If It Tastes Good

Oh to be young again.

Has anyone found the Fountain of Youth? Because I’m running out of time here! And don’t give me that long-ass sales line about working out and eating a consistent healthy diet. I did that for 45-years being a very active young boy. Several athletic activities such as swimming, volleyball, baseball, and ultimately soccer/futebol that I pursued from secondary school, collegiate, and pro to semi-pro before retiring. During all of those years was that “strict healthy diet,” with occasionally light normal alcohol consumptions. It all worked rather well — complete physicals always ended with the doctor stating, An excellent bill of health for your age sir.

Then came the big 5 – 0.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Injuries sustained over a lifetime soccer career — both knees, one shoulder, one ankle, and 2-3 concussions… that I can remember — began limiting my physical activities, or at least the particular sports I enjoyed playing. Time to adapt.

I quickly discovered, however, that it really, really helps if you HAVE the time TO adapt! And as I also soon learned at that point, it all comes down to shuffling around, tossing out, plugging in various “priorities” within a 24-hour day. No more, no less. Twenty. Four. This is a workout in itself!

By the time I perfect this time-management, advanced calculus equation, I am 55-years old. My hair, what’s remaining on my crown and has moved en masse to my ears, nose, and neck, has turned essentially all silver-white. My daughter says I am now ready to be accepted into a band of gorillas as a silver-back — not to be confused with THE silver-back, she clarifies. Apparently in the years it took me to become a near replica of Sean Connery, in 30-seconds my daughter became a Primatologist with an acute sense of reality-checks. I will spare everyone the long list of “medical checks” and prevention measures men over 40 should (sometimes must) be alert to and inevitably embrace. Several methods are quite humbling and challenge even the most sturdiest of dignities.

Then with a vengeance came varicella-zoster. But at the time I had no idea why I felt like my left side head, neck, left tonsil, and left inner-ear were about to explode. My friend tells me I kept mumbling over and over It hurts, it burns, I see Kate Beckinsale with Jessica Biel. This was rumour of course, and after all I was running a 103° temperature. An aging man cannot be held responsible for an unhinged subconscious!

After 3-days of total hell consciously and subconsciously, I had had enough. I was a defeated silver-back-n-top. Despite my long history of fainting at the sight of syringes, scalpels/lancets, needles, blood, and the occasional speech impediment around Nurse Goodbodee in librarian glasses, to the doctor I went. As I expected, this did not go as expected.

The nurse performed all the usual pre-diagnosis rituals, showed me my examination room and cushy table to place my buttocks to await the doctor. A few minutes pass, he enters, he corrects me 3-4 times about “Pugach,” pops the rubber gloves on, checks my head, stethoscope to the chest and back, then sits on his stool-with-rollers. Your shingles the doctor from Belarus or Ukraine with an impossible last name to pronounce explained, will go away in 4-6 weeks. But that’s not your biggest problem. I immediately start remembering the earlier pre-diagnosis checks:  weight scale? Ear thermometer? Prostate check? Whew! Didn’t do that one. Pulse check? Blood-pressure monitor? The constant popping of 1500-2000 MGs of Extra Strength Tylenol for the Kate Beckinsale/Jessica Biel ailment? Are there severe side-effects for that? I just wasn’t sure what could be worse than my damn head and pain.

Your blood-pressure is high; abnormally high. I was slightly relieved when he said that. I thought of many things much worse! We’ll need to put you he continued on some blood-pressure medications right away. I think cool, not a problem. You’re closely approaching stroke-risk status. Great, let’s do it — the meds that is. We’ll also need to do some lab work too… to check on enzyme levels and blood electrolytes, lipid profile, etc.

Now we have a problem. Well, if we don’t do lab work you’ll likely have bigger problems than the one in your head and on your head. He winked at me with a smirk. I thought, that’s not funny.

In the room ladened with every sort of life-threatening utensils and signs warning not to touch, discard here, and In Case of Emergency Do… I managed to get through the whole slapping the inside of the elbow, sterilization rub, needle enters, blood gushes out, fills the vile, undo the rubber strap off the arm, and then band-aid with a candy-lollipop. I walked out of that office a proud survivor and veteran of many floor deployments!

glasses-neededA day or two later the lab calls with my results. Everything looks normal the kind lady informs me but your liver enzymes are elevated. Okay, elevated is not all bad with a man’s body, right? You need to cut-down on your carbohydrates, go on a low-carb diet, and probably cut way down on your alcohol consumption. I felt my body sink when she said the last part. Like… ALL alcohol, I asked her. Wine, preferably reds, in moderation — say two or three glasses per week or one 8 oz glass per day — should be fine. However, she pretty much said no liquors in excess or heavy moderation. When I researched the low-carb diet, it wasn’t too bad, although several foods I’ve loved all my life — cheeses, breads, whole milk, coffee with gourmet creamers — had to go.

This felt as if I was loosing my closest dearest friends and even the ones that get you into untold troubles and complications of particular day-after regrets. Bye-bye. Gone. Send a postcard.

Then my follow-up doctor visit happened.

Same routines as previously with the marvelous exception of items designed to poke, puncture, probe, or cause general discomfort such as fainting and peeing (in a cup or in your pants) all remained out of eyesight and out of my body. I was thrilled! The soft knock-knock on the door and my doc with the impossible last name enters. All my problems and ailments are in decline — the fun news. We then begin discussing the low-carb diet and what it encompasses. He covers the “Okays to eat/drink” first, perhaps wanting to make me feel better… as most doctors are supposed to do. He names off a dozen or so and all of them I enjoy eating. It’s quite a tasty list of options. Do you have our Low-Carb Diet pamphlet? No I replied. He walks over to the wall of pamphlets next to the big laminated poster entitled “Causes of Hypertension to the Human Body,” grabs my future meal plan and hands it to me.

There in green-ink I see the side of “Okay to eat/drink” list. Yep, check. Then on the other side of the page is the “Avoid – Do Not Eat/Drink.” In a most drabby voice I share my assessment of the diet, Umm, the red Avoid side is noticeably longer. He acknowledges my keen observation; apparently he has heard this tone before. Yes, a big reason for that are the enormous choices shoppers have at grocery stores and restaurants. Yeah, that’s true I say to myself, still mopey. I try to finagle some exceptions, or certain conservative amounts, frequencies, and volumes, but my doctor with the impossible last name is having none of it. He goes into a more extensive spill as to what exactly is best and what is iffy, wrong, and call the undertaker. I try one last attempt to skirt by, just on the edge, and he interrupts me. I guess he’s on a schedule?

Basically, if it tastes good, spit it out!

I look at him astonished with eyes bulging, mouth frozen. I’m unsure what to say. Then he begins chuckling, and explains he wanted to get me refocused on what is important. He then modified his hammering gavel to a softer If it tastes sweet, spit it out.”

Well there, I felt much better. My doctor (and I suppose my body) put me on top of the geriatric world, only after one-hour… a bit older listening to my exhilarating new lifestyle! Strike up the marching band, but leave off the flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, the entire percussion section, and the tubas.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — But Don’t Over Do It 😶

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There’s No Way!

Anyone who has had to deal with manifested psychiatric-psychological disorders like manic bipolar disorder as well as/or clinical addiction, which often go hand-in-hand, then like me you can probably relate to and empathize about why this particular song* speaks volumes to me. It captures the intensity. It covers ALL of the mental and emotional ups and downs, successes and failures, that seem to be a never-ending saga of love, hope, destruction, beauty, anger, disappointment, joy, and most of all perseverance. I sometimes wonder if staying isn’t abnormal.

I live a chemical life
I’m on a mission to try
You went insane for a day
I’ll have to shove it away
My only option is gone
Smile as they break and they fall
You want a simpler life
You can’t erase what was mine

Even though it is human nature to often seek perfection and expect perfection, we eventually find that in seeking and expecting perfection, we find imperfection. The more perfection desired, the more imperfection found. Sounds quite insane, quite a formula for cyclical chaos doesn’t it?

[Pre-Chorus:]
You must be out of your mind!
This was a simple design!
You fuck it up every time
How could you leave me behind

Yes, there have been many times over the decades where I thought I was going out of my mind! But many times I felt denying or running from the problem(s) wouldn’t solve anything or teach me/us anything either! But everyone doesn’t think or feel like I do, so some do indeed “run”… and leave me behind. Some truly want immediate satisfaction and relief!

[Chorus:]
It’s alright, it’s alright
’cause I know what you want
but you’ll just have to wait
If I had it to give
I would give it away
I’m living it up
while I’m falling from grace
There’s no way, there’s no way that I’m running away

And in my years of employment in the Psych/A&D field helping others, I eventually found that if I don’t remain disciplined with my own mental-emotional health, rest, and recreation, I too can fall from grace. I am just as human as the next and I am reminded of that, dancing that edge sometimes as I must, as long as I remain truly human inside humanity. Make sense?

How many thousands of times I have heard this rationale and events play out…

I’m used to making it worse
Made up of four letter words
You wanna know what it was
Now isolated and gone
You fall apart at the seams
I’ll never know what it means
Try not to pull it apart
You’re anger’s straight from the heart

[Pre-chorus]

[Chorus]

There were numerous times when my patience and will were exhausted, done. All I wanted was to be selfish, left alone in solitude, or to do one of my favourite therapies: dancing. And yes, even dancing and screaming energetically angry too… at first, maybe. (wink)

But then…

It had to be the worst for me
I don’t know what to say so let me be
And now I find you left me behind**
I don’t know what to say so nevermind!

You’re mine!

I still belong here, there… with my human family, with my tribe, with my soul mates… through the good times and the bad. Together.

’cause I know what you want
but you’ll just have to wait
If I had it to give
I would give it away
I’m living it up
while I’m falling from grace
There’s no way, there’s no way that I’m running away

I don’t have all the answers, nor can I guarantee immediate results — you’ll just have to wait… be patient. If I had it to give, I would give it away! But in the meantime, I’ll be here with you. I might get frustrated, even angry, but I will celebrate successes just as pumped and just as excited as you do! “You’re mine.” You’re ours.

You know, maybe we don’t need such super high expectations of perfection. Since perfection always accompanies imperfection, let’s find all the beauty in imperfection and embrace it along with perfection. Let’s learn to screw up better each time! But do not fear…

There’s no way that I’m running away.

(paragraph break)

* “Simple Design” by Breaking Benjamin (2004)
** This line refers to my Dad who in July 1990 took his own life without reaching out.

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

(paragraph break)

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Fail Better

Oliver Napoleon Hill, one of America’s greatest writers about self-improvement, motivation, and success once said “In every adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.”  In achieving a difficult goal, Hill conceptualized that the greatest reward was not in reaching the goal, but instead was in the will to continue in the face of growing doubts bred from failures.  Most importantly to note is that Hill did not state “failure.”  Critical to his concept was the kinetic word “failures.”

Everyone can make a long list of failures throughout their life; hopefully.  If all hopes and dreams were easily gained, they would have little satisfaction and soon be forgotten.  But it is the exhausting roads and persistent belief that with each setback, with each refinement of imperfection and expectation that create the most astonishing most memorable life experiences – to perhaps cauterize a realization that life and death work together, not in conflict.  Neither need be feared.  Contrary to antiquated religious teachings, no ‘stand-in’ is required, no depraved condition exists within us unless it is taught, accepted or internalized, and manifested as less-than capable by one’s self-will and surrounded environment chosen.  No, quite the opposite should be taught:  failures are a good option!

Care to revisit some famous failures that came with some spectacular silver linings?

1492 – Geneon explorer Christopher Columbus never did make it to India’s spices and wealth, but instead found much more; so much more that it changed the entire world. *

1804-06 – Cartographers and explorers Lewis and Clark set out to find a water passage from Midwest America to the Pacific Ocean.  No such route exists, however, they documented the land, people, plants and animals which led to the bargain-basement steal of the Louisiana Purchase. *

1896 – Nineteenth century German engineer Otto Lilienthal first pioneered glider-flight that soon inspired the Wright brothers to powered-flight in America.  Days later Lilienthal was killed in a flying accident attempting to perfect his glider. *

1937 – During the latter stages of Women’s Suffrage, aviatrix Amelia Earhart vanished while attempting to fly around the Earth’s equator.  Regarding women’s rights she was quoted earlier saying, “[women’s] failure must be but a challenge to others.” *

1940 – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge had only been completed 4-months prior to its collapse due to high winds.  Wind impact had not yet been fully understood during construction.  Following bridge designs around the world included stabilizing measures and construction. *

1946-56 – Discovery of the 972 texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Khirbet Qumran, Israel, convincingly showed a much more comprehensive portrait and subsequently more diverse Second Temple Jerusalem than was traditionally portrayed in the canonical Christian Gospels; further confirming the truer nature of Judaism as opposed to the warring oppressive Greco-Roman version of later early-Christian groups closer to Rome.  For one example of the two 1st century CE severe divergences, read Sign of Jonah in Talpiot Tomb confirmed just this year.

1970 – The Apollo 13 lunar mission failed due to an oxygen tank explosion lethally damaging the flight crew’s breathing system and service module.  However, with ingenious adaptation and resourcefulness NASA brought all astronauts back home safely and with several critical later spacecraft changes. *

1991 – Locking eight scientists in a sealed terrarium called Biosphere 2 did not go as planned:  food shortages, bad air, and “crazy ants” cut it short.  Columbia University then the University of Arizona has since used it for successful eco-bio research. *

1993 – The Apple Newton is recognized as Apple Corporation’s biggest failure.  The personal electronic assistant expired after 6-years of mediocre sales, but led the way for today’s highly popular iPad. *

1998 – NASA launched the Mars Climate Orbiter to examine the Martian climate.  After a 287-day journey and over-budget costs the probe likely incinerated in the Martian atmosphere.  The problem?  NASA used the metric system in its designs, but the engineering team at Lockheed Martin used English units of measure.  Now regular Martian orbiters and land-rovers explore the red planet with feasible developing plans of mining, colonization, and making Mars a leap-frog point into deeper parts of our solar system. *
[ * – National Geographic Magazine, Sept. 2013]
[paragraph break]

On a more personal level, an intimate level, these concepts are ever truer for our relationships, especially in marriage and parenting a family.  Some of our best virtues can be born and honed with a marital partner and raising messy failing succeeding children.  And the more the better!

Failure and success coexist.  Though we may have been taught they are dire enemies, they are really identical twins from the same mother:  a life and death well-made and well told.

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
  If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

If — by Rudyard Kipling

[paragraph break]

How many wonderful failures have you made this week?  Was one of them epic?  Profound?

[paragraph break]
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