Goal WOD & PT checkout

I had my last day of Physical Therapy yesterday. I had a good session and the PTs at Impact are super amazing. I am still restricted on what I can do and I trust their knowledge. But to stay on the positive, there is a lot that I CAN do. A torn labrum in my shoulder means I have to limit all pressing movements, overhead work (pullups and presses), and anything biceps related. My particular injury involves the long head of the bicep where it attaches at the labrum. So I have to be careful there.

My new workout in December and beyond includes setting weekly goals. It looks like this:
Week 1: Do one long/hero workout a month
Week 2: Set goal accessory movement lift
Week 3: Set a goal for LSD: run [treadmill or outside], ski, row, bike
Week 4: Set goal for major lifts (squat, bench press, DL, Olympic)

I did a max rack Squat on Saturday. I didn’t actually go to 100%. But I went near it and felt good afterward. The last thing I need is to get injured. But it gives me the confidence to add 10 kg and try again this Saturday.

Yesterday, I did my goal Long CrossFit Workout. My initial intention was to do "Michael" outside. But the feel like temperature is 11 degrees F so I didn’t feel like going outside. And, unfortunately, treadmill miles are so much longer than regular miles. So I didn’t want to do the entire workout on a treadmill. So here is the prescribed (Rx) workout and my modification.

Michael: (3 rounds for time)
run 800 m
50 situps
50 GHD back extensions

My Modification: (20 min AMRAP)
Round 1. run 400 m, 2. row 400 m , 3. ski 400m, repeat
25 situps
25 back extensions

I ended up getting back to the 2nd run. But my treadmill is upstairs and I only had a little over 4 minutes left. So I went back to the rower on my last round. Overall, it wasn’t a super difficult workout. That’s not to say I wasn’t straining hard on the situps and I couldn’t pull with power on the last row. I’m a little sore the day after, so that’s good. If I do this again, I may set it up for 30 mins instead (note to self: go ahead and mark it on my calendar for a few months from now).

Since I’ve been hesitant to work unilaterally with only my good shoulder, I haven’t done either. But I’m about to add just one side for a while. And I’ll also work very light bilaterally as well. My instructions for working out, yoga teaching, and life is to never go where I feel pain on my labrum. So that’s what I’ll do. Before PT, I was doing a lot, but I think I was in pain most of that time too. That’s not a good place to be. There is never a "no pain, no gain" mentality with injuries.

Happy New Year!

Its Sad, But True

So, I’m ashamed to say as a fan of the music of Alice in Chains, I didn’t know a lot of the history of the band. The reason for my renewed interest was a group that has popped up in my Spotify feed now and then. It is the band Mad Season. I was thinking, “that singer sounds just like Layne Staley of Alice in Chains”. Well yeah, one in the same.

So as I read about Layne, its sad but its true. He fell along a predictable path of some of the grunge rockers of the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorite rock icons was Jimi Hendrix who probably paved the way for the success and untimely death of rockers from the Seattle area. I once visited his grave and memorial site a few years back. Layne died on the anniversary of the suicide of Chris Cornell. I think Chad Bennington left us a year after Chris too.

Layne was raised as a Christian Scientist. And before you pigeon hole me as a radical, Bible thumping kind of person (which I am), hear me out. I understand the heartache many people feel when they feel disenfranchised from organized religion. If you never understand the true principles of those beliefs, then it always seems fringe. But of the mainstream religions with deep rich histories, Christian Science is a more modern idea without a lot of roots. But it doesn’t really matter. I know people who were raised in Christianity and have now pushed it away. They are the most vocal anti-Christians in the world. I feel for them sometimes because there are some people in this world who are not to be followed or believed. But that’s the point. Don’t make your beliefs about people. People often fail us. You have to seek answers for yourself.

There are some traditional denominations that discouraged people in the past of reading scriptures. In olden times, scriptures were not readily available. Only the priests read them and shared them orally with others. With the advent of the modern printing press, the scriptures became known to more people. People like Martin Luther started reading for himself and started to question what the Church was doing at the time. So then you are guided by the opinions of Man (and Woman) and not by your own self study, systems of beliefs often fail us. People are not perfect. And when you put all your eggs in the People Basket, you can always be let down.

I feel the same as a yoga teacher. I really honored my yoga teachers when I first started; I still do. I saw them as untouchable, other worldly, and wise beyond reproach. I never considered them as gurus, but as someone who deserves respect. We have a teacher’s room at our studio. Its a place where teachers can place their mats, receive materials from the studio owner, and some will even prepare for classes in there. It kind of sets us apart from our students. But the minute we start to place people on a pedestal, its when bad things start to happen. People start to believe in the hype and start to wear their crowns and tiaras with lots of pride. They want their feet kissed and much more. Its sad but true; people let us down. Never lift anyone so high that they can’t see below the clouds.

Back to music. I really love music. When I listen to music, I’m in total bliss. I’m such an audiophile that I can get lost in the syncopation. I have a childlike curiosity about music. It is always innocent in the beginning. But sometimes, I get curious about a lyric that I just heard. Sometimes its blatant enough that I have to remove it from all my playlists. If it is just vulgar or unjustifiably abrasive, then I remove it from my playlists. And if it turns out that a song goes against my beliefs, then that gets removed as well. I usually try not to think about it. But sometimes its right in your face and you can’t do anything but turn from it.

Personally, I find my foundation in my beliefs. Its what keeps me living and in complete hope for the future. It keeps me from getting too down when I see a world in peril. Its because of my faith that I can live. But when I read about Layne Staley, I realized he would have been just two years younger than me today if he would have lived. He was very outspoken against religion. Many of the rockers of old were the same. Yet their depression and addiction showed they had no hope for the future. They could have had anything they wanted. They could have managed their finances to be comfortable for the rest of their lives. The American Dream could have come true for them. But their disbelief in something higher than themselves puts all their problems on their own shoulders. They can have all the money and friends and accolades the world can give them, but its not enough.

I feel bad for people who end up making the decision to end their lives. Some of it is made slightly easier by being blinded in addiction. Layne of Alice in Chains at over 6 feet tall was estimated to be 85 pounds when he died two weeks prior to being found. He was alone at 34 years old. Very alone. He said in one of his lyrics “Deny your maker”. And that’s what he did. Addiction is such a terrible thing. But its preventable. If you were raised in a loving home by a mother and father who loves you. If you have hope for the future and hold firmly to that belief. If you have friends who don’t try to take you off your path, but instead support you and hold your hand as you walk, then you can’t fail.

Its a choice to take a drug. People say that our vices, no matter how mundane and seemingly harmless, lets us to open up to more illicit vices. When you’re high on weed or alcohol, who knows what next step you will take. When all your friends push you to take the next step and you’re having a good time, then why not? Its always a choice.

My grandpa was a smoker. He was the only smoker in my life. So sometimes we would “play” smoking. We would buy those candy cigarettes and act like we were smoking. There was this funny tree in Oklahoma that would give off flowers that looked like a cigarella. So we would even try to light them and act like we were smoking. I believe the more you are around something that’s not good for you, the more you justify what it is. When everyone does something for the first time, its to fit in. Its peer pressure. Its an intense curiosity about something. And for most of us, its weakness. We are weakened by peer pressure, by escapism, by pain and depression, and by more moderate highs. When I had my first beer, I could barely keep it in my mouth. But I didn’t want to look like a nerd in front of the two people with me. I was like, how do people do this? I couldn’t even drink a whole bottle. Now its an acquired taste that I enjoy now and then. But that’s my vice that I control. Its because I’m a responsible husband, mentor, teacher, and member of my community. I would never want to let anyone down by abusing something that can make you do something stupid. But you see it all the time.

Its Sad, But True. Some people don’t have guard rails in life. Anything goes. They don’t have something that is bigger than themselves. Life occurs randomly for them—there is no creator. Just “bang” and we’re here. We are all “accidents” in the womb that can be discarded at will. Instead of treating like the miracle that it is, we are all products of random chance. That’s what’s sad about some people’s lives. There is no hope. There is no future. Life is optional. Its sad, but true.

I hope you find hope in this New Year. For some people I know, its yoga. It can change your life. It connects mind and body in a different way that’s tangible and you can see progress. But mostly, you feel progress. You can feel yourself grow. And you start to ask questions about your being. Not just your well being in your body, but in what you believe in your mind. It is not religious, but it IS spiritual. It will connect you with whatever you believe is true. It is a gateway drug that has helped so many people. Maybe its not yoga. Maybe its running or hiking or reading books. But find hope for the future. Find something that is bigger than yourself. Don’t be afraid to lean on people, but lean more on your own understanding of a bigger life. The bigness is the hope. If you’ve ever been on the ocean or on top of a mountain, you can feel this. You feel how small you are and how life is fleeting. That’s when you start to know that you need help. Its so huge and wonderful. Believe in something. Now that part is not sad at all. And it is all very True.

Protect Yourself

"When seconds count, police are only minutes away"

We’ve heard this saying and its true. Now, for most of us law-abiding citizens who live in cushy suburbia, this doesn’t mean as much. But for people who live on an island in a sea of lawlessness, it means a lot. Some people are broken in to on a regular basis. For these people, they know what it means.

I am still horrified by movies and shows I’ve seen of a young person who comes home alone after school to a distantly, remote farm house. A vehicle pulls up the drive and two men come knocking at the front door. To be safe, the young person doesn’t answer the door. One man pulls open the screen door and jiggles the door handle. The other begins peering into the window. If this young resident called the police, it may take 20 minutes for them to arrive. They could call a neighbor, if they are home, and maybe it would take 5 minutes. But then you’re putting your neighbor in danger too.

I’ve been to places where rules aren’t followed. Traffic lights mean nothing. Stop signs are just street decorations. I’ve accidentally stopped at hotels that turned out to be brothels. I put towels under my hotel room door to cut down the noise and cigarette smoke. I once rented a room that was on the ground floor and had a window that wouldn’t lock shut. It was my only option at the time. So I called the front desk, and the front desk person came with a screwdriver and a screw to keep it shut. Huh? I’ve had people bang on my car window asking for money. What do you do when seconds count? Do you cower in the closet and hope for the best? Do you think about hiding under the bed and hope that nobody finds you?

When I do Ashtanga yoga, I know once I get past the standing poses, my body will get to relax a little bit. I’ve run trail races where I know the last few hundred yards of the final stretch are easy, I just have to get there first. I’ve seen MMA fights where a fighter is getting beaten badly, but knows if he can make it to the 3rd round, he has the advantage with endurance. But you have to get there first. How much do you think you can take before the police arrive? Because that’s what you have to do if you don’t have a means to protect yourself. You have to outlast your offender until the Calvary rides in to save the day. Do you think you can make it?

Even worse, what if you are protecting someone you love. Maybe its your wife or husband. Maybe its your kids or pets. Maybe its a family heirloom, the last remembrance of a loved one. But instead of being a protector, you are one of the sheep. You are huddling under the desk with your loved ones with no recourse whatsoever. All you can do is hope to not be found.

Everyone has a right to protect themselves. Everyone should learn basic aspects of self defense. But remember, criminals don’t fight fair. They want to overwhelm with the least resistance possible. So whatever means you have for defense, it better be substantial.

Short story– I’ve carried bear spray as a repellent against anything or anyone that might hurt me while camping, backpacking, and backcountry fishing. I’ve even flown into places and found the nearest outfitter to pick up a new can of spray since I couldn’t carry it on the plane. And when I don’t end up using it, I sit it open at a campground for someone else to use since I can’t take it with me. Then one day, a family of raccoons brazenly started to raid the back of my open pickup truck while I was sitting around a fire. I tried to shoe them away, but they were determined. So I broke out my bear spray. I pulled off the safety cap, pointed it at them, and pressed the trigger. Haha! It shot out a weak trickle of fluid about 2 feet. If it was an attacking bear, I would have been dead. And even if I did blow the whole can on a bear successfully, what would I do about the next bear on that trip? I can’t carry a half dozen cans of bear spray.

When seconds count, help is minutes away. Sometimes more than a few minutes. What are you going to do? Answer, not from the seat of your cushy home in Pleasantville, but from some place where danger lives. It actually lives everywhere. Some day, someone high on drugs is going to break the rules. They’ll do something unconventional. They’ll be someplace where you didn’t expect them. Then what do you do? Do you rationalize with them? Do you use deflecting language to deter them? Hmmm, I hope that works for you. Intellectuals always think you can rationalize with irrational people. That’s usually not the case.

Be safe my friends.

Be Happy

I’m completely oversimplifying this idea. But I do mean it.

I don’t mean to be cliche or mindless in thought. I’m a deep thinker and can get caught up in the woes of the world just like anyone else. I am also a religious person and acknowledge I am not in control. Someone else is. So I abide by advice given by others: Only worry about what you can control. For all the other things, I will meditate on it and pray for them. And, unlike a Facebook friend once said, "thoughts and prayers mean nothing", I strongly beg to differ. I agree with a tangible call to action, but for those of us who believe in a higher power, prayer is communicating with that higher being who has control. It means something to us who believe.

And before you jump all over me for being this fanatic, think about what we believe. Many say God Bless You when people sneeze. This is rooted in the idea that your heart stops and you die for a millisecond, so saying God Bless You keeps the evil spirits out. I don’t believe this, but many people do. People believe in ghost and goblins. They believe in crystals, cards, and stars. They are superstitious about many things. So it seems that what I believe doesn’t seem so crazy.

By only embracing those things in your control, it gives you a lot of freedom in life. And if you can control something, that means you have means to make change. You don’t have to sit there and grumble and stew and mumble under your breath. You don’t have to be anxious or hateful or bitter. If you can control something, then do something about it. Resolve to fix or forgive. Taking action is the key. If you don’t like the wobble in your car tires, then fix it. If you don’t like that there is no crosswalk where you usually walk, petition to the city council. If you don’t like a political situation, take action and do something. That doesn’t mean protest. Protesting does nothing. Actually do something to change the system.

On the other hand, if you can’t control something, maybe give it the few seconds it deserves and move on. If its something you can pray about and let the higher being deal with it, then that’s all you can do. If you have no recourse to elicit change, then why worry about it. Why yell to people on social media or do things that don’t matter one bit? Its wasted emotion and energy. Why make heartache in your life that doesn’t need to be there?

I know of someone who is perpetually bitter. She is always the victim. Everyone is always out to get her. And she thinks she is the only person in the world who holds the correct philosophy on such things. The problem is, she was happy at times before. She was that beautiful partner that someone wanted in their lives. But bitterness from breakup led to a hard line ideology that began to dig a hole. At times, she has tried to crawl out and be someone else. But the hole drags her in deeper. And with each experience, she digs deeper. At some point, she’ll be so deep that nobody wants to lend a hand to help. She is just alone in the darkness. She isn’t aware of why she is alone anymore. Her ideology ostracizes her from the world. It is not a good way to live.

I feel bad about those people who are so bitter. Some are not religious so they do all they can to put down traditions of others. They don’t like seeing your happiness so they try to bring you down into the hole they dug for themselves. I saw the same with Thanksgiving. People can’t just enjoy and just be someone who accepts others. They have to dig their heels in and be bitter. I wish I could just tell them to be happy and all would be well. But they are so deep inside their thoughts, their pain, and their alter ego that pride won’t release them to enjoy.

I really dislike the coexist bumper stickers that are out there. Its not that I don’t believe in coexistence. Its just that I know some of the people with those bumper stickers and they are totally anti-religious. If we really coexist, it means we accept others. I accept everyone even though I don’t always agree with what they do. I don’t like smoking at all, but I have friends who are smokers. It doesn’t change how much I like them as people. I have many friends who are vegans or vegetarians, but they still seem to like me when I’m not. When I was in Thailand, there was a Buddhist event that was a national holiday for them. I acknowledged and accepted what was happening. I even wanted to go and view one of the ceremonies at a temple. Its not that I believe the same, but I accept and am curious. There are more Catholic, liturgical kinds of practices and holidays that I don’t follow. But I accept and embrace them even if I don’t believe the same. Its all about being an agreeable person in society. I’m not out protesting or bad-mouthing what they do. Its not what polite people do.

Be happy! Enjoy a Polish pączki even if you aren’t Polish or Catholic. I didn’t even know what a

pączki was until I moved to Detroit. But I sure ate the heck out them. We can be multicultural, multiethnic, and enjoy all that life provides. Celebrate each other. Be jubilant when other people are happy. Its really not hard to do. Its freedom of thought. Its removing trying to intellectualize everything to make yourself feel superior. Sometimes, most times, its better to see through the eyes of a child. If there are smiles and lights and colors, then smile and be happy. If you allow yourself to be free, then you can do it too.

Hysterical Hystory: A Tone Deaf Generation

Haha, I love when kids today don’t know the pioneers of music.

I just watched a video on YouTube of a brief history of Alanis Morrisette. Apparently, Taylor Swift bought her out as a guest singer at one of her concerts. They sang "You Outta Know" and kids were tweeting, "Who is Alanis" and "Cmon Taylor, Alanis Who?". Bwahaha! Taylor was singing Alanis’ song. Get a life #forreal

Not long ago, Ozzy Osbourne did a collaboration with Post Malone. The same thing happened. Kids were like "See, that’s why I love Post. This Ozzy person is going to be famous now". When, in reality, Ozzy has plastered the world with music for over 50 years straight. If you go to any sports venue today, you’ll hear "Iron Man", "Crazy Train", and "Flying High Again". His roots with Black Sabbath pioneered a whole genre of music. The Prince of Darkness has been rocking for generations.

As far a civics classes today, our education system is failing us badly. Many kids don’t have a clue about our government and the basics of our history. Even college kids. I’ve seen so many times when someone interviews college students on campuses or on Spring Break they are totally clueless. It really surprises me. I know that’s not everyone, but students who correctly answer basic questions about government and U.S. history are conspicuously absent.

We need more education, especially in high school. I think the next generation of youngsters should skip college and learn a trade. They would be vastly more employable and functional in society.

ROI: Yoga Teaching and Stuff

There are many gracious, altruistic people in the world. I try to be one of these people as often as I can. By even in doing so, I try to make it benefit me as much as possible. For instance, if I give to charity, I usually don’t give someone a wad of bills and walk away. I at least try to get a receipt so I can put it toward my taxes. That is called Stewardship. It is using your money for maximum effectiveness. And some of you would say, oh that’s just for personal gain. But no, it means I can multiply the money that I do give and give more in the future.

People see rich people as these greedy, self-serving people. Maybe they are. But many are just really good at making money. I recently saw an article about what 8 billionaire’s drove for their personal cars. I mean, they were downright dull. They weren’t Ferrari’s and Mercedes; they were Honda’s and Toyota’s. In fact, if you look at eccentric rich people like Howard Hughes, they were frugal spend thrifts. They refused to spend money on themselves. There are actually some like that.

But I’ll have to admit that it is fun to spend on ourselves sometimes, especially when it means we are bettering our lives in the process. That’s how I felt about yoga. In some ways, I felt a bit coerced by teachers to do it in the first place. I didn’t have any aspirations of being a yoga teacher. I didn’t think I fit the mold (and I still don’t). When I dropped a few thousand dollars on teacher training, I never expected to ever make that money back. I was doing it for myself. I would have never imagined how much it would shape my life. And because of what happened to me, I feel that I’ve heaped a lot of my personal gain on others. I feel like I’m doing a very great service to the community. And if I get paid to do that, even better. Its not a job for me, its a total blessing.

The interesting thing about it all is that, in addition to my regular job, my hobby job is now making me some money. My ROI, Return On Investment, is high. And it is something I really enjoy. I cannot say that all of my ventures have been money making propositions. One that comes to mind is what I’m facing right now. I finished a year of Thai Yoga Massage training just over a year ago. So I had one full year of practicing that art to recoup the training dollars. I’ve am so fascinated by the practice and enjoy helping people heal. In the State of Illinois, we have been able to practice under an Asian Bodywork exemption. However, due to human sex trafficking problems, State legislators put in a bill to do away with the exemption. We have worked hard to try to get a reprieve or find some mechanism of licensing. Unfortunately, that all fell apart. As of Jan 1, 2020, we will no long be able to legally practice in Illinois. So we rebrand and modify or completely stop practicing. Its such a shame. So the money I put into the program may never be recovered. I probably came close in a year of practice, but I don’t think by much. For this training, my ROI is not very good.

We don’t always do things for money, like I’ve said. Sometimes a positive ROI is not what we need. Sometimes its the experience, the people, the location, that matters more. Working with a celebrity teacher, traveling to an exotic location, or experiencing something magical is what its all about. Mind you, these "extras" can be costly and defeats reaching an ROI. Its like going to an Ivy League college when the local community college could give you equal or even better education. People go for the experience and the notoriety of going to a big school. That’s OK if you can use that for your gain. But if it doesn’t help you, then why do it? I see lots of people who have no money or go into tremendous debt to do exotic things, when something local would suffice. Sometimes its not association with celebrity, it is ego. They want the street cred to put on their resume. Sometimes it may be selfishness. But its never up to me to judge a person’s decisions. Its up to a person in their own heart to decide why they do what they do.

You have to decide why you do things. Are you just doing it for yourself? Or, is this an entrepreneurial venture where the bottom line does matter. Do you really need the art deco location downtown, or will a nice location in the suburbs work just as well? Do you need to go into $50K debt for studio interior design or will some paint and nice lighting work just as well? It all comes down to ROI. Its why a budget works so well in our personal lives. A business can’t get away without doing that. If you don’t balance the books and create profit that benefits your family and helps grow a business, then why do it? That’s for you to decide. If you don’t know, then ask for help. If you don’t mind dollars flying out the window, then by all means, do that. Otherwise, you have to be smart about business. What you do is a business. Treat it like one.