Happy 13th Birthday Buddy

Hi Levi,

Wow. Today, you would be 13–a big year. And an official teenager!

For the last few weeks I planned (again) on writing you some more “fatherly advice.” You know, wisdom things I would’ve passed onto you if you were here.

Something that would be insightful and possibly profound.

It would’ve included mistakes (so many) that I’ve made that I’d want you to avoid. And a few things I learned along the way.

In my mind, at the end of the letter I was going to reference a few well known people that I thought would be good role models as some reference points. You know, famous people with some quippy quotes and a notable epiphany.

Someone I could point to and say “Yes, son, grow up and be like THEM!”

No doubt, were you here and I shared these with you, I’d imagine at some point you’d be rolling your eyes exhaling “Daaaaaaaaad I KNOW! I’m 13 now…I KNOWWWWWWW these things!”

And, well, of course you would, because, congratulations, you’re a teenager now! You’d know everything, just like I did. 😉

Then, about a week ago, I thought I’d write to you about how I felt after seeing the movie “I Can Only Imagine,” that is until I saw it.

In addition to being the song that has been my musical association to you for years, it’s also an epic movie about the story of redemption and restoration of a relationship between a father and son.

But after seeing it I KNEW I couldn’t write about that, given that when I saw the movie with Royce and Zoe I basically cried for two hours straight.

So I kept thinking about what I’d write, and usually I don’t even really know what it’s going to be until I sit down to type.

Then this weekend something happened that radically changed my letter to you, and as usual I didn’t figure it out until I sat down to write it tonight.

When I went off to college, my freshman year I remember talking to Jim King who was the Dean of Student affairs and also created the roommate assignments for all incoming 1st year students.

Over the years, I talked to him a lot, yet I have no recollection of any one of our conversations–except this very one.

“Raz,” he told me on the phone “I have the PERFECT roommate for you.”

I showed up to the first day of college, which is still a little bit like the enthusiasm below from Finding Nemo (my favorite kids movie ever!), just without your Dad there…imagine a version of the below for an 18-year old, because yes you’d be that excited for your first day of college as well.

I was.

That day I met a guy named Thom Hoyman who would end up being my roommate for four years, and a lifelong friend.

He was, in many ways, the opposite of me. Creative art student, I was a business major. He played Rugby, I played football. He was quiet, thoughtful, a great listener, and well I was loud, boisterous, and ehhhh, my listening skills needed some work.

Yet we also loved some of the same things.

We loved listened to Yanni during the day to study, and at night we’d fall asleep listening to Metallica, the Black Album (arguably one of the best albums to ever be released in the 90’s!). We shared the same sense of humor, often to the dismay of those around us. We spent endless hours together in those dorm rooms, sometimes doing Bible Study, and sometimes undoing the work we were supposed to be learning and applying from those Bible Studies.

And for most of college, we were always together hanging out.

So back to this last weekend.

Last Friday night it was approaching midnight, and I was finishing up some work.  And I was really discouraged. With so much still to do I decided to cancel my Boarding trip to the mountains, though when I called to cancel the hotel it was too late without penalty.

Not wanting to lose the night I’d paid for, instead, I decided to wake up early and crank out four hours of work, make it to a mountain to get a few runs in, and crash at my already-paid-for hotel with laptop in tow to finish out my work Saturday night.

As I’m driving west on I-70 I was undecided where to ski, as my hotel was about 30 minutes from four different ski resorts. For whatever reason, I drove west to the farthest ski resort away in Beaver Creek. I got there at 1pm and boarded for three hours. At 4pm I’m sitting at the bottom of the mountain by myself listening to a band play while sipping coffee.

And within a few minutes I run into Thom at the bottom of the mountain, who was there with his family. I hadn’t seen him in over 12-months, and probably only a handful of times over the past ten years.

When I saw him he said “Dude, you’re hanging with us tonight! My family is here, and so are my parents who would love to see you. You’re family, you’re coming to dinner.” 

And over the next three hours I saw the most awesome thing unfold.

Because Saturday night was the first time I no longer saw my college roommate.

I didn’t see the guy who was with me to encourage me when I went through tough breakups. Or the guy who would go to Denny’s with me to study, or socialize, at 2am no matter how tired he was. Or the guy who was the first to stand up for me if anything ever got sideways between me and anyone else. Or the guy who would willingly go along with any of my pranks, including co-conspiring to “hide” and raise a pig in our room for two months.

Or even the guy who gave me, to this day, what is one of my most valued possessions–a sculpture he made that reflected the way he saw what I felt in my life, which encompassed a symbolic person in the form of a sphere with a big wave cresting over it.

Instead, I saw…

A dad to two young sons, who was playful, encouraging, and loving.

A husband to his wife, that was attentive, compassionate, gentle and strong.

A son who loved his parents, with both playfulness and a deep reverence.

A man who loved God, with gratitude, humility, and obedience.

And a best friend, who somehow and someway ran into me at a time when I needed him the most.

Levi, if you were here today, I’d skip all the stories, quips, quotes, and anecdotes of all these modern-day heroes.

And instead, this time, I’d point to you and tell you, “Son, see that guy right there named Thom? When you grow up be THAT kind of man.”

Happy 13th Birthday Buddy. I love you, no matter what.

Love,

Dad

*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are all here

Happy 12th Birthday Buddy

Hi Levi,

Wow, little dude…you would be 12 today.

Well, you are 12 today. But you’d be here and with me and 12, rather than up there and 12. 😉 Either way, I can’t even believe it. I’ve got two stories for you today on your birthday. Sometimes I have a hard time getting your sisters to get chatty with me; if you were still here you’d be watching me in the sometimes-struggle to engage with them you’d probably just look at me and shrug your shoulders and say “Girls…”

But between those moments, I still get more than my fair share of magic with them. On New Year’s Day I took Royce and Zoe to a coffeeshop in a small mountain town in Colorado. When we sat down I had them put down their bad weapons (phones) and I pulled out my good weapons (pen and paper) and gave each of them about 20-minutes to write down some of their goals and objectives for the year.

After we were done we all shared with each other. Without too much detail, one of the goals Royce shared with me was that she was hopeful and prayerful that she could minister to people that she doesn’t know, and to develop a relationship with them. More specifically, in her words, to share God’s love with them in an environment that doesn’t really encourage it (high school in general, but add to that Silicon Valley…).

As she was sharing with me so animatedly and expressively, with such a heart for people, I felt this surreal displacement. I’m listening to this amazing kid share with me a love and compassion so deep that I was just overwhelmed, to the point that I kept pulling my baseball hat down lower over my eyes.

Overwhelmed enough, that finally Zoe blurted out “DAD, ARE YOU CRYING AGAIN?!?!?” 😉

(I rarely cry, other than with things related to the three of you…and movies…)

Later that week Zoe and I were talking while lying at opposite ends of the couch. I was watching the gorgeous blue Colorado sky with huge, billowing cottony clouds drifting by and enjoying the gift of hearing her talk away, where she went on to share with me an issue at middle school where she got into a pretty heated fight–when I asked her why it came down to an incident where someone was bullying a mentally disabled student, who she befriended and defended.

And, yeah, a few minutes into the story she blurted out “DAD, you gotta get a hold of yourself!” 😉

You have two really amazing sisters, they would’ve been the BEST big sisters to you. And while I’m forever sad you’re not here, I also feel like I get little glimpses of you–and who you’d be–in the magic moments that I still have with Royce and Zoe, like during those two stories above.

This year I felt a huge wave of peace come over me regarding you, which doesn’t make me miss you any less. But it does mean I have healed a lot more. I still think about you all the time. Happy Birthday Buddy, I hope this years was the best yet.

Love,

Dad

*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are here: Happy 11h Birthday Buddy, Happy 10th Birthday Buddy, Happy 9th Birthday BuddyHappy 8th Birthday BuddyHappy 7th Birthday BuddyHappy 6th Birthday BuddyHappy 5th Birthday Buddy, and Happy 4th Birthday Buddy.

RoZo

One Year and 1,000 Miles with Bessie the VW Bus

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February ’15
1. Miss a box jump at CrossFit. Grind my shin with full bodyweight.
2. I think it’s almost to the bone. Fist sized swelling. “Just walk it off.”
3. Hydrogen peroxide vs. stitches. I choose peroxide. 
Four days later
4. Pain and redness…more pain. Visit doctor. 
5. “OH MY GOD! VHAT DID YOU DO? Take this veeery good antibiotic. It get worse you go to zee hospital.”
Two days later
6. Los Angeles. Serious pain and redness. Call doctor.
7. “Describe for me zee symptoms you arrrre having?” (blah blah blah symptoms).
8. “OH MY GOD! GO TO ZEE HOSPITAL NOW!” 
Two weeks, two hospitals, and a LOT of Vanco later 
9. “Hey doc, I’m having XYZ symptoms…” 
10. “OH MY GOD! THIS IS ZEE NIGHTMARE. GO TO NEW HOSPITAL. ZIS IS SERIOUS!” (now I’m worried).
11. While lying in a hospital bed I’m getting reflective. Super-all-nostalgically-reflective-like-life-flashing-in-front-of-you. 
12. Dad emails me a picture of an old VW Bus we had growing up. More nostalgia. My kids should have these types of memories. 
Next morning
13. I NEED a VW Bus. So long as I don’t lose my leg, which would be problematic clutching. I promise myself I’m going to be fine. And buy a Bus. Make memories with the kids. 
14. On eBay I find a VW Bus. I text the ad to four friends asking advice. 
15. Three text back with “this is a stupid idea.” I decide they are not true friends. 
16. One doesn’t respond. This is a good friend. I take non-response as tacit endorsement. 
17. I text one more friend, a legit hippie from the 60’s.
18. He texts me back “This is a wise decision.” This is the kind of friendship I need in my life. 
19. I buy the Bus (sight unseen) on eBay.
One month later
20. En route to meet my guy selling the Bus at his bank in Seattle.
21. Test drive. Multiple stalls. “This bus is a piece of shit!” I say to him.
22. “No, no” he says to me. “You just have to give her some love.”
23. Test drive some more.
24. I am transported back to 12-years old, riding in the back of a Bus with my family.
25. I love this Bus. Exchange cash for title. 
26. Start 900 mile drive back to SF Friday night. 
27. Stop in Olympia for dinner with friends. Bessie won’t re-start.
28. This bus is a piece of shit.
29. I give her some love. And she loves me back.
30. I love this Bus again. 
That night 
31. It’s 40 degrees and midnight. Bessie has no heat. I drive faster and attempt to hit 65 MPH. We. Are. Making. Progress. 
32. I am so cold my teeth are chattering.
33. It’s 2am and I am exhausted. But I am not as tired as I am cold. Sleep would be impossible. 
34. It’s 4am, and now I am more tired than cold. This is the type of cold struggle I envision on a Mt. Everest attempt. 
35. I pull over at a rest stop. I am freezing. I wish I had a sleeping bag to snuggle with. Or a Sherpa. Both would be amazing right now. 
36. It’s 5am and I wake up to use the bathroom to pee. The bus door won’t open from the inside. I’m too tired to figure this out.
37. I see a cup. This will do. But it’s a small cup. I pee. Stop. Empty it. Repeat. Five times. I think I’ve irreparably damaged my prostate. 
The next morning
38. It’s 7am. It’s too cold to keep sleeping. I get up and start fiddling with the door.
39. Some guy pulls up next to me and blurts out “Good morning! Whatcha doing?!?!?!?!”
He’s chipper like had a full night sleep, oh and heat in his car and yes he is driving a Volvo.
40. “I’M GIVING HER SOME LOVE MAN, CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT I’M DOING?!?!?!” 
41. I think Bessie is making me testy. 
42. Questioning the Bus buying decision at this moment.
43. Actually, questioning all of my life decisions.
44. It’s 7:30am and I’m on the highway. Shivering.
45. Guys with chubby cheeks should not wear beanies. I have chubby cheeks.
46. I put on my beanie. That’s how cold I am.
47. I need coffee. Someone get me coffee.
48. I don’t deserve Starbucks. You are an idiot. You only get gas station coffee.
49. My right blinker stopped working. I figure out how to love her to get it to work. By using my arm out the window.
50. My new relationship with Bessie is best described as “complicated.” 
Mid day
51. The sun is out, it’s now 48 degrees. I am warm. Actually, my teeth has simply stopped chattering. Warm is relative. 
52. The sky is clear. Bessie is purring like a kitten. We’re cruising down route 5 through Oregon.
53. Man, I love Oregon. This is AMAZING. There’s nowhere I would rather be than I-5 in Oregon with Bessie at this moment. 
54. Someone drives by me and gives me the peace sign. I flash it back.
55. I love this Bus. Good decision confirmed. 
56. My kids are going to LOVE me. I am the COOLEST dad ever.
57. Bessie starts smoking. I pull over. More love. And lots of oil.
58. My kids are going to HATE me. 
Afternoon
59. It’s down to 38 degrees. I am cold again. But not as cold as I am bored.
60. I stop at McDonalds to warm up. I sit inside without ordering anything.
61. I go to the bathroom, but only to run my hands under warm water for five minutes.
62. Am. I. Homeless? 
63. Reconsidering all my life’s decisions again.
64. Getting into the Bus, I see a van full of kids cheering and giving me the thumbs up and peace signs.
65. My kids are definitely going to love me.
66. I have decided to let my hair grow long. 
67. Getting onto the highway I almost get rear ended and two drivers share their feelings symbolically. Not the peace sign.
68. My kids might also have a complicated love for me and Bessie. 
Evening
69. My back is torqued from these seats and 800 miles. I need a chiropractor.
70. Or traction. Yes, I need someone to put me in traction. My back is killing me. Or a coma. Someone get me a Sherpa and a coma.
71. With a dead iPhone, I hopelessly turn on AM radio. There’s only talk radio on. 
72. I am getting smarter by the minute. This bus was a great investment.
73. Two hours from SF, and I contemplate the small pee cup so I can just get home. But instead pull off at a rest stop. 
74. Within 30-seconds another Bus pulls up next to me.
75. Peter, a German man who hasn’t bathed in 32 days, jumps out enthusiastically. 
76. “HEY MAN! How long you staying for???” He asks, as he flashes the peace sign. 
77. “Uhhhh, not sure. Pretty much here to take a leak. 30-seconds maybe…”
78. Before I finish he shouts “I’ve been told we can only stay here for EIGHT HOURS MAN! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!” 
79. I realize he thinks I am (also) here to camp. Or maybe considers it to be the possibility of more. Like two birds that meet on a mountaintop whose paths never again depart.
80. My path is departing, in about 90-seconds. I start planning my escape. 
81. I share with Peter my outrage re. the eight hour limit, imposed upon us “by an overly restrictive government with ulterior motives and that this is an abomination against all of us as Bus owners, adventurers, and free spirits which are destroying our liberties and YES-WE-SHALL-FIGHT-FOR-OUR-RIGHT-TO-PARK-OUR-BUSES-WHEREVER-WE-WANT-HOWEVER-LONG-WE-WANT-PETER-ARE-YOU-WITH-ME?!?!?!” 
82. Peter seems pleased and comforted by my response–perhaps even a tad bit afraid–so he lets me get on my way when I explain I have kids waiting for me at home. After we talk for another hour. And open up our engine bays. And lament oil leaks. 
83. We hug goodbye. We will be friends for life. He gives me his email. Then he asks where he can camp and shower for free in San Francisco. I consider asking for my email back. 
Late that night
84. I approach the Bay Bridge. While in the toll/bridge line, Bessie starts smoking profusely.
85. This is SF, Bessie. You can’t do that here. Please. Stop. Bessie, stop. You know not the jungle we are entering for smoking engines.
86. Prius drivers are looking at me in horror. Several express their sentiments by showing me the non-peace sign.
87. As I’m pulling off the freeway to my house I see some young kids in the back of their parents car flash me the thumbs up sign.
88. I shoot back a big smile and a vibrant, confident peace sign. I’m fully comfortable in my new role now. 
89. My kids are gonna love me.
Three months later
90. I get the Bus back from my mechanic and take Royce and Zoe for their first ride. Within two miles Bessie breaks down on the highway during rush hour.
91. There are tears (them). Uncontrollable laughter (me). I MIGHT have a propensity to laugh in uncomfortable moments. 
92. The kids hate me (at the moment). The Bus gets towed on a flat bed back to my mechanic.
93. There’s not enough room in the cab of the tow truck for me. So I have to sit in the Bus. On top of the flat bed. Whilst being towed for 30-mins in rush hour.
94. My kids are pointing at me from the cab of the tow truck laughing hysterically at me. Apparently, now THIS is fun. 
Nine months later
95. For sale. 1976 VW Bus.
96. One last (and really first) road trip with Royce and Zoe. I decide to take them for a Saturday drive down Pacific Coast Highway. 
97. We hang at the beach, flash peace signs to everyone, eat Gorilla BBQ (Pacifica) out the side door overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
98. We go to another beach, drive to Pescadero, eat blueberry cobbler, buy old Marvin Gaye LP albums at a retro coffee shop, and slowly putter our way back. The kids have more fun and I hear more cackling laughter than I can remember in any recent month. 
99. The kids love me. They might even love Bessie. The day ends with “Dad, that was REALLY fun!!!”
The next day
100. One year and 1,000 miles later, Bessie heads to her next owner.
The most ridiculous, and somehow rewarding, money I’ve spent in a long time. 
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No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

I *Finally* Found My Life Verse

Life Verse

When I was 22 I got introduced to a guy in his 50’s named Bob. Big Italian guy with a commanding presence and booming voice of a southern baptist preacher. He was also a terrific salesman and all around person. He mentored me for years.

Bob had this crazy and radical transformation from an early and deep darkness in a mafia life through a relationship with Christ where he RADICALLY changed. Too long a set of differences to list. If you’re cynical about the “radical transformation” stuff I get it, I really do. But, let me carry on…

One thing he deeply held onto was his “Life Verse” from Joel 2:25, from the Old Testament. One of the last times I met with Bob he shouted to me (which was really his way of talking) in a loving but impassioned voice with expressive Italian arms waving “RICHARD, you should have a Life Verse! It’ll give you direction and something to meditate on. What’s it going to be RICHARD? Think about it, and get back to me! THIS IS IMPORTANT, DO NOT DILLY DALLY!”

But I never did it. Too much time went by, and I let life get in the way.

One day I got a call that he’d suddenly passed. At his funeral I thought about my Life Verse, but shortly after forgot about it until two months ago, and after thinking I’d narrowed it down to three verses.

This week in Denver I was with my parents at dinner. They’re both amazing. My mom is so caring, considerate, patient, and kind; my dad is so smart, wise and disciplined.

We walked into this trendy Italian restaurant with music blaring overhead and my mom said to me “Your dad is not going to like this music one bit…” (thank God, literally, she didn’t know what song was playing!).

The gracious hostess overheard and changed the music, but even still when we all sat down my dad says something hilarious about “You Hipsters and your music.” (I resisted an explanation that Hipsters were dudes who wore skinny jeans rolled up with outlandish beards whereas I identified more with Hippies who have long hair and the prolific usage of the word ‘dude’).

Late into the evening my dad quoted this verse out of the Bible, which hit me squarely since it was the same verse I’d been thinking about as my Life Verse the past few months.

Over 30-years I’d heard my dad quote lots of verses, but never this one. (sidebar: Bob’s having a conniption in heaven shouting at me “RICHARD, C’MON JUST MAKE A DECISION HERE!”). 😉

After quoting it, my dad says “I think that’s Jeremiah 33…” and I quickly interject “29:11…It’s Jeremiah 29:11.”

At which point I knew it was my life verse.

One, because I’d been thinking about this and hearing him say it was confirmation. Two, because my dad is one of the most prolific students of scripture and never have I ever (and I mean EVER) corrected a reference with him in decades of discussions.

Plus, well, I love this verse for all its meaning and it speaks to me.

So, Bob, 15-years later, here it is. My Life Verse. Unfortunately I dilly dallied and got distracted along the way, but I finally got it done.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11:

jeremiah-29-11

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 11th Birthday Buddy

Dear Levi,

Today it feels like yesterday.

Yesterday, when I landed in San Francisco to frantic voicemails that I had to return home immediately.

Yesterday, when I rushed into the UC hospital labor/delivery room where our high risk OB doc sat us down and so gently and lovingly explained that you were going to be born that day and there was nothing left he could do.

And that you would be alive.

But that you wouldn’t live.

That the odds of you living were so impossibly low they weren’t even going to have a neonatal intensive care unit on hand.

It feels like Yesterday, where I called the head of the NICU unit at his home and begged, with sobbing and pleading, that he would send us a NICU team in the remote chance a miracle could happen. That the 22 week estimate of gestation were off by a week, and that 23 weeks could provide us a chance and MY GOD I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES AND HE SHOULD TOO AND I DO NOT GIVE AN EFF WHAT THE STATISTICS SAY, and that maybe the infection wasn’t actually septic. Maybe they were wrong.

Or that BY GOD and PLEASE GOD AND I AM BEGGING YOU HERE AND DOC YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME SAVE HIM DO NOT ABANDON ME that there is some chance for a miracle. To which he finally said “Okay, there’s an impossibly small chance–I’ll be there with my best team, but if I tell you it’s over, then it’s over. Can you agree to that?”

Yesterday, when we were in the delivery room with 10 nurses and doctors in the room–one team for delivery, and another post-delivery neonatal, with equipment and an isolette wheeled in and electronics that I’d never before seen and were certainly not part of a normal delivery room. I was on my knees on the side of the bed with your mom, holding her hand. She was so strong, brave, and focused.

But I couldn’t quit crying, and begging and pleading and sobbing, and I whispered repeated prayers in a silent room where only a doctor was talking with your mom giving instruction, and at one point I was crying so hard I felt a nurse put her hand on my back to try to comfort me, and I was begging and pleading and calling out for God to rescue you and to intervene, PLEASE GOD WHY WON’T YOU INTERVENE AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING…

Felt like Yesterday, watching the obstetrics team within seconds of delivering you immediately hand you off to what must’ve been a half dozen on the NICU team. Watching, as tears rolled down our cheeks hearing the doctor read off low Apgar scars–with more tears as more scores were read, and silence in the room of 12 people, half of whom were watching the scene unfold with the other half furiously assessing whether any lifesaving heroic measure could change the outcome, but GOD THE SILENCE and the somber quietness and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING AND WHERE ARE YOU GOD and I am begging here for ANYTHING AND ANYONE, with rhythmic beats of electronics and a pulse ox monitor and eery silence with just one NICU doctors quiet and steady voice and a team of a dozen others, all of whom are afraid to look at me, and then after ten minutes there is a nurse starting to wrap you up in a swaddle and I felt like screaming NO DO NOT HAND HIM TO US SAVE HIM I NEED YOU SAVE HIM, YOU HAVE TO SAVE HIM…

Yesterday, it feels like we were just holding you and feeling your heartbeat while you laid on us for two hours, just you, me and mom…the chaos of over a dozen people in the room eviscerated, and it was just the three of us, in complete silence. No more monitors, no more beeping, no more whirring, just us and silence and GOD I DO NOT WANT THIS MOMENT TO END PLEASE YOU CAN INTERVENE THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO INTERVENE AND SAVE US I CAN’T BEAR THIS LOSS, and watching you lay on your mothers chest with her smelling your little newborn head and tiny patches of hair and rub your tiny arms and hands and feet. You smelled just like a newborn and you had all the features of a normal kid but wow you were so tiny so so tiny but so close, we were so close and WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING SOMEONE HELP ME SOMEONE STOP THIS…

Yesterday, when two hours later at 2:10am where your heart stopped beating. And I was devastated…I walked downstairs as a mess to get outside, and found a guy sitting outside the hospital where I took a cigarette from him and with tears still pouring down my cheeks I inhaled deeply with devastation.

It feels like Yesterday, when we had a final few hours with you and passed you back to the nurse for the last time we would see you, and I can feel you right now swaddled and me holding you and my passing you back to mom one last time and WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING…MY GOD I AM STILL BEGGING YOU TO REACH DOWN AND SAVE HIM and hand you to your mom for one last visit, and then to the nurse to never see you again.

Yeah, it still feels like it was Yesterday. 12 years later. And I am still so raw. Broken. Angry. Sad. Hopeless. Somehow I’m also at peace. Content. Understanding. Trusting.

And I can’t explain it. I want to change it, I want you back and I want you back and…

Yet I still wouldn’t change it.

At moments it didn’t feel like God was there. But I know He was, and it happened as designed. I really believe that. Then, and now. Even though there are still times when it feels otherwise.

A few months after we lost you I was speaking with a guy who also lost a child shortly after birth. As we were talking at a certain point his voice trailed off, and as he was looking in the distance he said quietly “I lost my kid over ten years ago and people say it gets easier…but it never does.”

Today feels more like yesterday than yesterday ever did.

Happy Birthday buddy. I miss you so much. You have no idea. We all do.

Love,

~Dad

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No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Ironman First Timers List

Ironman pic for blog

The longer I wait at this point, the more I’ll forget. So I wanted to write down a hit list of all the things I learned throughout my process of training for an Ironman triathlon. This includes a list of things I learned in preparation for, and during, the event. It is ALL jumbled together. Good luck sorting it out.

My caveats:

1). My knowledge is limited. If you haven’t done an Ironman, I still might not have more knowledge than you. So go get your own info and test this stuff out. I am NOT an expert. I am an average dude who two years ago was 50 lbs overweight and had never even run a marathon. I completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene with VERY limited time to work out, and a VERY full time gig. I you’re debating whether you can do it, you probably can. The fat kid in me is cheering you on. I hope a few things in here I learned along the way help you out.

2. I have no idea from where I am puling this info at this point, b/c I read so much and asked questions of many along the way–and received great advice. So I am quite sure little of the below is original thought, it is stuff I either learned through personal experience, or more likely what I learned from others.

Here’s my list. In no particular order:

1. If you’re debating doing a triathlon, sign up and do it. Do not wait for some magical moment. Pick one reasonably far out, but not too far out. And just get going. Most shit doesn’t get done because people don’t ever really commit. The other reason shit doesn’t get done is that people commit and then fail to execute. So, it’s really this simple. 1. Commit. 2. Execute. Sorry, I really wish I could complicate it some more. But I can’t.

2. If you can get a coach, get one. (I didn’t). If not, be prepared to read, research, and do some trial and error. Learn what works with your body. Yes, my eyes rolled too when I hear people say that. But it’s true.

3. There are some great triathlon books, one I skimmed was something something triathlon something Bible. By someone. Or something like that. Just check out Amazon reviews and googling for great books. I did a ton of very rapid fire reading across the Inter-web, grabbed the stuff that made sense and passed on the rest.

4. Ditch some advice that doesn’t sit right along the way. If I’d listened to all the “experts”, I wouldn’t have made it through my training (got really sick w/ flu and couldn’t work out for three weeks about 12 weeks prior to IM, and several experts said if you miss more than a week of training altogether you should bail). Obviously, I didn’t listen to that portion of advice.

5. But generally heed advice of experts. I got way more good advice than bad. And ask a lot of IM’ers questions. Not just experts, even people that only did a few Ironman events–because sometimes their learnings and advice was markedly different, and in some ways equally as helpful, as the “experts.”

6. Nutrition is super killer key on race day. Begin prepping for this using your long training day and mimic what you’ll eat on race day–from when you wake up until the end of the day. Start this months prior to your Ironman.

7. My typical “long training” Saturday food consisted of: egg-banana-yam-baked-stuff (more below) around 5am…Getting your early calories in on IM day is CRITICAL, b/c when you’re out you’re largely out. Body can only process about 300 calories (incoming) an hour on the bike, and about 100 kCals (incoming) on the run. And that day you’re going to burn about 15-20k calories. So you’d better have a lot stored up. But don’t also overeat, esp prior to the swim. That can suck.

8. My Ironman breakfast thingy is this recipe: one can coconut milk, 12 eggs, 3 bananas, 1-2 (already baked) garnet yams, honey to taste + some splenda, and 1/2 cup to 1 cup coconut flakes all blended together and then baked into a loaf, meh 375-ish for 60-mins ish? It’s a great loading dose of protein, carbs, and fats. Super high calorie. NOTE, I didn’t eat ALL of this on training day. I’d make a loaf of it for the week and eat slices in the morning. I love this recipe. I might not have all the measurements right above, I pretty much just eyeball things and adjust to taste/consistency. You can opt out of the yams and it’s still great, but I like garnet yams.

9. Carbo-Pro + Cytomax were beverage staples of mine on the long bike ride (supplements to my water bottles). Other items: Honey Stinger waffles (not Paleo), dried fruit, almond butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread (one before and midpoint on ride), bananas, and bonk breakers are the single best source of kCals I found for the bike.

10. Get a bento box for your bike. I didn’t even know what this WAS or that they even EXISTED up until 12 days before my Ironman. I learned it from a local expert (who REALLY IS an expert and amazing Ironman competitor).

11. Get fitted for your bike. It should be less than $100. Do this before you do all your training, or a lot of it. Do it even if you’re a month out. But don’t wait until you’re a month out.

12. Learn fundamentals and form for all three sports, particularly swimming. Join a Masters Swim program, but much better than that is to take a Total Immersion course. I would NEVER have finished the 2.4 mile swim without Total Immersion. Game changer for me. Two beat kick. If you don’t know what this is, it will CHANGE YOUR SWIM dramatically. And for the better. Google it.

12.5. (yes, I just did a 12.5) Join an Ironman Facebook group. Ideally, there is a group of people in a closed forum on Facebook for the event you’re participating in. I made some virtual friends that have turned into enduring ones, and learned a TON of great stuff along the way. And it was encouraging.

13. Check out Chi Running, 26.2 is a long time on your legs–esp after being in the water and bike for 8-12 hours (for us slow ones). It’s the training that wears your body out–so focus on form, and it’ll serve you on the day of the big event too.

14. The hardest part really isn’t finishing the Ironman, it’s finishing the consistent training required to get you to a level of fitness to do an Ironman. Yeah, the Ironman is a long day. And I am NOT at all undermining how hard it is to finish, there are probably a lot of Ironman finishers who would be pissed to think I’m suggesting otherwise. But, the Ironman is just one day. And it’s backed up, largely, by your training. Yes, IM day is a hard day. And amazing. And cathartic. But months of training are really what carry you. Though there’s a fair amount of mental mojo required on IM day too.

15. Create a checklist for Ironman day, and start working on it and putting stuff together a solid month out. You do NOT want to show up to your destination and have to figure stuff out or buy more things. I found checklists online. Look at a few of them then create your own or use one that looks solid. On that checklist, you should add one thing that will not be on any other checklists: do not get Gorilla Glue on your front brakes the night before Ironman (yeah, that happened).

16. If your IM swim is in cold water, you REALLY SHOULD do some cold water swimming beforehand. Your CNS, when cold water hits your forehead, will start to go into a state of shock. It’s very difficult to pull yourself out of this, your heart rate rises and you naturally start hyperventilating…this happened to me the 1st time I swam in the SF Bay (my first open water swim ever, four weeks prior to the IM). The temperature, open murky water, waves, along with a vigorous swim just creates a tough environment. I assumed this would happen to me, because I’d read about it. But I also believed that I would be able to talk myself through it. Which proved difficult to do. The only way I got adjusted was to get my body used to cold water swimming through frequency, and eventually my body got used to it. Plus, training in 52-55 degree murky SF saltwater was WAY tougher than a 62 degree lake swim (though the swim was in rough waters that day, wasn’t prepped for that).

17. Paleo. I’m a huge fan of Paleo. When I’m on the Paleo wagon, I feel as strong as a….Caveman (see what I did there?). But you’ll have to supplement, you need SOME carbs. I added white rice and white potatoes to my diet, and garnet yams–I eat those with almond butter all the time. And Taro bubble tea…because, well, Taro is a root, and somehow this is in someway tied to Paleo. And I love it. There, I said it. I love bubble tea.

Also–get your body fat down. Not too low, you need enough storage of kCals. But anything in excess is a serious penalty for your time, joints, etc. I was at about 9% body fat, maybe 9.5% on Ironman day, which was fine. In retrospect I wish I’d worked harder to drive down to about 7-8%, but I got as close as I could.

18. Do a triathlon or two before your Ironman. For me, the Ironman was my first ever triathlon. This is not the best idea, but apparently I am full of “not the best idea” ideas, and this was the way I wanted to do it.

19. Schedule everything. And I mean everything. And I got off schedule, of course. But having a schedule ensured I was more on than off. And kept me focused. When I got off schedule I simply revised my schedule. And I did nothing social for most of my training. I worked. A lot. I worked out. Some. I slept. Some.

20. Quit drinking. Yes, really. You don’t have to. But I felt like I ran a lot cleaner free of alcohol, and a big part of my training focus was maximization of efficiency. Drinking is overrated anyways.

21. When doing swim training, watch some Mandy McDougal videos on YouTube. Especially the one on breathing. You actually WANT to keep some air in your lungs, it’s what keeps you buoyant.

22. Wear two caps if you’re swimming in cold water. Ideally a neoprene one underneath your other cap.

23. Don’t add anything new 2-3 weeks prior to your IM. NOTHING. No new shoes, cap, wetsuit, bike, socks. Nada.

24. Get your bricks in, one a week. I don’t think you need to do more.

25. You can’t win on the swim. But you can lose on it. Make sure you get enough yardage in so that you can finish the swim comfortably.

26. BUT, after you’ve trained enough on the swim to know you can finish comfortably, spend as much time as you can on your bike. That bike is one long ass ride. Speaking of asses, yours will be in some serious pain at the end of the ride.

People asked me “so what’s it like to be starting a MARATHON after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles?” You know what the honest answer is? Ummmm, flipping AWESOME. Yeah. Awesome. To be able to run–even if you have to run a marathon–after being on a bike generating this condition called “raw butt” for 6-10 hours is simply unbeatable. After 112 on the bike, you will be THAT PSYCHED to be starting your run.

Not because you love running. But because at that point, you hate biking. Hate.

27. Supplement long rides with spin classes. I went to spin once or twice a week. And I did one long ride on weekends. That was the extent of my biking prep for most part. Could never get out of work in time to do a decent road ride during week. And I never did enough biking. This was my weakness.

28. Be prepared to wake early. I did a lot of my workouts from 5:00-7:00am. Did I mention you’ll have no personal life during your training time?

29. Pack a fresh change of clothes in your Bike to Run transition bag. Remember, I told you this list was going to be a combination of training tips AND in-race tips, and it’s totally mashed together? Sorry.

30. Use salt tabs on the bike ride, the ones without caffeine. Caffeine has a useful life of only about 4-6 hours. For energy and recovery I used a product I love called LifeShotz (note, I am one of their Advisors…also note, I do not care whether you use it or not).

31. Drop the glow sticks at the finish if you’re finishing at night on IM day, it’ll mess up your picture. 🙂

32. Start slow on race day. It is easy to burn through your glycogen fast and early. It’s a super long day, save it.

33. However, if you get to be a decent swimmer, do not start too slow. I thought it would be better for me to try to pace with the 1:15-1:30 group for the swim. Huge mistake. Because I am a bad swimmer? No. Because you will be situated with 1,000 other bad swimmers. Plus yourself. I could’ve swam a 1:10 pace, I should’ve swam with the 1:00-1:15 crowd. The 1:15-1:30 swimming crowd is like a bar fight at an irish pub.

34. Hydrate enough. But don’t over hydrate. But hydrate enough. 🙂

35. Yeah, it’s okay to pee in your wetsuit. When it is cold out, it also feels good. #truth

36. They also say it’s okay to pee on your bike. In my mind, this is only okay if you are attempting to do a sub-12 Ironman. #thatisalsomytruth There is something wrong about someone who is biking very slowly on the Ironman, to simply take a leak on said bike to save 30-seconds from stopping.

37. You can pee on the run in your shorts. But same applies above. Though, I will say that for my first marathon ever I missed a sub 4 by 33 seconds due to a last min bathroom stop. I still wish I’d peed in my shorts. But I can’t quite get the hang of this, plus I’m too vain.

38. Don’t overtrain. Seriously, two weeks out start tapering. And if you overtrain to point of injury then you’re in trouble. So train. Hard. Don’t overtrain. #seriouslydonotovertrain

39. CrossFit. I did this 2-3x/week as part of my training. I’m a fan. Not everybody is, but it’s changed my life. If you do CrossFit, though, do lighter weights and higher reps. And stop CrossFitting 1-2 weeks prior to your event, or if you go within days of the event use REALLY light weights and do not push yourself to the max.

40. Bodyglide for the wetsuit where you will chafe. If you forget body glide, you will pay the price around your neck that week.

41. Take a dramamine before your long swims, do it race day too.

42. Know how to change your bike tire. And make sure you carry at least two spares on race day, and one in your half way bag.

43. You need a day of rest. Pick a day and take it. Mine was a “floating” rest day during week. Not the best thing to do, but I needed to do it that way out of necessity. Better to pick a Monday and rest that day after a hard training weekend, or only do light active recovery stuff.

44. Get enough sleep. Nutrition and sleep are really vital throughout this entire process. You are taxing your body to high levels, you need to get reasonable sleep.

45. GU w/ amino’s for the run…I carry five with me for a marathon, one before it starts then one every 45-mins thereafter. And I alternate water and Gatorade at each of the stops.

46. On the bike, use higher gears and maintain a high cadence–about 90 RPM. Lower gears burn your leg muscles faster.

47. You will likely feel really bad during the Ironman. Expect this. And keep going. Or pull over to regroup. Just don’t stop permanently.

48. Did I mention yet that nutrition on race day is super critical? I wrote out my meal plan for training days and IM days MONTHS before the event.

49. Incorporate a protein drink into your daily workout life…I generally used whey at least once a day after tough workouts (SFH and GNC brands), but I also used a LifeShotz product called LS Vibe for recovery and overnight muscle repair.

50. During your Ironman, thank people. And say hi. I must’ve talked to 50 people during the event, and said hi to 500. Especially the volunteers. It motivated me, but also keep in mind these volunteers are just that–so extend some authentic appreciation. They’re giving up their entire day (plus days prep beforehand) so you can have your day. Thank them. I was really inspired by all the people there.

51. Carry ibuprofen. At mile 15 on the run, you will wish it were T3. Or even morphine. But, ibuprofen will do if you find yourself in a jam.

52. Remember, swimming is largely technique. Learn technique first, then you can limit your swim sessions. And focus on the bike.

53. Bank time on the bike (intentionally repeating myself). Get an indoor trainer to use if needed. The swim you can nail with good technique and limited hours in the pool. Biking time and performance and training also translates and carries over to the run. Running doesn’t help nearly as much with the bike. So if in doubt, train the bike.

54. Do a few Century rides prior to your IM. Note, I didn’t. The most I did in advance were a few 80-90 milers. If I had the time, and could do it again, I’d do about five 120 mile rides prior to the event. But if you can’t log that kind of time, no sweat. You’ll be fine. At least one Century would benefit you. There’s a big difference between miles 90 and 112.

55. Don’t get sick in training (again, sleep). DEFINITELY do whatever you can to avoid getting sick the week of your Ironman. I drank copious amount of elderberry syrup the week before the Couer d’Alene Ironman. And I stayed away from anyone that looked anything short of super healthy.

56. You’re going to hate it.

57. You’re going to love it.

58. Once you finish, you won’t be the same.

Enjoy the journey.

~Raz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ironman Race Report–My First and Last (Part One)

Royce and Zoe doing the Ironman-Lift-Your-Bike-Over-Your-Head-Thing
Royce and Zoe at check-in, they’re not stressed at all–they got this! 🙂

Here’s the 1st iteration of my race report.

It’s part advice for first-timers, part experience sharing, and part closure. A few caveats:

1. This will be riddled with some profanity, which I try to keep to a minimum. But for this posting I’m not going to dilute it–I’m going to share it like it happened, or as I/others said it, or as I thought it.

2. I’ll write a separate race report that’s more about the technical aspects of beginner training, what worked what didn’t, nutrition, scheduling, resources, etc. The one below is more along the softer side of my experience, versus the metrics, scheduling, structure, etc.

3. This isn’t a “hey aren’t I great” post, and man do I REALLY hope it doesn’t come off that way. There’s a lot I’m not good at, and a lot of mistakes I’ve made–both in the last 4-6 months with my Ironman training–and also in life. In fact, I feel like as time goes on I realize how fallible I am. Which is very. Thank God for grace. Literally.

Moving on…

If you check out ONE thing in this post, check out this video below. It’s THE VERY LAST finisher RIGHT BEFORE midnight–the cutoff at 17:00 hours. The chills I got from watching THIS GUY finish were way more than my own finish. Can’t even tell you  how many times I’ve watched this–way more than I watched my own video clip.

So. Flipping. Insane.


Many know two years ago in June I was fat and out of shape. 100 times I tried to lose weight. And 101 times I failed (see what I did there?). Finally, I decided to get my ass in shape. What did it for me? A few things, but one in particular was seeing a ton of before/after photos of people who lost weight. I finally thought “Okay, if THEY can do this…” Long story short, two years ago in June I started running with the plan to do my first marathon that year. I started at just two miles at a time. Months later I started eating a strict Paleo regimen along with CrossFit 3x/week. Below is a picture of me as a fat kid, not too long ago.

Fat Kid
My 240-250lb days, two years ago. Sigh. Heavy (literally) sigh.

In December of that year I ran my first marathon (Sacramento CIM Marathon), nearly 50lbs lighter and missed a sub four by 33 seconds. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, because it served as the start for shedding the fat kid in me. For years I thought I would never be able to run a marathon or lose weight. I had finally completed both. Skinny people, and lifelong runners, probably look at this, shrug and say “meh, big deal.” I get that. But for me, it was.

That night, after my first marathon, I came home and wondered “is it EVEN POSSIBLE that I could do an Ironman?”

Months later, I signed up for two half Ironman triathlons (I’ve never told anyone this until a week ago). I skipped them both. Partly due to work conflicts. But it was mostly that I never started training–I couldn’t do the swim. I mean, you could throw me in a pool or a lake and I’d be fine, and you would think I could swim–but not with any distance. Undoubtedly I would’ve failed on a 1.2 mile swim (half Ironman). And I was really pissed at myself for failing at this.

And then one day I had moment.

In the start-up tech world there is a well known expression: Fuck it. Ship it.IMG_3427

What it really means is you should get your product launched because good enough sooner is better than perfect later. So I finally had that moment personally, and I said to myself, well, you know…So a year ago in June of 2013, I signed up for the Coeur d’Alene Ironman–my first ever triathlon. As I mentioned, I’ll do a separate post on training, but here are a few top level things I’d suggest if you’re considering an Ironman (or any triathlon):

1. Get a tight training plan and stick with it. From a book, online, or a coach. I didn’t have a coach–most of what I learned was from rapid fire searches and scanning articles, collecting the stuff that I liked and dumping other stuff, and talking to others–one of whom gave me a good training plan. I’m an 80% solution guy, and find that just jumping in and figuring out stuff as you go is a better course. Then, after you make some progress, tweak and dial stuff in.

2. Join Masters Swim and take a Total Immersion Course (unless that’s already your strength, but for most it’s not). 120-days ago I couldn’t swim more than 50 yards without taking a break. For some context, a 2.4 mile Ironman swim is 4,224 yards. You can see how four months out I was really stressed. Swimming is largely technique, and the best advice I received was to nail that first. I found great freedom in attending Masters Swim classes and introducing myself to each coach with a consistent “Hey, I suck at swimming and need to be able to swim 2.4 miles in four months. I’ll do anything you tell me to, and don’t go easy on me.”

One of my first, and more memorable swim lessons, the coach started yelling at me mid-class saying “Raz! What is the problem? Why are you fighting the water? Do the fish fight the water? Raz! Are you angry with the water? Raz! Do you need to make peace with the water?”

Welcome to California.

I also took a Total Immersion course with Mandy McDougal. Total Immersion was, without question, the best thing that happened to me. She’s great, and I can’t stress enough the benefit you’ll derive from a two-day Total Immersion course. Mandy also has some great YouTube videos on swimming technique, check them out here.

3. Schedule everything. It requires a lot of training. And a ton of discipline. In the six months prior to my Ironman, I think I went out twice with friends, and family time was pretty limited. And by saying “going out” it wasn’t exactly riveting–equating to two dinners from 7-9:30pm on a Friday night and I was in bed by 10:30pm. Most, but of course not all, of my life for the last six months fell in a few buckets: a) I worked (a lot); b) I worked out; c) I did meal prep; d) I slept

4. Supplement your swim/bike/run with CrossFit. I had to focus on most bang/buck, and in a future post I’ll explain more about my schedule and what worked (or didn’t). I read one person’s CDA race report six months ago and she suggested that you must train ~25 hours a week. Ummmmm, total bullshit. And frankly that’s impossible for many (most?) people who have these little nagging things called… jobs.

When I read stuff like that I just ignore it (though she had some really great insights in her race report too). Because 25 training hours is more like 40 actual hours (prep, cool down, stretching, icing, driving, etc). When someone hears a statement like that it implicitly tells him or her that training for an Ironman is impossible for someone with normal circumstances. Or even difficult circumstances. Just. Not. True.

I’m the CEO of a start-up company, and not one week did I ever work fewer than 60-hours. Likely it averaged much closer to 80-hour weeks–and some weeks were more, and all while training for an Ironman. I also got very, very sick with the flu for weeks–the worst sickness I have had in my life–and it killed my training schedule where I didn’t work out for three weeks, and this happened about three months in advance of the Ironman event. I read online one coach who said if you miss 2-3 weeks of training within your four month Ironman window you should bail. Meh, that’s lame. Life happens, deal with it, work around it and make it happen.

But you do have to be really disciplined and selective with your training, and I did a LOT of my workouts very early in the morning, or a couple days a week in the late evening.

CrossFit helped tremendously, but next time (purely a HYPOTHETICAL “next time”) I would only do CrossFit 2x/week and trade that extra session for two hours on the bike. And I’d only swim 3x/week, now that I have the fundamentals down and instead would spend extra time–ding ding ding–yes, on the bike (and doing some interval work for running, which I did for my marathons but not this). I would, however, go really light on CrossFit 2-3 weeks pre-Ironman–I torqued a nerve in my back with ten days to go by lifting too heavy. All ended up being well but could’ve been a disaster.

5. Nutrition is killer key. You really have to dial in your nutrition, and it took me months to figure out what was worked. In a nutshell, here’s what I did: fairly strict Paleo, with the addition of gluten-free bread, rice, potatoes, and tons of water. I’ll drink anything other than bottled water (which contains tons of toxic chemicals and destroys the environment), but I used to regularly fill up bottles with FloWater at work (disclosure: I’m the CEO and an Investor of FloWater and I am massively biased to the amazing, hydrating, refreshing performance of coconut-filtered, oxygenated, and remineralized FloWater :)) and bring it home for hydration in the evening and weekends.

I also consumed high quality protein supplements immediately post workout and for recovery, I used SFH grass fed whey immediately after workouts, and LS Vibe for afternoon/evening recovery (disclosure: I’m on the Advisory Board for LifeShotz). I also consumed copious amount of fish oil which is like WD-40 for my joints, also from SFH, and consumed LifeShotz–and took some massive loading (3-4/day) doses of this for three days prior to the Ironman, LifeShotz it’s like rocket fuel for my body (another disclosure: I don’t personally like the taste of either the fish oil OR LifeShotz, but they’re two staples of mine–they just are that good). I also regularly loaded up on Black Elderberry syrup which is a strong immune booster, and I think the brand from Gaia is most potent–plus it tastes great. Finally, I took a MegaFood vitamin twice daily.

So, onto the trip…

IMG_3707
Okay, seriously..most fun kids ever. Amazing.

I left Wednesday after work with the kids to drive to CDA (Erica had to work and flew in Thursday night), and we arrived that Thursday AM after a loooong all nighter driving through with a total of 60-minutes of sleep between 5-6am (not best thing to do Ironman week). During that 16-hour drive I became a pretty big fan of Oprah Chai, I lost count after a while. But I really am convinced Oprah saw the surge in donations to her charity last week–because I’m pretty sure that was me…That was me, right…Oprah?

Road trips with kids are the best way to get to really know them–this one was no exception. I listened to more Taylor Swift than I care to admit, but they also tolerated my music (and calls). When I asked the kids if they liked my musical tastes (Hardwell, Kaskade, Deadmou5, Blackmill) Zoe replied “Dad, I really don’t even think it’s music. I like music that has pleasant sounds and actual words.” I seem to remember my parents saying this to me when I was growing up, too. On the way Royce asked me 101 hypothetical questions, which I loved–she’s so darned curious.

IMG_3695
Wednesday night’s one-hour hotel. Better digs than a hostel in Asia, though…Plus I was 30-feet from a McDonalds! 😉

Zoe woke up at 2am worried about me driving through the night, and stayed up until 4am talking with me to keep me awake. She retold me what I find is a hilarious story, and added some details that she previously omitted. A week ago Zoe came into our bedroom and says “Dad, I gotta tell you something…Yesterday I was hanging with my friends and one of these dude lifeguards was saying ‘hey, isn’t your dad the guy who is running all around the neighborhood wearing a spandex onesie???'” Then she pauses and looks and me and says with a dead serious face “Dad, you gotta stop doing that…”

Bwahahaha, I can only imagine the mortification for a 10-year old kid hearing that about her dad! Also, for the record, it’s not a one-piece–it’s two 😉

So tonight on the drive she says to me “Dad, there’s more to that story…” I pause, and glance over and say “Okay, really? Go on…” So she continues “Yeah, well this guy continued asking What other outfits does your dad have?'” (hahaha, like this is some kind of weird clothing fetish–they’re called Tri suits boys and girls…). Zoe continued “I went on to tell him you have this one piece outfit with some straps that goes over your neck.” LOL, well those are biking shorts for the record, and I promised Zoe I’ll start running in the other section of the neighborhood. She went back to sleep shortly after getting that off her mind.

We arrived Thursday morning into CDA and the kids hung out and did various activities while I worked, with the exception of check-in during lunch. Energy walking in was both pensive and electric. It wasn’t like marathon check in. It was calm. Of course, it was also days before the event. I got my bag, and asked people 100 questions like “Okay, what happens in transition–’cause all I know is what I’ve seen on YouTube.” I was nervous. And excited.

IMG_3741
RoZo making a cheering sign

That evening I did my first swim in the lake, water temp was about 62 degrees–it felt awesome, and the water is relatively clear and clean, so much better than SF Bay’s salty murky 54 degrees. There was this energizing feeling being with other triathletes who were also warming up and trying to get a few last minute workouts in. After the swim, I went and ran a quick five miles and was done for the evening.

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This is where you drop off your form saying no matter what happens to me, I will not sue you Ironman association. And it’s also check-in, which was so fun (yes, really). Loved.

Evening rolled around, and we had a great dinner with friends but I was exhausted–a trip to the airport to pick up Erica didn’t get me into bed until 1am and I was up at 6:15am the next day. Crappy sleep continued.

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Summer, Raz, and Richard Brooke–CEO/Owner of LifeShotz

Friday I took a vacation day–the first one in 18+-months, and attended an Advisory Board meeting for a company I’ve really grown to love that’s coincidentally headquartered in CDA. Around lunchtime our meeting broke, and it was time to swim 800 yards in the lake followed by an hour on the bike. Felt good. That was the day, the first day, where I had some solitude to myself that evening and I thought to myself “You know what? You’re going to do this. And you’re not leaving the course until it’s done.” Until then I’d been having doubts. But I knew it’d come together mentally a day or two before the event–that’s just how I’m wired.

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Epic evening, on the drive to where we were staying I pulled off the side of the road and watched this gorgeous cloud formation pull through and set up over a valley. Magical.

That evening I knew I HAD to get a good night of sleep in. My Sunday morning wake-up was at 3am and at best I’d only get five hours. And combined Wednesday and Thursday night I had a total of ~6 hours–so I was intent to be in bed by 10pm and was going to sleep until 8am to catch up.

This is where the shit got crazy.

The next day was gear check, it’s where you put all your gear in every transition bag together and you turn in your bike–so they set everything up for Sunday morning. So I’m hustling trying to get everything ready, last check to make sure I’ve got the right running shoes in the T2 bag, tape, change of socks, nutrition and hydration, salt tabs, LifeShotz, Cytomax, etc.

Zoe noticed on my bike earlier that day that the padding on my tri-bar forearm rests were coming off, likely due to the 1,000 mile drive with lots of wind and a fair amount of rain. So I picked up Gorilla Glue that afternoon, and at 10pm I realized I hadn’t fixed it yet.

No problemo. I. Am. An. Expert. Gluer. (also super fluent in Spanish–can you tell, no?)

“Apply liberally” I thought to myself. “You don’t want these bad boys coming off during your race” I said repeatedly. “When it comes to glue and duct tape, you can never really use enough” I thought quietly. So I applied the glue to my pads and leaned the bike up against the garage and said goodnight to her.

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Is it Gorilla Glue? You’re screwed…

Couldn’t sleep. Was 10x checking my bag, logistics, thinking through transitions, what I might be missing and whatnot. At midnight I go to check on my bike. Open the garage door, and guess what? Gorilla Glue FOAMS like crazy. It erupted like a little volcano and dripped ALL OVER my front brakes. Yes, JUST the brakes. Not one drop on the floor. Panicked, I furiously tried to scrape it off with a screwdriver but it had cured–damage was done. Then I’m furiously rummaging through my guests garage after midnight trying to find a solvent–any solvent, someone just get me a solvent–and I find WD-40, and spray it like a crazy man, but nada. I found some gas stabilizer.Didn’t help. At this point I’m pretty much grappling for anything that has a label that says “this is poison and can kill you if ingested.” I’m scraping with my nails, screwdriver, furiously scraping, swearing, scraping some more–but the glue is in every crevice of my brake. I google and google and google solutions, then found some naturalist wrote that a combination of sea salt and olive oil would do the trick. Nothing. I didn’t go to bed until 1:30am totally in a panic and woke up at 6:30. umulative sleep over three nights now totaled about 11-hours and I was really worried I was screwed with my bike brakes–let alone my lack of sleep.

Below are the pics of my Gorilla-glued bike, my 1st attempt at a brake biopsy, and then getting her all repaired up Saturday at Vertical (thanks again guys!).

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Saturday, I checked into a bike store and Vertical Sports fixed me up by noon (LOVE those guys).  I was at bike check by 12:30, at the Ironman athlete briefing at 2pm then hanging with my great friend from college, Jon Lewis, by 4pm.

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Jon Lewis, one of my best friends from college. A thousand thanks, Jon, for supporting me at this event.

I got home to the house we were staying in that evening around 6pm. Everyone was gone, and I had solitude until past 8pm where I just prepped, contemplated, and listened to my music. Had dinner with friends and family that night from 8:30-9:30, popped a few Melatonin from Source Naturals and was out by 10pm.

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I was only slightly paranoid about missing my wake up alarm…

Sunday, I awoke at 2:20am and read in bed until my alarm went off at 3am, then started the process of getting ready. Left the house at 4am and arrived into Ironman camp at 4:30am. Checked the bike, filled it up with nutrition and liquids then checked on my transition bags–added a few last minute items, and then hung out under a pine tree with more than a breeze whipping about (winds were up to 25 MPH that day) and looked out over the VERY choppy lake–still worrying about the swim. If I could just finish the swim I felt I could at least finish the Ironman. But I wasn’t sure I could finish the swim, or how I would do with thousands of people swimming with me in cold choppy water. My first open water swim was just three weeks before, and it didn’t go well (interpretation: hyperventilation; I just couldn’t deal with the cold water and panicked).

At 6am I threw on the wetsuit and made my way to the beach along with everyone else. Did a warm up swim to get used to the water, and then waited 40 long minutes until our heat departed. A mistake I made, not knowing how I would do in the swim, was going in the 1:15-1:30 heat, which was bad primarily b/c I slotted myself at the back of it and what I learned is that all the other bad swimmers were with me! 🙂 And it just made it, for me, too difficult to pass anyone. In retrospect I should’ve jumped in the 1:00-1:15 pack.

This was the 2nd year (I believe) of the tiered start, vs. a mass start where everyone swarms the water at once. I’m sure it’s much improved, but I’d still describe the swim as “chaos” and “scary as shit” when you finally realize that there are flapping bodies, arms, and legs kicking everywhere. Truly, though, I don’t think it would’ve been that bad had the waters not been so rough–I swallowed a lot of water with headwinds from 10-25MPH on the way out (two loops). 100 yards in I said to myself exactly the following: “There is no fucking way I can do this for 2.4 miles, I’m going to drown.”

But I also knew in advance I was going to have this feeling, everyone warned me about it. So I was fully expecting it, and planned on grabbing the first buoy for 20-seconds to reset and basically said to myself what I’d said 50 times before the race when I knew this was going to happen: “Okay, calm yourself down. You’ve done plenty of swimming the last few months, just make it to each 100 yard marker and take breaks if you have to.” Another guy grabbed onto this 1st buoy as well, and I shouted over to him “Hey, you doing okay?” And he replied, “No, I’m really not…not so good.” Ummm, I paused…I wasn’t prepared to give any advice. I expected everyone to say “Yeah I’m great–this is AWESOME!” I thought quickly about any suggestions, so I yelled out “Look man, you’re going to be fine–just take a few deep breaths, make it to the next marker and take a break” and then I pushed off. I think I said that as much for me as I did him, we were in the same boat.

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Everyone thinks I’m on my iPhone making a call immediately after the swim, but it could also be that I’m removing my ear plugs. But the iPhone is more likely…

From there on, I only stopped at the 2-mile mark and only that because I had to pee (yes, you just go in your wetsuit and I couldn’t do it while swimming). At 1:33 I came out of the swim and was into transition, on the way from the beach I found my friend Jon cheering from the sidelines and we happened to spot each other. Seeing Jon was such an awesome boost of encouragement. Plus, the volunteers and crowd were simply INSANE. My appreciation for the town, and people/community, of Coeur d’Alene grew throughout the event. The people were amazing. Huge gratitude to all of them.

What I learned about the swim is that it’s way easier than I expected (of course, the wetsuit helps), and it’s mostly a mind game–especially if you’re a lousy swimmer or not accustomed to open water swims–especially on days with rough waves and lots of wind. The most mind-bothersome thing about the swim is the realization that when you get out there if you get in trouble–then you’re in trouble. Meaning, while there are buoys every 100 yards and people on Kayaks, if you really get in trouble and start to panic you’d better be able to pull yourself out–because it’s unlikely anyone else is going to do so for you. On the run, or bike, if you keel over and collapse you’re probably going to make it. On the swim, not so much.

At T1, I have never been more excited to get on a bike. The swim was done, and I was so relieved. My transition time was a pretty long 15-minutes, again I’d never done a tri before–or transition for that matter–so it took me a few minutes longer just to figure everything out. But I poured nutrition down my throat, threw my tri-suit and shoes on, took a bathroom break, grabbed my bike and was on my way.

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Last 30 miles on the bike! Home stretch.

My bike training had been limited, and largely consisted of two spin classes a week and one long ride on the weekend–a function of limited time, and I really didn’t do enough long rides. The longest I’d ever done up to this point was about 90-miles, and midway through that one I found a Starbucks and fell asleep for 30-minutes. 🙂 What an amazing athlete I am, huh? In retrospect, I should’ve skipped Saturday morning swims for a much longer ride, and I would’ve been well served to do a half dozen 100+ milers along with some interval and hill work at least once during the week. Next time. (again, hypothetically).

Headwinds on the course were brutal, partly because they were on the two stretches with some seriously long, long hills. My average speed was about 15MPH, pretty slow and it took me about 7:40 to finish the bike session.

Finally, the run…

people ask “what’s it like to have to be STARTING your marathon in the afternoon after all of that?” And really the answer is that I was so ready to be done with the bike that I was totally PSYCHED to be running. It wasn’t until mile 15 that I started to really crash, and that’s also where I killed my run time. In fact, this was where I had my best epiphany.

I remember someone telling me that during their IM they got to the point where they just started telling their body what to do. My pace up to mile 14 was about a 10-minute mile (and I started out running 8’s unknowingly–way too fast for me). At 14 I was just in screaming pain. My tendonitis was flaring, and every muscle in my leg was on fire. I did a lot of walk/running from miles 14-22.

Then, three things happened:

1. A guy was walking with me, and we’d talked before ten miles back. He looked me dead in the eye and yelled out to me in the booming voice of a football coach “Raz, you are kicking some fucking ass for your first Ironman!!! Go get it in gear and get your ass over the fucking finish line while it’s still light out!!!” I wasn’t kicking ass for my first Ironman, but I didn’t know that at the time.

But sometimes you need someone just to push you. And apparently, at times, it can help when they drop an F-bomb in the process.

2. Right then, another guy ran by as I walked, and he tapped me on the shoulder. “Let’s go” he said “I’m running five minutes and walking three minutes–let’s get going.” I started running, then told him thanks for the boost and that I was going to run the rest in.

Sometimes you need someone to give you a tap on the shoulder and pull you along.

3. Then, I remembered an article I’d read the night before on top performing athletes, and how much of endurance work is a mind game (side note: it’s also about fueling, when you’re out of gas then you’re done–so you have to be smart about nutrition on an Ironman, and that part I did right). One of the guys in the article said he talked to himself, and essentially told his body what to do. I thought it sounded silly the night before. But I was in so much pain, I decided to give it a shot. So I kept telling myself “Body, you’re going to run these last four in 8:00/mile–and I don’t care how shitty you feel, this is happening.”

I didn’t have a GPS on me so I couldn’t track my speed, but later in looking at the splits it looked like I kept a 7:57 pace those last four miles. There’s a point when you’re out of gas and you’re just out–but there’s also a point where you’re just in pain, and you have to keep going and you can do more than you thought. Miles 14-22 I let my body win (plus the finish line is a long ways away). Miles 22-26, I made my mind win.

It was a really great reminder about how much the mind controls, or can, the body. And how weak the body is. I remember I used to go running with my dad when I was young, and you used to tell me that for the first few miles “your body lies to you–it’s lying to you and says it doesn’t want to go, and don’t believe it, get past the first few miles.”

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Erica, Raz, Zoe, and Royce

At mile 13 I saw my friend Jon again, and also Erica and the girls–another super fun boost, and first time I’d seen my family. At mile 26 we were in the city of Coeur d’Alene and the crowd lined the streets. One more pass by Jon, then 20 yards later Erica, Royce, and Zoe. I could see the tunnel, and hear Mike Reilly belting out names as they crossed the finish line “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

For a year I’ve been thinking about crossing that finish line.

The energy of the thousands of people was really something else–and at 150 yards out I saw the tunnel…50 yards in and I’m fiving people as I’m closing in and feeling so excited–and happy–to get to this magical experience. All the while, incidentally, I’m having a blast. I really did through the entire race, there is no event I’ve ever done where I genuinely smiled more, and had more fun.

So as I’m coming to the finish line I’m waiting for this magical moment of catharsis.

I crossed the finish line…

…and nothing happened.

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Entering the tunnel, 50 yards out…

I can’t explain it. For sure I was thrilled,  and it felt great. But it was almost the opposite of my first marathon–where I was really emotional and had a moment of “I can’t believe I did this!”
If I had to put into words what I felt it would probably be as simple as this:

“You know, you can let go of your inner fat kid now. You’re not that guy anymore.”

A few things I really learned or benefitted from during this process:

1. I pretty much quit drinking altogether. I didn’t miss it–at all. (Mom, I know you are doing cartwheels right now! :))

I did resume drinking beer the night of the event (cartwheels have stopped).

And the following week.

But now I’m back on the wagon. Pretty much no more drinking (cartwheels resume).

2. I learned more about the discipline of three functional sports;

3. I dialed in my sleep, and while I never felt like I got enough–and I still had to pull some really late nights, and a few pretty much all nighters for work during training, but I made a conscious effort to sleep–up until the week of the race, ironically enough;

4. I became more disciplined; I had little free time so I scheduled almost everything–and I mean almost EVERYTHING. From exactly when I would wake up, to when and what I would eat, to the timing of my nighttime protein, to my swim/bike/run/crossfit sessions. Of  course I got off schedule, but having it scheduled helped ensure I was more on than off;

5. I learned I am way more capable of things than I previously realized; two years ago I was quite fat and couldn’t run more than a few miles at a time. Four months ago I couldn’t swim more than 50-yards in a stretch without resting. So much of our life is dictated not by our talents or G0d-given attributes, but our drive, tenacity, and confidence.

5. Finally, I was inspired.

Inspired by a few people who told me that I couldn’t do it, and even more people that told me I could do it.

Inspired by people who shared with me how to do it, or offered me a boost of confidence and encouragement along the way.

Inspired by the energy of the event itself, the attendees, and all the amazing volunteers (I must’ve said “thank you” 300 times during my bike ride and run, but a thousand more thanks to all the volunteers–you guys were AMAZING!).

Finally, I was inspired by watching 3,000 other people–each with their own story and struggle–go out and do something pretty unusual on any given Sunday.

A thousand thanks to everyone who helped encourage and support me along the way. Whatever “win” in this there was for me, I genuinely hope you take a piece of it as your own.

Grateful. Eternally grateful.

~Raz

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Are the Gains All Gone?

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In the past couple of years I’ve finally started to get in better shape. On a body fat basis, I went from ~30% to ~10%, and of course the changes eclipsed the scale and extended to CrossFit workouts, running, and have included more recently some biking and swimming.

And for this entire time, it’s been easy NOT to see the ceiling. Because I was in such bad shape at my starting point two years ago, it just felt like making gains would be easily attainable for an indefinite period of time. I mean, I KNEW in my mind that my physical potential at 22 was still beyond what it would be at 42 (though, my goal is still to be in better shape at 42 than I was at peak at 22, though if I can that won’t say much for how well I tapped out my physical potential when I was younger).

When you’re SO FAR away from your ceiling it’s both kind of discouraging (“I’m THIS out of shape?!?!?!?”) and also really motivating (“If I can keep making gains like this I can become Superman!!!”).

But this week I saw and felt the ceiling after a few workouts this weekend (which happened to be some of my best workouts of the year over the past two days).

And I hated seeing the ceiling.

Particularly frustrating because I am still so far away from being in really good shape, but this afternoon after I was driving home from my swim/run (pictures of the most epic day ever to workout in the Bay are below from today’s excursion) I realized that I was staring the ceiling right in my face–and it happened way earlier than expected, and I still feel like I’m so far away from where I wanted to be at this point. It’s the ceiling that said things like “You’ll never be able to do >insert your dream of choice here<.”

So I’m going to change it.

I haven’t figured it out yet, and I know I can’t cheat human physiology–but there must be a pretty good way of bending it.

What I’ve learned in the last few years is that so much of fitness and wellness is pretty specific to the individual. So I don’t listen to any one particular scribe, however, I’ve not tried to recreate too much either. I’ve taken a few solid perspectives without trying to recreate the wheel, applied it relentlessly, and it got me to a certain point at the end of year one.

Then, for year two, I made modifications, did more reading, metric’d more stuff with my body, and made adjustments. But mostly oriented around a few common theories from a few particular individuals in the fitness space–and I did this with limited reading, research, and study; I just worked on applying, applying, and applying.

Now I have to break it.

(though not until August)

For someone that doesn’t know a whole heck of a lot about fitness, nutrition, CrossFit, human anatomy and physiology, it’s probably a bit risky for me to be willing to walk away the very stuff that’s gotten me to where I am, which isn’t amazing but it’s a huge improvement. But if I want to really make bigger gains, then I think it’s riskier for me to stay where I am and just keep trudging along–though trudging is precisely what got me to where I am today, and I knew that would be the case which is why I subscribed to it: a few simple philosophies and relentless execution.

But continual trudging is why, in the business world, so many CEO’s (and Exec’s and employees for that matter) fail to be successful in different business cycles. Meaning, even some of the most successful CEO’s can only run through one or two parts of the business cycles (pre-start up, or 0-10M or 50-100M or 500M+, etc). Sometimes I think that’s a limitation of breadth of skills (and there’s something totally legit to be said for very deep skills in one of those particular cycles), but I think that also in many cases the stuff that gets you to where you are is the very stuff that keeps you from where you want to go next, and it’s really hard to break free of that thinking.

My strategy is to comb through as much stuff as I possibly can, measure as much as is reasonable, trial/error with how I feel and perform, and try to really figure this out at the next level, and to do this with as little time applied possible. I’ve got a pretty busy life outside fitness, but this is an important part of my life and I have some serious progress I’d like to make over the next few years.

The best part? It’s on me and nobody else to do it. 

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Happy 9th Birthday Buddy


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This is my annual birthday post for Levi; if you’re interested, the prior birthday posts are here:  Happy 8th Birthday BuddyHappy 7th Birthday BuddyHappy 6th Birthday BuddyHappy 5th Birthday Buddy, and Happy 4th Birthday Buddy.

Dear Levi,

As I’m writing to you every year I never have anything planned to say. I used to give a lot of talks to audiences and often had a mental archive of anecdotes or stories lined up that I’d pull from, either coordinated in advance or ready to use spontaneously. With something like your annual birthday, I always think to myself “This year I’ll totally have something lined up to share with Levi for his birthday!”

But it never happens, and today is no exception.

I’m never ready for this day, and when it finally arrives I always want something magical to happen. I’m not sure what, but it never quite plays out like I envision or hope. The only real message that I really want to get to you is that I love you. And we miss you. There’s probably a lot in my life that I hope you don’t see, but this is one of those moments where I hope you get to look down and read my annual birthday letter to you. So, here’s a quick update, followed by a story.

Mom did homeschooling for Royce and Zoe all the way up to this year, then we decided to put the kids into school–for a variety of reasons–and they both seem to be doing well. I’m super appreciative of her hard work over many years to teach RoZo. She thinks about you all the time, and I remember just how heartbroken she was–we both were–ten years ago today.

Royce is doing great, she made the middle school soccer team as a 6th grader which was a really big deal! Few kids made it at all, and even fewer 6th graders. She’s such a sweet kid, and is the one who always prays before every meal (even when I sometimes skip it), always organized and on time, never misses a homework assignment (her grades are awesome!) and always less then thrilled when things don’t go according to plan–she likes structure and predictability, and might–MIGHT–have a slight tendency to worry at times. 🙂 Which would make her the big sister that would always be watching out for your every move, and would keep you from ever getting in trouble. She’s beautiful, so responsible and trustworthy, and so incredibly passionate–you would be so proud to have her as a big sister.

Zoe is doing fantastic and is equally beautiful. She’s going to a different school than Royce and has made so much progress–we’re really thrilled. She loves creative stuff, entrepreneurial passions, and cooking shows as her go-to activities. She could watch cooking shows on a Saturday for hours on end without pause–and sometimes does. And is the only ten year old kid I’ve ever met who would look at me after tasting a dish I made and would say “Dad, I think this needs a little bit of caper juice, a dash of garlic salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon” only to be followed minutes later while preparing some vegetables with an off the cuff statement and say to me “You know Dad, Jimmy Fallon is definitely one of my favorite comedians–next to Ellen Degeneris.”

Zoe’s pretty hysterical, and would be the bigger sister saying “Go for it!” while Royce would be saying “Levi, I really don’t think this is a good idea…” You’d have one sister with expertise on how to get you into trouble, and the other with expertise on how to keep you–or get you–out of it.

So here’s my one and only story for you this year: IMG_0999

A few months ago all of us went away for a weekend to try to get a retreat from the chaos of work and everyday life. One night whilst sitting outside around a fire pit we were talking about a particular issue which escalated and ended in an argument amongst the four of us, though mostly it was just me, Royce, and mom. The argument got pretty intense, and while I don’t think it was altogether different than some arguments and issues that most families deal with, it was one of the more intense and frustrating moments we’ve had in the last year.

Zoe was walking around the outdoor fire pit, and along the edge of the pool, somewhat aimlessly. I didn’t even think she was listening. She was kicking the soccer ball on her knee, dropping it, running off to get it, seemingly completely disengaged and disinterested during this 20-minutes. Finally, when no progress was being made, and the intensity of the argument kept escalating, she decided to jump in.

Zoe turned around to all of us and opened her arms and interjected with a quiet, and gentle voice saying “Okay everyone? Please stop. For a minute. Just stop. Can I say something?”

Surprised, we all turned to her and didn’t say a word. We were all kind of shocked she interjected. Zoe’s fiercely independent, wildly creative, witty as all get out–but rarely interjects and generally doesn’t editorialize. So as we all looked at her she decided to deal with me first and walked over, placed her little hands on top of my big hands, and looked in my eyes and continued.

“Dad, I know you’re stressed out. I know it, and I can feel it.” As she’s talking involuntary tears start streaming down her face, but she didn’t let her emotions phase her for a second and she barely paused for half a second.

So she kept going. “Dad, sometimes when you get home from work and you’re stressed out and you still have tons more work to do, don’t put the stress on other people. And Dad, I know why you do this…Because I do it too. I go to school, and then I have a bad day. I come home, and I’m upset and tense and I get frustrated with people. Or I want to blame someone, or I point the finger and I get angry at people. And then it creates tension. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with you. Or me. Everybody does it. It’s part of being a human. We all do it.”

“So Dad, I want you to be happy. I want you to come home happy. I want you to leave home happy. And I know it’s hard, because you work so hard. I worry that you are always working, and I am afraid someday all the work will beat you down. But then, I know you usually love it and do a good job. So they give you more responsibilities. You get bigger jobs and you run more companies. But then it keeps getting harder and harder, and more stressful.”

“Now you’re working so long and gone so much. And I know it’s going to get better. I know you have done lots of start-ups, and that they always get better and things work out. And when it gets better I know you’ll make more money, you’ll have more people to help out, you won’t have to work so much, and things will be easier. But Dad, even though I know it’s going to get better…I really just worry if it’s going to get better fast enough.”

At this point tears are pouring down her face, not just one or two, but a constant stream. She kept going, without flinching or pausing to even recognize her emotions, and with a steady voice while looking in my eyes continued. “Dad, I believe everything starts in the home. If we can make everything good in the home, then everything else will be great. Work will be great. Your workouts and running will be great. Our time off will be great. Dad, I really mean it. I believe everything starts in the home.”

Then she paused for the first time, and took a breath and raised her expressive eyebrows and said emphatically “And Dad, I KNOW they say that on all the cooking shows. But I really believe it’s true.”

Levi feetOf all my moments with our kids, this one will be among the most memorable. Partly because there was a level of gravitas to the conversation that exceeded anything which I’d ever experienced with her. And partly because it was such an obvious testament to what kids can teach you.

Which pretty much is a metaphor for how I feel about you. I don’t fully recognize, and in exactly what ways, but I know you’ve had this amazing impact on all of us in manners that I can’t fully express or even begin to understand.

Am I bummed you’re not here? Yeah, beyond words. If I could, I’d change it in a heartbeat. But also in my heart, I’d know that wouldn’t be the right thing. I’m certain and trusting that the right thing happened. And that as part of this, I’m still learning something throughout it.

Even if I don’t understand it. Even if I don’t like it.

Levi, my friend…I love you. We all do. No matter what.

Happy 9th Birthday.

Love,

~Dad

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No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Five Fitness Hacks to Lose 50 Pounds

Weight Loss

It’s the Super Bowl Sunday. Woooohoooo! So as a result nobody is going to read this, but it’s a-okay! I have to post when I have time, and right now I have thirty minutes before my scheduled run (more on the schedule thing later). *Also, I have no idea if these hacks will help you lose 50 pounds. I just needed a catchy headline. Also, there are six hacks listed, not five. But I wanted to have the first two words start with an ‘F’. #worstheadlineever

But, seriously, this is some of the stuff that helped me get in better shape over the past two years. And, well, I did lose about 50 pounds too. Though I’m still not brave enough to post before/after pictures yet.

Maybe someone will find this helpful after the nachos, Thin Mints (it’s Girl Scout cookie season!) and beer (not in that order, please! Thin Mints first, always the Thin Mints first people).

Over the last few years, I have become pretty fanatical about creating and living in a fitness regimen. It’s how I get my stuff to work for me; I’ve also fallen off the wagon more than a few times as well, so I’ve learned what helps keep me tracking and on-plan. Here are a few things that have helped me move closer towards my fitness goals, and perhaps there’s something in here that might help you as well.

1. Set quarterly goals, and tie it to metrics that you can use to evaluate your progress: I use body fat testing quarterly to monitor my progress to a targeted percentage, and then usually throw in some particular running event. I calendar it at least 90-days out for the BF testing. For my runs, I usually plan these out for the next year–so I’ve everything lined up for all of 2014.

Doubt it? My next body fat test is scheduled for Sunday, February 23d at 11:30am. I booked it two months ago, and I do this every 90-days. It’s the only way I can really track my progress. Though I use a pinch test and visual on vascularity (which I have little of, unfortunately, but enough to know how I’m doing) to track my progress week to week. I step on a scale daily, but more out of habit and care far less about the weight and much more about the percent of body fat.

2. Schedule your shit stuff: in my experience, you have to do this. Otherwise it will almost ALWAYS get bumped. And for optimal adherence, it’s  likely you have to do it in the morning. Two years ago I started by working out 3x/week, and that wasn’t easy–time, discipline, and fitness wise. Now, I probably workout 6-8x/week, and I schedule it pretty rigorously. Honor your fitness schedule, it’s not too much to give yourself. A one hour workout is 4% of your day. It will make you more effective, and generally speaking for every hour you workout you get two hours of your life back. I read that on google somewhere, so it must be true. And it just sounds about right.

Yes, there will always be something that seems to conflict with your workout–including your mood. Tough, gotta move past it (this is what I tell myself all the time). Every Sunday I sit down and plan my professional and personal week; on the fitness side, the CrossFit workouts are easy to schedule–every M/W/F early in the AM. But then I often schedule my running/biking/swimming in during the other four days, depending on whether I’m traveling or what my schedule is like. And if my schedule changes mid-week, then I revise to ensure I get the fitness stuff in.

I used to just try to let my fitness happen when time allowed. That didn’t work so well. So now I schedule it. Someone is invariably saying to themselves, “Man, I don’t have time…I just don’t have time.” I said that for years. Yeah, you do have time. Some weeks I easily cover 80+ hours a week (this is not every week, but never is there a 40-hour week either), and I could still use the time excuse to justify missing workouts. You have to make the time, and you have to give up something else to get the time. This is why I don’t watch TV. I didn’t even know the San Francisco 49’ers were in the playoffs until 48-hours before their last game. How is that possible? If I care about something I’m going to make it happen. If I don’t care about something, then I’m not even going to give it ten minutes of distraction. Staying up on football each week is a distraction from the things I care about getting done, professionally and personally.

Ultimately, controlling the schedule is the primary reason why I force myself to do the majority of my workouts in the AM–it’s easier to control your schedule before the day gets in full swing. Incidentally, I am not a morning person. I’d far rather crank my life out until 2 or 3am–I actually think I get into the zone between midnight and 3am. But, alas, I am not a screenwriter and so I have to adjust.

Here is what I have found about being an early riser: it often sucks waking up at 4:30-5:30am daily (but I usually sleep in until about 6:30am or 7am on the weekends). Especially if you just went to bed a few hours earlier.

However, it sucks far more to be fat and out of shape. So I finally chose the former. Plus, your body adjusts. After doing this for nearly a year I hardly need an alarm.

3. Meal Prep: meal prep is the Ford Model T equivalent to fitness. Trying to cook or prepare each meal when it’s time to do so is sooooo inefficient. So if you have the time to do this, great. And, I LOVE cooking. So while I’m totally stoked and find it mildly therapeutic to be in the kitchen cooking whilst listening to Johnny Cash, that time is taken from somewhere else. So I leave cooking to when I have time to enjoy it, and want something other than a pre-prepped meal.

Enter the Model T of preparing food efficiently. You have to automate it. Every Sunday I spend about 90-minutes in the kitchen, and I do all my meal prep for the week. I have 4-5 things that I cook each week, they’re total staples. I’ll crank it all out, put it away in individual containers, and that’s most of my food for the week. In the next week or two I’ll do a post on my 4-5 staple meals and my go-to fast meals or nutrition hacks that work for me. But this isn’t rocket science either. I found most of my meals from reading what other people do for their meal prep, and just picked what works best for me.

Meal prep isn’t only more efficient, but by having something healthy prepared and ready to go will help when you’re just spent and need kCals, and it’s easy to grab for something you shouldn’t which a prepared meal will help avoid. Plus, I try to keep anything unhealthy out of the kitchen–too tempting otherwise.

4. Alcohol: kill it. Why? It’s just inefficient and full of empty calories. Plus alcohol makes me sleepy. And quite hilarious. However, given that I’m already one of the funniest people I know, it’s better that I keep the competition even so the rest of you stand a fighting chance. 😉

Plus my body just runs cleaner when I’m off alcohol (right now, somewhere in Florida there is a woman named Carol who is doing backflips reading this #4 item…Yes mom, I knew you would be happy about this!). I took a month hiatus altogether from drinking recently and felt great. I love beer as much as the next truck driver (this is totally an inside family joke, but I can’t resist), and I’ve decided to pretty much stay off alcohol for the foreseeable future and leave it only for rare occurrences.

By the way, if someone told me to do this a year ago I would’ve never considered it. So all this stuff didn’t happen to me at once, like most things it takes time to dial in what works for you vs. others, and how far in you want to go.

5. HIIT training (or find your workout thing): Check it out, High Intensity Impact Training. Google it, basically short workout bursts. But the key is to find some form of serious physical activity that works for you. What I love might not be your thing, but the thing each of us have to do is figure out what our thing is.

So whether it’s running, CrossFitting, weight lifting, power walking, yoga, whatever, you’ve gotta find your thing. But one element that has really helped me is finding something with a class or group that has a schedule and offers me some accountability.

It’s one of the (many) great things about CrossFit and why I love it so much. While I want to go to my classes, I also feel somewhat obligated. Though that’s not the same mindset I have with my other workouts, especially running.

You know how some people like to get ready to go out for the night and they want the bathroom and bedroom to themselves, it’s like their “me” time? They don’t want any intrusions or fighting over the sink?

That’s like me with running.

If we run together, I must really really like you. Or feel highly obligated. 🙂

6. Cheat Meals: I try eat clean for nearly every meal (again, I fall off the wagon too), and some of you know that I’m a huge fan of the Paleo diet (meal plan, way of eating, lifestyle, however it’s supposed to be referred to). But I also let myself have two to three cheat meals a week. Some people think this is a lousy strategy and philosophically horrible, and that your eating style should be satisfying and healthful so that you shouldn’t have to eat a cheat meal. I have heard this from more than a few.

To which I offer this reply: please shut your pie hole while I finish my cupcake.

When I have a cheat meal I don’t all out binge until I’m nearly throwing up (okay, so that happened ONCE), but I’ll eat pizza…or possibly consume Dr. Pepper…or have a cupcake. Or cupcakes. Plural. Look, I get the perspective that one should have satisfying food that doesn’t necessitate a binge. Fundamentally, I agree. But on occasion, if one really digs it, then one should also have pizza and fried food, too. And the last time I tried incorporating those into my regular eating regimen I got really fat.

So I’m a fan of the cheat meal. Huge fan. On occasion, just not regularly. Total deprivation with food you crave isn’t good. But regular discipline with moments of deviating is fine, in my opinion. Of course, for others a momentary lapse causes the wheels to come off. You just have to figure out where you are in the spectrum.

There it is, some of the basics of what has helped me lose weight and get more fit over the past few years. There’s a few other things that have helped me along the way, particularly on the nutrition piece so I’m going to post some of those over the next few days–or week.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Go Broncos.

Go Seahawks.

(clearly, I’m agnostic on the outcome of this game–but at least I know who is playing)

~Raz

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Okay, here it is…a stroke before midnight, the annual RazFamily Thanksgiving video.

This one is a bit more…casual, and slap-dash, but we’re going to let it go anyways. It really is purely an outtakes version, was hoping for something a bit more sincere and thoughtful but it just didn’t happen that way. And I didn’t get the participation of Erica or Royce/Zoe, but we had so many people at the house it was a bit chaotic and not optimal studio environment. 🙂 So, again, this is outtakes people. Outtakes. Not me in everyday every moment life.

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. And, by the way, when you get a heritage/free range Turkey (like we did) it is a BIT easier to understand how I did what I did, which you’ll see at the end of the video. Too much explaining will ruin the silly surprise.

So there it is, from the RazFam to yours–best to each of you!

-Raz, Erica, Royce, and Zoe

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Memories of Morristown

Denise, Raz, and AlyssaRecently I was visiting some family on the East Coast. Every time I’m in the area, I usually stop by the Hospital where my daughter was born–Royce–just about nine years ago.

As many know, she was born very premature. I’ll skip the details of the story, I’m sure in accumulation or specifically I have a post in here somewhere that details it.

Anyways, lots of long hours in the NICU. Looooong and stressful hours. And as long as they were for us, for the staff there–particularly the nurses–it was a day after after day. Probably without a lot of gratefulness. Likely without tons feedback. And, all too often, seeing a wrenching end to a life just begun that affects families in deep and emotional ways difficult to explain.

So Royce, our oldest, was a perfect product of Morristown Hospital (lots of things contributed, Providence, the Doc’s, modern technology, lots of prayers, and as I’m addressing today, particularly the nurses). So anytime I’m in the area, which is about once a year, I drop off a note thanking whoever from the staff that’s on at that particular time, and generally something like an Ice Cream cake since there’s a Friendly’s right down the street.

Too often I forget about the people who have difficult and often thankless jobs, so maybe this annual pilgrimage to Morristown was my reminder to myself to do a better job of this, as well as to provide a really sincere thanks to some people who transformed our life.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in thinking that for us to make an impact we have to do something exceptional. And, while there are many great illustrations of people doing just that–I think I can find far more from people who do the simple things, consistently, with a lot of heart, and persistence towards excellence.

In my 8+ years of doing these thank-you-drop-by’s, I’ve never once ran into our two Primary nurses from Royce’s stay at the NICU–they just never happened to be on when I was stopping by in the past.

Until this last visit. It was so cool but on my last visit BOTH of her Primary nurses were on duty, Alyssa and Denise were both there that Sunday afternoon when I was making my annual stop. And it brought back a flood of memories to see them both, and a few other emotions. I got some great time with them both, and was reminded about the simple acts of service that can make such a big difference in peoples lives. For us, the big thing was helping ensure some precarious months in the NICU by paying such great attention to Royce. But beyond that, there was a whole level of emotional support they provided as well.

So, today, a shout out of thanks to all the people out there in jobs that don’t get the gratitude that you deserve. Because whether you saved a life, changed a life, or changed a diaper (for someone young or old), you deserve some appreciation–and a reminder, that the stuff you do, even the routine and mundane, can be a game changer for someone else.

You just don’t always know who, or when.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 5th Birthday Buddy

Levi's 5th Birthday
Here’s my annual disclaimer:

The reason I write in my blog is to connect with people. Not just from one segment of life, but from many. Usually the focus revolves around finding your purpose, passion, and renewal.

And as part of the thread of stories I try to share experiences and observations in leadership, volunteerism, wellness, as well as some events that are simply personal experiences that fall in none of those particular categories and, might, at times, be more personal.

Today’s entry is one of those. So if the personal aspect is too much, please skip this one today. The first entry that I made a year ago was here: Happy 4th Birthday Buddy.

Here’s today’s entry…

Dear Levi,

Today marks what would have been your 5th birthday.

This year I’m home instead of on the road, and lots has changed in our life–some for the better, and other parts not so much. But we’ve learned a lot, and we’ve grown a lot. God has been really gracious with us, and me, more than I deserve I am sure.

Royce is getting to be such a great soccer player, and has become so exceptionally good at reading. At night she reads to Zoe, sometimes “illegally.” She has a little flashlight that she pulls out after we’ve turned the lights off and I often catch her continuing to read into the evening. Mom makes her stop 🙂 (as she probably should) but the truth is I sneak in and give her a little thumbs up when I catch her reading and tell her it’s okay. She has such a heart for people, and an exceptional ability to communicate with others. And she’s intense, in a high-achiever way. Perhaps sometimes too intense (that’s probably from my DNA). I admire and love her passion and enthusiasm for life.

Zoe is amazing as well in her own unique way as well, she has such a compassionate heart. And is so incredibly creative. You should see (or maybe you did?) the latest “dog feeder” invention that she made out of who-knows-what materials–I can’t believe what she thinks up! I love it, every day it seems there’s a new contraption for me to scope out. Her ability to develop deep relationships and comprehend complex information is pretty amazing too. She processes so quickly, I love her ability to think thoughtfully and deeply for such a young kid.

I’m so proud of both of them, and so is Mom. And today I know we would be equally proud of you as well. I wish I knew your attributes that I could brag about, someday I’ll find out what those are specifically. I’m sure there would have been, or are, lots.

We talked about you a great deal this week, and more than ever, we miss you.

Yesterday and today, especially.

You might not know it, but Royce and Zoe each have their own “baby song”, which kind of represents them as a kid. This whole thing started with Royce, when she was in the hospital NICU as a preemie and we didn’t know whether she would live–or if she did the kind of life she would have. At many points the outlook was grave. During our daily drive to Morristown Hospital, Mom and I often would hear the song by Marvin Gaye (probably one of my favorite artists) “Aint No Mountain High Enough”, which came to symbolize our confidence and belief that everything would be okay with Royce.

Of course, we still play that song and think about those days. So, naturally, about a year ago Zoe wanted her own “baby” song that represented her! We chose, with a strong bias from Zoe, “I’ve Got a Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas!!! LOL. I think that’s hilarious. You can listen to the song, I think the lyrics are fine, but don’t watch the YouTube video–it’s a little too racy. Especially for up in Heaven. That could be awkward.

So you’re the last one without a song, and yesterday I thought we should pick a song for you on your 5th birthday. I wish you were here to help select it, but I think you’ll dig it. Unanimously we picked “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Your mom thought of it first, I can’t tell you how much she misses you. It’s beyond words.

Some people have told us that every year this would get easier. And while time helps heal some things, it doesn’t seem true as it relates to missing you. Every year represents another year without you, and we’re both comforted and saddened as the years go by. levis-cupcake

This evening the girls made little cupcakes for you, RoZo decorated yours–it’s the one in the middle, with all the balloon candles. And we went to play laser tag–we’ve never done it before, but the kids thought it would be something you would enjoy doing so they picked it instead of going to some princess movie, which I don’t think you would have liked as well.

There’s one project that I was supposed to do for you several years ago. It’s been on my mind, and I know I’ve been negligent in finishing it and I’m really sorry about it. This is the year. I have to do it, and I want to make a commitment to you that I’ll get it done.

Tonight, as I wrote a year ago, I hope that this message gets to you somehow and in some way. I think it will. Know that we love you so deeply, and we’re so glad that we even had you for a few hours. I wish it had been many years, but the hours and memories that have ensued are better than never having the gift of you in our lives.

Levi, here’s your “baby song.” I hope you enjoy it. Whenever we hear it we’ll think of you.

I love you buddy, no matter what.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Jake Shimabukuro

jake-shimabukuro
A simple song brings a simple message.

Find your passion.

Watch this guy, Jake Shimabukuro, play the Uke and ask yourself if this guy isn’t just amazingly passionate about what he does? With 50-years of training, I couldn’t do what he just did on this YouTube video.

But, the point is that he couldn’t do what YOU’RE supposed to be doing when you’re connected with your passion and purpose.

So he found his, and as a result can do some pretty amazing stuff.

Have you found yours?

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Authenticity…From a Friend

authenticity

Here’s another one that I didn’t intent to post, but it was simply on my heart tonight. So here it is, full of imperfections, my vlog on “Authenticity…From a Friend.”

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Patrick Henry Hughes

Patrick Henry Hughes

A friend passed this onto me today, thanks Jan, and it’s such “postable” blog material I had to put it up right away but not without a few comments first.

It starts a little slow and just keeps morphing into this amazing story of a determined spirit to succeed, find a passion and commit to it, and make the most of life as well as hand we’re dealt.

In six minutes I was humbled and inspired. And humbled again.

As I heard the Dad tell his story, and the sacrifices he made to help the dreams of his son, it really made me ask myself a question. If put into that same situation as a Dad, would I have the discipline, humility, and determination to do what he has done? I would hope so, but I am just not sure–he is an amazing man.

And, of course, Patrick Henry Hughes is a pretty exceptional young man himself. All these big muckety muck’s (corporate guys, consultants, speakers, trainers; nothing wrong with them either apart from being overrated) work for years on end to try to deliver profound wisdom and in this little vignette rests a story and lesson I’ll remember for the rest of my life from two “normal” guys in Kentucky.

Patrick, you really are The Man. Pretty sweet stuff you’re made of–same with your Dad.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Video of the Year!


playingtowin

So here it is…The Video of the Year! At least for Univera. It’s an amazing HIGHLIGHTS reel from ’09. During what was probably the MOST difficult business climate since the Great Depression–we, and specifically each of you, played to win. And win big we did. Take a look at what’s an amazing highlights reel of results from 2009.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Checking in on You…And Me.

energie-check-up-ii

Here it is…my update so far. How’s your progress coming along?

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Harlem Children’s Zone

Sometimes you hear people talk about “playing politics”, make sure not to “step on anybody’s toes” or “be sure not to rock the boat”; perhaps you’ve been told to “watch your back” or just “tone it down and take the time.”

But sometimes that’s the worse advice you can ever give…or take.

The following is an amazing 60-minutes clip, and a few things struck me about Geoffrey Canada and The Harlem Children’s Zone.

1. He’s probably stepped on a few toes and rocked a few boats to do what he’s done–and is currently doing.

2. He’s passionate and fiercely determined. I’ll be 90% of his graduating class couldn’t have done what he has done; and it’s because so much of the equation is incorporated of BOTH the skills as well as the will. The enthusiasm. The unbridled passion. The relentless commitment. He’s got it. And I admire it. Watch his eyes as he talks, and you can see the fire that exists within him for a cause he so firmly believes in. In fact, he reminds me of someone else that I know–Bessie Gardner, the former Principal of Ruleville Elementary Schools and is one of the outposts for our Serve First program, who is still immensely involved in the school system and the community.

It was among the most invigorating clips I’ve seen in a while. And I think you’ll agree. Skills. But skills coupled with unbridled commitment and passion. That’s unstoppable, I would bet on this guy any day. Any day.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family

Happy Thanksgiving
Dear Friends and Family,

Here’s our annual family Thanksgiving video, I hope each of you are having a fantastic day.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family!

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.