A few weeks ago, I had the honor of participating in my brother’s wedding, as an usher. Why not best man, you ask? Been there and done that—let’s just say we both agreed that another best man selection was in order this time around, given the unfortunate results of my bro’s first wedding.
I have mentioned in previous posts (and videos) that this celebration was thrown together in a short period of time due to medical circumstances that I will not elaborate on in this post. Let me just say that in little more than a month’s time, my brother and his amazing bride created a memorable, spectacular, and emotional event that had the look and feel of years of planning.
But something else occurred that day, an event that borders on the otherworldly, hints at Divine Intervention, and whispers of miracle.
Now do I have your attention?
My father was taken from our family way too early—gone from this earth in his mid-50’s, the victim of heavy cigarette and alcohol addictions that left him gasping for breath through emphysema-ravaged lungs. His death changed my life. It was not long after he died that I took control of my own self-destructive habits and turned my life around. But this post is not about my life, it is about my father…and how he may have attended my brother’s wedding.
After days of worrying about the possibility of rain ruining things, the day turned out to be spectacular—a vital factor for an outdoor wedding. The venue was stunning: one of the oldest hotels on a scenic island in the littlest state in the Union. With the shimmering bay and majestic bridge as a backdrop, the wedding party stood excited and ready before hundreds of well-wishers. Dark clouds rolled in, but not to dampen the spirit of the day, but instead arrived to offer a protective canopy of shade from the harsh sun.
I was relaxed, content, happy to be standing beside my brother, enjoying the ceremony, offering an occasional glance at family and friends in the crowd. Everything was going well, everything was normal…when overhead I heard the drone of an engine, barely noticeable at first, then gradually building in intensity. Being on public display, I didn’t want to disrupt the ceremony with any overt actions or gestures, but as the noise built and it became obvious what was causing it—a jet, seemingly from out of nowhere, buzzing the quietude—I couldn’t help myself.
I surreptitiously canted my head and caught sight of the plane as it burst through a gray cloud and soared into a sea of blue, the sun glinting off one wing, which seemed to tilt just as my eyes made contact with it.
As the jet motored across the partially cloudy sky, and the words of the wedding ceremony sang in my ears, an almost surreal sensation overcame me—Dad! That was my father in that jet plane! A sad and satisfied smile tugged at the corners of my mouth and, as the plane’s engines sounds began to fade into the background, I returned my focus and attention back to the wedding.
My father flew jets in the Navy. He was one of those brave pilots who land on aircraft carriers in the middle of the ocean. When he left the service, he flew small prop planes. (One of my biggest childhood thrills was going up in one of those planes and my dad allowing me to “co-pilot” the aircraft.)
A few hours into the wedding reception, I ran into my uncle, my father’s brother. He asked if I had noticed the jet flying over during the ceremony. In a flash, the image of that plane, and all those strange sensations associated with its sudden appearance at my brother’s wedding, came rushing back to me. I told my uncle I had seen it, why?
“I thought of your father,” he said. “In fact, I thought it was your father.”
An eerie chill sent my flesh vibrating.
“So did I,” I told him.
We looked at each other, both of us realizing the absurdity of our wishful thinking, while sharing a secret smile of hope and dreams and faith that perhaps it was not so far-fetched after all.
“Because,” my uncle added, “this is not a normal flyover route, you know. And there was no air traffic before the wedding and none since that jet. Strange, huh?”
You don’t know the half of it.
Much later on that long and happy day, in the wee hours of the morning, I reiterated to my brother my conversation with our uncle, as well as my own observations about that lone jet. He said he’d not noticed the jet, but was elated to think that it could have been dad. In fact, he said he had no doubt that it must have our father. (Of course, he had been partying a bit.) Then he added this bombshell: his new bride’s father (also no longer of this world) also flew jets! It was not only our dad in that ethereal plane, but her father too.
As my brother rushed off, jubilation and awe painting his over-celebrated face, to share this revelation with this new bride, I sat back and reflected on the day…on that moment.
Was it real?
Did it happen?
Was it only a jet gliding overhead, oblivious to the events below?
Or was it…?
Because, after all, what is faith but the belief in something we are unable to prove exists.
Think about it.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
As I write this, I am shoveling a huge spoonful of oatmeal into my mouth (those of you familiar with my Breakfast With Mike videos know what this looks like—and it’s not a pretty sight!).
This consumption of rolled oats is a common sight and occurrence in my household—I eat a bowl of oatmeal just about every single day. Why? Besides tasting pretty good, a daily helping of oatmeal may someday save your life.
It’s true. Eating 3g of soluble fiber daily from oatmeal (about one small serving) may reduce the risk of heart disease, and can help lower LDL (that’s the bad stuff) cholesterol. Chew on that next time you’re considering bacon and eggs for breakfast—which, last I heard, is the antithesis of heart healthy.
What actually is oatmeal? Oatmeal is rolled oats, which are made from oat groats, which come from oat grain and have been rolled to cook quickly and make them easier to eat. The oats have a thick bran layer that is removed through steaming to soften them. The end result is the oatmeal most of us eat. It is a whole grain that is loaded with fiber and protein. Now, if you omit the steaming process and just chop up the oat groats (leaving bits of the bran layer), what remains are steel-cut oats. You may have seen these in the grocery aisle alongside regular oatmeal. Steel-cut oatmeal has more fiber and protein than regular oatmeal—having never tried these, I cannot offer a comparison as to what type tastes better.
Besides being heart healthy and a tasty way to help lower your bad cholesterol, oatmeal is also an excellent source of thiamine and iron, as well as niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, Vitamin A, and calcium. And if all those great nutritional benefits aren’t enough, oatmeal possesses antioxidant compounds unique to oats called avenanthramides—these help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as help lower LDL cholesterol.
As a vegetarian, I am always searching for vegetable protein sources—a serving of oatmeal has 8gs of protein, and that’s a good thing!
Oatmeal also is an excellent source of fiber: 6gs. I can’t think of many food choices better for you than whole grain fiber. Here are some of the amazing health benefits of a diet high in whole grains, like oatmeal:
• Lower the risk of type 2 diabetes
• Enhance immune response to infection
• Cardiovascular benefits for postmenopausal women
• Prevents heart failure
• Protection against breast cancer
All that’s left for you to do now is eat some, everyday. I eat mine pretty plain, with just a touch of fake sugar to sweeten it a bit. I also opt for the instant oatmeal—just boil water and pour, even easy for a simpleton like myself. You may also enjoy oatmeal with honey, chopped up bananas or peaches or apples and cinnamon. Blueberries, raspberries or blackberries also taste great with oatmeal, and increase the antioxidants!
If you can’t even choke down a bowl, but still would like to enjoy the healthy benefits of oatmeal, here are a few other options:
South Beach Diet Bars
Now do you see why Oatmeal Rules!
Is it any wonder why I eat a bowl of oatmeal just about every day? Is there any conceivable reason why you shouldn’t do the same?
Until next time…
Thursday, August 21, 2008
For the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with family matters, cross-country travel, and the excitement and arduous efforts associated with promoting my funny music video, I Miss My Hair…more on that later.
While I was away, I was tagged twice and nominated for a couple of nice blogging awards. One of the many benefits I get from writing this blog is the wonderful interaction from other bloggers—like getting to know Patricia over at Communication Exchange and Lea at Oceans of Perspectives. I have been double tagged by these two fine bloggers. Here is the list of rules from both tags:
1. List these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules
3. Tell six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six bloggers by linking.
5. Leave a comment for each blogger.
Okay, I’ve listed the rules and linked both sites. Now for the hard/fun part—facts about myself. Since I am a playful, funny guy, I will combine the two tags, as well as accurate facts salted with some fun fiction, and let you sort out what’s real or not.
I collect turtles.
I have driven across this great country of ours over a dozen times—from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Many times by myself.
I have not tasted alcohol since Father’s Day, 1992.
I once met Stevie Wonder in a men’s room at LAX.
Through proper nutrition, exercise, a high-fiber diet, and supplements I was able to lower my total cholesterol from 276 down to 183—in eighteen months.
I am a huge Boston Red Sox fan.
Livelife365 originally began as a vlog—a video-driven website with over 200 videos featuring the same Health, Personal Development, and Entertainment topics I talk about in this blog.
I once appeared on the game show Let’s Make A Deal and won the Big Deal of the Day.
I used to suffer so badly from stage fright and a fear of public speaking that while attending college I dropped out of a speech class three times before finally sticking with it and passing it.
I have been married three times.
I once performed the Heimlich Maneuver on my mother, successfully freeing up a chunk of partially masticated beef from her choking throat.
Back in the day, I was one of the best baseball players in my high school.
I have a 26-year-old son.
The only thing deterring me from becoming a full-fledged vegan is the fact that I still consume (in small quantities) some cheeses.
While the combination of the two lists should equal thirteen, I listed fourteen for good luck.
I have tagged the following blogs and I am leaving comments alerting them of their great fortune (being tagged by me) as we speak. These are some of the blogs that I visit regularly and enjoy reading:
EZ Great Life
A Junk Foodaholic’s Journey
The Good Life
Creating Wealth and Health
Grow Your Own Vegetables
Ramblings of a Writer
The Matthias Chronicles
That’s an even ten excellent blogs—please give them a visit!
Next up: Another Brillante Weblog Premio Award.
Skye at Ramblings of a Writer nominated me—thanks, Skye! And thanks for your patience! Here are the rules for this wonderful award:
(1) Put the logo on your blog
(2) Add a link to the person who awarded you
(3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
(4) Add links to those blogs on yours
(5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs
Here, in no particular order, are five great blogs that I enjoy reading just about every day:
Healthnut Wannabee Mom
Paul’s Health Blog
Crotchety Old Man
Comments coming up!
Lastly, Polly at Random Ramblings has given me The Smile Award.
If you would like me to consider you for this award (I need to pass it on, and I will, but I am linked/blogged-out right now), please leave a comment. Thanks again Polly!
Whew! While I am deeply flattered and most appreciative for being recognized by these highly respected fellow bloggers, I can’t wait to get back to writing some regular content. Over the next several weeks, I will be featuring the content you have come to expect from livelife365—Health and Fitness tips, Nutritional and Diet articles, Inspirational and Motivational posts, all written with a touch of humor and tongue-in-cheek. And fun stuff, like I Miss My Hair.
Just a few last words about my Hair video. I would like to thank all of you who have watched, laughed, and commented on this vid. The feedback has been more than any artist could hope for. In only a few weeks, the video is pushing 1500 hits on YouTube, surpassing all of my other videos except my green tea vid (Drink Green Tea Every Day). That tea video, by the way, averages close to 100 hits a day, and comes up number one out of over 3700 other tea vids on the YouTube search engine. I can’t explain its popularity, just as I am often flummoxed by why some of my other videos do not do better.
If you have not seen this video, please take a look and let me know what you think. If you have already seen it, why not watch it again—heck, I’ve seen it 100’s of times and still enjoy it.
As always, you can enjoy all of my other videos at my video site, livelife365.com.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
For those of you who are sick of staring at the same post for these past several days—good news! I have returned from an emergency trip across the country and I am armed and ready and willing to write some new stuff. I appreciate all of the wonderful comments on my last post about my very successful humorous music video, I Miss My Hair. And really appreciate your patience with my keeping that post up while I was away. I did manage to sneak in a few hours here and there to try to keep up with Entrecard drops and other social networking chores, but, for the most part, I was busy with family matters.
Hopefully, in future posts, I will be able to elaborate more on why I was called away, but I can say that it was a paradoxical trip Back East to my hometown—part celebration and part dealing with some of the challenges life hands us. I will say this: I enjoyed my time spent with my family and was inspired, thankful, and thrilled to be a part of my brother’s wedding.
While I was away I was tagged twice and nominated for two blogging awards. I have not forgotten these wonderful honors. I will respond to all four in my next post…which will be forthcoming very soon.
Until then, it is good to be back. The photo I chose for this post represents my mood; happy, but still in a bit of a fog.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
What kind of website it this, anyway?
If I were to say that livelife365 is a Health and Fitness site, most of those who are frequent readers would agree with that statement. I often write about health, diet, and nutrition.
Okay, so livelife365 is a Healthy Lifestyle site, then?
Yes. But I have also written about the importance of setting goals and maintaining balance in our lives.
Umm, so, this is a Self-Improvement blog?
You are correct. But—
There’s always a but with you!
Correct again. Given that I have written travel posts...
And humorous slices of life.
I see, but…
And I’m all about inspirational topics.
Wow, I didn’t know.
Of course you didn’t.
Livelife365 is a site dedicated to Health, Personal Development, and Entertainment—it says so right at the top of the web page (at least it does on my video site.
Okay, so what you’re trying to say is…?
That livelife365, both this blog and my video site, is about…
…and life encompasses more than one category or genre. Life cannot be pigeonholed.
Interesting…but what does all this have to do with the title of this post?
I Miss My Hair
Sounds like a personal problem to me.
My point exactly!
While I enjoy sharing my thoughts and programs about health, motivation, personal development and how-to tips, what I really love to do is entertain. Making others laugh is a passion of mine—something I have been able to successfully do all my life. And music…I have always dabbled in songwriting, while fooling around with an assortment of musical instruments—starting way back when I was a kid and wanted to learn how to play the drums, but instead somehow got talked into dragging home a baritone horn to torture my parents with, up to my current passion: guitar.
Combine all those attributes and desires, along with a theatrical background (I majored in theatre while in college, a long, long time ago; back when I had long, flowing hair!), and you have the creative cocktail for my latest music video, I Miss My Hair.
Inspiration is a fickle mistress. If you constantly wait for it to come to you, you may be waiting a long time. But sometimes it happens just like that image, you know the one, with the light bulb over the guy’s head. Snap! Just like that!
This idea came to me while I was working on my political music video, Pick One, in the Electric Canyon studios with my buddy Dale. We somehow got on the topic of hair, or my lack thereof—I chuckled (which I usually do when reminded of my follicle-challenged dome), then sighed, and said, “Man, sometimes I miss my hair.” I paused, looked over at Dale, then added, “That sounds like it could be a song. I’m gonna work on it.” Dale looked at me the way sound guys in the music biz for decades have looked at guys like me—sure, whatever, call me when you’re ready to record.
The rest, as they say, is history. I went home and did that thing we songwriters do, then visited Dale and laid down some tracks. Then Dale did that thing he does so well. Using his magic touch, he sweetened my voice and very-average acoustic guitar playing, and then created the Hungry & Poor Band (all Dale) by adding percussion, bass, and electric guitar.
I then pulled out my trusty video camera and went to work shooting hours of video, that Dale and I (again, mostly Dale), painstakingly edited down to this four minutes and forty-nine second music video:
I MISS MY HAIR
I have created nearly two hundred videos for my website, livelife365.com, and close to fifty blog posts for this blog, but can honestly say that I am most proud of this music video. From concept to finished product, it was one of those projects that not only brought me great personal satisfaction and artistic gratification, but was a pleasure to do.
Big kudos go out to Dale at ProSound for his amazing efforts and precision work (and for putting up with me), as well as his stellar performance in the video—he’s the little guy with the hungry & poor sign playing the drums, among other things. Thanks, Dale!
For those of you who have yet to watch I MISS MY HAIR, please enjoy!
And for those who have already seen this video, why not take another look? You may pick up something that you missed the first time through.
Lastly, please have a good laugh on me! Remember, laughter is a good thing. While it may not help you lose weight or flatten your belly, it is as important to your overall health and well-being as proper diet, adequate sleep, and everyday breathing. Hey, this is, after all, a Health blog, right?
Until next time…
Monday, August 4, 2008
After a short jaunt across the Coastal Mountains to visit the ocean (the seaside community of Fort Bragg), I am back. Can’t say I’m thrilled to be sitting here in my living room, the suburban sounds of lawn mowers, delivery trucks, and screaming children replacing the serenity and seductive purr of the Pacific. I look out my window at my neighborhood—a nice place, don’t get me wrong—neatly stacked with row after row of similar looking houses and sun-swallowed foliage and feel a longing for the fresh, cool air and sandy scenery of the beach. A far (gull’s) cry from the spectacular views of whitecaps cresting multi-hued water that I espied from my hotel room window. Oh, well, life is not a vacation but a journey of understanding, searching for purpose and fulfillment, with most of what we get out of it dependant upon what we put into it.
But it was fun while it lasted. My lovely wife and I crammed a lot of life into a few days at the coast. Besides soaking in the stunning seascapes, we enjoyed leisurely long walks along the steep cliffs that separated us from the ocean below, strolled the quaint downtown shops and restaurants, and survived the twisty, rocky mountain pass that brought us to the foot of one of the tallest and oldest living things on this earth—the giant redwood Chandelier Tree. This colossus is 315 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter—so wide you can drive a car through it. In fact, we did just that, since someone was kind enough to hew a six-foot wide tunnel through this baby’s middle. These magnificent trees are thousands of years old! If you’re ever in this neck of the woods (pun intended), do yourself a favor and take the drive; it’s well worth it.
When I returned from my brief respite, I was not only greeted with mid-90 degree heat (the average summer high temperature in Fort Bragg is mid-60’s!), but over 1000 emails! I have managed to make a huge dent in the massive pile and, along with jumping back into those social networking chores, should be back to semi-normal soon. I appreciate your patience and interesting comments on my last post about blockages, especially writer’s block. The irony was not lost to me, having not posted in a week right after writing a post about how to avoid writer’s block. No, I have not been blocked (in any area, thank you!), just away.
While I was away, I was nominated for a Brillante Weblog Premio 2008 Award by Rebecca at Creating Wealth and Health. If you have not visited this site, I highly recommend you do. Rebecca offers many of the same healthy, positive methods that I advocate at livelife365.
Now, I don’t know much about this cool award, except that it is a wonderful honor to have anyone think my blog is worthy of any recognition—so, thanks, Rebecca. With this award there are some rules, and here they are:
l. The award may be displayed on a winner’s blog.
2. Add a link to the person who you received the award from.
3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.
4. Then add their links to your blog.
5. Add a message to each person that you have passed the award on to in the comments section of their blog.
Here are a few great blogs, from the hundreds that I visit every week, that I would like to nominate for a Brillante Weblog Premio 2008 Award:
The Junk Drawer
This is one of my favorite blogs to read. Kathy writes about ”anything that amuses me, confuses me, or makes me blow a gasket.”
This is one of the better written blogs you will find, exploring any topic worth discussing.
Monkey Fables and Tales
This blog makes me laugh just about every time I read it—and I read it all the time!
Daisy the Curly Cat
To be honest with you, I never in a million years thought that I would love reading a blog from a cat’s point of view, but this is one cool cat—and one good blog.
Confessions of a Fitness Diva
You know how I love healthy living and fitness—this is one healthy and fit diva! A blog worth reading!
Ruminations of a Small Town Mountain Boy
Eric is one of the nicest bloggers around, and his two blogs are great reads(visit his other blog, Chihuatude). Where else can you find the word “ruminations” in a blog title?
Miz Fit Online
Excellent fitness blog, told in a unique voice. Lots of videos and useful, informative posts.
Wow, seven already? I could easily add seven more—dozens more. It makes me wish that I win more awards so I can give kudos to all the other great blogs out there worthy of recognition.
Until next time…