him — for 10 years. 

Third, the judge in his case, Federal District Court Judge Donald Nugent, sealed the records regarding Clover so Viola and others cannot use the evidence of her role to expose prosecutorial corruption in his case and others. And fourth, Kasaris used a Yahoo email account with his official signature on it to conduct official business, using it as a backchannel way to communicate with criminal defense lawyers. 

Mariah Crenshaw of the criminal justice reform organization Chasing Justice said the laws can be changed to stop this kind of abuse. She is proposing legislation that will allow prosecutors to be charged with criminal negligence for withholding potentially exculpatory evidence, and wants to allow defense attorneys to present their side to grand juries instead of leaving it exclusively to prosecutors.  

Viola wants Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to suspend Kasaris and conduct a full investigation into his wrongful prosecution, as well as a DOJ investigation of Bennett. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) asked the FBI in November to enlist the Inspector General to investigate the FBI’s actions in Viola’s case, but so far there’s been no response. 

Maybe Viola will finally get somewhere because he’s gotten such a broad spectrum of people interested in his case. Even Black Lives Matters is involved. When you have people all across the political spectrum expressing outcry over a criminal case, perhaps the corrupt players

responsible for putting an innocent man in prison will finally be investigated — and exonerate over a thousand others in the real estate industry who were likely also wrongly prosecuted.

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Doing Our Best in Handling What Was Unforeseen

Despite obstacles, there is a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish

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By now, everyone has mentally marked 2021 as one strange year. (Actually with Biden and Harris ‘leading’ the United States of America, it was already marked to be a disastrous year).

While we can’t guard against the unknown, we can do our best with what we have. Each day when you compose your to-do list and begin proceeding merrily down it, do you take into account what is likely to occur in the course of a day?

No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the tasks, unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that still could throw us off.

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How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you get an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on a task or project immediately. Maybe a client calls and needs something ASAP. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.

Stymied No Longer

If you are like most people, you might become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day.

Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish?  There is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle.

Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Anticipating the Unexpected

Unforeseen issues and tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this. Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.

Hereafter, when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed with the mindset that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question is ‘Can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?’

The good news is that you can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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