32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years

First of all, I should have written this post yesterday (on my birthday), but the fact that I didn’t takes me right into one of the most important things I’ve learned in 32 years…

(1) don’t procrastinate

It’s easy to put things off, start something difficult after the weekend, or wait to really dive in until you’ve solidified a plan of action, but the truth is, it’s best to start something now and figure it out along the way. Speaking of starting now and not waiting,

(2) eat healthy NOW, (3) make exercise a priority, (4) find a hobby that keeps you fit, (5) go to bed early and get good sleep

I think this is something I figured out closer to my 30’s and I wish I would have put more effort toward it in my teens and 20’s. I put a lot of stock into the present when I was younger, but as I got older I began to see the value in banking good habits for my future.

(6) money is important, (7) money is not as important as happiness

I have friends that place very little value on money, which I can’t fully get behind. However, they do seem very happy, which is more important than money. While money sets a floor for what you can do and where you can go in life, don’t let it be the driver for what it is you do in life.

(8) dogs are awesome

They just are. You get to give them voices and nick names and personalities and watch them chase birds and steal your girl’s heart and steal your heart.

(9) dogs are ass holes

You also get to see them lick their butt, let your girl tell you, “you’d do it too if you could,” have a discussion about how you wouldn’t even if you could, secretly question if you believe that or not, and have to see your bathroom trash get eaten every time you forget to shut the door.

(10) babies are scary

Get back with me in a year and I’ll confirm this, but between money and caring for a human life, which rumor has it is more difficult that caring for a dog’s life, it can be scary.

(11) Sports fandom is weird

The Lions will never win the Super Bowl… and I question if they will win another playoff game in my lifetime. It’s so stupid that a sports team can upset me so much or make me so happy, but it does.

(12) find your person

I think I’ve maybe said this before on this blog, but before I met Kelly, I thought that I had to be the absolute best version of myself before I could find my person. I had to have the job and be in 10/10 shape and then I would be able to find my person. The truth is, when I accepted that I was OK with myself and allowed myself to find my person, I stated becoming the person I wanted to be. Finding your person has a profound way of improving you and bringing out the best version of yourself.

(13) do what you love

And I don’t mean for a living, although that is a great bonus if you can do that. But, do things you enjoy and that make you smile. For me, I love writing, running, this crazy sport called obstacle course racing… I think there is a fear associated with all those things that when you start, you won’t be good enough or no one cares what you have to say. But, I don’t do those things because I want to impress anyone other than myself (and my wife just a little).

(14) care a little more (15) care a little less

Appearance, health, body odor, showing up on time, replying to texts/emails … care a little more.

Whether or not people like you, whether you look funny trying something new, impressing others, being perfect, looking cool… care a little less.

(16) go places

Literally. Spend a little money and go somewhere new. It will be worth it. Move to Minnesota if you feel like it. Travel to Ireland if you’ve always wanted to go. In 32 years, there has never been a dollar I’ve regretted spending traveling.

(17) go places

Figuratively. Read if that takes your mind off of something stressful. Smoke pot if that relaxes you (as long as you don’t make that the focus…. kids, stay in school). Watch movies, play music, dance, do what you have to do to make the most out of the places you spend the most time.

(18) be nice to people

Being nice is better than being cool, and the sooner you start practicing that, the better off you’ll be.

(19) love your family

There’s a Kacey Musgraves song about family is family whether in church or in prison… it’s the truth. Those people are where you came from and shaped who you are. A big part of loving yourself is loving, or at least accepting, your family (FYI since half of everyone who reads this blog, and 90% of the people who have read this far on this post ARE my family, I love all of you).

(20) enjoy others’ hobbies

This one might sound strange, but take part in your friends’ and family’s hobbies. Let someone else be the expert and feel like they’re teaching you something and they will appreciate you that much more.

(21) audiobooks, man. Audiobooks

You can still say you read the book if you listened to it in the car on the way to vaca.

(22) get a real email

It’s 2017, if you still have an AOL or WOWway email address, you’re not doing it right.

(23) have good shoes

It all starts in your feet people. Bad shoes lead to bad posture, sore knees and ankles, a bad back. It also leads to sloppy appearance. Invest in a good pair of everyday shoes, athletic shoes, work shoes, and going out shoes.

(24) take a look around

Don’t be so focused on your phone. It’s OK to be bored sometimes and not refresh Instagram 26x an hour.

(25) pay attention

I’m kind of listing things as I go, so these aren’t in any sort of order, but this one is important. Pay attention. Pay attention to people, to your body… listen to the wind blowing or some distant train engine and remember how incredible this world is. Batman paid attention, and he turned out pretty good.

(26) be a good example

Someone looks up to you, whether you know it or not. It’s not just your family either. Be the person someone else points to and says, “now that is someone who has it figured out (event if you really don’t).

(27) experiment

I think this word has a negative connotation because if there was a top four list on Family Feud, and Steve said “tell me something you’ve experimented with,” chances are they’d be drug or sex related. That’s not what I mean. Experiment with things to see what you like. Experiment with foods, sports, games, places to live, places to travel, etc.

(28) learn

Learn by reading, listening, watching, feeling, doing, using logic, failing, trying, falling, succeeding.

(29) take things seriously (30) but not too seriously

There is a time and a place for everything. Take the things you care about seriously, but make sure you don’t have just one perspective on anything. Joke with your wife, but follow through on the things she wants.

(31) remember where you came from

Hold on to your memories. Remember your wedding, your grandma’s funeral, your dad’s heart attack. Remember the home run you hit when you were nine years old and watched your dad flying down the left foul line going after it. Remember as much as you can and tell the people you love about it when they need to hear it. Memories make for the best stories and the best ways to make a point.

(32) look ahead

Bringing it full circle, now. Everything kind of leads to this, right? The reason we eat right and exercise, the reason we listen and learn, and the reason we put effort toward the important things is because we need to always be looking ahead. After 32 years, it’s easy to get caught up in being “old as shit (ah-hem…),” but the truth is there is always so much to look ahead and prepare yourself.

I wish I had some big “lesson learned” message to pass on, but the truth is that I have just as much to learn going forward. I guess the best thing I can say is to not get caught up in numbers, and just take every day as it comes and be present.

Man + Pregnancy = Pregmancy?

Pregnancy for first time parents-to-be is a wonderful time for two people — she gets to learn on the fly how to literally grow a human and he gets to do everything he can to try and create some kind of balance to what she’s doing (as if making a grocery run at 8:00 p.m. is some kind of contribution to the child). I think that when Kelly and I decided we were ready to have a child, one thing that I didn’t play out in my head was the pregnancy process.

At this point of writing this, there is a little part of my brain cautioning me to be careful with how I approach what I think I am going to try to say in this blog.

First of all, you always hear about the difficulties of having children.

  • You’ll get no sleep
  • You can’t imagine the amount of laundry you end up doing
  • Keep your mouth closed if you are changing a baby boy’s diaper
  • Poop

What you rarely hear about are the things you experience during the pregnancy part. Some things are difficult, some things are misleading, and some things are actually fun/cute. With that in mind, let me hit on a few things I’ve noticed as Kelly and I near the end of our (her) first trimester.

Morning Sickness

I think I saw a quote from Jenny McCarthy about how whoever came up with the term “morning sickness” is full of shit because it lasts all day long — and this is true. One of the most helpless feelings in the world is watching your wife get sick because she can’t tolerate food. And it’s not just the tolerating food part. Sometimes anything can trigger her, from catching a whiff of the dog food to the thought of eating something that made her sick weeks ago. I bought her these flavored rice cakes when she was going through a “bland food only ” phase, and I’m convinced she will have some kind of reflex when she reads this thinking about the one day they made an “encore appearance” in the toilet bowl.

Food in general

I always said before Kelly got pregnant that I would be curious to know what her “pregnancy craving” food would be. I had heard of women who never liked a certain food all of a sudden craving it when they got pregnant.  While there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary in terms of cravings, there have been some food things I’ve found funny (little voice in my heard cautioning me to not use the word “funny” — proceeding against my better judgement).

One thing is that after a few days/weeks of not being able to tolerate hardly any food, Kelly found out that egg sandwiches were staying down. There was a period of about a week where we probably had egg sandwiches for breakfast six out of seven days for breakfast, and a few times for dinner as well. It made me laugh to see three dozen eggs in a fridge for two people who would be going to the grocery store in a week, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Emotionalism

I’ve witnessed my wife cry during America’s got talent, the PGA Tour, and possibly a Wal-Mart commercial in the past two months. I can’t help but laugh (in a good way!) at how connected she is to everything it seems like. I don’t think I realized how different this aspect of her pregnancy. Now, there have been times where she’s admitted to an ounce or two of annoyance toward me, sometimes for good reason and other times for….good reason. But all in all, I think the change in emotion as been something that has surprised me thus far.

Guilt

I have genuine guilt when she is in pain and I can’t “fix” her. Even before we got pregnant, I had a hard time with allowing Kelly to vent to me about something. I didn’t have a hard time because of anything she said, but because my natural reaction is to try to fix the problem. She’s told me more than once (but less than, let’s say, 45 times) that she doesn’t always need me to fix her problem, but to just let her complain, or to let her be upset.

But, when she is in real pain or can’t eat because, I feel guilty that she is suffering and I am able to run or eat whatever I want, or feed the dog even. I know she doesn’t want me to feel guilty (at least not ALL the time), but it’s been something that is hard to shake and I still want to “fix” whatever her problem. We both know there isn’t anything I can do, but I need to learn to just listen better and not try to find a solution.

There is a lot more than just these things, but we’re only 1/3 of the way done and I’m sure there will be many more lessons learned in the coming months.

Dropping action bombs on my writers block

Do you know those people who won’t do anything until it’s been critiqued, analyzed, thought through and figured out twice over, broken down into bite sized pieces and baked up again in a giant idea-casserole?

Hint: who has two thumbs resting on the space bar right now? ME!

My sixth grade band never launched to super stardom because we couldn’t decide the right name that was equally catchy and applicable to a worldwide audience. In fact, we never learned instruments because we ALSO couldn’t settle on who the lead singer should be, or which one of three non-drummers had to play base (they thought I was going to play base? get real Jordan and James).

The point is, I am one of those people that is too afraid to start anything because I always fear the road ahead. I fear wasting time because it’s not done right. I fear that I will get bored and give up, or that I am not good enough for whatever it is that I want to accomplish.

Luckily, I have the greatest wife in the world (you should see her marital trophy case — impressive hardware people). She is the polar opposite of me in this regard and, sometimes to a fault (love you, b) will dive into something head first on a passing whim. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I love it because 9 times out of 10, she accomplishes whatever it was she wanted to do.

Side note for fun, notable 1/10 failures of hers include:

  • cauliflower-crust pizza
  • indoor plants
  • Running career

I should stop now while I’m not too far behind.

What I’ve learned from her, though, is that in order to accomplish anything, you have to start something. Before I met her, I didn’t have ambition to write anything. I figured I never had a job as a writer so who would hire me? Why would anyone want to read what I had to say? But since she taught me to just start (I think it actually started with this blog), I have written for online publishing companies, a respected fantasy football site, numerous websites, and it’s even led me to what I hope will be more lucrative opportunities in the future.

So, circling the wagon back to now. Sometimes I notice I haven’t written for awhile on this blog, and I try to force myself to come up with something really clever because, well, I’m just certain that everyone remembers the last time I posted and they’re all patiently waiting for something grand from me now. Of course, this isn’t the case.

So, what I want to say in all of this is to just get out and start doing, whatever that means to you. If you aren’t happy with your job, start doing something along the lines of what it is you like doing (assuming you like more than eating, drinking, smoking pot, etc.). It’s more important to get on the path rather than trying to define the path. Once you’re moving, it’s a lot easier to determine the right direction to go.

Let us catch up (#lettuceketchup) – Dealing with Disappointment

This past weekend was my first OCR race of the season. My goal was to qualify for the OCRWC (Obstacle Course Racing World Championships) at the Ohio Spartan Race. The course was muddy, but otherwise a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I did not qualify despite having a pretty good overall race (I failed four obstacles because my grip strength needs improvement and I fell on mostly grip-intensive obstacles).

So after realizing that my time wasn’t good enough for OCRWC, I got a little down on myself. I keep going over what I could have done differently with my training — had I spent more time working on my grip strength would I have completed those obstacles? Could I have run harder in some spots and improved my time? The answer is probably “yes” to both of those things if I am honest.

Dealing with disappointment is a difficult thing. Sometimes you do your best and are told that it’s still not good enough. I want to be angry at OCRWC for making it more difficult to qualify this year. I want to blame the rain or my starting time and use those as excuses for why my time suffered. Part of me wants to blame Spartan Race for not policing their obstacles because someone could have cheated and that cost me a place in my goal race.

I think that times like this it’s important to look inward and not outward, and instead of assigning blame to why you didn’t accomplish your goal, come to terms with it and decide how you will find a new path. Instead of me looking at everything that went wrong, I should instead look at everything I gained from not qualifying this past weekend.

  • This was the first race of the year — I’ll have more races to qualify
  • I understand my weaknesses better, and know what I need to work on for upcoming races
  • My nutrition plan worked really well and I had plenty of energy throughout the whole race, so that is one less thing to worry about for future events.
  • I didn’t get injured and I had a ton of fun racing!

There are really more things that could have gone wrong that didn’t, and I am happy that I was able to compete and see how hard everyone worked out there when the weather was “less than ideal.” Kelly raced along with me and she did really well too and felt great.

In the end, dealing with disappointment is all a matter of perspective. Especially in OCR, sometimes you run a good race and still come out on the short side of where you want to be. I might not have accomplished my goal this past weekend, but I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot about how I can improve. And, I get another chance in two weeks to put what I learned to the test.

 

Neuralink and the future of us

So there is this great article that has been going around the social-sphere all day about Neuralink, a new Elon Musk venture that aims to basically melt computers into our brains so that we can download and upload thoughts the same way computers do. What’s more is that the way we’ll do this is by implanting electrodes in our brains. Then, just like computers, we’ll be able to send each other information, or pull it from some database of information.

So here is a conversation that will probably happen in the Neuralink-future:

6:00:00 p.m. (person 1): Have you heard the new Kendrick Lamar album? It’s FIYA!

6:00:15 p.m. (person 2): No, but hold on let me download it to my brain.

6:00:20 p.m. (person 2): Holy shit I just listened to the whole thing because my brain is a computer. However, I can’t determine whether or not I enjoyed it because my brain is a computer.

As that happens, Keanu Reeves will be in your brain shooting bad guy viruses and dodging bullets.

Keanu

Yes… yes I am.

I can’t make up my mind on how I feel about this. I mean, one side of my brain thinks that humanity (I’ve written this before BTW) is destined for a cross between WALL-E and Idiocracy. I basically see a world where we live in chairs and drink nutrient-dense Big-Gulps and robots follow us around and keep us alive.

walle-real-cups

The other half of my brain thinks that we can use the technology Neuralink is trying to develop and solve all of the issues humanity faces. The initial goal is to cure brain injuries in humans brought about by stroke, cancer lesions, etc. Beyond that, it’s not hard to imagine this technology solving things like illiteracy, or even monitoring the entire body for any signs of cancer and self-fixing anything at a cellular level before it spreads.

I remember reading an article a few years ago about some Nobel prize winning scientist who was on his deathbed and saying his greatest regret was that he wouldn’t be able to see how far the field of medicine would go in the next 25 years. I think the arc of humanity has seen such a rush of ideas in the last 50 years in regards to technology. I mean, from 4,000,000 B.C.-1900, we basically made fire and figured out how to put that inside a metal box and make things move. Then, fast forward 70 years, and we learned how to fly, played golf on the moon, and sent live video from one side of the globe to the other in real time. Fast forward another 50 years, and we can share information instantly with the entire world through computers, cured just about every single disease known to human existence, and even taught the human body to eat 73 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

What I’m getting at is that technology is exciting and it’s generally good for mankind, but at what point are we going to design ourselves out of existence? That article I linked to at the beginning of this rant talks about how humans got to the top of the food chain because we are the first and only species to think complex thoughts. If computers can do that a million times faster and more efficiently than we can, where do we stack up in the pecking order?

I guess to wrap it all up, I feel more excited than not about what we are doing with Neuralink and I hope Elon Musk figures it out. Rumor has it, he’s a pretty smart guy so I’d give him a fighter’s chance. I think as long as we figure out how to use technology to enhance our existence rather than replace it, we should try and push things as far as we can. I just hope that we figure it out before the Terminators come.

5,000 feet, 48 ounces, 9.5 minutes and the destiny that awaits on the other side

Close your eyes. No wait, that isn’t going to work…

Imagine looking out over the ocean at sunrise. You’re the only person on the beach, and in front of you, the darkness begins to shift from black to grey, slowly morphing into deep shades of purple and orange. The waves roll slowly toward you, but are as quiet as the absence of sea gulls that are still sleeping off last night’s storm. The air is cool but comfortable, and you squint your eyes ever so slightly as the first hint of sun peaks above the horizon and bleeds out over the sky.

Are you there?

I am standing 5,000 feet away from that moment and a year’s worth of sweat and grit say that I will have it again…soon.

#BeerMile2017

Of course, I am talking about running a mile, drinking four beers, and doing it in less than nine minutes and twenty-six seconds. #BeerMile2017

Completing the beer mile is one of those moments in life that take your breath away and remind you what it is to feel. It is to be both everywhere and nowhere and I can only imagine it being equaled by climbing Everest or stepping foot on the moon.

Last year, in Destin, FL, I successfully ran my first beer mile (#BeerMile2016). But, like most dreams realized, my desire for bigger, better, faster consumed me and I could hardly eat that next year, my mind racing at the thought of chasing that dragon again.

As it was then will be again. I did not discover this dream alone. My cousin, Chris, also ran the inaugural beer mile with me, and my brother Tyler was there to document the action. Expect the documentary to debut at Sundance in the next year or two.

To recap — to successfully complete the beer mile, you begin by drinking one 12 oz. beer, and then run a 1/4 mile. You repeat this activity three more times. The goal is to complete all required “activity” in the least amount of time possible, all the while doing your best to keep all that goes in you…in you (if you catch my drift).

On a crisp Spring morning, we found ourselves on the battlefield that was the jogging path that ran past Pompano Joe’s, parallel to the Gulf. It was a field fit for kings. Nine and a half minutes is what I posted last year. Chris, despite a few “reversals of fortune” along the way, finished somewhere in the 20+ minute range.

I do believe that Chris and I both will be more ready for this year’s quest, which will take place in Siesta Key, FL, in just over a week. I can close my eyes and picture the sun rising, but until I am staring down that mile, I can’t feel the stillness or hear the vacuum of that moment.

Tyler will again be there and will again document the activity. Due to the overwhelming curiosity and commotion around last year’s beer mile, I do expect a 200-400% increase in spectators this year.

OK, pretend to close your eyes again…

Find that beach again. Now the sun has risen and people are beginning to crowd around you on the beach. The seagulls are prattling above and the waves cascade and recoil back from the busy beach.

Deep breath.

As the memory of the ocean settles into the sands of your mind, remember how it felt to own a moment all to yourself before the world stepped in. That is where I’ll be, running the wake of a dream, 5,000 feet and 9.5 minutes from eternity.

#BeerMile2017

 

Golden advice from a dental assistant that changed my life

Sometimes people give you advice that is meant to get out of a rut in life. “Keep your chin up,” “persistence pays off,” or “when life hands you lemons…” This kind of advice is solid, but it is more of an overarching, catchall-type thing you say to someone when you don’t have any specific advice for a specific problem they have.

Such was not the case in regards to the advice I unexpectedly got from the woman who gets in there before the dentist and does most of the grunt work (ie – the real hero in the dental office [even though she was going HAM on my teeth with the scraper thing, but I digress]).

After the plaque-scraping-around-my-gums fun was over, she began to polish my teeth, and began to tell me that I had “two internal fractures” in one of my front teeth. She gave me a mirror and pointed them out. Sure enough, two little horizontal lines were streaking across my front tooth like tiny rivers on a little white map.

My first thought was “how am I going to fix this? Do I need a tooth cast? Will my tooth just break off when I am eating breakfast?” But then, my 50-something dental assistant began giving me some of the best advice I would never have thought to ask for.

Keep in mind, there was no joking around when she gave me this advice — in her mind, this was info I might not have otherwise thought of, and should take seriously to protect my fractured tooth.

She told me that I should try to avoid getting hit in the face, specifically in the mouth. She told me that if I were ice skating and should fall on the ice, that I should NOT allow myself to fall without bracing myself and landing directly on my face. I should instead put my hands up, or better yet, put my hands up and turn my head so that I would not absorb the impact directly on my mouth.

While she’s telling me this, she is polishing, spraying water in my mouth and using the little water vacuum to pull it right back out, rendering me unable to ask any follow up questions regarding a potential ice skating incident that may or may not be in my short term future. Before I could say anything, she thought the need to elaborate on other situations where I might be in danger, and without a plan to protect my tooth.

She cautioned me to be wary of, and I am going to throw this one in quotes because you’d think I were exaggerating otherwise, “parties where people are swinging around beer bottles and you might get hit in the face.”

This woman is cautioning me about not being at parties where people opening swing beer bottles around at face-level. Parties where everyone is playing whack your neighbor in the hip with your beer bottle, sure we’ve all been there, but I can’t imagine a party where you need to be worried about getting hit in the face with a beer bottle! I mean, I’m glad I canceled my Pete Townshend themed Edward 40-Hands birthday party this year, right?

And she was dead serious. Mind you, I went to the dentist at 11:20 on a Wednesday. It wasn’t like I got the 6:00 a.m. on Saturday and I came straight from the rav. I was wearing slacks and a collar shirt. Granted, I’m sure there are some white collar workers who like to turn it up on the weekends, but the advice still felt a little out there.

She did go on in regards to the swinging beer bottle parties I might attend… Like the ice rink, if I were to see someone swinging a bottle that was going to hit me in the face, I should (and I swear to god this happened, she stopping cleaning my teeth to demonstrate this) I should turn my head (she did this) and put my hands up to block that beer bottle (she did this).

So here I sat, mouth full of fluoride and spit, watching this 50-something woman turn and block an invisible beer bottle with cleaning tools in her hands. This was, needless to say, not the last piece of advice I thought I would get as I finished up at the dentist. Let’s handicap this — before I went in yesterday, if someone gave me 1,000,000:1 odds that the last piece of advice I’d get before leaving wouldn’t be “floss more” or “make sure you wear your night guard,” but instead “protect your face from swinging beer bottles,” I would not have given you the dollar that would have won me a million.

People say you learn something new everyday — that’s one of those blanket-phrase pieces of advice that you take with a grain of salt and forget about as soon as you hear it. However, yesterday, from the unlikeliest of sources, I learned one of the most valuable lessons I don’t know that I’ll ever forget.