Outliving Your Body

Never thought I’d live this long. So I didn’t prepare for it. I burned through my pension, my savings and most of my physical well being. I thought. But these days I run like a kid, train like an animal and sleep like a baby.

I’m lighter, smarter and quicker on the draw than ever. When asked my age I say, “72, so they tell me.”

My comprehension skills have only gotten better. I’m maxing tests on first attempt that have a 75% fail rate.  Having been voted “worst absentee student” year after year, (when I did show up), I seem to be a Rhodes Scholar now. Inquiring minds would like to know, “what gives?”

My seventies are looking like my best decade ever. I don’t suffer all the petty silliness I endured most of my life. I have real problems, not imaginary ones. I can go to bed relatively angst free after a long day and trust my next day’s intuition to figure things out.

Dash that image in your head of what a septuagenarian is supposed to look like, and like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I owe my present state of existence to physical training, a curious mind and eating right. Simple as that. Increased blood flow helps cognitive skills as well.

I would tell anyone looking into their future that these are valuable and productive years and that you should never outlive your body.

Take care of your contraption because your gonna need it for your very own “70s Show”

 

 

You Cannot Lose With The Stuff I Use

These are my must have productivity tools. They are open and running on my system all day. With these applications you can do anything. From learning, writing, publishing, blogging, web and graphic design, access your content from anywhere and most importantly back your system up. Gone are the days of the big publishing houses, stuffy agents and lame excuses. Click on the links below for more info. Roll ’em, baby.

1. Evernote is an amazing organizational tool. If you love to collect stuff and collaborate with others on the web, this tool could change everything!

2. Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you’re under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous, repetitive clicking noise coming from its hard drive.

3. Lynda.com is a leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. … With tutorials in five languages, Lynda.com is a global platform for success.

4. Dropbox brings your files together, in one central place. They’re easy to find and safely synced across all your devices—so you can access them anytime, anywhere.

5. Squarespace empowers people with creative ideas to succeed. This platform empowers millions of people — from individuals and local artists to entrepreneurs shaping the world’s most iconic businesses — to share their stories and create an impactful, stylish, and easy-to-manage online presence.

6. WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. It just may be the easiest and most flexible blogging and website content management system (CMS) for beginners.

7. Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. … Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft.

8. Photoshop is the predominant photo editing and manipulation software on the market. Its uses range from the full-featured editing of large batches of photos to creating intricate digital paintings and drawings that mimic those done by hand.

There ya go, now do somethin’  🙂

 

 

Don’t Wait…Publish!

Everyone has a book in them. Some just talk about it, some act on it, others….wait.

I met a woman the other day who, in some series of weird hard drive missteps, managed to lose a book manuscript she had been working on for ten years. Gone. Hard to imagine.

It was her first time out and she had no idea if her work was seaworthy. No one had any idea of her talents. She never even got any sort of preliminary feedback. What a shame.

In social media we have so many opportunities to develop our writing skills. A Facebook post, LinkedIn, Twitter, e-mail and blog posting are ways to see if our stories and ideas can attract eyeballs.

You can set up a blog in WordPress for free and be on your way in minutes. If you are in any way an expert, have a passion about something, or love to tell stories, this is your opportunity.

Personal stories, jokes, tales of irony, morality and hope. Teach us something.

You have endless opportunities these days to see if your ideas have wings. If for anyone but yourself.

I have posts I’ve never published but read all time. Such is the magic of the printed word.

You can learn to type faster, harness your thoughts, construct a sentence and more importantly, edit. Editing is key.

Massaging a simple paragraph and pulling out the extraneous is a craft. It’s repetitious but rewarding.

Remember: The waste paper bucket is the editor’s best friend.  🙂

I have quite a few book ideas percolating but I’m also very impatient. I need immediate gratification, so I will post an idea or share some knowledge on a topic I am familiar with to slake my thirst.

The difference between a book and a social media post is the amount of words.

Social media feeds my beast while the larger projects simmer.

You have ideas, stories, experiences and dreams, go ahead, run ’em up the flag pole, you’ll only get better.

Publish!

“You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat”

I have specific ideas on how I want my life and career to go. The universe has other plans.

Whenever I’m after that big trophy fish, something in my periphery rises up and blows me out of the water. It’s always much bigger than my intended target. Much bigger.

The more energy I expend in a certain pursuit, the bigger the alternative opportunity. We humans like to think we’re in control. I don’t believe that anymore.

What I do believe in, is energy. The more you put out, the more you reel in. I’ve had this experience more times than I can count. I’m sure you have too. It’s happening now.

Energy out, opportunity in. That’s why you need a bigger boat.

Limits

Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, (like that guy in my bathroom mirror), know one thing that a lot of other folks don’t know….their limit.

This knowledge doesn’t come about by divine intervention. It usually appears after the victim has been laid low, brought to their knees, and forced to fold their hands in despair.

They might spend years in an apologetic stupor, stripped of their families and loved ones, lose their standing in the business world and become a pariah in their community.

Socially, they may never recover.

But they still have that one advantage, the advantage of knowing their limit. They know. Deeply. Where’s the up side you say?

They know that when you introduce chemicals into the body, all bets can go off. They usually do, don’t they?

It’s also a huge distraction to put it mildly. Whether it keeps you in the rack in the morning, affects your studies, keeps you from shedding those unwanted pounds or getting ahead at work.

Maybe you made an uncomfortable remark at the company picnic?

It is cumulatively destructive. But it’s not enough to wake you up. Unless….

….you hit bottom. Your bottom. The cellar. Some folks get there early, some are lucky in a kind of sick sense. What about you?

You can lay around and wonder what the hell is going on, or you can climb out and get on with the life you were meant to have.

This ain’t a preach-a-thon, it’s a real issue.

You can get this nasty business out of the way now, because life is hard enough without an unnecessary handicap, or let it drag on. And on.

Some get it. Some don’t. The ones who don’t, will have enough other things going wrong in their life to blame it on.

But I’ll promise you this: Whatever road you take, whatever fields of endeavor you attempt, you will be better at it. Without your little helpers. Football player, bank robber or embezzler, you will be better at it.

Without drugs or alcohol.

If you seem to be in a state of foggy inertia, always avoiding big challenges, never feeling up to it, having lots of drama and conflicts, you feel like shit every morning, and you can’t put your finger on it, well, here, gimme your finger.  🙂

Know your limits. Always.

 

 

Renaissance Man: What are you?

I’m a soldier who likes to wear his medals. And that’s a problem for recruiters. In my comparatively long career, I have worn many hats, and in my naiveté, I thought I should add them to my resume. You know, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Well, it seems nothing could be further from said truth. It confuses the recruiting staff. Piques their interest, but beyond that, it’s TMI. Their confusion is palpable.

One would think someone could look at “successful sales person, professional chef, artist, trained musician, stand-up, writer, video producer, business owner, personal trainer, weight loss specialist, nutrition expert, body builder, senior living advisor, dual licensed insurance broker and Vietnam veteran, and something would go off in their head. Especially when it comes to sales and marketing gigs that require a certain level of craft and creativity.

You have just been disabused of that notion. It ain’t in the script.

I did pick up a new moniker though, renaissance man. No job, but a new moniker. When they look up its the first thing out of their mouth. I’ll take it. If that’s all I get, I’ll take it. Renaissance Man. Yeah.

The drive inward.

If I have to take a “Sorry, Charlie,” at least I’ll leave with something. I will have passed up a temporary port in the storm, but I will be forced into the realization that if I’m not a fit, it’s damn sure time to quit.

Time to hang out my shingle. Get out from the maddening crowd and shape my own destiny. Write that book, start my own consulting business and unyoke myself from that elusive team. Renaissance Man. I like it. It fits.

Thanks folks, I get the message. Loud and clear.

 

 

No challenge..no change.

I run in the wee hours. Anywhere from one to three am. I run for fitness and clarity. The clarity comes in torrents. I bring all worry to meet the pavement. It wasn’t my original intention, but a process has developed over time.

In the beginning, when I would step out into my moon filled courtyard, my stomach churning, and my fingers trembling as I locked the door behind me, I would have a mountain of worry in front of me.

Slowly over the miles, they would diminish, but never disappear. Because they’re not supposed to I am convinced. Our problems are what make us.

These last two years have been the most challenging of my comparatively long life. All those sleepless nights. If I could paint, I would re-create my bedroom ceiling from memory. Every nook and cranny.

But look what’s happened? Look what it’s driven me to. Growth I never thought possible in areas alien to me in every respect. I have accomplished things beyond my wildest imagination. Driven by angst and self doubt.

I have also failed mightily, I have wept myself home. Bitterly.

I realize in that morning darkness that no matter who we are, the end game is the same. It’s how we play it. It’s the how, the process, and the journey, nothing else matters. It’s all we have. It’s now.

All of the heartbreak, disappointment and struggle only serve to produce one thing….our finest selves. No challenge, no change.

Playing The Weight Loss Card

I have four fitness certifications. As a personal trainer, a nutrition specialist, a senior fitness specialist and a weight loss specialist. This last certification was very challenging. A lot of material to chew on.

You think I would shout it from the rooftops, but I don’t.

It’s almost embarrassing in some ways to say it. “Hi, I’m a weight loss specialist.” It’s like being a televangelist touting a new show. What hasn’t been covered? What don’t we know? Calories in, calories out is how it works.

You need a deficit to lose that weight. House rules.

Who hasn’t tried all the fads, gimmicks and stool-inducing miracle foods? I sure have.

But still the problems persist. The disease states, the mobility issues and the depression that comes along in spades.

I have the weight loss card. I earned it, but I’m going to keep it in the deck for now. I’m not going to lead with it until I can present it in a more “enlightening” way. Luckily, I have my own fat ass as an example.

So it’s up to you: Calories are energy and you are the dealer. You can break the bank or lose it all.

Deal ’em.

 

Therapy: The Dead Rocker Playlist

If you are having one of those days, weeks, or months, and life keeps stepping on your neck, I will share with you a little remedy that grants me respite.

I create playlists of dead rockers. All dead. I listen until I feel better. Doesn’t take too long, either.

Every song that comes on you can say, “Well shit, he’s gone, oh yeah, he’s gone too, and he had money. Damn she’s way gone, died in a tub. Lyrnyrd Skynyrd? They’re ALL gone.

Now don’t you feel better? A little perspective is all. Trust me, you will be all over your whiney ass in a New Your minute. Got any Tupac?.

The Fatboy Slim Project

Good Morning, my name is Duncan Uplift, Doctor Duncan Uplift. I’ve called this press conference today to release the findings of a comprehensive two year program on corpulence and sloth.

First, I would like to thank the academy, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, (NASM,) for providing the educational tools and support to allow us to at least, attempt, to transform this poor fellow on the left into a contributing member of society.

This was no easy task. He was not a willing participant. We had to have a harpoon at the ready when he got hungry, and luckily, no one got hurt.

He did get a bit frisky at times. He was scaring my staff. It was also very difficult bathing him. The local car wash contributed mightily to the effort. Again, my thanks to Quickies In ‘N Out.

Some mornings we found it necessary to attach a bag of doughnuts to the back of fast moving vehicle to get him moving. We found his weak spot.

We saw an amazing change in his physical appearance and attitude over time. Soon, his vitality came back along with his lust for life. He’s still a bit obnoxious, but that should gradually diminish.

He seems to want to flex his muscles everywhere? It could be worse, I guess.

Again I would like to thank the academy. As you can see, he’s ready to lick the world. Let’s hope he doesn’t.

Now I’ll take some questions…..

My Half-Fast Meal Plan

 

I’ve been extolling the virtues of intermittent fasting for quite a while now. When you temporarily abstain from eating and digesting food, good things happen. Some of you are reluctant, though.

You’ve been listening to mommy again. 🙂

So for the shy or timid, the uninformed and the superstitious, I have designed a plan that you will find incredibly easy to follow and will give you the results you’ve been waiting impatiently for.

You fast for as long as you can in the morning, skipping at least breakfast. Then, whenever you do sit down to eat, you eat just half. Don’t panic! You eat the other half two hours later.

This will throw your metabolism into a tailspin and it will be forced to break out the flame throwers.

As we all know when dieting, once the body catches on, the party’s over. Then everything grinds to a halt.

Weight loss stops and we might start even start gaining again.

We don’t want that. Right?

Recap: You fast for half the day, then eat half of your normal next meal, wait two hours and enjoy the other half. Do the same for dinner. Ya with me?

Assuming you eat fairly responsibly, we’re not gonna count calories, carbs or crusts because your metabolic fire will be roaring. That’s the trick.

Fasting like that early in the day, then throwing smaller meals, the kindling, into your furnace to burn those calories, will jack you up metabolically, and break into your fat stores.

Try that for a week and let me know how you fare. You will fare, trust me.

I could have written this piece, Fast-half, but it just didn’t have panache. Get me?  🙂

Without A Net

I am now forced to confront the reality I have been aware of at least subconsciously for years. There is no market for my diverse, fractured, skill set. I don’t fit these days.

If I’m honest, I realize I never did.

I’ve always had a simmering contempt for the corporate nonsense I chose to leave behind. I always had symptoms over the years I also chose to ignore. Or at least, not recognize.

On March 14, 2008, I handed in my resignation to Bristol Myers Squibb. I was making 6 figures and all I had to do was show up.

The re-org that had just came down offended me so much I had to staunch my own spigot.

I could have stayed…. and vegetated. I could have sat through the mundane town hall meetings while figuring out my gas bill. I could have let my pants go shiny.

I could still have a badge with my picture on it. I could still be making the annual sales meeting to Vegas or Jacksonville.

Nope, just couldn’t do it. I am always being driven inward. A curse of sorts.

But what are we here for….. anyway?

Now I find myself on that trajectory again. Attempting something so scary and exhilarating it makes me want to hedge this bet. A net.

But my feeling is that if you give yourself a net, you will, no doubt, fall into it.

So look out below.

Your Mother…is…wrong!

It’s 6:00 am. The alarm goes off and you reach for the snooze button. Then you catch yourself and say “No snooze button today, I need to get up and start storing fat.” No?

Well this is just what you’re doing when you listen to your mother about eating breakfast in the morning.

You are demanding your pancreas start squirting insulin all over everything. Insulin stores fat. There was a fat burning riot going on down there, and you just dumped Cheerios all over it.

This is why you should try fasting in the morning. Intermittently.

Fasting is by far, the best way to lower insulin levels and burn fat fast. Instead of low carb, try no carb.

Remember the time you had to have a fasting blood draw? You just hated the thought. No coffee. No doughnuts. “Now that’s an unnatural act” you thought. You get to the lab N,P, friggin’ O, and the phlebotomist is running late. Reeeeaal late.

You’re gonna die. You start to dial 911 and tell your wife goodbye, when all of a sudden you realize, hey, you don’t really feel so bad after all, do ya?

You big baby. Actually, you feel pretty good. Lighter in a weird kind of way.

You haven’t eaten for 14 hours by now. Where’s the coroner?

At this time, you be burnin’ some serious fat. The engine is revving. Now, imagine having a fasting blood draw every day.

After a time, the body adjusts and you could hold off until noon. And be fine.

You will notice a big difference in your weight, your energy levels and your sleep patterns.  I could go on and on from experience but I don’t like long posts. (And, I have a short attention span.)

People use intermittent fasting for lots of different reasons. Blood sugar issues, burning fat, and even clarity of thinking. What’s the first thing that happens when you get sick and you’re physician within takes over?

You stop eating.

That process will keep you alive. With intermittent fasting, you just skip breakfast. For now. You will see and feel a difference. There are lots of variations on this theme.

More on this topic in the future. Apologize to your mother for me. 🙂

And wasn’t lunch delish?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skinny Fat

I used to swim like a fish. At twelve, I was the favorite to win the swimming contest at Camp Copithorne. The trophy was to be presented by a young Ted Kennedy. It was in the bag. Nobody could touch me in the water.

That night, just before awards, they brought me outside and broke the news, “We have to give the award to Tommy Cleveland, he has more of a swimmer’s build.”

I had absolutely idea what they were talking about. I was twelve, for crissakes.

I would stare at Tommy for the rest of camp.

Then, Claire Nickerson broke off with me when I took my shirt off at Sandy Beach. I was 14. Dumped me cold and told me why. I had skinny arms and a medicine ball for a mid-section. That was embarrassing. What did I know? Who knew Claire used to judge bodybuilding contests?

I’ve been running with that body type for most of my life. Like a rope with a knot in the middle. Until I hit seventy. Isn’t that sick? 70 was when I got the right information.

When I learned the difference between weight and fat. Between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. What insulinogenic means, or how fat gets stored. What cortisol, the stress hormone, does to the body.

The myths got destroyed and I went to work on myself. The changes came fast and furious. Your body can be your enemy or your friend. It just needs the right type of care and feeding.

After two years of self discovery, I have a message and a plan.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and screw you, Claire Nickerson.

 

 

Lightning Recall

I go to bed some nights so overwhelmed I actually groan myself awake. The only remedy upon rising is one Advil and two sneakers. I lace up in grim determination. The plan is to take whatever is bothering me and leave it on the pavement.

Doesn’t always work, though. The right or wrong conditions can make things worse. As was the case this morning. Rolling along, cursing in cadence, flashes of silent light start popping up on the periphery.

It’s Monsoon in the desert and things are always unpredictable in this beautiful Arizona sky. A show of lightning was percolating silently all around me.

This amazing display reminded me of the days when I used to sit on sandbags, high as kite, watching the carpet bombing across the bay. You would always see the light first, feel the silence, then experience the audible ferocity.

This would go on all night. When I think of the dangers I was exposed to then, as opposed to what I’m going through now, I must admit to feeling a bit silly.

Back then, my THC riddled thoughts were, “Gee, I wonder how much each one of those bombs cost?” A year of living dangerously, indeed.

When I got home, I showered and slept like a baby.  Amazing how an early morning run and a little lightning can bring some much needed perspective.  🙂

 

 

 

Drunks Say The Darndest Things

I know, I’ve said them all myself. I have a naive fascination with people who off themselves. Especially people with money. My thinking is, if you have steady income, something interesting to do, and you’re not working through a bad diagnosis, let’s carry on, shall we? Told you I was naive.

If you must check out, and you have a few bucks, why use a belt or a bathrobe? Why not slit ’em in a nice tub in a five star hotel? Or put one behind the ear from your gold-plated Smith and Wesson? The reason you don’t, in most cases, is your mind is altered. You’re fucked up.

Which brings us to the hapless, Tony Bourdain. Shown here throwing down moonshine shots for breakfast in Northern Thailand. I’ve been devouring “Parts Unknown” of late and you can hear our boy telegraphing his intentions to the world. And CNN, the leader in world news, didn’t hear it.

Here he is getting seriously smashed and the folks in post-production even find it necessary to alter Tony’s POV shot to make it look like he’s hallucinating. Thanks for the visual. Like we don’t know he’s wasted.

His job is to stay on the endless road with a camera crew and document his travels and travails. Almost every episode I’ve seen so far, he’s drinking. The guy is a recovering heroin addict. I say recovering, because drunks and addicts are always recovering. Always.

I wonder if CNN has a twelve step program.

When you’re a drunk or an addict, (no difference) your life is one long, uninterrupted rationalization. You are forced to insult your own intelligence on a daily basis.

So, while this surreal scene is taking place, Tony’s overdub is telling us that even though he’s drinking all the time on the road, he’s not an alcoholic because he never drinks at home. ??????

Isn’t that the darndest thing?

I bet he did it in the morning.

 

 

Forward Head

Hey guys, I know this is a pain in the neck but we have to talk about it. It’s called upper crossed syndrome. Or forward head. It’s becoming an epidemic. As a trainer, I am trained to assess how people carry themselves. I can spot tight calves, tight hamstrings and a tilting pelvis. Upper crossed syndrome (UCS) is the most common. It’s them dang devices we always have our heads in. Hope this helps.
 
Upper crossed syndrome refers to a particular configuration of overlapping overactive and underactive muscle groups in the neck, chest, and shoulders.
  • Common causes include a hunched over posture, often an effect of repetitive tasks, such as computer use and office work.
  • Symptoms include neck and back stiffness or aches.
  • Exercises are the main treatment and can help strengthen the weakened muscles of the syndrome.
  • It is not usually serious, but chronic issues of pain and damage to the muscles may mean treatment is usually wise.

Here are a couple of exercises you can even do at work to strengthen those muscles and relieve pain in the area.

Deep Neck Flexor (Chin Tucks) – cervical spine exercise counteracts forward head position. Stand upright with back to wall. Slightly tuck chin to chest and draw head back to wall. The muscles in the front of the neck should be active while holding this position for a set duration.

Chest Stretch – works on improving the range of motion through the pectoralis (chest) muscles. Place inside of elbow against a wall and rotate body away from anchor point until a stretch is felt across chest. Repeat on opposing side.

Good luck and chin up.

Route 66

The route I run in the wee hours averages out to 66 minutes. In that time I manage to loosen my body up, massage my worry bone, calm my overactive ego, and marvel at the amazing machine. I crave the routine.

I feel I would self-destruct without it. But that’s just junkie-think. Dependency on another level.

My harnessed compulsion.

It’s a condition that’s been saving my bacon since birth. The fruits of that labor have taken me everywhere, so it will continue until the dirt nap.

It’s 66 minutes of mind clearing, prioritizing, sprinting, walking, side-lunging, backwards-running and jogging, all in an effort to confuse my Fitbit.

Does it ever.

Then I shower, eat breakfast and head back into bed with Izzy for the most restful sleep I will get all day.

In a few hours it will be distant memory. 66 minutes invested in a brand new day.

When I find myself driving on that road later, it will feel like it never happened.

But it did.  🙂

Endor-fins

I run in the wee hours. 2:00 am. Impossible any other time out here. It’s Monsoon. Like running with a hot, wet towel over your face. It’s on the dance card, so let’s do it.

Most mornings, I see my friend Al sitting out in front of his garage. In pain. He can’t sleep so he pulls guard duty on El Camino.

I don’t stop all the time, but this morning I did. Al was in an excruciating way. The low back and legs are shot and all they’re doing is pumping him full of dope. I know the feeling

Al doesn’t move around much because he’s afraid he’s gonna fall. Shirley can’t help him, she has her own problems. She ain’t moving either. She has her own dope.

Al says when he is able to ambulate, he feels a little better. The blood gets moving and he gets some relief. I promise I’ll swing by later and get them some exercise.

As I run off down the road, I start thinking about how if we all just moved around more, a lot of physical grief and agony might be avoided. Works for me.

We are made to move. We have to. Things get brittle. The pulleys, straps and levers start to malfunction. Then comes the pain, the pills and dependency. And such helplessness, I see it in his face.

Yes, we need to keep moving, like the shark. If sharks stop moving, they drown. They’re in perpetual motion. We need to shake it and keep shaking it.

Else…? We spend the years we were so looking forward to in pain and misery. They didn’t mention that in the your retirement plan.

When I got home I could barely contain myself. I was bubbling. I opened up Photoshop and got to work on this logo. Endorphins strike again.

Sharks, perpetual motion and less pain. This idea was worth a sweat bath. And believe me, I’m running with this concept. 🙂

OK, sharks….?

Sunday morning dumbing down

It will be different today. No piles of notes, no overheating computer and no furrowed brow. Yesterday, I filled in the blanks.

For months on end I have been slave to the curriculum of the human body. To the miraculous processes that leave me both awed and slack jawed. No simulations or theoretical back ending, no tests. Finally.

Just a soupy, cathartic run at 2:00 am into the soaking monsoon desert.

Even though I accomplished what I set out to do, certify my credentials as an educated advisor in the human movement system, I still find it too much information. Even spooky.

I find it incredible that our bodies have their own agenda. And as long as we’ve been traveling around in them, we know almost nothing. We tilt our heads and happily allow Dr. Oz sort it all out.

Being certified as a personal trainer and specializing in nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness, will allow me to move forward at what most would consider an advanced age to answer the question, “How can I help?”

Studying the inner workings of the human body structure, how it rejuvenates, how it survives, and how it dies, has been overwhelming.

Its innate ability to organize and distribute energy at all times is amazing.

And we haven’t even scratched the surface. Only our heads. What I have learned has saved my own life.

I am not religious, I am not even spiritual but I am …enlightened.  🙂

Kiss My Assessment

Obfuscation. That’s what is. Who do you people think you are? The job market has gone off the rails. I told my next door neighbor I would mow his lawn for him as a favor. He sent me an assessment.

What is this, some kind of trial by fire? You don’t look at this stuff, you just wanna see how bad we want the job. If any of these questions were pertinent, I might understand. I didn’t move your goddam cheese, OK?

There’s a guy in town that does small business marketing. He sent me an assessment. Something John Hinckley might have to fill out. His marketing materials looks like he does his best work with a box of crayons and two hits of acid.

And he’s assessing me?

Sometimes when you’re an hour into one of these nutty things, you realize you’re being had, but you’re too far gone.

It’s bad enough you’re unem-friggin-ployed, but now Dr. Phyllis is giving you the old reach around.

You people should store your assessments in a cool dry place.

Today, not only did I stop the nonsense after an hour of my valuable time, I sent the woman who forwarded it to me a note. Under no circumstances would I continue. Bye.

She called me. She used her actual human voice. She was defending her rope-a-dope. In condescension.

She said “good luck to you getting a job in this town, those assessments are a valuable tool in our hiring process.”

In this company we value unwavering leadership, creativity, innovation and independence.

“I sent you that assessment to uncover what type of an individual you truly are. We’re looking for leaders, independent thinkers who seeks their own counsel.

“And…. it’s what other companies are doing.”

Fear of Living

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” – Lyndon Johnson

If you ask me, I’ve lived long enough. No good can come from hanging around the upper limits of a human life span.

If you can’t squeeze a good experience into seventy years, you’ve most likely been too cautious. (It doesn’t make you a bad person.)

While I run in the dark each morning, without music or other distractions, the battle of good and evil rages between my ears. Unabated.

Life has been amazing so far. Everything I signed up for. I think. I laughed, I cried.

The only thing I can hope for until the doorbell rings, is more peace and less pain. I’m talking physical pain. The emotional variety I can handle.

Once you marry an adversary, you will cauterize your Cupid and can move on in solidarity. Living alone can be a dream state.

But living alone scares people. That’s because they expect their bodies to fall apart at some point and the pain and entrapment ensues. They will need a support system.

That’s what I want no of. I do not want to hang around this planet in a diminished capacity.

If I am able to live a life I want, solitary, sane and mobile, then that’s all a guy can ask for. But I have to put the work in. And work I will, with a smile on my face.

In the retirement community where I live, I am surrounded by pain, dependency, immobility and depression.

No thank you, there are sneakers for that.

 

 

The Pantload Method

Oh, if I had a nickel for every person who tells me they don’t run because of hip, back, thigh, shin, feet, ankle and toe problems. I could lip-synch the list of excuses.

I usually respond with, “That’s because you run like a galoop” You hit the street with reckless abandon, thrashing yourself all over the pavement and letting your appendages fall where they may.

No wonder you’re in pain. I’m in pain having to listen.

Meanwhile, your chiropractor has developed priapism over his ever engorging income stream. What kind of fool inflicts that kind of pain on themselves? Uh, that could be you.

To save you any more pain and embarrassment, I will share with you a technique I developed in early childhood: run like you just pooped your pants. Yes, like you have a fresh one in the trunk.

This will keep your stride from becoming unwieldy, stop you from bouncing until your fillings fall out and keep you from wreaking even more havoc on your already weakened human movement system.

You don’t have to look like a gazelle. It’s not like ABC Sports is filming the event. I look like an idiot shooshing down the road. (That’s why I run at night.) But I am pain free, my weight is perfect and my blood pressure is in check.

And don’t let me catch you flopping around on one of those elliptical thingies. Your skeleton needs to make contact with terra firma. Stay low to the ground, take smaller strides and move your arms like crazy.

Leave your phone at home, get some fresh air, strengthen your limbs, empty your mind and get healthy.

See the USA without your Chevrolet.

 

Out of the Haze

Excuse me for interrupting the little party here, but I happen to know something about addiction. And I don’t wear a tweed jacket, mismatched socks, smoke a pipe, and hold my chin a lot.

I don’t have a degree in existential masturbation and Mongolian behavioral habits.

I am a drunk, an addict and a former lost soul, and I don’t need some intellectual spanking my inner child. What does he know?

I know what its like to crave the hair of the dog, to shake myself awake and nod myself to sleep. To lose not only conversations but whole days and weeks.

I remember sitting in a rehab unit at the VA two years ago begging for release. They just stared over the top of their glasses. I wasn’t gonna stroke out on their dime.

The VA couldn’t help me, they held me. They just replaced my drugs with theirs. Lobotomies in pill form.

My primary care doc didn’t help me, she almost killed me. Ambien, Soma, Lunesta, Gabapentin and the one that damn near got me, Xanax.

Throw in almost every antidepressant on the market and I was a local pharmacy favorite.

My doctor knew my history. All of it. Still…

Know what saved me? Exercise. Once they got the majority of the poison out of me, the rest was on me.

A week out of rehab, I was walking my dog down by the railroad tracks and stumbled upon a gritty iron factory. A full blown gym like out of an Arnold movie. 24 hour access.

That’s where you would find me, taking my iron pills. I sweat it out of me. All the anger, the resentment and the animus. Oh, the release.

AA meetings to me are like the Catholic Mass in Latin. Rinse and repeat. It’s just some place to go until the bars close. That’s my opinion and I’ve been to enough of them.

You can’t stop a major addiction and stand still. Something needs to take up that void and it ain’t Jesus. We’re all junkies to something. We all need fixin’. Exercise is that fix.

I won’t simplify it, if you don’t complicate it. We are made to move, to struggle and strain. We are put together to do things with our bodies. When we don’t, stuff starts happening. Bad stuff.

I got my mind right as I watched my body change, the spring return to my step and my attitude get more positive. Exercise did that for me. Saved my soul.

As Gregg Allman sang, “We still have two strong legs and even wings to fly.

Fustercluck!

If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

In my ongoing attempts to find employment of the home-based variety, I am having to pimp myself off to the lowest, chintziest bidder.

I find myself traversing hotel meeting rooms, call centers, coffee shops and drug testing facilities. I am fast becoming master of the online assessment.

I can respond to the “Can you tell us of a time…?” question before they end the sentence. I know the “Let him wait” strategy like the back of my hand. I bring snacks.

Recently, I found myself at a Radisson in Phoenix, the day before I took the test for my insurance license. I was hedging a bet, seeing I was going to start a new job the following Monday.

It was Alaska Airlines. They were hiring for home based positions. I am writing a couple of books and I don’t want to lose valuable writing time on the highway. Hence….

So here I am. What a disaster. Murphy showed up with a bunch of his laws and Fellini had a casting call.

They tried to show the “Ain’t we a happy bunch?” video with disastrous results. The projector was an alien intruder, there was no audio, and the video was the size of a pizza box.

It starred captive employees doing that sign reveal thing with printer paper on a windy runway.

These people operate flying machinery?

I’m thinking that poor bastard they have painted on the tail of their planes might be the CEO.

There were four of these ambassadors moving around like monkeys humping a football.

They were wardrobed right out of the nearest homeless shelter. Honey, if it don’t fit, please quit.

I’m thinking a dress code should be relaxed, not limp.

Realizing I have my big test tomorrow and should be home studying, not having my intelligence insulted at this circus, I start losing it.

I stand up and turn my back on them. I am 50 miles from serious study.

I am so filled with remorse. And they can tell. Beyond the garish visual, these people were so unprepared and full of shit, they were choking on it.

I kept thinking of all the flight checks that were going on at the moment and I start praying.

I waited a full 2 hours to tell them I wouldn’t take the position and shouldn’t they be ashamed of themselves?  No response.

Alaska can be a cold, dismal place.

 

 

Fit To Be Hired

There’s more to showing up than just showing up, isn’t there?  Let’s face it, job interviews are pure scrutiny….to the bone.

Like you need a little more “under-the-hood” added to your day-to-day neuroses.

Some puke who looks like he should be valeting your car has your life in his chubby little hands.

Unbearable. (Feel free to e-mail me for support group information.)

But it is what it is. (Such a useless term.) The only control you have in this situation is the knowledge that you’re bringing your best self.

Small consolation at the check-out I know, but you’re all you got.

Until you get the job and Duncan Uplift over there starts working for you.

As men, when we don’t look good, we do funny little things, like buy larger clothes, keep our jackets open, loosen our ties like it’s on purpose and try to hold our bellies in.

Mainly, we try to act like we don’t give a shit. Oh, but we do.

But you’ve been training your body and mind through diligence and discipline. You’re comfortable in your own tight skin. You can’t put a price tag on that. You earned it. Sweat equity.

Bring it.

Ultimate Stiffing

I moved out to Arizona a year ago.

I got stuck with a bunch of bad debt after my marriage ended.

Since then, I have been searching for gainful employment.

I am astounded by the cast of characters out here who call themselves recruiters.

Real estate agents for humans.

And this one poseur who has the misfortune of breaking my camel’s back. He crossed the threshold.

As therapy, I’ll write about him. This way I won’t have to punch him.

He reached out to me on LinkedIn. A very bad move for him because now we’re Linked.

That’s like being handcuffed to a suicide bomber.

In my life I’ve been contained, constrained, conscripted, probed, detoxed, deprogrammed and financially sodomized.

I’ve endured a long, dead, marriage and been legally restrained, ex parte.

You’d think I wouldn’t feel anything by now.

How I escaped circumcision is anyone’s guess. Knowing my parents, it had to be a financial decision.

I’ve met with recruiters who were drunk, high, soiled, morally bankrupt, inbred and incapable of linear intercourse.

Ones with writing on their face, metal in their nose and motor oil in their hair.

Oh, I have endured.

But this guy…

I drove 90 minutes on a busy afternoon at his request to meet in a sweltering shoe box.

I am greeted at this humidor by a woman who appears to be waiting for a bus.

After enduring a series of non-functioning computer intelligence tests, he enters.

Underwhelmed is an understatement. He slouches in wearing a grape colored tent flap hanging out of his drawers with a sheen of sweat on his more than ample face.

With no air in the room, he starts to expel his after-lunch cigarette onto my person.

Think: grandma’s attic.

Although he shows up late for our appointment, he keeps mentioning how he hopes he won’t be late for his next one. How special can I feel?

Beads of flop sweat and disappointment are trickling down the crack of my ass. I close my eyes, praying for Kansas.

If he steps out for even a second, I’m gonna pull the fire alarm.

But the job he’s hawking is one I happen to be interested in. It pays decent and it’s close to my house. Very convenient.

Out here, 50 miles is considered down the street.

I’ve got a little dog who needs my attention in her advancing years. Izzy’s almost blind.

Proximity is required.

After a short interview, he’s convinces me I’m the guy for this job.

Alrighty then, maybe I won’t hit him with that rubber cactus.

He has to run now, but he assures me he’s going to immediately present me to his client who wants me on that job like, last week.

He is blissfully unaware of what I have been going through. That’s unfortunate.

His last words were, “Stay by the phone Bob, I’ll call you for sure by 4:30.”

Which 4:30?

My mother used to say, “Know how to keep an asshole in suspense? I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

It’s tomorrow already.

 

Assuming The Position

As I was donning my running vest this morning, I was reminded of a story I heard years ago that made me think. Probably urban legend, but thought provoking.

In between two large office buildings there was a parking lot with an attendant. Every day as workers parked, they paid the man with the orange vest, parked their cars, and went to work.

As the years passed, the friendly man with orange vest learned the names of the workers, asked about their families, and was always sure to offer a quick hello and “how do you do”.

At Christmas the workers would bring the man with the orange vest gifts – chocolates, wine, and cards with dollar bills.

Then, one day, the man with the orange vest didn’t show up. The workers assumed that he was sick. Nobody knew his contact information. They didn’t actually know much about him.

The man never showed up again.

After some time the management of the two buildings met to ask what happened to the beloved parking attendant.

“I thought that he worked for you,” each manager said.

The man with the orange vest didn’t work for anybody.

The parking lot was a free lot.

This man simply showed up one day, put on an orange vest, and began asking for money.

For 20 years this fraud continued.

I assume that one day he realized that he had stashed away enough money to retire.

Then, he simply stopped showing up.

Right or wrong, he showed initiative.

Some times all you have to do is show up….and assume the position.

Where are you parked? 🙂

 

 

Parting of the Ways

The place is called Health Plan One, or HPONE. It’s an insurance company in Phoenix. They called me out of the blue. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no insurance.

What they do is, comb through Indeed for anyone with sales experience and reach out. I was blissfully unaware that Medicare Annual Open Enrollment was coming up in October.

I was game, so I went over there one afternoon.

The hiring manager immediately sat me in front of a computer for an hour filling out paperwork and I hadn’t even said “I do.” Yet.

He said, “Can you start June 11?” He sent me for a drug test and we were on. The starting pay wasn’t shabby and it would only get better. I was promised.

Monday morning, June 11, comes and I find myself in a Fellini movie. It looked like they stopped at a homeless shelter for last call. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The woman who is running this “Fast Track” session is a retired prison guard out of Gainesville, Florida. She had on tight, peach colored stretch pants, with calves Richard “The Refrigerator” Perry would have admired.

My irises were getting a workout this morning.

She opened with, “Welcome to Hell” She wasn’t joking. She held up a book the size of a Sears Catalogue and told us we had to get this between our ears by the 21st, which was the Arizona State Insurance Exam. Huh?

We crammed all day, all night, all weekend. It was contract law with woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s and abbreviations. There were linguistic loopholes, exceptions, omissions and gotchas. It was a fustercluck.

How bad did I need the money, you ask?

HR came in on Friday, the last day, and said good luck on the big test, “but if you don’t pass, then we will simply have to part ways.” Awww, so sweet.

Long story short, I passed on a Thursday and twitched all the way to Monday the 25th. Now, I have to say, I have been very fortunate to come up in some good company cultures, Dupont, BMS. etal.

This wasn’t it.

There was something seriously wrong  with everyone in the goddam building. I used a bathroom two blocks away and I never went into the cafeteria during lunch.

But when that Monday the 25th came around, I would have shown up there if the building was on fire. I..really…needed…the money.

After a full morning of congratulations to the winnowed out survivors, it was revealed there was such a high fail rate on the test, they were surprised to see…most of us.

At that point, I let out a sigh of relief and started texting myself a long overdue grocery list. That long afternoon and all the next day, training was pure silliness. Just dumb. But I’m gettin’ me some groceries.

Plus, I had my broker’s license.

Wednesday afternoon, a stern looking woman came in a told us it was time to take AFIP, the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals exam. C’mon, willya?

It was days of reading that had to be accomplished by the next afternoon. She said “don’t bother trying to read all the material, you won’t make it. Just go to the tests at the end and try to work your way backwards.”

I look up at the trainer and whisper, “Is she serious?” He nodded in the affirmative. She said we would have three attempts, if we failed the third, there would be a, guess what? Yes, a parting of the ways. Awww. (Again)

For me, this was the equivalent of passing the bar. I studied around the clock and it wasn’t sinking in. This material was for veteran insurance brokers. I deleted my grocery text.

I needed a 90, I got an 86. I was done. Gone.

As I was leaving, I saw Lawrence, a 600lb, legally blind kid with dreads down to his way too low slung jeans. He was smiling, I think. He got a 92 and kept his job. I said congratulations and told him he was a smarter man than me.

He said, “Shhhitt, I ain’t smart man, it was that notepad document with all the answers on it that saved our asses. We all had it, didn’t you?”

I don’t need to explain what happened there, do I?

Parting is such…bullshit. I did get my broker’s license, though. 🙂

The Elder Athlete

I bought the domain name so I guess it’s official. I have a book, a blog and a website in the works. I got 1200 hits in 2 hours off of a recent phytness blog. I don’t know who they are and I don’t usually care, because I get paid in catharsis.

So I have decided to write “The Elder Athlete.” It’s not some puffy idea to possibly bring your blood pressure down, or knock a few points off your LDL, it’s about sparing yourself a life of abject misery and doctor bills.

It’s about being relevant, on the scene, in the moment and still be able to put food on the table if your Social Security runs out.

I am the product of good habits, determination and the will to live. I speak with authority because I have made all the gaffes, belly flops and suffered through all the pregnant moments. I went in and I came out. Alive..and more.

Two years ago, I was in a locked down unit at the VA hospital using a walker, heavily medicated, sans belt and shoelaces. I was shuffling around the ward trying to figure out how I got there. Hard lessons.

I was weighing in at 230 pounds with a palpable blood pressure number. I’ve been there.  I came back stronger, fitter, sleeker and wiser.

I’m talking about fitness when it really counts, these so-called declining years. Your seventies and eighties can be a hell of unimaginable proportion.

You will be joining the orange bottle club and be trying to get family members to give you a ride to your weekly, daily, monthly doctor visits.

You’ll be grousing about the cost of insulin and co-pays. Insurance companies will forget to call you back. You want some of that?

You need to be the steward of your vessel. It’s about relieving that pain in your pump.

The good news: we’re living longer. But you want to live, not exist. You don’t want to be part of your parlor furniture. A potted plant. Irrelevant. You want to stay? Then you surely want to play.

Your later years can be the best of times or the worst of times. You can reside in Malfunction Junction…or not. You can sit around Starbuck’s and trade doctor visit stories with your golf buddies…or not.

My bona fides: I am a 72 year old certified personal trainer, a nutrition specialist, a chef, a showman and a loser. But I still have rubber on the end of my pencil.

I will share mistakes, anecdotes, wrong turns, how to feed yourself, how to train effectively, (read: injury free) and get your mind right. I’ll share what’s bullshit and what’s not in personal fitness.

Most importantly…and wonderfully, it’s never too late. I know how to do this. Because I have.

Ready for your finest challenges? Good. They’re up ahead.

See you in the funnies.