Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Your Health: Back To Basics

   I have written extensively about health and fitness on this blog, but the subject never gets old and is never dated. In fact, the older we all get the more important our health becomes. It is my hope that all I have written before on the subject has inspired someone in a positive way. This post is also meant for inspiration, but I want to present it very simply for anyone feeling down and unmotivated…thus a “back to basics” approach.

   Recently I have been exposed to a very effective program called O2X. I have used it to inspire myself and jumpstart a lifestyle change that is rooted in the basics of health and fitness. These four simple pillars revolve around diet, exercise, rest and attitude. 


   No matter what your health or fitness goals are, your diet plays a profound role in it. When I say “diet”, I’m not talking about any particular program, but instead simply referring to the food you eat. Most of us don’t make the best choices all the time, so it’s probably safe to say there is room for improvement. Eating “healthy” has become debatable these days with so many people going vegan, but what can be agreed upon is what it means to eat unhealthy…especially when talking about the extreme (fast food all day, everyday). 

   Balance your food with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. Depending on your goals, these mixes should vary, but the basic start is to have the mix, instead of neglecting one or more categories.


   This is the part people most focus on, to the detriment of the other factors that go into good health and fitness. I’m an advocate for being active, regardless of what physical activity you do, it’s better than not doing anything at all. That said, get regular with working out. 

   Get specific with moving your body. I once read that Bruce Lee would purposely park in a far space in a store parking lot just to increase the distance he had to walk to get to the store. It sounds inconsequential, but all those trips to the store add up, in a good way…not to mention that walking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. You’d be surprised what an hour of walking can do for you, especially if you take an extreme approach to it.

   The basic start to exercise is to do something that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat, making sure to properly warm up and recover.


   You may not believe this or even agree with what I’m about to say…but proper rest is probably the most important component to the entire health and fitness discussion.

   Regardless if you are working your body through exercise or abusing your body through lack of exercise and improper diet, your body needs time to recover and heal…from whatever you are putting it through.

   Many people have sleep disorders, and of those that do…some are completely unaware they are afflicted. Sleep disorders double your risk for cardiovascular disease and getting into an auto accident, and triple your risk for mood and anxiety disorders. If you know you have a sleep disorder, get it treated…all others get checked out to see if you do, or make sure you don’t.

   The benefits of proper rest are tremendous (the list is extensive and my fingers are tired, so google it). The basics of sleep is that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Adjust your schedule to achieve this, or get as close as possible.

   Sometimes people look at their health and fitness in slices instead of looking at the total picture. A lot goes into maintaining ourselves and even more with improving ourselves. 

   You might be looking at your life, keenly aware of the negativity in it, and thinking you are not where you want to be with your health and fitness. You may not know how to get where you want to be, how to begin, or where to even get the motivation to start. 

   Fitness doesn’t have to be a war, but sometimes it is, and we have to embrace the warrior within us for our daily taste of victory. That’s just one attitude that might work for you, there are others. Adopting the right attitude that commits you to the basics presented here is exactly where you should start. 

   Stay positive and focused with the goal of creating a better you today than you were yesterday. Take yourself back to the basics…and build from there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In God We Trust…?

   Funny how our money says that when, through its use, leaves little room for trust in God at all. Am I saying we should endeavor to live life without the use of money? Absolutely not. I’m just pointing out how we inject God into the strangest of places, and then wonder why His influence seems to be missing from our society.

   Patriotism seems to be the latest thing sweeping the country, or should I now say nationalism? People are wrapping themselves in the flag, if not completely embracing the ideals the flag actually stands for. Through the divisiveness of our social commentary, being loyal to God and country is becoming something of a fashion trend…figuratively speaking. But is it still God and country, or are we actually moving to God IN country?  See, “and” suggests there is a separation between the two, while “in” is indicative of both being merged.

   Many may not see the wisdom of the separation of church and state, so therefore do not see the danger of church in state. God has always offered himself as a choice and to that end, has given us free will to make that choice. So what does it say about us, or more specifically, those that profess to abide in godly ways, if God is no longer a choice, but a mandate?

   Do we really want to move our country from a constitutional republic into a theocracy? You may think I’m overthinking this, but when faith becomes the basis for how we govern the people and is injected into every decision of policy, is it not a theocratic model we have embraced? Perhaps there is nothing wrong in that, but I see little “freedom” in being told who to worship, how to worship, and when to worship….because ultimately that is where every theocracy ends up.

   We must understand that we need not embrace a theocratic state in order to preserve our morality.  Yes, our laws against murder are absolutely grounded in “Thou shalt not kill”…but how do you stand up against abortion, but remain silent about unjust police killing? How do you champion the sanctity of life, while loading your rifle for the hunt? How do you profess to speak for those without a voice, but turn a deaf ear to those with voices pleading for your help? Wrapping yourself in the bible doesn’t make your position more tenable, it simply makes your hypocrisy more repugnant.

   Alabama is poised to vote this November on the placement of the Ten Commandments in public schools and government buildings in an effort to shatter whatever separation exists between church and state. Where is the “freedom of religion” in that? It’s more like the freedom of ONE religion, at the expense of all others. I won’t even go down the rabbit hole of the daily breaking of those commandments by the very people seeking to mandate them…all the while claiming this to be a Christian nation, but showing it instead to be a nation of hypocrites.

   We don’t need mandated morality to combat the woes of our society, we need moral people living by example…specifically THE example, as shown by Christ. Unfortunately when this is pointed out, Christ becomes outdated and gets marginalized. He ceases to be our creator and instead becomes a very nice man that meant well.  How quickly He is abandoned by those upholding Him.

   It doesn’t seem to me that there is much trusting in God, despite what our money says. Instead it seems we trust in what we want and how we want things to be, and if wrapping ourselves in “faith” can get that for us, so be it.  

   I’ve never seen Malcom X as prophetic, but “by any means necessary” has become the modus operandi of our society, and the only thing sadder and more frightening is our inability to understand how very lost we are becoming because of it. In God we surely do not trust…but we absolutely should.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Would Jesus Do…?

   A serious question, for those that profess to love and follow Him, that likely isn’t asked enough and when asked, probably isn’t answered with any serious intent. Now I realize that everyone doesn’t have the same religious views, so this post obviously isn’t going to resonate with everybody. In fact, it is written for a very specific audience to provoke a very specific response.

   We like to divide ourselves. Oh, we lament about the divisiveness of it all, yet willingly set ourselves apart from each other with all kinds of labels. These labels often reflect what we do or what we believe, so as to easily identify what we are about. For example, if you call yourself a Christian, it’s expected that you are one that follows the example and teachings of Christ. Unfortunately it seems our society has mislabeled many of us and many of us have mislabeled ourselves. Taking the given example, it makes no sense to call oneself a Christian if you do not live your life in agreement with Christ.

   Some say religion is politics and the barrier between the two is razor thin. I say…what would Jesus do? Do you think if Jesus walked the Earth today that He would be going to the polls and pulling a lever for His favorite candidate, or would He be doing the same thing He did before…and minister to the masses about how to attain the Kingdom of Heaven? Would He help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick? Or would He lobby government representatives to enact legislation that reflect His political beliefs?

   I don’t recall Jesus getting involved in the politics of Rome…until he was taken into custody to account for all the good he had done.

   So forgive me if I’m perplexed by the agenda of those that have been labeled, and label themselves, as Evangelicals. To evangelize is to preach the gospel and convert people to Christianity. I don’t recall Jesus ever converting anyone through force, but instead through example. I recall He lived by the Ten Commandments, but did not seek to have Rome enforce them. Today it seems there is a concerted effort to make America into a theocracy instead of maintaining it as a constitutional republic. There is no need of human legislation to enforce the law of God. If Evangelicals are truly reading their bibles, then they should be living by faith knowing that God is fully capable of enforcing His laws, and judgement is soon coming. That being the case, their only question should be…what would Jesus do?

   People are willing to abandon their moral compass if the off-road trip brings them to where they want to be. Essentially, it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. “By any means necessary” doesn’t seem to be the way of Christ. I seem to recall He was very specific in the “way” and it was rooted in “truth” in order to have “life.”

   So as you read this and get all bent out of shape (or not), just remember that many people heard the words of Christ and chose to walk away…but they did not call themselves Christians or Evangelicals after they parted ways. If you are wondering if you have parted ways with the Almighty…all you have to do is first ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Then answer the question, as found in His word. You will either agree or disagree…how you label yourself after that is up to you.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Served…With Honor

   The country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator John McCain. His service to this country has been absolute and he is truly an inspiration to anyone looking to dedicate themselves to a life that looms larger than their own self interest. 

   There is very little I can say about Senator McCain that has not already been covered by the outpouring of tribute and memories from those that loved and respected him. Instead, let me take a moment to share some instances that have left a lasting impression on me that not only elevated my respect for Senator McCain, but my expectations for those wishing to truly serve at the highest levels of our nation.

   John McCain was an imperfect person. We are all imperfect people. The separation between McCain from most others in politics was the ability to not only understand his imperfections, but to fully embrace them as a means to consistently strive for a better version of himself. Too often people enter politics thinking there is no room for error and that any showing or acknowledgment of such is a sign of weakness. They could not be further from the truth.

   I grew up a Democrat and throughout my adult life I have steadily moved from the left to plant myself squarely in the middle. I feel that the only way to maintain balance and truly see the the world of politics is be able to look, at an equal distance, to both the left and the right. That said, I did not always agree with McCain politically, but he also left no doubt that despite a differing view, he truly wanted to make America a better place.

   There are four specific events that elevated my respect for McCain beyond what I already afforded him from his war service and sacrifice in Vietnam.

   The first was in an interview McCain gave wherein he expressed a deep regret and shame for his role in the Keating Five Scandal. His disdain for himself was palatable and a lasting scar, for himself, that reminded him to never lower himself to that level again. Too many politicians are shameless, and thus do nothing but continue to lower themselves farther and farther into an abyss of questionable behavior. McCain lived his days with regret regarding that situation which tells me he was a man of principal, that simply made a mistake. A person with no regrets is a person that believes they’ve made no mistakes, or feels nothing for the consequence of their mistakes. Beware of such people.

   The second was in South Carolina in his first bid for president. McCain compromised himself on his position on the Confederate Flag because he thought it would get him votes. Shortly after, he stood up publicly and admitted what he had done and reinstated his integrity by sharing what he really believed concerning the flag. His exact words…” I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.”

   Few politicians have the stones to stand up publicly, as a matter of conscious, and be truthful about who they are and what they have done to compromise their principles. How can anyone not respect a person that does this? How can anyone trust a person that could never bring themselves to do this?

   The third was during his second bid for president wherein he was at a rally and a woman spoke up about Obama being Arab. McCain, to the disdain of his own supporters, rejected this narrative and stood up for his political opponent citing that they just had differing views on how best to run the country. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Integrity is standing up for what’s right regardless of the overwhelming number of people in the wrong. Your moral compass should not sway in the wind, but be a beacon for those that are lost in the storm. McCain was a beacon that day.

   The fourth was his infamous vote on repealing The Affordable Care Act. This was the ultimate expression of being a “maverick,” but also one of the biggest acts of moral independence ever seen on the Senate floor. It takes a form of courage, that is sorely lacking today, to oppose your own party because they refuse to legislate via the proper procedures. Politics has become so tribal recently, with very few realizing that the only tribe they should uphold is “American.”

   We need more mavericks in Congress, on both sides, willing to do the right thing no matter how unpopular it is. We need more people of conscious in government that regret their mistakes. We need more people of strong character that will step forward and confront themselves when they fall short of their own convictions. We need more people that will stand against hate and intolerance, even at the expense of their own political machinations. We need more people that will stand up for doing things the right way, even if that means standing alone against their own party.

   This country needs more people in government  like John McCain, that exercise integrity, duty, and honor… and will put the country first and work toward leaving it better than how they found it. Anyone professing a willingness to honor the memory of John McCain need only serve this country selflessly.

John McCain III served…honorably.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Say Anything (I’ll Believe It)

   I think we can all agree that words matter. They convey what we are thinking and reveal much about who we are and what we stand for. They become meaningless when we form them as lies…at least meaningless at revealing the truth, since they still say much about the person speaking them. In an age where we have terms like “fake news” finding legitimacy among the masses, we really need to examine how we process and weigh the things that are said. If words really matter, then we should be wary of those that will say anything, and those that will believe everything.

   I remember when I once tried to run for class office while in middle school. My campaign speech was filled with wild promises that I fully intended to keep, but were making because I knew what would move the class. Free lunch, longer recess, shorter classes…I was about to win, when one of the teachers did the dastardly deed of asking the class to simply think about what I was saying. Of course, he had to explain further because the more they thought about my promises, the more they liked them. What they hadn’t realized was the way things really worked in the school and because of that reality, none of my promises had a snowball’s chance in Hell of materializing. To this day I think back in my Scooby-Doo villain voice, “…and I would have gotten away with it, if not for that meddling teacher.”

   There are people that are getting away with it though. They are saying whatever they think their audience wants to hear, and nobody in that audience seems to have the ability to think beyond how good the words sound as they cascade their audio senses. They never seek to compare the words with the facts of their reality. Worse still, when reality kicks their door in, they just go get a thicker door. It would be comical, if not for the fact that the future of the nation, and by extension, the world…is being shaped by such people.

   I frown on people that blame the system without realizing that they are the very system they are complaining about. If you think politicians can’t be trusted, then stop trusting them. I’m amazed when the news puts our politicians on display, for all of us to see, and we willfully refuse to see what is right in front of us. Take for example when a politician is campaigning and the news says they need to “tweak” their message. Or they say they need to make their message “resonate” with their base. Does nobody understand what they are really saying, is that politician needs to find out what the people want to hear…and say that? Does nobody realize they are telling you, in your face, that the politician needs to lie to you so that you will vote for them?

   How about when they play actual footage of said politician holding  a different or even opposite view than what they are currently saying…and the response is one of acceptance, as if they wouldn’t dare be saying what they are saying just to get votes. It’s to the point that factual evidence is irrelevant to whatever narrative is being pushed, and reality is an anomaly not to be believed for what it is; real.

   How did we ever get to the point that “fake news’ has become a thing? When did people abdicate reason and the ability to research fact from fiction, and instead embrace twenty words from a tweet as their only measure of reality? Our political landscape has become so divisive, polluted, and poisonous that nobody seems to care about the truth. All they want is their feeling of being “right” validated by the power to institute whatever whim crosses their mind on any given day. We are so “right versus left” that we can’t see where either might be falling short because such vision would require a view from the middle, and nobody seems to want to be brave enough to stand without a tribe.

   So instead, we are inundated by politicians, celebrities-turned-President, and news opinion show hosts (that nobody can seem to understand is not actual news) that willfully say absolutely anything (truth be damned) because they know we will believe everything (facts be damned)…and we sit around like confused lemmings wondering why things are getting so bad. We the people, are the problem, and so must also be the solution.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Moral High Ground

   Politics in America have become more divisive and polarized than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Granted I’m not an old man, but Trump is the eighth President that I can actually remember, so I’ve seen my fair share of politics. We have all heard disparaging jokes about politicians, they rank right next to the jokes about lawyers. It’s probably more than coincidence that a lot of people in politics are also lawyers. These days though, the jokes have given way to visceral scorn as it seems the nation is struggling with what the moral high ground is…and where it can be found.  

   Political association has become tribal and very primitive. It seems as though higher reasoning is something to aspire to have, instead of a given as the norm. As I sit here squarely in the middle, I chuckle at how each side thinks they are right simply because they occupy their side. I stop chuckling when I see the depths of depravity each side stoops to in their quest to claim a higher morality over the other.

   If it hasn't been explained yet…you can’t claim the high ground while digging a trench.

   It’s discouraging to see my country spiral into the abyss simply because people are choosing to abandon their personal moral compass in favor of upholding their tribe. Politics has become the arena of cowards, where courage is plentiful when the enemy is the other tribe, but nowhere to be found when your own tribe diverges from decency and truth.

   Take for example this latest situation with Congresswoman Maxine Waters calling on the public harassment of White House officials in their private life. Every Democrat that is asked about this should immediately say it is not right. To watch Democrats filibuster about the frustration and causes of her outburst without ever quantifying that exciting mob harassment is wrong, is sickening.

   In case you haven’t gotten it yet…don’t defend your party at the expense of upholding decency and your own personal morality.

   Leadership starts at the top. Without question, the President sets the tone of the country and certainly his own party. The hypocrisy of Trump ever trying to check someone else on civility, decency, and truth is epic. He can cry “fake news” until he’s blue in the face, but it won’t erase the facts. What has been erased though is the moral compass of every Republican that will readily call out a Democrat for being Trumpian…but won’t stand their ground, the moral high ground, against Trump.

   In case you don’t understand…accomplishments are not free passes for bad behavior. Defending incivility and indecency at the expense of your personal integrity for the purpose of keeping your party in power is probably the most un-American thing you can do.

   Neither party can claim the moral high ground because neither party even understands what it is. All they seem to understand are their own tribal talking points and avenues of attack for their opponents. All they understand is political warfare, and take no responsibility that the American people are the collateral damage. A society as divided as ours is becoming, is a society in peril and on the brink of ruin.

   If you haven’t figured it out yet…the moral high ground is staying loyal to truth, not rhetoric…staying true to decency, not poll numbers…and staying civil while calling out incivility wherever you find it. The only place you can find the moral high ground is within your own heart. People should be choosing their hearts over their political affiliations, no matter the cost.

   Now that you know what the moral high ground is and where to find it, you need to choose if you really want to claim it. If you're not willing to climb, you're never going to rise.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Guns or The People

   It’s a sad day when this debate has to actually happen, but in the wake of all the recent school shootings, this is a discussion that absolutely has to happen…and something needs to be done sooner rather than later. Some people see the problem as having a very simple solution, but anyone honestly looking from all angles can see that it is a bit more complicated than any simple solution offered.

   Children are being killed and it has to stop. I don’t care what side of the argument you fall on, this has to be the starting point for any real discussion. The problem is how you stop these tragedies from happening. On one side there are those that say restricting the ability for anyone to own the type of gun being used most (the infamous AR-15) will save lives (and could have already saved lives had it already been banned). Looking at this logically, imagine the AR-15 was already banned…then every child that has recently been killed by one would NOT have been killed, by an AR-15. Looks like a real simple solution.

   It’s tough to argue in opposition to this specific line of reasoning since removing the exact weapon used from the equation actually changes the equation. But…what does it change the equation into? Do these children still die from another type of gun (as has happened in other school shootings)? Do they die by other means since any person determined to kill will find a way? Do they not die at all? These are all interesting questions that don’t change the real probability that without the availability of the AR-15, our children would be (or would have been) safer.

   On the other side, infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens for the actions of those that break the law doesn’t seen at all fair, or logical. People use cars to intentionally run other people over all the time, yet nobody calls for all cars or the specific types of cars used in these crimes, to be banned. You can take any object and insert it into this equation and it will never make sense to deprive everyone of the object.

   So perhaps the question should be how we keep our children safe without infringing on the rights of our citizens? Can we even do it? If all guns were banned and out of the hands of the populace, would that make our children complete safe? Probably not. Would that make them a bit safer than they are now? Absolutely. So why aren’t we doing that?

   We aren’t doing that because it would violate the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. That amendment provides for citizens to protect themselves from other citizens as well as a government gone awry. So what’s really happening here is we are weighing those rights against the lives of our children. We are setting up a discussion where we have to choose the guns or the people…but is it really that simple? 

   Britain has successfully deprived the general populace of guns, and have a stabbing problem you wouldn't believe. Take away the guns, and the people use knives. Take away the knives…and what will they use next? Could it be the issue isn’t with the weapon of choice, but the mind using the weapon? How do we legislate behavior beyond having laws that clearly define what is acceptable behavior and what is not? Despite these interesting questions, I think it’s safe to say that a lot more people would be killed and injured had those knives been guns instead.

   People kill other people by any means necessary and although we all say it has to stop, we should all be intelligent enough to realize it will never completely stop. However, that doesn’t mean we should not take all the steps we can to minimize it as much as possible. You have to ask yourself…would you want to live in a society with no freedom, if it meant that no child were ever killed by a deranged mind? What parent would not to give up everything for the safety of their children?

   We have a system in place to protect us, but when that system in not diligently adhered to…children can (and have) pay the price. Even when that system works, it’s not a 100% guarantee of safety. So where does that leave us?

   It leaves us with a lot of questions we need to answer for the safety of our children and the foundation of our nation. It leaves us having to balance freedom and safety…in a world becoming less of both. God help us all. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Best Movie Ever !!

   It was not my intention to write a film review this month (even though this is not one in the traditional sense of how I do them here). In fact, I had a completely different subject I wanted to delve into that really needs more discussion by everyone. That said, I have seen “Avengers: Infinity War” twice already with more viewings looming in my future, so I’ll save the serious discussion for next month and jump into defending my assertion the title of this post claims.

   Let me state clearly that being immersed in pop culture as an avid comic book collector, I’m biased. If you’re the type that thinks “Driving Miss Daisy” is one of the greatest films ever…don’t even set foot into the theater to watch Infinity War. I respect that people have different tastes in films. I understand some folks prefer a specific type of film (comedy, romance, historical, etc.). I get all that…and so what. My thing (and you don’t have to agree) is anything that entertains me. To me a great film is any film that moves me in a significant way from where I was when I started watching it. The greatest of these films encompasses something for nearly everyone and has a balance (as all things should) of action, drama, and comedy.

   Infinity War is just such a film…perfectly balanced (as all things should be) in delivering tons of action, barrels full of laughs, and enough drama to satisfy any queen.

   Even if you are not onboard my biased train and think this is not the best film ever…many have already consented that it is the best super hero film ever. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if the financial numbers hold up with “Black Panther” (I doubt it) but money has never been a measure for me of a great film since there have been a lot of financially successful films I regard as trash.

   Regardless of where you are with all of this, there is no question that Marvel Studios has done it again. Not only have they put together another masterpiece, but they have set the bar on how to do a great film with a HUGE cast of beloved characters, and done so without taking anything away from those characters. This is an example that needs to be understood by Warner Brothers, but will likely continue to be ignored as they remain dead set on not cashing in on the success of Marvel.

   Marvel was always on the right track by introducing their characters to us via their own films. They let the audience grow and evolve with the characters so that by the time we get to this third Avengers film, we have already had three Iron Man films, three Thor films, three Captain America films, two Guardians of the Galaxy films, and one film each of Hulk, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther. This all without counting the two Avengers films…because in this third film we get everyone together (with a few exceptions) including supporting cast!

   Unlike the Justice League film…we know the characters in Infinity War and care about what happens to them since we have grown with them since 2008. In contrast, the journey from “Man of Steel” to “Justice League,” though entertaining…just isn’t on the same level as the MCU.

   If you haven’t seen “Avengers: Infinity War” yet and care about the content as it relates to your own entertainment…stop now (but you’ll miss the final element to what makes this the best film ever)


   There are very few films that dare to challenge the audience by smashing the age old belief that the good guys always win. “Skyline” did it and I thought it was an excellent twist. “Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back” did it and was one of the greatest science fiction films ever. Add to this list “Avengers: Infinity War”…and understand why when the film ends the audience is left in “dead” silence, and completely stunned.

   I have never seen so many people traumatized by a film…and I have never enjoyed such a reaction so much. I’ll admit the first time I saw the film I was the only person laughing at the end, but I was also probably the only person rooting for Thanos from the beginning. I would say he is the best villain of all time (somebody give Josh Brolin an award), except I take issue with applying the term “villain” to Thanos…but that is a discussion for another post.

   I can only hope that in Thanos succeeding in eradicating half of the universe (or should I say balancing to bring paradise)...Iron Fist was fortunate enough to be whisked away into nothingness. Now that would truly make this the best movie ever!