When you get right down to it, life is a balancing act. We constantly strive to balance everything—Work and play. Self time and time spent with our significant others, children, other family members and friends. Serious, reflective moments (like this post) balanced against silly, goofy ones (see my previous post). Whether we are attempting to find the time to start or maintain an exercise program, or just steal an extra hour from our week to sink into a favorite chair and catch up on that novel we’ve been dying to read, the need for balance in our lives is a daily, often hourly, task.
But what about the need for balance inside each of us? What are you talking about, huh, Mike?
Triad of Balance.
Before we can find the time to balance our hectic lives, or begin to understand how to approach doing so, we need to balance our selves.
There are three parts of each of us that I feel need to be individually balanced—Mind. Body. Spirit. And then they need to be balanced together.
Let’s start with the Mind, because once we have our head on straight, the rest falls into place nicely. The brain needs to be fed. There are lots of things that our mind absorbs each second—this post, for instance. The good thing is: we can, most of the time, choose what we ingest mentally. I suggest we feed our mind nothing but the good stuff, by that I mean: read more, watch TV less—or watch TV programs that add interesting, informative, positive data to our brain. That goes for what we read too—read fiction, sure, but a variety of it. Also everything else that stretches our limitations, help to learn new things, or add more positive, thought provoking images to our brain. Focus on the good in the world, while acknowledging the not so good, but remaining positive throughout. The more positive, intelligent, happy, helpful, kind, intriguing, beautiful (add your own positive word here) thoughts we incorporate into our brain every day, the healthier, happier, and more balanced we will become.
We also need to exercise our Mind. Just like muscles that do not stay active, an inactive brain will become flabby, less sharp. Work both sides of the brain: do puzzles (I love crosswords; do one a day), challenge yourself by learning a musical instrument, or joining a group like Toastmasters or by enrolling in a night college course.
Let’s move from the Mind for now and focus on the Body. If we need to feed our brain with good, healthy data, you can probably guess what I’m going to say next, right? Remember that old expression? You are what you eat. What we eat and the amounts are vital in maintaining our body’s balance. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and our bodies will respond in kind. Keep portion size down, and our body will not only be the right size, but it will help reduce some of the risks of heart disease (the number one killer in America), cancer, diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, and any number of other maladies. Add to that healthy diet a sensible exercise program (see Ten Reasons To Get Out and Walk Every Day ), and our body is going to love us. Speaking of love, let’s add that to the list of things the brain should focus on each day.
We also need to keep the Body (and Mind and Spirit) free from negative intruders—tobacco, excessive alcohol, and dangerous drugs.
Treat your Body like the temple it is and you will feel great, live longer, and get yourself that much closer to being balanced.
Now the Spirit. Spirituality means different things to different people, but with one common bond—the act of doing something positive that fulfills us. And just like with the Mind and Body, our Spirit needs to be fed and exercised daily.
Feed your soul with happy, healthy, helpful thoughts, daily, then expand outward—share a funny joke with friends, call your mother or father on the phone just to say hello, offer a random act of kindness to a stranger, (leave a nice comment on someone’s blog post). On a larger scale, we can do volunteer work, give to charity (money or time), join groups or forums with like-minded people practicing spiritual giving. And, of course, worship our higher power at our place of worship, or at home.
Now the hard part—balancing all three: Mind, Body, and Spirit.
There are times, too rare, when I have had my Triad of Balance in harmony, when I have felt mentally healthy and happy, physically strong and active, and spiritually fulfilled and content. But more often than not, one, or sometimes two, or the three need work. And when even one of the three is off, the result is: I am out of balance. Put another way: I am not complete, not the person I know I can be.
The ultimate goal, for me at least, is to have all three—Mind, Body, and Spirit—in balance all the time. While that is often a mighty challenge, it is one that, when attained, makes me the best person I can be, and well worth the effort.
Remember, all we, as flawed human beings, can do is try. Work at everything I’ve discussed in this post, each and every day, and good things are bound to happen.
Visit my website, livelife365.com, for videos about everything I talked about in this post…and lots more.
Until next time…
Monday, June 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
I wasn’t always a vegetarian. Back in the day, I used to be seated right beside some of you, gnawing away on that rib bone, masticating that filet mignon, devouring a double double from my (former) favorite burger place, In-n-Out. I was an animal-eating carnivore most of my life—just like over 90% of the population. Then I had some blood work done and got a glimpse of my cholesterol levels. Yikes!
Here’s the thing: I was never what you would call a BIG meat eater. More often than not, I was just as interested in the vegetable and salad portion of my meal as the animal protein part. And once I’d done further research about the contributing factors of high cholesterol (mine, by the way, was closing in on 300) and unhealthy weight gain—namely: saturated fats—it made perfect sense to gradually cut down on the meats. Years before I became a full-time vegetarian, I often would go days without consuming any animal protein. My palette, as well as some deeper region of my subconscious, was changing, sounding an alarm: Reduce your saturated fats or die!
Okay, Mike, you can stop with the dramatics. But it was a wake-up call, and my unhealthy cholesterol and weight gain (I was up over 200 pounds—far too heavy for my barely 5’ 11’’ frame) forced me to do something else—discover healthier eating options. More to the point: I needed to reduced saturated fats, which meant limit the consumption of animal proteins. The answer:
Here are some of the best sources of vegetable protein that I incorporate into my daily eating routine. Eat as much of this stuff as you can and you will not only get the necessary amount of protein into your diet, but tons of fiber (a good thing!). All without those harmful saturated fats; instead filling up with the good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
I eat nuts every day—mostly almonds, but all nuts have a decent amount of vegetable protein. In addition to almonds, eat walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, even peanuts. They have anywhere from 6-8 grams of protein and 3.0 grams of fiber. I also suggest trying some of the butters. Almond butter is delicious and has 8.0 gms of protein per serving.
I love Mexican food, and eat it at least twice a week. I’ve found that you can replace just about any of the meat dishes with healthy black beans (7.0 gms protein/7.0 gms fiber) or refried beans (be sure to check if they are made with lard, in they are, opt out). There are dozens of varieties of beans (see one of my previous blog posts, You Don’t Know Beans…or Do You?); pinto, navy, garbanzo—add them to salads or eat as a side dish. Most have around 6-8 gms of protein and about the same amounts of fiber.
And don’t forget lentils. These tasty tidbits are loaded with vegetable protein—10.0 gms. And 9.0 gms of fiber.
I eat a high-protein, whole grain cereal every other day. Kashi makes excellent products. Try their Go Lean. It has 13.0 gms of protein per serving, also 10.0 gms fiber. I mix mine with their Good Friends (5.0 gms protein/12.0 gms fiber) for a vegetarian protein and fiber blast (pun intended!) The days I don’t eat whole grain cereals, I have some toasted whole grain bread (4-6 gms protein; shop around and read labels, some have more protein than others. I recommend Milton's) with almond butter. You can see how the vegetable protein is adding up, huh?
Pastas, especially whole grain pastas, are another great source of vegetable protein. Most have at least 6-8 gms, while some go as high as 12-15 gms. Again, read labels, and you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the healthy vegetable protein options available to you.
I also eat oatmeal (8.0 gms protein/ 6.0 gms fiber) every day. And wild rice will get you around 5.0 gms of vegetable protein per serving.
Not all veggies are created equal. Some have more protein than others. Here are the ones you should look for when looking to increase your vegetable protein consumption:
I eat edamame, or soybeans, (11.0 gms protein/ 6.0 gms fiber) several times a week. I like to mix in another vegetable, usually broccoli (5.0 gms protein/ 4.0 gms fiber), add a little olive oil, salt, pepper. How’s that for veggie protein? Also, soy chips are a wonderful source of protein: 6.0 gms--I like Glenny's and Gen soy. And Dr Soy makes a tasty soy bar (11 gms protein) that I devour most days.
Avocado: (4.0 gms protein/8.0 gms fiber)
Peas: (5.0 gms protein/ 4.0 gms fiber)
Corn: (4.5 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)
Lima beans: (6.0 gms protein/4.0 gms fiber)
Brussels sprouts: (4.0 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)
Artichoke hearts: (4.0 gms protein/4.0 gms fiber)
Asparagus: (4.0 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)
This is by no means a complete list, and a lot of it is personal preference. But, as you can see, the variety of vegetable proteins available to you are endless. And the best part—they are low in saturated fats, high in good fats, loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that contribute to a longer, happier, skinnier, healthier life.
As always, you can watch me talk about all of these healthy topics at my video website, livelife365.com
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
One of my daily rituals is reading the newspaper every morning, while sipping the first of several cups of green tea. I read each section, every page, mostly scanning headlines in search of an article or two that tweaks my interest. My local paper, the Sacramento Bee, lists celebrity birthdays on page 2. Today, I noticed, in between Carley Simon (63) and fallen rock idol, George Michael (45), was none other than Ricky Gervais. Happy 47th, Ricky!
Now, to me, Ricky Gervais is one of the handful of funnymen who always makes me laugh--John Stewart is another. Dave Chappelle ain't bad either. There are more, but let's focus on Ricky. Some of you may be saying to yourselves: Who the heck is Rickey Gervais? If I asked you if you have ever heard of a show called "The Office," I bet most of you would say you have. And that show's star? Steve Carell (another funny guy who makes me snort green tea out my nose!)? Most of you have probably heard of him--but, what about Ricky? Well, Ricky actually created "The Office"--the BBC version (he is a producer/creator on the NBC hit), a version some people swear is funnier than the very humorous one that is shown Thursdays on NBC.
My point is: while I'm sure millions of people do know who Ricky Gervais is, it is a shame that tens of millions MORE do not. The man is funny. Check out his work. Start with the BBC version of "The Office," then go out and rent the DVD for the first two seasons of his hilarious HBO series, "Extras." You won't be disappointed.
Speaking of funny...whenever I need a good laugh online, the one place I return to time after time is FunnyorDie.com. This is the best website around for humor. It was created by Will Ferrell and a few of his cohorts in comedy and is unique, in that you, the viewer, gets to vote on each video. FUNNY, if you like it and it makes you chuckle. Or DIE, if it fails to tickle your funnybone. Sort of like back in Roman Times, when the guys in the good seats at the Colosseum (Kings? Emperors? Pharaohs? Congressmen?) would vote either thumb's up or down, deciding if some poor schlub gladiator would fight another day or instantly become lion food. While having one's videos judged in similar fashion on a website is not life or death, it can be disconcerting when you get a bunch of die votes. My suggestion--vote FUNNY! I never vote DIE--it just doesn't seem right.
So, in celebration of one great funnyman, Ricky Gervais, and in memory of one of the greatest, George Carlin, I would like to share with you a few of my favorite links from my favorite funny website. Today's laughs are on me.
In no particular order:
Outsider's Country Club
Bob Jake McManus
Ricky Shore Sings the Blues
Monday, June 23, 2008
I recently read an article about ways to stave off early dementia and Alzheimer's, and was thrilled to discover that I was practicing most of the methods already. All of the things I advocate at livelife365.com and this blog are great contributors in not only living longer, healthy, happy lives, but also quite helpful in ensuring that your mind is sharp and healthy for the duration. Here are some tips:
I am constantly going on about the importance of exercise, and there's a reason for it. It is so GOOD for you! One of the best things you can do now to help when you're older is start an exercise program. I recently wrote a post about walking that will help you get started. You will also benefit from lifting light weights (in the beginning) three times a week, and some form of cardiovascular exercise. Try riding a bike, either stationary or outside, treadmill, swimming, anything to get your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes, three days a week. As always, consult your medical professional before starting any new exercise program.
WORK YOUR MIND
We all use our brains in different ways, depending on what we need to accomplish. Most of that precious brain power is used to earn a living and maintain our households, relationships, or raise children. But to help keep dementia away, as well as improve your life now, you need to work your mind in other ways. Different ways than you work it during your normal routines. I do a crossword puzzle each day, that helps. Or try Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles. Anything that occupies your mind differently, works another part of the old gray matter, is beneficial. Reading is great for you. Toss out that TV and read, every day. Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, ahh, blogs? Yes, those too. Expand your knowledge, learn new things--you will enhance your life now, and really help yourself as you age.
Pick up a hobby or learn a musical instrument. Join clubs. Do volunteer work. Challenge yourself and your mind and you will not be as challenged down the road.
Not much more I need to say about that except: DON'T EVER SMOKE! EVER!! There is absolutely nothing positive that can happen to you by smoking, so, please, don't.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
First you take away my smokes, now you tell me to manage my stress? Jeez! We all have stress in our lives, there's no getting around it. It's everywhere these days. The key is finding ways to manage it. Here are a few suggestions: Yoga, meditation, long walks, breathing techniques, good relationships, making love (hopefully with the same person from that good relationship), laughter, proper sleep. And proper diet (more on that soon).
I have videos at livelife365.com that talk about all of these methods.
Eating the proper foods and correct amounts of foods is something I talk and write about all the time. Why? Because I strongly feel that what we eat and their portions is the secret to life. Living healthy, happy lives now--and in our golden years. Diets rich in fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory foods will help you now and are being linked to helping keep Alzheimer's away.
Start with as many servings (at least 6, but 10-12 is better) of fruits and vegetables as you can humanly consume every day. The best way to accomplish this is to eliminate some other foods from your daily consumption. I have an idea--how about getting rid of saturated fats, unnecessary sugars and carbs, empty calories, and red meat? Replace them with: high-fiber foods like whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, and those aforementioned fruits and veggies. And replace butter and other oils, whenever possible, with olive oil. It not only will help you age better, but it also reduces cholesterol and is loaded with healthy fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good fats. Saturated and trans fats are the ones to keep away from. Read labels and avoid fast food whenever you can.
And drink tea, preferably green. As well as rooibos and yerba matte. These teas not only taste wonderful, but are loaded with antioxidants, which help slow the aging process of cells, thus helping fight cancer--and Alzheimer's. I drink at least five cups a day--you should too.
Here is a video (Brain Food) about this post that may interest you. And most of this information can also be found in video form at my website, livelife365.com.
Until next time...
Sunday, June 22, 2008
If you are a serious blogger, or just a sociable sort who loves the Internet, then you probably know all about the large number of social networking sites out there. I am a member of dozens of them, and while some are better than others, depending on what it is you're looking for, I would like to show you a few that I visit often. Below is a list of only a handful of sites that I use regularly and highly recommend—there are lots more, and I will eventually make videos about some of them as well. Yes, videos. On my video site, I have a section called Mike Recommends…, which I use to endorse products, blogs, and websites. In this post, I would like to call attention to that section of my site, along with my favorite blogs and networking sites.
You see, I am a man torn between two worlds, that of the blogger and vlogger. I love my vid site and enjoy the process of creating videos to share with the masses. But, being a writer for years, I have discovered that writing a blog is also an incredibly satisfying experience. The solution: do both! Which I am attempting to do. But it's like being a parent with more than one child, trying to allot equal time to each—you must be careful to make sure one does not get more attention than the other. Or worse, one is not being treated better than the other. It's a juggling act of my time and creative energies, but one I thoroughly enjoy.
So, I hope while you enjoy this post, you also learn a bit more about what makes me and livelife365 tick. Just as I hope you take the time to click on the links below and enjoy a mere handful from the hundreds of videos available at livelife365.com. Also, please check out the new What's Happening box at the top of the site page.
These are some (and by no means all) of the social networking sites I use and highly recommend:
I'm a member of this community, a wonderful site that shares lots of my ideals about health, fitness, and exercise. If you like livelife365, you will enjoy Iowa Avenue.
One site loaded with dozens of health and fitness bloggers? Yup, this is the place . I am a member and visit daily--you should too.
I love to read and talk about the books I have read, am reading, and want to read. You can do all that, and more, at this site.
A great site it you love blogs and blogging. As the site itself notes, "whether you are looking to search blogs, connect with bloggers, learn more about blogging, or promote your own blog, BlogCatalog is for you."
Check out this great news and entertainment sharing site. I use it just about every day. Digg it!
Another great social networking site that I visit all the time. If you enjoy websurfing and interacting with people, this is the place.
Both are video sharing sites that I use extensively. One you've probably heard about, the other one is pretty good too.
Here are some websites and blogs that I recommend:
One of the many excellent blogs out there that focuses on healthy lifestyle and fitness. This one is one of the better ones.
If you're looking for a great video site that is all about environmental issues, this is the place to visit.
For Web design, digital Imagery, Research, Editing, Database management, and all other web-related services at reasonable rates, I rely on my good friend Eric at MMI. He can help you establish an online identity from the ground up, thoroughly copyedit an existing site with his exacting eye and strong language skills, add user-friendly and profit-generating functionality, or even completely overhaul your window on the world with a basic redesign.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
1.INEXPENSIVE All you need to get started is a good pair of walking shoes. Now I'm not going to tell you these are cheap — good ones can run you more than $100. But compared to the cost of other sports or joining a fitness club, this is a relatively affordable. You should also get a pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection and have polarized lenses. Wear these not only while walking but whenever you venture outdoors. No other equipment is needed, except maybe a pedometer (about fifteen bucks). They count your steps and can help motivate you to walk more. Other than that: socks, shorts, a shirt — stuff you already have. And a hat to protect you from the sun. Oh, and bring your cell phone just in case. You never know when you may need it.
2.EASY We all learned how to walk a long time ago, unless there are some one-year-old's reading my blog. All you need to do, after getting the proper equipment, is properly stretch your legs (to avoid cramps or pulled muscles) and choose a good route. Stretching is important. I stretch every day before my two-mile walk and have, thus far (knock on wood), never had any leg problems. If you're just starting to exercise or have some ailment, please check with your doctor. Make sure you loosen up your hamstrings and calves, ankles, and knees. For more on stretching, visit my website and watch my video about walking. As for choosing a route, I like to take the same route each day so I don't have to think about where I'm going. This allows me to relax, let my mind run free, and enjoy the experience. Others may want more diversity and opt to have several different routes. Just be sure the route is safe, has plenty of shade, and is generally familiar.
3.VITAMIN D There is a fine line between getting too much sun and not enough. While you should always be aware and protective of melanoma by wearing a hat and long sleeves, the right amount of sun, and the vitamin D that comes with it, is vital to your wellbeing. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that produce vitamin D. 10-15 minutes of exposure to the sun is sufficient time to get your daily dosage of vitamin D without risking overexposure and skin cancer. It is a paradoxical challenge, but one worth looking into. Don't take my word for it—ask your doctor, especially if you have sensitive skin or a history of skin cancer. But you do need vitamin D. Among its many benefits is improved bone density and lowering the risk of colon and breast cancer. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension, even obesity. So, walking is sounding better and better, isn't it?
4.SOCIABLE Walking is one of the best social exercises, one where you can actually hold a conversation with your walking budding without gasping for air, like in an aerobics class. Some people enjoy walking in groups, and those can help inspire and motivate. Or just an after dinner stroll with your significant other offers significant benefits. Me, I walk all by myself, but I don't mind—I'm usually holding a video camera and talking to myself.
5.SPIRITUAL Depending on where you are walking, and how serene or quiet it is, a nice walk can be good for the soul. My daily route takes me through winding paths with lots of trees and a scenic pond, away from traffic sounds—I tend to relax, commune with nature, and allow myself a time to reflect on things. Try it. If your are walking but remain uptight, you may need to rethink your route.
6.HEALTHY It's about time I talked about the myriad health benefits of walking. You burn calories, exercise your legs and lower torso. And if you take along a set of light dumbbells, you can even work your upper torso. Any form of exercise is good for you, but walking is easy on the body and still quite beneficial. Depending on your pace, you can get a decent cardio workout. And there's nothing wrong with breathing in good, clean air every day.
7.AGELESS As I already mentioned, most of us have been walking since we were toddlers. And unless you are hampered by injury or illness, walking has no age barrier. From one to one hundred. Just be sure to select an easy route if you are out of shape or up there in age. But no matter how old you are, get out there and walk.
8.SAFE As long as you stretch properly and avoid dangerous routes, walking is one of the safest forms of exercise there is. It is also, as previously mentioned, easy on the bones and muscles, compared to other forms of exercise—just make sure you buy a good pair of walking shoes. You can walk at your own pace, in a group, down a familiar path and improve your health and your life.
9.UNIVERSAL You can walk anywhere, anytime, indoors or out. Using a treadmill or walking up and down the stairs inside your office building. Speaking of offices—you can walk around the building during your lunch break. The only thing stopping you is you. So, walk anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
10.FUN Hey, walking is more fun that most exercises. And when you look at all of the healthy benefits I have shown you, it's also very good for you too. Get out and walk, every day, and you will be glad you did.
Until next time…
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
"Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion."
Who is a hero? Is it Tiger Woods, for winning, again, but doing so while battling an obviously balky knee? Or the courage and determination the man he beat, Rocco Mediate, showed while losing the tournament, but winning the hearts of millions of golf fans and non-golf fans alike? Maybe you feel that what the Boston Celtics pulled off earlier this night constitutes an act of heroism? This is a team, after all, that had the worst record in its conference last year, was dismantled over the off season and reconstructed, overcame injuries and a superb Laker team, to win it all.
I love sports and have been a fan for most of my fifty-plus years. And while I am prone, on occasion, to wax heroically about my sports icons, I know that even they would agree that true heroes are more about what President Coolidge stated. "...not only in the man, but in the occasion." Such an occasion occurred recently in Chico, the town I call home.
You may have seen or heard about the wildfires that burned out of control for days here in Butte County last week. What began as a small brush fire, a few miles behind my neighborhood, swiftly, propelled by gusting winds, evolved into what locals here have feared for decades: an uncontrolled fireball heading right for the small town of Paradise, a quaint community in the foothills above Chico. Thousands of firefighters from dozens of states battled the blaze, finally containing the conflagration after nearly a week's struggle, but not before it charred over 23,000 acres and destroyed 74 homes. How's that for heroism? My heartfelt thanks to the men and women who fought this blaze and won.
Our community, while still singed and smokey, survived. Paradise remained like its name, while others lost everything. At one time nearly ten thousand folks had to evacuate their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. There was also an amazing outpouring of giving and charity from the townspeople during this time. Talk about heroism. My wife and I, while wanting to do our part, discovered a great volunteer center, caring-choices.org. Their efforts and charitable contributions during this trying time were only one of hundreds, but worthy of singling out. These are the real heroes. The people of Chico and our surrounding towns are the real heroes.
Most of us, when confronted with a challenging occasion, want to step up, set a good example, do our best, be a hero. While few, if any, of us can contend on a golf course with Tiger or Rocco, or try to defend Paul Pierce or Kobe, all of us, when given the chance, can rise to the occasion and discover the heroism that resides inside us all.
Until next time...
Monday, June 16, 2008
I am reposting one of my favorite blog entries: This Is Your Time On Earth.
Yesterday's blog, you may have seen, was written by my first Guest Blogger. I hope you read and enjoy my friend Eric's thoughtful post, reflecting on the life and sudden passing of Tim Russert. When someone we love dies, it is always a painful occasion, but when they leave us much too soon, it becomes tragic, all the more difficult to understand and digest. Tim was only fifty-eight; he had a lot of life left to live. My father died at around the same age. It's so ironic that Mr. Russert's death occurred during the weekend when we all take time to think about and honor the man who means the world to most of us.
Every Father's Day weekend is a difficult time for me. I miss my dad every day, and he has been gone now for close to twenty years, as hard as that is for me to fathom. But one thing I have learned over those years is that while life all too often is filled with challenges and hardship, devastation and, sadly, death, we must find within us the will and passion and determination to live each day to its fullest. Every day, no matter what. Every day, as if it could be our last. That is the gist of this post. Please enjoy:
This Is Your Time On Earth
How much time do any of us have? Time on earth? Eight decades, if we're lucky, maybe nine? When you're in your twenties, eighty or ninety years of life seems like a lot of time, doesn't it? And it is, I guess, from a twenty-something's point of view. How about for folks like myself, in their early 50's? Eighty years looks a bit less large. In fact, it looks like a number that is fast approaching and too close to just around the corner.
No matter your age or how eighty or ninety years looks to you in the scheme of things, the purpose of this blog entry (and the attached video, for those who prefer watching and listening versus reading) is to emphasize the importance of time. More to the point: our time on earth. Because no matter if you live to 100 or leave this rock way too early, the thing that will shape your days while alive, as well as fill those days with purpose and meaning, is what you do along the way. What you do each and every day.
Life is precious. Like is boring. Life is amazing. Life is difficult. Life is fun. Life is horrible. Life is happy. Life is sad. Life is the most beautiful thing in the world. Life...is life. There are things that occur every second in this world that make us cringe, shake our heads, cry, and wonder how this could possibly be happening. And yet during that same day, if we are lucky, life will show us how utterly wonderful it is: a cute puppy, a random act of kindness or heroism, a stunning sunset, the love of another human being. My point is this: no matter what life is handing you or how the problems of the world make you feel, you have an obligation to yourself, to the rest of the six billion souls who inhabit this planet. You have to try. Work hard. Strive to be the best you can be. Be kind, caring, considerate. Work to right wrongs, help others, set a good example. But mostly, you have to make YOUR LIFE as complete and fulfilling as possible. By doing all that YOU can to make a difference, to leave a positive mark, to grow and learn and take personal accountability for your actions, to balance your mind, body, and spirit, you are taking care of self. And if everyone did just that--made themselves the best person possible--the world would be that much better a place. Now I'm not saying all that is wrong with this world will suddenly be right, but a lot of it will be. Think about it.
But remember, be it ten years or one hundred, this is YOUR time on earth. And what I feel when I think about that is this: I do not want to waste it. I will not allow anyone or anything to stand in the way of all I want to do during my time here. I embrace this time on earth because it is MY time; as it is YOUR time. And as for me, I want to leave a mark, a legacy, a positive impact. Make my eight or nine, hopefully, ten decades the best they can be. And when I close my eyes at night and it's just me and my higher power, I want to be able to say that I worked hard every day, tried to make a difference, helped others as best I could, and lived my life during my time here on earth to its fullest. And I want you to be able to do the same.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today I'm adding a new feature I call Guest Blog. It's an effort to allow others to take over the virtual mic (not Mike) and deliver a message to the community I'm working to be a part of. The inaugural post comes from my good friend Eric of Multi Media Information. He's played an important role in the development of my livelife365.com website: editing text, helping me with research, creating and refining digital imagery, writing and tweaking code — tweaking just about everything, or at least wanting to. He's not an altogether bad sort, so I'm giving him the floor for a few minutes.
Our Issue This Sunday: Bye Tim
"Did ya hear the news? Tim Russert died." I was shocked. "You're kidding. You're serious?"
Like so much — too much — that is valuable, even irreplaceable, in life, I took Tim Russert for granted. Now I can appreciate that when I went to bed Saturday nights, I typically had one overriding concern: would I be able to arrange my Sunday morning schedule to allow me to watch Meet the Press on the local NBC affiliate? In recent years, there was a replay available on cable, and transcripts and podcasts online. But I was often thirsty for the event, sometimes very much so. I didn't want to let a day or even an hour go by without having the interviews Russert delivered as part of my information package, the material I could use to understand what was going on in the world, anticipate what others would be thinking, and promote my political views.
Barrack Obama appeared on the show in early May, two days before the crucial Indiana and North Carolina primaries. Russert grilled him relentlessly about Reverend Jeremiah Wright, spending, it seemed, the first half-hour pressing for answers regarding the controversial clergyman. I was mildly offended, a bit angry that the candidate I support with great enthusiasm was being subjected to this rigorous interrogation. But I soon realized that nothing could have been more timely and effective at clearing the air, blowing away the smoke generated by what I saw as unwarranted attacks on the senator's character and judgement. He had been cleansed of the mud thrown at him by partisan smearmongers. He had passed the Russert Test; no one could say he hadn't answered the tough questions. In fact, I was quite proud of the calm, patient, understanding demeanor Obama exhibited during the process.
I feel a sense of loss today, one I know I share with many others. And I expect I'll continue to feel that loss for a some time, every Sunday morning when the values I support with such passion — truth, fairness, decency, integrity — no longer have the champion Tim Russert was for their advancement, there in the trenches, fighting for what is best about America.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I mentioned in my previous post that I had just returned from a brief trip down the coast to lovely San Diego. My wife and I had a wonderful time--taking in a Padre's game a Petco (a great venue for watching baseball, by the way); strolling the historical streets of Old Town (while pigging out on authentic and delicious Mexican food); enjoying the greenery and people-watching our way through Balboa Park, among other things. And even though we reside in this massive state, some 600 miles to the north of S.D., and once called southern Cal our home, I came to this conclusion while sitting on the Southwest jet, gazing out the window as millions of people crammed together in 25 square miles turned into acres and acres of vast pastureland: things are different down there!
Hey, I'm not saying people here in Chico, my hometown for the past ten years, are not friendly--they are very cordial and I consider this college town one of the nicest places I have resided in my five decades of life. But never have I seen someone wandering down the center of downtown holding a sign stating: FREE HUGS. Of course, I do avoid downtown during St. Patrick's Day and Halloween, when the kids go a bit wild. My point is: free hugs is a southern Cal thing. Not that it's a bad thing. In fact, it felt kind of nice.
People often have the misconception that all Californians are the same, act the same, seem the same. That it's all swimming pools and movie stars, money and fame, peace, love, and "Have a nice day." One need only consider the size of this state to realize the absurdity of that notion. California spans over 160,000 square miles; on its own it would be the 59th largest country in the world. And it is long, stretching from Oregon to Mexico. By comparison, one would have to traverse through almost a dozen states on the East Coast to accumulate the same mileage as one trip from Weed (way up north) to Chula Vista (almost in Mexico). My point being: No one ever compares a North Carolinian with someone from Maryland.
We here in Chico are very relaxed and laid back, to a point. But I doubt thousands of locals would dare arrive in the middle of the second inning of a baseball game, wandering into the park, la-di-dah, cell phone glued to an ear, cocktail in hand, meandering over to their $75.00 seats without a care. No, I've been to a ballgame here and these fans are serious about their home team. I'm sure Padre fans love their team, they just don't love them for the full nine innings.
I am originally from Back East, New England, where I learned how to mispronounce Bucky Dent's name while understanding pain and misery at being a die hard Red Sox fan since 1967. I moved Out West almost 25 years ago and it took me a while to find my place, to fit in. For the longest time, I was a man without a country, or state, or neighborhood. I was too harsh and loud and uptight for the easy going, mellow, polite Californians. But, even after only a few months, I was losing my East Coast attitude, not all of it, never all of it, but a lot of it. And to my family and freinds back in New England, I was different, changing, becoming, gulp, a Californian! You see my conundrum, right? Still too rough around the edges to be accepted here, but becoming less so to remain true to my I'll-run-you-off-the-road-if-you-look-at-me-like-that-again roots. I remember an incident that occurred during my first week in southern Cal, while I was driving through a parking lot. A pedestrian walked right in front of my car and I almost hit him. After a few choice words directed his way, the passenger in my car, a local, asked me what I was doing. I told him, adding a few more choice words, that that idiot almost got himself killed, walking in front of my car like that. "He was on a crosswalk," my mellow friend informed me, "he has the right of way." I looked at him, then at the man in the crosswalk, then back at my friend. Then shook my head and thought to myself, "Not Back East he does."
It took me a while, but I learned, eventually mellowed out to the point of fitting in, for the most part, out here. I now consider myself more of a Californian than a New Englander, though those roots will always remain close to my heart. But after my trip down to San Diego, I realized that I still have a lot to learn, still, at times, can be a man caught in the middle, a man without a country or state, even while residing within its borders. Think about it...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Do you need a hug? While enjoying a way-too-short escape to scenic San Diego recently, my wife and I encountered this gentleman wandering through Balboa Park. He was as sincere as his sign and happily embraced both of us, free of charge. Only in California, huh?
Now, I invite you to pull up a chair, get comfortable, and check out the newest videos at livelife365.com. Here is a brief summary:
Do You Have a Special Place?
Mike discusses the importance of allowing your mind the freedom to escape.
Lose Weight at livelife365.com
Check out this video Mike created to call attention to livelife365.com, and how you can change your life. Intended for use on other video sites, but take a peek, if you want.
Both are video sharing sites that Mike uses extensively. One you've probably heard about. They both are great.
Another great social networking site that Mike visits all the time. You should too.
Mike Walking and Talking: Laughter
Join Mike on another one of his walk and talks. This time he talks about the importance of laughing every day.
This is a great site for indie and international films.
Breakfast With Mike
Mike introduces a new segment. In this initial video, he talks about following your dreams and not allowing anything to stop you.
A Day of Fiber
This is what Mike eats most days. It is full of fiber and low on calories. It even has over 50.0 grams of protein. And you will lose weight!
Until next time...
Friday, June 6, 2008
Remember Bugs Bunny? That big-tooth, wise guy rabbit? Besides always tormenting poor Elmer Fudd, Bugs was always doing something else. Chomping on a carrot. Now, I'm not one to watch cartoons these days, let alone be inspired by one of their characters, but we can learn a lot from Bugs. Not about how to annoy a funny-voiced wabbit hunter, but by enjoying the myriad health benefits of carrots.
Recently, I wrote a post about apples that received some nice feedback. This was on the heels of a blog entry about the wonders of beans in your daily diet. Now carrots. I could have started with apples, followed by beans, and then added this entry about carrots, and called it the ABC's of Nutrition, but my brain isn't that organized. Maybe I'm more like Bugs after all: I am a bit of a wiseguy, I have been told that I can be annoying at times, and I do love carrots.
Besides being an excellent source of fiber and low in calories (one cup of chopped raw carrots has only 50 calories), carrots are loaded with good stuff for you. Like potassium, antioxidants and pro-vitamin A carotene. These protect against cardiovascular disease and all types of cancer (especially colon cancer, because of falcarinol, a phytochemical found in carrots), and promote good vision, especially night vision. Yup, carrots really are good for your eyesight!
And good news for you smokers and, hopefully, soon-to-be, ex-smokers. Vitamin A-rich foods like carrots promote healthy lungs by counteracting the vitamin A deficiency caused by cigarette smoke.
Eat them raw or cooked, in salads or as a vegetable side dish, in a soup or to use as a scoop for your favorite (low-fat) dip, just eat them. Or drink them (carrot juice, try it!) Every day, if you can, and you will benefit from all that healthy beta-carotene.
So next time you hear the words from that famous Looney Tune, "Ah, what's up, Doc?" The answer should be, "Ah, carrots, that's what."
Until next time...
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Alva Edison
"Just Do it!" Nike
I don't know how many times someone has said to me, after I've told them that I have a blog and have written several books, that they always wanted to be a writer. I can only look at them, force a half-smile to my lips, and nod politely. What I would like to say to them is: "Then write." It's that simple. Blog entries, newspaper or magazine articles, college theses, and novels do not get written by talking about writing. As Edison said, you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
This blog post is not about writing, it is about doing, taking action. We cannot sit and wait for either the mood or muse to inspire us into action, be it while endeavoring creative paths, like writing or music or art, or any aspect of our lives. Often, I have heard others whine about not being inspired to do this or that. Again, I can only apply that half-smile and nod, thinking about that Edison quote. Because old Tom got it right. Yes, we have to have an idea, some direction, some clue what it is we want to do--write, sing, act, build a house, graduate from college, whatever--but sitting around thinking about it will never get the job done. Less talk. More action!
Take me and this blog entry. By now I imagine you have noticed that spectacular photo I have included at the top of this entry, and, no doubt, wondered what it has to do with all this talk about action and perspiration. That photo was taken at a place right here in town, a tranquil setting in the middle of our impressive park, where locals gather to run their dogs, bike, and walk. You see, earlier today, I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? Couldn't find that perspiration, or effort, to work. I was waiting for some inspiration too. Having neither, I powered-off this PC and headed for paradise.
The great thing about walking, while surrounded by lush foliage and the sound of water cutting through the green, is that it frees up the mind and soul, at least for me it does. I am lucky that my brain is filled with tons of ideas and thoughts crashing about, but sometimes I need to escape from myself, or at least this computer, and embrace the beauty staring me smack in the face. And while I was trekking through the meandering paths, in the midst of this Eden, I not only found my inspiration for this blog entry, but my motivation to write it. In fact, I was so invigorated that I had half a dozen blog posts figured out and found myself picking up my pace so I could get back home and jot them down.
What I did was rush home to grab my camera and click that photo at the top of this post. What do you think? Was it worth it? I think so, in more ways than one.
I guess the point of all this is that less talk and more action is good advice, just look at how successful Edison and Nike are. But more to the point, it is also nice to get back to nature, clear your head, and discover that once you do, you had most of it all figured out in the first place. You just needed to roll up those sleeves...
Monday, June 2, 2008
I recently wrote a post about my love of beans and their amazing health benefits. I received a lot of excellent feedback from vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. Encouraged by such kind words, I now will add apples to my long list of nutritious foods you should eat...daily!
I read recently that the average American eats about one apple a week. Now, given the poor and sometimes unhealthy, eating habits of most people, I was actually happily surprised by this statistic. But the article went on to state that for the maximum benefits of apple eating, you should eat at least one a DAY. Guess what? I do. I have been eating apples, daily, for so long I honestly cannot recall the last time I did not eat one. Wow, that's a lot of apples!
The good news is twofold: One, there are countless varieties of apples, from sweet to sour, crisp to soft, spicy to mellow. You have your red and golden delicious, granny smith, gala, fuji, braeburn, honeycrisp, Macintosh, cameo, pacific rose, rome, jonagold, the list is endless, the myriad flavors countless.
Do you know that apples have been around for thousands of years? The apple tree is one of, if not the, earliest tree to be cultivated. Apples made their way to North America in the 1600s, and we have been eating them in this country ever since. Now about the second wonderful thing about apples: their amazing health benefits.
Apples have been linked to helping lower cholesterol, improve bowel function (one apple has around 5 grams of fiber, and you know how I feel about fiber!), reduce the risk of prostrate cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. There have also been studies that claim apples can improve lung health and help prevent strokes. One a day? I think I may have to up that to two a day!
As I mentioned earlier, apples are loaded with fiber, they also contain no fat, and have only around 100-120 calories. Besides vitamins A and C, you will also get some calcium, iron, and potassium from eating apples. Back to the fiber, one of my favorite health subjects. It is proven that eating a diet high in fiber will help you lose weight while maintaining a healthy weight, promote regularity, and help keep your stomach full longer, thus making you less hungry. What better way to increase that all-important fiber into your diet than with a tasty apple? A common suggestion for those trying to eat less and lose weight is to eat an apple an hour or so before a meal. Try it, you will be amazed at how effective it is in helping to limit caloric consumption.
In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Sounds just about right.
Eat your apples, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables, load up on fiber, and you will not only keep the doctor away, you will live a healthy, happy, longer life.
Until next time.
For those of you looking for my video site, livelife365.com, please be patient while we work out some issues. We appreciate your understanding that these things happen from time to time. Hope to have everything back to normal very soon.
In the meantime, enjoy my blog. New blog entry coming soon!