Category Archives: Spirit

What would you give up?

Welcome to the Lenten season!!  That wonderful time of year when some choose what vice they will give up in order to worship the One who gave up everything for them.  If your Twitter/Facebook feed is anything like mine is, it is filled with people either disclosing their vice of choice or professing what indulgence they will do without until Easter.  All of this sacrifice got me to thinking, what would I really like to ‘give up’ (read ‘purge’) from my life?

What would a Road Warrior like to give up if we really could?

So in honor of Lent, here is my top 40 list of things I would more than happily ‘fast’ from this Lenten season:

  1. Flights that depart prior to 7:00 AM: They look great on the calendar.  “I’ll be able to spend the night at home the night before the trip” is a great way to convince yourself you are doing something special for your family.  Reality is they want to kill you when you are getting ready at 4:30 in the morning.  This is a no-win scenario any way you cut it.
  2. Turbulence: Seriously, if I wanted a roller coaster ride, I would head to the nearest Six Flags park.
  3. Sitting in coach: Yes, I am spoiled but if I get to make the list, sitting in coach is one of the first things I would be willing to ‘give up’ for Lent.
  4. Foam Mattresses: I sincerely would like to introduce whoever invented these beauties to karate mat.  They deserve a good kick in the head.
  5. Airport Food: Yes, there are some good spots but for the most part it is abysmal.
  6. Weather Delays: Hey – this is my list and I get to declare that there are no more delays due to white flaky stuff falling from the sky.Calendar
  7. 3 day trips that span 3 time zones: Seriously, why can’t we book multiple appointments in the same time zone (let alone the same city)?
  8. ‘Day Trips’ lasting 16+ hours: We seriously need to reevaluate what constitutes a ‘day trip’.  Just because you can get to/from a market within a 24 hour period does not necessarily mean you should.Ceiling Height
  9. Hotel ‘gyms’ that consist of a treadmill and a broken down StairMaster: And putting a paper note of apology on the broken treadmill does not make it any better.  Fix the equipment for God’s sake.
  10. The casual traveler who thinks the RoadWarrior life a glamorous one: Really?  Yes, I get to ‘see’ lots of great places.  As long as you define ‘see’ as a path that consists of the Airport, hotel, client office followed by a return visit to the airport.
  11. Taking flights on a non-preferred airline: I fly one preferred airline for a reason (see #3).  I would like them to fly direct from every possible location to every possible location.  Is that too much to ask?
  12. Compact Rental Cars: I hesitate to call half of these cars.  I don’t know how Europe deals with it.
  13. Sunday Travel: I sincerely HATE this.
  14. Friday Return flights: Second only to Sunday departures.  Sundays and Friday are made for family and home.
  15. Conferences: Oh if one could only dream of this world.
  16. Hotel rooms without coffee makers: This is just mean!!
  17. Hotel up-lighting: I realize you want the building to look good from the exterior but if we could manage to find a way to not have a metal halide light equivalent to the sun pointed directly into my window, I would appreciate it.
  18. The forgotten toiletry: There is always something I miss replacing.  Couldn’t a magical fairy replace it for me without my involvement?
  19. Out of Office: Why even bother?  I am always Out of the Office.
  20. Emails from your travel booking system: Yes, I know my trip is upcoming.  So is the one you will email me about tomorrow.  STOP!!  You are just filling up my email box.
  21. TSA Security Line Banter: Yes, I know I need to take off my shoes and belt.  I even know that I am not allowed liquids or gels in containers larger than 4 oz.  I do not need to be continually educated about the procedures as I stand in line to go through the Pre-check line for 20 minutes.denver-tsa-line
  22. Travelers who travel once a year who are TSA Pre-checked: Why did you even bother?   You waited way longer for your interview than you would have going through security.it will fit
  23. Travelers with no sense of special awareness: No, your overstuffed ‘roll aboard’ is not going to fit in the overhead compartment on this Embraer Jet.
  24. Overhead compartments in an Embraer Jet: Really Embraer?   There is not even room for my jacket on the left hand side of the plane.
  25. Clueless casual travelers: (Sensing a trend now?) People – shoes come off, all metal and electronics out of pockets and liquids out of the bag.  It really is not that hard and by the way, look back up at #20 – we have been listening to them tell us this for the last 15 minutes straight.
  26. Barbie Ironing Boards: I paid good money to sleep in your hotel room.  Please provide me an ironing board that actually allows me to iron my shirt.
  27. Something forgotten at home: As hard as I try, there is always something I miss at home.  I get the text from my wife and just want to crawl into the fetal position.  I really could do without this.
  28. Booking 9 AM meetings that start EST when you are actually in PST: This one is completely self-inflicted but dear God, I have got to pay more attention to when a call starts relative to where I will be sleeping the previous night.
  29. Co-workers scheduling calls that start immediately after you land: I realize that the time was ‘free’ on my calendar but seriously, do I have to put an appointment on my calendar that says ‘walk through airport’.
  30. Rental Car Shuttle buses: I know it is impractical but man I wish every rental car pick-up was on airport property.
  31. Unrealistic per diems: I am not an extravagant traveler by any means but sometimes, the hotels that you can get for the company per diem are just not up to snuff.
  32. Expense reports: I know, I know. The aps that are available now make this way easier but I still do not know a single RoadWarrior who enjoys this process.
  33. Useless upgrades: I cannot tell you how many times I have been ‘upgraded’ to the suite level at hotels when I am checking in at 1:00 AM and checking out at 8:00 AM.  Thanks for the extra sitting space that I will not use.
  34. On Demand Movie Preview Channels: I never order them (I have Netflix after all) and as much as I like Mario Lopez, I really don’t need to see him every time I turn on the TV.
  35. Brown Food: Why is it that restaurants (hotel and airport restaurants in particular) serve mainly brown food?  Is it really that hard to make a salad?  There has to be more green than brown food out there, right?
  36. Promotional emails: From everybody.  I am pretty convinced that Southwest Airlines monitors your flight schedule and purposefully sends you an email while you are in flight so you will think about them when you land.
  37. Office get-together emails: It is just mean to send me an email about the leftover bagels/donuts/pizza/happy hour that is going on in the office today.
  38. Slow airport wi-fi: When Jerry Jones built the new Cowboy Stadium, he wanted to be sure that it had the bandwidth to support over 100,000 people posting to social media at the same time without lag.  Airport IT Directors, please take note.
  39. Checked bags: No one needs this drama and time suck.
  40. Worrying about any of this stuff: Life is too short to allow any of the above to affect you.  Love others as God loves you and enjoy the journey.

Hope you got a chuckle at one or two of the above.  See you on the road!

If you want some things to change in your life…you need to change some things in your life!!

One of my former colleagues used to live by the mantra “If you want some things to change in your life, you have to change some things in your life”.  While it is the most obvious of truths, it is difficult for most to actually put in to place.

Think about it.  About this time every year, people start to assess their lives, determine what they would like to change and then make ‘resolutions’ around achieving that change.

C’mon, admit it.  How many of your resolutions have been repeated for 3-years or more?  I am willing to bet most of us have at least one.  I know that in past years, I certainly have.  So I have decided I am not going to call the resolutions of our past ‘resolutions’ any longer – I am going to call them ‘wishes’.  Resolutions imply being resolute – wishes are things that just happen.

Resolved [ri-zolvd]

                Adjective

Firm in purpose or intent; determined

Wishes carry the implication that the results are up to someone else.  The Genie gives Aladdin 3 of them.  Cinderella gets hers granted by her fairy Godmother.  Pinocchio’s are granted by wishing upon a star.  See the trend?  Besides all being Disney classics, they all also relied upon the power of others to receive their wishes.

If it is to be, it is up to me! ~ Anonymous

So how do we ensure that this year we make resolutions vs. wishes?

  • Wishes are nebulous – Resolutions are specific. Eat healthier.  Exercise more.  Reduce debt.  Be a better friend.  All of these are great aspirations but are horrible resolutions.  So if I eat a tomato today with my salad did I achieve the ‘eat healthier’ wish for the year?  Make sure your resolutions are specific in the actions that will help you achieve the larger more nebulous wish.
  • Wishes last forever – Resolutions have an expiration date. When are you going to achieve the end result of all of your hard work?  Put it on a calendar.  This is critical to making the next step work.
  • Wishes focus on the macro – Resolutions focus on the micro. If the end that you have in mind is to lose 30 lbs, we set a goal of a target weight (big picture).  While having the end product in mind is important, you need to focus daily on the little steps that will get you there.  Exercise 5 days a week.  Get your heart rate up to specific levels.  Make sure you do not exceed specific caloric intake levels.
  • Wishes magically happen – Resolutions can be measured. Now that we know what we need to do every day to step closer to our end result, track it.  Cutting back debt?  How much is being paid off and when?  Being a better friend?  Who are the 3 people you reached out to today?  If you did not track it, it did not happen.  Depending on the nature of the resolution, I am sure there are dozens of aps already designed to help you track the activity surrounding your resolution.
  • Wishes are luxury – Resolutions are necessity. When you wish for something, you are neither surprised nor disappointed when it does not happen.  After all, it was a wish.  When you are resolute about something, you are going to make it happen.  It is a necessity.  This especially shows through in 4 out of the 5 of my travel Guardrails.  Want to guess which rule is the one I break the most?
  • Wishes are private – Resolutions are public. Now this one may be uncomfortable but you are far more likely to achieve a goal, even a well-crafted one, when you have accountability.  Find a family member, a mentor, someone on the same path as you or even one of the many website/aps out there that assist with this.

Remember, wanting to make a difference in your life is a good thing!!  Let’s just make sure we are really making resolutions and not just making wishes.

Body Image – What’s your standard?

The holiday season is officially upon us, summer is officially over and for some, this comes as a relief.  For others (like me) it marks the end of our favorite season.  The kids are out of the house and back in school.  Football is back in full swing and the temps are starting to come back down which means there is no need to worry about how the bathing suit fits for another 7 months or so.  Somebody cue up the Kool & The Gang!!

Every year when we transition in and out of summer I am always fascinated with the obsession around the bathing suit.  With people across the nation fretting over the concept of the ideal body I want to ask you, What’s your ideal body?

Who do you spend your time looking at?  For some it is the models on the cover of the magazines.  Others, it is the folks that they see in the gym every day, you know the ones that seem to literally live there.  For me, it is the fighters who train their body to sustain an abuse that I hope you and I never know that I look at the most.  It is an image that I probably should not be so focused on but we are all friends here so I’ll put it out there.

UFC

I spend A LOT of time paying attention to the fighters.  Their training techniques.  Fight results and the news reports around the fights.  These athletes are fittest of the fit.  They have a body fat % that can be measured in the single digits, they train up to 4 times a day and have positioned their bodies to withstand the most abusive physical demands you can imagine.  And yet somehow they are my benchmark.

I have a problem….

When it comes to body image, I have always said I have one particular goal.  I simply want to fill out a T-Shirt well.  I don’t want to be huge but I want to be fit……and then I watch a UFC fight.  These guys are in the prime shape of their lives.  Other than the heavyweights, I would guess that the average body fat % is about 7%.  Tack on 2 – 4 weeks of weight cutting (read: losing up to 25 lbs and dehydrating themselves to the brink of death) and these modern day gladiators present a statute that is completely impossible to keep, even for them.  Doesn’t mean that I still don’t have that mental image in my head every time I run, lift, roll or step on the mat…and it is not healthy.

The reality is I am a 43 year old man who will never step foot inside an Octagon.

Sure, I spar.  I roll.  I train but I am never going to test myself the way these athletes do.  I am also not on the variety of performance enhancing drugs/supplements that these athletes are.  There is literally no way I can achieve the standard they set.  However I still regularly find myself trying to.

  • I don’t have the testosterone level they do.
  • I don’t have the time to train multiple sessions a day
  • I am not dedicated to that purpose
  • It is not my profession…………but yet I still compare myself to these professional athletes who train for a living.

I think I finally know what girls and women around the world have been dealing with for decades.  How can we possibly achieve the standards we see in the media (even without the prolific airbrushing)?  We can’t.  The standards are not realistic and we are picturing the top .001% of the population (probably even more remote than that but still…..) as the ‘standard’.  So give yourself a new standard to measure yourself against.

Measure your future self against your current self.  The only one you are in competition with is yourself.  Simply be better tomorrow than you are today.  That is the gold standard.

Make the time!!

Every once in a while when I am traveling across the country, I land in a spot that is truly unique and when I do, I always try and dedicate the time to enjoy the uniqueness of the area.  Recently, that trip brought me to Buffalo, New York.  You see, Buffalo is a ‘stone’s throw’ from Niagra Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world.

So as this trip originally got booked, I started the researching where I could fit a visit to this natural wonder in.  The spot was obvious – morning before my appointment in the early afternoon.  Of course between when I first planned the whole thing out and the morning of, all that empty time got filled by all kinds of assignments, calls and follow-ups being scheduled (it is amazing what looks good on a calendar).  By the time I went to bed last night, the only way a visit was going to happen was if I got up early and headed up that way.

That morning was one of those ‘Steinbeck Mornings’ – you know, the kind with the best laid plans of mice and men.  Plans that I immediately wanted to ditch.

When that alarm went off at 6 AM – I immediately turned it off.  I had arrived after midnight the night prior, was tired and idea that I could sleep an extra hour was really enticing.  For whatever reason though, I could not go back to sleep.  I knew that if I did not take this opportunity to see the falls, I probably never would.  So begrudgingly, I arose, got dressed, had coffee and headed out on my 20 minute “stones throw” drive to Niagra, NY.

I am so glad I did!!

The falls are amazing.  To see that much unadulterated power falling over the precipice is simply breath taking.

image

Was getting up early worth it, unquestionably, yes.

So much so that it is really questioning one of my “Guardrails”.  When I am on the road, I try and pack as much work in as I can.  The thought process is if I get it done on the road, I am not doing it at home.  But at some point there needs to be a balance of effort vs. spirit.  Seeing something like Niagra Falls did more for my spirit and productivity than the extra hour of sleep (or email) ever would have.  It was awe inspiring, humbling, rejuvenating and uplifting.

It also reminded me we have to make the time to revitalize the spirit.

So make the time to recharge.  Will it always be in the overspray of one of the 8 natural wonders of the world?  Probably not but it is still important.

It also reminded me we have to make the time to revitalize the spirit.

So make the time to recharge.  Will it always be in the overspray of one of the 8 natural wonders of the world?  Probably not but it is still important.

Styrofoam cups and old magazines

I hate them both.  With a passion.

Not because I am some hyper environmentalist nor am I on a green movement to stop the destruction of our planet’s forestation.  No, I hate them because of what they represent to me.

They are the very image of surgical and treatment centers.

This upcoming Saturday, September 5th will be my wife’s 2 year cancerfreeversary.  Yes – we made up a term for it and yes – we celebrate it.  Over the course of the last 2.5 years, I have spent a lot of time in the waiting rooms of medical centers.

What the medical team won’t tell you when a loved one is diagnosed with any disease that involves long term care is the amount of exposure you are going to receive to Styrofoam cups and old magazines.  They won’t tell you that you are going to spend days in waiting rooms.  Waiting for diagnoses.  Waiting for consultations.  Waiting for treatments to complete.  Waiting for recovery.

Waiting.

Helplessly waiting.

Waiting where the only refreshment is either coffee or water – served in Styrofoam cups.

Waiting in rooms where there are old magazines everywhere.

For the loved one of someone going through something like cancer, you will wait a lot and it is the hardest part!!!  Yes, you will be a shoulder to cry on.  You will be a punching bag to work out aggressions.  You will be the encourager when they think they can’t keep going.  You will be a nursemaid as they recover from chemo/radiation/surgery.  You will be all of those things at once but in all of those times, you are doing something.  You can take action.

Once they go back with the medical professionals, you are left to just wait and pray.

Wait with a Styrofoam cup full of coffee and an old magazine to distract you.

I hate Styrofoam cups and old magazines.

But back to something more positive – celebrating the gift that is the cancerfreeversary.

This year we are celebrating by having what we hope to be the final procedure in her reconstruction journey.  In fact, they just rolled her back to administer the anesthesia and begin the procedure.  So I am sitting in yet another waiting room, with my cup of luke warm coffee in a Styrofoam Cup leafing through old magazines deciding between an issue of Seventeen from 2014 or Sports Illustrated from 4 months ago (at least it is featuring Ronda Rousey but with my passion for all things MMA, I guarantee there is nothing new in there for me).

image

I hate Styrofoam cups and old magazines but I am so thankful for another opportunity to be here.  I am so thankful for the wonderful health care professionals who provide them and for their dedication to both their patients and their family.

I am so thankful to be celebrating her cancerfreeversary

Are you ready?

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip away? – Eminem

In life you have to be prepared to take advantages of opportunities when they pass by.

This past Saturday, I had an opportunity come and smack me in the face.  While training at the karate studio, the Master Instructor asked me if I was ready to test for my Second Degree Black Belt in 13 days!!!!

Thirteen days?  Are you crazy?  I trained for 8 intensive weeks to receive my black belt……and that nearly killed me!!! (You can read that story here). Thirteen days!?!?!  There is no way I can do that!!

Now up until that moment, we had not even discussed the possibility of testing. No commentary on what would be needed to be prepared, where he or the other instructors saw weaknesses in my game or even the structure of the new test.

Just a spontaneous “are you ready?” conversation.  There was only one answer I could give…..

“Absolutely!”

You see, I train with a purpose and so should you.

Now your purpose is probably not the same as mine.  Not many people are actively training in multiple martial arts and focused on being able to go 10 rounds or stop multiple assailants on a plane if needed (yes, I really do think like that).   However everyone should put a purpose behind their health goals.

It is easy to skip a workout, or multiple workouts, when you don’t have a clearly defined purpose.  It’s easy to order the chili cheese fries when you don’t have a goal staring you in the face.  It’s easy to have that extra glass of wine when there is nothing to focus on.

Without a big goal to command your focus in the long run, the decisions you make in the short run lend themselves to the easy rather than the best choice.

So what is your goal?  Is it…

scale

Weight loss:

You know this is a simple matter of calories in, calories out.  You also have to understand that it is the marathon of goals, not the sprint.  Set a weight target and a realistic date to hit it and then track your ongoing progress (there are lots of great apps and calculators out there to help you do this).  Put that number everywhere you turn so it is constantly reminding you of the real treat, seeing your number on the scale.

Blood pressure

Lowered Blood Pressure:

Talk to your Dr. About what you need to do specifically in this area but I know for my family it is keeping salt to a minimum and making sure we are exercising.  Skip the salt shaker and get your 20 minutes in everyday.  Believe me you will feel and sleep a whole lot better.  Track it regularly and celebrate small incremental decreases.

energy

More energy throughout your day:

Foods high in refined sugar and carbs lead to spikes in blood sugar and corresponding crashes.  Remind yourself before indulging in those cookies of how you will feel an hour later.  Is the short term burst worth the crash later that day.  Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ but work to make ‘yes’ a rarer and rarer answer.

headshot

Fitting in your clothes better:

When I started this fitness journey about 5 years ago, this was a major goal of mine.  When I am on the mat I am often wearing a rash guard/compression shirt.  They show every ripple, bulge, love handle, muscle or lack there of.  I was embarrassed enough of my body that I would wear a t-shirt over the rash guard until it was time to step on the mat.  Vanity was, and still is, a major motivator for me.

Interestingly, I fill out t-shirts and rash guards much better now but I still am in the habit of wearing a t-shirt over them for the most part, even in the gym.  I guess some habits are really ingrained.

But let’s not lose sight of the bigger issue here, you have to have a long term goal to help you make good short term decisions.

G2G

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great defines it as a BHAG -Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

If you have a clearly defined BHAG, and you keep it front and center, when the opportunity arises for you to make a choice that either gets your closer or moves you further away, the answer will be clear for you too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a test to go train for.  Time to go spar, roll and practice katas.
See you on the road.

Starting over….but not from the same spot.

These last couple of months have been really rough travel months for me.  I have spent more days on the road than I can count, been to all four corners of the country and in looking towards the end of the month, there is no letup in sight.  I’m not going to lie; it has been difficult to keep my physical, emotional and especially my mental health in a good place through this season.

I find when I go on streaks like this, it is my mental health that seems to suffer the most, especially due to the central role my martial arts training contributes to keeping me centered.  You see when you are on a mat with someone who is either trying to kick you in the head or stop you from breathing, you tend hyper focus on the moment and not worry about anything else.  I no longer think about that project that is due, the deal I am trying to get closed or even the next blog post.  I am completely in the moment.  It really is cathartic for me.

The problem is, you have to be on the mat to really train and you can’t be on the mat if you are constantly on the road!!

I remember when I first started training in American Karate I started with a clear goal in mind, I wanted to earn my black belt before I turned 40.  I knew the minimum time requirement spent at each belt level per the curriculum and knew that as long as I did not miss training sessions and always passed my belt tests, I could do it but just barely.  Fast forward 5 years and I received my black belt 3 months before my 40th birthday in dramatic fashion (read about that experience here).  If I had had a section of travel like the season has been, it would have been devastating to me and put me way off on my goals, my training and my attitude.  Training was about rank advancement not necessarily personal improvement at that point.

DSC_0303

A forced break like this would have destroyed me.

In addition to training in karate, I also recently started training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  This forced break has made me realize that I have taken a completely different approach to training and my mindset.  The different approach was not an intentional one but one that is a probably healthier.  Maybe it is because I have lower expectations due to my schedule or maybe it is because I have matured as a martial artist but I have no expectations around rank advancement in BJJ.   No goals around when I will advance, tournaments to win or techniques to master.  I just roll and learn…..and get lost in my own head.

I am a no-stripe white belt and I am OK with that.

DSC_0273

During my forced hiatus, I have continued to see my training partners and friends tweet, post, Instagram and Periscope their ongoing training sessions.  I can literally see them progress past my skill level, and I am ok with that.  This new journey has become much more than a color on a belt for me and their journey is not mine.  I have also found that there is so much I can do off the mat to be ready to be on the mat and in seasons like this, it is where my training has focused.

So why share all of this?  Because as RoadWarriors, it is easy to lose track of getting centered.  We are trying to be productive, to utilize our time to the greatest of our ability and to simply survive the gauntlet that is living life on the road but even with all of that, you have to make time for the activities that center you.  So what do you do to keep yourself centered and how do you make it a part of your daily routine?  For me it is train, pray and read.  I am not sure what it is for you but you have to make sure you do it.

Let me know and I will see you on the road.