David Host: The Right Result – But a Troubling Ruling

David HostI have long been hesitant to write about the marriage equality issue because of my own nuanced feelings on the issue. I have always strongly believed that our society must confer the same protections and benefits upon couples regardless of sexual orientation – and as the current debate has progressed, I have become increasingly persuaded that such benefits must include the civil contract which the law defines as “marriage.” Thus, on a basic policy level, I agree with today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Yet, I remain fundamentally uncomfortable with this ruling for other reasons. First, I do not think that the Court’s evisceration of the democratic process was necessary or wise in this instance. The rapid growth of states which have adopted marriage equality shows a fundamental change in societal attitudes on this issue; a transformation which seems only likely to accelerate as the so-called “millennials” achieve a greater share of political power. I think that the Court could have steered a more moderate course by requiring states to recognize all marriages performed in other states, without directly overruling a particular state’s definition of marriage by judicial fiat. Instead of promoting an emerging national consensus, this ruling seems destined to exacerbate divisions on this issue.

Second, I think the Court short-circuited a vital discussion that needs to occur in our society regarding the entanglement of church and state when it comes to marriage. Given the “wall” that exists between church and state in almost every other instance, I have always thought that marriage offered an interesting display of cognitive dissonance. Many of us have gotten married in a church and divorced by a judge – and ministers who officiate a marriage ceremony frequently proclaim that they act “under the authority of God and the State of ______.”

I certainly hope that this entanglement does not become the “nose under the tent” which leads to a broader intrusion upon the free exercise of religion and the freedom of conscience in America – yet, I cannot not see how ministers who invoke the state’s authority can avoid performing same-sex marriages under the implications of today’s ruling. Perhaps the onus is now upon the churches which do not recognize same-sex marriage; they can always distinguish between “spiritual marriage” and “legal marriage,” and limit the marriage ceremonies they perform to the former. Of course, many couples would have to participate in  two wedding ceremonies – but I think that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has always mandated that result.

My main concern is that today’s decision has steamrolled the dissent on this issue, foreclosing the natural consensus that could have otherwise emerged; a consensus that would have confirmed and strengthened the boundaries between church and state in America. Instead, I am concerned that the Supreme Court’s ruling will further blur the line between private conscience and public responsibility; an outcome which does not seem likely to enhance the long-term health of our nation.

John Y. Brown, III: The Perils and Power of Praying with your Partner

jybderby_1During a recent routine physical, my doctor found some concerning results in my blood work and asked me to come in for some follow up tests which indicated I needed to see a specialist for still further tests to rule out anything serious.

I felt like I would probably be OK but was concerned and that night after I told Rebecca about it asked if we could pray together and she said, “Yes. Of course.”

I felt comforted by my wife joining me in prayer. I believe in the power of prayer and couldn’t imagine anything but good coming from it. Rebecca and I had done this before at the suggestion of a friend who told us praying together can be a great habit for couples if you can not worry about “sounding eloquent” and stay focused on your own praying and not your partner’s.

We knelt down, held hands and I prayed first. I asked God to please help me be free of the health problems that were concerning me and then added some “filler” prayer about other people and things so it wouldn’t seem to Rebecca (or God) like I was being overly self-centered and praying only for myself.

Then it was Rebecca’s turn. She asked God to please give her a “fuller heart” and then something else I couldn’t quite make out. I asked her to repeat it. I figured if I couldn’t hear it, God may not have been able to either. Rebecca again prayed for God give her a fuller heart and then followed with a more detailed way of saying what she had already said. Frankly, I didn’t feel the second part of her prayer added  much at all. But I was trying to focus on my praying and not Rebecca’s.

We both said “Amen” and then stood up and hugged. As hard as I tried not to think about Rebecca’s prayer, I couldn’t help notice she never asked God for me to be free of any health problems. I figured it was just an oversight on her part. I couldn’t imagine Rebecca purposely not praying for my health because she felt like she would give up an important chit with God that she was saving for something more important. So, I just let it go.

The next morning Rebecca and I got coffee and saw a good friend from church who had gone through some serious health challenges a few years ago and now was doing well. I shared with him my recent health concerns and he kindly assured me, “John, I’ll be praying for you to get a good medical report.” I made sure Rebecca was listening and responded, “Thank you. I’ll be doing the exact same thing myself!” I paused and looked over at Rebecca to see if she had anything to add. But she didn’t. Rebecca just smiled and hugged our friend goodbye and wished him a happy Derby weekend.

This was Rebecca’s second prayer snub for me in 24 hours and was obviously much harder for me to dismiss as just an oversight on her part. I didn’t say anything but was definitely bothered by it.

That night Rebecca and I were at dinner and she asked how I was doing. I told her I was a little anxious about the follow up blood tests being done the next day and hoped everything was OK. I tried to resist saying anything more but couldn’t resist. “Do you remember when we prayed last night?”

“Sure.” Rebecca answered lovingly.

“Well, I kinda noticed when we were praying that you didn’t pray for me for my tests to come back clear.”

“What? Yes, I did!” Rebecca shot back defensively.

“No. You really didn’t. Because I was listening closely for it and it just didn’t happen..” I paused to let it sink in and added, “At first, I thought it was an oversight. But when you had a second chance to pray for me this morning  at coffee and didn’t take it, it bothered me.”

Rebecca explained, “The reason I didn’t ask God for you tests to be clear is because I have been taught only to pray for ‘God’s will to be done’ instead of asking for specific things that I want Him to do for me.”

“What?” I responded incredulously.  “You’re saying you didn’t pray for my health because of some new prayer orthodoxy you just learned?”

“Yes.  I’m serious. ” Rebecca defended herself.

I sighed and shook my head. “I’m sorry. I just don’t think I can buy that.  If you were praying for our children —or even our dogs for that matter —- I suspect you would ask God to ‘please help them be in good health (or whatever you wee wanting for them) and then maybe after that add ‘If it be Thy will.’ But I can’t see you just praying, ‘Thy will be done’ without offering God other suggestions if it involved our kids or our dogs.”

Rebecca looked both perplexed and exasperated.

I continued, “Look, I’m not mad. I can’t tell you how you should pray. That’s between you and God. All I know is that if you were the one having medical tests tomorrow, I would ask God for your tests to be clear”

“OK. OK. OK! “ Rebecca interrupted, “I’ll be sure to ask God for your tests to be clear the next time we pray.”

“Don’t do that.” I said defensively. “I’m not even sure I want you now.”

“What?” Rebecca blurted in confusion.

“I sure don’t want you to pray for my health if it’s just to make me feel better. I want you to really mean it.”

“Of course, I’ll mean it,” Rebecca said . “I’m just not very eloquent at praying and wasn’t thinking. I want nothing more than for you to be well. I just forgot to say it.”

“Really?” I asked. “Do you mean that?” Rebecca assured me she did and I began to feel better about things and changed our conversation to a lighter topic.

Later that night before bed, Rebecca and I knelt down again and held hands in prayer. Rebecca went first this time and asked God for a “Fuller and more loving heart” but this time added, “And please help with John’s health”

I have to admit I was a little disappointed. “Please help with John’s health?” seemed weak and vague to me –and unlikely to have much of an impact at all. But I didn’t say anything. I was just glad Rebecca was trying. I bowed my heard and took my turn, I asked God to please help me to get “A clean bill of health with my medical tests” and before I could finish my prayer, Rebecca interrupted and added, “And please God help John to get a clean bill of health with his upcoming medical tests.”

Rebecca nailed it that time. Sure, she was just repeating my prayer verbatim, but I felt like Rebecca finally “got it” and was fully on board with doing all she could, prayer-wise, to help me out.

We said, “Amen,” and stood up and I thanked Rebecca.

The next day at the doctor’s office Rebecca and I held hands waiting for my results to come back. It was a long wait. I apologized to her for being so silly about how she prayed for me. I told her I was scared and wanted all the help I could get. She kissed me on the forehead and I said, “Thank you for being hear with me today. As always.”

Rebecca said, “Of course. That’s what I do. I’m always here for you and the kids. That’s my life.”

I smiled and said, “Well, I guess ‘being there for the ones you love,’ is about the most important job a person can have in this world.” Rebecca kissed me again on the forehead and we continued to wait.

Eventually the doctor came in and told us that the new tests didn’t indicate anything that we should be concerned about. It was a huge relief. There would be some follow up tests but I was essentially getting a “clean bill of health.” I hugged Rebecca tightly and thanked her for being such a good and supportive partner.

That night Rebecca and I knelt again to pray. We thanked God for all our blessings —with a special mention for my good test results. There were no special requests this time for either Rebecca or me. I was willing to pray for something for Rebecca if she wanted me to but she said she couldn’t think of anything. I did throw in a special thanks to God for providing me with such a loving an supportive spouse.  I felt like it was the least I could do.

Praying together as a couple is a very good thing. But not as simple as it sounds.

I know we aren’t supposed to focus on each other’s prayers, but Rebecca noticed my special thanks to God for her and thanked me afterwards. There was nothing more I had wanted from Rebecca prayer that night.

It felt feally good and I was already looking forward to praying together with Rebecca tomorrow night.

And secretly hoped Rebecca would thank God for giving her such a “loving and supportive husband.” But decided I probably wasn’t going to say anything if she didn’t.

Liz Roach: Bourbon Classic, Round 2

Liz RoachWhen “pixie dust” is a featured part of a dish, you know you’re in for an amazing taste experience.  Sprinkled atop smoked oysters, the magical ingredient conjured up an award for “Best Classic Small Plate” for Chef Levon Wallace at this year’s Bourbon Classic event.  Chef Wallace (formerly of Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky) has now moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work for Cochon Butcher, but the memory of his and other bournon-tinged creations lives on.

Set at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, this year’s Classic again delivered an unforgettable program of smoothly finished events. The opening night featured an array of mouth-watering dishes and beguiling cocktails, such as Diane Rehm of Feast’s concoction of apricot and black pepper bourbon sour featuring Russell’s Reserve 10 year. Chefs and bartenders expertly paired dishes and signature drinks in two categories (classic and contemporary) to compete for the coveted Bourbon Classic barrelheads.  Following the competition, attendees headed across the street to Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant Milkwood for the after-party and additional cocktails (because really, there are never enough).

2015-02-21+20.02.02On Day two, participants filed into “Bourbon Classic University” classes, where they honed their knowledge on topics such as country ham and bourbon pairings and bourbon flavor profiles.  A highlight of the day occurred in John Shutt of Blanton’s workshop, where he expounded on the art of entertaining with whiskey (which requires thoughtful consideration, if you do it right). In between classes, a master distillers session featured a gathering of the greats giving their thoughts and stories. The event ended with another round of bountiful food and bourbon, as guests congratulated themselves on surviving another year with intact livers and improved palates.

Planning has already begun for next year’s Bourbon Classic, which will take place in the winter of 2016. Click here for details.

Josh Bowen: Keeping Kids Active

joshA friend of mine, who is an elementary school teacher, told me that her kids are only alloted 15 minutes of recess a day. Often times the teachers are under such scrutiny to hit certain test scores that PE and recess are both put on the back burner. If the school systems would only take a look at several studies that show the more active a child (or adult for that matter) is the better their mind works to absorb vital information. So by limiting and abolishing recess and PE we are doing a disservice to our youth. We have to take matters into our own hands to keep our kids moving and active. These strategies are not revolutionary but they are helpful. Here we go!

Promote Activity

Not exercise- Huh? Yeah! Promotion of exercise and workouts are going to get your kids hyped up to go to the gym or even ride their bikes. They may not be ready for “exercise” but they will more than enjoy activity. This keeps the young mind that loses interest quickly, on task and having fun. I suggest the following:

Active Play

Ditch the video games and play catch, hide and go seek, Simon says and twister. Go old school, take it back to when you were a kid and you played hide and go seek for hours. Remember how much fun that was? I can’t tell you the last time I heard a kid talking about hide and seek, they would rather play Halo. Halo ain’t got nothing on hide and go seek (forgive me, I am from Kentucky)!

Try an Active Party

In the summer time throw a party for your kids at the batting cages or in the winter a bowling party would fit the bill. Old school mentality but activity nonetheless. This may inspire your young ones to pick a sport or find a hobby, all of which is great!

Give them a Choice

Yes, they should be consulted with these decisions. A ten year old is not going to do something they do not want to do. So back door them, get them to pretend it was their idea and watch what happens!

Limit Screen Time

A surefire way to increase your child’s activity level is to limit the number of hours he or she spends in front of a screen — including television, video games and online activities. For example, you might consider a limit of one or two hours a day and, for a better night’s sleep, no screen time in the hour before bed. To make it easier, don’t put a television in your child’s bedroom, don’t watch television while you’re eating dinner, and restrict computers and other electronic gadgets to a family area. Also consider limiting other sedentary activities, such as text messaging or chatting on the phone.

If your child plays video games, opt for those that require movement. Activity-oriented video games — such as dance video games and video games that use a player’s physical movements to control what happens on the screen — boost a child’s calorie-burning power. In a Mayo Clinic study, kids who traded sedentary screen time for active screen time more than doubled their energy expenditure.

Walk the Walk

Here is the most important one. If this is not in play, the rest do not matter. You must back up what you preach. Children with active parents are far and away to be more active. It is that simple. You can’t go tell your child to go play outside and be active, if you are sitting on your rear end doing nothing. The facts hurt but they are true. We are at fault for the lack of activity our youth gets. Not technology, not our school system (well maybe they get some blame) but us.

I do not have children so many of you can point that out and say I have no idea what I am talking about. And your argument may be valid. However I have trained children as young as 11. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my career. I sought out to spark a young mind to value activity, not just exercise. Exercise is just the tool.

Wonder how much physical activity is enough? Consider these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week. Many classic activities — such as playing on playground equipment and jumping rope — cover all the bases at once.

So there you have it, a game plan for establishing activity and play in our youth. This is important, more important than most realize. The quality of life of the next generation depends on the current generation. Let’s do our jobs and inspire, motivate and build a healthier future for our kids.

Here is a young, active kid from Lexington, KY (with hair!) Just a kid with a dream of being a personal trainer!

Julie Rath: 3 Steps to Attracting Women Naturally

Guest post by Sarah Jones of Introverted Alpha

Men's Style and Dating Advice

Learn exactly how to approach social and dating skills in a way that gets results.

Even though natural attraction may sound like an inherent gift — that you’re either born with or not — it is no such thing.

The truth is that like anything worth building, natural attraction is simply a skill.

I have found that when men develop a strong and benevolent sense of self, they can’t help but attract women who are a great match for them.

I’ve seen it over and over again, with men who didn’t think they could even get themselves out of the work-home-work cycle, much less attract a beautiful girlfriend.

By following the steps I’ve outlined for you below, men consistently defy the supposed odds and attract amazing women.

So how do we get YOU attracting women naturally and successfully?

Whether you want to have more light and fun dates, or whether you’re on the search for a beautiful, inspiring woman to partner with, there are three steps you need to take in order to become a naturally attractive man:

Step One: Discover Your Vibe

Since you’re in Julie’s community, you already understand the importance of how you come across in terms of your dress and presentation. That gives you a huge amount of leverage in social and dating interactions.

That said, are you aware of what makes YOU uniquely attractive as a man?

That’s something that not a lot of guys know about themselves, and yet it is the fundamental starting point for attracting women naturally.

This is because once you know what makes you a wonderfully attractive man, a few things happen:

First, you instantly have more natural confidence around women.

Second, you know what your strengths are, so you can style yourself and your conversations accordingly, all while being 100% authentic.

Third, you’re able to recognize and receive women’s respect, attraction, and eventually devotion.

Once you have a core understanding of who you are and why a woman would love you for you, you can finally discern and receive a genuine sexy romance when it comes your way.

Step Two: Develop Core Skills

Once you’ve determined what’s sexy about you, it’s time to build your core skills.

This starts with the basic skill of confidence: an assurance within yourself that gives you the strength to become more of the man you want to be every day.

With confidence comes the ability to build key social skills, dating skills, sexual skills, and partnership skills.

That’s all it is – skill-building. Your current level of skill is in no way a personal reflection on your inherent worth. It is a linear, logical skill to be developed.

This is often the biggest mindset shifts my clients experience.

Step Three: Find Your Flow

You’ll know you’re pretty well in your groove when you’re enjoying genuine comfort with yourself, others, and beautiful women.

You’ll know you’re REALLY in your groove when you’re comfortable being intimate with beautiful women and being in close relationship with gorgeous women who deeply inspire you and are deeply inspired by you in turn.

That sounds amazing, right? If you’re wondering whether you can actually do that, it would be understandable. Many men have asked the same.

I can tell you right now that after working with dozens and dozens of men 1:1 – you CAN.

You absolutely can.

Once you discover your vibe, develop core skills, and find your flow, you can’t help but attract women naturally.

How to Attract Women Naturally: Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones is the founder of Introverted Alpha, where she helps smart introverted men attract women naturally by building core skills and confidence. Learn more and download her Free Welcome Gift at Introverted Alpha.

 

Liz Roach: Chocolate Liaisons

RoachAh, chocolate. The albatross of Valentine’s Day.  Snarky online articles will chide you for taking the easy route of buying your lover such clichés as flowers or a heart shaped box of sweets.  But let’s be honest.  Chocolate is pretty amazing.  As the poet Rita Dove wrote about the treat, “dark punch/ of earth and night and leaf, / for a taste of you/ any woman would gladly/ crumble to ruin.”  Who would turn up their nose at that?

If you’re starting to squirm over what to lavish upon your valentine, relax.  Whether it’s a friend, sweetheart, or family member, most people’s hearts are warmed more by a thoughtful tidbit than by an outlandishly expensive trinket.  And you can make your offering that much more meaningful by taking the few minutes to whip it up yourself.

Don’t worry. I haven’t chosen something complicated or time-consuming.  We’re going with classic chocolate truffles.  Sound boring? Not when you taste them.  And here’s the best part: they only require four ingredients, unless you get crazy with the toppings.  And you may want to, because it’s pretty fun.  Chopped nuts offer a savory balance, or for a pop of color and unexpected flavor, try pink Himalayan sea salt or pomegranate seeds.  With any luck, your amour will be as smitten as Rita Dove.  Assuming you don’t eat them all yourself first.

 

Liz RoachChocolate Truffles

Ingredients:

1 pound dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup of bourbon or liqueur (I used Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream liqueur)

Coatings: Chopped almonds or hazelnuts; cocoa powder; pomegranate seeds; pink sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water.
  2. Gradually stir in cream.
  3. Gradually add bourbon, stirring gently to blend.
  4. Cover and chill overnight.
  5. Once chilled, shape the mixture into balls, and roll them in your chosen topping.

 

(adapted from Bounty of Biltmore Cookbook by Whitney Wheeler Pickering)

Erica and Matt Chua: All in the family

We think we know our family, that our parents have been honest in who you’re related to and who you’re not.  That is until the day you meet a member that you had no idea existed, even more surprising if it’s in an out-of-the-way place such as Borneo, but it happened.  I was standing with my camera at attention in a wildlife sanctuary, when suddenly out of the trees swung my distant cousin.  As soon as I saw her eyes I knew, I could see she recognized it too, we stood staring at each other.  Breaking the awkward moment was her daughter, reaching from her arms, offering me a piece of fruit.

Sadly, due to linguistic differences we were unable to discuss our shared history, sort out when her family moved to Sarawak and how we were related.  Sure, we had some differences, she’s much hairier than anyone in my family, has longer arms, and clearly superior tree climbing abilities, but the face, just look, chubby cheeks and all; we’re related.  I did some research and was able to find out about her family, or should I say our family, the hominids, and our similarities.  We all use tools, interact socially, enjoy eating fruits, and have similar reproductive terms (9 months in the womb, 22-30 days menstruation).  While my city life is fundamentally different than theirs, there are definitely people living in the Indonesian archipelago, even Borneo itself, that live similar nomadic lives in the jungle, wearing little, and enjoying the fruits of the wild.  It is hard to consider the realities of the Orangutans and not believe that we’re related.

Even though we’re in the same family, we’re driving the Orangutans to extinction.  In our lifetime we may see them go functionally extinct, surviving only in captivity, or there may be none at all.  For animals that we’re so closely related to, that we’ve shared earth for millions of years with, this is disturbing.  Just like people do with outcasts from their more direct family, billions of people are determined to ignore the overwhelming evidence that we’re related.  While claims that we were related to animals seemed incredulous in a world we knew little about, it’s ridiculously simple-minded to hold those beliefs today.  We’re now able to travel the world and see it ourselves, connect-the-dots, and understand the relations between animals.  It was once possible to live in a world of only what is immediately around you, but knowledge is fully accessible, travel is relatively accessible, and we can see with our own eyes what it took millennia to understand: we’re just part of an interconnected, related animal world.  With this knowledge comes the responsibility to do something to protect the planet from ourselves.

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Erica and Matt Chua: All in the family

John Y. Brown, III: R.I.P Jim King

jyb_musingsI didn’t know Jim King well but as we have learned in our collective grieving the past 24 hours, everyone in Louisville seems to have a Jim King story, including me.

The first time I ever had an extended conversation with Jim King was just over 5 years ago when Jerry Abramson announced he would not seek reelection and Jim King’s name immediately circulated as a likely candidate for mayor.

A local community leader and mentor of mine called me and said “You have to meet the man who is going to be Louisville’s next mayor, Jim King. You will be very impressed!” I said I’d love to meet Mr King and that I had met him before but only causally and that I didn’t have a good sense of what he was like but would love an introduction and opportunity to get to know him better.

A meeting was set up and I went to one of Mr King’s banks and he met with me promptly at the exact time we had scheduled. He talked about his background, his business, and most of all, his vision for the city of Louisville and the kind of leadership he felt was needed and that he felt he could offer.

I was, indeed, very impressed.

After I left I called my mentor/friend and thanked him for urging me to meet with Mr King and introducing me to him. “What was your impression of Jim?” he asked me. “Do you think he’ll win the mayor’s race if he runs?”

“Jim King certainly has a very mayoral presence. That’s for sure.” I said. “He commands respect and has an even greater command of the issues facing our community and seems to care deeply and genuinely about our city. Those are all important qualities but I’m not sure that is what makes him stand out most as a possible candidate for mayor.”

“What do you think makes him stand out most as a candidate?” I was asked.

“Well,” I hesitated because I wasn’t sure how I was going to say what I was feeling. But it came out like this: “Well….I think after my one brief meeting with Jim King I would say that his greatest strength as a mayoral candidate is that….is that after you meet him you feel afraid NOT to vote for him.”

We both broke out into laughter before I interrupted. “I don’t mean that like it sounded. I mean that people want a strong personality for their mayor and a sense that their mayor will protect them. I felt that for sure from Jim King. He is a strong and forceful personality who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The mayor is a CEO-type office and requires a CEO-type personality and Jim King certainly has that, too. He seems like the consummate ‘no nonsense, get ‘r done’ kind of leader. The challenge for people like Jim King in politics is that they sometimes don’t have the patience for the beauty contest aspects of a long political campaign. They just want to get on with running things”

My friend said, “Maybe so but no one will work harder or smarter than Jim King.” I agreed and that is where we left our conversation.

Jim King did run for mayor and, of course, didn’t win, but like the determined community leader he was he never let up and continued working away on behalf of Louisville and Louisvillians in the leadership role he did secure as Metro Council President. And he was relentless. A relentless worker but most of all relentlessly passionate about his work, and his family, and the betterment of the city we all had the privilege to share with Jim King.

After my first meeting with Jim King I had the opportunity to visit with him on several other occasions and these subsequent visits left a markedly different impression on me than my first. I got to see the other sides of Jim King. He was incredibly thoughtful and caring and compassionate in ways that ran far deeper than his seemingly tough exterior. He was a complex “big picture” leader, on the one hand, and yet also was easily able to singularly focus on every issue before him, no matter how small or big. And he was a local leader our entire community came to trust and rely on far more than we were ever fully aware.

After my first visit with Jim King there was never another time I used the word ‘afraid’ in conjunction with his name —until yesterday. When I told a good mutual friend that “I am afraid our city has just lost one of it’s greatest citizens.”

And we have.

RIP Mr King

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: My True Gifts

jyb_musingsMy lovely wife Rebecca has, again, failed to fully appreciate me and the gifts I possess.

Tonight, or this morning really, Rebecca woke up to me making clanking sounds in our closet as I pushed unneeded hangers into the garbage can. I was so proud of my work. I had stayed up much of the night clearing out and organizing my side of the closet and knew Rebecca would really be excited. Actually, I just hoped she wouldn’t be mad because I did make a lot of noise the last 30 minutes and did wake her up.

Well, you guessed it. She wasn’t really happy or proud of me. She instead seemed irritated with me–just like she was when I stayed up late at night cleaning out my closet in November and woke her up. (The closet had gotten disorganized again since November.)

Rebecca didn’t say “Thanks” or “This looks great” but rather the more disappointing and familiar “John, this is not normal behavior.”

“Well, you know what?” I offered, “I’m not completely normal. OK? And that’s a good thing. In fact, I think my behavior is probably a sign of something that is very positive. Like above average intelligence.”

“Oh really?” Rebecca said while grinning in a state of disbelief. “No. It’s not.”

Oh, yes. It sure is. I remember reading that many years ago in college in a book by Jim Fixx called ‘Running.’ The book was about the benefits of jogging —which I didn’t do–but that’s not the point. In fact, part of the reason I didn’t take up jogging is he died of a heart atrack right after the book got published but that’s not the point either. The point is that in some part of the book the author mentions he is in MENSA, the high IQ society, and lists some of the behavioral traits of highly intelligent people he has met in MENSA. And one of those traits of highly intelligent people is that they need less sleep.”

“Oh, that’s nonsense.” Rebecca blurted as she rolled her eyes and walked away.

“Not at all.” I countered. “He lists a lot of different traits of highly intelligent people and I rememberer that one clearly because that was the only one I really had in common with MENSANS and it allowed me to hold out hope I might have some kind of giftedness. So, you see, this is just part of who I am. Part of the John Brown package and there are, admittedly, some annoying traits mixed in but that’s just part of the whole really good –on balance– ‘package deal’ you got with me.”

“Oh really?” Rebecca said chuckling. “Well, then, we are about to start going through this package and throwing out a lot of the parts in it.”

“But you can’t do that.” I explained. “It’s all one integrated system”

“I always throw away accessories that aren’t needed.” Rebecca said unconvinced.

“That won’t work here. Look, if I had gotten you some big…some big…machine ….for Christmas, like a vacuum cleaner –you know, something you put together– you wouldn’t look at the different pieces and throw out the ones that you didn’t like. You need all the pieces or it won’t work. You see?” Rebecca still seemed unconvinced. I went on, “Think of this piece of me that is irritating you this morning as being attached to the motor –my motor—that is me. You can’t throw away a piece of a motor. The machine stops working then. You don’t want that to happen, do you?”

“Oh Lord.” Rebecca said exasperated. “Are we going to church?”

“Yes, of course.” I agreed. “But would you mind running out and getting us both some coffee first? My motor could use some fuel right now. The good part of my motor, that is. The non-annoying part. The part that you like”

Rebecca left to get the coffee and I couldn’t tell by the way she was walking really fast —like she does when she is trying to leave the room before she says something she doesn’t really mean— I couldn’t tell if she was really convinced about my whole “high intelligence–motor –cleaning out the closet half-the-night” theory or not. I just didn’t know.

But here’s the funny part. I made it all up. Seriously. The truth is I couldn’t sleep and cleaned out my closet and was being annoying –but tried to make Rebecca believe my odd behavior was really a reflection of something grand or gifted about me. But it really isn’t. At least I don’t think it is.

Is it? Who knows? Heck, maybe it is.

Hey, at least I made myself wonder if there’s something to my theory, even if Rebecca doesn’t buy it. And that has to count for something.

Josh Bowen: 5 Things to Start Doing

joshIf I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, fitness impacts everything about ourselves. From personal relationships to our jobs to our self confidence in ourselves, working out actually enhances ourselves to be better at many things. BUT life is busy and often times other people take priority over ourselves. Our spouses, our friends and family and our jobs take precedent over our own needs. It is a huge dichotomy over what we need to do and what we want to do.

I train people all day. I often think about my clients needs before I think of my own. For example my toe. I have a staph infection and for 10 days refused to do anything about it for fear I would miss a session or something would be off. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze into an appointment between clients and all was great. However, my unwillingness to take care of myself could of caused a big problem.

I also focus a ton on my client’s mental and emotional well being. This is important to me because if the mind is cleared and focused anything physically will be a piece of cake. I often find that people do not do a good job of taking care of their selves in one manner or another. So I compiled a list of 5 things that you should start doing for yourself to make life a littler easier and a lot more enjoyable:

Start Spending Time with the Right People

These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally. If someone does not do any of the above, think about the relationship you have with them and what can be done to improve it or eliminate it.

Start Appreciating What you Have

It is easy to look at what other people have and become envious. It is also natural. However, when it becomes a battle internally on why someone has something you do not and then you take it a step further and continue to beat yourself up for it, this becomes a vicious cycle. I challenge you to look around you and see all the things that you do have and just how special they are to your life. Worrying about what you do not have is a waste of time.

Start Giving your Dreams a Chance

In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win. Fear nothing, achieve everything.

Start Accepting Things When They are Less Than Perfect

Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’  One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are.  Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.  No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.

Start Concentrating on Things You Can Control

You can not control what happens to you but you can control how you handle it. Concentrating on things you cannot control is the biggest waste of worry and energy. When you start to worry, ask yourself “what can I control?” If the answer is nothing then there is no reason to worry about it. Give yourself the credit you deserve by concentrating on things you CAN control. Life will be much simpler then.

Life is hard and will beat you to your knees if you let it. However, how we handle ourselves defines how we handle life. By implementing the above you can take your happiness and life to the next level, which will only help you fitness goals.

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