Tag Archives: lessons

Lessons from a near death experience….

So Facebook was kind enough today to remind me that four years ago on this day, I was testing for my black belt in American Karate.  It was a night that I do not remember and one that I will never forget.  That was the night I discovered I had an Atrial Flutter.  It was a night that started a week long hospital stay that included medically induced comas, CAT scans, EKGs and eventually a cardiac ablation (want the full story?  Read it here).

“You do realize you almost died, right?”    –     Dr. Kevin Wheelan

Even though I had just awoken from a 36 hour medically induced nap, couldn’t remember large sections of the previous 48 hours, had two black eyes and was sore everywhere – the severity of my situation did not really hit me until I heard my cardiologist reinforce those words.

The days are now few and far between when I do not think about how lucky I was to survive.  They are also few and far between that I do not think about the lessons that experience taught me.

Prioritize your health:  If I had not made a specific effort in the 18 months leading up to the test, I firmly believe I would not be here today (did you read the link above?).  The majority of the leading causes of death in America are due to preventable diseases that can be controlled/prevented through diet and exercise……so DIET AND EXERCISE!!!

Listen to your body:  If I had not been so hard headed and determined to do whatever it took to get my black belt, I would not have ended up in the hospital.  I knew early on in my test that something was off.  I think I even knew a couple of weeks before that during one of my training sessions.  If I had really listened to my body, I would have had it checked out.

Pay attention to what you fuel it with:  One of the questions that the medical staff asked me repeatedly was did I fuel up with Monster or Red Bull or place energy drink name here.  They only asked me about drugs once.  That crap puts people in the hospital regularly, I avoid it like the plague.

Prepare for the worst:  I have been fortunate to have good guidance on planning for the inevitable.  If I had not made it, Joy and the boys would have been taken care of.  However, not everyone is in that boat.  If you aren’t, get there.  We are not promised tomorrow but we are promised that those around us will have to carry on.  Take care of them.

Bonus learning – If you are in the Dallas area, immediately go to www.lifefight.org and become a member.  Should you or anyone in your family ever need their services, you will thank me.  We spent months of effort and thousands of dollars avoiding a huge medical bill that is completely avoidable.  Think of it like AAA for your family should they ever need air ambulance service.

Pray like it depends on Him:  Between this event, Joy’s Breast Cancer diagnosis, Tyler’s Papilledema and Charlie’s depression, we have learned to pray in earnest around here.  My prayer life got immensely deeper as I recovered and gave thanks daily.   With it came a deeper peace I had not experienced to that point in my life.  Pray like it depends on Him…….because it does.

Now are those the only things that I learned, of course not, but they are the ones that have stuck with me and I think about almost daily.  Knocking on deaths door will change you.  Hopefully I can have done enough knocking for all of us to learn the lessons.

Happy Birthday!!! – A year’s worth of blogging lessons

It is hard for me to believe but today marks the 1 year anniversary of the very first post on RoadWarriorFit.net.  I remember posting with a very specific goal in mind, providing a resource for travelers who want to put their fitness and health at the forefront of their travels.  What it has ended up being?   A completely hot mess and a total work in progress.

There are definitely a few things I have learned over the past 12 months that I want to share with all potential bloggers.  These are the things I wish someone had told me that I would learn over the first year so go ahead and do them now.

Just write: 

When I began the prep work for this blog, I had all kinds of ideas of categories for posts.  Reality has been that it has been a random collection of my thoughts and observations over the last year.  Candidly, I think it has turned out for the better that I did not stick to the ‘script’ but the key to that evolution has been to just write.  Some topics never see the light of day but none the less, you need to write.

Sometimes you have to break the rules: 

One of my first blog posts was on the Guardrails that every RoadWarrior needs to have in place in order to keep yourself true on the road.  When it comes to writing blogs though, see lesson number 1.  Write, write, write.  Rules be damned.   Don’t worry about which ‘tag’ you haven’t written for in the last month or that the content on this ‘tab’ is stale.  Just write.

Get a Swedish Fitness Model/blogger to follow your blog early:

fitness on toast

So I have no idea how this happened but very early on, I had a Swedish Fitness model and blogger follow my blog (you can see her posts at Fitness on Toast – I recommend it, I actually really have enjoyed following her travels).  I think it actually may have been my post on the motivating factor of an empty water bottle that attracted her attention.  Regardless, it has led to a slew of attention from the European Fitness Fashionista/Blogger set and I would like to specifically thank FitnessonToast, Alys, Akvilee, faceandfortune, The Keen Peach and others for their support.  If I believe my own hype, I am actually a big deal among the European fitness and fashion blog set and I chose to believe my own hype.

Laugh at yourself:

SNL 1

My second most read post, and by far my most popular based on Twitter/Facebook, was about #snowleopardpants.  They have fueled a fantastic date night, raised thousands of dollars for Love Is Louder Than Cancer and taught me the hard lesson of not internet shaming anyone for their fashion choices.  However they never would have shown their power if I was not willing to completely release all pride and let the #snowleopardpants power shine through.

Share the real you: 

People read posts that reflect your actual experiences, not the ones you wish you had.  My original idea of posting a variety of workouts you can perform that conform to the resources available to you at various levels of hotel standard has still not materialized.  Drinking more water at conferences?  Two posts, hundred plus reads and counting.  The story of how Being fit nearly killed me?  By far the most popular and most read.

Study your stats: 

I know that if I post on Wednesday, you are the most likely to read this.  On Monday…not a chance, which is ironic considering that our anniversary is falling on a Monday so I have to honor the date.  Oh well, here is to re-blogging on Wednesday.

Don’t obsess over your numbers: 

OK – this one may just be me preaching to me but you can’t obsess over how many followers/likes/page views you have.  It is not healthy.  You need to blog for you not for the followers.  That being said, thank you for clicking on all of the links here so I can obsess further on why you clicked on how I nearly died but didn’t on combining sightseeing with your travel.

Enjoy the evolution: 

RoadWarriorFit.net is nothing like I thought it would be when I started this.  Thanks to all of you and your feedback, it is so much better.

So thank you.  Thank you for letting me process this crazy life on the road.  Thank you for ‘listening’ to my occasional rant.  Thank you for providing me with the accountability loop necessary to keep myself on track while on the road.  And most importantly, thank you for sharing the journey with me.

Here is to another year of travel, fitness, diet, health and wellness.  Looking forward to spending it with you.

What Harlem taught me about diversity

This past spring break we put together a tour of two cities that ended up being what I call the “Freedom is not Free” vacation.  We started in DC, touring the monuments, government buildings and museums.  If you have not been to the Holocaust Museum, you must!!  Unbelievably humbling, sad, infuriating and empowering all in the same breath.  The room of shoes literally takes your breath away.

DSC_0014

In NYC, we had the unique opportunity to stay with a dear friend of ours in her brownstone in New York City, specifically, in Harlem.   Harlem is a vibrant part of the City with enough character to go around the whole island but we all know the reputation that precedes it; poverty, drugs, crime and racial inequality.  .  I took the picture below on the last morning of our stay in NYC.

NYC Window

Those buildings you see across the way?  Those are the projects, literally.  I was expecting it to be a culture clash for my kids and one that I worried they would be afraid of.  The fact that it wasn’t was beyond surprising.

It was rewarding.

We arrived in New York via train on Thursday evening.  Harlen was our conductor on the train and a New York native.  He had taken an interest in my boys and was determined to show them everything they could see from the train itself including Freedom Tower, the Empire State and of course, Lady Liberty herself.  As a Harlem native, Harlen set the bar of expectation high in my boys heads (imagine how rough that had to have been, being Harlen from Harlem.  And you thought YOU were teased for your name in grade school!!).  Once we pulled in to Penn Station we immediately pinged out for UBER.  The driver’s response to our destination was a hesitant “That’s interesting” and not nearly with the same enthusiasm as Harlen.

My boys really did not have any clue as to what to expect from Harlem.

My boys really did not have any clue as to what to expect, no real preconceived notions of what ‘Harlem’ was supposed to be about.  On the drive from Penn Station to North Harlem, we passed the USS Intrepid, saw the multiple Trump buildings along Riverside Drive and passed right in front of the iconic Apollo Theatre.  We were in the heart of Harlem, A Train and all.

Our home back in Texas is on a very ethnically diverse street.  If you walk four houses in either direction of our quiet suburban home you can find families that originally called Columbia, Pakistan, Germany, Korea, Ecuador, Japan, Turkey and Chechnya their home.   However the diversity and more importantly, the community, my boys were able to witness in Harlem was something on a different level.  We were able to meet the home owner who with his partner hosts aid workers from around the globe in ‘The People’s Brownstone’.  We heard tales of Dotty, the Mayor of W 131st Street who is up in everyone’s business– my greatest regret of the trip was we were not able to make her acquaintance.  There were families, kids, mothers, neighbors and mailmen all in the neighborhood and yes, everyone was in everyone’s business.  It was neighborhood, a real neighborhood.

My favorite encounter was on our first full day in the city.  We left ‘The People’s Brownstone’ early in the morning and headed over to the subway.  We were no more than 10 steps away from the front door when 2 gentlemen and a woman from the neighborhood questioned where we came from.  Repeatedly.

Neighbor #1: “Did you just come from that door?”

Me: “Yep”

Neighbor #1: “The one with the plants on the stoop?”

Me: “Yep”

Neighbor #2: “That one right there with the red door?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Neighbor #3: “That’s where that One Lady lives!”

Neighbor #1: “Oh, OK then.”

We were in a neighborhood where the white family stuck out like a sore thumb but ‘That Lady’ was our friend and host and everyone in the neighborhood knew ‘That Lady’.  They knew that she was in the business of helping the most downtrodden across the globe.  They knew that she and the owners of the house hosted visitors of all nationalities, ethnicities and communities regularly.  You see, even though Harlem is incredibly ‘diverse’ it is also monochromatic for the most part.  We definitely stood out and neighbors were watching out for neighbors.  It was refreshingly awesome.

As someone who travels the country regularly, I have the benefit of literally seeing all types and sizes.  I see diversity if for no other reason than the number of time zones I touch in a week but too many of us do not.  We live with those ‘like us’.  We work with those ‘like us’.  We church with those’ like us’.  We need to take time to be with those who are not ‘like us’.   A special shout goes out to all those in Harlem who welcomed us with open arms so that my family and I could introduce ourselves the NYC and did not shun those not like them but reached out to meet and learn about those ‘not like them’.  I cannot wait to go back and visit again.