Guest Post: Easy Morning Tricks to Help You Stay Healthy

If you resolved to start off 2016 as a healthy year, you probably already understand how important consistent daily habits are to improving your health and well-being. Starting your day off right is one of the best ways to encourage healthy choices for the remainder of your day. Because of this, focusing on making a few morning habits may be the game changer for your healthy 2016. Here are some of Modernize’s morning tricks to help you stay healthy.

pic1.pngVia Modernize

Meditate

Many people falsely believe that meditation simply isn’t for them. The truth is, meditation is for everyone. Meditating first thing the morning allows you to set the tone for your entire day when you become more focused and in tune with the world around you. A regular meditation practice is also known to have some seriously worthwhile health benefits, including lowering depression and anxiety, preventing high blood pressure, and boosting the immune system to prevent your from getting sick. Want to create a beautiful space for meditation? Check out some of our favorite meditation spaces at Modernize.

Drink Lemon Water

Did you know that warm lemon water, first thing in the morning, is one of the simplest ways to change your health for the better? Starting your day with warm lemon water has shown to improve digestion throughout the rest of the day. The Vitamin C in the lemon gives your immune system a little extra power to fight off viruses or other contagious illnesses. Lemon water is also believed to aid in maintaining a healthier weight by giving the metabolism a little extra boost for the rest of the day.

Eat Breakfast

Even though we have all heard it before, it is easy to forget just how important it is to eat breakfast each morning. Instead, we hit snooze one too many times, and wind up rushing out the door to work with an empty stomach and a cup of coffee in hand. The truth is, if we want our bodies to properly metabolize glucose for the entire day, it is crucial that we eat a balanced breakfast within two hours of waking. It is also true that what you eat for breakfast matters. Avoid sugary cereals, donuts, or pastries and opt for high-protein greek yogurts, low sugar cereals, or eggs and toast before starting your day.

pic2Via Modernize

Get Moving

There are many benefits to starting your day with exercise. When you work out immediately after waking, you are less likely to skip your workout if you have had a difficult day and something else comes up. Working out in the early morning also allows you the time to prioritize your work, family, and friends for the rest of your day. Your metabolic rate is boosted each time you exercise, and when you exercise first thing in the morning, you boost your metabolism and burn more calories for the rest of the day.

Whether they are good or bad, habits are formed by repeating the same behavior over and over again. Repetition does something unique to the brain, and the repeated behaviors are eventually engraved into our neural pathways. This means that bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to form. Still, with determination and consistency, repeating the tricks listed above until they become habits is a surefire way to stay healthy this year.

Guest Post: A Man’s Most Prized Possession

Thank you to my dear friend Jim for letting me post this gem.  I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed it.  

DEAR DIARY: Sunday, July 27, 2014 “A man’s most prized possession”

Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook: “Tip of the day. Careful where you apply Icy Hot.” I now put the tale to pen, confident that my diary is always under lock and key.

[Tangent: Anyone that argues what the male, from toddler to full grown man, views as their most prized possession, hasn’t been around a male toddler and seen their unashamed fascination with their anatomy (sometimes to the embarrassment of their parents). And if a man ever denies it, he is just out right lying. For me, it has played a part in having three wonderful daughters, been the source of pleasure, poor judgment, and on at least several occasions in my lifetime, particularly in junior high, unscheduled mind-of-its-own embarrassment.] 

My incident with the Icy Hot (similar to Ben-Gay…is that still around?) wasn’t the first brush with disaster for my prized possession in my life.

As a youth growing up in Ohio, we would leave the house at sunrise and not return until sunset, exploring miles of woods, creeks and old barns all summer long.

[Tangent: I am tired of reading posts from my generation on Facebook saying how THEY didn’t spend their lives indoors playing video games, but would be outside experiencing life. It is usually said with a level of superiority over the current younger generation. Guess what? We didn’t because they didn’t exist! Don’t kid yourself, everyone of us would be inside playing the video games of today if they were any good back then. If you want your kids to go outside more, just limit their game time, but don’t deceive yourself with a false sense of superiority. We just didn’t have the same distractions. It wasn’t better values you held as a youth.]

One such occasion resulted in urinating in the woods, shortly after apparently touching poison ivy. Let me just say that Sunday in church resulted in huge embarrassment for my parents as I sat in the pew itching through corduroy dress pants, appearing to all others, to show, even for a preteen, an unnatural fascination with my prized possession. That was not a comfortable week in my life. 

The second brush with disaster was the decision to pee on an electric fence (a result of a dare from a neighbor) one summer afternoon. Not a wise choice I made that day.

And of course there have been several close calls with zippers through the years.

However, the Icy Hot incident began innocently enough. I have been suffering from lower back pain for several days. In desperation, I found an old jar of Icy Hot in a medicine cabinet. My intention was to self-apply it to my lower back and upper buttocks at my hip joints, both of which were extremely sore from muscular pain. 

With my boxers lowered and my left hand holding up my t-shirt, I used my free hand to scoop out a glob of the Icy Hot, reach around, and apply it. I’m sure it wasn’t a dignified sight, but neither was my old man walk the last few days from the back pain, so it was well worth it. Besides, I was alone. And, no one will ever know of this thanks to my crack diary security.

What happened next was even less dignified and graceful. The twisting required to apply the paste caused a sudden back spasm that would have dropped me to one knee. However, with my boxers around my knees and off balance holding my shirt up with my free hand and twisting with a bad back, I went down in a crumpled mess.

The pain to my back was excruciating. So much so that I loudly dropped the F-Bomb.

[Tangent: Remember in a Christmas Story when Ralph drops the F-Bomb? His mother asks where he learned the word, and he wants to tell her that he heard his dad say it on numerous occasions. But because of fear for admitting that, he blames the school bully (who is remotely punished when his mom calls the bully’s mom). Sadly, at moments of stubbed toes and severe pain, I have let it slip around my kids on several occasions.]

From outside the room, I hear third-of-three daughter call out, “are you okay, Dad?” with genuine concern, since I only use the F-bomb at times of severe pain.

I promptly thanked her for checking and said that I was. And for that brief moment I was. But, if you have ever used Icy Hot, you know there is a delay.

Somehow, mid mangled fall, I had tried to pull my boxers up from around my knees to aid in balance with the hand that, you guessed it, was covered in Icy Hot paste. Sadly as the boxers came up just as my fall completed, my hand made contact with the entire area of my prized possession. 

And for a very brief moment, I thought all would be okay. Until the medicine began to do what it was designed for. It started with a slow burn, reaching a crescendo of heat shortly after. This time, I let three F-Bombs in a row fly, in very rapid succession, not even having the mental capacity to question the poor parental skills I was showing. 

So, diary, that is why I shared my humorous warning on Facebook yesterday. 

P.S. Don’t take yourselves so seriously in this life and learn to laugh at the things we are faced with every day. And don’t forget to write for fun every once in a while. I was inspired to write this by Mike Rowe’s (of Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch fame) tales on his Facebook page, including an intestinal disaster while painting the Golden Gate bridge. Laugh at life, laugh at yourselves. And be careful where you apply Icy Hot.

A Tribute to a Furry Friend

This was written by my aunt.  I wanted to share it with you in order to pay tribute to all the creatures that charm their way into our hearts.  They may not be with us for all of our lives, but we are there for all of theirs.

Once upon a time in the tiny town of Almond, in central Wisconsin, a Princess was born. This Princess was unlike any fairy tale Princess ever written about, pictured, or portrayed in movies. This Princess had no crown, no silver slippers, or handsome prince.
This Princess was only about 8 inches tall, smelled funny, and had 6 larger, but equally odoriferous siblings. This Princess was actually a dog; specifically, a collie dog. This tiny, extremely shy animal was the runt of her young mother’s litter. However, her beautiful markings and demeanor tugged at the hearts of her soon-to-be parents…us. This “runt” became the “pick” of that litter.
She was officially crowned “Princess Sadie Rose” in January of 1999, when upon walking into our house for the first time, strutted through the rooms and hallways as if she owned the place. And, of course, she did!
Sadie grew quickly, and through the years, we marveled at her intelligence and athleticism. We swear she could understand English, and often found ourselves having to spell things (like G-R-A-N-D-P-A, G-R-A-N-D-M-A, etc.) in order to avoid undo excitement. With terrific mouth/eye coordination, she could run down and snatch flying discs from the air, hundreds of feet away.
When Sadie was 3, a rescue collie named Casey joined the family. He was about the same age. And although the little Princess was rather unhappy at first about sharing her kingdom with him, they became very close companions over time. Casey passed away when they were both 13 years of age. A young little whippersnapper (8 months of age), Coby–another rescue collie–soon joined the family. Sadie was instrumental in teaching this young lad good manners and obedience. Coby adored his sister.
Throughout her life, Sadie was stricken at various times with illnesses. We feared she would not survive a battle with mites during her first year. But, regular “dips” and a maturing immune system eventually overcame the problem. A lifelong sensitive stomach required a special diet, and occasional medications. Whenever there was a problem, Aunt Kimmy & Uncle Jim (veterinarians) were just a phone call away for consultation. They are wonderful doctors, and Sadie loved them dearly!
Sadie’s health had been on the decline for the last year or so. What appeared to be dementia hung over her like a cloud, causing her to be more withdrawn; sometimes, a little afraid or confused. We had concerns about how she would handle the 1000-mile drive for our vacation to Florida in April. But, we hit the road on a Saturday morning, a smile on her face, and she soon cuddled up with Coby for the long drive ahead. She traveled well. One week into our 2-week vacation, and after one last walk on the beach where she has swam and played for years, she became seriously ill.
She was hospitalized for a couple of days. There were many long-distance calls to Kimmy. We had hoped for a somewhat common (in older dogs) diagnosis of vestibular syndrome, but when her condition did not improve, Kimmy and local vets concurred that a more serious problem existed. She likely was suffering from a brain tumor. It was clear that a decision would need to be made; something that had been in the back of our minds for some time, but something our hearts could not bear. We put our sweet little Princess to rest on May 7th. She was 15 years, 5 months of age. (Yes, truly a blessing to live to that age!)
Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not are WHOLE life, but they make our lives whole.” Sadie certainly made our life whole. We will probably again get another dog, but there will be no replacing our little Princess. She was one of a kind.
Princess Sadie Rose
11/23/98 – 5/7/14
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Guest Post: My friend’s Eloquent Facebook Rant

Time for a rant.  It’s been a while.

I am continually amazed and frustrated by our common lack of concern and care for other human beings. Everyone has excuses:  “I’m too busy”; “Too involved”; “I don’t want to get involved for fear of recrimination”; “I’ve become bitter and don’t care anymore”; or my favorite, “I don’t have any money, either.”

My question is, what if were you or yours that needed some sort of of assistance? What would your expectations be and what have you put out there? The tables change drastically then. Then, all we hear about is how no one did a thing, no one was willing to help.

Apathy begets apathy. Karma exists.

I’m not saying there aren’t good people out there that do good in the world every day, there are millions of them. They don’t blow their own horns, they don’t do it for the glory or recognition. They do it for the personal satisfaction they feel when they know that they have helped someone survive this messed up process we call life, if only for one more day.

During my “Boot Camps,” one of my standard goals is to find someone that needs a kindness, and offer it. This isn’t something that I only do once in a while – I strive to do this every single day.  It doesn’t always come back in the way we want or in our time frame, but I promise that it does, if you chose to acknowledge it, respect it for what it is.

Yesterday, I encountered a situation where some people required assistance, and so I offered mine. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was necessity, because I could not have gotten up this morning and faced my reflection in the mirror had I not done all that I possibly could.  This kindness has already come back to me in spades. Not only do I feel great about my accomplishment, someone else has reached out to me in my time of need and is helping me to improve my life.

Is the return always immediate?  Certainly not.  It may be years before your good deeds come full circle.  But that isn’t the point. The point is to try.  We may fail, but that the failure itself teaches us what to avoid if we are wise enough to learn from our mistakes.

The world doesn’t always need grandiose gestures. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “Thank you for the job you do”; “I need you”; “I want you”, “You are valuable”; or even “I see your struggle and although I can’t help in the way you need, I’ll stay by your side and hold your hand when it’s really hard.” Sometimes it’s picking up someone’s coffee for them, or just listening when they have hit the ropes and they really need to rant about how unfair it is.

One of my mom’s favorite quotes was, “No man is an island.”  As a child, I never understood what it meant.  But these days, it resonates with me. You can’t do it alone, shouldn’t do it alone.  But yet we expect those we don’t know or don’t particularity care for to do so.

I don’t necessarily have the solution, I just know that I have a compulsion to try. I struggle daily with being in a position where it would be so easy to say, “I’m just too busy.”  I REFUSE to give in to that. I REFUSE to allow Karma to put me and mine on that list of the uninterested!

What will you choose today?  And tomorrow, for that matter?  I’ve already made my choice.

Guest Post: V is for Vino

Yet another installment from my favorite ghostwriter.  I have a feeling this one may sound as familiar to you as it did to me.  Enjoy!

We take so much for granted these days. Turn on the switch and you get light, twist the handle and you get hot water, walk into any kitchen and find a corkscrew.

I grew up camping. Partly for the tradition, partly because it makes for a cheap vacation, and partly because it makes you appreciate modern conveniences. When you have to cut the wood and make a fire to heat water so that you can wash your dishes, that becomes a great reminder to turn off the hot water at home when you’re not using it.

Last week, I found myself “camping out” in yet another hotel room. In many ways, hotels aren’t that different from camping. You have a suitcase instead of a backpack, and a microwave instead of a fire; but it’s still a version of “you” with a handful of “your things” in a foreign environment.

I had a full 24 hours off, so for dinner I elected to go buy a can of almonds, some cheese, and a bottle of wine. The one thing I did not have – and did not think to purchase – was a corkscrew.

I should probably set the stage in a little more detail. On this trip, I didn’t have a car. This meant a two-mile walk to the nearest Chevron, which took over an hour and involved two trips across a four-lane highway, which is tantamount to playing “Frogger” but with one’s self as the frog. Therefore, going back to the gas station in hopes that they might have a corkscrew was not an option.

I am a trained aviator. In flight school, they drill in the edict to “use your resources”. But unfortunately, the front desk, the housekeeping staff, and the maintenance department didn’t have one corkscrew between them. And let’s be honest here, you can only ask for a corkscrew so many times before people start offering you 800 numbers.

If you’ve never Google’d the phrase “open a wine bottle without a corkscrew,” I highly recommend it. Mankind is an ingenious – and largely alcoholic – species.

The first option was simplicity itself. I don’t know if it actually works, but apparently if you strike the wine bottle firmly and repeatedly against a wall the sloshing will gradually work the cork out.  Since I was in a hotel room, several hours of slowly and rhythmically pounding a wine bottle against the wall seemed an inconsiderate choice.  Amusing, but inconsiderate.  All those years in Boy Scouts I carried a Swiss Army knife with what I thought was a completely useless corkscrew on it, and now here I am.

Another option involved converting a wire coat hanger into a pair of tiny claws.  I also found detailed instructions on creating a six inch long, ½ inch diameter dowel, and tapping it with a hammer until you drive the cork into the bottle. Then you “up-end” the bottle so the cork will float away from the neck while pouring the entire bottle of wine into the decanter.  But this begs the question: who has – or can fabricate –  a six inch dowel, a hammer, and a decanter; but no cork screw?

I swear I’m not making this up.

There were ideas involving shoe horns, butter knives, and drills, but the one that caught my attention was “the screw method” – pure genius. The individual behind this must have been as desperate as the guy who ate the first lobster.

Now this method assumes you have a Leatherman Multi-Tool, which I do.  In a nutshell you find a screw, twist it into the cork, and use the pliers to pull it out. The hard part is finding the right screw. You obviously need one with a pointy tip and large threads. But in a hotel room you’re only option is to “borrow” a screw from something else, and unfortunately, you don’t know what kind of screw it is until it’s out.

Take the humble outlet cover. No good. Every one of them, it turns out, has a flat end.  And the “screw” that holds the handles onto the dresser drawers? Also a bust – those are actually bolts.  I’d also say that 75% of the screws in the window frame, air conditioner and bed are either decorative, or have that stupid little swale (the window frames in particular) to prevent removal.  The majority of the screws in the phone, TV, and fridge are either plastic, or too short to be worth a shit. And the ceramic bastards that hold the commode to the floor break REALLY easily.  The little gold balls on the lamps aren’t screws at all, they’re nuts. But whatever that metallic thing is that falls off inside the lamp when you remove the nuts sounds a lot like a screw. We’ll never know.  The fire detectors don’t make use of screws at all. They largely use epoxy to hold them to the ceiling.

BUT… If you look under the coffee table, those things are held together with good old wood screws.

Cheers!

Next time I might try tapping it on the wall for a few minutes just to see. If nothing else whomever comes to the door to complain might have a corkscrew.

Guest Post: “Ustedes Me trae de papel”, Uncle Bill…

A dear friend of mine has offered to “ghost write” my U – Z posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge so that I can take my time to get back into the swing of things. I don’t feel comfortable accepting credit for another’s work, so I decided to present this to you as a guest post. Enjoy!
 

 I’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language. Of course, I haven’t wanted it enough to actually do it, I’ve just coasted through the past 15 years saying,“I want to learn a foreign language,” so that I could forestall the actual task of doing it.

I did take one semester of Spanish in college, but that was primarily because the T.A. was incredibly cute. Consequently I paid attention to entirely the wrong things. One thing I do remember is that without “context or need”, learning progresses slowly.

Fast forward 12 years. I find myself in the unlikely position of flying to and from Chihuahua, Mexico on a weekly basis. And when I say “weekly,” I mean that I’m flying down on Monday, staying the week, and flying home on Friday. Chihuahua has become my home away from home.

As the corporate pilot I have little to do in Chihuahua except wait. The best corporate pilot resume I ever saw listed 12,000 hours of flying experience and 36,000 hours of waiting for passengers. At the end of the day, we’re paid for readiness, not productivity. An airline pilot (like a city bus driver) can take the number of miles multiplied by the number passengers and come up with a value that approximates their contribution for that year. But a corporate pilot is valued more like an ambulance driver or EMT. As far as I know, no city out there judges the worth of their rescue-squad by the number of passenger-miles logged in a given year. We’re paid for readiness. Consequently, I find myself with hours and days to pass in Chihuahua, Mexico.

To many people and all-expense paid week in Mexico sounds like the prize of a lifetime, and in Cabo, San Lucas or Belize it might be. But Chihuahua is not a resort town. Chihuahua is a gritty, industrial city in the high desert of the central highlands of north-eastern Mexico. It’s the Allentown, Pennsylvania of Mexico. Working class and working poor side by side in a utilitarian march to produce cement, auto parts, and grain. That said, Chihuahua is also the state capital, and home to most of the history between the U.S. and Mexico.

But for now, my concern is the Hampton Inn, Chihuahua. This could be any Hampton Inn anywhere in the world until you call the front desk. Given that Chihuahua is not a tourist-town, there’s not impetus for the general population to lean English. In other words, I’ve finally found the “context” within which to learn Spanish. And I’m determined.

Now, before I finish, I need to tell you a quick story about my late Uncle Bill. Once back in 1963, he went to Paris on business. He was as determined to learn and speak French as I am determined to learn and speak Spanish. In those days, most European restaurants did not bring a glass of ice water to the table as is now the custom. Uncle Bill thus found himself with the opportunity to practice his French by ordering “oeuf de la glace,”which he thought was “water with ice.”

Unfortunately for Uncle Bill, he’d missed the subtle but important difference between “eau” (which is water) and “oeuf” (which is egg). After several insistent exchanges, the waiter retreated to the kitchen, and 15 minutes later, my uncle received a bowl full of ice with a boiled egg on top. “Oeuf de la glace” instead of “eau de la glace.” His attempt to become a suave and debonair, cross-cultural attaché’… had instead made him that guy.

Now, if you recall, I’m on day number two of my first week-long stay in Chihuahua. The lady responsible for room service is at the door, and I’m confronted with my first attempt to communicate in Spanish.

“No necesito el servicio de cuarto,” I fumble out. This means “I don’t need room service.”

“Si,’” she replies.

“¿Dos botellas de agua?” I add, hoping to get one bottle to use for brushing my teeth and one to use for coffee.

“Si,” she replies and hands me two bottles of water. Victory!

As she starts to push her trolley down the hall, it occurs to me that they give you microwave popcorn at this hotel – which I like – and that I’ve already eaten my one bag. Maybe she has more!

“Un Momento Senoria…” I blurt out.

She stops.

“¿Puedo tener un bolso de…” I can’t remember the name for “popcorn,” most likely because I never bothered to look up “popcorn.”Honestly, when have you ever seen “popcorn” on a “most used list” for foreign language training?

She’s waiting…

I punt, “Papel?” That sounds like popcorn right? Surely she’ll figure it out.

She looks confused.

I start to pantomime the many tiny explosions of popcorn.

She looks more confused.

I add the over-exaggerated grin of a clown, somehow hoping that “overt happiness” will somehow convey “popcorn.” I try again, this time with grin, handgestures, and a few small jumps in the air. I add, “Puedo tener unbolso de papel?” followed by numerous small popping sounds with my mouth. Pop. Pop. Pop

Suddenly, her eyes widen. The moment of comprehension – we’ve communicated! I’m very happy. She turns and runs down the hall. She’s yelling to a co-worker, “Papel del armario… Papel del armario!!”

I can’t imagine why the request for popcorn is so urgent, but I’m pleased that I was able to communicate my desires. A minute later she comes rushing back with… six rolls of toilet paper and a look that says “you poor man”.

I’m now that guy.

Instantly, I realize that I’ve managed to get the words for “popcorn” and “paper” mixed up. All I can see is Uncle Bill’s bowl of ice with an egg on top. As I recall the hand-gestures, the little jumps, and the enormous grin, I am mortified. I don’t dare try to fix it now. All I can do is take the arm-full of toilet paper, and offer “Gracias” with a look of relief. What must she think is going on in that room?

Part of me chooses to believe that Uncle Bill is looking down on me, smiling. Part of me knows the room-service staff is shaking their heads and smiling at me (while they laugh uncontrollably).

And so the family tradition continues, “The crazy American wants what?!” Every trip since then, that one particular room service lady always gives me a look that can only be described as a knowing glance. (eye roll)

——

Epilogue: Its two months later, my Spanish is better. I’m again trying to sally-forth with confidence. Today we arrived very early, so early that our rooms were not ready yet, so we retreated to the Applebees across the street for breakfast to pass the time. I ordered eggs, beans, and tortillas and my partner ordered French toast.

After the food arrived, I wanted to ask for a bottle of Tabasco. I know that “salsa” means “sauce,” that “caliente” means “hot,” and that in Spanish the modifier precedes the noun- instead or “Red Truck” you have “Truck, Red”. So in my most confident tone possible I asked: “Tiene salsa Caliente?”.

To which the waiter replied: “…que’? “

I repeated my request until he relented.

Several minutes later, I was presented with a bowl of ketchup that had been heated nearly to boiling in the microwave. It turns out that in Spanish, “hot, spicy” and “hot, temperature” have entirely different nouns. (“The crazy American wants what?!” Uncle Bill, where are you!?)

My partner looked up from his French toast; “This is like the popcorn thing, isn’t it?”

I raised the bowl of hot ketchup, “Cheers”.

Bright golden wings, heavy metal obligations

At the risk of exposing my own writing as shoddy and inferior, I needed to share this post with you.

nonplussedpilot

With little pageantry and only the slightest touch of flourish, I was handed two sets of golden metal wings today.  Both are to adorn my ‘new’ uniform.  One is larger than the other–set to take its’ place atop my head affixed to my regulation black and gold First Officer’s hat.  The other set of wings will be pinned carefully to my uniform suit jacket.

For as long as aviators have plied the skies, this symbol of flight–usually a stylized interpretation of bird’s wings–has been worn with pride by airmen the world over.  Some are woven from fine thread, others die-cast then plated in precious metal to make them gleam.  Pilots work long and hard for them, amassing many, many hours of careful, cautious flight experience to justify them being pinned proudly to one’s breast by a thankful country or air carrier.  They are usually bestowed with honor befitting a veteran…

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