Friday, August 31, 2012

And What Are You Thankful For?

I'm sure both of you have noticed that there have not been any posts for a while and really no real posts* since the beginning of the year.   The truth is I have been torn with how to start back up again.

The past several months have been just over burdened with high stress, heavy subjects and bad news.  Honestly I thought I had reached my breaking point and if I was going down in flames, I decided I wasn't going to chronicle it for the world to see.  The world can be depressing enough on it's own, I wasn't about to add to it.  Every single time it seemed like a good time to start writing again something would come out of the blue that would take away from the writing time.  How was I supposed to be funny and clever if i was losing my mind from worry or stress or heart ache? Well, the honest answer is, I wasn't going to be funny.  So I chose not to write anything.

The funny thing that happened is, while I was faking my smiles and hiding my emotions, a positive energy would occasionally, if I gave it the opportunity, help me through my days... sometimes i felt like my sanity was down to my last minute... I thought I was falling apart... but I wasn't.

Do you remember my story about trying hot yoga for the first time?

 http://canigetthatcoveredingravy.blogspot.com/2012/01/remember-to-breathe.html


I continued my yoga practice and through that, got to know some very inspiring and positive people.  One in particular was Miss Julie Wilkes, who in a nutshell, is a Powerhouse Yoga Woman and a Motivating Machine!  She was in the process of putting together an event based around fitness,wellness and community called Inspire the World Day and after a brief conversation with her** I had volunteered to play live music for one of the yoga practices at the event.  I had never seen nor heard of playing live music for yoga.  I couldn't have been more clueless as to what I was going to play.  I did know that I could use a little positive karma in the in-box of life.  

I recruit my good friend Mark Vance, who is an excellent percussionist and all around good guy and convinced him that he needed to be a part of this.

Then, more stuff gets in the way and literally the day before the event Mark and I get together in my living room with an acoustic guitar and a drum kit and we stumble on to something...  I don't want to over describe it but what we came up with was right.  It just felt... right.

So we show up for the gig and I have to admit I was a little nervous.  I'm not exactly a virtuoso guitar player (actually the exact opposite is much more accurate!) and with really no rehearsal to speak of we just ...play.  Mark and I tried to follow Julie as she lead the class.  Match the intensity of the movements with the music we were playing.

 It. Was. Amazing.

I'm not saying we were amazing but what we were attempting to do was awesome.  I've been playing music for over twenty years and have never felt anything like that.  It was sort of like dancing with 100 people at the same time.  It was very powerful.  Since the event I have had several meetings and conversations with Julie about future Inspire the World Day's and am now officially sanctioned to help spread the good vibes.  If you are interested, here is a highlight video of the event:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTOWX9Da7IU

That brings you up to speed with the last 8 months or so.  All of that stuff, both good and bad... Still here and still mostly sane.

What got me through this was focusing on what is good in my life and what I was thankful for. Before this recent life lesson session I maybe was not specific in what I was thankful for.  I can tell you now: I am thankful that I have some great stuff coming up on the creative side, I'm now involved with Inspire the World Day and that I have the greatest family.  Ever.



* I did a few blogs just to do them but they weren't up to my normal standard of being a goofball.

**Julie is SO positive and generous that it is contagious.  If Julie asks for help with one of her charities you can't stop yourself from helping!

listening to Wheatgrass Revival


Friday, March 23, 2012

So... what exactly have I been eating?

"I have an idea!" My wife proclaims as I drag myself home from yet another day of enjoyable work.

"I'm in." I say.

"You don't even know what it is yet!" She replies.

"Is it awesome?"

"YES!"

"Then I'm in."

That was the conversation that lead to the (in a big booming voice) The One HUNDRED Days Of REAL Food... challenge.  

I haven't really researched this much myself and maybe that is something I should be doing right now BUT that can wait.  This eating plan isn't really a diet in itself more than some simple rules to eating.  It is certainly NOT low calorie.  I would call it FULL calorie eating.   She has been following the blog of Lisa Leake @ http://www.100daysofrealfood.com which chronicles Ms. Leake's journey and philosophy on modern food processing and nutrition or to be more specific the lack there of.  Lisa also encourages others to try what she did and see if it changes your perspective.  That brings you pretty much up to speed with what I know.

There are some new (old) ideas floating around in the health and fitness world about this, another is called Paleo Eating aka only eating foods available in the Paleolithic time period aka cave men.  The problem with that system is fairly obvious: finding pterodactyl eggs and brontosaurus steaks is hard thus you starve, equals no fun at all.  Seriously it doesn't take a dietary professional to figure out that all the chemicals and processing in the food we are eating just can't be healthy.  We all understand that yet we do it anyway.  So this is basically a "here we go" kinda blog.  I'll let you know how it's going and how i am feeling.

The first few things that I've noticed is how much crap I must have been eating.  The hardest for me thus far is Diet Coke and peppermint candy.  If you asked me 6 days ago how much of that stuff I consumed I would have checked the "little to none times a week" box.  Wrong!  I bet it was at least a pop a day and 4-5 candies.  Not a lot but enough that I crave it.   Stupid cravings...

Anyway, I'm in the middle of day 5 and I am starting to feel better.  Not that I felt bad, just feel better.  The saying is you are what you eat, but a more accurate version is "You are what you ate."  Everything I am was built with what I stuffed down my pie hole.  Maybe, just maybe,  the new cells and blood made from the good stuff will ultimately build a better me.  95 days to go!

Feeling nostalgic and listening to Saving Jane :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Buzzard King's Top 5 ways to keep your cool!

Life is funny.  Not in a "night at the comedy club, I could do this all the time" kinda way though, more of a "Hey is that creepy guy following us?  Is he wearing pants???" kind of way.  I've had a rough start to the year.  I had to deal with a few things and adjust to some others.  It's ok though, I'm not complaining, just sharing.  It's not all bad news, it's not all good news either.  It's life and you know what?  It is a whole lot better than the alternative.  Can I get an Amen?  Amen!  Thank you.

I quit smoking last year and I took two things away from that experience: A) quitting smoking sucks and B) a few ways to deal with stress.  Stress is a killer.  With a few clicks of the mouse on the inter webs you can find a LOT of research linking stress to pretty much everything that kills us.  It makes sense then to maybe figure out a couple ways to dial it down a notch or two in your life.  I'm happy to share a couple of my tricks.  I hope it helps!

1)  Talk It Out:  talk to someone who know exactly what you are going through at that exact moment.  Ummmm.... huh?  Talk to yourself.  Sometimes just saying it out loud will help you work through it.  Think of it like showing your work for math homework.  You don't need to go into a full blown debate with yourself BUT if it helps then go right ahead.

2)  It's Elementary:  Think how your six year old self would deal with this problem that is in front of you.  Is it really a problem?  Is it just the straw that is potentially breaking your back?  Your younger self would probably just draw a picture or go run around then come back to the problem.  So give yourself a quick break and even mentally picture yourself skipping rocks.  It will calm you down.  Try it right now.................  Told ya!

3)Sweat it Out:  Regular exercise is good for ..... well.... everything.  people who exercise regularly have a lower average of stress in their lives because they get to work out their problem on the treadmill or their aggressions on the punching bag or whatever it is you want to do.  If you do it regularly it becomes a safety valve for the things that are bugging you and then you get rid of them!  Plus you feel better from working out and you look better then you buy smaller pants then BOOM.  Good mood.

4)  Perspective:  Everyone has problems.  Your boss who just ruined your day has problems.  The barista you just told off has problems.  I have problems and you have problems.  We all gotta deal with them AND share the planet with each other.

5)  Why Am I Here?  What is the source of your stress?  Is it your job?  Is it making you miserable?  Do you need that particular job then?  Look for something else.  We have a tendency to make ourselves feel "trapped" by our circumstances.  "I have to go to work to pay my bills and my job sucks!"  Even just the knowledge that you could leave is enough.

Hope this helps you as much as it helps me!  Stay cool!

Listening to Death Cab For Cutie.  Goodnight everybody.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remember to Breathe

So this week is a  Body Blog.  The monthly BB will be a new adventure for me.  I have a list of things I've always wanted to do and other things I've always enjoyed (yes, there will be a mountain biking BB so get over it!)  This month???  Drum roll please:  YOGA!

To be specific what I did was Hot Yoga.  If you are not familiar, it's yoga (duh) in a hot room, which was awesome on this particularly brisk snowy day.  The sensation of walking into a too hot room on one of the first snow covered twenty degree days of the season is... overwhelming.  My first thought was "Ain't no way I'll make it.  Too damn hot."  I did have a mat with me to nap on if needed and about a gallon of water so here we go!

I have done some yoga DVDs before but I have never had a live instructor OR (and this is important) witnesses to my non stretchy and non bendy awkwardness so, with some apprehension and an already forming bead of sweat on my brow, I unroll my mat take off any and all appropriate clothing I can and follow as best as I can!

Alexander Mcafee-Chang is a rock star yoga man.   He was brought into Shape Fitness by owner James McGuire to offer the hot yoga experience to his clients.  Well James, that was an awesome call!  He effortlessly guides rookies and veterans alike through an almost whimsical surreal experience.  Set to music (but not necessarily synced)  this is no new age "Sweating To The Oldies"* routine.  You focus on breathing through the motions.  Yes, I said that right.  You breathe through them.  You feel the power of simply inhaling and exhaling as you move from one position to next.  It is really mind blowing.  I have been working out in one way shape or form for over thirty years and have never felt the power of my breathing.

 In sweat, however, I am fluent.  Being a somewhat meaty fella I can sweat standing still at a bus stop in Chicago in February.  So, yes, I was sweating my ass off but the strange thing was I didn't really notice it.  Focusing on the movements, the music and breathing everything else just didn't really matter.  I didn't even drink that much water considering the intensity of the workout ....but that is really it.  It didn't  feel like a workout or some chore.   It was something different.  Almost freeing.

After the practice Alexander took a few minutes to share some thoughts with me.  If I had any kind of smarts or foresight I would have brought either A) some type of recording device (for example : the thing I'm currently typing on!) or B) something to write on....  I chose mystery door C) nothing but a sweaty yoga mat...  Alexander trusted me to paraphrase for him.  He' s a good man.

I started out with asking him to give me 5 things about yoga he would want both of my readers to know. What I got though was more of a dissertation on his passion for the practice (you don't do yoga, you practice yoga.  I didn't know that either!)  When Alexander speaks about yoga he lights up and becomes very animated.  He loves it and what it does to the body and spirit.  It's refreshing to be around someone who is passionate about what they do.  There is no "going trough the motions" with Alexander!  Some of the things he shared in his dissertation were that when practicing yoga you use all of your body's systems.  Skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive (it's recommended to eat lightly and a few hours prior to the practice.  That is good advice!) and all the other ones.  He said that the only other time your body uses all of its systems is during sleep.  I find that very interesting and maybe is a clue to why after such an intense "workout" you feel so refreshed.  Hmmm....

I asked him about some of the negatives or myths that surround the practice.  First thing that comes up is that it is not just for women!  Fellas!  Get your yoga mats to the studio and have the best workout, maybe, of your life!

Second thing was you don't have to be flexible to practice yoga.  The practice of yoga makes you flexible.  Ahhhh.... it's a "chicken and the egg" thing...

Lastly was it's not a religion.  It may feel spiritual and some religions embrace the practice but yoga in itself is not.

So ladies and Gents, if you find yourself in Columbus, OH,  look up my friend Alexander at Shape Fitness bring a water bottle and a good attitude.   You'll probably see me there, albeit sweaty! Best money you'll spend all day... week!

Namaste.



*  Sweating to the Oldies was a series of videos done by Richard Simmons in the 80's and were probably awesome but I have never actually seen one or sweat to an oldie.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

you may be wondering why I've called you all here...

I'm trying something new.  It's the kind of thing I've hinted at and used in varied compartments of my life but I am going to try a different approach.

Drum roll please: This year, two thousand and twelve, I'm going to plan out my life!  Huh?

I have faked my way and shot from the hip for the larger part of my life.  In the grand scheme of how I do things there is rarely a plan... or a back door.  Just having a basic inclination on where i was heading but 100% relying on my quick thinking, luck and common sense to get me through any obstacles i may encounter on my "journey."  However when I set my mind and planning to one aspect or project it very rarely backfires.  It's strange, if you plan and prepare for things that may or may not happen, then when things do pop up (they always do) you handle them in stride without ensuing panic.  No, racing internal dialog basically screaming "OH SHIT!" over and over.  Just react and move on. I likes the idea of the "don't panic."

I have labored under the Robert Burns quote "The best laid plans plans of mice and men..." but I never really thought about it.  I have always felt it doesn't matter what you plan, it's the unexpected that gets you.  Well there is some truth to that but it doesn't mean "don't plan!" it just means you never know what's around the corner so be flexible.

So this year it's not some crazed resolution shouted from a mountain top.  Instead, I have laid out some goals and directions that I want to go with my life AND I intentionally balanced them out.  My PLAN (nice huh?)  covers Professional, Artistic/Creative, Personal and Private goals.  All will be chronicled here except the private stuff (duh... it's PRIVATE!)

The first one is an easy guess: my weight/fitness.  My whole life I have made this too complicated.  It really isn't that tricky on the science side: calories in and calories out.  There is some other factors that push the numbers around a little bit... but not that much.  I have a whole new support team around me and even have some competitions going on plus other shenanigans, so stay tuned!  Basically: stay active, monitor what I eat and keep training for bigger and badder-er races.  The first one is a tower race in late January.  I don't have all the details but it's up a bunch of stairs... in a tower.  What else do I really need to know???

My new post workout snack?  Choco Milk-o!


Delicious!

It's 150 calories, 2.5 fat grams and 8 grams of protein!  As far as post workout snacks go it ranks pretty high for the "it's got what you need" factor.

 Onward and Upwards.

Listening to Iron & Wine The Creek Drank the Cradle... just can't get into it.  I've tried.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Gift of Mullet

I remember it well.  It was 1989, my sophomore year in college and all was fantastic.  My mullet was coming in nicely, my tiny gold hoop earring would sometimes catch the light and sparkle its ass off.  I was a master at cuffing my acid washed jeans and I could roll up the sleeves on my striped pastel shirts like a madman!    I was also involved with the campus  radio station WCCB... "involved" doesn't really sum it up.  I became obsessed.  I loved it.  I got elected to the board of directors my freshman year (an honor usually bestowed on upperclassmen) and the result of that was the campus newspaper, The Clarion Call, did a write up on me.  I really have no idea why...

So I show up for my "photo shoot" all pastel'd and mullet'd up when the photographer suggested me posing with the teddy bear.  It was the Christmas issue after all.  Well it really seemed like a good idea at the time...  As you can imagine there was some mocking.  My friends and total strangers took to calling me "Teddy Bear" for a while but, ultimately it passed and was forgotten.

Then MANY years later I show it to my friend and bandmate Marti.  I don't remember exactly how long she laughed but it was quite a while.  Understandably so.  It is awesome.  

So Marti, this is for you.  May it make you smile whenever you need it. 



    


I'm a Merry Christmas guy, but may the season find you healthy and happy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top Ten Things About Being Sick

I don't know if there can be anything "top" about being sick... but it does have its benefits.  Yes, by the way, I am currently enjoying Flu like symptoms...  I am only talking about the inconvenient kind of sick.  Colds, sniffles and flu type, over the counter medicine, 24-48 bug kind of sick.  Pain in my ass kind of sick...  which brings us to number ten.

10)  Being a pain in the ASS:  everyone is allowed a 48 hour window to be cranky when your illness de jour settles in.  Be it a summer cold or my annual February sinus infection, it's ok to say things like "do you mind going to the store and getting me something that I won't find nauseating to eat?  Even though I'm really not hungry, more bored than anything, and I have no idea what I might even want to eat if I were hungry... Oh and  magazine too!  Something that will interest me..."  Yeah, you have minimum 24 hrs, maximum 48hrs to say ridiculous things like that.  Enjoy.

9)  Sleep your ass off:  Most people are under rested.  Hold on, let me Google it...  Ha!  If you Google: "US population under rested"  you get several articles on the US penitentiary system.  Funny.  Anyway, it is a loose figure but somewhere around 70%  of us is estimated to be sleep deprived. So sleep!  For the next 36 hrs sleep  as much as you can!  Several studies suggest it's probably the reason you are sick in the first place.  Hit the snooze button, it's good for you.

8)  Read an actual book: It really goes hand in hand with step 9.  When not sleeping, read one of those books you keep stacking up on your dresser in your bedroom.  We are not that far away from books and newspapers going the way of the walkman.  Enjoy a book while you still can.  Your Kindle/Nook/tablet can wait.

7)  Drop a few pounds:  Nothing will lift my spirits like stepping on the scale and seeing a slightly less me has survived the fever breaking sweat naps I've been taking.  Yay!  Thinner...

6)  NetFlix Online:  It's really quite awesome.  Watch wretched one star movies to your hearts content.  Better than the endless loop of Sports Center or Two and a Half Men (that darn Charlie Harper!)  Also a ton of great documentaries and decent new releases and old classics.  Also you can do headphones so you don't interrupt anyone else's  viewing schedule.  Seriously.  It kicks ass.

5)  Let yourself go:  Shower?  I don't need no stinking shower!  The non shaving/non bathing routine of illness is kinda awesome.  You already feel bad, you might as well smell bad! The unknown benefit is on day three when you have to re-enter society and you clean up and take a shower you feel AMAZING!  At least for a bit...

4)  Watch TV mindlessly:  Clean out the ol' DVR or watch all those movies that you have been meaning to get back to your friend who loaned them to you but it will be awkward when they ask if you liked them and you didn't really watch them.  Really anything to just waste the time until your immune system kicks in and gets you back up and running.

3)  Eat whatever:  Cheese popcorn and ginger ale currently tickling your fancy?  Dig in!  Diets don't apply when you are sick. Which is cool!  However, you really can't exploit this either (currently the thought of a Sausage/Pep with a side of Krispy Kremes sounds disgusting and as you both know that is not usually the case!)   You just want what you want.  Try to have fun with it.

2)  Busy work:  This is really a nice thing.  You can come out of your illness completely caught up on emails and other things procrastinated.  It goes well with that shower on day three!

And finally.... Number One is:  Track Suits

I have wanted a track suit for years but never purchased on for myself.  Little Fun Fact:  We tried to get custom matching track suits written into one of our record deals.  We thought it would be cool.  They didn't.  I did however get, not one, but two track suits a few Christmases ago.  They are everything I had hoped they would be.  In all honesty I don't wear the suits as a set all that often.  When I do, I feel like Tony Soprano (the lead Character from HBO's "the Sopranos") and I will also wear the whole set on special occasions like Christmas morning or New Year's Day.  You feel real classy!  I had not, however, worn my track suit while under the weather.  Much better than flannel pj's or sweat pants.  Plus they feel silky on your skin!

Feel better everybody and load up on vitamin C!