Especially when we have a long list of to do items, or a mountainous goal ahead of us, it can be so difficult to know what to do next. 

The worst thing to do is to force it, making yourself miserable simply to please your conscience; because, if you make a habit of  it, you will be living a life for other people, one of frustration and discontent; pretending everything is fine on the surface, although deep down you may want to hide under the blankets and cry. I have been there, and I will tell you from experience that, sooner or later,you will break down. That’s okay, though; at this point, you are finally starting to be honest with yourself…

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circle evolvent  by Lazur URH

 The wise say it never begins and it never ends; there are openings and closings, but, ultimately, it all just goes round and round. In the case of Christianity, God created the world, and, thus, we have a beginning. However, then I must ask, who created God, and when? And, if He has always been and always will be, then don’t we once again have no beginning and no end? History, then, is only a specified point in infinity that we call now, the present, the last 5,000 years or so. Similarly, science has given us an approximate beginning called the Big Bang, a beginning dated approximately 14 billion years ago – the time frame is difficult for our human minds to comprehend. Still, I ask, what was present before the Big Bang? Nothing, you say? Well, imagine nothing – this is another concept our minds have a difficulty in understanding; show me nothing and I will show you something…

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We are meant to be explorers, navigators, problem solvers, and physical movement is a necessary component of a healthy, vibrant life. If you want to feel the force of life flowing through you, if you want to feel strength and vitality permeating your cells and nerve endings, then get out there! Pictures and life on the screen are only a snapshot of a world you could see, touch, hear, and feel.



This post was intended to be a not-so-lengthy anecdote about my first go-round with surfing. Suffice to say, it’s a little bit longer than I intended. The story weighs in around 4,500 words. So grab some coffee or tea – or beer, if you’re one of my friends 😉

I would also like to say thank you to photographer John Cocozza for letting me use some of his awesome work to add a visual element to the story. If you click on any of his photos they will automatically link back to the page on his website containing that photo. Thanks, John, I really appreciate it.

Great Wave of Kanagawa - Hokusai
Great Wave of Kanagawa – Hokusai

I hope you will take the time (30 minutes or so) to read and enjoy this piece, and that it inspires you to lean into your fears, maybe doing something you have always wanted to do, yet couldn’t seem to find the nerve.

Click here to read.



The most difficult thing is the decision; the decision to push send, the decision to speak up, the decision to take the first step, the decision to sit down for 10 minutes and breathe. As difficult as it can be, once we make a decision it starts a cascading effect, momentum takes hold, and it’s time for the ride. The joyus ride of freedom and openness. Until we come upon another decision.
The moment you realize you have a decision to make, especially if it seems difficult – a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing – there arises a great tension. Whether in your gut, a heartache or a headache, the apprehension or anxiety always expresses itself in a physical way. Then, the calculating begins. “If this, then that. What if…? Then what?” Tighter and tighter, the noose becomes as you writhe your body through the projections and potential outcomes that probably won’t happen:

For example, suppose you knew the future, and could control it perfectly. What would you do? You would say, ‘Let’s shuffle the deck and have another deal.’” – Alan Watts, “The Images of Man”

Some people avoid these moments altogether; others freeze cold, stock still, mummified; but, a select few thrive. Because the select know difficult decisions indicate a life lived on the edge. It’s different for everyone; a cliff is the edge for some, for others it’s the couch. Wherever a person’s edge is, he or she should live there, relaxing and loving into it. It could be the decision to go to war, or to love again; to take a walk, or say hello to a stranger. The magnitude is nothing compared to the intention to grow and inch outside the comfort zone. 

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

The magic happens as soon as the feeling of freedom takes over, releasing the tension and hardship. We hear the music of life again, our new favorite song. We see, with depth and clarity, that all we had to do was lean out and open up. Living at our edge, we have things to talk about with others once again. Life begins to feel fulfilling, righteous. We want to share more, do more, help more, and live more.

Freedom lies out there. The unknown. The wonder.

And then, we find we have another decision to make. We are confined once again by our own doing and fear. Calculate, contemplate, dither as long as you must, but, eventually, take the leap!


  (Image taken from Creative Commons)

Sometimes, a lot gets put on our plate. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Other times, we get pushed off course, forgetting the purpose of our existence. 

But, no matter how big our plate is, we can only chew one bite at a time. And when we feel flooded and overwhelmed, gasping for air, worried about all of the possible combinations of what might happen, we just have to remember the air comes in, and, then, it goes out. 

One breath at a time. That is the experience, and it is meant to be suckled by every taste bud, digested fully, then dissipated back into infinity. This is the purpose of life.  

Much has changed since my last post.

For starters, I have moved cross country – from the great lakes of Michigan all the way to the shining sea in sunny San Diego. Twenty-four hundred miles is a long way, and driving alone has it’s ups and downs – and, no, I’m not just talking about the hills of Iowa, or the evergreen mountains of Colorado, but they were a beautiful part of the journey. Read more…

Chicago Skyline from the Shedd Aquarium
Chicago Skyline from the Shedd Aquarium

What a city…

We could have easily spent five days in Chicago, and that probably would have saved our feet. Even though this trip came on quickly, and we didn’t get to spend but about 48 hours in this awesome place, it was a wonderful adventure. It has also given Nicole and I some confidence for our next adventure – The Carolinas, Smokey Mountains and Nashville.

If you have never been to Chicago, GO! Changing environments are good for you. Get out of your normal routine. Save a few bucks, plan a trip – ANYWHERE!  How many times have you re-watched that episode of How I Met Your Mother? If you do go to a big city, check to see if they have offer a CityPASS, as it will save you money, but, more importantly, time. We only used three of the five attraction passes and we still saved money.

Wherever you go for your adventures, take your time. Plan, and look at the menu before you sit down. Walk, and talk to people. Enjoying conversation with strangers is something I would like to get better at. Most importantly, keep your eyes open, because you never know what’s around the corner.

Keep your eyes open, because you never know what's around the corner.
Keep your eyes open, because you never know what’s around the corner.



To view the pictures and read about our adventure CLICK HERE!       >>>>>>>>

What you get out of life may be the result of the questions you ask. Every one of us has probably heard the saying, “Ask and you shall receive.” Most times that is true. People who go looking for something usually find it. It may take time, but, almost always, we get what we ask for. Go looking for a fight, you’ll find someone else who wants to throw down. Go to the doctor and ask him why you are sick, and he will tell you you have an infection. Ask and you shall receive. Therefore, it’s good practice to look at the quality of the questions we are asking. 

One we’ve all heard before is, “Why do these things always happen to me?!


We hear questions like that all too often, and we may have even said ones like it ourselves. However, we usually don’t even listen to the answer. For example, many people ask me why they are always tired or have no energy.  I answer, tired is a state of mind. If you ask yourself why you always feel tired, but you never leave the couch or your bed, then the answer is obvious: get out of bed and move! Energy is movement; without movement energy doesn’t exist. It’s true, potential energy is momentarily static, non moving. But, potential energy wouldn’t exist without kinetic energy, energy that is moving. A couch potato is a big lump of potential energy. Therefore, you need to convert that potential energy into kinetic energy and get your ass moving!

Still, people often don’t change. We ask those questions in a helpless, victimized state of mind, as if our conscious decision making has no effect on the things that happen to us. Why do those things always happen to me, why do I always feel so tired, why do things have to be that way; these are useless, wasteful questions if we don’t first listen to the answers and messages the world sends back our way.

Surely, these questions give us knowledge. And knowledge is power. For many of us, though, the seeking of knowledge has become a type of masturbation for our brain. We scroll through twitter, facebook, and all sorts of blogs, picking up random bits of information and factoids, but we never do a thing with them. We chuckle as we read, “’A healthy, loving sexual relationship with your wife or significant other will decrease stress, result in a happier home life, and make the two of you live longer,’ says a study conducted by ______ University.” Then, we look at our significant other and decide we are too tired to seduce them. Similarly, if you walk through a college campus you can see a good majority of the students in between classes scrolling through twitter feeds, reading newspaper headings but not the whole article, “liking,”  “favoriting,” or “retweeting” posts and articles about childhood abuse and the like, as if that kind of action or knowledge does anything significant. Fifty “likes” on a post from people who aren’t real friends, but acquaintances, may make a person smile; however, that is nothing compared to a phone call from a brother, sister, or best friend.


The point is that questions like, “why did this happen,” too often result in inaction. Knowledge is useless without action. You have three apples, I have two oranges – that’s good, but now what? You can name all fifty states, memorize the number pi to 2000 digits, and throw a baseball 100 mph, so what? What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do about the why, the knowledge? If you never ask a question that allows you to take action then you will remain a helpless victim. Why did this happen, how did this happen, who did this to me? None of these questions are worth a thought if you are not going to ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” And that’s the second thing we need to do; ask a better question.

Have you ever went to your family doctor with an injury, or painful joint that just wouldn’t seem to go away. I have. I’ve played baseball all my life, and quarterback for my high school football team, so my shoulder became twisted up from overuse. Certain parts were tight, others loose, and it was practically out of the socket. I asked several doctors and a medical student about my shoulder, and all of them said the same thing, “Ice it and take some ibuprofen.” That helped – until the medicine wore off and I took off the ice. Soon enough my shoulder was causing back pain. I knew I had to try something else.

My friend in college was studying athletic training. I spoke with him one day, and asked, “Hey man, my shoulder is killing me, it  feels like I need someone to yank on it. It’s like someone jabbed a knife in my back, right into my shoulder blade. I don’t really want to take pain medicine, and ice only helps while I hold it on my shoulder. Is that all I can do to help it, or is there something else I could try?”

My friend said he would look at it and see what he could do. I cannot describe the relief I was feeling a few minutes later. Sure, pain medicine and ice alleviated the symptoms, but what my friend did actually changed something in my shoulder. The muscles and tendons were relaxed, and my shoulder was finally back in the socket where it needed to be. My friend went on to explain what he had done and what the problem was. Next, he showed me what I could do by myself to help the pain on a regular basis.

Because of the sports I played, my shoulder and back pain aren’t exactly cured, but they are both more manageable, and much less severe, than ever before. With time, practice, and continuing my research into strength and mobility training, I have come close to resolving those pains completely – without pills that can have negative side effects over time. This answer, this possibility, came about because I asked a better question.

In addition to asking a better question, I also asked a different type of person. Who you ask is just as important as what you ask. Ask a doctor, and you will get a doctor’s method of healing, a trainer will give you a different answer, and a physical therapist yet another. They all have different points of view, they all have different answers. If you ask your mom or dad how to get an A on a test, they will probably say something like, “Study hard, know the material your teacher gave you.” But, if you ask an older brother or sister who had the same teacher two years before, they might ask you “What unit is it? Which chapter? Is that the one about cells? Oh, then make sure you know this. And, she always likes to ask questions this way, so you better prepare for a page long essay.” Which answer was more helpful? If you are a college student, I highly recommend you go to the professor’s office hours; because he or she will probably tell you exactly what you need to know, or don’t need to know.

Too often we waste time asking our friends or peers pointless questions they don’t know the answers to, and we wonder why nothing significant is happening in our lives. Friends are very important to have. Friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. But, if the only answer they can give you is, “I don’t know,” or, “who cares?” or some other lame answer, then go ask someone who can give you a better one, or at least point you in the right direction.

The last measure of a good question is it’s specificity. A good question is specific, it trims the fat, avoiding vagueness. When I worked in a gym, people would always ask things like, “How do I lose weight?” To which I answer, “Move more and eat better.” How can I give a much better answer than that? A better question would be, “How do I lose 20 pounds?” An even better question would be, “How do I lose 20 pounds in a month?

Specificity gives the person you are asking more direction; they can ask you better questions back. But it also shows the person you’re asking, as well as yourself, that you are serious about what you are asking and what you want. It shows that you have truly thought about the question and spent a significant amount of time trying to formulate an idea. Something is driving you. You actually want the answer. The answer means something to you.


No matter what it is – losing weight, making money, or anything your heart desires – you can’t get something for nothing. Often times all we have to offer is time, so at least spend it sincerely. In school, when you walk up to a teacher and say, “I don’t know how to do this. Can you help me?” What is the first thing they do? Well, if they are a good teacher they start to ask you questions about what they have been teaching you. They drag you on and on, letting you answer simple questions until you eventually arrive at the answer or next step. However, if you come up them and say something like, “I understand that this is where we start, and you said that we do this next, but here I don’t remember if we do this or this.” They will be able to tell you what to do and why. You get a solid, definitive answer because, well, you earned it! In the case of the latter, you spent so much time on your own, the teacher rewards you and makes sure to clear up any confusion. You took your time, asked a better question, and you got a better answer.

Ask and you shall receive. Look at the questions you are asking on a daily basis. Are they getting you anywhere? Are you listening to the answers, asking the right people? Is the question specific enough? Once you’re ready, what you get out of life is up to you. So, ask better questions.

“What can I do? Not, “Why should I?”

“Why can’t I?”… No, ask, “How can I?”

Ask a better question.

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You are meant to flow. Your brain evolved to navigate your body through its environment. Your organism – your brain, body, and its multitude of components – is a highly sensitive instrument that responds to stimuli, reads and reacts simultaneously, and seeks to understand this world. Whether it is music, exercise, or words, you respond well to movement, but perish when stagnant.

Paradoxically, our modern society is plagued by sitting in front of screens; either watching make believe life, or consuming information that we do little with. Endless television series, internet websites containing opinions of the latest news buzz, scouring through databases of “experts”; the pattern seems to be sit-consume, sit-consume. We sit in the car, sit at work or school, sit at mealtimes, sit when we get home, and all the while wonder why forty-five minutes of exercise three times a week doesn’t seem to change our body much. To top it off, we eat too much of the wrong foods – which can be considered less than nutritious. Overall, our day to day lives have become something to dread – or, at the very least, have become extremely dull and boring – moving us further away from our potential, and closer to becoming lifeless globs of plato-like stuff.

There is a type of society, though, that sits quite often, and appears calm and rather healthy and lively. The zennists. However, these people sit purposefully, and they sit every morning and every night, quietly, with nothing but themselves, breathing fully and observing all that comes to pass. Then, after some time and at a certain point, they stand up and go about their business. They clean, shape the garden, cook and eat, have tea, walk, conversate and live. After their daily affairs are in order, they may do more artful things, like paint or play music. Then, they sit again before bedtime. If it was allowed in the dojo, I’m sure you would catch a zen monk or two laughing at a television show every once in a while. But I can’t imagine the monks would sit there for more than one show at a time. There seems to be something very different about our sitting and that of a zennist. But what is it?

Have you ever been driving somewhere, or going through some other mundane task – like washing the dishes or taking out the trash – and all of a sudden it’s over, you wonder where it has gone, how it was even accomplished? Where were you really at during that time? Your body was taking out the trash, but you didn’t seem to perform the action with it. Where were you?

We seem to have so many lapses in consciousness. Personally, the high school classroom and early on in my collegiate education were where these lapses happened most frequently. As students, most of us sit, uninterested in what is being “discussed” or “learned,” wishing we were elsewhere and thinking about what we should have said to the rude cashier, or how we are going to fix what happened last weekend. This carries on in to our adult lives. We go about our work trying to get to the weekend so we can numb our senses, or increase them beyond necessity. Then, if we do move, we move to get somewhere else – from this bar to the next, from this man or woman to the next – and when we get there we don’t know what to do with the situation. We are uncomfortable and we try to get away from that feeling, that anxiety. When you really think about it, the majority of our time is spent trying to get away from the uncomfortable, or dull, present situation, attempting to escape into the future, or figuring ways we could have done things differently in the past. And, in this way, we miss out on a lot of what life has to offer.

But, what if we got all of the mindless wandering and anxious tendencies out of the way? What if we cleared up the speedy, incomplete thoughts, half consumed sensations, and mindless experiencing, by spending a little time just sitting. So that when we watch television, we take something away from it; or we realize that there is nothing to be gained from it at this moment. What if we took time to clear our minds early on, or late in the day, so that we could give the world, the people in it, and our action, full attention and consciousness. Would our lives not be so much different? Would our anxieties not settle as we realize the futility of endless worrying, thinking about situations and outcomes we can’t control? Would we not see the joy in the simple moments of life, and enjoy living more consistently, with more energy, compassion and love?


At least not right away.

At first we would fidget, trying to escape the tension. Then we would run through our never-ending, ever-growing to-do list, thinking about how much time we are “wasting”. Next we would open and close our eyes, adjust our back and shoulders, and roll our neck, fidgeting more and more, because, times-a-tickin’. By that time we would probably be gasping for air because there just doesn’t seem to be enough even though it surrounds us in magnificent quantities. Breathing from our neck and upper chest, faster and faster, oh boy, we have got to get going! What if… What IF… WHAT IF!…

What if that was only one minute? What if that was only five minutes, or ten at the most?

Well, then we might let it all out; have a full inhale or exhale. A sigh of relief just may give us some poise in our spine and let our heart beat a little stronger. Because, face it, even the strongest, most centered and loving person can worry sometimes. It’s quite alright to wonder about what life may bring. Wonder is part of life’s beauty. Once we realize this is the only place we can be – here and now – there are no other places you could be, or choices you could have made, that life is about experiencing and learning, then we can relax into the moment. We can take a walk alone and not be afraid. Or we can walk with another person and enjoy quiet conversation. We can experience the love that we are in every situation.

That we sit, think, and consume information endlessly isn’t the problem. It’s the way we carry out these actions; mindlessly out of habit, because we are afraid to be alone, and with no expression of the inspiration that surrounds us. Sitting, thinking and consuming are human activities; but, they are only part of the flow of life.

There is an artist within each one of us. No, not necessarily the “high art” of the Renaissance; but art, nonetheless, resides in all of us. Art is our soul! And the endless consumption and inspiration that surrounds us gets stuck, spoiled, festered and infected, stagnant with a stench, if we don’t express ourselves artistically!

Marcus Aurelius said, “everything that belongs to the body is a stream.” Buddha taught, “there is only mind.” Life is movement. Life flows and changes constantly, from the largest and slowest changing things – like mountains, oceans, and the atmosphere – down to the the smallest bacteria and atoms. Life is insubstantial, and emptiness pervades through all that we see, hear and feel. Existence, then, is about “going with the flow,” dancing with people, places and things, singing with the music of the moment. When we never take the time to contemplate our position of existence – who we are – our soul lies restless.

Contemplation isn’t about defining ourselves by profession, social status, or talents. Living in the moment certainly isn’t about getting as high as you can all the time, blowing your money and screwing people over. Contemplation and presence are about inhaling all of the beauty and pleasure of life, filling yourself up with the inspiration of nature and wonder of existence, and then exhaling it all out, giving all that has past through you back, through love and compassion.

So, when you sit, sit in peace and wonder. Let your breath move freely and easily as inspiration takes over your body and mind. Thoughts will come and go as they please, but it does no good to be disturbed by any one thought in particular. When you sense that happening, when you are hung up and stagnant, frustrated or anxious, let out a sigh of relief. Clinging to sick thoughts does you no good; you are only preventing the flow of life when you hold your breath. And it is the same when you walk, talk, run, or sing.


Don’t hold your breath, and as they say, let come what may.