Friday, January 29, 2010

Why So Angry?

I have been writing about a lot of deep issues lately—spirituality, life, death, introspection, the tragic devastation in Haiti—and vowed that the next post I write would be one of my funny ones (hey, at least I find them funny). Or maybe a musical interlude that helps take your mind off all of those heavy issues crowding one another on the front pages of the newspapers, Internet, and television news.

I mean, one of the things I have always stressed at is the need to laugh, to enjoy life while working hard and doing all that you can to keep that old triad balanced. Life is often a struggle, filled with heartbreak and sadness. But it is also, more often than not, a beautiful, magical, wonderful experience. Oh, the paradoxes!

But while my funny post never materialized, this did:


I know things seem bad these days, in many ways for many people. To that I say: get in line! Join the club! Deal with it!


Life is life is life. It’s going to have its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its good and bad. None of this is any news, or should come as a big surprise. And I understand that lots of what’s going on in the world is frustrating and totally out of your control, leading me, again, to ask:


Because, the way I look at it, if you react with ANGER to bad situations, to all those lists of things that bug you, you’re going to be ANGRY pretty much all the time. Why would you choose to live your life that way?

I keep hearing the talking heads (no, not these guys) on the tube refer to people and their ANGER, how everyone is ANGRY with that politician so they voted him out; or how this poor guy lost his job and is now very ANGRY; or how this group didn’t get what they wanted and they are described as, you guessed it, ANGRY.


I’m not trying to be argumentative (and, of course, this is making you ANGRIER, right?), I’m just saying: you choose to be ANGRY. The issues in this world that are making you upset and mad and ANGRY will be around long after we are all deep in the ground…life, as I say, is life is life. To get ANGRY at it, no matter how upsetting it can make us, is not the solution. Think about that while you watch this:


Now, where was I? Right:


Take a look at how the dictionary defines ANGER:

1. strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.

And some synonyms: resentment, exasperation; choler, bile, spleen. FURY, INDIGNATION, RAGE imply deep and strong feelings aroused by injury, injustice, wrong, etc.

Wow, pretty intense, huh? Leading me to interject once again:


Here’s how I look at it—I get it, I see the big picture. There is frustration out there: healthcare reform, unemployment, racism, terrorism, bungling politicians, overpaid executives, greedy bankers—I’m not blind or unsympathetic to those issues. But to react to them with ANGER, hatred or anything but trying to seek positive solutions makes you, well, part of the problem.

It’s easy to point fingers, say “I told you so,” and embrace the negative movement propagated by too many for reasons that are beyond me. To basically sit and get ANGRY versus taking action and trying to change things...well, to that I say:


Getting angry serves no purpose. In fact, it can cause serious health problems—heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, violence. Getting angry is how narrow minded, uncreative, do-nothings react to problems. We all have problems. We all have days, weeks, sometimes years, when things go wrong and our lives seem hopeless. We deserve to be down, right?

“We are judged by how we react to adversity more than how we embrace prosperity.”

Nice quote.

Thank you, I just made it up.

It's good to have passion, to care, to be informed; don't ever stop living your life with purpose. But ANGER? No.

Take all that ANGER, please, and try to channel it, put it to constructive, positive use, and, guess what? You may just discover that you will gradually become part of the solution and not the problem. And, better yet:


Think about it.


Until next time...



Oh, and here's that music I promised:

"Like a Hurricane" by Neil Young (Acoustic Cover)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Mere Inconvenience

I sit in semi-darkness, the haunting wail of the relentless wind serenading me, periodically interrupted by the steady rat-a-tat-tat of raindrops pouring down from the heavens and belting my skylight.

The lights had been flickering, winking on and off, and then vanished completely, taken away on the angry wind, along with the rest of my electrical power, dissipating like the last hapless breaths of a terminal patient.

The house is without power, eerily quiet sans the constant thrum of the refrigerator, the whir of a fan, the comforting purr of the heater rumbling into life. A severe winter storm, packed with copious amounts of cold rain and wind gusts approaching seventy miles per hour, has left my little corner of the world trapped inside its own little emergency. A mere inconvenience, really, when compared with what is happening in other areas of the world:

* War in Afghanistan
* Terrorism and unrest in Iraq
* Poverty, starvation and genocide in many African Nations
* And, most recently, the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti

Most of us are very lucky, we will survive the odd blackout with maybe only a handful of angst: some spoiled food from a warming fridge; a sniffle or two from sleeping without heat; a missed day’s wage; a few hours without television or video games.

But to call losing your power for a few hours, or days, an emergency, a catastrophe, or anything more than a mere inconvenience, when placed next to the hardship those sad souls in Haiti went through, are going through, and will continue to go through is, is tantamount to comparing a mosquito bite to open heart surgery; there is no comparison.

By candlelight, I write this, with the hope that eventually the power will be restored and I can transfer my handwritten words onto my computer, and then post them to my blog (which, if you are reading this, I have). Yes, the power will eventually return, as will normal life as we know it. But what about those Haitians? Or those countless suffering human beings who live in those other war torn and impoverished nations? When will their lives return to “normal”? And, more to the point, what can we do to help them?

Give. Of yourself. Of your heart. Of your soul. And, especially, of your wallet. One dollar or one thousand, give whatever you can afford…and then give a little bit more. Give to the people of the island nation of Haiti, yes, but give to any human being who will go hungry one day (including many right here in America) or who is suffering.

And when you’ve given as much money as you can, then give something else: give your positive energy, your prayers, your goodwill, your love, and if you are able to, your time. I am a firm believer that giving from your heart and soul is as valuable as giving from your wallet. But give both.


This post was inspired by a tragic front page event, but the need to help others less fortunate than most of us is always there.

One of the things that constantly amazes me about people is how, more often than not, they rise above expectations, especially in the worst of times. It happened when the towers went down on that horrible September day in 2001, and it is happening now in the aftermath of that 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. People rise to the occasion, go above and beyond, often enduring difficult sacrifices, to help those who cannot help themselves. But these amazing acts of decency are topped by the countless acts of courage and patience and perseverance exhibited by those struck by the very same tragic events others go out of their way to help combat.

The following is a list of foundations where you can contribute to help the poor souls of Haiti and other devastated areas around the world:

World Vision
Red Cross
Hope For Haiti

Remember: Give, of your heart, your soul, and your wallet. And then give some more.

Until next time…



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Name, It's a Fruit, It's a...Kiwi!

Hey, could be worse, I could have said “It’s a Chinese Gooseberry!”

What am I talking about? Kiwifruit, or as it’s more commonly known: Kiwi. And, yes, it was once called the Chinese Gooseberry. Doesn’t take an MBA to see why that name didn’t stick around.

But isn’t a kiwi a bird?


And, isn’t kiwi a nickname for New Zealanders?

Yes, again.

And isn’t Kiwi the name of one of those new micro planets recently discovered in the galaxy Yerdaft?

Ahh, no, I made that one up.

But all the other stuff is true. There is a flightless bird in New Zealand called the kiwi. And New Zealanders are often called Kiwis.

All that Chinese Gooseberry stuff, you made that up too, right?

Ahh, no. That, I’m afraid, is true. In the 1950s, when New Zealand began to export kiwifruit, they changed the name from Chinese Gooseberry, for political reasons, opting to briefly call it melonette, and then settling on kiwifruit.

So, what is a kiwi, anyway? I thought you’d never ask:


Besides having such an interesting past, kiwis are a delicious berry that can be used in fruit salads, desserts, smoothies and juices. As well as in many savory dishes.

But it’s the kiwi’s amazing health benefits that puts a smile on my face. Did you know that kiwi’s:

· Are loaded with antioxidants
· Are high in fiber (eat the skin—it’s fuzzy and tasty)
· Have as much vitamin C as an orange
· Have almost as much potassium as a banana
· Contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid
· Are low in calories (around 50 a berry)
· Contain no fat
· Can help improve conditions of asthmatic children
· Are grown right here in Northern California (as well as Italy, China, and, of course, New Zealand)

I bet, besides wishing you had one of those juicy beauties in your hands right now, you’re wondering how to eat one, right?

Watch, listen, learn, enjoy:


How do you know when kiwis are ripe? I compare checking for ripeness like you would an avocado. Gently press down on the fruit, if it’s too firm, give it a few days. Kiwis are ripe and ready to eat when their outer flesh has some give to the pressure of your fingers, just like an avocado. And I know a little about avocados:


They may have a bit of a multiple personality and a somewhat sordid past, but once you get past all that, kiwis are not only sweet (with a little tartness, like strawberries) and versatile, but loaded with amazing health benefits—a good thing. I hope you enjoy a few today.

Until next time.



Monday, January 4, 2010

Through Death We Learn About Life

This past Saturday marked nineteen years since my father passed away. Nineteen years! I will never forget the haunting wail of that early morning telephone call from my brother, the ominous sensation tugging at my flesh as my fingers found the receiver and I knew that nothing good would come from my lifting it to my groggy head. My goodness, I had brown hair back then, and it filled the majority of my head! I was living in Southern California, in the midst of another bad marriage, juggling several vices that were on the threshold of dragging me down into a hole of depression and angst that would take me years to climb out of.

Nineteen years.

While the pain is no longer fresh, the grief not as insurmountable as it once seemed, the loss, the void my father’s passing left in me, is as substantial now as it was then. Sure, I can conjure up a good sob every once and a while, whenever the mood beckons and I feel the need to let go. But while way back in the day those bouts of sadness were often accompanied by fits of anger at my father not taking better care of himself, and then guilt, for not cutting my old man a break, I have grown from the experience, changed for the better.

Nineteen years.

You see, my father’s death, while still one of the most awful events that has ever affected me, changed my life. His death, in fact, could be said to have created livelife365. (So if you dislike this site, blame my dad, but beware, he has been known to make a special appearance every now and then and may just take some pleasure in haunting you!). And while I would give anything to have him back in my life again, enjoying his companionship and influence, watching him age as gracefully as my mother, I do not dwell on his death; not anymore. As I said, my father’s death changed my life.


My father was very human, meaning he had many flaws, like we all do. He was a heavy drinker, a lifelong smoker, someone who overindulged in more than a few meals, and often struggled to make ends meet. He died well before his time, in my mind at least, just midway into his fifties (only a few years older than I am). But he also instilled in me the self confidence and belief in myself that has helped to make me the man I am today. As a young boy I can still feel the power of my father’s motivational words, telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be…as long as I believed in myself.

But it was my father’s vices, more that his attributes, that propelled me to change my life for the better. Not long after he died, I took inventory of myself and did not like what I saw. I was overweight, boozing it up, smoking, depressed, in a bad marriage (another one), working at a job that I did not like, and, literally, wasting my time on earth. His death, at first, only made me worse—I actually started drinking more, if that was possible (yes, it was, by the way), and fell into a deeper depression.

And then something snapped inside me. It was the first Father’s Day after he died. I had hit all-time lows with my drinking, smoking, overeating, job performance; I was separated from my wife, living in a one-room apartment, seeing a therapist that wasn’t helping.

Somehow I found an inner strength that had always been there, just buried through years and years of confusion and abuse. I figured out how to stop drinking, cold turkey, with only my determination and desire (and the memory of my father) to guide me. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started exercising. I picked up a book, then another, and another, beginning my autodidactic journey of knowledge that I am still addicted to. I learned about nutrition and addiction, overcoming grief and understanding self. And I read tons of fiction, too…just because I loved it! Why? Because when I stopped drinking myself to sleep each night, I suddenly had all this time on my hands, all this extra energy, and it was like I was a new person, a better person.

I changed my life through my dad’s death.

Nineteen years.

There have been plenty of ups and downs throughout those nineteen years, several other lifestyle changes and challenges. But some things have never changed, and those are my thoughts on the importance of life. Not wasting your life. Not allowing anything to get in the way of doing all that you want and have to do with the precious time we have on earth.


But also understanding that life is life. It can be as cruel and uncertain as it is wondrous and rewarding. It is up to each of us to take what we can from it, while never taking it for granted or expecting from it anything that is not earned through sweat and tears and compassion and love.

My dad died nineteen years ago this past week and it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. And the best. The lessons he taught me while alive, while valuable and influential, were nothing compared to what he taught me through his death.

Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.

Until next time…



Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year...Enjoy!

What better way to start the new year than old post?

Okay, how about this? What better way to start the new year than with...embracing your weaknesses?

Wait a second, aren't new years all about resolutions and changing bad habits?

True, but this is sort of the same, only different...I mean...Oh, just enjoy this recycled post (and video) about indulging without guilt...only hope and change and...



We all have weaknesses, encompassing myriad aspects of our lives, be it health and fitness challenges, personal development and growth issues, or career and relationship struggles. And then there are food weaknesses. For me, I have a soft spot for salty snacks, like potato chips. I have also been known to power down copious amounts of Doritos with the best of them. What’s your food weakness? Candy? Chocolate? Pizza? Cheese? Cake? Soda? Fast food?

The good news is: help is only a video away:


In the above vid, I focused on food weaknesses, like my naughty secret (not-so-secret anymore!) addiction to potato chips. But most of our weaknesses do not stop there. We are, after all, human beings, which makes us flawed individuals, which throughout a lifetime of living leads us to acquire a multitude of weaknesses. Anything from not exercising enough to watching too much daytime TV; from procrastination to condescension. Being too unorganized to being just plain lazy. These are all typical human weaknesses, and all share one commonality:


Let’s start with some common, and not-so-common, quotes:

“The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
“Mind over matter.”
“If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
(one of mine)
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
“Cut yourself some slack, man!”
(another one of mine)

By admitting and accepting that as human beings we are going to have our share of weaknesses, we can then begin to understand them, and then work on overcoming them.

Let’s return to that potato chip (and Doritos) jones I’ve been nursing since I tasted my first salty treat as a curious child growing up in New England.

FACT: Chips, while made for the most part from natural ingredients, are loaded with sodium and empty calories.
FACT: Mass consumption of chips will contribute to unhealthy weight gain, hypertension, and a laundry list of assorted maladies (possibly diabetes, heart disease, obesity).
FACT: I love chips and could eat them every day.

SOLUTION: Don’t run from your favorite weaknesses, embrace them! Use that weakness as a reward for sacrifice.

Here’s where those earlier quotes come into play. Use them to play mind games with yourself. By embracing your weakness as a good thing, you will eliminate some of the guilt associated with said weakness. By denying yourself your weakness (and, granted, this is by far the most difficult part) through self-sacrifice, focusing instead on exercise, moderation, concentration, and good, old-fashion determination during the five-day workweek, you can then reward yourself with said weakness, in moderation, on the weekend.

Make sense?

It’s all about risk versus reward. We know what the reward is: taste, comfort, fun, and favorite foods. And I’ve already listed the risks. The rest is up to you; your choice. While I have focused mainly on food weaknesses, this formula can be used for almost any other weakness; just follow the formula and give it a try.

If you want to live a better, happier, healthier, longer life, then you have to make sacrifices, need to deprive yourself of some things, and then reward yourself for your efforts.

I’d like to close with my favorite quote on this topic, and one I’m the most proud of:

“Exercise control, control your weaknesses, and your weaknesses will become your strengths.”

Think about it.

Until next time…