Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Is It!

Eleven PM October 27, I was one of the first to experience "This Is It." I will have to admit it is hard to process everything because of the inner conflict that many of us share. The inner conflict is the block on the filter for all of the information we have built up over the last 42 years (I'm not 42, but no matter how old, we have all seen footage from an earlier day) since MJ came on the scene with the Jackson 5 mixed with our own life experiences. It is an inner conflict that is entertained, casts judgement and asks questions all at the same time. This is my attempt to make something meaningful of it in my mind.

When I look at the life of Michael Jackson, I see a reflection of the human condition. There is the desire to be the best, stand for something noble, communicate that message in an influential way and simultaneously know that our hearts and lives will never measure up to what is on stage for the world to see. We all create a stage for people to see what we want them to see. We dance, we sing, we perform on cue the moves that we believe will be the best expression of the moment, yet we suck at improvisation. Why else would we lie, cheat, steal or kill? If life could only be choreographed perfectly, rehearsed endlessly and the end product could be sheer genius. But in the film, "This is it," we see an unfinished performance. This is where we live our lives with others.

Throughout his career, MJ had a great message, and he could not escape the judgement of others. Does that sound like your life? It sounds like mine. Here are some of my thoughts on both:

Secret of a great message: it is something with which almost everyone agrees would make things better. Michael's message is just that, Beat It (there are other ways to solve problems without violence), Billie Jean (when we are innocent we want the truth to be known), Earth Song (we need to take care of the planet), Man in the Mirror (if we want to see change happen start with yourself), Black or White (skin color should be a feature not a profile), etc (feel free to continue). We all have a great and noble message we want to share, but we know the inconsistencies and contradictions inside ourselves. So, what do we do? We try to escape our imperfection by pointing it out in others.

Secret to judging others: it is easier to see the flaws in someone else, especially celebrities, rather than bringing to light the flaws we have in our own heart. When I find myself becoming judgmental, it is usually because I am covering something up inside of myself. It diverts the attention away from my reality and makes someone else's life look like hell. It is easy to pick on someone, but it is hard and near impossible to fix our own flaws that others can see so much more clearly. When we feel this treatment from others it makes it even harder to do what we believe we should do because of that improvisational thing we have such a difficult time doing. We overcompensate in order to cover the flaws. So what is the answer? Maybe there is no clear answer. Maybe our search for answers has blocked our view of the truth. The truth is that we are all flawed and need the grace of others to survive. The truth is that there are consequences to our actions that we and others have to endure. The truth is that our judgment, while well meaning, can actually hurt more than help.

Where do we go from here. We say goodbye to someone who through celebrity has changed the way we look at the world. Some say we will miss you, and others say good riddance. I say, I hope I don't miss the point of a great message because of the inconsistencies that I perceive from the vantage point of my couch through a satellite communication portraying a fraction of the truth. Let's take the great message and leave the judging to the creator. After all, we have enough to work on in our own lives. So in conclusion,

Michael Jackson is one of the greatest entertainers in history. His dance moves were fluid and crisp. His voice was distinct and enjoyable. His creativity was off the charts. And his budget was almost limitless. He was larger than life, yet he could not escape death. He will live on in our memories, his body will rest and his soul will move on to what's next. And we are left with an inner conflict and only our own lives to live. What will you make of yours? This is it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marathon Playlist

Here is my St Jude Marathon playlist in the works (no partcular order).



Eye of the Tiger

Gonna Fly Now (Rocky Theme) These have to be in there no matter what.

Cult of Personality -Living Color

Extreme Ways -Moby

Filled with Your Glory -Starfield

Second to None (from the Transformers soundtrack)

Beat It -Fall Out Boy

For the Love of the Game -Pillar

Use Me -Hootie and the Blowfish

The Hero -Queen (from Flash Gordon soundtrack)

California Love -2 Pac

Go Speed Racer Go -Everclear

Bad -U2

The Adventure -Angels & Airwaves

The Competitor's Creed -FCA

Unbreakable -Fireflight

Dreamer -Chris Brown

Numb/Encore -Jay Z and Linkin Park

Lord Give Me a Sign -DMX

Iron Man -Ozzy

Stronger -Kanye West

The Warrior -Scandal

Extreme Days -Toby Mac

Slam -Toby mac

Meant to Live -Switchfoot

I Go to Work -Kool Moe Dee

Scream -Michael and Janet Jackson

Revolution -Kirk Franklin

That is phase one of the marathon playlist.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ways I Don't Want to Die

Have you ever thought about ways you don't want to die? We WILL all die, and I have come to the conclusion that everything we do in life is a risk. One wrong move by us or someone else and life could be over in an instant. Then there are some things that are just accidents and just plain dumb luck. When I was out running the other day, my mind started to wander as it tends to do over the course of 11 miles or so. I was running next to a golf course with a par 3 hole just off of the road I was on when I thought, "One shanked line drive to the right, and I am a dead man. That's not the way I want to go." There are things that could happen that I would die content but death by a shanked golf ball is not one of them. Then I kept going with the list and posted it to facebook. Read, enjoy a good laugh and add one of your own as a comment.

#1 weekend fair amusement park rides.

#2 in a donut shop with local Law Enforcement!
-Douglas Johnson

#3 getting hit in the back of the head by a bad golf shot while running next to a golf course.

#4 Trying to repair a leak in a toilet tank - or - anything to do with a toilet!
-Douglas Johnson

#5 eatin alive
-Jon Kniss

#6 From loss of blood violating the first rule of garbage disposal repair (inserting your hand into the drain).
-Melissa Moody

#7 Being trampled to death at Walmart on black Friday
-Brandy Pecor

#8 death by my ex wife!
-Jon Kniss

#9 Buried alive.
-Kim Quin

#10 Hand propping a plane.
-Scott Woodliff

#11 Food poisoning after enjoying a really delicious meal that included an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert. How often do we get these kinds of meals anyhow??!
-Thuy Witt

#12 A plastic surgery snafu.
-Ryan Witt

#13 blinded by cameras flashing on Christmas morning then falling down the steps and breaking my neck before I opened that big diamond I'd been waiting my whole life for
-Molly Byrd

#14 stabbed in the heart by a competitive fondue eater.
-Diane Harrison

#15 Falling from a really high place, and hitting the ground...splat
-Maria Schafer

#16 Blow drying my hair in the shower.
-Kim Quin

Reply: Kim if your drying youir hair in the shower you desevre it ! lol-Jon Kniss

#17 Disentary
-Jon Kniss

#18 Bike wreck
-Jon Kniss

#19 not dieing till you hear your wife say I TOLD YOU SO !!!
-Jon Kniss

#20 random drive by shooting.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Encouragement

Here is the quote I read at the August O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce luncheon about encouragement.

"Be quick to encourage others; colleagues, friends, family members and kids. Positive, uplifting comments give and sustain life where discouraging comments steal life. Always make it your practice to find something positive to say to others every time you see and talk with them. They will want to be around you more and help you succeed at whatever you set your mind and energy to do."

Smiles

Here is the invocation I gave before prayer at the O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce luncheon September 22, 2009. Some have asked for it, so here you go!

“Smiles cut anxiety and breed peace. They communicate that I’m okay and you’re okay. Smiles are a great way to make a first impression and start a conversation because it puts people at ease. Make it a point of intentional effort to begin any interaction with new people, coworkers, family and friends with a smile and you are guaranteed to start in a positive place.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Want More Energy!!!

Three of the last four years I have participated in the Lake St Louis Triathlon, and this year’s race was the best yet thanks to my new healthy energy supplement. I shaved almost five minutes off of my time and finished third in my age group in the sprint event with less training and only one change in my diet, FRS Healthy Energy. I do attribute much of the success gained this year to mental training, but with much less physical preparation the thing that kept me pushing hard throughout the race was FRS.

I began seeing ads for FRS on all of the triathlon sites last year with a big endorsement from Lance Armstrong it was intriguing, but getting so close to my Ironman event I didn’t want to change anything up in my diet. In the past I have had trouble with leg cramps on long events, but with a few adjustments to my caloric intake along with a few nutrition supplements they have been almost completely eliminated. Here are the things that have helped me and where I buy them.

The first thing I needed to do was balance my carbohydrate/protein ratio. This along with a good multivitamin gave me the biggest boost of energy I’ve ever had during my daily routine. The way I balanced the carbohydrate/protein ratio initially was through Myoplex Lite nutrition shakes. My training partner, Colin, introduced me to this through a program called “Body for Life.” I took these shakes after exercise and between meals, once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon, which increased my total meals for the day to five. This mostly eliminated the afternoon low energy that many people experience regularly. The best price I have found on Myoplex is at Target. You can get a four pack of premixed French vanilla or chocolate shakes for around 6.99. Inside many of the four packs is a coupon for 1.50 off the next purchase.

The second game changing supplement I started to use was Endurox R4 recovery drink. I found that after long training sessions, especially when I was increasing distance, I would get a little sore, but with an Endurox shake immediately after the workout I experienced little to no soreness. I was also able to take fewer days off after a long run or ride. Endurox R4 is good if you are training for a marathon or something where you are increasing your distances on a weekly basis. It is priced about the same wherever you can find it, GNC is as good as any. One other thing that had helped during training are Endurolytes electrolyte supplements by Hammer Nutrition. During a long run or ride I can feel within minutes my eyes brighten and gain more focus when I take them.

These things along with a “Now” multivitamin for men, 100mg of CoQ10 and “Irwin Naturals” Ginza-Plus daily carried to a successful 12:09:45 Ironman in November of 2008.

Fast forward to July of 2009 and I decided it was time to try the FRS I had seen advertised. I went to the website and found an offer for a free trial, so I ordered. There are several video testimonials on the FRS website, and they make this stuff sound amazing. Here is what I experienced.

The most noticeable thing that happened immediately was that my eyes brightened and I could focus on my work throughout the morning and afternoon. There was no real “energy” boost, just a sustained clarity. FRS claims that their formula of B vitamins and Quercetin gives the energy for more intense workouts and sustained energy throughout the day with no crash. The increased intensity is probably the clarity that I have experienced. I use the drink and chews and they seem to work. The flavor of the drink is similar to Tang and the chews are a little sour but I like sour. The results are clear with the clarity and focus at work and sustaining the intensity of my workouts it has been well worth the price of shipping to try it and I am now continuing my regular shipment once a month. I am hoping to qualify for the Boston marathon soon, so I will keep you posted on how FRS helps with the training and racing. Another side note, one of my questions when starting FRS was, would it keep me awake at night? I have had no trouble getting to sleep since I have been using FRS.

In conclusion, the combination of all the above supplements, a balanced diet and regular exercise raised my level of energy, health and focus for life. I took Lance Armstrong’s endorsement and I give this Lance’s endorsement as well. Wish I could say that I was a seven time Tour de France winner, but at least most of you who read this know me personally. Please post comments and any questions you may have. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To run or not to run? THAT is the question!

If you know me, you know I plan trips around endurance activities like marathons and triathlons. It is very healing and emotionally clearing for me to get out there and go long distances especially when I don’t have to plan my own support. This vacation to San Francisco was no different. I knew the SF marathon was on July 26 and put in my request to Melanie that we go during that time. I also knew the race was sponsored by Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man. I thought, “Awesome, I can run with one of my running heroes.” A few years ago I read "Ultramarathon Man" and it was inspiring. I can relate to the craziness of going long distances, though not like the ones he does.

One of the challenges of doing endurance sports is keeping priorities in order, not in idea but in reality. So the question has been burning since I read it, “How do you make time for family and pursue ultra endurance sports?” That is the question I asked on Saturday to Dean “Ultramarathon Man” Karnazes.

There may be better ways to ask the question to get to my real concern like, “How do you keep peace in your house? Does your wife support what you are doing? What are you doing to show your family that they are the priority over running?” I wasn’t looking for a magic answer to the question, but I was looking for some authentic struggle with which I can identify. Something like, “you know that is a great question and there are conflicts that come up all the time with my wife as to why it is necessary to push to such great distances,” or “It all changed when I started to make money and run for a living.” His actual response made me search deep inside for what is really important, but I will offer more about that in a minute.

Entering the expo hall I began the tweets. Making my way over to the registration table I asked a volunteer if there were any spots remaining for the full marathon? There were still about 30 left. Great, I had time to think. I knew Dean was scheduled to speak very soon so I made a quick pass through the crowd and vendors to the lecture hall. Between speakers I went in to secure a spot up front so I could get a close up look at the man who has run 262 continuous miles and 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Denise Austin was the next speaker and she did a great job inspiring us to better health and life, but when she was finished I looked back to see Dean was in the house!

It was clear from his body language and his talk that he was uncomfortable speaking to large groups. In fact, his lead in story was how nervous he was when he went on the Letterman Show, who wouldn’t be nervous going on there for the first time? He used the story to build some rapport with the first time marathoners in the room. He built up the whole Letterman experience right up to what he was feeling when he stepped out on stage. Immediately they showed the video of the interview. I could see a real side to the legend. He was nervous standing in front of all of us. It was clear that his comfort zone was running and not speaking. That probably gave me a sense of satisfaction as well because in my mind if I could stand up and talk, I would own the room. Somewhere in the middle of the talk I realized that I would have the opportunity to ask the burning question. Then I thought how about I use it as the deciding factor for my marathon entry dilemma?

The dilemma was not whether I could finish or what time I would be able to achieve. I had resolved within myself to simply join a slow pace group, walk through some water stations, and enjoy the tour of San Francisco provided to me by Dean Karnazes. The heart of the dilemma was that I had resolved to sit this one out and just spend time with the family for this trip. Also there is always a nagging inner conflict anytime I miss a worship gathering on a given week. Many times I have gone to church on Saturday night to be faithful to what I believe God has commanded. It’s not because I think God will judge me, but because it pleases Him and I truly enjoy the weekly celebration of singing together with other believers and learning from God’s Word. So, the thought crossed my mind during the talk, “Maybe he will give an answer that would appease this dilemma in my mind so that I can run with a semi-clear conscience.”

The talk was coming to a close and for a second I wondered if he was going to allow questions… I waited and finally he said, “Does anyone have a question?’ My hand shot up almost in reflex of anticipation. I lost my thoughts for a second, but regained it when we made eye contact. He gave me the nod to ask and I let it out. How does he make time for his family? I wanted to hear him struggle with that question the way he struggled with going on the Letterman show. I wanted to hear some honest conflict or questioning. I wanted him to say what I was feeling then justify his/our actions.

I realize my expectations were a bit unrealistic, and the time allotted for questions was very short so he needed to give a definitive response, but I was still hoping for more. I also decided I would stake my entry in the race on his answer. It was a little $125(entry fee) wager with myself along with a personal gut check to examine my motives for entering the race.

He began his response in a way I never expected and I made the decision almost immediately. He said, and I am paraphrasing, that in every major pursuit in life there are sacrifices that have to be made…

It is true, sacrifices have to be made, but was he really saying that his family was the sacrifice he had to make? He went on to explain his schedule through the week. 3am rise for a marathon before breakfast. Make breakfast for the kids and send them off to school. An early afternoon tempo run was added and he made it home to see the kids after school. On the weekends he leaves on Friday night and his wife and kids meet him at another location for the weekend. To give him the benefit of the doubt, he has probably resolved in his mind how the things he was doing benefit the family and provide for them, but something my dad has taught me is that the only thing you can give that God cannot is your time. I did not hear that he was giving his wife the only resource he can give her. Not only that, but there was no mention of her other than a chauffer for the kids to see him.

So the decision was made. Time with my God and family are not the things I want to sacrifice. I won’t get it right every time, but this time I did. Were there moments that I wished I had run? Sure, but there was no regret of the time spent with Melanie, Tyler, Megan and Melanie’s parents. And certainly no regret singing God’s praise and hearing a sermon on a passage that has been on my heart for a long time. To top it all off I was able to reconnect with a friend I had not spoken with since 6th grade.

That is my story, how I made the decision and the answer you were all dying to hear after the awful cliffhanger I left as my status. Thanks for reading and consider how you are investing the only resource you can invest that God cannot, your time.