The Art of Being Ridiculous

Bob Sullivan is across from me. We’re sitting in the Rusty Pelican having dinner. He used to be my district manager, now he’s VP of Sales. As usual, he’s nervously patting his receding hairline.

This is what he does when he needs to straighten someone out without extinguishing their fire. I feel for him but I hope he doesn’t make this too awkward.

You see, he’s the one with the bright idea of bringing me into sales, which George Jones thought was a ridiculous idea. (Me too). Sully pushed, George relented, and I moved to occupy the Arizona-New Mexico territory.

It was mine to lose.

At 44, I had never held a sales position, never filled out an expense report, a business plan or a speaker’s bureau request.

I didn’t even know which end of the body the product went in.

So, having no formal education but for a GED, I was forced to make it up as I went along. You don’t get the close supervision required when you’re 2500 miles from the home office.

Soon, when word got back that I was naked in hot tubs with customers, teaching cardiologist’s kids how to play guitar, doing stand-up at the Elks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and suspiciously getting bit by customer’s dogs in Albuquerque, the in-house tension would start to rise.

The fact that hundreds of pounds of lobster, steamers and chowder were being dry iced out to the desert, mercifully escaped their attention.

Signed contracts were often stained with drawn butter.

I was FTD’s most valued customer with my constantly updated spreadsheet of birthday flowers sent to all my lovely female customers.

It was FTD without STD. Took some doing, believe me.

I needed to be dealt with of course, but gently, because my coffers were rising. Aetna was approving Cardiolite at $110 per injection under my clueless guidance and favorable customer letters were hitting Georgie’s desk.

There was enough hand wringing, lip biting and forehead patting to go around in Billerica those days.

“You’re doing a great job out here Bob,” he would say “but you take absolutely everything to such a ridiculous extreme.”

Fuck yeah, I would think while trying to look concerned. I take everything to a ridiculous extreme. Why bother, otherwise?

Fuck remarkable I say, shoot for ridiculous. No one from that era is ever gonna say, “O’Hearn? I don’t seem to recall.”

A few years ago I got a call from Brussels from a couple of reps who reported to Sully at the time, asking if all the stories were true. Sully told them I was the best he ever saw.

Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing.

When I brought a guitar home at the age of 25, my father told me I didn’t have enough rhythm to masturbate. Dad, ye hardly knew me.  🙂

In five years, I was fronting a popular band playing guitar…and keyboards.

When I got into video production, Sully gave me another “ridiculous reminder” and I ended up creating my own studio in the home office.

Now, in my 73rd year, after a total physical and financial collapse, I am inching towards 10% body fat, a twenty year-old’s body, the wind of a track star and the start of a very successful business.

It’s time to get even more ridiculous.

I’m now almost 50 pounds lighter, a certified personal trainer, certified in nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness. All areas just waiting to be drowned in helpful servings of my ridiculousness.

And the hits will keep coming because I know the value of going shit house.

Remarkable doesn’t work anymore. Always shoot for ridiculous.

Don’t ever have them scratching their head when your name comes up.

Be ridiculous!

 

 

 

 

 

Murder In The Sun Room

I accidentally double dosed my melatonin last night. What a ride. I dreamt in 3d about my stay at the VA Rehab in Bedford Ma.

Things came up I absolutely forgot about. About how I would get reprimanded for not using my walker. A walker? Me?

About the big guy behind me who quickly slipped my belt off of me as soon as I signed that paper.

About when I asked if I could shave, I had to have someone watching me who would take the razor from my hand on my last stroke.

About all the times I was asked if I felt suicidal. I would say, “No, but if you ask me again.”

About that flashlight in my face all night long every hour on the hour.

And that goddam endless screaming almost drove me bat shit.

About that dangerous guy in the next bunk who would sit cross-legged on his bed and stare at me while mumbling incoherently.

About that ambulance ride over to Dedham to get a cranial CT because of all the falls I had taken while under the influence of xanax and Chardonnay. Forgot about that.

About that crusty old female psychiatrist who laughed in my face when I told her I was a U.S. citizen and they couldn’t hold me against my will.

About how she told me if they released me, I could stroke out on their sidewalk. How she went into gory detail about my “hot liver.”

About how we would line up in front of the pharmacy window at 5:00 am for our morning doses of who knows what. I remember it had a soothing effect so I would quickly slip it into my top pajama pocket and double or triple dose on it later. It made for a nice, blurry afternoon.

I also remember worrying about someone’s passive aggressive tendencies now that I was among the walking wounded. You never really knew where you stood with her until there was an altercation. Then she would unload. She was in charge now by default. My worries were not unfounded.

Then, in my deep dream state, it all came back about the sun room where they would plop us down after lunch. A dozen or so vets from campaigns over the last 50 years, free to reminisce until dinner.

That sun room, where all the horrors of war were discussed in detail. Too much detail. It was wheelchairs in a circle like wagons. Everything but the marshmallows.

I now remember the young kids with with more notches on their belt than Billy the Kid. How are they gonna deal with that when the get my age?

It went on every day. For hours. Horrible. No wonder I blocked it.

It was so real and surreal.

Really, you gotta watch that melatonin stuff.

Here’s Your Motivation

On Monday, August 29, 2016, my first morning in my new apartment after being released from the VA hospital in Bedford Ma. with a belly full of Seroquel and Mirtazapene, I was still shaky.

I made my way to the phone booth of a bathroom with the garish, depression era wallpaper to see for sure that I didn’t pass away in the night.

The mirror still had toothpaste spray from the last tenant and the single light bulb in the ceiling created a shadow effect on my detoxed features.

What I saw was enough to make me pick up a drink again. I didn’t turn that light on for days after that.

The following Sunday, while walking my dog, I stumbled onto a gym not 900 steps from my door and life took a major turn.

In a matter of months I was back in that mirror constantly. I couldn’t believe the changes in my body. My whole composition was changing.

The overhead light I was previously cursing was now accentuating my new muscles.

I was just turning 70.

The hook was in. I started learning everything I could about fitness.

I became a certified personal trainer with nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness specializations. Whatever I learned in that process, I used on me.

Now, almost 50 pounds lighter and carrying more muscle that I ever have in my life at 73, I know through education and trial and error what works and what doesn’t.

These days, it’s a dream to work with clients who now have a new relationship with their mirror. The changes in their body composition is always a surprise and a delight.

I do two things right off the bat that make a huge, immediate impact with my new clients:

1. In their meal plan, I raise the amount of protein their taking in, to one gram per pound of body weight. That makes a huge difference.

Protein is muscle sparing and increases metabolism. The big one is satiety. Which means you will feel good while losing weight. Uh, fat.  🙂

2. I have clients focus on resistance exercises, using full body circuit training three times a week. Muscle burns more calories than just flopping around on an elliptical.

You will need all that muscle and more as you age. I can’t stress that enough. When muscle is allowed to atrophy, the machine starts breaking down and before you know, there goes your independence. Your house can become a jail cell with doctor visits.

You want to change your body composition not just shrink. You’ll be amazed at what you see in that glass from now on.

Muscle provides hustle, it keeps you stable and rugged. As you might already know, senior living is not for the faint of heart.

People always ask me what motivates me to train my body and teach as hard as I do, and I just tell them what motivates me is in my mirror.

It’s a direct reflection of who I am these days.  🙂

 

 

 

The Hook (How I learned to love the feel of iron)

On a much needed afternoon off in Vietnam, me, David Hamilton, (on my left) and Fitzy, got orders to go into the local Cam Rahn Village and catch us a little “boom boom”. (It didn’t say that on the orders, exactly)

Before we left, we decided to get high, so we went way up behind the battalion ammo dump, you know, for some atmosphere. We were already pretty buzzed in this shot.

When we got there, there were half a dozen shirtless, shiny and sweaty troops lifting up barrels, squatting with chains on their back and bench pressing a truck axle. Oh, my, what a sight. Never saw anything like it.

Back in the 60’s, if you saw a tanned, muscular man, he was usually standing in between Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

As we got higher and took in the show, I started to come down with my first (of many) sexual identity crises. What the hell was this about? Bad enough I gotta dodge bullets, but now I gotta worry about my sexual preferences?

I had no frame of reference for what I was seeing. I just stared at them.

I felt like a girl.

These guys were peacocks. They had it and they knew it. They strutted around between sets, sticking their chests out, spitting on their hands for effect and glorying in their masculinity.

They were beautifully developed humans and the sight of them had an effect on me that is still with me today.

I realized then that nothing is more beautiful than a well conditioned, tanned and graceful, human body. David was no stranger to weight lifting, as you can see by his  arms in this photo. The guy was jacked.

He promised he would show me how to train myself but he was killed in a tragic ambush not long after this photo. That’s another story.

But the hook was set. When I got back to base camp I got one of those long poles we used to stir the burning human waste with, cut it down, put two number 10 cans filled with cement on each end and would pump myself to distraction trying to look like those guys.

Over the years I never stopped. I would train drunk, sober and everything in between. It’s a drug in itself.

It is with me today. Having muscle not only looks good, it feels good. It affects your confidence, your well being and your bearing.

It stands me up straight and helps me survive all the unnecessary bullshit I put myself through.

Kinda.

 

Five Point Friday

 

 

1. There are no fat burning foods. There are no fattening foods. It is calories in and calories out. Skittles and chicken have different nutritional values. 500 calories of either one will work but if you want to stay healthy, make better nutritional choices.

You can lose weight eating pure sugar as long as you remain in a caloric deficit.

2. You have a daily caloric budget and it doesn’t matter what time of day you spend your calories. You can break your bank early or wait until almost bed time. Or bed time. 🙂

2. The back of the napkin calculation says if you want to start losing weight and burn fat efficiently, eat 12 calories per pound of body weight. Easy-breezy.

3. To determine your total daily energy expenditure, TDEE, multiply your body weight by 11. That is the amount of fuel you need to run on. Once you get your number, multiply it by 0.75 for a 25% calorie reduction.

Track your daily caloric intake on myfitnesspal or a similar tracking device. Look for 1-2 pounds a week. Despite what you may be thinking, tracking can be fun, interesting and educational. More in-depth on that later.

5. Protein, protein, protein. Eat one gram per pound of body weight. Take a protein supplement if you need to. Protein will provide a feeling of satiety, is muscle sparing when losing weight, and burns more calories just to digest. This process is called the “thermic effect of food.” TEF.

Once you get your protein up, you will see definite changes in your body composition. Protein is Greek for “first place.” For obvious reasons.

Burn baby, burn.

Look at me…

..is what I was shouting out this morning on my run for anyone awake at 2:00 am to hear. I didn’t punch in my usual and customary 165 minutes of physical activity yesterday because my online personal training business is taking off and if I ever want to get off the government cheese….

So this morning I was so jazzed to hit the street I almost left my dog in the courtyard. I should take more days off so I can feel this refreshed. It was 65 breezy degrees. Heaven.  I was sprinting, zigzagging, running backwards, making a damn fool out of my happy, youthful, ass.

Then, as usual, I think about my age. This is my 73rd year on the planet. Whoa! I slow to a walk trying to compute such sobering information. Though it never takes me long to snap out of that mental restriction. Then I’m back to my interval training and whoop-de-do.

These day I often wonder if folks know how much vitality is left in our bodies as we cruise into retirement and beyond. I’m certainly no genetic superior and I’ve been blowing my own mind physically these last three years. Physical health always spills over to mental health and these are the years we need fortification.

Retirement isn’t for the faint of heart. We need muscle, bone and fortitude. We need the kind of resilience and stamina that comes from careful, well thought out conditioning and a nutritional strategy that will keep us off statins and diabetes medications and also ensure the freedom of mobility through our declining years. Think sick and imprisoned. No, thank you.

Yes, it is possible to feel like Superman in the morning. Every morning. Yes, it possible to side step diabetes, heart disease, depression and even cancer. We just need to cooperate with the “physician within.”

We were made to move, to struggle, to best our attackers and to die in our sleep.

These are the years we’ve worked so hard for. A pot of gold that hopefully isn’t empty.

To be senior, relevant, confident and free of pain is not a wild wish. It’s reality.

Up, up and away.

 

 

“Bobbybuilding” 101

I have never been in such physical shape. I have never gotten such perfect numbers on my physical exams and blood work. I am packing on muscle and growing in strength. I have boundless energy and I can.. and do, demolish 4000 calories daily while still losing two pounds a week.

At my gym I get fist bumped into distraction by my clients and fellow gym rats. In the distance I hear, “Ya know how old he is?” If someone had told me I would be an athlete in my 73rd year, I would have asked for a “hit offa that thang.”

I run for an hour every night and I bike back and forth to my gym 10 miles. Every day. I got rid of my car and walk back and forth to the super market daily. A mile each way. With groceries. 🙂

I have health I could never imagine. No aches, no pains and no delusions. How can this happen?

40 years ago today, May, 20, 1979, a Sunday, I woke up in a smoky, dingy motel room in Saugus, Massachusetts, bleeding from both eye sockets.

On the nightstand was a half a pack of Kools, two hits of speed, a hash pipe, an empty Southern Comfort bottle and a Trojan wrapper.

The girl in the room, (a band admirer) was sitting in a chair chain smoking waiting for me to come to. When I staggered past her to the bathroom, she casually mentioned that my face was “kinda blue”. It was.

I was wheezing, shaking, couldn’t focus and my teeth hurt from constantly chewing gum while speeding. I had hit one of my many bottoms.

Thus ended my short career as a road musician. I was paying the high cost of low living.

That night found me at St. Francis Church in Medford, sobbing through the “Lord’s Prayer” and asking around for some Librium to get me through my first sober night in decades.

Wasn’t gonna happen. I slept  with my mother that night. Weeping like a baby.

Then I remember throwing up in the parking lot in Chelsea the next morning with Arthur Keenan, my new AA sponsor. God bless that man.

I mention these two realities because it’s the 40th anniversary of my near death experience. And the fact that four decades later, the human body can forgive just about anything.

Despite my best efforts.

Motivation? Let’s send out:

I always get the creeps when I hear they’re bringing in the motivational guy. How lazy and uncreative for the company, and how lucrative for the guy who climbed Everest in his underwear.

I’ve sat in on more than a few planning committees as they were just trying to fill a slot. If you’re looking for inspiration, look amongst yourselves. You see them every day.

There’s plenty of “tough shit tickets” being punched out there, and the brave survivors with incredible stories are most likely sitting in your own cafeteria.

Send the hired guns back to the Catskills.

These performers have been groomed, handled, contracted, rehearsed, road tested, and scheduled like the cast of Hair.

I call it corporate stand-up.

I don’t want to sit through an hour of some guy channeling Zig Ziglar. Zig has already zagged.

I’ve had enough corporate smog blown up my ass over thirty years to close an airport.

Use some of that creativity and innovation you’re always talking about.

Clues, anyone?

“You did a good job.”

“You did a good job.” They had no idea. I did things they couldn’t measure. For big hitters, I flew lobster in from Boston, cooked, served, played the piano, told jokes, then cleaned their house afterwards.

I hand delivered Thallium 201 and molybdenum 99 generators. I taught customer’s kids how to play guitar, lift weights and boot up Windows 95.

I fended off gay advances without anyone getting their feelings hurt. I fended off straight advances without anyone getting pregnant.

I didn’t lose my composure when the fat female tech with the mustache said, “How bad do you want this business?

I got naked in a hot tub at UNM so my drunken customers wouldn’t feel awkward. I was a regular stand-in at the Scottsdale Court House when my female tech friends were getting divorced and needed a shoulder to cry on at breakfast.

My big clients had my AMEX card number so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way across town when they got hungry. I was the best secret keeper in the territory.

I knew I was gonna do great things in sales, so I limited myself to a ninth grade education.

Otherwise…it would have been an unfair advantage. 🙂

Doodly-Squat

The head of IT called a meeting for 4:00 o’clock. Four o’clock. The least scintillating person in the building. The guy who has code scribbled on his palms.

You’ve had a rough day. There’s no way you’re gonna stay conscious through his whole hypnotic delivery.

You know you’re gonna doze off in your seat and make that snark noise you’re famous for. You’re hoping to make it through so you can run him down in the parking lot later.

As he delivers his monotone presentation while rattling the change in his pockets, you’re thinking all is lost. It’s not.

The solution: Bathroom Stall Air Squats. (Shown below)

Once the dirge commences, excuse yourself at the 15 minute mark and head to the rest room. Find an empty stall and secure yourself inside. A handicapped stall would be perfect.

You can keep your pants up for this.

I want you to stand in front of the bowl facing the door with your feet spread out as wide your hips. Then squat down, touch the seat and return to the starting position. Try for 25 reps. If you can get 40, even better.

You will feel totally refreshed and ready for anything. You might even skip the gym on the way home.

The rest room is the perfect place for an air squat reboot. Especially if you had the bean burrito for lunch.

Plus, you’re still on the clock.

 

 

 

The Gift of Failure

On paper, I’m a major fuck up. I lost my business, my beautiful home, my 401K, walked away from a high paying, “all you gotta do is show up” job, blew my retirement, got hooked on Xanax and picked up a drink after 40 years.

On August 14, 2016, I surrendered my fat, bloated, beaten and mortified ass to a VA Rehab unit where I was promptly scared straight.

After 14 days, they still didn’t want me on the street because they said I was a stroke risk and they didn’t want me dying “on their dime.” Then I find my life partner was a sneak and a phony.

I ended up in a grungy, depression era apartment in a place called Ayer, Massachusetts. I used to live in the upscale town of Groton next door and would shudder when I drove through.

On my first morning, I walked into my phone booth size bathroom and saw with sober eyes, the havoc I had wreaked on myself. I was a beaten dog. It was enough to make me pick up a drink. But I didn’t.

That was two and a half years ago.

In that time I have totally reinvented myself. I started going to a gym that was so strategically close to my apartment I could roll out of bed and get hit with a dumbbell. Divine intervention.

I became interested in fitness and started studying to be a personal trainer. Then I went after a nutrition certification, then weight loss, and then senior fitness.

I also studied for and passed two insurance license exams. Things I never thought I had the gray matter for.

I went from a 230 pound stroke risk, to a 73 year old elder athlete at 185 pounds. I can give as good as I get, I am physically competent, and my blood work is perfect, I have no aches and pains and I’m on absolutely zero medications.

Yeah, I’m a fuck up, a very grateful one.

 

Superman

When I was a little boy I got very sick. I don’t know what it was but I know I was confined to the couch where my mother could tend to me while riding herd on the other nine kids.

I could pick up by her demeanor that she thought it was serious. Serious enough to call Dr. McSweeney to have him come over. (Back in the day of house calls)

I don’t remember what he did, but in a few days I wanted off that couch.

Besides it was summer and I was missing it.

I remember it was a late Saturday afternoon when I got the nod. I could finally go out. Nora walked me to the back stairs and told me to “Go easy.”

Oh, I remember the warmth of that early summer night. I could hear all the kids playing out on the street, bicycle ring-dingies, the girls singing “One-miss-a-loop, and the crack of the bat at the Hodgkins school yard.

Thought I would lose my mind.

Then I felt my feet take off. Almost without me. I felt so alive. I ran, and I ran, and I ran. Up Paulina, down Simpson, back up Irving to Wallace and almost broke the sound barrier on Holland street.

I had boundless energy. I told everyone I passed that I was Superman. I didn’t wait for a response.

It was an unforgettable moment. All that stored energy and the thrill of being alive. I even remember the jersey I had on.

I bring this up because I had the exact same feeling this morning on my run. 65 years later. It all comes back.

Up, up and away!

 

 

Trying New Things

I love learning and changing. I will do a 180 if I see an interesting diet, exercise, or healthy habit I can glom onto to keep life interesting. So it is with my slow carb diet.

Last week I switched to black coffee and ate nothing but protein, vegetables and black beans. Very enjoyable.

I felt my skin tighten, my muscles harden and my pants loosen almost immediately. I have plenty of energy all day and I crave nothing. What’s not to like?

Well, part of the plan is not to let my metabolism catch on so it can jump in and re-regulate itself. Also known as the insidious “plateau”. Can’t have that. So on the seventh day you are supposed to have a few “cheat” meals to throw it off.

Some people eat donuts, bear claws, ice cream, and maybe even get drunk. I can’t bring myself to commit such foolishness, so I opt for oatmeal and protein pancakes with blueberries and bananas.

Sounds like carbohydrate to me.

I ate that at 3:30 am after my morning run. I immediately felt an energy rush. Then I felt a bit sloshy and a little sleepy. It is now 7:30 am, and I am down 4.25 pounds in four hours. Crazy.

I got me one confused metabolism right now, but I guess that’s the point of what they call a “re-feed”. I do love it when a plan comes together.

I just hope I don’t sneeze in public. 🙂

Workin’ The Faith Muscle

Over the last few rough and tumble years, I’ve developed my mind and body beyond what I thought was possible. I tweaked and nurtured, toned and honed.

I just about re-invented me physically and mentally. I was punching above my weight class.

But I lost my faith.

I forgot to work my faith muscle. I let it atrophy.

My faith turned to horrible fear and doubt. My loneliness compounded with interest. I went from valiant to victim. I was addicted to uncertainty.

Sometimes I was praying for the end. I was going there anyway, why not now? I had reached my bottom.

Then life forced me to confront myself. I couldn’t cower anymore.

Through meditation and the enlightening solitude of my nightly runs, I’ve finally come home to the fact that to be a human being is to be a miracle.

To be a higher form of intelligence on this magnificent orb is a gift.

And to know that through all the disappointment and tragedy life has handed me, I’m still alive and well.

Better than well.

I know now, to be in fear, I can’t be in faith. To be in faith, I can’t be in fear. You can’t straddle that fence.

I’m working my faith muscle harder than ever these days. It’s part of my routine.

And I’m pumped!

Agent Of The Universe

I’m here on a mission. I have no doubt. It becomes clearer as I run in the cool stillness of a full moon. I’m in a moving meditation.

Problems lose their grip and fall away.

I seem to understand…everything.

I’m comforted. I’m assured that whatever didn’t kill me then, will not kill me now. I may suffer, but only temporarily, because my work is not done.

The universe soothes me, yet emboldens me. Answers come when I listen, so I listen. From deep within. In the forgiving darkness, I heed the mission.

I am an agent of the universe.

 

The IRS (THEIRS)

I never get sick. Running in the rain in 36 degrees in just a t-shirt won’t take me down but a well placed threat from the IRS is a potent stool softener.

The missile landed on Friday in the form of a certified letter. By Monday, I was down for the count. Sore throat, congestion, and a wobbly disposition.

It took the IRS to take me down. My overactive imagination had me doing a tour of Leavenworth and washing my celly’s underwear in the sink. (Don’t go there.)

The ball was in my court. It was up to me to call them and plead my case. They were going to place a lien on me after they doubled what I owed.

After two telephone attempts where I was told at the outset that today would not be my day, the queues were too long, I fell back into bed. On the third day I was told I was eligible to wait.

Nothing, not even the end stage malaria I thought I was experiencing by then, would shake me off that phone.

After two hours and change, a Mr. McMillan engaged. When I mentioned the two hours, he assured me that was nothing. It was my lucky day. And it was too.

What are the odds of getting the opportunity to plead your case to a fellow war veteran who also had a spouse divorce him without his knowledge and shut down both of his bank accounts? I shit you not.

I’m thinking the calls can’t be recorded because the conversation we had sounded like two brothers re-discovering each other after many years.

This isn’t to say I got any inappropriately special treatment, it means I got an empathetic ear and didn’t have to re-invent the wheel.

I thought I was screwed, I wasn’t. We were married and filing jointly and she signed on the dotted line. Too bad. For her.

I thought she could take all that money from me, money I gave her in good faith as an honorable end to a long productive partnership, and leave me financially naked and wreck my credit score for eternity.

She can’t. She’s going to have to pony up.

My symptoms started clearing up before I got off the phone.

It’s a Pyrrhic Victory for me though, all the other other debt she left me with has done me irreparable harm.

And the pain of knowing that someone you spent so much time with could be so evil.

When my business started fading, so did she.

It was sad for a moment to think that the very country I risked my life for would have to come after me like I was a common criminal.

I’m grateful now, that’s not the case.

 

 

Podcast test

The perfect time for a new approach is when you’re under the gun. When your world is shifting beneath your feet. Isn’t my timing perfect?

What I’ve been doing these days when I’m mentally overwhelmed, instead of bemoaning my losses, which are huge, horrendous and heartbreaking, is to shift to an attitude of gratitude.

I’m finding things could certainly be worse for your humbled correspondent. When I think of all the skills I’ve acquired, even been certified and licensed for under these conditions, I’m amazed.

I’ve transported myself from a pudgy, pill popping, malcontented prisoner of negativity, to a seventy-something, world wearied, trialed by fire, athlete with some serious positude.

Most of my acts of folly have turned to wisdom. Jewels in my crown. My education has cost me dearly, but I am not lost, only redirected.

I feel now as though I’m on a predetermined path to enlightenment.

I have been chastened, I have been chosen.

For that, I am grateful.

 

Eternally.

 

 

The Shift

The perfect time for a new approach is when you’re under the gun. When your world is shifting beneath your feet. Isn’t my timing perfect?

What I’ve been doing these days when I’m mentally overwhelmed, instead of bemoaning my losses, which are huge, horrendous and heartbreaking, is to shift to an attitude of gratitude.

I’m finding things could certainly be worse for your humbled correspondent. When I think of all the skills I’ve acquired, even been certified and licensed for under these conditions, I’m amazed.

I’ve transported myself from a pudgy, pill popping, malcontented prisoner of negativity, to a seventy-something, world wearied, trialed by fire, athlete with some serious positude.

Most of my acts of folly have turned to wisdom. Jewels in my crown. My education has cost me dearly, but I am not lost, only redirected.

I feel now as though I’m on a predetermined path to enlightenment.

I have been chastened, I have been chosen.

For that, I am grateful.

Eternally.

Surrender

I’m cooked. On paper, I’m done. I’m a 73 year old man with no options left. The IRS is after me, debt collectors are sending demand notices that allow me to see “Pay to the order of” in the window of the envelope just so I’ll open it. Nice try.

The bank where I have my car note is getting an itchy trigger finger. It’s a chest tightening situation.

The job market is a gauntlet.

For more than a year, I’ve been groaning myself awake. I groan myself all the way to the coffee button. I’m totally isolated and I have a fugitive mentality.

I sneak up on my mailbox and I never pick up any of those long white envelopes. The condo I live in is so secluded it wreaks of “Witness Protection”. Sometimes I drive right by it.

I turn my computer off at night, so in the morning, in my darkened mood, I won’t be able to delete anything I’ve written until after a very lengthy boot up. At which time I might have come out of my mental basement.

My only respite is running. My religion.

Running releases energy, it doesn’t solve problems. Sometimes it makes things worse.

It was just after midnight last night when I got up. I think my groaning woke Izzy. The stories that my mind generate are stoking my adrenaline and have made my feet go numb.

The curse of an overactive imagination.

It is freezing. Good. I ease out of my front door at 1:10 am determined to run my demons off. At mile three, it ain’t working. Actually, I’m worse. I pick up the pace to stave off hyperventilation. No help.

When I get to Wells Fargo, I don’t take my scheduled right, I keep going. Taking that right would get me home sooner, but that would only put me face to face with someone I’ve been trying to avoid…me.

I cross R.H. Lawrence, heading to an epiphany or an early, earthly exit. At this moment, I don’t care.

A mile into unfamiliar territory, while gasping for breath, a word leaps into my consciousness…. surrender. Surrender.

Innately, I knew what it meant. I should surrender. Not because I’m tired or weary or disgusted or bored. I should surrender because I honestly don’t know what to do at the moment. I’ve done everything I can. With everything I can.

The outcome is not up to me anymore. It’s out of my control. So…I will surrender.

I stop and start walking a big wide circle on El Camino. Then everything lets go. Water everywhere. I’m howling now in joyous release. Lucky I was in a business district.

Surrender, what a beautiful word. In that moment, my shoulders drop and I realize…. I’m not a loser, I’m enough, I’m worthy, I’m supported, I’m complete, I’m connected, I’m whole and deserving.

Surrender.

I felt peace as soon as I said it.

 

 

A Twist of Fate

Lately, I’ve been wondering where I would be today if I hadn’t decided to twist off the cap on that Bud Light on Mother’s Day, 2016.

Would I still be telling preposterous stories to all the docs in my sphere of uh, influence, that I accidentally left my Zoloft, Xanax, Ambien, Soma and Percocet prescriptions in a hotel while on one of my numerous, “mostly fictitious”, business trips?

Twisting that cap after 40 years at my age, 70 at the time, and under those prescribed circumstances was a dangerous, foolhardy and careless undertaking.

But I thought about it and proceeded with the least amount of caution. The combination of those drugs and alcohol would surely stroke me up to take me out.

What made me do it? It wasn’t clairvoyance, I can assure you. I didn’t know I would turn into a muscle-loaded track star, sans 45 pounds, certified in all aspects of strength, fitness, and nutrition that marveled at the sight of his own feet after twenty years.

It was frustration and bitterness at my plight. My business and my marriage were tanking and I saw no reason not to numb my senses.

I also didn’t know how inextricably bound the success of my marriage was to the success of my business. Funny how that works.

Therein lies the twist.

The terrifying and heartbreaking series of events that took place thereafter changed me forever.

I am now a healthy, clear thinking, (up for debate) grateful elder athlete (73) who is now more productive and creative than ever. Instead being dumbed-down by alcohol and orange bottles.

What would have happened if I hadn’t twisted my own, fate? I try to avoid those kind of thoughts. No time for that.

I did what I did though and I’m grateful I won’t ever have to make that decision again.

One does wonder, though.

Fartin’ Through Silk

So the multi-level-marketing messiah I’ve been following is out of the womb with his sketchy cell cleaning product. He says the miracle he’s hawking will cross cell membranes and clean out all the accumulated metals in your system.

He doesn’t say how you will know, or even if it can be measured. It can’t. You just have to trust him and the two unemployed overnight infomercial docs he has on board.

He won’t post specifics for fear of attribution. Maybe because he just squeaked through a huge bankruptcy a few days ago.

To be included, (because time is running out and you might be tossed onto the trash heap of loser-hood), you have to have a long “Come-to-Jesus” with him on a secure line. (He uses God, a lot.)

I got fascinated when I saw his tagline: “I empower people.” Right there, ya got me.

This is an admittedly tough sell and he knows it. So he makes your inability to get a “yes”, a character flaw. You are so not worthy, you scum.

When I watch him post his hurried little pep talks to his peeps, I roll around my carpet and hug my dog.

Here’s the deal: He needs more followers. Is that you? You have to be brave, you have to be chosen and undaunted and have a passion for Kool-Aid.

If that is you, you will receive a free head scarf like this, and a whole bottle of saki. You’ll need it.

May the farce be with you.

A life time in between

When you think about it, we’re all serving life. I don’t know exactly where I come down on the religion thing, it’s confusing. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn’t.

The part that doesn’t, came from people who had their own problems, serious problems. The part that does, came from an opium den in Singapore. 🙂

If this is a one time opportunity, and it’s win-lose-or-draw at the gate, then that’s that. But if it’s a revolving door, and you keep getting thrown back like an undersized trout, that presents a whole list pf problems for moi.

I’m not lyin’ folks, I’m tired. I’ve had way too much fun. I’m a rolling catastrophe. My daddy told me once, “Son, you could fuck up a steel ball.” I’m starting to feel his insight.

If you’ve ever driven to Tucson in heavy traffic with cops and accidents all the way down, and had to turn right around and come back, I think you’ll know where I’m heading with this.

Maybe you should spend the night before heading back is what I’m saying.

After a full life of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, bad marital choices, catchin’ stuff you can’t wash off, and having the IRS waiting in your bushes next to the Repo man, I can say with total conviction, I’ll take a room with a single, please.

When I go, it will because my endorphin supply ran out and my mojo stopped workin’.

So if It’s all the same to you, and if I have to come back, I’d like to wait a life time in between.

Please.

Sincerity, once you learn to fake that…

Whippin’ up the troops is what it is. I have whipped up hundreds of CEOs to get them ready to move the masses in a two dimensional universe.

I’m watching a half a dozen of them trying to do that right now online. Some got it, some don’t.

The ones who don’t interest me more than the ones who do. The ones who are leading by Facebook are the funniest. They load up the most saccharin, benign and overused dreck from a “dopey sayings” web site then foist it on their “suspecting” victims.

Back in the day, we had one guy who used to put up quotes for 90 minutes. (He drank a lot of Lipton’s). Some will go to any level to reach their victims. I had a VP that I was coaching decide to tear up for effect. I guess he couldn’t think of anything sad enough to produce the water needed, and a big, awkward, honk came out.

He just stood there with a look on his face he could never reproduce for a million dollars.

If I could have transported myself….

When you’re coaching someone on camera, you get the opportunity to get in their head. When I’m doing that, you can take me off the payroll right then, because I’ll pay you.

I call it the Rasputin/Svengali moment. You are then, whispering in the ear of a seven figure nudist.

You have no secrets between you. At that moment, he needs you more than you need him.

No one is not insecure. You two have a bond.

So recently,  I’m watching these two online poseurs trying to whip their MLM troops into a frenzy using every lame tactic from fear to fantasy to fanaticism.

They’re trying to convince their neophytes into thinking that fleecing unsuspecting clients out of their money is a noble cause that entails bravery, dogged determination and a winner’s attitude.

Qualities for which they will surely be rewarded for in Heaven.

One guy holds live Facebook meetings saying “short and sweet, “right to the point”. Doesn’t happen. He keeps saying “Hi” to people that pass him as he’s walking that somehow don’t show up behind him. He needs me.

Now launch is nigh and he needs his liegemen to put their big girl panties on. This Mofo is getting intense.  His eyes are narrowing and he’s getting white stuff in the corners of his mouth. Sounds Koreshian.

Yeah, did I mention this is all online?

Simply delicious.

 

 

Lust Before Logic

I’m down to it. I could use one of my very hard earned insurance licenses to keep me out of the soup kitchen, but, ” not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent.” I’m a creative entrepreneur and that’s what’s going in my obit.

I’ve tried numerous straight gigs over the last few years with disastrous results. Squelching contempt causes funny noises to emanate from my throat during job interviews.

I’m starving at the moment but I’m going to hold out for work, no, self expression, that satisfies my lust for the creative. Anything less would be a disservice to the Good Lord and the nice folks at Wells Fargo.

I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in work and life without any of the overly hyped, balance. Because that’s the way ,”uh, huh, uh, huh, I  like it”.

I can sing, dance, write, cook, play, hustle, ideate, create, sell, market and deliver. And none of that belongs on a team.

Because…..great minds think alone.

Running On Diesel

At 1:00 am, as I was running past the Sun City Fire department, a ladder truck and an EMT vehicle were disgorging themselves from their resting place.

There were no sirens to break the night.

A mortality run, most likely.

As they passed me on my left, a large plume of exhaust enveloped me and filled my nostrils with a very familiar smell.

Diesel.

Smell has a memory and it filled my head with mine. The memory of burning shit and 5 gallon cans.

The memory of incredible uncertainty, burning charcoal, spent rounds and faded jungle fatigues.

Of long days, drunken nights, trash bags full of weed and loaded, unguarded, weapons. Of smokey hooches filled with an odor NCO’s couldn’t detect. Yet.

Of “short timers” calendars, erratic behavior and sad stories. Of disappointing mail calls, wily hookers and vengeful First Sergeants. Of Bob Hope.

The memory of the body bags at graves registration. Of bloated, dead enemy.

It was the wild west…..in spades.

What a hell of a time for a young man to be alive.

An M-16 with a full clip could change your personality in a heart beat, while taking someone else’s.

Uncertainty will always change your priorities.

As it does today.

 

Handle This!

I don’t know what I’ll be doing next in my career, but I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing, handling objections. I will never be in a room again talking to someone who doesn’t want to talk to me.

Who will take my free lunch then hide in the bathroom until I’m gone. Someone who only refers to me as “vendor.” Why would I want to do that?

Why would I want to talk to someone who can’t wait to get away from me, and doesn’t want to listen to anything I have to say? It’s like walking a drunk home.

I remember that puny little cardiologist looking over the top of his glasses at me like someone left the back door open. That little shit tried to get me to pay for a new wing of the hospital.

Every time I had to come in and discuss the contract, I had to wade through all the new construction. This guy had more objections than Clarence Darrow.

You guys can give out your valor badges and purple hearts for weathering the storm of rejection, while banging your head on the steering wheel all the way home. No thank you.

I’m not some old whore. (I don’t think.)

I’m going with what the Marvellettes put out in 1962, “I don’t want nobody that don’t want me, there’s too many fish in the sea.”

Oh, look, there’s another objection over there, someone wanna handle that?

The definition of pure risk.

Now, I’ve had some tough jobs in my storied career. I was once a bouncer at Chuckie Cheese’s until my shins gave out and I didn’t last long at Stickney & Poor, where I was relegated to picking fly shit out of pepper with boxing gloves on.
 
But since I’ve been out west and got certified as a Life & Health and Property & Damage agent, I have come to have many contacts and near misses with the lowly and morbidly desperate independent insurance recruiter.
 
These jobs suck so much they should give you a free vacuum just for sitting through the interview.
Some even have the cojones to ask YOU for money to buy leads from them. Feeling the love yet? If Colonial Penn calls, don’t.
 
Your first clue on the phone is they push the work-life-balance angle. Because you will have plenty of time at home not making any money while your being charged for virtual office space.
 
I have 19 e-mails from a guy named Jack Katz, who is now trying to shame me into taking the gig.
He wants to know what I’m afraid of.
It’s you Jack, it’s you.

The Fix

I’ve been around a lot of gyms in my life. You have your usual cast of characters. Some of them have watched too many prison movies, some of them are suffering from I.L.S, (imaginary lat syndrome) and most everybody has “gym face.”

Gym face looks like a scowl with a touch of irritable bowel syndrome. But nobody pays any mind, it’s all for show.

In all the years I’ve been going, I can’t honestly say I’ve seen any dramatic change in someone over a short period of time. Unless it’s a drastic weight loss. When you look, you think you don’t see their bodies changing.

But they are there every day. Taking their iron pills.

What gives?

In my special mirror, I see amazing things. Some days I want everyone to look the other way just for a second, so I can flex my muscles so hard while the blood is in there, I could pop a vain in my neck.

We all think of muscle in terms of what it “looks” like, not giving much thought about what it “feels” like.

When that pumps gets here and your body engorges with blood, there’s no feeling like it. That’s why those muscle heads (me included) are in there everyday enduring someones else’s body odor while they’re getting their fix.

That’s the payoff. The fix. And worth every grip pf the bar.

So when you see some well muscled Adonis hogging a gymnasium mirror, preening to beat the band, yeah, he’s lookin’ it, and you can bet your ass he’s feelin’ it, too.

 

 

“Lay down, you’re tired”

I’m so sick of these armchair warriors who keep telling us that if we want to be a success in life we have to work “really, really, hard.” Just plot your course, put your head down, and work, “really, really, hard.” At what? What if your goal isn’t clear?

What’re you supposed to work “really, really, hard” at? Doesn’t sound appealing to me. I think they got nothing else to offer. Just grunt along mindlessly?

It’s no secret that the Mafia would be running the country, (if they aren’t already,) because they sit in those little social clubs, drink annisette, brainstorm all day and come up with the most incredible ideas to enrich themselves while the rest of us working stiffs are working “really, really, hard.”

Obviously, none of those guys want to work, “really, really, hard.” If they weren’t crooks we’d be saying, “Steve, who?”

I believe in putting in maximum effort. But to something that I’m really driven to do. Then it doesn’t feel like work. Then you have to explain to me that it’s work. Because I ain’t feelin’ it.

But the way these guys are pushing it out, it sounds like they’re reading it off a cereal box. Like I said, They got nothin’.

I’ve had careers I’ve exhausted myself in and loved every minute of it. Didn’t feel like work to me. I had problems I loved having.

Reminds of the time Cardinal O’Connor looked out his office window and saw Jesus Christ walking up the street. In a panic, he called the Pope and said “Jesus Christ is walking up Fifth Avenue, what should I do?”

The Pope said “Look busy.”

 

“Turn that racket off up there.”

I’m a musician. I read it, I write it, and I create it. Music has its place. But sometimes you have to curb the racket upstairs and let some spirit in.

The spirit, that higher form of intelligence that solves our problems, gives us great ideas, brings us peace, and maybe even one of those epiphany things.

They usually come wrapped in the form of good old fashion silence.

You’re going to have to deal with yourself at some point, so how about during a strenuous bout of exercise, when your endorphin damn is most likely to break, or a long refreshing run, or a wondrous walk with a loved one.

Join the world before you miss it. Combined with your iPhone, not only are you blind, you’re deaf too.

C’mon, Captain, why not give up control of the cockpit to your higher form of intelligence? The world awaits.

As your landlady might say, “Turn that racket off up there.”

Can the cans, man.