Have more, be more

I’m not one for doing things because the calendar turns, I think if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing RIGHT NOW.

So with that: have more understanding, more patience, more empathy, more unitiy, more humility, more love. Not because 2017, but because we’re all in this together and life’s too damn short.

Be bigger. Be better. Be love. Start now.

Goodbye, Grandma

Last night my maternal grandmother, SHIN Joung Nam, passed away. She was 91.

To me, she was always 할머니 – “Halmoni”, Korean for “grandma”.

There’s so many memories.

Watching her squatting down on the floor making kimchi.

Always offering me corn tea to drink.

Spending summers at the Pine Park Apartments in Omaha (which they managed), with her, my uncle, aunts, cousins. Such a silly time.

“Ha-mi, go be-bo” – which was “Halmoni, take me to the basement”. Apparently when I was a small child, it’s something I always said to her and wanted to do with her.

Of course, when I was small enough, she would carry me on her back, piggy-back. “Ah-bu-bah”.

Every year, receiving our blessing on New Years Day. And a little gift of money. I remember that first time I went from $20 to $50: it meant I was finally getting older and not really a child any more. 🙂 Oh, and the ox tail “new years” soup that she would make each year.

Of course, always sneaking me gifts and other things.  Especially food and treats.

Being at her house, and always smiling at the propane heater and how she always kept a tea pot on top of it.

When I was getting ready to go off to college, she took me to the Korean market and bought me a little 4-cup rice cooker to ensure I had rice to eat in my dorm room. 🙂

Her coming to my wedding, and the first time she met my “soon-to-be-bride” my older sister introducing them and encouraging my bride to “go on…say it..” and the laughter shared at my bride speaking her first Korean words to my grandmother.

And even tho her English was broken and my Korean horrible, there was always one clear thing that came through:

“John-a, I love you.”

I can hear her voice right now, saying that to me. She said it so much, how can I not hear it?

Seeing her smile. Hearing her laugh. I will always treasure.

I love you 할머니

5 tips to improving discourse

It’s been a rough… couple of weeks? years? decades? Since the 2016 Elections I think a lot of people would say things have gotten worse.

At least when it comes to discourse.

In fact, I think a lot of people are feeling we no longer have discourse – just a lot of shouting and demanding.

Not much listening.

Not much progress.

Not much building.

Not much understanding nor empathy.

But we do have a lot of hate, anger, resentment, frustration, misinformation passed off as truth, etc..

I was reading an article about a recent confrontation: someone was getting in someone’s face, getting ugly, and the ones being confronted handled it with aplomb. The article referenced “The 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo”:

  • ALL cultures want to be treated with Dignity and Respect.
  • ALL people would rather be asked than told what to do.
  • ALL people want to know why they are asked or told to do something.
  • ALL people would rather have options than threats.
  • ALL people want a second chance to make matters right.

If you’ll forgive my clickbait title, for sure these are fantastic ways to improve discourse. It doesn’t matter the venue or the context – they are universal.

Part of me looks at those 5 truths and sees how the past some years have escallated in the lack of people adhering to these truths:

  • Only certain cultures or groups are being treated with dignity and respect; others are being attacked, demeaned, marginalized.
  • Certain people/groups are demanding and telling other people/groups how they must act, behave, what they can and cannot say.
  • If any explanation is given, if that explanation is not understood or is questioned, the conversation is shut down and the questioner written off.
  • There are no options, or any options given are false choices. And if someone chooses the “unapproved” option, threats are followed-through.
  • What second chance? In the world of doxxing and Internet mob justice, the moment you “step out of line” you are to be destroyed.

What’s worse is the above 5 failings are also universal. It’s happening on all “sides” by all “sides”.

You can’t change someone else’s behavior. Or can you?

Truly you can only change your behavior, and perhaps increasing our effort to adopt and manifest those 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo will be a good change you can make in yourself. And who knows. When you manifest them in your conversations with others, there’s a chance you might actually change their behavior too.

And things might actually get better.

Tiffany’s thoughts on BLM

Whatever your feelings, biases, persuasion – take a few minutes and read Tiffany Johnson’s thoughts on Black Lives Matter.

Since it may affect your choice to read or not: Tiffany is a black female. And if knowing that affects your decision to read or not, keep that in mind as you read it (and yes, it’s even more reason why you should read it).

The 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Folks: the 5th Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference has been announced for  Saturday January 7, 2017 at the Cabela’s in Buda, Texas.

Click/Tap here for full details.

It’s only $60, and it covers a LOT of good stuff. Of the speakers list, I’m really looking forward to hearing from Jack Jania again – but that’s just the tech geek in me. 🙂

The thing I love about Paul? He’s a down-to-earth guy. “Prepping” isn’t about hoarding guns and food because zombie apocalypse – I know that’s the popular image (stereotype) that people get when they hear the word “prepping” or “prepper”. It’s about understanding that life brings about the unexpected, and with a little forethought, planning, and work, you can be prepared for “shit happening” and it won’t be so traumatic when it inevitably does.

For example, do you have a will?

Do you have proper insurance? both types and coverage levels?

Are you in good health?

Being a prepper starts with stuff like that, not stockpiling MREs and ammo. Yeah I know, it’s not sexy, but when things like Hurricane Matthew make landfall, having your ducks in a row BEFORE the hurricane hits – instead of how people run to the store for bread and milk the hours before stormy weather hits – can do your health and peace of mind a world of good.

Come to the conference. I’ve presented at 2 of them, and attended what schedule has permitted. I’m going to attend this one. I hope to see you there!

Discipline, not motivation

If you follow my blog, you probably noticed I go to the gym and lift weights on a regular basis. I’ve been doing that for the past 5.5 years. Some people marvel at the fact I do this, on a regular basis, for so long (5 years isn’t long, but when the New Years gym joke is everyone signs up in January and by Valentine’s Day the gym is empty again, 5 years is an eternity). Sometimes I wonder about this “long regularity” as well, because I’ve lifted weights on and off since I was a teenager, but it never “took” as strongly as it has this time around.

An old friend recently asked me how I motivate myself to exercise.

I said I don’t motivate myself. It’s discipline.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no model of (self-)discipline, and I know there’s much I need to improve about myself in this area. But to me, this is what it is. I don’t need gym memes and coffee to drag myself to the gym, whining and hating it all the way. Yes, there are days when I don’t want to go, when I have to force myself to drag-ass to the gym and do it anyways. But I do it, because that’s what you do. Why?

Because I want results.

I started lifting weights as a teenager, because I hated being the skinny weakling geek (and, you know, chicks did big pecs and biceps, right?). I enjoyed lifting, I enjoyed devouring every bit of information I could find, which generally meant asking the school bus driver to drop me off at the 7-11 instead of the proper bus stop near my home, so I could get this month’s edition of Muscle & Fitness or Flex off the newsstand. I worshiped at the altar of Joe Weider, and made my workouts like I read in the magazines. And while that was OK, I never really got where I wanted to go. Eventually things would wane. Looking back now, I can see it would wane because I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it, then other things would take my interest.

As I got older, married, kids, and took a desk job, I felt my body going to crap. Time to exercise. I tried all manner of things, and even found myself gravitating back to lifting a few times. But again, the lifting didn’t stick because ultimately I wasn’t getting out of it what I was wanting to get out of it.

But almost 6 years ago I found myself in the same “need to exercise” boat and did something different: I joined a local gym figuring access to all that equipment might “motivate” me in a new way. I started out doing the same old things I knew from my teenage education, then I got sick (flu). But I was also bitten by the lifting bug again, but this time I had The Internet! I started to search for all I could, and in the end learned about things like Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Life wouldn’t be the same.

What changed?

I got results.

I saw my body improving. I saw my strength increasing.

Every time I went to the gym, I saw things getting better. I was finally getting out of it what I was wanting to get out of it.

Progress might have been slow, but you come to accept this particular game is a slow game, a long-term game, a “it takes years” game. But what helps? You see progress on a micro-level. That you see this week you got one more rep than last week. That this session you added 5# to the bar. It may be small progress, but it’s progress! Or when I spent 16 months and dropped 66 lbs of flab – 2# lost this week, another 1# the week after, 1.5# that week, and over time it added up. And every step you take, it gets you closer to your goal. Every so often when you think you haven’t come far, stop and look back and see how much distance there is between here and the starting line. You should smile. 🙂

When you see those past results, you start to grow faith for future results. I saw how my squat increased 10# every 4 weeks, so I knew if I squatted right for the next 4 weeks it’d go up another 10#, and if I kept it up for a year I could go up 100#. Or when I was defattening, that if I kept my calorie restriction going, I’d lose another 2# this week  and could be 100# down in a year (so just put up with being hungry). Of course it’s not as simple nor linear as that, but the point is knowing that if you are doing the work – and doing smart work (I give much credit to Jim Wendler here) – and seeing the desired progress – that if you continue doing the work, you will continue to see the desired progress. That in time, you will achieve your goals.

Sometimes the work isn’t fun. There are exercises I hate doing, like lunges and split-legged sqauts, but I have found my knees are happier because I do them, so I keep doing them (hating every set and rep). The work sucks, but the results outweigh.

And so, it’s the results – the desire, the quest for results – that “motivate” me.

But again, it’s not really motivation. It’s the discipline. That if I want to achieve my goals, I have to keep working. It’s the consistent work over time that will allow me to achieve. So if I want to achieve, I have to go to the gym. And if I go to the gym, I will take another step closer to my desired results.

This works for me, because I like achieving goals. I like having larger goals, and then milestones and “smaller goals” along the way. That helps keep me going, when I can tangibly see the progress: big results, and mini-results. Not everyone is goal-oriented, but I do think we all like to see results.

And so, I guess that’s what enables me to keep drag-assing myself to the gym. I know what I want, so I have to put in the work to get it. I do love to lift, but I often hate the work I have to do. But, I do the work, because I know the payoff is really what i’m after. And when I achieve that, it’ll be awesome.

Justified vs. Helping

Of course your behavior is justifiable.

That’s not the question.

The question is, “is it helping?”

It’s easy to justify our mood or our actions based on how we’ve been treated by the outside world. Justification isn’t the goal, though. It’s effectiveness that matters.

We get to pick how we act, and it seems as though choosing what works, choosing what makes us happy, choosing what makes the world the place we want to make it–these choices are more useful than any justification we can dream up.

From Seth Godin, Sep. 1, 2016

Look around. You probably see a lot of this going on these days. Doesn’t matter the realm or context. I straddle different contexts in life and see this in all of them. Hell, just scroll through your social media feeds, watch the news. Everyone wants to be justified. Everyone believes their cause is Right and Just. Then everyone pushes their agenda based upon their justification. Many times the end result makes the situation worse, because it was more about being right than actually helping.

It’s a good point for self-reflection. Are you wanting to be right? Or are you wanting to help? Will your actions just make you feel justified? Or will it actually help make things better? You have to be brutally honest, and really step back and look at the facts. Because it’s easy to say “of course it’s helping! of course it will make things better!”. But often we’re just blinded by our cause, by our justifications. To ultimately be “right” we may have to first admit we were wrong, then we can fix ourselves and continue to strive to be right, and to actually help.

It’s perhaps also a good filter for things you see and potentially engage with. Is this person, is this group, is this company, is this cause just wanting to be right? Or is it actually helping?

And in doing so, remember your empathy.

 

I write this not to preach to you, but to give myself something to step back and think about. But I do share it in hopes it might give others something to think about as well.

Trying to improve my sleep

Lately I’ve been struggling to sleep well.

Why exactly? I’m not sure. Could be getting older. Could be life stress. Could be something I ate. It’s probably a little of each, but whatever the reason the result is the same – I’m not sleeping very well.

However, the past few weeks I’ve seen a measurable improvement.

Naps

Napping doesn’t actually help my sleeping, but it does help my recovery. I’ve found when I get in a nap, even a 20 minute nap mid-day, ultimately I wind up sleeping better because I have a better (less cranky) attitude towards getting enough sleep (or rather, when I don’t get enough). Naps are good.

Not waking until it’s time to get up

This is a big one.

Many years ago I used to wake up with the sunrise, or rather, I woke up when I woke up. This was great and I was always rested. Then a few years ago I had to adopt a different schedule, an alarm clock was necessary. And while I don’t strictly need the alarm clock any more, I still keep it because it’s been a rhythm, especially because it keeps me going to the gym in the mornings. I find that works best for me.

And while I’m an extremely early riser, it still sucks to wake up too early. You’ve done this. You don’t need to wake up until 5 AM, but you wake up and it’s 2 AM and you can’t get back to sleep. Or worse, it’s 11:30 PM — which is extra annoying because it’s not even the next day yet! This has been the big problem plaguing me the past many months, waking up too early. Over time that means less and less sleep every night.

A few weeks ago I made a change.

I told myself “Look, you set the alarm for 4:00 AM – if the alarm hasn’t gone off, it’s not yet 4 AM, so go back to sleep”. Don’t get up, don’t look at the clock, don’t anything but just continue to lie in bed. Even if you’re awake, still lie there and rest. The alarm will go off when it’s time, and THEN you can get up and on with it.

This has made a HUGE difference. I still find myself having some sort of waking-up before the alarm goes off, but now I don’t bother with it. Recently it’s become more of like a half-sleep: I’m somewhat aware that I’ve woken up, that the alarm hasn’t yet gone off, but for sure I’m not wide awake. I have dreams, I am aware and remember them, and when the alarm goes off, THEN I get up.

For sure this has helped on two levels. First, I’m just getting more rest/sleep. Second, I’m not caring that it’s early and getting frustrated and upset about having yet another night of less sleep.

Sleep Cycle alarm clock

I saw some people talking about this app, Sleep Cycle. I talked with them about it, and thought I’d give it a try.

I’ve only been using it about a week.

Honestly, I can’t tell if it’s really monitoring my sleep, if it’s really making a proper qualitative measure of my sleep quality.

But what I do know it’s doing? It’s tracking my sleep – at least when I go to bed, and when I wake up. Looking back on the past week, that level of tracking has made me care about my hours a bit more AND be more aware of my hours.

For example, I might get in bed by 8-ish, but not really get to sleep until 9 (reading or whatever). That adds up – or rather subtracts – a substantial portion of rest. Over time, the cumulative effects are not good.

So being able to fully track this and see how much sleep I’m (not) getting at night has been a big help. The past few days I’ve found myself making more of a concerted effort to get to bed AND to sleep sooner. Couple that with waiting for the alarm clock, and the past couple nights have been some of the best nights I’ve had in a long time.

In fact, last night apparently there were huge thunderstorms, woke everyone in the house up, but I had no idea. I’m the only one that woke up refreshed. 🙂

I’ll take that.

So anyways, it’s still early. I have no idea if this Sleep Cycle app will help, but so far it seems useful (and I love all the data and graphs) so I’ll keep at it for now. And I certainly will keep with staying “asleep” until the alarm goes off. Throw in a little nap every now and again, and I hope to be back on track soon.

Stop thinking about doing the thing, just do the thing

We never do anything well until we cease to think about the manner of
doing it.

– Hazlitt

That came through the Maku mozo! list a few days ago.

Ever notice how that happens in life? Doesn’t really matter the context, but when you are focused so much on doing the thing that you just can’t do the thing that well? But when you just turn off your brain (so to speak), stop thinking about doing the thing, and just do the thing, that things run really well?

Funny how that is.

Of course, we can’t really turn off our brains. And we don’t just know how to do things. We have to have put in a lot of work, study, practice, failure, effort, time, money, etc. to get to a point of proficiency. And sometimes you have to think about what you’re doing, because that’s precisely part of the work, study, practice, etc. so you can reach that point of “just doing”.

But don’t be afraid of reaching that point. It’s tough – you do have to make a bit of a leap of faith, you do have to trust more than you had before.

But when everything just comes together and you can just perform, it’s such a sweet moment.