Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pep Talk: "We Have The Power!"

Your knucklehead scribe was exiting the gym when a quote on the Kinetics Fitness Studio bulletin board caught the eye, rattled the brain and summoned the cell phone to capture it in a picture. “Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.”

Immediately, examples began popping into my cranium. 

Like a wonderful collaboration between the Mental Health Center of Denver and the Denver Police Department. It’s a co-responding effort pairing, as first responders, mental health professionals and police officers. The program has proven to be successful and other Denver-area law enforcement agencies are following suit. The innovative “out-of-the-box” idea has drastically curtailed arrests and dramatically increased services being offered to unstable individuals through mental health providers and not jails. We have a mental health crisis in America. We have too many isolated, vulnerable and displaced citizens. The future can be better. A more collaborative spirit between law enforcement and mental health agencies has the power to make it so!

Example two: Three young women have been forever transformed by school visits to Haiti. “The people there are so awesome,” said one of the young ladies. “They have nothing but are so friendly and welcoming.” Ady, Kenneal and Cecilia are taking action to help children of the desperately poor Caribbean nation recently hammered by Hurricane Matthew while still trying to recover from the 2010 catastrophic earthquake. The juniors from Colorado Academy are organizing a 5K run/walk to raise awareness and money to refurbish two Haitian schools and provide more music, sports and arts for children enrolled in those schools. Three teenagers with servants’ hearts believe the future can be better and they have the power to make it so. Bravo!

Example three: “Mark, I’m being released to a halfway house next week!” was the wonderful news from a talented and handsome young man. Three years ago, I was challenged by this dude to begin a workout program for men in the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. A Stronger Cord was born. Since then, it has morphed into a wellness outreach movement designed to encourage participants from all walks of life to embrace the value of fitness, relationship building and community service.

Another major challenge in America today is the relapse rate for folks on the comeback trail from addiction and incarceration. It’s not surprising, considering current policies tend to keep them isolated and without adequate support upon re-entry into society. ASC is trying to change that with an emphasis on wellness. Healthier in mind, body and spirit with a supportive social network encouraging participants to be fitness-minded, dependable and productive folks who seek a stronger cord to families, purpose and communities.

Three examples. I know there's more. It all starts with us believing the future can be better and we have the power to make it so. Look around, be inspired and take action. Live that truth this week!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pep Talk: "Positive Psychology"

On an absolutely gorgeous Centennial State fall afternoon, your knucklehead scribe maneuvered the golf cart behind where a brother-from-another-mother’s ball rested. It was not a friendly spot. Thick rough hid the dimpled sphere rather well, while a grove of trees hampered progress toward the green and a creek flowed steadily nearby. Danger lurked everywhere.

As the small business owner exited the cart, all we could do is look at each other and chuckle. My buddy had no shot. Doing my best to encourage, while reserving the right to be a wise guy, this flowed from lips: “Remember, the four most powerful words in the English language, when strung together? I believe in you!” We laughed even harder. The rescue attempt sucked on the way to a double bogey. For the record, the dude who runs Elder Auto birdied two of the first three holes on the back side and kicked this hacker’s butt.  

Anyway, back to the point of this Pep Talk: The power of having someone believe in us. Wow, makes a difference doesn’t it? This much I do know. On this roller coaster journey known as life, it has saved my bacon often. To name many, but not all: Parents, coaches, friends, business colleagues, siblings and wife. Along the way, despite unexpected twists and turns, always there to encourage a sometimes wayward soul. Encourage. It’s my favorite word in the English language, defined as: “To give hope and confidence to.”

So as we chased a little white ball around beautiful grounds of a central Denver golf course, thy cranium, considering how bad I was playing, kept wandering to earlier that day. To a morning breakfast event celebrating the good works of the Mental Health Center of Denver.

Six hundred people packed into an excellent meeting space at Glendale’s Infinity Park to learn more about MHCD’s mission to enrich lives and minds by focusing on strengths and well being. The organization’s leader, president and CEO, Carl Clark inspirationally spoke about MHCD’s commitment to what’s called “Positive Psychology.”

I almost levitated from my chair as the charismatic doctor shared the organization’s belief that focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses (we all have each) is a better way to reaching a higher level of wellness. Agreed.

That philosophy has been the bedrock of Victory Productions’ work for 15 years. Encouraging folks to be students, not victims, of life’s experiences. It led to the creation of a wellness outreach movement, A Stronger Cord, designed to encourage Americans, especially the isolated, vulnerable and displaced to embrace the value of being more fit, connected and giving. Healthier, individually and collectively.

To believe in ourselves? It helps to have encouragement from others. Often, considering how life kicks us around, we need support. This journey is challenging. Please embrace the fact we should not try it alone. We need a loyal team of encouragers. 

Positive psychology. Use it often this week. Even when, like for a golfing buddy, the lie is poor, give others hope and confidence they have a shot!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pep Talk: "Smoke Pits"

“I try and stay away from that place,” declared a fellow knucklehead one Saturday during an A Stronger Cord community service project. We were picking up trash. “It’s not good for me.”

The handsome and fit veteran was talking about a piece of the parking lot at the Denver Rescue Mission’s Crossing facility, home to the New Life Program. The ASC wellness outreach movement has worked with these men on the comeback trail for the past three years. The “place” referenced is small in stature but large in temptation. When visiting, it’s close to where I park. It’s a popular spot for the guys.

“The only thing that goes on at the pit is lots of smoking and even more complaining.” Four men laughed in unison at that sarcastic truth before resuming helping others. ASC Saturdays are about community service. Everybody has challenges. They may be addiction, incarceration, divorce, mental illness, physical illness, bad attitude or whatever. A beloved buddy right now is ravaged by cancer. We’re susceptible to despair. Knowing and believing this, ASC encourages participants to stay active in good works because we know it’s good for us, especially in troubling times.

To accomplish that simple but not easy task, we have to stay away from smoke pits. In this instance, the venue at the Crossing is a hang out area of asphalt, chairs and a table  fueling addiction to nicotine and negativity. Neither a good thing for men trying to become students, no longer victims, of life experiences. For any of us, consistently participating in activities harmful to physical, mental and spiritual health is, well, destructive.

But we have our smoke pits. Anybody stating differently is lying. It might not be located on the grounds of a respected recovery agency, but smoking pits lurk. They’re ready, willing and able to derail the journey. There are places we should avoid, at all costs, because outcomes are rarely healthy and productive. Where are we KNOWINGLY wandering physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually and not honoring, nurturing and adding value to our lives? Where are the smoke pits?

Patience, or lack of, is a big one for me. Honestly, your scribe gets discouraged sometimes about ASC’s progress. We’re trying to work with police departments, non profits and faith-based groups looking for a new way to engage the community. Why not community outreach focused on encouraging others to become more fit, connected and giving? Healthier? Individually and collectively? America needs fresh ideas. We need to build a stronger cord to one another. We’re too divided. 

What’s taking so long to get traction? Self doubt creeps in too. “Am I crazy?” Two personal smoke pits. Folks, we have to stay away from the smoke pits. With every detrimental drag on whatever is readily available wherever we unproductively roam, it sucks air from our lungs, brains, souls and lives.

Nothing good happens while lingering at smoke pits. Pour that time into beneficial service to others and yourself. It’s far healthier.

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