John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Announcement!

Click here to purchase his first book

Click here to purchase his first book

Because my first book, Musings from the Middle, was such an unqualified non-disaster, I’ve decided to offer a follow-up book in late May titled–surprisingly–Musings from the Middle II (or possibly Musings from the Middle 2….or maybe just “More Musings from the Middle” or perhaps “A Tale of Two Cities,” unless that one is already taken)

Anyway, I hope sales break into the low three digits like my first book.

Which is the cool thing about being a self-published author. Even if other people aren’t really excited about you publishing a new book, you still can be. Like I am right now.

Here’s the opening Musing from Musings II:

“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair
But mostly, it just is what it is”

jyb_musingsOK. That’s not really one of my musings. I stole most of it and just added the last line myself and hoped no one would notice.

I checked to see if the title “A Tale of Two Cities” was still available, and of course with my luck, it’s not! But it turns out to have a pretty catchy beginning that I tried to crib but felt guilty about and am coming clean now.

But my new book will be all mine with lots of lines like the last one I added to A Tale of Two Cities introduction–that will reinforce this new book’s place among other self-published books that are deemed true non-disasters.

Here’s hoping!!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Thinking our way into being articulate

articulateWhen I am trying to express myself but can’t find the words I need it usually isn’t because there aren’t enough words to go with my thought. But rather because I don’t have enough of a thought developed for any words to attach to.

Being articulate, it seems to me, isn’t so much about knowing lots of words as it is about thinking clearer thoughts. And then the words will fall into place….rather than forcing words around an incomplete idea until it sounds like you understand something you really don’t.

===

Thomas the Teenage Engine

I miss Thomas the Engine. Not personally. But as a parent.

I wish there were a Thomas the Engine for teenagers to help parents teach teens important life lessons.

jyb_musingsJust not sure how to make an animated series about locomotives teen-friendly.

===

I feel a lot… like
A spinning top
Before it hops
And starts to flop
Careening to its final stop.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Rudyard Kipling’s “If”

ifMy grandfather Brown’s favorite poem was “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

He memorized it and quoted from it often, especially when encouraging someone to seek wisdom and perspective in the midst of a difficult situation.

When I turned 13 my father gave me a framed copy of the poem for my birthday present. Like most boys on their 13th birthday, a framed copy of the poem “If” wasn’t what I was hoping for…. But I’m glad now I got it –and

I still have it. I hung it in my bedroom through high school and college and as an adult hung the poem in my office.

When my son was about 13, I gave it to him and it is now hanging in his bedroom. It’s a pretty good poem. With some excellent life advice:

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;

jyb_musingsIf 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!

Josh Bowen’s New Book: “Twelve Steps to Fitness Freedom”

I am proud to announce the latest entry in the growing library of The Recovering Politician Books: Josh Bowen’s “Twelve Steps to Fitness Freedom.”  A longtime Friend of RP and contributor to The Recovering Politician, Josh was recently named by Life Fitness one of the top ten personal trainers to watch in the world.

While I have the opportunity to work out with him twice a week, you can now glean all of his wisdom in less than 200 pages.  If you are like me and have made a New Year’s resolution to get it better shape, there is no better way to fulfill it than to follow Josh’s advice.

Here is an excerpt from my Foreword.

Click here to review and purchase

Click here to review and purchase

I can imagine one of your first questions when reviewing this book jacket was: “What in the %$#&*$ is a ‘recovering politician’ doing publishing a book about fitness and physical well-being?”

Well, from a thematic standpoint, Josh Bowen’s ‘Twelve Steps To Fitness Freedom’ fits well into the mission of our Web site, TheRecoveringPolitician.com:  As our former politician contributors proceed on their own post-politics second acts, we aim to empower all of our readers to launch their own second acts, with the whole toolkit of good health, high quality of life, and overall happiness.  It’s no wonder, then, that Josh Bowen’s Thursday columns at our Web site are among the most viewed by our readership.

But from a more prosaic perspective, this particular recovering politician would have never made it into his second act if it were not for Josh Bowen.  When we first met about a decade ago, I had an upper back pain problem that nothing could resolve – I tried massage, reiki, energy healing, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, you name it.  So when I walked in my local gym and met a buff, tattooed physical trainer, you can imagine that I was initially skeptical.  But after several months of strength training, Josh’s instruction was invaluable, and I have never since suffered that pain.

Fast-forward several years, and this middle-aged mess developed a new lower back disc issue.  But of course that wasn’t all; my 40s had been plagued with all of the typical issues of my age group: low energy, less stamina, and that infamous flat tire of belly fat.  A decade wiser, Josh prescribed a holistic program for me, including diet, supplements, and of course, his carefully monitored strength-training program.

joshThrough his wealth of experiences travelling the country training physical trainers, and his voracious reading of all of the latest scientific and physiological studies, Josh Bowen is as good as it gets in helping his clients reach their fitness, health and wellness goals.  I know I couldn’t have done it without him, and I expect that you will find invaluable advice in the pages that follow.

Josh Bowen’s careful instruction and deep personal concern for his clients has worked for me. And I bet this book will work for you as well.  So that’s why this recovering politician has published this important book.  Proudly.  Enjoy.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Fear of Too Much Success

Click here to purchase his first book

Click here to purchase his first book

My second book and the fear of too much success.

I almost have enough new posts to put out a second book of Musings from the Middle before Christmas. But am not sure I have the time to risk having a blockbuster best seller.

It made me think of the time as a teenager I was shooting craps with friends and had failed to roll a pass for 10 consecutive rolls.

My logic before doubling down my bet for the 11th roll was “Since I had failed to roll a pass 10 times in a row I had much greater than usual odds to succeed on my 11th roll.” But I didn’t and lost my last dollar.

Later a math teacher explained to ne that if I flipped a coin 10 times in a row and it was heads each time on the 11th flip it would still only be a 50-50 chance of it being tails. I never liked that math teacher and always thought he was overly pessimistic about life.

jyb_musingsSo since my first book only has sold in the very high two digits (almost low three digits) and is ranked, like, two trillionth in sales rank on Amazon.com my old logic is returning and telling me if the first book was a complete sales failure the chances of a second book being a great success is pretty much guaranteed. At least if you look at the numbers, understand my logic, and have an optimistic mathematical view of the world, unlike my former math teacher.

Sometimes you just have to go for it and take the risk in life even when logic dictates you won’t have the time to handle your overehelming success. Just do it anyway and figure it out later.

And besides, what’s the worst that can happen? Sales jn the high two digits again? Heck, that would only means a third book would likely be a sure NY Times best seller.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Just Write It!

just write itEverybody has at least 603 thoughts or memories or reflections or random thoughts or nonsensical ramblings in them that they can write about. It’s a fact. You may think you don’t, like I did once. But you are wrong. Trust me. I know. From first hand experience.

About 2 years and 8 months ago, my friend Jonathan Miller asked me to write a biweekly column for his new blog (one column every two weeks). I agreed and wrote the first column for the blog’s launch in March of 2011. It was well received and now it was time to write my next column but I lacked the time or discipline to put together another 1000 word piece.

Jonathan was eager to get that second column and I told him I was working on it…even though I really wasn’t. I was trying to think about something to write about…which is sort of like working on it but not really.

Jonathan reminded me he had offered me no pay for this venture. Just the satisfaction of getting to write (even if no one ever reads it other Jonathan, me and my mom) and I was cheating myself of this personal satisfaction. I naturally felt bad about all the personal satisfaction I was missing out on but mostly felt guilty because I couldn’t think of a second substantive column for Jonathan’s new blog.  Jonathan gave me an extension until mid-April and I took full advantage of it using the Derby (which was still 3 weeks away as the reason for not being able to write a second column). I convinced Jonathan that after Derby had passed my mind would clear and a second column would be forthcoming ASAP, even though  I don’t even bet on horses.

By June, a month after Derby had come and gone, I told Jonathan …..something. I don’t even remember what. But I told him I was still working on my second column and just needed a little more time. In July I pointed out it was summer vacation. Not for me but for my kids. And that it would may be August before the second piece would be fully ready.

With school starting in September, I had to ask for another extension for my second column. It had now been 6 months and I was 12 columns behind. Jonathan’s wonderful and very wise wife, Lisa, reminded Jonathan that “John is just like this sometimes and for some reason we still like him, more or less, and have for many years.”  That seemed to help and bought me a little more time—at least through the end of October, for my big second post. Thanks, Lisa!

With the holiday season approaching it only made sense that I may need a little extra time to put the finishing touches on what I had apparently been working on for nearly 8 months now. And Jonathan patiently agreed.

jyb_musingsI have a phrase I like to use in situations like this. And use it often. It goes like this. “If you’ll just give me one more chance, I swear I won’t let you down again. Really. I mean it this time.” And I used it on Jonathan….and bought myself another two weeks.

It was about this time that Jonathan had a brilliant idea. He noted that we were Facebook friends and I had recently posted several silly things just for fun. Jonathan said, “Look, John. I can’t wait another 8 months for you to get me a second column but I have an idea. How about you continue to write these posts on Facebook about whatever you want whenever you want. They can be serious or silly; random or timely; about what you are eating or what you are thinking. It doesn’t matter. Just write. Whatever you feel like writing about. Take a few minutes each day and post it. At the end of each week, I’ll collect a few of them and run them the following week as John Y’s Musings from the Middle on the Recovering Politician blog. What do you think?”

That was around Dec 1st. I asked for two weeks to think about it and finally said, “I can’t think of any more excuses, Jonathan. OK? You got me. But what if I don’t have much more in me to say?”

I don’t remember what Jonathan said. I’m not even sure I asked this question. But I sure did worry about it.  Anyway, as it turns out I have already come up with 603. In fact, this is 604. Like most the others, it has my trademark rambling confidently toward no particular destination. At least not a very important one. I thought I would run out of silly random things to say at about 20 posts. Maybe 30….45 at the outside. But I was wrong! And you may be too if you don’t feel you have much to say.

Dig deep. There is a lot of deep thoughts, absurd thoughts, pointless nonsense and seemingly sensible things you have to write that may or may not be important. But write them anyway. Who knows. Maybe a lot more will come pouring out. And it’s not a matter of the more you write the more you’ll teach others. Not at all. But the more you write the more you’ll learn about yourself.

And if you are reading this and asking yourself, “What is the point of all this, John?” If you were expecting a point, I really can’t help you much with that. But don’t feel like reading this entire post was a total waste. Think of it this way. If you read this far you now have something in common with my mother and Jonathan and me. I doubt anyone else read this far. Sorry. But we now have this common bond that the four of us have having read this post.  And I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.

But let me ask you this, Would you rather read 602 more of my posts or start coming up with 603 of your own rambling thoughts, ideas, musings, insights or attempts at humor?  So…..Go for it! And know the hardest part isn’t writing the 603rd post or 457th post or 123rd post or the 19th post or even the very 1st one. It’s that dang 2nd one. It is a bear! Trust me. And may take up to 8 months to finish it. But if you can get past that second one,  you are one your way. And even though, like me, you probably won’t be getting paid anything for it, as Jonathan Miller reminded me, it’s the personal satisfaction that you’ll get. I’m glad I did it  And glad Jonathan kept prodding me. Thank you, Jonathan! And Lisa!  And I hope you don’t cheat yourself out of the personal satisfaction of your own writing either.

Let ‘er rip!

Just Write It!

Josh Bowen’s New Fitness Book — A SNEAK PREVIEW

photo-31

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Putting My Foot Down

1000aa0ca00zccx1qa00-024-500x500-300x300-1Sometimes you just have to be tough and put your foot down.

About 25 years ago I became a regular and admiring reader of Business First magazine. I have read it loyally ever since, which is another 25 years.

One of my favorite sections is the “In Person” section that tells about a person in the Louisville community and humanizes him or her with personal details while also explaining their professional arc and future plans. And there is a box off to the side where you get the “personal stats” about the person. Their family, favorite books, favorite movies, what music they have on their iPod, who inspired them, hobbies, favorite TV shows and so on. It’s a lot of stuff, trust me.

Well, here’s the thing. I don’t like admitting this because it sounds kind of vain and probably is. It is vain. But each week for 25 years I read this section and wonder if Business First might do one of those In Person pieces about me sometime soon and I run through each of those questions and answer them myself. And it takes more than just a minute or two.

Well…take 52 weeks (issues) a year and multiply it by 25 years and you have 1300 consecutive weeks of rejection— where not only did I feel slighted by not getting asked to do the In Person section but I wasted several minutes each week imagining how I’d answer those personal stat questions.

jyb_musingsNot all of the answers were true, of course. I’d have to balance out the answers so people would be impressed with TV shows I watched, music I listened to and books I was reading –even if I wasn’t reading anything at all. I certainly wasn’t going to say “Nothing” when asked “What books are you reading.” I at least would put down a couple of best sellers and maybe a fiction book or two and probably one classic, like, I don’t know–the Odyssey or something fancy from a long time ago so people will read it and say, “Wow. That John Brown guy is pretty learned compared to the books other profiled people pretend that they are reading.” Everybody knows they are exaggerating about some of it.

If people were completely honest they’d sound like someone who doesn’t deserve to be profiled in In Person because they wouldn’t be any more interesting sounding than you are me. Maybe worse. Think about it. What if they answered it honestly and said,

“Books: “None so far this year but skim the newspaper from time to time. I may read something next year or listen to it on tape. Nah. Probably not. I do enjoy browsing bookstores and read the covers so I don’t waste money buying books I won’t ever read;

Favorite TV: Weather Channel and Girls on HBO;

You get the idea.

In my case I was going to pretend I understood opera if they asked me and say something like, “Yes, I enjoy opera a great deal. Especially the signing. Much of it is sung in Italian, in case your readers didn’t know. I’m reading the Odyssey right now, too.”

I would have had to lie about what music I listen to as well. I probably would have said classical and country (It is Louisville, KY). I couldn’t say “Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Steely Dan , US3 and Mos Def. And, oh, I like to sing out loud sometimes when I’m in the car by myself. But only sound good when I’m singing to James Taylor. I just don’t have a voice like Eddie Vedder or Anthony Kedeis.”

If I answered like that people would think I was nuts because 50 year olds aren’t supposed to act like that. Even though they do. They are getting older (we are, not “they”) and want to hold on to a few youthful things. Just because it makes us feel better and, well, old dogs struggle with learning new tricks. And that applies to people too. At least those over about 45 years old.

Anyway, after waiting 1300 weeks and thinking through all my real favorite things and pretend favorite things (to impress others), I am giving up this game. I am tired of waiting and feeling rejected

Dang it! I’m just done with the whole thing. It’s over. I have decided tonight I am not going to prepare for the In Person profile piece in Business First any more.
And if Business First ever calls and asks me to do the In Person profile, which they won’t, I’m going to tell them they had their chance–1300 times and I didn’t make the cut and now they can’t have me even if they want me. That I am going to do a In Person profile piece with another magazine and say I am not at liberty to give them the name. (That would be a lie, of course, but give them a taste of their own medicine.) If they asked me later I’ll tell them the big national magazine went under the week they were doing my long and big profile.

Well, it feels good! I feel free. Liberated!

And kinda feel like celebrating by watching an episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Or an episode of Girls on HBO. I really like both those shows. And don’t have any hobbies anyway.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Lauren Hudson & Robert D. Hudson, “Our Best Tomorrow”

The Recovering Politician is proud to publish an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from an exciting and educational book written by Friend of RP Robert D. Hudson and his daughter Lauren Hudson, ”Our Best Tomorrow: Students Teaching Capitalism to America.” Enjoy!

Hudson_cover_1000px

Click here to review & purchase

“Well, I was thinking that maybe we could make our software faster and more efficient by re-engineering…” Oh! Finally, you’re here. My name is Jacob but people call me Jake. “Okay guys, staff meeting dismissed. Go back to your daily business of coming up with the best ideas in the world!’’ I’m delighted you could at last come and enjoy the wonders my company has created for computers, gaming systems and smart phones.

How much money do I make? Well now, that is a difficult question to answer. Considering I designed the first software for my company, Kinetic Software, I usually do make a bit more than my workers here, but mainly, it depends on how many copies of the software we sell. Some years we do well and some years we don’t. If we don’t do well, I might not make anything!

How did I create this groundbreaking software? Well, when I was growing up, I was always interested in the way things worked. One of my earliest memories was sitting on the kitchen floor with an old phone and attempting to take it apart while my mother cooked me lunch.

My father would come home from his work as a dentist and watch me bang the phone on the floor and study it carefully. Pretty soon I figured out how to take it apart and put it back together. I can remember how excited I had been. I ran around screaming about my accomplishment.

“I got it! I got it, Mommy! I got it, Daddy! I got it, Sissy!’’ I yelled. My father walked over to me from the other room, scooped me up in his arms and swung me around. He had the broadest smile on his face, as if I had just won Olympic gold.

As I got older, I became interested in science fiction and how the world would work someday. I imagined computers and cell phones and space travel to other planets. I recall my sister, Annabeth, who was about 13, watching TV one day, when I came in, turned the TV off, and told her my latest idea. She called me a twerp, but I didn’t care.

“Go bother something else! Don’t touch the TV anymore, Jake!’’ she said in exasperation. With my head hanging low, I walked into my dad’s study. He had one of Apple’s first computers. When I saw that computer sitting on the dark mahogany desk, I knew what my next project would be. Little did I know that the project of trying to learn how this computer worked would lead to the some of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

It was only a matter of time before I had moved on to developing software to do my part to help change the world! You see, I love what I do, and I live in a country which gives me the freedom to do it. Yes, I work hard, but can you believe I get to make money doing something I love? All you need is passion and freedom – mix a little talent and hard work in there and you’ll have something special!

Capitalism Pointer – America’s Jobs Come From Capitalism

Read the rest of…
EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Lauren Hudson & Robert D. Hudson, “Our Best Tomorrow”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Opening Lines

jyb_musingsFavorite first sentences of novels….

The easy ones are “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” from Tale of Two Cities.

Or perhaps “Call me Ishmael” from Moby Dick.
But for my money, it’s hard to beat this opening line from Life, The Universe and Everything from Douglas Adams.

“The regular early morning yell of horror was the sound of Arthur Dent waking up and suddenly remembering where he was.”

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