Are You Lost?

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“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue—if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Here’s why that matters:

You may be lost.

Don’t be afraid. It happens to all of us. We get focused on the happiness of everyone else. Our partners, children, family, team. We live for them. We live simply to make sure they are safe and happy. To be what it is they need us to be. Until one day we look around and realize something.

We are lost.

We don’t know where we are, who we are, how we got here. We aren’t who we remember and aren’t really sure we can find them again. And here’s the problem with that…

Although none of those people will tell you…they miss you. They love you or hang with you or spend time with you because of who you are. Or now…were.

We stop. Suddenly we are more round in the middle and pretend it doesn’t matter. Start dressing in a way we think they will like better. Stop taking the time for the gym or nutrition because, well, they are more important.

But they aren’t.

The rub is that you aren’t taking care of them anymore as soon as you aren’t taking care of you. And yeah, I can hear all the parents out there:

“I am a parent! I stopped living for me when I became a parent. I love my babies! You shut your damn mouth!”

Well, you are fooling yourself. How in the Hell can you take care of anyone else if you are truly refusing to take care of yourself? Sure, you can convince yourself and live through your kids. But they WILL leave sooner or later if you do your job. And then what? Then you truly have nothing. You have built no life, no temple, no community. You have defined yourself as something that you never were except for 20 years or so.

Look, I get it. I am a parent myself. I have 2 amazing kids. And I love them as much as you love yours. In fact, I love them SO much that I make sure I love myself, too. I am in a volunteer organization that helps the community. I coach people on wellness, fitness, nutrition. I teach folks to work out. And I eat well.

I teach folks to hunt and fish or just how to live a life that is mindful and purposeful if they wish. Including my children. And they see me live by that code. Helping others. Giving back. LOVING MYSELF.

I had a time long ago where we would play outside and I would suggest we go in and find a movie. I cringe thinking of it now. Since that very day, they saw a change. I was almost 300# and looked every bit of it. Now? I eat well. Lots of plants and some animals. 2 to 3 big meals a day. I fight inflammation and illness with my diet and will always do so.

Listen, I know you love your kids. So do they. Now show them how much it is ok to love themselves.

Live by your own code. Live a life that you can be proud of. And THEY can be proud of.

Purposeful. Mindful.

Just Full.

I promise you, seeing the confidence and independence and sense of self-worth it builds will give you all the feedback you need.

They deserve the best version of you that you can be.

And so do you.

Eureka!

I have finally found it! The one secret that can let you quit eating well, exercising, and working on moving your body every single day so that you can stay stronger and healthier. And it is SO SIMPLE!

Ready?

QUIT.

Just Quit.

Decide that you don’t care if you change your mind, your body, your family, your friends, your community. Decide that it is just too hard and you don’t have the time. Simply choose easy. Just Quit.

What, that doesn’t sound good? Oh, I have an alternate for you.

Do what’s hard. Eat well. Move every single day. Live the way you should. Not for longevity, but for healthy, good longevity! Live long, but live WELL long!

Listen, you can change your life and the world. But there is no “one secret” or “simple trick to lose 50 pounds” or a magic pill. There is simply making the choice to be strong and healthy and better. To do not what’s easy, but what’s right!

The right answer is so very often the harder answer. That doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it worth it. It means to get there, you have to pay the man.

So get out there. PAY THE MAN.

And don’t you quit.

It won’t always be easy, but it will damn sure be worth it. And you never can tell who else will change because they were watching.

Pay the man. Change the world.

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Wrestling a Demon

Yesterday was an eventful day…

While driving my daughter to a relative’s house, we had an interesting event happen. As we made a right turn, about 3 miles from our destination, I saw something in the road at the top of the hill. I immediately stopped when we saw it was a gopher tortoise. We stopped and made sure he made it across.

As I started to drive off, I noticed that the front driver side had the unmistakable sound and feel of a flat. I turned around and went to a gas station. It was VERY flat. It turns out that a plug I had in the tire long ago failed in the heat. I had her text that we may be a bit late and changed to my little spare. (Under 5 minutes, for the record. Not that it matters…just sayin’…)

IISTD flat tire

We got her to her destination and I began looking for a tire shop. I ended up locating one not much out of the way and swung by. The tire was not fixable, they were closing in 2 hours, needed to buy a new one. $137. I asked if they offered a veteran’s discount, which I do not do often. He said, “You’re lucky I am even putting it on.”

NOW

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893
The Scream by Edvard Munch

There are lots of moving parts here, but here is some background on me. Spending unexpected money is always a source of anxiety. Huge, unbearable, gut-destroying anxiety. Almost unbearable. Growing up without much of it, it is the one thing that will immediately make me a mess. I react horribly. Stressed, I let it take my happy and turn it into a state of worry that controls everything for days. Even in this case, I felt the knots in my stomach that are a tell-tale sign that cortisol is being pumped for the stress reaction. But this time, I recognized it. I felt it and changed my course. I started examining the situation…

We drove for 2 hours on the interstate. This made me realize how lucky we were that it did not blow out doing 75 on a crowded interstate.

That tortoise…he had to have started his journey at such a specific time to put him in the road ahead of us. To give us the chance to help. My daughter, totally convinced we were heroes, was pretty happy to see him. She also mentioned that she was happy I didn’t yell about the tire or get stressed out. And I was glad as well. AND she was very impressed with my speed at changing it.

So I get to the tire shop and, as I said, he tells me, “You’re lucky I am even putting it on.”

In another life, I’d have gone to the mats with him and then drove home on the spare. The MArine would have come loose and we would have had quite the discussion. Yesterday, after having thought how lucky we were and refusing to let the one instant control my day, I answered simply, “You’re right. I really appreciate it. Very thankful you are open.” Don’t get me wrong…my immediate thought was to leave or have at it. But I chewed on that. Why? What good will come of it? I held it. I thought it out and changed MY reaction.

That’s the secret here. We can’t change the information. We can only change the way we react to the information. WE control that. And that is the only thing we control.

As we were talking, he mentions, “Yeah, we have so much work. I am 5 guys short. 1 fired ,3 emergencies, that made guys leave, and my son. He just had surgery on his collarbone after an awful wreck on a 4-wheeler. He buys and flips 4-wheelers for a living, just doesn’t normally FLIP 4-wheelers.”

We chatted about that a bit and he was more at ease. His son happened to have worn his gear to test ride the repairs that day. He got lucky, even if a 30-minute surgery turned into a 3-hour surgery that made him go looking for a doctor to find out if his son was ok. He obviously was glad to get it off his chest. All of it. But that’s just it.

We ALL carry demons. We all wrestle our own and are just trying to hang on to this blue marble many days. Him as well. On my way home, I began thinking about how lucky I was. How, long ago, he decided this was what he would do for a living. And during that decision, decided to be open later than most shops on Saturdays. Most shops would have been closed. All the rest, including the one I had the flat at, were closed.

All the way home I considered that. How lucky I am. How fortunate that flat tire was. How it gave us a chance to see the tortoise. How it gave me 5 extra minutes with my daughter. How it could have been catastrophic.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t let the stress win the day or dwell on it. For the first time, it was taken in stride and moved forward. I came home, ate a healthful meal instead of comfort food, and slept well.

I can honestly say, without even the slightest hint of dishonesty, that I was thankful for that flat tire. Not only for the time and the tortoise…but also because that tire is another step in helping me become the best version of myself. It helped me make it through a wrestling match where I’d have come out the other side much worse for the wear.

What I saw is the one thing that is the most important thing we can all look for.

Yesterday, through a tortoise, an unexpected bill, a guy wrestling his own demons, and a flat, I got the gift of progress. I got to win a round.

We cannot control the information. We cannot control the reaction from others. We can only control our own reaction.

We all wrestle our demons. Yesterday, I won.

FUNctional Friday – 14 JUL 2017

FUNctional Friday happened on a Thursday this week. I have a great reason though. Tomorrow I have a date. My daughter and I are going out to eat and then to see Wonder Woman. We’re pretty excited.

After all, I was convinced when I was a kid that Wonder Woman was my girlfriend. Although, she looked more like….
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That’s kind of the point of today’s post though…
There is nutrition. There is training. There is work. There are all of the tantamount pieces of Hunter Living. Part of mindful, purposeful living is prioritizing. So today, even after really getting after it yesterday, I got after it. I added some extra carbs to lunch and dinner and had a blast.

Listen, prioritizing your fitness and health is really important. Not only to you, but also to the people who really care about you. That said, they won’t give a damn how healthy you are if you if you never have time for them. Make time for yourself or completely lose yourself. Choose the former. I guarantee you that if you lose who you are, all of you will miss each other. That especially goes for you.So, here’s what today looked like!

Remember, we are out on this Earth with a set of resources available to us. The most important is our temple. Our vessel. Our BODY. It is our job to create the best version of it possible!

So, here’s what today looked like. And I’ll let you know about Wonder Woman.

Breakfast:
3 eggs over easy on a bed of raw spinach and broccoli slaw
2 strips bacon
1/2 ounce of Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese
Siracha
Black Rifle Coffee Company – Murdered Out
A few blackberries

Lunch:
Leftover Shepard’s pie from the Abel James cookbook

Snack 30 minutes prior to workout:
Spoonful of Wild Friends Protein+ Vanilla Peanut Butter

After workout:
1 Cup Kombucha with 5G Creatine

Dinner:
Leftover Shepard’s pie from the Abel James cookbook
Handful of spinach
Dozen Cherries

FUNctional Friday Workout:

Warm up
Jog
Arm Circles
Squats
Ring Pull Ups

Gear:
~20# rock
7′ telephone pole (~200# is my guess)
Underhand throw rock
Lunge to rock
Chest throw
Lunge to rock
Overhead throw
Lunge to rock
Backward throw
Lunge to rock
X2
Sprint back to the beginning
Zercher carry pole to end
Repeat the 8 throws
Broadjump to each
Sprint to beginning
Zercher carry pole to end
Zercher Squat once
Repeat 8 throws
Bearcrawl to each
Backward lunge to beginning
Zercher carry pole to end
Zercher Squat once
Repeat 8 throws
Side lunge to each
Run backward to beginning
Overhead carry pole to end
Max reps curl
Max reps reverse curl
Max reps cable row

 

 

Gator: Missing My Dad

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First, just know that this post is a long one. I tend to try not to write long ones…but this one will be a long one.

My Dad has been gone 10 years and I really wanted to write something for Father’s Day. Instead, I got to spend the day with my two favorite people…my kids. We hung at the park, laughed A LOT, ate way too big a breakfast, bought a few books. It was a pretty perfect day.  I actually ended up showing them pictures of my Dad holding each of them. They were the pictures from the last time he would see either of them, the only time he would see my son. Neither of them can possibly remember him, they were too young. I am including those pictures here, as well as one more that sends home who he was. He was so surprised to see his grandkids, but I remember my Dad telling me that day with my son, “Holding him was the first time I realized I was going to die. That I wouldn’t see him grow up.”

I actually ended up showing them pictures of my Dad holding each of them. They were the pictures from the last time he would see either of them, the only time he would see my son. Neither of them can possibly remember him, they were too young. I am including those pictures here, as well as one more that sent home who he was. But I remember my Dad telling me that day with my son, “Holding him was the first time I realized I was going to die. That I wouldn’t see him grow up.”

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He passed away around a month later. We got closer than we had ever been during that time, calling each other early in the morning to watch reruns of Coach together for an hour. I will forever be grateful for that time.

My Dad was a spider-fearing nuisance alligator trapper for the state of Florida. Between that and the Marine Corps, I grew up in maybe the most exciting was possible. Can’t be bored like that! He was not defined my any illness but by the mark he left on his family, friends, and people he came in contact with. He ws a man that worked with an animal he respected and loved. If he is defined by anything, it is simply by his love and respect for this world.

My Dad fought lung cancer for a long time. From April of 2006 until it got the best of him on July 2, 2007. He was 54, but he did well.  He was originally given 3 to 6 months, tops. He fought hard and I know he is up there enjoying being reunited again with my Mom, who died of cancer at 38. To be honest, he never really recovered from that.

The day of his funeral, I was not able to attend. My son was at the children’s hospital for tests. At that time, they were thinking it was a blockage and that we would surely be looking at surgery. I was heartbroken to not be at my father’s funeral but knew he would understand the gravity of the situation if he were still with us.

To that end, I wrote a eulogy that a friend delivered at the funeral for me. For Father’s Day, I thought I would simply share that eulogy.

Also know that, from the beginning, my Dad would send out updates on his condition. He was originally diagnosed with small cell carcinoma. Treatable, but aggressive. At 6 months, he was declared cancer-free. Unfortunately, it made a comeback and would not be defeated again. This was the email he wrote about that (I left the typos. He never had typos. I think that it is important to leave them here):

Well, I’ll make this short and to the point.

I ent to the hospital the past couple of days for some tests. Seems the little devils are ddoing their thing despite all the poison we have thrown at them. The docs and us have decided there really isn’t anything else to do and at the pace the cancer is going I have maybe 2-4 weeks. Maybe less.

So, we are preparing for my journey and I am doing fine.

I want all of tyou to know how much I love you all and amm truly a blessed man for all the wonderful family and friends God has seen fit to put in my life.

I have a request for you all. Do not grieve me. I have lived a life very few have the opportunity to live. I have been able to come and go at will and do whatever I wanted at the drop of a hat. I have 6 wonderful grandchildren, 3 terrific children and A wife sent directly to me from God himself. An incredible number of wonderful friends who love. Can you think of anything I’m missing? I can’t.

So I say to you all once more, I love you more than you’ll ever know and am eternally grateful for all your support and prayers sent to me and my family. Please don’t stop the prayers for the comfort of my family and friends who I must in this world. They will need it now most of all.

Tony

So when I found I could not make it, I wrote the eulogy. I attach it here.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. We miss you, bud.

Note: “Sexing” an alligator simply means checking the sex of it, which involves placing a finger in their “vent”. Generally, not pleasant for the checker. And as you read, you will see why I am explaining this.

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First off, I deeply regret not being able to attend today. After all, this is probably the largest group of people who have been tricked into sexing an alligator in history! Unfortunately, our 7-week-old son has been diagnosed with a type of blockage and will be going to All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete for treatment and surgery. But I know Dad would rather I be with my wife and son in this situation. Just one of the things that makes him him.

My Dad was a hard as nails, tough old buzzard. Not that you’d know it. Cause that man would give you the shirt right off his back even if it was his last one. Wouldn’t matter, not if you needed it. And there’s no saying “No” to that either.

In one of our last conversations, we were talking about trust. And one trait we share is that we trust people immediately. When someone tells you something, it never even occurs to you that they may be lying. Their word is golden unless they prove otherwise. Just who he was.

He was also straightforward and honest. If he told you he’d be there, he would be there. –He’d be a ½ hour to an hour late, but he’d be there…– And that’s the thing about Dad. He is definitely here. And there. And at your home, work, boat, truck, stand, or secret fishing hole. Truth is, he is everywhere. In every story you tell about the time he scared you to death gator hunting. Every time you go into the outdoors. Every time you think about how he made your life a little better cause he was so willing to share his. That’s where he is. With all of us. On Lake Miccosukee, Talquin, Seminole, Jackson. Back in the Everglades where those orchids grow and monsters bellow. The Wacissa River and every single body of water that holds a snook. He will live on.

Because he gave us so much of who he is that we are part of him, and that means every person we share a memory with is part of him too. My Dad may not have been the greatest man in history, but he’s damn sure the greatest man I have ever known. And I would not be the man I am if not for his being the man he is. There are alligators all over my house. Pictures, books – including a book called Meet Gator that Dad gave my daughter, stories, memories, and fishing gear. Heck, I couldn’t get him out of my house if I wanted to. I pray that I can be half the man he was.

Dad, I know you asked us not to cry for you. I understand. But allow each of us to cry, instead, for our poor sorry selves. Cause we were all selfish enough to hope to keep you forever. No doubt you are much better off than the rest of us. And already hunting and fishing with Mom, Uncle Greg, and Grandaddy…among others. But man, we sure do miss you down here. And of that, you should be proud. Cause there is not a single one of us that won’t feel a little elation mixed with sorrow every time we hunt, fish, or see an alligator. I can tell you that he already reminded me.

July 3rd, we went down to see my in-laws and I spent the whole evening doing the only thing I could think to do to beat back my pain. I cast and cast off their dock. I had never caught a fish there. I was casting a jig and…BUMP…a bite! And the fight! But it felt odd…I got a light down and looked, and it was a 7-foot alligator. On a jig fished on the bottom. In brackish water. I smiled and cried, thanking him for allowing me that moment. An alligator biting a jig. And then he let go. But not before letting me know he was there. Oh, and for the record, the next day I caught 4 snook in that fishless canal. Thanks, Dad.

And although I know I have been long-winded, I would like very much to read something. Dad was sent an email by a friend of his that he immediately connected with. It was a poem called “The Dash”. And I’d like to read that to you now.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis
Copyright 1996

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1953 -2007)

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile..
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Hopefully, all our dashes can be even half as full as his. I love you, Dad. We all do.

Be seein’ you…

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