Josh Bowen: The Time is Now

b8c197f3-6ca2-4e88-9c21-15bb0f46e3e7Let me set the stage for you…

After finishing my last client for the day (shout out to Lauren) I quickly get ready to go work out myself after a long day of clients and before a super packed Friday. I get in my car and go workout at Lexington Athletic Club, a few hundred feet from Aspire. I finish my workout, get in my car, and as I do every night go back to Aspire; re-rack the weights, clean up and turn the lights out. At this time it is 10pm. I get in my car to go home, get something to eat and go to bed before my 5am appointment. I go the same way I always do and pull out of the studio and I am the first in line at the red light to turn left to head home. I am no more than a football’s throw from Aspire.

As I am sitting patiently at the stop light, out of my left ear (my good ear by the way) I hear what sounds like a freight train, I glance to my left and I feel the most vicious impact, almost like Ray Lewis has clotheslined me and hit me with a 2 x 4. I am disoriented, I smell smoke and I panic. I cannot get out the driver’s side door, too much damage. I rip my seat belt off and climb out the passenger side door, still not sure where I am or what just happened. I get out and the most confused I have ever been in my life (that is saying something) there is no car to be found. I start to think, “am I dreaming?” I know I was just hit by something and where is it? There is nothing and no one. After a few seconds and me evaluating my situation I realize my body is shook up and this could of been much worse but not sure how much worse until…

Bystander from the across the street comes to see how I am and leaves me with these words I will always remember, “Hey man, I saw it all from across the street and you my friend are lucky to be alive.” It was real at the point. This could of been it. It could of been my last workout, my last client and my ride on earth. But thankfully the car that hit me, going at 80 mph so the guy said, only got me at the corner of the driver’s door instead of the middle, where it would have T-boned me and I wouldn’t be writing this email. I survived with very minor injuries compared to what could of happened. The driver was never found and was probably drunk, as he/she was so out of control they probably had no idea what happened. Still yet, I am alive and will be able to continue life as I always have…except I have a new found appreciation for time.

You see tomorrow is not promised, hell today is not promised. You never know when its your time to go. So why do we waste time not doing the things we want to do in this world? Or why do we waste time being with people who do not make us better? Or even more importantly why do we put off doing the things that make us happy? It could all be over tomorrow. Your time is not promised. I was not even driving my car, I was parked at an intersection, patiently waiting for my turn to go home and I was violently hit by a car that could of killed me. But it didn’t.

I write this to you all today because every situation we go through in life should teach us about ourselves. Life is not perfect, we are not perfect and one day this will all come to end. I will leave you with this advice:

Leave it all on the field

If you want to do something, now is the time to do it. Not tomorrow. Not next week. NOW! What are you waiting for? There is literally no excuse you can come up with for why you aren’t chasing your dreams. You will not live forever, but you legacy with people will.

Leave something to be remembered for

Not to be morbid but I thought about my funeral the last couple of days. What would people say about me? How many people would be there? This may sound negative to a degree but I cant help but think about it. I still have time to make a legacy for myself and every day counts. Make every day count for yourself. Its not a popularity contest, you know who means the most to you and who will remember you when you are gone. Leave your best for them to remember.

Don’t waste time on people who do not belong

If someone does not add value to you, they are a detractor and they need to go. Not everyone belongs in your life. Surround yourself with people who push you, who add value to you, who will remember you when you are gone. Money and possessions come and go but when you die, your memory with people and how you affected them will carry the longest. Ditch the negative and embrace the positive.

The time is now. What are you waiting for?

No apologies. No regrets. Just greatness.

Josh Bowen: Perfection Does Not Exist

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
~George Orwell

joshThe quest for perfection. The perfect body. The perfect life. The perfect marriage. The perfect job. We all want what we consider to be “perfect.” When something isn’t good enough for us, we drop it and move to something else and then the viscous cycle ensues. Nothing is good enough for us anymore. We are chasing perfection in an imperfect world. We want what we can’t have and once we have it we don’t want it anymore, because its not “perfect.”

The Nirvana Fallacy, is a concept that is defined by, “comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives.” It simply means we chase perfection and perfection is not attainable because perfection does not exist. My career as a fitness professional has been spent training and getting to know a vast variety of clients, all of whom want to make some type of change. Every so often, I will find someone who is never satisfied and is always chasing, in their mind, the perfect something. In most cases it would be the perfect body. They will do and try anything (within reason) to attain such an unattainable quest. It can be frustrating and in a strange way admirable that people will go to such lengths to get something they want. I find it somewhat difficult to “harness the reigns” on some people because they give it their all and their all is not adding up, in their mind, to what they want. Perfection does not exist.

The media is great at the projection of perfect. Go to any magazine stand and pick up a Cosmopolitan or Women’s Health or some other vanity focused magazine and you will see the following, “perfect abs in 30 days,” “10 ways to a perfect relationship,” “perfect love making for you and your spouse.” So we as a society think we have to chase this concept of perfection because if the magazines say its possible, it must be. This leads to trouble especially when it comes to people’s body image and concept of who they are.

We have a selection of our population turning to fad diets, crazy supplements and in some cases drugs because of the attempt to have the perfect body. Look at some of the most popular Instagram pages and you will see “fitness pros” who look like they are carved out of granite rock performing exercises and showing you what they do. They look outstanding and in some people’s minds, perfect. However, we all need to eat some humble pie and realize these people are not perfect, we have no idea what they did to look like that, and how long that is sustainable for us long term. I am here to tell you, where there is smoke there is usually fire. No movie star has added 30 lbs of lean muscle tissue without some help. No music artist has six pack abs in their 40s unless they are blessed genetically or have had some surgery. That is a fact jack.

So what the hell are we doing? Why are we killing ourselves chasing something that does not exist? And why do we quit when we realize what we wanted either isn’t achievable or too hard to make work? These are great points to ponder. I suggest the following:

Chase Progress Not Perfection

With your body, your marriage, your relationships. Work on improving things, not being perfect. No situation is perfect. No solution is perfect. So why focus on it. Everyday get a little bit better. This will make a world of difference.

Walk Your Walk

Guess what? Some people won’t like you. Not every one will like you or love you. You aren’t the perfect human being. You are human. Welcome to the land of imperfection. We all live here. So why not relish in the fact we aren’t going to make everyone happy, but we can make ourselves happy. Walk your walk and forget what everyone else says. You know who you are, no one needs to have an opinion on the subject matter.

I leave you with this….

“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.”

Be authentic. Be you.

Josh Bowen: The 7 Cardinal Rules of Life

joshWhen life imitates art its time to take a step back and evaluate the situation.  For some reason it always takes me a few days to get over hard losses, whether its just my passion for Kentucky basketball or I view it as an outlet or some other reason that is not apparent, I take loses to heart. But with every loss there is time to reflect, not just on the season at hand but also on you the individual. For the players, they evaluated where they sat skill and NBA readiness wise and as a fan I evaluate what I learned from the season. I took this; nothing and no one is unbeatable, sports as in life aren’t fair, team work and hard work conquers all and finally do your best to make everyone around you better.

So  I am just a crazy Kentucky fan right? Maybe. But I do have an ability to learn from literally every situation and that is a skill I pride myself on. (By the way, this piece will have no fitness related advice in it, I am still on the motivation/inspiration tip this week.) So as I am reading this week, preparing for what I am going to write about, I see a picture with seven statements on it. It is essentially a code of how to live your life to the fullest. So I feel the need to share those seven principles with you tonight. So, here we go…

Make Peace with Your Past 

I raise my hand and admit there are some things in my past that are hard to left go of. BUT to look to the future, you cannot be concerned with what happened in the past. Past failures do not predict the future. If there is something back there that needs tending to handle, if not keep moving forward.

What Other People Think of You Is None if YOUR Business

Easier said than done, but what some one thinks of you is just that, a thought. Lets take Kentucky’s coach John Calipari as an example. A hall of fame coach, multiple final fours, one national championship, produced some of the best NBA talent in the game today. Yet, he is vilified and thought of as a cheater. Truth is, he is the best at what he does and his approach is about helping others more than helping himself. What is so bad about that? Nothing. He doesn’t care what anything thinks of him, as long as he is doing his life’s mission, that is all that matters. We should all practice the same.

Time Heals Almost Everything

It may hurt today and tomorrow, but give it a few weeks and the hurt will subside. All you need is time.

No One is in Charge

No one is in charge of your happiness. No husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, car or purse. Literally nothing on this earth can make you happy but you. Usually unhappiness comes from lack of purpose, if you are feeling that way think about your purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, find one and chase it.

Don’t Compare Your Life to Others

This can work a variety of ways. We all have problems but when it comes down to it, we would keep our problems instead of trading them with someone else. It can always be worse. On the flip side, comparing yourself to someone else is a waste of time. You don’t know their struggle and what they are going through.

Stop Thinking Too Much

Face it. You don’t have all the answers. No one does. So if you can’t control it, why are you worried about it? I like to use the adage, “Don’t think, just do.” Over the years I have seen clients and friends crippled by their own thinking. It is necessary. Do not let your mind run roughshod on your life.

Smile

I know, I know. You are sitting there saying, “this dude never smiles.” I get it. I need to and I will continue to improve on this aspect. However, even through all the dark days the easiest thing to do to make a difference is a simple smile. Try it. I will.

It is all so simple yet all so complicating. It’s life. It was designed this way. It is a grand challenge but remember your purpose and be driven toward it.

Josh Bowen: Back Against the Wall? 5 Strategies to Handle Adversity

 

be the best

I truly believe the statement to the left ; to be the best you must be able to handle the worst. Whether we like it not, can deal with it or not, adversity will always be in our way. No successful person, in any field, has gone through life without adversity. It makes us who we are. Some will quit when faced with it and some will rise to the occasion  and champion the responsibility and use it as a learning experience. Either way, every situation in our lives cannot be perfect. As sure as there will be death and taxes, there will be adversity. It is how you faced it that counts.

Take Responsibility

Control what you can control and accept what you can’t. However, do not point the finger and feel that you cannot change the situation because you absolutely can. It may not be immediate, but all situations can be changed. Remember, at all times you can control your own destiny.

Focus On Solutions

If all you do is focus on the problem, you will become frustrated and quit. Focus on the solution to the problem or at least do something about the problem. Complaining will do nothing for you here. Compartmentalize the issue and focus on a game plan to fix it.

No Fear

No matter how bad it gets, never have fear. Easier said than done but fear nothing or no one and watch what you will achieve. There is a supreme difference between fear and danger, danger is real fear is not. “Fear nothing, achieve everything.”

Have a Sense of Humor

This one I am working on. Everything will pass in life, might as well have fun with it. Make fun of the situation and yourself, keep your sense of humor and it instantly becomes better.

Never Quit

Quitting solves nothing. Quitting says it wasn’t important to you. Quitting is an easy way out. Never give up on something you truly want.

Adversity makes the best out of strong people. Let it make the best out of you

.

Josh Bowen: The Art of the Comeback

joshA few names…

Donald Trump, Magic Johnson, Britney Spears, Apple, Drew Barrymore, Robert Downey, Jr. and George Foreman.

What do they have in common? All wealthy? Successful? Dedicated to their craft? Yes but they all have had to make a comeback. In a variety of ways they had to dust the dirt off and come back stronger than ever. Were they burnt out a some point? Of course, but they kept plugging away. The came back from adversity and made the most of their 24 hours they are allotted everyday.

Ok. Let’s put this in our terms. We are talking fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. We are in the month of March and by now most people have given up on their fitness goals. But not you.

The snow may have interrupted your flow. You may have gotten sick and it caused you to miss a workout or two. And you may have had work stress that may have prevented you from working out with your trainer or going to the gym on your own. Is this you? Here is some advice on how to make the comeback:

Go
Go back to the gym, go back to your trainer go back to eating decent again. No reason why you can’t. No reason for you to feel defeated. This is marathon not a sprint.

Remember Why You Started
Why are you here in the first place? What is it that you desire? Why is it important? These are all questions you must ask yourself. You must also decide if it is worth to you to keep going. My money is always on, it is.

Simplify
Stop making this complicated. It’s not. You eat 3 quality meals, workout 3-4 times per week, drink a ton of water and sleep as much as your life allows. It’s not rocket science but it does require your patience and your consistency. Without both, forget about it.

Either you are in or out. Your mind decides which one. The above list I’m sure got down on themselves and was very burnt out on their craft but they never gave up. Their spirit was in them at all times. They made the comeback, just as you will.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Reflections from a Bathroom

20150312_165915-1

A picture of a yellow bird hangs on our bathroom wall. I can’t say I love it but it seems to work. It wasn’t originally intended for our bathroom. I bought it on sale and in a hurry to fill up empty wall space in another room but now it hangs prominently on our bathroom wall instead. It’s part of my life’s daily scenery and will probably stay that way. It’s “good enough” and has grown on me over time and now seems to fit there.

Which made me wonder how many other facets of my daily live are what they are simply because they are “good enough.” Each day we have limited time to make unlimited life decisions –-small, medium and large— and these cumulative daily life decisions add up over time to become the sum total of who we are.

I look at another wall in our bathroom and see two pictures of our family hanging there. The top picture is slightly crooked and probably has been since we put it up nearly 5 years ago when we moved in. But you can barely notice the slant and they are good enough just how they are and will stay there.

I look at our shower curtain and it is pleasant looking and adequate, as shower curtains go. I can’t remember who decided on the shower curtain. But it, too, is good enough and seems here to stay.

On our bathtub rim is the same brand of soap we have used for over 20 years. Buying soap hasn’t been a conscious decision in our lives for two decades. I figure either my mother or my wife’s mother recommended this brand of soap many years ago and it has been a fixture in our home ever since. That brand of soap didn’t have to become a fixture, of course. But it did because, like so many other things in our lives, it is good enough.

jyb_musingsAs I continue my observational journey I catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I stop and see myself and ask if I am who I am because the habits, personal qualities and attitudes I have chosen for myself were chosen because they were “good enough.” And have these habits, personal qualities and attitudes that make me who I am today somehow managed to grow on me over time and now just seem to fit, like the picture of the yellow bird seems to fit on our bathroom wall?

I stare deeper into the mirror looking at myself looking at myself and don’t want to answer that question. The question of whether or not I am an accumulation of life decisions that just seemed “good enough” at the time but were never given adequate thought  — decisions made too quickly, too often and in too many areas of my life.

Instead of answering that question I choose to look back at the picture of the yellow bird to distract myself. And decide, for the moment, that I regret not trying harder to pick out a better wall hanging to fill up the empty space on our bathroom wall.

And hope my deflective response to the more poignant question I asked my reflection in the mirror is good enough.

Basketball and post game class acts

jyb_musingsI have had the privilege several times in the past year of being around Jack “Goose” Givens on a business matter.

Our fist interaction was through an email introduction that asked me if I knew Jack Givens and copied him. I responded, “Are you kidding me? I’ll never forget the night back in 1978 when Jack Givens and I combined for 41 points and UK won the NCAA championship.” And then added, “Of course, Jack was on the basketball court that night and I was just one of 20,000 fans in the stands –but it was a great night for both of us.” 

That was how I knew “Goose” Givens. 41 points and the cover of Sports Illustrated. Oh, and baseball enthusiasts are quick to point out that those 41 points was without the 3 pointer.

But that was a long time ago. I can’t say I know Jack Givens well…but after a few brief interactions I have become less impressed with Jack Givens the UK basketball star a lot more impressed with Jack Givens the smart and savvy businessman, the community and civic leader, and just all around great and gracious guy.

I am glad I have gotten to see the “other” Jack Givens. Without the UK uniform. The post-game Jack Givens. Who in his personal and professional life regularly posts the equivalent of 41 point games –and has been quietly doing so for a very long time now.

The record Jack Givens has compiled off the court since his NCAA Championship game is more impressive to me than his making the cover of Sports Illustrated for one amazing night.

And, by the way, has also been done without the 3 pointer.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: New Year’s Resolutions

jyb_musingsNew Year’s Resolution (for pessimistic under achievers)

“To NOT live my life in such a way in 2015 that my New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to repair the damage I caused in 2015.”

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My New Year’s Resolution

To enjoy and celebrate the good qualities I already possess

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I hope my cell phone’s New Year’s resolution is to not die so often in 2015.

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I’m celebrating New Year’s in CA on Pacific time but live in KY which is on Eastern standard time.

That means all my friends in KY will be getting a 3 hour head start on me for 2015.

You know what…Bring it! I’ll catch up by March. You just wait and see!

(Oh, and yes, I needed the extra 3 hours for 2014.)

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Conversations with Ourselves

jyb_musingsOne of the most common ways we talk to ourselves —or are supposed to —is through “Positive Self Talk” I discovered this idea about 25 years ago. We say positive things to ourself in the bathroom mirror each morning before starting our day. It puts us in a better frame of mind and helps us to have a better day.

But lately I have to admit that positive self-talk in my bathroom mirror in the mornings is getting harder. And I think my real self is finally on to my positive self-talking self. In fact, my positive self-talk affirmations are turning into dialogues with my real self. And at times has been getting a little tense. What happened this morning should not have come as a surprise to me.

Positive Self-Talk Self (PSTS): “Good morning there, fella. Alright. OK. Not bad. Really not bad at all.”

Real Self (RS): “That’s all you got for me this morning? ‘OK’ and ‘Not bad?’ Come on. ”

PSTS: “Well, it’s good. It’s good. It is. Certainly it could be worse. I mean…What do you want me to say?”

RS: “I don’t know. It would be nice to hear something good but I don’t want you to just lie to me. I don’t want you to even exaggerate. In fact, I want you to start shooting straight with me from now on. OK? No more with just this happy talk. Man to man. OK? If I am not doing alright, just say it. I’m 51 years old and can deal with it. ”

PSTS: (Gets quiet before answering) “Ok. OK. Yeah, John. I hear you. I admit, I have been laying it on a little thick lately. What do you want me to do? If I just tell you the truth, you will get mad and leave abruptly. And sometimes not talk to me for several days. And that’s not going to work for me anymore?”

RS: “What? ‘That’s not going to work for you anymore?’ You aren’t even a real full person. You are just some part of myself that is supposed to deliver good news to me, give me pep talks, and say encouraging things to me in the mornings. You know…. Help me see things from their most positive perspective and make me think that is the way they really are.”

PSTS: “Yeah, I know, John. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. For a while there —-through your 30s and 40s —I could do that with a straight face. But it’s getting harder with each passing year. I don’t know how much longer I can do this without losing touch with reality —and eventually losing my mind.”

RS: “Wait. Wait! PSTS, are you telling me that the last few yeas of positive things you’ve been saying to me were total BS?”

PSTS: “No, John. I didn’t say that. Not ‘total BS.’ Just…I am just not feeling it any more with you. I think I probably need to move on to a different person who I can say positive things about and really mean it. Or just not say anything at all.”

RS: “You know what? Get out of my bathroom. I mean it. Right now. This is the last time we are ever talking in the bathroom mirror –ever. Or any kind of mirror for that matter. Understand?!. Just GET OUT!” (mumble to myself “Phony poser wandering around my bathroom every morning. That’s not right. That’s just weird. I cannot believe that i.have let my PSTS in my bathroom every morning while dressing for the past 25 years. That’s crazy!”

That’s it. PSTS left. And now I feel terrible. I was way too hard on him. And, deep down, I know he is right and just didn’t know how to communicate it to me.

I hope he comes back tomorrow morning. I really feel awful now and could use one of his corny pep talks. Heck, I miss the little guy.

W. Carlton Weddington: Comeback, Denied & Flopped

carlton weddingtonTo comeback to prison after serving 8, 10, 15, 20 or more hard gut wrenching years in general population’s gladiator school or if lucky the maggot pool of protective control were snitches breath freely, child molesters go unnoticed and man boy love is normal.

To be denied transitional control or a judicial release because one is not deemed worthy by the prosecution or even worse the court. You didn’t think when you committed that violent crime; it would bite you in the ass. Or maybe you thought your institutional record of dirty urines, fights, and numerous contraband tickets was a non-issue.

To be “flopped” , the term used by an inmate up for parole who is serving a 20, 25 year, or life bid, and given another two (2) or five (5) years to do before they are asked to return before the parole board that has become its own institution. The harsh reality is they are probably never going home anytime soon.

Why do ex-offenders return to prison? Do they not really want the second chance? Is the idea of being free too much to handle? Is life easier when they are given everything they need and told what to do? Are the vices and pressures too much to overcome that they fall back into the poor negative habits and destructive actions that got them caught up in the first place? Aside from not having a steady job that enables you to make a living, a place to rest your head and avoid the chaos of the everyday world, positive role models and loved ones to support your transition back into society. What brings you back to this hell hole? This is a warehouse of criminal misfits broken, battered, and scared. It appears prison has become the only family they have, the only place they can find love, friendship, have fun or feel a part of something.

The prison subculture is described by Britannica as – standing opposed to the official hierarchy of the prisons, which demands the loyalty of the prisoner and expects him to conform to series of informal rules, enforcing his compliance by violence and social pressures,

The 8th Amendment states that “…excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

The 14th Amendment states that “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Yet still these are the issues inmates and ex-offenders subject themselves to when they are denied, flopped, or return to prison after having the opportunity to be free.

Poor institutional records are unfortunately keeping many men from seeing the other side of the barbed wire fencing. It is a discouraging spectacle for all other aspiring inmates and a dream dashing revelation for the inmate who had his hopes set on going home only to return before the committee in two (2) to five (5) years from now or receive no response at all. As if it could get no more tragic, there are some who received their “golden ticket” but less than a year later return on parole violation or catch another felony case.

This year, 2014 already in my W-2 unit of 94 inmates; two (2) have returned, four (4) have been flopped by the parole board, two (2) denied transitional control and one (1) denied judicial release, It’ s August, is anybody going home…? What will my own fate be?

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