Father Forgets

I was recently reading Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People and ran across this letter that he includes in his book to bring out the point that rebuke and criticism never brings out the best in the people we want to influence. It is profound so I want to share it in case you haven’t read it or if some time has passed since reading it last.

Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned

Listen Son, I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little hand crumpled under your cheek and blonde curls sticky over your wet forehead. I have broken into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.  Guilty, I came to your bedside.

There are things which I am thinking, son; I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face a mere dab with the towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. As you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again late this afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that son, from a father.

Do you remember later, when I was reading in the library, how you came timidly, with sort of a hurt look in your eyes? I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption; you hesitated at the door. “What is it that you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, your small arms tightened with affection that God had set blooming in your heart, which even neglect could not wither. Then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, Son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, or reprimanding; this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you: it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

There is so much that was good, fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else mattered tonight. Son, I have come to your beside in the darkness, I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know that you would not understand these things which I have told you in the waking hours. Tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy–a little boy.”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, Son, crumpled and weary in your bed. I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much!

Can you relate?  Do you have a habit of finding fault or unnecessarily reprimanding your kids?  Does this habit bleed into the way we treat others we can influence?

Become intentional.  Play with your kids, suffer when they suffer and laugh when they laugh.  Make the decision to bite your tongue when impatient words come.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

Discipline.

If you’re struggling with your spiritual life, or your workouts, or your diet, or really any aspect of your life I beg you to take 3 minutes to watch the video below.  And then, my brothers, take action!

Beauty

“God is not… a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life” – Pope Francis

Our recent stint in the hospital with our son Dominic came to an end and he was able to come home after 21 days. I have no doubt that his recovery and opportunity to bring more joy to us all was moved by your intercessory prayers…and push-ups. For that I am very grateful.

I wanted to give you a glimpse into an experience I had during the chaotic time of his roller coaster recovery from surgery. Towards the third week of no sleep and constant anxiety about the unknown direction of Dominic’s recuperation, I found both my wife and I touched by depression. I’m sure there are a ton of natural reasons for this tail spin, like an overload of the hormone Cortisol dumped into our systems from the constant anxiety of a need to “save” our kid. Regardless of the physiological effects, I could see it in my wife and wanted to bring her peace…but couldn’t.

She suffered alongside our son and even though never giving up faith or hope in God, she couldn’t encounter him in prayer or Scripture. She was too tired to connect with Him in this way. I could feel the barometer of depression rising in her voice when I spoke to her over the phone as we continually planned how to care for our other kids while keeping a constant vigil with Dominic.

It suddenly occurred to me, with the nudge of the Holy Spirit, that I could help my bride encounter Him through the beauty of nature. Since we live in Texas, it happened to be a gorgeous 70 degree day…in January. I called her back and told her that I would be coming to pick her up. We arranged for Dominic to be cared for and went to the botanical gardens which was near the hospital to take in a breath of fresh air.

We both needed to be touched by beauty. The splendor of creation can bring a person back to life who is in the midst of suffering.  It allows us to encounter Him in such a way that it prompts us to look to the One who breathed into being such magnificence.

While the Mass, Scripture and prayer are the most powerful ways to encounter God, he is always looking for other opportunities to connect with us especially through the intricate natural world that he created. This experience brought back a needed perspective; one in which we again could recognize beauty and goodness.

We found that this was something we needed to make time for more often. So take this lesson to heart…call your bride, take some time from work and bring her to a place where beauty radiates. Here you can expect an encounter.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

A Simple Way to Improve Your Workout Form

One of the challenges of working out from home, or even by yourself at a gym, is you may not have a coach watching your every move while offering suggestions on how to improve your form and technique.

Now, I’m lucky that Mike has helped me learn how to do the more complex CrossFit movements.  Heck, he’s helped me with basic movements like air squats which, believe it or not, are easy to mess up (i.e not on your heels, etc.).  Unfortunately, Mike isn’t available to coach me up on a regular basis due to our conflicting schedules.  So I just do the best I can.

My Secret Weapon

But, I’ve been curious to know how I’ve been doing, form wise, so I decided to break out a secret weapon most of us have access to… the video camera on my smart phone!

In fact, I recently did the “Fran” workout for the first time.  It’s pretty brutal and I knew my form would likely be challenged.  So I recorded myself.  And, well, let’s just say I didn’t like what I saw!

My thrusters were terrible!  My elbows were down and my head didn’t come through at the top meaning the bar was out in front of me.

And while my pull-ups weren’t awful… they could have been much better.  Specifically, I have the tendency to not lock my arms out completely in the bottom position.  In my defense, I still do strict pull-ups since I stink at kipping!

My point here is had I not video taped myself I may have thought my form was great!  It wasn’t and I’ve already started to focus on improving my thrusters and pull-ups.

Fight Gone Bad

This past Saturday, a few days after I did Fran, Mike and I did the famous “Fight Gone Bad” workout together (see picture above for an action shot). It hurt.  A lot.

I decided to record it as well to see how my technique looked.  And, once again, I noticed several issues.  My hips didn’t fully extend during the box jumps and my rowing form is bad, bad, bad.  On the bright side I did get to see my wall balls, push presses, and sumo deadlift high pulls looked pretty good.  So that was positive.

I also got to see how Mike performed these same movements with exact precision.  He’s an efficient, extremely smooth, CrossFit beast!  Even still… I bet he’d notice a few things he could do better.  Between me and you I thought he was coasting a little on the box jumps!  But please don’t tell him I said that, OK?  Ha!

So my plan is to continue recording my workouts… maybe not every one of them but a few each week.  This way I’ll be able to see how I’m progressing as well as what I need to work on.  Who knows maybe I’ll splice them together one day to show my progression?

With all of this said, if you work out alone I’d also encourage you to record yourself from time to time.  Even basic movements like push-ups should be monitored.  Do you look like a limp worm since your back and core are loose?  How about those elbows… are they locked out at the top?  What about your air squats?  Are you back on your heels and not out on your toes?  Turn on that camera and check.

New Coaching Program

Finally, Mike and I are beta testing a new virtual coaching program where we program workouts each week via an online portal.  Members also log their workouts in this tool and can see what other members are up to.  And, don’t worry, these workouts are scaled accordingly.  So, even if you haven’t done a push-up for 20 years we have a program for you.

We also offer virtual coaching as part of the package.  We’re looking to accept 10 more people into the program.  We have to cap it at 10 new folks for now to ensure we can provide adequate support.  So if you’re interested in learning more contact us and we can fill you in on the details.

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!

Good

I’m struggling this week to come up with the words to express what I have been experiencing these past few weeks and incorporate it into a motivational, intention focused article.  I’m tired.

My wife took a stab at chronicling what we have been living through recently in her blog, and has a much more eloquent way of communicating than I could ever dream of.  I don’t bring these circumstances to light for pity or because I feel sorry for myself.  I recognize daily the numerous people who have it much worse than we do as I’ve walked the halls of the hospital in recent weeks.  I completely trust that God has placed these circumstances before us so that we can lean on him more in our walk towards holiness.

The words I have simply fall short of the spirit that is still within me, especially during this time of adversity for my family.  I wanted to share the words of another warrior, Jocko Willink, who expresses this spirit better than I can at this point.  If you’re reading this via email please click here to watch the video.  Enjoy.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph (6:11)

 

The Ultimate Sleep Cocktail

I’ve been experimenting with a few things in order to see how they impact my sleep quality.  I’ve previously written about some practical ways to improve your sleep quality… specifically, block out blue light before bed, block all light in your bedroom, and cool the temps down.

And while I continue to leverage these tips as best I can… I’ve also been experimenting with a few other “sleep hacks.”

Specifically, I’ve gone back to drinking a “sleep cocktail” made up of 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg brand with the mother) mixed with 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey in warm water.  I’ve been trying to drink this about 1 hour before I go to sleep.  I’ve tried to drink this before but had fallen out of the habit for some reason.

Now, in addition to this little sleep cocktail I’ve also been trying to read for at least 1 hour before bed.  And when I say read I mean an actual book.  With paper pages that turn.  So no iPad or other eReaders that almost all emit blue light.

I’ve been measuring my sleep quality using the Sleep Cycle Alarm clock.  And I’ve definitely seen an uptick in sleep quality on the nights I follow this process.

Now, for the record, last night wasn’t a good night as it relates to my sleep. I watched the College Football National Championship game and didn’t drink my sleep cocktail.  I also stayed up too late.  The end result was a sleep quality of 68% which is really bad for me.

So, in summary, here are the things I’ve found to improve my sleep quality the past few years.

  1. Block out all blue light (think smart phones, computer screens, and TV) an hour or so before going to bed.
  2. Make your bedroom pitch black… even bright alarm clocks can mess with your sleep quality.
  3. Make your bedroom as cold as you can stand it at night.
  4. Read a book, with paper pages, for around 1 hour before bed.
  5. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and raw honey in warm water and sip it while you read your book!

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!

It’s Not All in the Numbers

This Christmas began with something unexpected. Our 5 year old son, Dominic, quickly became ill and showed us signs that he was suffering from another bowel obstruction. This is Dominic’s 3rd such complication in 5 years. Dominic was rushed to the emergency room on Christmas Eve and the doctor’s performed surgery that night to relieve the pain and prevent further catastrophic damage from occurring. Since then, my wife and I have been by Dominic’s side as his little body recovers.

During our stay I’ve found it interesting how much data that the medical staff collects on their patients in order to try and predict and identify further complications or signs of improved wellness. While these data markers are helpful and can pen a sketch of what is going on, they can’t capture the whole story of the person. For that, you need a relationship.

There are several times where Dominic’s respiratory rate or oxygen saturation jump or drop to scary levels. While this single data point can cause panic for the nursing staff, there have been numerous occasions where my wife and I have been able to quickly ease their worry because we know Dominic’s story. We know what his sleeping habits are, the different cadence of breath while awake or asleep, the reason for his rosy cheeks…like most parents, we know him. To be fair, there have also been many times during this admission where the data didn’t catch Dominic’s quick health decline either and knowing his story has enabled us to react more speedily.

Data Matters – Kinda

I bring this up because we want to encourage accountability through tracking our progress in our wellness plan. Documenting your activity and those goals that you are accomplishing is an important step. Logging the number of push-ups and squats you did in a day, the clean meals that you prepared the night before and ate, or the 30 minutes you spent in the morning with a Bible in your hands in peace and quiet are all data points that are helpful in diagnosing whether or not we are doing the things needed to be healthy.

The problem arises when we get caught up in the numbers and forget the story. If you just began your wellness journey and completed 10 push-ups, 10 Air Squats and 10 Crunches, you might be surprised that when you look in the mirror you don’t look any different than before. But if you continue on this path and track your data by checking off your successes each day, intentionally, you will be shocked at what you look and feel like 3 months from now. This is your story. This journey includes finding out things about yourself that you didn’t know were there.

So the key to this journey is not any one data point. We all have good days and bad days…and all of these need to be logged as a data marker, but any one of them don’t spell out our story. Our goal is to put enough good days together that we can begin to develop a story of who we are and what makes us tick.

Do you have a tribe?

Another element and perhaps the most important one is having a community or tribe to share our experiences. This involves trust and can help us when we have fallen away or encourage us when we are hitting home runs. The most basic tribe is your family. Just as I illustrated with Dominic, we can know what is happening with our children before the data ever shows it. This community, like a family, comes to know our story. It can pull out of us what is good while at the same time holds up our shortcomings to help us get back on track.

In the coming year, Ron and I want to provide a way for you to collect the necessary data so that we know that the stuff is getting done that is necessary to become the men that we are called to be. More importantly, we want to develop a tribe. A community where we learn and share our stories and can build each other up to be the warriors, leaders, mentors, fathers and husbands that God wants us to be.

“Put on the armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

Hail Mary / Push-Up Challenge

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!  I pray things are off to a good start for you and your loved ones.

I recently wrote about the importance of committing to a goal and taking immediate action. I know some of you took me up on the challenge but I also know not everyone did.  That’s OK.  Today is a new day and it’s definitely not too late to start or even restart if you’ve already stumbled.

Last year we explored how to set goals you will achieve.  Specifically, we covered how to create SMART goals.  I’d really encourage you to check that article out and think about how it applies to the goals you have for 2017.

With this said, most new year resolutions fail for a variety of reasons.  But, at least for me, the number one reason most people fail is they simply bite off more than they can chew.

As such, I’d like to present a new years challenge we can all achieve.  And this challenge is simple.  Right before you climb into bed each night I challenge you to recite (1) Hail Mary before dropping to the floor and doing (1) push-up.  That’s it.  One Hail Mary and one push-up.  This challenge will run through the end of January 2017.

And, for the record, I plan to take this challenge on myself so even if you’re a CrossFit beast capable of doing 100 push-ups… you only need to do one push-up after reciting one Hail Mary before climbing into bed each night.

Finally, I’d really appreciate it if you could offer this single Hail Mary and single push-up for Mike’s son, Dominic.  Dominic is going through a rough period and could really use our prayers.

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!