Growing a Thick Skin

In this day and age, every word matters a lot to people. A lot has been said of the “cancel culture” of this generation. You do something decades ago and people reduce you to nothingness. Its happening on college campuses today. They are ready to get rid of holidays, statues, flags, and traditions in our common culture. Its a one strike and you’re out kind of situation.

I try my best not to fall into this trap. I try to give people grace and let them grow and find who they are as people. Maybe some day they’ll come around to reason and acceptance. But sometimes, its so very difficult to give grace. I think something you said or did in your past is quite different from what you are currently saying and doing in real life today.

I say this often, but people are very accepting of mystical ideas from a distant land. They get tattoos of deities, of religious symbols, and words in Sanskrit or simplified Chinese. They do this without knowing their real meaning or what it means to abide by that faith. In fact, the faith they are honoring is often more restrictive and intolerant than the faith of their parents, grandparents, and colleagues. It is strange to me how they are so accepting of something so foreign. It is this counter culture idea. Its like opposite day…every day! You’d think people would grow up. When they were 18 year olds and they wanted to do whatever their parents told them not to do, but they still act like that today. It makes no sense.

So, I truly believe that its different what you’ve done in the past versus what is happening today. I try to grow a thick skin, but its very difficult. Especially when you are constantly bombarded by the same person. Sometimes, its better to live in bliss than to really get to know a person, like on Facebook or other social media. We get to peer into peoples lives and learn something that is not so nice about them. And I’m not talking about years ago; I mean today!

I’ve interacted positively with someone for years. In fact, I’d like to think we were good friends. I knew they had alternative views about the world, so I just unfollowed them on Facebook. Sometimes its better to not know a person’s inner thoughts. Since then, I’ve had a happy friendship with this person. They are always professional, giving, and kind in person. However, its difficult to hide the facts of who they really are. You see them comment on someone else’s page and it all boils to the surface again.

I’m OK with someone not liking something materially about me. If they don’t like my car, root for a different football team, have a different diet from mine, or maybe don’t agree with my politics, then I’m super OK with our differences. But when they openly criticize your beliefs with memes or blatantly abusive words, its hard to look the other way. People say we need to “tolerate” other cultures and beliefs. They accept snippets of ideologies from distant places, but completely trash the church down the street from them. They say “be accepting of people who are different” in one breath, then they totally trash what you believe in the next. It doesn’t make sense.

I don’t tolerate open abuse of other people. So those people don’t get to interact with me anymore. And they don’t get my business. My skin is only SO thick.

Icarus Flew Too Close

  • Play golf during a lightning storm.
  • Swim in shark infested waters
  • Play cards in a rattlesnake den
  • Ride your bike at sunset in mountain lion country

Yes, you think I’m crazy. But people do this all the time. There are other ways we do the same thing.

  • Drive around town at 2 am when the bars close
  • Eat fast food and sugary treats all the time
  • Walk down Bourbon street showing a lot of skin
  • Go out for drinks in an unfamiliar town by yourself

You never blame the victim, but you will surely get burned some day for your choices. Meanwhile, if I never dip a foot in the ocean, only golf on sunny days, and don’t go anywhere near a trail at sunset in mountain lion country, I’ll probably never die due to one of those situations.

People do stupid stuff all the time without thinking about it. Not far down the line is running up credit card debt, living beyond your means, and not saving for retirement. Its just stupid. So don’t do it.

The Practicality of Doing What You Love

I’m the last one to shoot down anyone’s dreams. I often do things in life that don’t lead to any financial benefit whatsoever. But sometimes I just do things because I enjoy them.

Case-in-point. I’ve spent a lot of money on hobbies in the past. Fly-fishing is one of them. I really love fly fishing and it turns out to be a somewhat expensive hobby. Even when I was once carrying a (cheaper) $200 fly rod and felt it snap while bushwhacking through a thicket of alders; I knew money just dropped out of my pocket never to be recovered. The same when I was casting into an ocean surf and it caught on something behind me; that snap ended my fishing for that weekend since I didn’t have money to pay for another heavy rod. No, fly fishing is not more costly than racing cars, competitive cycling, or wakeboarding. But its still expensive in a relative sense. But its something I love. Being on the water and in tune with nature is a priceless bonus.

Of course, there are other things I do that I love as well and costs a lot for training, but has paid for itself in the long run. I started doing Thai Yoga Massage after an expensive training. And if all goes well, I’ll continue to do it throughout my lifetime. Still, starting such a hobby at a late age makes you wonder if you’ll make all the money back in training to help your finances. Its a huge win to do something and actually get paid for it. You calculate how much you paid versus how much you get back over the years. You can calculate a break-even point where you start to actually make money. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to grow your income from your hobby.

I did this break-even calculation with yoga. I don’t make a heck of a lot of money from yoga, but its the consistency of classes over time that makes a difference. The biggest thing is that I really love to do it. Even if I only broke-even, it was worth the journey. And I think I have quite a few years left in me to teach.

So, I just read this story of a 60-something year old woman who went to Mexico to take yoga teacher training. I’m all on-board with that. If its something you love, then do it. But to be honest, she would never hit the break-even point even if she taught into her 80’s. The price of the training was $16,700 equivalent US dollars. If you are getting paid $25 to 50 for every yoga class, you’d have to teach a lot of classes to break even. Tragically, she died doing what she loved while still in training.

I did CrossFit level I training years ago hoping to maybe start my own gym (box) some day. I thought, at least I’d coach at a box somewhere. But that never happened for me. And its all OK. I am happy that I was able to learn what I learned through the process. I’m still passionate about CrossFit. But I have my own ideas of how it should be done. The tough as nails approach I used when I started is very far from where I am today. Its money I’ve made back in other ways. Just not through CrossFit itself. The same could be said of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and other courses I’ve taken.

I think with any decision in life, we should put things down on paper. Ask yourself about your goals in life and what you want to do. If you are doing something that you are passionate about to make money, then make it profitable. Does paying for an airplane flight to a far off country to some exotic training meet the profit margin? Maybe you study at a place like the Ashtanga Mysore Shala in India. Maybe you go to some other venue that enables you to market that relationship. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes people have some fantasy in their mind that is not very realistic. Sometimes they shop at Nieman Marcus in NYC when they could find the same product at their local Walmart. We do a lot of things for reasons other than practicality. We do them for street cred, for bragging rights, and other reasons not far from selfishness. Are you a better business person, accountant, or doctor if you go away for training? Or can you get the same or better training locally? Its a question every pre-college kid asks themselves. But adults looking to better their lives should ask the same questions.

We can’t operate in a bubble. Its usually better to do your research and ask the advice of friends and mentors. Think about what you are doing in life. And if you wonder why you are in deep debt, don’t have a savings, and no hope for retirement income, then maybe you need a better path. If you live to 50 years old and have nothing to say for yourself, then maybe some advice early on would have been useful. Ask these questions early in life. And if you are an old person like me, then you should know better by now.

I keep looking at things laying around my house. Will they mean anything when I’m gone? Probably not. So why do we cherish things that have no real value? Make good choices in life. Its not bad to be a planner or befriend someone who can help. Good choices early in life make for long-term differences.

Givers and Takers

Are you a Giver?Or are you a Taker?
Maybe you do both.

I think back to when one of our teachers at the Yoga Studio where I teach had a birthday. I felt a little strange because I was the only one from our studio to go to her birthday party. I really feel strongly about supporting my friends.

Another time, yoga students of mine were graduating and moving out of town. They weren’t even coming to my classes anymore, but I still considered them friends. Again, I went to their going away party and didn’t know anyone else there. Fellow teachers and classmates didn’t show.

I get put in these situations a lot. I guess my problem is that I really care about people. I’m not waiting for the last minute for a better party to come along. I mark my calendar and commit. My loyalty runs deep.

There are times when I’ve given so much to people. And I don’t really expect anything back. But its nice when it happens. You really notice when people show you compassion. I have a friend in my studio who had major surgery. She remembered my kindness toward her and gave it back. It really meant a lot to me. Another friend dealt with cancer. I prayed for her and think about her often. And I keep thinking about her. I’ve had a heavy heart for a few weeks for a yoga student of mine who died recently due to a terminal illness. I remember her fondly and how she always supported me. She will be missed.

I have other fellow teachers who have experienced pains of a different sort. Maybe its a sort that I don’t know how to cope with yet. But when I figure out how to do it, I will. I just say sorry for now that I don’t know how.

I know of other times where I give a lot to people. But it is never reciprocated. And I just let it be. I now there are people like that in this world. They can’t change their character. Its just who they are. So I don’t expect much. In fact, my expectations are usually low. I love to be surprised by compassion, a share of joy, and even heartache.

Sometimes people ask for friendship. They want it, but they don’t want to give it back.

I’m painfully going to miss a student of mine who is leaving soon. This student has meant so much to me. The growth that I’ve seen both physically and mentally is amazing. Its only been a few years, but it inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ll miss this student just like I missed others. These friends are spread all over the world. Its good to know you have friends even so far away.

But I can’t change me. I want to put my heart out there. I’ve been super surprised when I hear that, upon leaving town or the studio, that what I did meant a lot to them. Maybe I didn’t hear it at the time. But it was later; after the fact. You never know what effect you’ll have on people unless you try. I love learning about my students and colleagues. They often never ask about you. But I still ask about them.

So keep on showing kindness. Keep on loving. Put your heart out there. Shine your light. Sometimes that light will get reflected back to you.

Quick Note on my Diet

Yes, its a fad to most. People talking about intermittent fasting (IF) and ketogenic diets are all the rage. And anytime there is a fad, there will be a host of naysayers. So here is what I say to you.

My family and heritage are very prone to Type 2 diabetes. Many of my family have had limb amputations due to this disease. Others suffer blindness. Most have to take daily insulin injections by needle. Others require routine kidney dialysis.

Most of all, my Dad had a very bad scare earlier this past Summer resulting in stroke like symptoms caused by insulin shock. My younger brother is also on this path. That hits way too close to home for me. I don’t want to go down that path. In fact, it scares me to death.

So yap about my diet all you want. When it comes to life and death, I’m not playing around. Low insulin sensitivity leads to insulin resistance. The best way to combat that cycle is, first, intermittent fasting and, second, a ketogenic diet. Anything you can do to quell the insulin pump is a good thing for diabetics. This means, don’t eat all the time and don’t eat sugars.

The ADA (American Dietetics Association) is in cahoots with the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) in promoting the need for grains in our diets. Any respectable dietitian is going to recommend fiber from grains in diets. Its something I am at complete odds with. They will also tell you to eat 6 smaller meals a day including fruits and grains. This is a sure path to Type 2 Diabetes. Eating constantly prods the insulin pump to keep on pumping. This is totally opposite of what a diabetic should do.

And if you are aware of this, carbohydrates of all forms are long chains of sugar molecules. Yes, bread, pasta, and all that other tasty stuff in the grain category end up as sugars. And some are the bad sugars from fruit, fructose. Fructose needs a lot of help from the liver to process it.

While every cell in the body can use glucose, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts. When people eat a diet that is high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat.

A bread and fruit diet is the worst thing a diabetic can do. Yet its often what many people recommend.

My diet is not something I take lightly. It is life or death for me. Its not an option. When "woke" people who live in cities tell you something, you should always reflect cautiously. When we live in excess, we make choices based on other fads that include exotic cuisines. If it wasn’t for commerce largely made possible by fossil fuels moving your kiwis, pomegranates, papaya, and passion fruit from far off places, that wouldn’t be a part of your exotic diet. Meanwhile, indigenous people learned to live off of what is regionally available. I just heard a podcast on this talking about Aboriginal culture in Australia. And despite very healthy Aboriginal diets, European settlers refused to adopt the healthy diets of the host culture.

Before you go and try to discredit what someone is doing, think first. Cautiously study. And don’t jump to conclusions without facts.

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes: Light therapy

I’ve been making a lot of changes in my life lately. A lot has been influenced by the Ben Greenfield podcast. But other places too. I’m slowly becoming more of a biohacker than I have been all my life.

The biggest change right now is reading myself to sleep. And I go to bed a half hour earlier (yikes, 830pm). At first, I was reading a self-help book on retirement planning. Its fun reading but stirs too many thoughts. I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about things I need to do. So I switched to fiction. Well, its semi-fiction since I know a lot of it is true. I’m reading a fly fishing novel by John Gierach. He’s like the Mark Twain of fly fishing. I love it. I go to sleep thinking of beautiful mountain streams.

I’m also trying to get rid of blue light. I wear these goofy glasses when I read to block any blue light. I really can’t explain to you all the scientific effects of blue light on the body. But the research is amazing! It has helped me get a half hour extra of sleep a night. I am now getting 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep, which is super important in our lives. Of all the biohacks there is, sleep should always be number 1. Nobody is immune to needed sleep, no matter what they tell you.

OK, just a little tangent on sleep. Research shows that we go through 5 stages in a sleep cycle. It starts with a light drifting to deep sleep to REM sleep. Most intense dreams happen in REM sleep. To be honest, I’m a light sleeper and rarely if ever remember dreams. But since I’ve changed my sleep patterns, I am remembering more dreams, particularly right before I wake up. We go through these 5 stages of sleep in roughly 90 minutes. We should get at least 5 cycles of this 90 minutes of sleep a night. That equals 35 sleep units per week (7×5). Research shows that a nap of 20-40 minutes can equal one of these sleep cycles. It turns out that we can accelerate the 5 stages when we nap. Napping is best done between 11am to 2pm. I haven’t done a lot of napping during the work day, but I do at home a lot. But I do have a camping mat, blanket and pillow in my office. I will be more positive about doing it knowing that it is helpful.

Yesterday, I installed (rather poorly) blue light filters on my computer screens at work. I have two larger 24 inch screens and a 14" laptop screen. Next time, I’ll get the filters that hang over the front of the screen instead of the semi-adhesive type. It took some getting used to, but I’m growing into them today. Now I need to figure if I want to turn off the terrible fluorescent lights overhead. It would look funny to have a red light in my office. So for the sake of professionalism, I need to find a good option. I would like to get a red light for 10-20 minutes of exposure per day. It has numerous healing effects that I cannot fully explain. But I will add that some day soon.

I’m also trying to not wear sunglasses. Again, I need to read more on this. But here is a huge tangent:

Researchers (citations coming) claim that many of our cancers are caused by living indoor lifestyles. Incidence of skin cancer and other cancers is statistically higher for indoor workers than outdoor workers. Sunlight enables production of Vitamins A & D leading to strong bones and other health factors. Our retina in particular along with the pineal gland is responsible for reacting to sunlight in a way to produce melanin. Melanin is what is needed to help us protect our skin and prevent burning. We never want to burn. And this isn’t different for any ethnicity. The only caveat are the true redheads who lack melanin producing genes. The problem is, we spend 40-60 hours in an office and more time at home indoors, then we go sunbathing and boating on the weekend in large doses. Our bodies aren’t ready for that. But if we spent more daily time in the sun, we would be much more protected. A problem is sunglasses. When we wear sunglasses, it disables this melanin producing effect because the sun isn’t triggering the needed response in the retina. So I’m wearing less sunglasses. I need to read more so I don’t overdo anything. But it all makes sense.

The other aspect of the sun is the intense reaction our bodies have relative to the sun. Our circadian biology says that our bodies and hormones are greatly affected by the sun. You wake with the sun and go to bed with the sun. It means you’ll be up more in the Summer and sleep more in the Winter. Its what bears and other diurnal animals do. I’ll talk about this more later, but the night owls who are eating snacks at night are greatly comprising your health. This morning, I went outside and watched the sunrise. I stood gently moving in the cool air and read a chapter of a book. But you could also walk, do sun salutations, or just bask in the sun. Being both a little aerobic and having skin exposure triggers so many chemical reactions in our bodies. More on that as I learn more. Watching both the sunrise and the sunset can have a major effect on our circadian rhythms.

I know. You probably think this is all goofy nonsense. But if you care about preventing cancers; getting better sleep; want to regulate fat storage and burning; want to maximize growth hormones (including testosterone) for muscle growth and healing; and live a longer, quality filled life, then you should care about this too.

Much more to come!

Oil Pulling

Day 1 of oil pulling begins.
Photo credit: Nancy Guberti

I am a very routine person. I do things in an exact order throughout my day. Yeah, I’m a type-A, first born, extreme tight-wad. Haha! After 14 years in the military, we live off of routine and tradition. That’s not without throwing a grenade into the mix now and then.

Here is my morning routine with the oil pulling added:
– my Sleep Cycle app wakes me within a 30 minute window from 4:45-5:15 AM as I naturally begin to stir. This way, I’m not waking from a deep sleep all groggy and cranky.
– I get up, put outdoor weather relevant clothes on (but not shoes)
– I open up the gates and release the hounds. They usually jump up on my legs and I pet them.
– I lay my phone by my chair and pick up the dog bowls (so I don’t make a 2nd trip when I get back)
– I turn on my one-cup coffee maker that I pre-set the night before (night routine coming soon)
{- Now, I take a teaspoon full of coconut oil in my mouth and swish it during the walk; I spit it out along the way}
– I go into the laundry room and harness the dogs for a barefoot walk (barefoot is necessary for grounding [earthing]; my negative ions are discharged)
– After a short walk, I grab my coffee and fill the dog bowls.
– I sit down and watch the real news and play a little with social media.
– I take Cassie dog up to the door and she pushes in to jump up on the bed where my wife is reading.
– I get dressed and go to work. Work starts at 6:30 AM.

My first go with the oil pulling was fantastic. I make sure I don’t swallow the coconut oil or it will break my fast. I don’t need breakfast yet. My teeth feel fantastic. And it made my black coffee even more creamy and delicious tasting. I’m a huge fan already! Ben Greenfield adds a bit of probiotic to his mixture in the morning. I may think about that for later.