- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Excess weight
- Lack of exercise
Sunday, August 28, 2016
As the guest speaker at South Denver Kiwanis methodically rose from his chair, a powerful statement flowed from his lips: “What I have learned is, when you’re having unusual symptoms, don’t drive to the hospital, call 911. The paramedics know best.”
That was one of many heartfelt thoughts from Joe Sabah, mentor, friend and stroke-survivor, as he addressed an attentive crowd of Kiwanians. 12 years ago, the now 85-year-old struggled to get out of bed. After calling his roommate for assistance, they drove to Porter hospital. At the time, the facility in south-central Denver specialized in treating heart attack victims, not those suffering from strokes. Unfortunately, in 2004, there was only one stroke hospital in a five-state region, Swedish. “At Porter, I went to the back of the line in the waiting room for 2 1/2 hours. If I had called 911 instead they would have taken me to the correct hospital.”
Research suggests those suffering a stroke, if treated within 2/12 hours, have a good chance of surviving and making a full recovery. Joe knows. He didn’t and lost most movement along his body’s left side. He walks slowly with a custom-made cane carved from a Sassafras tree. “It’s my chick magnet,” jokes the beloved man who teaches others how to speak for fun and profit.
Most of us know someone who has suffered a stroke. The founder of the Colorado chapter of the National Speakers Association informed the crowd, it’s not difficult to notice signs of stroke distress. “Ask a person to smile, raise their arms or repeat the sentence ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb.’ If they are unable, call 911!”
That was the most important point made during 20 minutes of passionate, humorous and inspiring thoughts. If you, or someone with you, are displaying stroke signs, keep it simple, call 911 immediately. Summon emergency personnel and insist on being transported to a hospital specializing in assisting stroke victims.
Sabah’s road to recovery has not been easy. He described long sessions with a speech therapist to regain the ability to speak. “It’s my livelihood.” A man of strong faith also believes his experience can benefit others. He humorously warns of a handful of quick and easy ways to have a stroke:
Those who have consistently read this Pep Talk blog, or heard me speak about my life experiences, know I’m a big believer in becoming “Students, not victims, of the experiences of our lives.” That philosophy fuels the passion for serving through the A Stronger Cord wellness outreach movement and everything Victory Productions offers in encouraging others to achieve goals and overcome challenges. Thanks to being influenced by warriors like Joe Sabah, it’s difficult not to have that type of outlook. “My job is not done,” Sabah defiantly stated as he pounded the Sassafras cane into the meeting room carpet.
Are you dealing with adversity right now? Is life not unfolding according to plan? For most of us the answer to each question is a resounding “yes.” There are usually detours along the way. If not, it’s certainly a stroke of good luck.
Navigate the change of direction in healthy and productive fashion. Embrace the Sabah spirit. It is special and successful, much like the man emanating it.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Out of the blue an email arrived recently. The subject line stated: “Thanks for Lemons Into Margaritas!” As an author, I’ve written four books, “Lemons” was number three, published several years ago. The email came from a woman struggling from addiction and self doubt: “I just finished reading your book and wanted to thank you for the power of the Terrific Trio. It's really gotten me thinking on my future. I don't know where it will take me, but I am excited to continue my journey!”
The woman’s heartwarming correspondence left me curious about what had been written long ago titled “Terrific Trio.” So, I pulled out a copy of the book and took a trip down memory lane:
I was watching a re-run of Saturday Night Live as the cast mocked Eliot Spitzer’s embarrassing 2008 exit as governor of New York. Watching this took me back to the actual day and the live television reports of his sudden fall from grace.
The leader of the Empire State held a press conference announcing he was resigning for having a relationship with a prostitute. This unfortunate incident is another example of someone who seemed to have it all: great wife, three beautiful daughters, powerful job, and—until that day—a solid reputation. What we now know is that he also had self-destructive tendencies—demons, if you prefer.
I think we all have our own demon(s) and a key aspect of leading a successful life is that we keep our demons in check. Those demons might be power, money, shopping, gambling, or alcohol—alcohol being mine, and one I continually work at keeping at bay. Bottom line is, without persistent monitoring, self-discipline, and character, within each of us is the capability to self-destruct.
Watching the politician’s resignation announcement reminded me of the Comeback Coach’s simple (but obviously difficult) three-way test available daily to help us avoid the shame, guilt, and misfortune that self-destructive demons can bring into our lives.
You know it by now, but some things are worth repeating: Make a solemn vow that you will entertain only those thoughts, words, and actions that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you, and add value to the communities you serve. This terrific trio of strong character traits will go a long way to help prevent painful, Spitzer-like plummets from goodwill to disgrace.
Fast forward to the present and US Olympian Ryan Lochte. What was he thinking? Whatever went through the celebrated swimmer’s mind in the early morning hours of Rio was far from honor, nurture and add value. But let’s remember, we’re all a bunch of knuckleheads, often one step from stupid.
Lucky for us, it’s usually not splashed all over media for the whole world to judge and condemn. However, the one thing we share, whether famous or not, is the ability to grow and become superior to our former selves from painful experiences.
An unexpected email sparked remembrance of “Honor, nurture and add value.” The three-way success test will help us achieve goals and overcome challenges. Take it often. Today, tomorrow and forever!
Sunday, August 14, 2016
More than 30 years into this journalism gig, your knucklehead scribe is blessed to still dabble in television through hosting “Help Team 4” segments for KCNC-TV, the CBS-owned station in Denver. From 1988-2006, I worked there as a sports guy. It’s great to drop in and see old friends, many nearing retirement age. We visit and wonder, “Where in the heck did time go?”
That’s a topic for another day. A recent trek to the station for a segment featuring Denver Regenerative Medicine led to a chance encounter with its spokesperson, Mark Schlereth. Through the sports world I’ve known the former Broncos’ offensive lineman, known as “Stink”, (superstitious about washing practice gear) during a 12-year playing career with the Broncos and Washington Redskins.
We caught up on families and other stuff while preparing to tape several 90-second segments that would air on CBS4 throughout the afternoon and early evening hours. The focus was the company’s effectiveness in using our personal stem cells to stimulate healing in our aching bodies. The three-time Super Bowl champion knows a thing or two about an achy body. The current ESPN analyst had 29 surgeries during his playing days. Let’s just say sleeping comfortably is a challenge for the 50-year-old.
Anyway, as we chatted between takes in the brightly-lit studio with folks around us ready to answer phones when they started ringing, the conversation shifted from families and sports to life. Specifically, the importance of associations. Who are we hanging out with? Are they lifting us up or dragging us down?
“It’s the old crab pot story,” said the well-dressed Alaska native. Schlereth grew up working on fishing vessels during summers between classes and playing football for the University of Idaho.
“It was amazing to watch crabs. Fishermen need to put a lid on a pot with one crab in it. But you get more than one in a pot? No need for a lid.” The show producer was not pressing us to resume taping and Schlereth continued. “The reason? When you get two or more crabs in a pot? Any that try and escape will be dragged back down by the others.”
Be careful who we associate with, right? It’s one of the key foundational principles of the A Stronger Cord (ASC) wellness outreach movement. Three years of work has revealed the importance of associations is one key factor in helping others bounce back from addiction, incarceration and isolation. If the recovery process does not involve developing relationships with a broader range of folks - fitness-minded, dependable and productive ones via ASC - it’s tough to climb out of the addiction, incarceration or isolation crab pot. That’s true whether we’re black, white or brown or live in a mission, mansion or on Main Street. Most of us have a physical, emotional, spiritual or financial crab pot we’re trying to escape.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
I love being an uncle. Anybody else in that fox hole? I know, tons of you. Anyway, in last week’s Pep Talk your knucklehead scribe wrote about 11-year-old nephew Nolan Schmitt. This week, it’s his older sister’s turn.
Hey everybody, say hi to Shannon Schmitt, “Shanny Boo.” High school sophomore. A dynamo. Thy feeble cranium worked overtime pondering an accurate description of the 15-year-old wonder kind. The daughter of Mary and Victor? This ain’t easy, but here’s four: smart, athletic, respectful and persistent. I’ll take that quartet - maybe replace athletic with fit - on my tombstone, TOMORROW.
Shannon, before-mentioned-brother and parents, the Schmitt’s, recently stayed with the GansIntosh crew for eight Centennial State days. We had a blast. While in Vail the kids heard Uncle Mark share a cherished story from my sportscasting days. However, its lesson resonates today in remembering the importance of persistent in trying to achieve goals and overcome challenges.
Whenever darling wife drags me - kidding - to this magical mountain town and we’re strolling past Pepi’s, a legendary lodging and dining spot, this aging jock loves to share a story of the quest to find Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was 1989. For KCNC-TV, I’m covering the World Alpine Ski Championships. Austria had owned the mountain that day. Our executive producer says, “McIntosh, go find Arnold.”
At the time, the Austria-born icon was a body builder turned movie star. We knew he was in town and - it’s Arnold - would be celebrating. It was our mission to find him and get sound. The search ended, rather quickly as I recall, in the basement bar of Pepi’s. The place was packed. The future politician was in a far corner, with buddies. Whooping it up. The station photographer and I squirmed through the crowd and presented ourselves: “Arnold, can we talk?” was my question. The powerfully-build brute growled, “Can’t you see I’m eating my strudel?” I belched back, “Sure, I see you’re eating your strudel. Please, one thought about Austria’s great day on the hill.” We got the sound. It was good. Persistence paid off.
Fast forward to this past week of hosting beloved Chicago-based family members. Shanny Boo’s persistent made us better. When you hang with the Schmitt’s, you play games. You compete. It can get intense. There’s frequent debate about rules, or lack of them. Fun and spirited are our games. One kept getting back to the legality of offering teammates’ clues using words that rhymed. The hockey standout kept saying, “You can’t use rhymes.” At first, few would listen but the straight-A student was persistent. “It’s against the rules to use words that rhyme. Look it up.”
By golly the softball slugger was right.
I won’t get deep into the academic and athletic accomplishments of this dark-haired beauty. They’re off the charts too. Smart, athletic, respectful and persistent. Those traits come to mind when thinking of an, admitted, adored niece. Ya know what? It would not hurt us to emulate any of those terrific traits.
Shanny Boo, thanks for the “Importance of persistence” reminder. Your goofy uncle can’t vouch for Arnold, but it sure got me pumped up!