Sunday, August 30, 2015
Long ago an expert in the field of women’s health and wellness informed this aging jock of something startling. Doctor and respected international speaker/writer Christiane Northrup told me, “You think as much as a woman as you do a man.”
Ouch. Dr. Northrup made this comment while exiting the set of KUSA-TV’s “Colorado & Company.” Co-host Denise Plante and I had just interviewed her during a visit to the Mile High City. Northrup’s books have been translated into 24 languages. In 2013 Reader’s Digest named the visionary pioneer one of “America’s most trusted people.”
Since that fateful meeting several years ago, when delivering peak performance Pep Talks, when the time and audience is right, I bring up this story and joke, “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.” For those making Caitlyn Jenner comparisons, don’t. Northrup’s words, “Mark, you’re very empathetic!” Guilty as charged.
So, on a daily basis, I read the “Ask Amy” section of the Denver Post. I would suspect I’m not the only male who does. Recently a reader was lamenting the breakdown of a relationship with a sibling. The woman had bought concert tickets for her and favorite brother. However, something happened causing a rift. Emotionally wounded, the woman angrily informed sibling, “Take the tickets but I ain’t going!”
Well, a year had passed. The woman was feeling guilty and seeking advice on how to begin relationship repair. Amy Dickinson, the woman behind the column, suggested this pearl: “Sometimes it’s a little easier to ease back into a relationship through a shared activity.”
Dickinson’s advice immediately made me think of Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement and its efforts to unite our communities. The horrific tragedy in Roanoke, Virginia is just the latest example that America has become too divided. Collectively, we must figure out better ways to deal with anger, frustration and sense of hopelessness. Few take emotional duress to such extremes but let’s be honest, life in America, for most, is rather stressful.
We know life rarely goes as planned. It has unexpected twists and turns that leave us wondering, “Why me?” Exercise can be a great stress reducer, connector and equalizer. A way to “ease back into a relationship through a shared activity.” Ruminating about a relationship gone bad? Trying to figure out ways to build bridges where barriers exist right now?
Attend the theatre together, volunteer together, attend an ASC workout together or attend a sporting event. Whatever. Try and ease back into relationships through shared activities. That’s the mission of ASC’s knuckleheads. Whether black, white or brown, living in a mission, mansion or on Main street, exercise is the shared activity bringing us together to sweat, bond and grow as we “work out, hang out and help out.”
It doesn’t matter whether this encouragement is coming from the woman or man trapped inside your scribe’s body. What’s important is using shared activities as a positive step toward easing back into a frayed relationship.
Gender be damned, it works!
Sunday, August 23, 2015
We’re getting ready for the football season, the baseball season is winding down and school is starting up. It was not surprising the topic in a recent Friday morning gathering of knuckleheads was understanding the seasons of life. Simple, not easy.
While conversing with half of dozen other dudes determined to grow in faith, words of wisdom were coming from Ecclesiastes. There King Solomon, a grumpy old man toward the end of life, was offering advice about the journey’s uncertainties and this: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity.”
While reading the passage about “seasons” this aging jock’s mind wandered to, a few days before, moving precious daughter into a dormitory on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus. This is a new season for the blue-eyed beauty.
Where in the heck have 18 years gone? From the little tyke crawling backward down the house steps toward the basement playroom, to the graceful “Nutcracker” ballerina, to the award-winning volleyball setter, it all seemed to have flown by in a flash. I know many parents can relate.
Kids, they teach us the darndest things and grow up fast.
As your scribe walked toward the dormitory recycling dumpster with unloaded boxes no longer needed, thy mind started focusing on, “Wow, Rachie’s on her own now.” Thankfully, the thoughts were not alarming. For whatever reason, Luther Gulick suddenly jumped into my brain.
The Hawaii native founded Camp Fire Girls more than a century ago. Along with wife Charlotte, the educator surveyed the landscape of the early 20th century and wondered, “What are we doing for the girls?” While young men marched off to summer camp opportunities and leadership grooming, at the time, most young women were expected to learn domestic talents and little else. The Gulick’s thought that silly and wrong.
Through Camp Fire activities girls were encouraged to dream. They were also encourage to “Work hard, make healthy choices and demonstrate love and respect for others.” Work. Health. Love. A terrific trio that, to this day within Camp Fire, is the foundation for the youth development organization’s work. Now coed, Camp Fire USA has a WOHELO award. It goes to outstanding kids who demonstrate the value of WOrk, HEalth and LOve.
The seasons of life. My daughter has begun a new one. May it bring great adventure, continued learning and pleasant experiences. However, this is life and we know it’s a roller coaster. There will probably be bumps along the way. She has heard the “Work hard, make healthy choices and love and respect others” mantra many times from her old man. It’s a blatant plagiarism of Gulick’s wise words muttered more than 100 years ago but, for all of us, as true today as ever.
Whether we like it or not, there are always new seasons emerging. A time for everything. How about this week allowing WOHELO to be the one-word answer to the spirit we bring to the season despite whatever the season brings to us.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Exuberant wife bounced into bed and disturbed my slumber late on a Saturday evening. She had been watching television but was now singing. The business executive has many talents, carrying a tune ain’t one of them. “Honey, there were a bunch of songs from the 60’s and 70’s that were featured, including Kenny Rogers.”
That comment instantly took cranium to one of Rogers’ greatest hits, “The Gambler.” In the 1978 Grammy-winning hit, the legend croons, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold them; know when to walk away and know when to run.” Suddenly I’m wide awake and thinking about the handsome singer’s song and several things happening right now. Most have a constant refrain of fretting over “Knowing when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.”
Let’s see: Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement, existing and potential business opportunities, personal relationships and community partnerships. All center around relationships and sure make this aging jock grateful for those that seem effortless. Is it just me or do many require much effort and, seemingly, a constant analysis of best strategies and practices to achieve goals and overcome challenges? Whew, it can get exhausting, especially mentally and emotionally. Brain damage.
Navigating predicaments successfully seems to center on having courage, wisdom, insight and whatever positive trait is necessary to decide between two diametrically opposed feelings: acceptance or frustration. We get frustrated relationships, projects or proposals, despite best intentions from all parties, just don’t click as planned.
Let’s take a look at frustration, defined as: “a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.” Not much there warm and fuzzy, right? Now, a peek at the definition of acceptance. It’s a lot shorter and, just this knucklehead’s opinion, simpler: “to regard as true or sound; believe.”
Okay, which is preferred as we mull a variety of “stuff” effecting mind, body and soul concerning people, places or things not following the game plan or script? Do we want a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression resulting from unfulfilled needs? Or, shall we embrace whatever challenge lies before us as true or sound and just take that big leap of faith and BELIEVE?
The latter seems shorter, simpler and so much harder because it often requires a shift in our thinking.
Less than 12 hours after beautiful bride rousted me with off-key singing I’m sitting in an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting in support of a loved one. We’re at the well-known point where everybody recites, “God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Bingo.
Many times this week we’ll probably be faced with a choice: Frustration or acceptance? I’m gonna try like heck to choose the latter. I want to encourage you to try the same.
To darling wife, thanks for waking me up. Literally and figuratively.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Reflection was in high gear after a trip to New York City to celebrate daughter’s high school graduation and visit son who works and lives there. A wonderful and memorable trip that included, unexpectedly, pedaling past Peale’s place.
While zipping through Manhattan on a rented bike your scribe slowed dramatically then veered from a designated bike line amid the clogged streets. What to my wandering eyes appeared? The Marble Collegiate Church. Where Norman Vincent Peale, for more than 50 years, preached the power of positive thinking.
I have read Peale’s book of the same title more than once. I’m not alone. Since being published in 1952, according to publisher Simon & Schuster, it has sold more than five million copies. When Peale passed, then President Bill Clinton offered: "The name of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale will forever be associated with the wondrously American values of optimism and service.”
Later, while sitting at the airport awaiting a flight to Denver, my mind kept ruminating on Clinton’s statement, “The wondrously American values of optimism and service.” How can we boost their levels? We need more of each.
For example, considering its size it’s no surprise homelessness is a big issue in our nation’s biggest city. Denver has a homeless problem too. Most big cities do. How can the wondrously American values of optimism and service move the needle in a positive direction? How can we get men and women off streets and into treatment programs effectively dealing with mental health and addiction challenges?
That’s a complicated and multi-faceted issue with no easy answer. This much I do know, Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement is trying through an emphasis on fitness, relationship building and community service. Work out, hang out and help out. Simple but effective steps to boost those wondrously American values of optimism and service Peale preached for more than half a century.
The current headlines are grim. Reading the NY Times suggests researchers have repeatedly found that in the United States, there is now less economic mobility than Canada or much of Europe. Much print focuses on, a year later, Ferguson, Missouri. What have we learned from it? Baltimore? Other examples of strife in the streets? In 1932, Peale took over a church of 600 members and quickly grew it to more than 5,000 congregants preaching optimism and good works. ASC’s employing a similar strategy through encouraging a commitment to better fitness, relationships and communities. It starts with the workout.
Peale was not without critics. Many from the mental health community blasted the best-selling Power of Positive Thinking. However, the Ohio-born preacher will be forever remembered as an optimist who believed that, whatever obstacles life delivered, we could prevail by approaching the journey with a simple sense of faith.
Pedaling past Peale’s place was a reminder: Let’s have faith we can make a difference by wondrously exhibiting optimism and service toward others. And don’t be afraid to venture outside the lines. When it comes to social issues, America needs some out of the box pedaling.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Darling wife was out keeping the economy rolling, Aaron Neville's singing love songs making me think adoringly of her, Victory's A Stronger Cord wellness movement had a great Saturday workout, hang out and help out serving a child care center, and now this knucklehead is hunkered down in the basement on a hot and dry Mile High City Saturday and I'm thinking. Which can be dangerous.
Thoughts drift back to the day before. During the Friday morning Platoon gathering a bunch of jacked up dudes were challenging one another to grow stronger in faith. It's a cherished weekly time in my life. One of the boys is talking about suffering and perseverance and blurts something jarring the cranium a tad: "It's through the turmoil of life that we get pruned. It's our job to make sure the pruning leads to a new branch."
That thought burrowed into my marrow. Tough times. Unfortunate stuff. Often tragic and always unwanted. We get pruned all the time, right? How do we make sure that pruning leads to a new branch? I don't know. I just know examples.
For instance, an adult daughter of another man in the room. She was severely injured a few years ago, has had to relearn just about everything in life, but is now encouraging kids in an Arizona child care center. "It's perfect for her" offered a grateful dad. His daughter is amazing. She got pruned big time, but a new and fruitful branch has appeared.
Or, the woman who leads an entire zone for a large staffing company. Your scribe was honored to offer a little encouragement to the talented women and men under her leadership recently at a team gathering. This incredible mom, wife and business executive had some serious medical challenges a while back and just whipped them. During remarks it was cool to lead her team in saluting her. She got pruned big time, too, but has brought forth a new and fruitful branch with excellent mentoring of a staffing team thriving under her direction.
How about a nephew who just did something crazy? Jumped into a canoe and rowed, floated and whatever else was necessary to traverse 340 miles on the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Charles. The race is called the Missouri American Water MR340. A challenge for sure. It's a nice milestone for a delightful young man who really seems to be hitting his stride. Trust me, he's been pruned. The strapping and smart 29-year-old has sprung a new branch. It looks promising for bearing wonderful fruit.
Getting pruned a bit right now? Beloved billiards' buddy is in rehabilitation, doing well and starting to come out of an isolated shell. From reports, he's smiling often and joking around with others. Engaging. After more than 30 years of abusing his body and mind with drugs, alcohol and negative thinking, the nature lover is sober, being pruned and displaying signs of a new branch budding. What a blessing.
Being pruned? Physically, emotionally or financially? Let's make a vow when it happens we'll try like heck to trust it will birth another fruitful branch!