Category Archives: B. Marty Barry

Button Pushing

Today’s post comes from living and loving correspondent B. Marty Barry. He’s a bottomless well of wellness!

I am quite distraught over the news that Facebook is considering the addition of a “dislike” button to go alongside their already worrisome “like” button on pictures, comments and posts.

If the “dislike” button idea were a Facebook post all by itself in this possible new universe, I would press dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike just to be sure you got the idea that I’m NOT in favor of it.

But would that work? Human emotions are so complicated and single-word communication often falls woefully short of delivering the message. It would be simpler if Facebook created a “distraught” button, which means “so upset you can’t think clearly or behave normally.”

But that’s just my reaction to this particular idea. I’m not always so upset, but to indicate it clearly on Facebook they’d have to add individual buttons for when I’m feeling incensed, perturbed, nettled, vexed, or merely annoyed. And then there are times when I’m just conflicted.

I get what Facebook is trying to do – reduce human communication to a simple menu of quick choices because accurate expression is such hard work, especially when it requires writing! I would push a “conflicted” button a lot!

But that’s the nice thing about language – actual words add precision, even when they’re inexact.

Back when I was a boy, cars started coming out with automatic transmissions that were operated by a series of buttons on the dashboard. Some designer had the bright idea of putting those buttons right in the center of the steering wheel for ease-of-use.

But the center of the steering wheel was already established as the place for one-note communication – the horn honk – which meant at least three things depending on the situation – “Look Out”, “You Idiot” or “Hi Neighbor”!

Of course people are creatures of habit, so they kept mashing the center of the wheel whenever they had one of these three feelings. The result? Ruined transmissions in their new push-button automatic cars.


(That’s not directed personally, but rather, at an idea. Although I’ve never met you, I do care about you very, very, much.)

B. Marty

If you could design a button to do one thing only, what would it do?

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

Lonely City Seeks Mappiness

Today’s post comes from living and loving correspondent B. Marty Barry.

First, a word of assurance to all the people out there – although I’ve never met you, I do care about each and every one of you very, very much.

That’s why I can sense a problem – namely that some people are feeling really delighted and emotionally validated by the decision yesterday from NFL owners to send the Super Bowl to Minneapolis in 2018. Of course it makes me happy to see people happy and it’s always wonderful to feel good about yourself.

But I’m concerned that we have loaded too many eggs into our basket of civic self esteem.

Some people are saying this single event will make Minneapolis a world-class city that will finally be recognized as being “on the map” in the eyes of those who apparently don’t spend much time gazing at maps – otherwise they would have found us by now!

I seem to remember the very same result was promised in connection with the Super Bowl Minneapolis hosted in 1992 at the then-fabulous Metrodome. Didn’t that create a sufficient level of on-the-mapiness? Apparently not! The Metrodome is now a dirty hole in the ground and we’re still longing for someone (anyone) to award us that elusive “world-class” status.

Every day as part of my mission to bring happiness and self-sufficiency to distressed people, I hear these wounded souls talk about a burning hunger to see approval in the eyes of their fellow beings – especially the kind of approval that comes from others they have never met in far away places they have never seen.

It is because of this urge that I sit in a chair back behind my clients while they talk to me. I have found that not being visible to those I try to help makes me much smarter (in their eyes) and it raises the value of my favorable opinion by about 20 points.

To be so needy is very human, I think. But if I’m being completely honest, it’s also a little tiresome and somewhat pathetic. But I’m not thinking of anyone in particular when I say that, and of course I’m not here to judge. It’s just that I don’t understand why we are suddenly so giddy to have a Big Date with the NFL – an organization that counts its conquests in Roman numerals (XLVIII so far) and readily admits to having “franchisees” in 26 cities around the country! Franchisees! How cold! And yes, we’ll be in the spotlight on February 4th, 2018, but so what? What happens next?

I’ll tell you! The very next year that same significant occasion will be held at some other franchisee’s place and we will be forgotten!

Yes, it’s nice to be chosen. Our date will leave lots of money here, but we will also spend a pretty penny on new infrastructure – primping and improving and getting ourselves ready. Maybe too much? Time will tell, but already I can see that we are quite eager to please!

Let’s re-visit this next time. Until then, why don’t you set aside a morning and spend it locating yourself on as many maps as you can find! The more often you hear yourself say “I’m already there,” the healthier your perspective will be when it comes time for the Big Date.

Whose opinion matters?

(Don’t) Sit!

Today’s post comes from therapist, personal coach and mass communicator B. Marty Barry. He’s an online relationship manager, a bottomless well of wellness, and although he’s never met you, he cares about you very, very, very much.

Dear Reader,

I was thinking about you yesterday when word came from the experts that sitting too much is a serious problem for public health.

I know sitting has a bad reputation. And of course I’m concerned, because in my day-to-day work as a therapist, I sit quite a lot. My clients are in even worse shape – they’re completely horizontal for hours and hours while I listen to them talk about their problems and neuroses – many of which have to do with not getting enough exercise and a chronic fear of fitness! So when researchers start to criticize sitting, it’s hard not to feel singled out.

But I wonder if there’s isn’t something else behind this – a smoke screen of sorts. Because I can’t help noticing that the world is essentially run by people who make their livings in the sitting professions – lawyers, bankers, politicians, etc.

Who stands all day? Laborers, cashiers, school teachers, and the greeter at Wal-Mart. Even baby-sitters sit less than the people who make the decisions that shape our lives, and “sit” is in the name of their profession! I rest my case.

I’m not saying the sitting professionals have it easy. Can you imagine how many years a politician has to perch on a folding chair in meetings and hearings and conferences before he or she can have a shot at becoming president? No wonder they campaign by standing on “stumps”. They’re desperate to get their heads up where they might smell a fresh breeze every so often.

Sitting down is hard, but if you do it right, it pays.

So I say sit as much as you like. And parents, teach your children to sit as well. If your goal for them is to be trim, healthy, athletic and poor, then by all means disparage sedentary work and roust them out into the sunshine. But if you want them to have power and influence, get them started early sitting at a conference table or a dais, and teach them to make the kind of deals that guarantee they will come out ahead. Then someday they’ll have the money to hire a financially impoverished personal trainer who never learned to sit.

That’s not an order, just a helpful suggestion – offered here because although I’ve never met you, I care about you very, very, very much.

B. Marty Barry

How much time do you spend sitting?

Big Softies

Today’s post comes from personal counselor and mass communicator B. Marty Barry. He’s an online relationship manager, and a bottomless well of wellness!

Yes, that’s what I do. I work as an unseen online intermediary using only words and emoticons to help people I have never met as they struggle to acknowledge each other’s humanity.

And yes, I see the irony in that job description.

But what I’ve learned is that the world is a very troubled place and it does not provide a happy environment for hard line extremists. And when I say “extremists” I’m talking about those who won’t budge concerning matters of conscience or the time of day or personal morality or the color of the sky or closely held beliefs or their harsh opinions of the habits of others or just about anything, really. They are steadfast in their opposition to everything that is not already a part of their value system.

And if you think you recognize someone in that description, please understand that I am not permitted to reveal identifiable details about any of my clients, no matter where they live in the world.


And just because I know a thing or two about extremists, that does not prove I am working with a group of Taliban Commanders who have accumulated a little money and plan on opening a string of political activism and ice cream salons called Hard Lines and Soft Serve Cones and Drones. Or that they dream of expanding it to Florida by 2018.

All I’m saying is that radicals and immovable scolds are people too. That’s being proven right now by all the kinder, gentler talk coming from Pope Francis and Iran’s new prime minister.

Which just goes to show you that one of the nicest gifts a person can receive in any line of work is to have had a harsh predecessor. If the person you replaced was widely known as a party pooper, they can help you look instantly better to almost everyone!

And to all you wild eyed fire-breathers out there, keep up the good work and thanks a bunch from the rest of us! You know who you are! And although I (maybe) have never met you, I do care about you very, very, very much.

Are you a toughie, or a softie?

Friends Forever

Today’s post comes from living and loving expert and relationships thought leader B. Marty Barry.

Dear Readers,

I want to assure you that although I’ve never met you, I deeply care about each and every one of you very, very much! This simple act of caring is so powerful and life-changing, I’ve always been surprised it doesn’t get more attention at the highest levels of society – particularly among our governmental leadership.

But now I’m encouraged to see this changing with the latest news out of Washington that some national agencies are collecting data from our phone calls, Facebook posts and Google searches. I see it as a welcome sign that government has finally realized there is something crucial missing from so many lives – an expression of interest!

So many of us simply want to be acknowledged.

Listening = Caring
Listening = Caring

Oh, some presidents have said “I feel your pain”. Well, at least one said it. Critics poo-poo that kind of sentiment, trying to minimize the significance as a cheap gesture by saying it’s “just words”. But words are powerful! And it matters when we know someone is paying attention to us! Every day I see heartbroken, invisible people who want their voices to be heard, their posts to be read and their slideshows viewed! They’re desperate for someone to care.

In the coming days, as details continue to leak out about what was information was collected and by whom, I hope we discover that it went beyond the simple stockpiling of metadata and that someone, anyone, in the Intelligence Community or the Justice Department or the White House had the courage to simply reach out and “friend” someone. Or anyone. Or everyone!

In fact, with unemployment still so high, why don’t the NSA and the FBI hire young people to “friend” ordinary overlooked Americans, suspicious gun lovers, rowdy foreign nationals and even suspected terrorists? It needn’t be dangerous, since no one has to ever be in the same room together anymore.

And a simple “Whassup?” can uncover worlds of information.

You can spy on people and learn a few things, but I’ve discovered they will tell you absolutely everything you want to know (and then some) if you simply put an arm around their shoulder and ask!

Your for-always friend,
B. Marty Barry

Would you make a good spy?

Happy Thoughts

Today’s post comes from Trail Baboon’s Living and Loving correspondent B. Marty Barry.

I just want to take a moment here to congratulate everyone who hates hates hates hates winter. You know who you are – you’re the person who sees the months of November through March as a miserable ordeal that must be endured.

I’ve been having some extra sessions lately with my clients who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I’m more-than-usually attuned to the plight of the light-starved and warmth-hungry among us. The cold, the ice, the darkness, the Super Bowl – all of it is an affront to your senses.

Here’s the good news. You’ve almost cleared January!

January is the worst month of the year by far. All of January’s excitement happens at the beginning and then it’s dreary and painful and endless. January is ten times longer and fifty times nastier than any other month.

If the months of the year were all assigned a planet, January would be Jupiter. Big and cold, heavy with gravity and gas, marred by an unsightly blot that turns out to be a permanent storm. Blah! No wonder people find it oppressive.

Well all that awfulness is about to come to an end – tomorrow is the first of February! February is a giddy sprint by comparison – it’s groundhogs, hearts, presidents and kaput. Blink and it’s over. Then we’re into March, the leprechauns come out, and suddenly the end is in sight.

So smile because it’s January 31st! The end is nigh. It’s true we still have to endure the Super Bowl, but by Monday afternoon that will be forgotten and then it’s clear sailing! Before you know it we’ll have April flowers, May showers, June blooms, July fireworks, August fairs, September leaves …

But I’m getting too far ahead of myself. My message today is to enjoy this moment and smile, even if it happens to be horribly, perversely cold! And if you can’t smile, that’s OK too. Maybe your face is frozen. Maybe you’ve discovered that buying more assault weapons doesn’t perk you up the way you hoped it would. I’m not here to judge or to impose anything on you – I just want to cheer you to the furthest extent that you can be cheered, and not a single smile more.

But if you’re having trouble coping, think about Jim Nabors. He just got married to the love of his life and he’s 82! Doesn’t that warm your heart? His too-long wait for a change in status has finally come to an end. He also lives in Hawaii, but try not to think about that part of it. But if you do anyway and you’re still sad, remember that you’re not a failure. Your seasonal malaise may be justified but it doesn’t define you.

Not in my eyes, anyway. Because although I’ve never met you, I care about you very, very, very much.

Your friend and (I hope) confidant,
B. Marty Barry

What makes you happy when you know it’s finally over?