Doctor’s orders

December 6, 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot about physical and mental health lately. Earlier this week, I was treated to a very interesting talk that covered both areas.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was a speaker at the recent Metro Atlanta Chamber annual meeting (Yeah, this is dangerously close to breaking my editorial policy about writing about the 9 to 5, but it’s worth bending the rules just once).

As you’d imagine, the good doctor’s talk had a business focus – after all this was a business event, but in his remarks, he touched briefly on the importance of happiness.

Dr. Gupta believes that being happy and maintaining a positive attitude are important elements in our well-being.

The consult didn't require a co-pay!

The consult didn’t require a co-pay!

Coming from a brain surgeon, that’s a pretty bold thesis – the importance of something so non-medical and non-clinical to our overall wellness.

For some of us (even your ofttimes rose colored glasses wearing host), being happy and positive 100 percent of the time can be as difficult mentally as finishing disc 6 of P90X is physically.

No it ain’t easy, but it never hurts to try. For example, today it’s easy for me to be happy because my friends at Emory Winship tell me I’m now four years cancer free and one year closer to that magical five year mark (How’s that for burying the lead?!?). But who knows what’ll happen tomorrow, maybe something to make me sad, but I’m going to go into the day anticipating happiness instead of fretting over the alternative.

Did you ever run into someone who is always grumpy, negative and generally pissed off? I have. If fact there’s this one guy who everyday — oops this story is hitting against the no talk about the job firewall. Let’s just say we all know that one person.

One last thing about ‘that one person’ and those of their ilk…the more I travel through these middle ages, the less time and patience do I have for those whose default setting is doom and gloom.

And I’m not talking about those for whom sadness is a chronic condition — that’s a much more serious conversation.

My gripe is those who have a chronic stick up their ass.

Come on, lighten up, be positive, be happy. You might enjoy it, and you’ll certainly benefit from it. After all, it’s Doctor’s Orders.


Breaking a bad habit

November 28, 2014

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been rereading a great book by Charles Duhigg. You may have seen it. It’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Part of Duhigg’s argument is that once we can accept that habits – good and bad – can be changed, it’s easier for us to take responsibility to change the good and improve upon the bad.

As that’s where I am today – a belly full of Thanksgiving and a guilty conscious as a result of falling short of maintaining a good habit and instead taking on a bad one.

I’m talking about what was once a pretty frequent 4 to 6 day a week workout schedule that has sadly slipped to zero to 1 time a week.

We’re all friends here and since we’re all about full disclosure at the Chronicles, I don’t mind turning over a stone or two and letting the creepy crawlies run out.

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

I have been woefully slacking when it comes to dragging my carcass out of bed for my daily workouts.

It would be too easy to fall back on any variety of excuses. Let’s see, there’s work, a recent (short lived) spat of cold weather, a scratchy throat, sore feet, a gassy stomach, the moon in Aquarius  – stop me when you’ve heard enough.

The part that sucks about not working out is how hard it is to get back in the proverbial swing of things – that good habit I spoke of earlier.

Being in the middle ages, on a good day, it takes this 50-year old body an extra minute or two to get warm and loosened up for the task at hand, but when I’ve been inactively perched on the shelf for more than a week having fallen prey to the excuse trap, it becomes even more of challenge to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving.

I like to run, and when I’m consistent, I can run well. When I stop for a few days, nay weeks, I find that I have to start all over again. Those 3 to 4 mile runs divert back to achy 1 mile walks – which ain’t bad, except when I’m consistent, I know I can do better.

As I guy who prefers to focus on solutions rather than harping on problems, I am committed to remedying this tedious situation.

No longer will the joy of sleeping in an extra 90 minutes outweigh the benefits of getting my arse out of bed and in the gym or on the road, because if I don’t I will begin to seriously outweigh my wardrobe.

I don’t like to beat myself up – physically or mentally – after all, I’m the only me I have. But I have to admit, I’ve gone soft on holding myself accountable – nearly as soft as my squishy cream-filled middle.

Thank you for allowing me to vent, and I’ll see you bright and early in the tranquil predawn hours  grasping for that last rep in my swank basement gym or huffing and puffing my way in a less than attractive trot through the bucolic streets that surround Casa de McCullough.

That’s it. No deep philosophical take aways or clever quips as we wrap up this post.

It’s simply man in the mirror time, and that man is a little chunky.


Do it for the greater good

November 22, 2014

Don’t run away, this isn’t another blatant example of loyal fan worship of the greatest duo in musical history – I’m only using them, or better stated one of them as an example.

Allow me to explain.

http://www.examiner.com/article/bonnaroo-2013-artist-interview-john-oates-part-1

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

The ‘one of them’ is John Oates, who was the subject of a recent article discussing – among other things – why the duo’s biggest hits feature Daryl Hall’s lead vocals.

According to John (because in my mind we’re on a first name basis),
“…over the years…Daryl’s voice became synonymous with the sound of Hall and Oates…”

Stay with me, we’re almost there. John goes on to say,

“Daryl’s voice just connected on radio…It connected in a way that made us popular — and I had to make some decisions with some of the songs…Should I have Daryl sing it and have the possibility of having a No. 1 record or should I sing it and there’s a good possibility it might not be a No. 1 record?”

He concludes…

“And that’s maybe why Daryl and I have existed over the years, because I was willing to make a lot of those hard decisions.”

 

Where am I going with this?

John made decisions that were best for the band, best for business and best for their relationship.

Compromise? Maybe.

Sacrifice? Possibly.

Setting personal interests aside and doing something for the greater good? Definitely!

And that’s my point, sometimes it takes a healthy amount of self-confidence to enable us to put ego aside and look at the bigger picture and the subsequent bigger benefits.

In most cases, of course, we have to look out for number one (song cue), but every now and then, it makes sense to be number 1.5 or 2.

Now don’t get all worked up. I’m by no means suggesting selling out, tossing aside your principles or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. I just think there are times – in our personal and business lives – when we have to step back, be confident and comfortable in our own skin and think less about what’s best for us, but what’s best for the – take your pick – relationship, partnership, business, and I’m sure there are others.

And yes, sometimes it’s okay to let someone else sing lead vocals.

(Alright, just a little fan worship. Even though Daryl (again first name basis) sang the big hits, John was no slouch vocally – check out a couple these deep cuts for proof)


Don’t give up on people

November 15, 2014

As I sit in the palatial global headquarters of the Chronicles, in the second floor penthouse of Casa de McCullough, overlooking  my neighbor walking his dog; I’m all clean and moisturized following my Saturday night bath, my Olivia Pope wine goblet full with a generous amount of the grape, I’m thinking back on the week that was.

It was a week that didn’t start well, but fortunately, it didn’t end badly.

I’m not going to get into the specifics, but I do want to touch on one thing that got under my skin over the past seven days. I witnessed what happens when a system that is supposed to help gives up on someone.Help

Someone expresses they have a problem, and the people who bloviate and bluster about being there to help, waste very little time casting the person aside for them to find help on their own.

We shouldn’t give up on people, especially if we’re placed in a position to offer so-called ‘guidance.’

If it’s your job to help, then help.

Several years ago, a well-seasoned office mate once said to me that it’s hard to lend a hand, when both hands are covering your ass. Such was the case this past week.

Of course, it’s in my DNA to seek a silver lining, and as I reflect on the past seven days, the bright spot is that I learned that there’s no shame in needing help, and there’s even less shame in asking for it.

I also learned that I have the capacity to help, and I bet you do to.

Help someone because in doing so, you just might help yourself!


Friends

November 11, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the world’s greatest musical duo, so I think I’m overdue. This is less a post about music, but more about friendship. In this case, it’s about a friendship that has lasted more than 40 years.

I came across a very nice photo snapped by Eliot Lewis. Eliot is the keyboard player in the Hall and Oates band. Every now and then, Eliot takes pictures during live shows from his post behind the keyboards.

This is an image of a couple of guys who have not only been friends for decades, but successful business partners – a pretty impressive feat.

Thank you Eliot Lewis

I’ve got friends. I’ve got good friends. But I don’t have friends who I’ve known and worked with for 40 years (I know – 40 years ago I was 10, but just go with me on this one!).

Who knows what the secret to this enduring partnership and friendship is. They’ve both gone on record as saying one of secrets to their success as a duo is building in enough Room to Breathe between the two of them.

Over the years, both have dropped solo albums (remember when new music was released and not dropped?) and other projects. In fact, at 68 years of age, Daryl has just opened a new supper club.

But, in my view, at the core of it all is the creative bond and friendship these guys have shared since they were college kids.

As a fan, it’s great to see and hear that these guys still make beautiful music together.

As a man in the middle ages, it’s inspiring to see a couple of guys several years north of 60 years of age still being productive, still looking great, still getting out there every night and – as the song goes – Do it For Love.


Fool’s Paradise

November 8, 2014

There’s a commercial for a popular cleaning product that features an older women who says that before using this wonderful cleaning tool she was living in a fool’s paradise for thinking that her home was truly clean.

I had never heard that expression before. In fact, I thought a fool’s paradise was located down the street from the Gangsta’s Paradise immortalized in song some two decades ago.

Intrigued (as I often am by trivial things), I went to Webster’s to find out exactly what is a fool’s paradise, and here’s what I learned:

Fool’s Paradise – A state of deceptive happiness, based on illusions or delusions

That’s pretty deep.

By now you might be asking why am I rambling on about this. Well, I’ll tell you.

A couple of days ago I was having a chat with someone pretty close to me who was carrying the weight of the world on their pretty formidable shoulders.

I attempted to provide some wise counsel along the lines of encouraging this person to refrain from worrying about things out of one’s control, and it was then that I said that I must be living in a fool’s paradise by believing that there is bliss to be found when we stop fretting over things that we can’t control.

Courtesy Cracked.com

Courtesy Cracked.com

Maybe I am deceptively happy. Maybe I am living in a mythical world of unicorns and rainbows. Perhaps I am blinded by illusions and misled by delusions.

Maybe I’m a fool.

Or maybe I’m just at a point in my life where I can clearly see that this life is way too short to worry about things outside of my control, things I can’t do nothing about (Double negatives are so effective in punctuating a points)!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend my day walking around like a Don’t Worry Be Happy singing Bobby McFerrin.

I’ve got stuff – a lot of stuff. In fact, last night we…well, I’ll save that for another post.

I just try to channel my energies toward dealing with the stuff that is within my control. I don’t have much room for that other stuff here in my fool’s paradise.

If you agree, come on in – just be careful not to step in the unicorn dung.

 


Voting Patterns

November 4, 2014

I voted.

However since these pages aren’t about politics, I’m not going to tell you for whom.

On the way to the polling location, I thought back on all of the times I flexed my constitutional muscles at the polls. I turned 18 in 1982, and I cast my first vote in the race for Atlantic City Mayor between James Usry and Mike Matthews. To this day, I have mixed emotions about voting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard fought right we enjoy as American citizens (especially those of my complexion), and I take it seriously. It’s just that looking back over all of the elections in which I voted, my reasons for choosing the candidates I did were all over the place – and they still are.

Didn't have these cool stickers in Jersey!

Didn’t have these cool stickers in Jersey!

My vote has gone to candidates I truly believe in and support (especially at the state level in the early and mid 90s), I (full disclosure) also voted for candidates who had a direct impact on my paycheck, and I  voted for candidates where I  – sadly – held my nose and selected between the lesser of two evils (and to quote Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that!).

I voted as a resident in two states – well actually three if you count pulling the lever in New York as a Selective Service registered, Cold War, Ivan Drago concerned college kid during the 84 presidential campaign.  I have the fondest memories of working with candidates in my beloved home state of New Jersey (see that ‘paycheck’ reference in the previous paragraph).

The Flash is on tonight, and I have to see what Jimmy Spader is up to in last night’s episode of Blacklist that awaits on my DVR. There were years when I’d stay awake until the last vote was counted. This isn’t one of those years. I don’t plan on staying up to watch the results. In fact, I think I’ll wait and go old school and buy a paper in the morning to see who my next governor and senator will be.

It’s best that I end it here because my feet – crammed tightly into my patent leather Capezios – are sore from tap dancing around a topic I try to publicly avoid – because after all, do you really give a hoot about my political views? I hope not, because at this advanced stage of live and let live middle agedness I don’t intend to lose too much sleep over yours.

Happy Election Day!


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