Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fit In or Stand Out?


Fitting in has its advantages:  invisibility, mediocrity, no pressure, no conflict and no change.  There is one problem I can't seem to escape when I'm doing my best to fit in and it's that nagging feeling inside that won't go away.  Deep down I know I'm hiding when I attempt to fit in.  That's what blending in is – hiding from the person you really are.  You know what I'm talking about or you wouldn't be reading this.  Yes, you were born to stand out.  There are disadvantages:  pressure, conflict, change, and ridicule.  The crowd will do everything to force you back into mediocrity.  Be yourself.  Listen to that voice inside guiding you to the path you were born to follow.  Ignore the crowd.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How Many Permission Slips are in Your Medicine Cabinet?


We don't have a medicine cabinet in our home.  If we did, it would be mostly vacant.  There aren't any high blood pressure pills.  No high cholesterol medicine.  Nothing to control aches and pains.  Not even any sleeping pills.  The truth is we don't need permission slips to cover up the real problem in America – eating all the wrong foods that cause trouble.  These pills give you permission to keep making food mistakes.  The symptoms are covered up temporarily until higher doses or new prescriptions are needed.  Why not just stop eating all the foods that are causing health issues?

Your body has everything it needs to fight disease.  If you eat too much of the wrong foods, your body gives up and stops fighting.  Your doctor offers prescription medicine and everything appears to be okay for a while.  Eventually, your medicine cabinet isn't big enough to hold all those permission slips.  Give healthy eating a try for 45 days without artificial ingredients, processed foods, dairy and sodas.  Concentrate on mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds.  You may no longer all those permission slips in your medicine cabinet.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Important Food Lesson from Your Ancestors


Do you know how much sugar your ancestors consumed 10,000 years ago?  20 teaspoons per year.  That's the equivalent of one big gulp every two years.  Never before in human history have we consumed so much high fructose corn syrup and sugar – 140 pounds a year!  Is it any wonder why we are so sick?

The food industry will do everything to convince you high fructose corn syrup is not harmful.  My bet is that if a caveman ate and drank what we drink, he would be forced to give up hunting and gathering because his body would no longer be able to function.  He would die.  So will you if you keep it up.  Do yourself a favor and learn one food lesson from your ancestors – cut out high fructose corn syrup for 30 days.  Check all the labels.  Don't buy any product containing high fructose corn syrup.  The first week may be hell but don't give up.  If your ancestors can do it, you can do it.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pursue Excellence


Excellence isn't a sometime thing.  Excellence is a series of lifestyle choices you make in order to fulfill your dreams.  Your attitude plays a big role in attaining what you desire.  So does your self esteem.  Consider excellence as a recipe you are constantly refining until the taste is just right.  The bigger the goal, the more complicated the recipe and the more time you will need to fine tune it.  Most people give up because they believe they're lousy cooks.  This is a self esteem issue that needs adjusting or you may leave the kitchen and never come back.

I'm dealing with a train wreck in my life and it's a huge mess.  I don't mind sharing this with you because it may help you understand the process of pursuing excellence.  Sometimes this happens when you have a lot on your plate.  I can relate.  My train wreck began when I missed my deadline to release my third book.  There were warning signs but I ignored them because I was so focused on the deadline that I couldn't see out the window and I was headed smack into a wildfire with no way out.  The book stunk.  By the time I finished self-editing, there wasn't much left except a cup of soup that tasted bland.  The one thing I had going for me is my own self esteem which was refined from dealing with years of rejection.  I kept telling myself, keep working on this, you're close, you just need to find the missing ingredients.  Then the train crashed.

Pursue excellence.  Even after train wrecks.  Even if you have to throw out a project you've been working on for what seems like a lifetime and start over.  Stay in the kitchen.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy for the really bad days but don't give up.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Be in the Moment


Imagine for a moment you're on your death bed about to breathe your last breath.  There's a person in the room with you who longs for you to share the most important lesson from your life.  Think carefully about what you would say if you were in this position.

I have no idea how much longer I'm going to be on this planet but I do know if I found myself in the scenario described above there would be one overwhelming feeling inside my heart – gratitude.  Having another person with me during my final moment on earth would mean I did not die alone.  For me, every moment is an opportunity to learn or to teach.  It's also a moment to savor.  Living in the moment requires practice.  It means letting go.  Don't wait until your last breath to learn this lesson.  Your moment is right now.  Seize it.  Thank you for the opportunity to share this moment with you.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Iowa Wild Card Team Ends Dream Season in Oklahoma

Iowa City Men's USTA 4.0 18+ Tennis Team.

We added one more exciting chapter to our Iowa Men's tennis adventures this last weekend in Oklahoma.  Our first round in the USTA 4.0 18+ Midwest sectionals against St. Louis, MO started out strong with a 4-1 win.   We faced Oklahoma next in the second match of pool play in a round robin format.  Every match was close but we came up short, losing 4-1.  In round 3 we faced an undefeated Kansas team in a must-win situation which was moved indoors due to incessant rain.  We prevailed 4-1 and finished in second place in our pool.  One more match win in any of the first three rounds would have given us an automatic bid into the semifinals and a chance to play the other Iowa team who edged us out in the state championship match 3-2 in June.

Our quarterfinal match against Nebraska was a rematch from one year ago.  My partner and I were still battling late into the evening long after all the other matches were completed.  We had a couple of match points with my partner serving and both times the ball narrowly missed landing in.  Our team gave them everything we had.  The other team came back and beat us 9-7.  Final score:  Nebraska 4, Iowa 1.  We were really hoping for a chance to redeem ourselves in the semis against the other Iowa team but the ball didn't bounce our way.  The Des Moines team held off Nebraska 3-2 in the semis and advanced to play Heart of America in the finals.  Des Moines won 3-2.  They will go to Surprise, Arizona in October.  Congratulations to Des Moines.  I would like to thank my teammates for an amazing season.  Tennis is alive and well in the great Midwest and our dreams will never die.  We'll be back next year for a third attempt against the best players in the region.  I'm grateful for the wild card entry and the opportunity to represent the great state of Iowa.  I wish the Des Moines team well in the National Championships.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today is the Finals

This story was written just before I kissed my wife good-bye and headed off for our next great adventure.  If all goes well, we're still playing today.  Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 2 of Our Regional Championships

Today is day 2 of our regional championships and this is the final day of our round robin.  Loser goes home.  Winner gets an entry into the semis and 2nd and 3rd play one more round in the quarterfinals this afternoon.  Last year we made it to the quarters and got beat in a close one.  There is rain in the forecast.  We're ready for whatever comes our way.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

On the Courts Today

This is day one of our regional tournament and we're on the courts twice today.  I'll be giving updates on Monday about our tournament.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reaching for the Stars


I'm on the road again.  Our team is reaching for the stars and soon we'll be meeting in Oklahoma to finish what we started one year ago.  It won't be easy.  That's okay.  We're giving it everything we have.  The practices have been intense.  I can't remember the last time I ate something that wasn't good for me.  I'll be out of touch until next Monday morning but these stories will keep coming every morning while I'm away.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I'm a Lab Rat for a Bone and Joint Study


When researchers sent out a notice seeking volunteers for a two year bone and joint study, I decided to become a lab rat.  They want to learn how physical activities and other factors affect the health of your bones and joints, specifically related to the knee.  I'm especially curious because I'm on concrete eight hours per day, I play competitive tennis and I don't consume dairy.  Most people give me a funny look when I share my daily routine with them.  Some think I'm going to have health issues related to my food choices.  The one thing I know for sure is that becoming a lab rat for my cousin's food experiment saved my life.  I'm willing to go through another round of experiments in order to help researchers learn more about our bones and joints.  Stay tuned for progress reports.  The final results will be available in published reports.  Have a great day and don't forget to bend your knees.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes


One year ago today on 8/08 at 8:08 AM I was headed into surgery to repair a sports related inguinal hernia.  I had a date with Davinci, a robot my surgeon used to restore my health.  I promised my teammates I would be back for another shot at the regional championships after we came up short in the regional tournament that ended the day before my surgery..  I feel stronger than ever now, thanks to Dr. Nicholas Kuiper.  I would also like to give credit to my teammates.  They pushed me hard this last year.  We are departing tomorrow for Oklahoma for another shot at the Midwest championships.  Keep us in your prayers.  The conditions will be challenging and the competition will be the best we've ever faced.  In order to win it all, we will need to find a way to get past the Iowa team that edged us out in the state championships.  There are 8 teams vying for a spot in the national competition to be held in Surprise, Arizona in October.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Awestruck


My pastor told our congregation Sunday, "the word awesome is overused."  Back in his day, awesome was reserved for talking about God.  He went on to say people who were awestruck were filled with wonder of God's presence.  "Every Sunday Heaven and earth meet at the altar," he said.  His words were sinking in as he walked away slowly from the pulpit. 

I hope I never overuse the word awesome.  Yes, I do feel God's presence in my daily life.  It's in the people he places around me.   It's in nature.  It's in the Holy Spirit.  Mountains are moving.  All of this is for God's glory.  I'm awestruck.  May your day be awesome and may you feel God's presence in your life.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Look Back Without Staring


Does your past haunt you?  Maybe you're staring at ghosts.  Perhaps the skeletons in your closet are rattling you.  I like to think of my past as a rear view mirror.  As long as I use the rear view mirror for an occasional glance when I need a reminder about how I dealt with a difficult situation while keeping my eyes focused on what lies ahead, I can avoid living in the past.

If you find yourself staring at a past memory, ask yourself why.  Find the lesson and learn so you can move forward.  I'll give you an example from my personal life.  Someone close to me hurt me deeply and this caused some terrible pain.  The hurts turned into grudges.  The grudges weighed so much  I couldn't move forward.  I refused to turn around because I didn't want to relive the pain so I just kept looking forward, trying not to acknowledge what happened.  "The past is the past," I would tell my brain.  My body knew otherwise.  My body could feel weight, like an anchor attached to a slab of concrete.  It wasn't easy but I finally let go of the grudges.  It was the day I learned the meaning of forgiveness.  The past no longer had any power of me.  Every now and then I glance in the rear view mirror to make sure I'm not dragging anything along that might slow me down.  Give it a try.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to Deal with Intimidating Situations


That's my inanimate friend and traveling companion, Bro, pictured above with the bear.  Fortunately for Bro, the bear is stuffed and Bro won't be on the dinner menu.  There are times, though, when we may find ourselves in unfriendly territory or intimidating situations and we don't know whether to choose fight or flight.  That surge of adrenaline kicking in is meant to help us no matter which option we choose.

I find one of the best ways to get out of trouble is to understand why the person in front of you is so angry or upset.  If you look closely at the photo above, you will see the bear is trapped and he can't escape.  Wouldn't you be angry if you were in a similar predicament?  The next time you encounter an unfriendly bear, ask questions to determine where the anger is coming from.  A little empathy goes a long way.  You may find a solution that frees your bear from the source of all the frustration.  You may even become friends with your attacker.  Give it a try and see if you can bounce back from intimidating situations as well as my buddy, Bro, did with our day job mascot...

Bro is a champion at bouncing back.  If he can do it, you can do it.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Next Adventure is 7 Days Away


It's the moment my team has been waiting for ever since our loss in the quarterfinals at last year's regional tournament.  I returned home and went in to surgery the following Monday at 8:08 AM on 8/08 to repair a sports related inguinal hernia.  Thanks to modern technology, my repairs were easy to recover from and I was back on the courts three weeks later.  Our team captain drew up a plan to come back stronger and better one year later and that time is now.  We're ready.  I feel better than ever.  Last year's defeat was painful because it came down to just a couple of points.  It's time for our mulligan.  Winner goes to Suprise in October.  I'll keep you posted.  These next seven days are going to be super busy leading up to our trip to Oklahoma.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mind, Body, Spirit Connection


If you're feeling off balance today, perhaps it's a good day to check your alignment.  It's similar to the wheels on your vehicle.  When the alignment isn't right, you have excessive wear and a bumpy ride.  Your mind, body and spirit need to be on the same page.  Pay attention to all three.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Wednesday


This blog message, like the other Monday thru Friday messages this week, has been prerecorded so I can complete my temporary out-of-state assignment without missing my daily connection to you.  I'm sitting in my walkout basement right now with my loyal companion, Roxy, a six pound Chihuahua from Mexico, while my wife is upstairs washing the dishes.  She's cranking up the volume on my Best of Styx CD, a gift one of my sisters gave me for my birthday last month.  Fooling Yourself is blaring.  This was my go to song I played in my bedroom as a teenager.  Forty years later, the music still inspires me.  The one thing that's changed since I first heard this song is I managed to let go of all my anger.

The next song just came on – Show me the Way.  "Give me the strength and the courage to get there some day", the lyrics plea.  And that's what I'm asking for right now.  There's so much work to be done on this Happy Wednesday.  Song 3 is playing now – Renegade.  "Hangman is coming from the gallows and I don't have very long."  It's time to close out this story and complete the "honey do" list before I depart in the morning.  It's only appropriate that the final song playing during this message is Come Sail Away.  "A gathering of angels appeared above my head.  They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said, 'come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me.'"

Sail on, amigo.  Have a happy Wednesday.  And if your anger is anchoring you, cut it now.  It's time to come sail away.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why Detours are Okay


I'm officially one trimester late with my third book and this pregnancy is nowhere close to being over.  I'm okay with this.  Yes, it's true... I'm a type A personality with a broken compass.  Jesus took away my road map and told me to enjoy the detour.  I am.  I'm going places I never imagined I would visit in my lifetime and I'm meeting some rather extraordinary people along the way.

Thank you for being patient with me.  God is still fine tuning me for his purposes and this next book will be released when all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.  Have a great day.