Monday, July 4, 2016

Tales From The Road

Tales from the road….

I live in world of completely bizarre random occurrences; this is a fact of life that I have just had to accept. Somewhere along the way I pissed off the universal dealer of Entropy: defined as- lack of order or predictability and or the gradual decline to disorder. With the universe having a general chip on its shoulder about my life’s predictability, I have come to expect the random. So much so, that if things seem too normal I take it as a calm before the storm. I have never once questioned this as a theory; rather I have fully accepted this principle as a law. I do not intentionally put myself in situations where these events occur, they just happen. One day it’s a car driving through a wall at Quiznos and hitting my table and they next is a cracked out vet demanding I do push-ups in the aisle of an airplane (all of which have happened to me). Those around me have gotten great joy from the recounting of these experiences and asked me share these tails with the “F” word nation. If you think I am making these up, I will tell you all the same thing I tell my wife-watch the movie “Big Fish.” I remind her that just like at the end of the movie when they are at the funeral and the son learns his dad’s stories are all true, she will at my passing be privy to the same experience. I will be adding these stories in from time to time on this blog for the pure entertainment of our clan. May you get a good laugh and say to yourself, “man I am glad this did not happen to me.” So without further fanfair let me tell you what happened to me a few months back and why Mr. Sandman decided that sleep was not in the cards.

I like sleep, not kind of, not sort of, but I truly love it and therefore give it the proper respect it deserves.  I was the kid in college that if there was not a solid reason to be up past 11, I was in bed. I was mocked and ridiculed for my beliefs, but no amount of mockery or even noise for that matter would stop me from crawling into bed when the time seemed right (good night moon, good night Quinn). Now that there is a bit of pretense let me tell you how my last week unfolded. As stated before I have no issue staying up when there is something to do, and that something just so happed to be tearing the roof off and getting on the Mothership at a George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic  concert. My 3 week out from 40 body got down to some booty shaken funk for three straight hours. By the end of the show I was gassed tired and ready to go to bed. I knew full well that I would be up a 6 and life would go on. What I did not expect was how the rest of the week played out.

Knowing that I had to be 3.5 hours into Idaho early on Wednesday morning I decided to leave Tuesday night and drive most of the way there. Realizing I would only be in my room for a limited amount of time, I decided that I would save my company a few dollars and stay at the less expensive of the two options. The Motel was newly remolded and I thought, “Buddy you are a team player.” So after knocking out about 2.5 hours of my drive I arrived at my domicile of choice and set up camp for the night around 11:30 PM. Shortly after crawling into bed I heard someone speaking in Spanish outside my door, then speaking slowed  and that is when I noticed my door handle start to giggle. Was I shocked this was happening, absolutely not! As I mentioned above, randomness finds me and I have just come to accept it. But what I did not accept is when my amigo from south of the border began to bang on my door. I took this opportunity to express my discontent and exercise the shadier side of my vocabulary in both English and Spanish (Baxter, yes I speak Spanish). The banging on my door got to be absurd and at this point I was just pissed. In polite 1 am terms I called the front desk and asked for the cops and or security to come pay my fine knocking friend from south of the border a visit.  There was one last bang on my door, a yell from security and that ended by bi-lingual tirade. With all of that happening you can imagine I did not go straight off to slumber land. My late night visitor caused me to not really decompress and go night-night until around 4-ish.  Being that I had to be up a 6:00 it was a rough morning. That was day one.

The next day still confused and a bit pissed off at my late night visitor I got on the road and headed to my next destination. My mind raced all day in a caffeinated stupor with thoughts of sugar plumbs racing through my head or at least a solid desire to go back to bed. As the day came to end I settled in for a long winters nap. I closed my eyes and even laughed a bit to myself about how crazy the night before had been. The thought, “this shiz always seems to happen to me” crossed my mind then I was off to slumber land.

At this point in the story you may say, “that’s a peaceful end” or “how could lightning strike twice?”  This is the point where this story gets down right absurd. Let me paint the picture….. Me in bed……. Time 4 A.M…… Fire Alarm going off…… My eyes burned with sleep and mind screamed with confusion as I stumbled to grab my laptop bag and car keys. Emerging from my hotel room I noted that the hallway was full of exhausted and equally confused folks making their way down the stairs to the parking lot. It was bad enough I barely slept the night before, but being wakened by an alarm when one is in full hibernation mode is strait up cruel! The next hour and a half I sat with my head in my hands cursing my life and wondering what I had done to upset the universe in such a drastic manner. Like all suffering mercy was granted and I was able to crawl back into bed for 30 minutes of drastically needed sleep.

Looking back I can see the humor in the situation, but I can honestly tell you that this stuff seems to happen to me all the time. I guess in the end it makes for good story, and who does not enjoy a good story! Life is all about experiences, go out and justify it……… 

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Mental Wanderings of a Fat Kid in Spandex

A good friend of mine called me the other day to openly express to me his affinity for spandex and the bike that goes along with this sputnik space age material. His recounting of his stretchy short conversion was so money that I felt he needed to share his message with the F word nation. Enjoy the, “Mental Wanderings of a Fat Kid in Spandex!”

Growing up, I was one of those kids who wore “husky size” clothes—My grandmother (Nanny) taught me eat like a grown man in the summer of 1986—she was accustomed to cooking for a big family, and since I was out for the summer she encouraged me to eat like a big family. So, while I have always been a bit bigger than average, I have always been fairly active—I grew up cross country skiing, riding bikes, hiking, lifting weights, playing football, and baseball. As I turned into a teen ager I grew into my weight a bit-- not that I was ripped, but I looked less like Chunk from Goonies than in my formative years. While in college, I found open blocks in my schedule allowed me to go for jogs-- I really enjoyed jogging—it helped me clear my mind, get outside, organize my thoughts, allowed me to listen to music (yellow Walkman in a neoprene hip pack), and it kept me in pretty good shape during my party years. When I finished school my wife and I decided we needed a dog, so we got a 1 year old lab—I caution you on this move, buying a one year old lab into your home is like inviting a crack head who eats furniture into your life. In order to sleep, I needed to wear him out, so I took up running once again. It was a great way for my dog (who is now 15 and in dog years would have been born during Grover Cleveland administration). As I became a productive member of society—working more and traveling, I began running on a treadmill in gyms and more recently in hotels—which is not too rough on the joints but in my mind I’m basically in prison. Hotel exercise rooms are like janitor’s closets. When at a gym, I’m convinced the chest and arms (only) steroid guys in tank tops want to jump me in the shower, and the pretty girls with too much make up are actually skinny gender bending vatos. No judgment here, but involuntary shower love and trannys are NOT my jam.

Being a part of generation who is rapidly becoming not younger-- I have had to change many of my habits to compensate for the onset of my 30s crumbling in the rear view behind me. I can no longer consume mass amounts of pizza and chicken wings, party like a rock star, and participate in life the next day like it is not a problem. Truth be told, when I watch TV with my wife, I can no longer stay up past 9:30 without nodding off, jumping into a conversation I have no business participating in and making random statements about “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, how the government should be decentralized and how “I’m good … I’m not tired”.. but I digress. One big change for me, is I can’t jog outside anymore without feeling like I am living out some “Catholic guilt” driven penance for failing God.  Now days, while I’m jogging, I don’t get a runner’s high, I don’t appreciate being outside, I don’t have a sense of accomplishment about the miles I have covered… In fact, I spend most of the run praying that a meteorite will kill me, or Sasquatch will jump out of someone’s yard, tear me apart limb from limb and make the misery end. For a time, I loved running but as my body changed (additional weight and my joint’s ability to absorb a pounding) I have been forced to consider other options.

Some guys struggle with putting on mass, I do not—good and bad. I can add muscle pretty quickly, if I am not careful, just as easily I can grow man boobs and middle aged spread.  I currently stand 6’0” tall and I weigh 230 lbs-- according to a BMI index, I am morbidly obese and have failed society. Good news, I’m actually in decent shape, my waist is 36”. So stocky, but no longer husky. I am probably built to be a weight lifter (stocky and compact) I still do some strength training and I definitely see the value in this but I really like to be out and about doing cardio. Really, my mind is always firing on all cylinders, and anaerobic exercise is too stop and go for me to get my crap straight. Lifting weights feels like sitting in traffic on the 880 between Oakland and Berkeley at 4:30 on a Wednesday. Cardio, allows me to stretch it out and file all of my mental wanderings so I can function in society. While adding mass and lifting weights are some people’s goal, they are not mine. In fact, when I played baseball as a kid, I longed to track down balls hit to the gap like a graceful lanky center fielder—instead, being built like Chunk, I was a catcher. While making appropriately timed comments about opposing batters mother’s fidelity or lack thereof was fun, it was not fast or graceful. When running I have always been a plodder—short choppy strides (I am totally the jack hammer sounding guy on treadmills—I can’t help it) I have never been fast, just determined.

Recently, I moved to an area where there is a great road cycling scene, and this has been a revelation. I could go on all day about why road cycling is awesome, but I will give you my top 10 reasons why cycling is better than running:

  1.   Stocky guys can be fast. Olympic sprinters can run like 25 MPH in short bursts; I have hit speeds in excess of 50 MHP coming down a good grade. Scary? Yes; but fast, and fun—just don’t wreck.
  2.  You don’t beat up your joints like you do running. If you ride hard, you’ll know it—from your gootch to your quads and hammys it will burn but it’s good for you.
  3. Bikes are cool. Don’t get me wrong, moisture wicking shorts and a pair of Saucony shoes are cool… I just lied to you, these things are not cool. Bikes are cool.
  4. You can go a long ways in a reasonable amount of time, you can ride 35-40 miles in two and a half hours.  I can ride through other towns, the country, foothills, and the mountains in this amount of time. If I ran for 2.5 hours at some point I’m going to contemplate running head first into a bus.
  5.  Spandex. This is a necessary part of being a cyclist, if you have the confidence to rock spandex in public there are not too many situations in life that should make you uncomfortable.
  6. Family time. My kids don’t want to jog, but I can get them to go for a bike ride.
  7. Variation. Mountain bikes, road bikes, beach cruisers—all good my friends.
  8.  Cool accessories: helmets, glasses, gloves, clip in pedals, lights, tools.
  9.  One of the only man and machine relationships that is healthy. You can power a machine and see the world, if you work hard and take care of your machine it will take you further than you might imagine going.
  10. Climbing hills teach you that if you are slow and steady you can accomplish your goals.
  11. Stay hydrated, bring some additional fuel, don’t wear ear buds on the road, use sun screen, be mechanically self-sufficient (spare tube, pump/C02, tire levers, multi tool), keep a light on the back of your bike, get a good mid-tempo song stuck in your head (I recommend the Golden State by John Doe or  The Way We Get By by Spoon). 
If you are a runner, honestly, good for you—I no longer am. But remember this, if a fat kid can grow up to rock spandex in public and climb some hills, so can you. Editors Note: I am a runner and I take great pride of making fun of our spandex biking brothers, but then again I wear the man spanxs when I pedal my bike so it all equals out! Have a great week and don't forget to do your part to justify the F word.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Be Savvy With Your Liquid.......

I love ice, almost to the point that a drink is not worth drinking if it’s above 38 degrees (that’s 3.33 degrees Celsius for those of you still using the antiquated metric system). The struggle for me has been real! Not only did I spend 2 years in South America consuming lukewarm Coke, but the ice maker on my freezer has a love hate relationship with me. The pure fact that ice does not enjoy staying in its solid phase of matter has all the more increased my personal beverage misery. Being that I am not one to settle, I set on a quest. Like an explorer of old searching for Eldorado, I set out on a quest to keep ice in a water bottle throughout the day.

As I started my journey, I heard rumblings that such a water bottle existed. My only fear is that overtime facts become stories, stories become myths, and myths become legends that become too good to be true. I mustered my faith, and sat down in front of the great oracle Amazon. The scene played out much like moment in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” As I scoured over my possible selections the line, “you must choose wisely” kept playing over and over in my head.  I may be slightly over dramatic in recounting this tale, but when parting with my coin I like to know I am getting what I am looking for. So I had it narrowed down to a few when I found this gem recommended to me by a fellow Justifier of the F Word . Not only was this member of our middle aged tribe enjoying hours of near freezing hydration, he and his wife decided to start their own company with said goal in mind.

The selling point you ask? First and foremost the ability to keep ice! I drive around all day for work and really wanted to be able to keep cold water in my vehicle. The double walled metal bottles were rated to hold ice all day! This realization moved me to my core and made me question what kind of devil magic is infused within this carrier of hydration delight. What truly sold me above all others on the Liquid Savvy Bottle?  Here’s the answer…. Wait for it…… It comes with three different lids and has one of the best price points out there. Three lids you may ask? Why is that important you ask? I happen to have three little people that have infiltrated my house and excel at the destruction of my personal property. I have had numerous water bottles that they chewed through the cap, dropped, or lost a crucial component leaving the bottle worthless. That is why I was all over buying the Liquid Savvy bottle (3 lids at no extra charge… count me in.)

After senior Amazon prime showed up my door, I went to work seeing if it was everything it promised and I hoped it would be. My review you ask? Let’s add some earth science for perspective. If the last ice age occurred roughly 100,000 years ago during the Quaternary (part of the Pleistocene geologic period) I have one going on currently inside my Liquid Savvy bottle. That’s right, if we basically sealed the earth in the same material as this bottle is made of I would not have had to say adios to my ski season this past weekend.

Moral of the story, I have found being an F’er I get great joy out of the simple pleasures in life. Ice being in my water bottle 4 hours puts a smile on my face and almost makes up for the years of consuming beverages at room temperature. I know there are a lot of choices out there, but hook up the folks at Liquid Savvy. By purchasing one of these bottles you will no longer be part of the tepid drink problem, you will be part of the solution. Not only do the fine folks at Liquid Savvy “Justify the F Word,” but they have us one step closer to ending the global travesty that is the “lukewarm sip”. 

Oh, almost forgot…. If you want to keep you drink as piping hot as a pyroclastic cloud rolling off of Mount Vesuvius (ask the folks at Pompeii) it will do that as well. Stay classy and stay hydrated! The fine folks at Liquid Savvy have been so kind to offer a $5.00 off discount code to the F word nation through Amazon. So if you decide to pull the trigger put in “thefword” (leave out the quotes) in the discount box at checkout time. Buy a bottle and enjoy the goodness of ice, and support the fellow F’ers at Liquid Savvy!

Link to the 32oz bottle…..

Link to the 18oz bottle…..

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How do you cut an apple?

I recently had the opportunity to provide sales training at a regional meeting. For those of you that fall into the camp of “I’m more scared of public speaking than I am of DYING”, get ready for something that will blow your mind.  I have a disorder that some may deem masochistic….. (Ready for it?) I really enjoy getting up in front of people and presenting. I am sure this stems from my narcissistic alter ego as a musician, but none the less I love presenting and more so educating on topics that I feel strongly about.

Being that paying mortgage revolves around my ability to close a deal, I am extremely passionate about becoming better at what I do. I have read countless books and listened to hundreds of hours of sales training, so when the prospect came along to present I jumped at the opportunity. Just as it is important to justify the F word through finding fulfillment outside of work, it is equally as important to find that same fulfillment inside your chosen profession. I have had several friends ask me if I would share what I discussed in my training, so for those friends, and for those of you interested in sales, business, or negotiating, I will break down different concepts and share them over the next couple months. For those of you who couldn’t give two hairs off a dogs butt about Sales, these concepts will not only be beneficial for your work, but if properly applied the concepts presented will aid in all aspects of one’s life.

So, I propose the question…….. How do you cut an apple?
Simple question, right? Like the picture above, it is possible to cut an apple with a hammer and it is possible to cut that same apple with a scalpel. The difference in the two methods if easily noted in the amount of fruit retained in the end.  If you cut an apple with a hammer you end of with a smashed piece of fruit with very little left over to enjoy (pretty sure Gallagher has cornered that market, but then again we are talking apples and not watermelons).  Cut an apple with a scalpel and the amount of fruit you can share will be comparably on par with a biblical miracle.

Everything we engage in can be refined. Why I feel that the “apple” concept is so important is because as human beings, we have the tendency to learn how to complete a task by taking the easiest road possible. Once we basically know how to get down the road our growth and development for that task stops, thus we complete the task over and over by “cutting an apple” with a hammer. Why do we do this? The answer is-it’s easy, or, possibly because this is how everyone else around me does it. By using the “hammer” we are accomplishing the assigned task in a menial rudimentary manner.  To better describe this action ask yourself, “have you every fixed something with the wrong tool?” I have (on more occasions then I would like to admit) fixed things around the house by using the wrong tool for the wrong application. Have I accomplished the task I set out to complete? Yes, but by using the wrong tool the task took much longer than it should have, I end up reaching into the dark recesses of my vocabulary, scaring my kids, and typically break or damage something.  

The “apple” concept truly begins to become difficult when you realize there is a better way to cut the fruit that Jonny Appleseed planted. There is a cost involved in obtaining finer implements of precision, and the only person who can pay that cost is you. The question posed is, “are you willing to pay the price to find a scalpel?” Think about how many things in each of our lives, careers, health, and families we could refine. Ask yourself; “How many things in my life, career, health, and family am I cutting with a hammer?” If you are honest the length of that list may surprise you.  As you change the way you go about cutting the “apple” seek out those already who have a scalpel in hand. This can be done finding mentors or as simple as reading a book on the subject you are looking to refine. By surrounding yourself with red delicious or granny smith surgeons, your desire to go back to the hammer will border on the absurd.  There will be those along the way who will question what you are doing, or even mock you for your pursuits. Remember at the end of the day you choose to be better, and those choices have an immediate effect on you and your direct sphere of influence.

This concept to me is more important than ever. I am turning the “F” word in a little over a month, and have spent the last year trying to reach for the “scalpel” in every aspect of my life (with the exception of loose skin, not there yet).  The pursuit of changing how I “cut an apple” has had an effect on everything I do.  The result is, I am slowly becoming better at everything from the acceleration into my ski turns, closing rates at work, as well as challenging and refining my Dad skills.

Boiled down, I am gleaning more “fruit” and it’s delicious. There are mornings when my alarm goes off way too early and I reach for the hammer. I am in no means perfect or trying to claim that this easy. In fact it’s really hard, but doing things wrong or inefficiently will not make life any easier. In fact, it will really only just delay the pain.  The quest to become better at whom I am and what I do has yielded a sense of soul-busting contentment that was absent for a chunk of my 30’s. I am striving to avoid having another midlife crisis by filling my mind, soul, and life rather than trying to figure out what is missing. 

So there it is “F” word nation! Let’s spend our days creating glory years as opposed to trying to relive them. My challenge to you all is to spend this next week looking at how you cut an apple. Start with one area of your life and then move onto to the next.  F’ers I am looking forward to a grandioso manzana feast. 

Happy cutting…………

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Monday, March 28, 2016

YO-GA-Da-Be-Kidding-Me, New Mother F'er Post!!!!!!!!

Welcome Back F Word Nation!!!!!!!!! I have a new Mother F'er post I would like to share with you all. (For those of you visiting the blog for the first time, the term Mother F'er refers to ladies who justify the F word to the the fullest). This post was sent to me by Ginny Washburne, a high school friend of mine who we affectionately nick-named "Guinea Bissau." Ginny or "Guinea" truly encompasses what it means to justify the F word. She has found life centering satisfaction as well as a new career through yoga, meditation, and fitness. This life changing moment occurred while being a mom, wife, working professional, three moves, and going back to school to receive her masters degree. I find her story inspiring so I wanted to pass it along. I love Yoga (although my posses look more like a triage scene). Enjoy "Guinea Bissau's" story of discovery!!!!!!

For as long as I can remember, fitness has been a big part of my life. Although I now incorporate many forms of exercise into my daily routine, running was (and always will be) my first love. First came junior high track, which I liked, but wasn’t sold on running around the same circle again and again. Then came the full on love affair in high school thanks to an amazing cross country coach (and a team full of cute boys to chase after….yes that includes you, Quinn).

For years, running was my only source of exercise. From time to time I would try to lift weights, bike, or take exercise classes, but running was my go-to workout. Although, I hate to call it a workout, as it’s always been so much more than just a way to break a sweat and stay healthy. For over 20 years, running has helped me manage stress, work through my feelings , and look at situations with a fresh perspective . Whenever I feel overwhelmed, sad, frustrated or confused, I lace up my shoes head out the door. No matter what’s going on in my life, I always come back from a run a better version of myself.

I also have a competitive side, so I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the rush of a hard fought race. And just so you are aware, if you are on a treadmill next to me, then yes, we are in a race. I’ve nearly fallen off trying to get a glimpse of my neighbor’s pace, making sure I’m running at least .1 MPH faster. (Yes, I have issues). Nothing gives me more of a runner's high than to go all out for the last 200 meters of a long distance race, leaving fellow runners in the dust.

Throughout most of my 20’s, I thought I was healthy because I exercised regularly. I used to joke that I would “run to support my eating habits”. I enjoyed being able to eat whatever I wanted (King size bag of skittles for dinner? Yes please! They will go great with my pizza and beer.), and though I did gain the freshman 15 in college (twice), I eventually lost it by training for a marathon my senior year. I also tried to exercise SOME self-control when it came to eating (a normal size bag of skittles is plenty, thank you very much).

Fast forward to my 30’s and everything changed. After having my second son, my body wasn’t bouncing back, and I was frustrated after a series of recurring running related injuries. I turned to yoga as a way to strengthen and heal. My injuries slowly began to disappear, and I was hooked. NOTE: NOT immediately. My first class felt like an awkward combination of “what did he just ask me to do?”, “hold this pose for HOW much longer?”,”put my what WHERE?”, and “is he speaking English?!” I kept going back, because my competitive side knew I could eventually hold the poses in proper form as long as everyone in the room seemed to be able to do with ease. And even though I didn’t want to admit it, the calmness and peace I felt from yoga was something my fast-paced, crazy life desperately needed.

Now I’m in my mid (ok, late) 30’s, and I feel healthier, stronger, and more energized than I’ve ever felt. I’ve spent the last 5 years experimenting with a number of exercise routines in order to find what works best for my body. I quickly began to realize this was a passion of mine, and I knew I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others. In 2015 I received my 200 hour yoga teacher certification, and quickly followed that up with barre certification. In early 2016 I completed my TRX suspension training certification, and I’m hoping to add pilates to the list in the next few years. My current workout routine is a mix of yoga, barre, pilates, TRX, and of course, running. I believe you can LOVE your body into shape. Finding a routine I can sustain long-term is so important. One that will strengthen me physically and mentally. I think so many workout programs today end up leaving our bodies injured. The “no pain, no gain” mentality may give you a bikini body, but at what cost? I want to be able to do what I’m doing when I’m 60, 80 or even 90. I no longer focus on how I look, my goal is always to improve the way I FEEL. Most days I can’t wait to workout, sometimes waking up between 4:30-5 a.m. to get it in before the chaos of the day begins.

In addition to my daily exercise, I’ve drastically changed my eating habits. I had no idea just how good real food tastes. All of the stomach issues I experienced in my 20’s as a result of fried and processed foods are now a distant memory. Sadly, I had to break-up with Skittles. (Which was much easier to do once they changed one of the flavors from lime to green apple. Seriously, who does that? Gross!) I firmly believe the change in my diet has been just as transformative for my overall health and wellness as my daily exercise. (Kale, anyone?) We’ve all heard the saying “you are what we eat”. If you want to be healthy, begin with your gut. I can promise you this: Nothing tastes as good as being healthy FEELS. (Not even skittles.)

I’ve learned so much about myself along the way, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. Having three young boys (ages 8, 6, and 2), I believe it’s my job to model what health and wellness should look, sound and feel like for them. We discuss food ingredients, we do yoga together, we run around the park, and we talk about the importance of having a strong and healthy body.

The past three years of my life have been full of chaotic change. I had my third child, finished my master’s degree, left full-time work to pursue my passion of health and wellness, oh and moved from Chicago to Atlanta to SoCal within a period of 14 months. There is no way I could have survived the change without my daily dose of sanity.

I’m proud of where I am because I have fought hard to be here. I’ve had to challenge (and change) many of my perspectives and beliefs about what it means to be healthy to allow for transformation. I’ve devoured hundreds of books and articles in an effort to know better and do better. And I’m still learning, as I believe this journey is lifelong. My husband, kids, family and friends deserve the very best version of me. Anything that leads me in that direction, you better believe I’m going to chase it down.

Enjoyed Ginny's "Guinea Bissau" Story? you can follow her at @gwashburne (Instagram) 

or at

Have a Mother F'er story our tribe needs to hear? contact me and we will get it cooking!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

In Defense of the Side Hustle

I hope all your F’ers had a fantastic week! After about 6 weeks of traveling for work, a week at home has been magical. I was checking my email the other day and to my great surprise a fellow F’er sent me a post he wanted to share with our tribe. Due to the content of this post and being this person is in an upper-management position they have asked to remain anonymous. Enjoy these words of wisdom and go find your “hustle”.......

I’m someone else’s property, and have been since I graduated from college and became “khaki-responsible”.  I have come to a midlife realization that someone else owns me.   The truly scary thought is that if that person or boardroom higher-ups decide that OP-Profit is down too far for the fiscal year…I will become the product of the US government dole.  Like most Americans, I’m a handful of paychecks away from becoming a welfare check recipient that TAKES from society instead of gives.  And that really, really bothers me.  I mean really.

When I was 7, I decided that since I owned Michael Jackson’s Thriller cassette, and some of my friends wanted it, I could use my cutting-edge double-cassette boom box and dupe it.  Then sell a copy to them for $3 instead of the $8 that same album would have cost them at Kmart.  Everybody wins right?  My pal Richard Evans thought I had revolutionized the music industry and my other friend (who shall remain anonymous) turned me in to our local religious authority for piracy.  Truth be told, he was mad that I didn’t just give him a copy for free. 

That was my first experience as an entrepreneur...... 

When I was 10, my mom gave me an allowance of $5 a week.  She had just bought a gorgeous new Honda self-propelled lawnmower (which still runs flawlessly to this day by the way) and I saw lots of overgrown lawns in the neighborhood.  I put two and two together and started earning $35 a week mowing lawns instead of the measly $5 from my mom (I still pocketed Mom’s $5).  The Pendleton’s paid me $20 a week and the Eldredge’s paid me $5.  Different sized lawns = different comfort levels for extortion.    Either way…everybody wins. 

At 21, my college friends worked in a call center.  Angry wireless customers harassed them about billing discrepancies all day and then their gestapo supervisor made them work on Christmas Eve.  I, on the other hand, bought a set of windshield repair tools and walked around car lots fixing rock chips (business cards and everything).  I made more in 2 afternoons of work than my buddies did all week.  Everybody wins.  Especially the call center. 

That’s a really long way of saying that entrepreneurship is in my blood.  I can’t get it out.  Wearing khakis hasn’t cured it.  Neither has the career advancement, increased pay, and financial stability.  The bug is still there.  So what’s a khaki-wearing slave supposed to do when every second staring at a TPS report is filled with thoughts of either a) driving my car into oncoming traffic or b) the amount of money he could be making if he was doing this for himself instead of someone else? 

Until recently I believed that I was doomed to either cut the clock-punching umbilical cord and live in poverty for years working 90 hour weeks until I clawed my way to success… or remain forever someone else’s “management material” that despises the management part.  (I’d rather just be material.)   My “fish-gutting on Lumberg’s desk” moment was just way to imminent for my liking.  That is, until I discovered the side hustle.  The side hustle, moonlighting, or “jobby”, or whatever term you want to use to describe a side job, is perhaps one of the most important discoveries of my professional career.  Let me explain why:

Working on a business on the side is kind of like doing everything you WANT to do at your job, but can’t.  You make decisions.  You spend money how you think it should be spent.  You don’t get questioned about those decisions…you just live with the consequences.  But most importantly, you get the chance to be truly PASSIONATE about something.  OK…so maybe you’re not passionate about selling supplements online, or whatever your side hustle is.  But I can promise you that what you are passionate about, and what draws me back to the side hustle over and over again, is the control of your own destiny. 

Let’s face it, when is the last time your employer gave you 100% freedom to do what you felt like was the right decision.  And when was the last time that you kept 100% of the upside to the company for making those decisions?  Likely never.  And that’s because it’s THEIR side hustle.  It’s their company and they get to make the decisions.  

OK, so I can hear you now…won’t I be working twice as hard?  Or neglecting my responsibilities to my employer?  Ummm... yes.  And yes.  But you will do it because you WANT to do it.  Because you believe in that project and in yourself enough to make it succeed.  It will become something for you to take pride of ownership in.  And let’s be honest, if you’re working 45 hours a week for your employer instead of 40 hours a week, is that going to prevent you from being “re-structured” when OP-Profits are down?   I wish I believed that the executive leadership team thought about this like your family does.  I can see it now… ”Hmmm I know our stock dropped 38% last quarter and unless we layoff 20% of the workforce we’ll go under, but we have some employees that really need to make their mortgage payment this month.  Let’s forgo the layoffs.”  Since that’s NOT going to happen, why not spend that 5-10 extra hours a week for yourself instead of your boardroom friends. 

Still not convinced you should have a side hustle?  Let me give you one word: Diversity.  No…not like the affirmative action kind.  I’m talking about your streams of income.  When’s the last time a financial planner sat you down and said “you should really move your entire retirement fund into IBM Stock”.  Sure…it might be a good idea at the moment (if that moment is 1989), but any good money manager worth his fee is going to tell you to spread out your risk.  Are you catching my drift? 

Why would you possibly have your entire income stream “eggs” in one job “basket?”  One job that, as you may or may not know, is only as secure as the S&P500 allows it to be.  Economy in the crapper?  Well, get ready for a layoff.  Mortgage crisis?  Yep, sayonara to your Christmas bonus, Clark.  You get the point.  Side hustles allow you to create multiple potential income streams that can act, if nothing else, as a safety net if the world goes to hell in a hand basket. And the best part about the side-hustle? It’s YOURS!!!!!!  You get to keep the financial security until your side hustle replaces your hustle! 

I’ve met a lot of people that have side hustles.  And what’s interesting about a lot of those people is the fact that they tend to gravitate to ventures that are completely opposite of what they do for their day job.  Perhaps this has something to do with the inherent conflict of interest in working for someone else and also being their competitor in some fashion.  I personally subscribe to the theory that even more than the conflict of interest factor; the choice of hustle depends on the fulfillment of an unmet need in their current position.  A software programmer might start a shoe company; a saddlemarker may become a blogger.  Employees working in the services industry might gravitate to the physical products opportunities.  In all of these cases, it’s simply a matter of re-activating parts of the creative brain that might have been dormant for a long time.  And in my opinion, the more brain activity, the better.

Don’t know what your side hustle should be?  Join the club.  That’s the beauty of the side hustle.  YOU get to pick.  What have you always wanted to do?  What do you enjoy?  When you were 7, did you mow lawns or illegally copy music for your friends?  Do you like to play an instrument?  Are you a good writer?  Maybe lots of things come to mind, and that’s perfect because it gives you plenty of options.  You have passions, hobbies, interests, and strengths.  LET THEM OUT!  For the love of all that’s holy in this world, let your light SHINE.  Ask your family and friends what they think you’re good at.  You’ll probably be surprised and enlightened and come away with some great ideas.

So, for the brain activity, for the financial diversity, for the income potential, and for my sanity, I’ll be a serial side-hustler until such time as my side hustle turns into my hustle.  The question you should answer RIGHT NOW is what’s your passion?  What can you do that will diversify your income streams, give you satisfaction and intellectual stimulation, and a chance to control your own financial destiny?   Don’t end up as “management material” only to retire wondering what might have been.  Go do it.  Go hustle.  

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Sunday, February 21, 2016


Whether I like it or not, I travel for work.  This has been a constant in my life ever since I decided to become an adult and get a "real job". As it so happens, I am currently in the middle of one such trip at this very moment, and for this reason I thought I would impart what I have learned about corporate travel while traversing the western half of this country.

First and foremost, let me get this disclaimer on the record: I hate saying goodbye to my family. I realize (usually right after I walk out the front door) that I miss people, and familiar surroundings.  And I realize that I am also missed by those same people while traveling for work and feel a fair amount of guilt about not being available to help out with my family’s needs. Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you a little about myself.

My mom's side of the family is second generation Hungarian and I am convinced that through my Hungarian blood line there has to be Gypsy blood somewhere in the mix. This is the only explanation that would account for my wander lust.  I have always loved traveling, moving, and basically experiencing all that world has to offer. In my younger years living out of my backpack and crawling into my sleeping bag every night provided the fix I was looking for. I loved and lived every moment of my adventures ranging from backing packing in the middle of nowhere, hitching hiking, or making my way through South America. Every trip and new experience opened my eyes and helped shape me into the person I am today.

So here is the crux! I am now a father, husband, and working professional with only few weeks of vacation a year. Those titles above seem to run in direct contrast with my transient yearnings, and if you are like me you get it! For those of us who suffer from this condition, there is an itch that needs to be scratched. For this express purpose I would like to share the secret "hack" that I have for turning boring corporate travel into an adventure all its own.

For those of us that travel for work, the typical routine goes something like this: work all day, hit the hotel gym if you’re lucky, grab a quick bite at of bland, national chain restaurant food close by, return a few emails, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat. 

Now there are times when this is all but necessary, but there are also trips when time and situations allow for so much more. Enjoying ones surroundings much like exercising at end of the day tends to be a choice that needs to be made ahead of time. Read that last sentence again.  You need to PLAN to have the adventure, just like you planned to make the trip.  With a little bit of research it is possible to turn an otherwise dull evening into an adventure. So, since I’ve done it a few times, let me impart a few tricks of the trade that have turned my work trips into mini adventures:

1.     Download Yelp: Yelp is the secrete to getting the low-down on where to eat when you hit the road. I picked this trick up from my boss and have subsequently found some amazing food along the way. Try and follow the creed, "if you are somewhere new, try something new." No offence to Chili's but we as a nation can do better! Once you have the inside track on where to eat, you are on your way.  My other insider tip: Ask the waitress what SHE would eat when she eats there on her day off.  Never fails. 

2.     Vary your workout: Being that me and the waffle maker at the hotel breakfast bar have a sordid love affair, I am forced in my F word status to put on the shoes at the end of the day and run. This insures the success of my relationship with my gluten Belgium mistress. Instead of grinding it out on a beat up crappy treadmill, do your research ahead of time and find out where a great trail or scenic run resides during your travels. Reach out to the local running store, you just might find a killer run along with a running group who is already headed out that way. My favorite workout to date was a night run with head lamps above the foothills of Vegas (the picture in this post is from that run). If running is not your thing try a cross fit, yoga, or spin class at a local studio. It’s always good to see how other locations put a spin on your classic workouts.

3.     Experience the outdoors: Since daylight is limited after work hours, this requires being a bit creative. For example, I recently had to go to Boise for work, so I decided to pack my skis. You may ask, "how did you pull off skiing on a work trip?" The answer: night skiing of course! Not only did I head up after work, the three hours of skiing in fresh snow with no crowds was straight-up epic. During the summer months if I drive to a location I will pack my bike or my inflatable paddle board. This gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day as well as experience a new venue and or trail. 

4.     Be a “creative” workaholic: You are already in town for a work trip, so why not find out if any of your customers are into the same things you are! The best way to forge a strong relationship with a prospect, client, and or customer is to get them out of the office. See if they would like to meet up to (fill in the blank) after hours or give you the local tour of their favorite activity. Not only will this make your trip that much more effective, but you will build common ground with your customer as well as possibly find the best fishing hole in the area. 

5.     Plan your trips around special events: I spent a year doing research and site visits for the Army Core of Engineers. I did the majority of these trips with a good friend of mine from San Diego, who just so happened to enjoy the same type of music as myself. That summer as we booked our travel, we also booked concert tickets. It was a ton of fun to see great music in new venues. I am using concerts as an example, but this can apply to anything you would like to go see or do.

6.     Maximize your time: Time is a commodity that, as a working professional and a father, I seem to have very little of. Work trips can afford each of us the opportunity to take advantage of the evening hours that are normally spoken for and use them to get out and do the things that typical work/life schedules do not allow.

7.     Change up the scenery: When you have NO time for adventure (I have been in this situation as well) here is what I recommend. If this happens in the summer months, grab some takeout, activate your Wi-Fi hot spot on your phone, and head out to a nice park and get your work done while you watch the sunset. I assure you this will do more for your soul then staring at the vinyl wall paper at the Hampton Inn.  And yes, it IS legal for men to watch sunsets too.  

8.     Reach out: I am fortunate enough to have friends in all the locations I travel. This has given me the opportunity to do everything from catching up over dinner to jamming with different bands. The point of me saying this is reach out to your network, and if you do not have one be creative and create one. 

9.     Bring your family:  If your family has flexible schedules, there’s nothing more satisfying than having your employer pay for your family vacation.  Of course…be careful on your expense reports and get approvals first if needed, but in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with your family sharing your room and having a slice of your pizza with you while they explore a new (to them) city while you’re out bringing home the bacon.

10. Nothing, nada, chill time: This last one contradicts everything I have stated above, but with the daily grind and pressures we all experience an evening of nothing can be absolute bliss. Nothing wrong with some take out, catching up on the latest episode of Vikings, and chillaxing.

So, here is the challenge for my road warrior compadres and fellow F'ers: If time allows, turn your next road trip into an experience. Forgo the temptation to hit up Chili’s.  Find your new favorite trail, and most of all enjoy your time in an environment that is not your own. If you have to hit the road, it IS possible to take that otherwise boring grind and turn into an experience.

After all, isn't that what life is all about?  Seeing something for the first time? Experiencing the things you love to do? Expanding one’s horizons?  When it really comes down to it, our time is limited and we can not make more of it. F word nation, let’s drink it all in!

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Start of Mother F'ers! Strong Mothers, Strong Ninos.....

As 2016 kicks off so does a new chapter in the world of the Justifying the F Word! From time to time I am going to feature guest writers of the woman kind, these Mother F'ers (get it???? Mom's near, at, or past 40) are going to help show the world that life just keeps getting better with age. If you are of the female persuasion and would like to be featured on the F word please email me! Sit back and enjoy the inaugural Mother F'er Post from Just so happens the author is my wife! Please check out her blog and subscribe to her email list. Even though this post curtails to Moms, we all can gain some perspective from the words below. By way the Baxter, if you do not speak Spanish Ninos means kiddos.

When we hear the word “strong,” usually the first thing that pops into our minds is someone with muscles on-top of muscles and not only does that specter of your imagination don 6 pack abs, but Babs (Back abs…thank you Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated for the reference).  Yes, by definition this would define strong but I want to dig deeper into its meaning.

The definition of strong in the Webster Dictionary is as follows: not easy to break or damage.  We all have a complete understanding of the first definition of the word, but I want to delve more into how I can impart this to my offspring.

Over 9 years ago, I gave birth to by oldest daughter Sienna.  Saying that moment changed everything would be an understatement.  Any mom knows the indescribable feeling of having their child placed in their arms for the first time.  They are bigger than your life, and from that moment on they are your life.  When Sienna was 6 months old, my husband and I went mountain biking with our good friend, “Dan the Man.”  At the time, Dan was married without children or what I like to refer to as a DINK (Double Income No Kids).  We hit the top of the hill climb and chatted for a while catching up on things.  He asked both my husband and I, “What is it like having a baby?” I remember my answer came without hesitation, “Put it this way Dan, if Sienna couldn’t walk I would give her my legs knowing that I would never run or walk again.” As moms, we strive every day to give our children every opportunity and experience with the goal of molding them into “strong” adults. 

When I found out I was having a baby girl, I was intimidated.  When I found out my second child was going to be girl I was absolutely frightened.   I grew up in a family with 4 children.  Three boys and I happened to be the estrogen toting caboose.  Growing up I idolized my brothers and wanted to do everything they did… but I wanted to do it better.  Everyone I know that is an only girl in a boy family seems to have the same feisty personality as myself.  I would refer to it as “Survival of the Fittest” in our house growing up.  If you wanted seconds at dinner time, you would have to out eat and out fight the others. Everything to me became a competition.  If I wanted to ski with my brothers, I had to keep up.  If they skied off a 25 foot cliff, so did I. To say that I was a “Tomboy” would be an understatement.  For example, one of the biggest fights I had with my parents was in middle school when they wouldn’t let me try out for the wrestling team (looking back I appreciate my parents holding their ground on that one). A good friend nailed my persona when she said, “You are a Chick-Dude.” That does not mean that I am Bruce Jenner, but a chick that’s personality is more like a guys.  I get guys, they are simple so when I found out I was going to have two girls I was shocked.  I always imagined having a house full of boys that I could rough house with.  I was intimated because I felt inadequate teaching my girls how to become a “strong women.”

As the years pass, I have continually struggled looking at other moms and their mad mom skills.  Let’s be honest: I do not sew, I am not crafty, I hate going to the mall (I would pick anything outdoors over the mall any day) and I always look like I just worked out.  It took me years to realize that my lack of self-confidence of having the same skills set as others would rub off on my girls.  Through my episodes of self-doubt I realized if I wasn’t open to trying new things and lacked confidence, my children would grow up with the same struggles.  Even though we at times don’t want to expect the fact, our offspring will mirror our behaviors.  Nothing stops me in my tracks more than when I see the same behavior (not always for the better) manifesting itself in one of my children.  I had to stop comparing myself to every other mom and look at what I can and want to teach my children.  I had to open my eyes to see that I have my own unique skill set that I could teach my kiddos.  All of this was based around the desire that I want my children to be confident, well rounded, and not easy to break, “strong!”
As much as I hate to admit it (or maybe it is because I don’t have teenagers yet), our children will grow up to be adults and one day leave the nest.   I would like nothing more than to protect them from every hard thing in their life’s….but I can’t.  I know there will be heart break along the way.  I know they will not be unbroken, but I want to teach them that when they fall they are “strong” enough to get up every time. There will be trials faced, and lessons learned at home that will help them stand back up. During the Sochi Winter Olympics, P&G aired the following commercial that evokes this emotion and desire.   

For our children to be “strong,” we need to start with ourselves.  This mantra doesn’t give you the excuse to spend every waking minute on yourself, but remember it is critical to take a little time out to develop our own strengths.   Learn what it means to YOU to be “strong.” I am always encouraging readers to get outside of their comfort zones.  Do it! Show your children you are willing to do things outside of your current skill set.  This is not just for those moms that have girls.  This applies also for moms that have boys too.  You want to be an example of what your boys should look for in a woman.  Getting outside of your comfort zone means doing things you may not enjoy or may even loath, but try it!  The funny thing about it is you might just like it. For example, if you hate camping and never take your children, they will hate it too. If we constantly turn away from the things we don’t like or make us uncomfortable, what does that teach our children?  Why is it that little kids love to ride bikes and play outside but at a certain age it is turned off and that door shuts?  Be that mom that not only crafts with your children, but takes them for a bike ride.  For me, the Chick-Dude, I have had to get out of my comfort zone and spend time at the mall with my girls as well as a many other “chick” activities that are not my cup of tea…why, because I want them to experience all that life has to offer, and not just my bag of tricks.  Are these my favorite things?  No, but I do it because I want them to see me doing things outside of my comfort zone.  What’s the goal? To open their eyes to see everything the world has to offer, thus helping them choose their path in life. 

I am not saying that going camping and crafting will make a “strong” adult but it will give them the confidence to roll with the punches that life will surely hand them.  My hope is, when life asks them to step outside of their comfort zone, they will be up to the task.  Michael Jordan said, “My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind.” As strong mothers lets be that root!

How are you going to make yourself “stronger” in 2016?  Let’s plant the seed and watch it grow!   

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015, Mix Tapes, and Saying Hello to 2016

Looking back on 2015’ is like turning on the TV and realizing no matter if you like it or not “Shawshank Redemption” is on and this only translates to the fact that you will sit down and see it to its end.  Much like this cinematic masterpiece, 2015 has been a year worth revisiting. There have been ups and unexpected downs, as well as the realization that 2015 was the last full year of my 30’s. I will not spend my time on this post waxing sentimental; rather I will rest with an eye to the sky looking forward to what 2016 has instore.  In about 5 five months I will cleanse my soul in the waters of 40 and take the last step that is required to truly learn what it’s all about to justify the F word!

I have been taxing my cranium on how to say thank you to the F word nation for ingesting my midlife rantings and personal justifications throughout 2015. Mix tape, yep mix tape! I have put together the tunes that helped define this past year for me in a virtual mix tape as a way to say thanks for tuning in.  F’ers may be the only people who have and will ever live on the earth to actually appreciate the art and effort that goes into the conception and creation of a mix tape. Records did not allow for recording back in the day and digital music has removed the time and effort required to truthfully care. This is our time, and I'm taking it back! I will plant the F word flag on this piece of nostalgia and claim it as our own.

 So settle down, put your feet up and I will spin a yarn about a simpler time when musical masterpieces were transposed into cassette tape cantatas laced with subliminal messages of love, friendship, and good times. Mix tapes and the art thereof hearken back to a move civilized time when a duel tape deck and a long afternoon were required to swoon a lady friend of choice or send a buddy off with required road trip music. The beauty and responsibility of the mix tape lays in taking someone else’s art and emotion and crafting it your own anthem. Everything from the order of the songs, to the subtlety of the lyrics, right down to the color of hair mentioned in a song’s lyrics were all things taken into account.

So the mix tape does not become a lost art like the blue glass of the ancient Egyptians or the practice of folks on Easter Island moving megalithic statues, I will chronicle the steps for my posterity and that of future generations.

 The process was a follows:

a)   Objective- What is your defined purpose? This 90% of the time was to act as a subtle undertone of expressing ones affection to a member of the opposite sex. 8% sharing tunes with a good friend. 2% educating someone who should know better on the type of music they should be enjoying in order to avoid social ridicule or being ostracized at a later date.   

b)   Prep Work- This process was comprised of making a list, creating the perfect order, compiling and cueing tapes and Cd’s necessary, and loading each song onto the mix tape and listing to the process to insure the proper outcome and or mood was created. Push play and record and let the magic happen!

c)   Art Work- Painstaking time was taken at the end to list the songs on the jacket of the tape as well as craft a title of the tape that would not be to over or under suggestive.

d)   Delivery- Risk has it rewards and this motto could not be more true in the delivery of the musical conception that just consumed about 4 hours of one’s life. The delivery (at least according to me) went as follows, “hey, I was killing time this weekend and came across some tunes I thought you might enjoy.” If the tape was accepted, it was absolutely critical to play it cool for a few days. Day 4 typically hailed as the right time to drop a, “ have you had a chance to check out the tape?” If this brave inquiry was met with, “not yet” you better hope you made a copy for later distribution because you just burned 4 hours of your life. If your musical proposition for future courting was met with, “I loved it, especially the song about……” you were in and all your hard work and expended emotion was not in vain. On a side note; if your buddy did not appreciate the tape then he was from that point on, dead to you.

So there you go….. Know, that I am extremely grateful to all of you have taken the time to enjoy “Justifying the F Word” this year, and to all of you F’ers who have justified the F word to its fullest. I have taken careful consideration to resurrect my mix tape skills and craft a musical odyssey for all of you to enjoy. Hit the link below and use it as a sound track to kick 2016 off in the finest way possible!

Quinn's Picks 2015

In closing let me share a quote of pure beauty from the movie “High Fidelity.”

“To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mid,” but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightway, so I buried it in the middle of side two, and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and…oh, there are loads of rules.”