Tag Archives: moving

Act Two

Did your life seem to be right on track, and then it ran right off the rails?  Modern life is filled with pitfalls such as divorce, losing your job, sickness and the list goes on. It is filled with distractions that would like nothing more than to keep us from moving toward our goals.  We have to keep moving forward.

Forgiveness is something frequently discussed in terms of the people close to us, but we often forget to forgive the closest person of all: ourselves.

It’s good to look back on your life and acknowledge your past mistakes and learn from them.  It’s also important to forgive yourself for them so that you can move on with your life.

No good comes from putting your life are on pause to live in the past.  We cannot go back and change the things that have happened. What we can do is move on, refusing to repeat the same mistakes.

I can remember the night very vividly, yet it was already almost two years ago.  Fortune Gym, the gym in Hollywood where I had worked for six years, threw my wife and I a going away party.  As I looked around at all the people in attendance, it hit me hard how much I was going to miss them all and how much I was actually going to be missed.

One of the people at the party was a young man I had met at the gym about two years before.  We had chatted briefly and I had taught him a little Jiu Jitsu.  The next time I saw him he told me he had read my book.  He knew someone in the book, so we had a good laugh about it.

Over a two-year, period I trained with him often.  One day I had a talk with him about his line of “work.” He was selling large quantities of pills and marijuana.  I was worried about him because he had not yet been arrested for anything, but he was playing a dangerous game and it was bound to happen.  You commit crimes, you will get caught.

I told him that it may look good and it may seem like easy money, but in the end you will pay the price.  I could see he was unsure of what to do with his life, but I could also see that he took note of the message I was trying to get across.  A few weeks later he had an unrelated legal scare and was facing some serious problems.  The legal problems ended up going away, but I am pretty sure it helped guide him toward making better choices in life.

Although I haven’t seen him since the party, I speak to him about once a month on the phone.  Thanks to social media I can follow the things he is doing with his life. He opened a music studio, started managing talent and even started his own music label.  He got a chance to live his life differently, and he took it.

A second chance is always there if we are willing to sum up the courage it takes to change.  It is never easy giving up what is familiar no matter how wrong it is.

I left Brooklyn, New York and drove to JFK International Airport on a cold November morning.

I parked my car in long term parking and took the train into the terminal. I knew deep inside I was not coming back.  I had two suitcases and a laptop. I knew life was about to change for me, but I had no idea how much.  In that moment, I was just relieved for fresh start.

That was twelve years ago.  I still had many lessons to learn and places to live before I reached where I am today.  I had to learn to forgive myself, to forgive others and to accept God’s forgiveness and plan for my life. Leaving Brooklyn was only the beginning of my second chance.

I have been reading the Gospels this week.  It is clear to me that Jesus took those that were considered broken and gave them new purpose and everlasting life. He even forgave Peter after he denied him in public.  If we know someone who denies Christ, who are we to give up on them when Jesus did not give up?  Who are we to shun away people who may have not done the right thing in the past, if Jesus did not do that? How can we hold our past against ourselves when he does not?

America is the land of second acts, it is still the best place in the world to reinvent yourself.

I am over a decade into my second act, and I am still learning new lessons and moving forward every single day.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

Grateful For My Life

It has been an unusually busy week for me.  Nothing like the go, go go of New York or Los Angeles, but it was more than the regular schedule I have become accustomed to in rural Illinois.

Part of my old world collided with my new world this past week.  On March 31, 2017 my friend King Mo Lawal was coming to town to fight Rampage Jackson in Bellator 175 at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. I first met Mo many years ago at Jokers Wild Fighting Academy one day during a fight class. I was told that day that I would be working with him, which was a huge step up for me. We trained a lot more over the following years.

As his trip to Chicago approached, we made plans to meet up when he arrived in town before his fight.  He had told me to bring my gear because we might train.  I arrived at the hotel and left my gear bag in my car since I wasn’t sure what our plans would be.  Right when I walked into his room he asked me if I had my stuff, so I went back out to grab it.

Soon we were inside the “blue team” training room.  It was nothing more than an empty conference room that had wrestling mats laid down wall to wall.  He had his coaches from American Top Team there, and he had Jeff Mayweather started running him through some boxing drills.  They had him do three minutes of boxing followed by three minutes of wrestling with me, back and forth.  It was a surreal moment for me.  Here I was wrestling with the headline fighter for a Bellator fight in front of coaches from one of the premier mixed martial arts gyms in the world – in Chicago of all places.

It got even stranger for me when I looked up and saw former UFC champion Matt Hughes watching us.  After we finished the training session Mo had a press interview to do and I ended up sitting next to him for the interview.  Dinner came next, where I found myself speaking with the matchmaker of the Bellator promotion as well as Royce Gracie, the man who really brought Brazilian Jiujitsu into the mainstream.

The next day I drove back up to the city again to train with Mo.  This time I brought an Illinois friend who is a casual MMA fan with me.  I was worried that he would be bored, but we ended up having a great time.  When we were hanging out with Mo I was watching to see if he was affected by the upcoming fight – less than twenty-four hours away.  Was he stressed?  He was not.

We sat around talked about old times, people we know and politics.  “King Mo” is the character the fans see in the cage, “Mo” is the guy his friends know.  Mo cares about others and is a genuine person.

Driving home later that evening I thought about my life, and all the old memories of helping other fighters prepare for big fights.  I realized I missed the time I spent hanging out with my fighting friends, but not the life that came with it.  I found myself very happy to be headed home to my new life on the farm and the nearby town of eight hundred and thirty-seven people.

I thought about all the things that fell into place in throughout my life to bring me to this place.  I have been truly blessed in life by being in the right place at the right time.  I was able to recognize that and make the most of my situations.

This past week somebody posted an old picture on facebook and I was in the background. It brought back some memories both good and bad of my past life. While I am not proud of many decisions I have made in the past, I am thankful for where they have brought me today.

The army friend I’ve often written about on this blog posted a picture this past week that was taken when he was deployed in Afghanistan, laying against a dirt berm, geared up with his M4.  He wrote, “You know, I kind of miss this. I remember vividly this moment and being so tired. It seems a lifetime away and I have almost completely disconnected myself from this old me.”  I too have disconnected from my old life. I recognize who I was then, but it no longer seems like me.  I have changed.

I was written about in the local papers this week.  This time, the spotlight was not due to my past.  The article was about what I am currently working on.  It made me realize just how grateful I am for my life.  My past has brought me here, to this place. Training with top coaches and athletes for all those years has prepared me for this important endeavor.

This time I am not fighting for money, I am not training an athlete for a big fight or an actor for a big role. Instead, I am using all those skills to train up a new team of people to fight back against Parkinson’s disease and all the degenerative effects that come with it.

I am so blessed.

Philippians 4:11

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

New Years Resolution

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Winter

We are down to the final days of 2016.  Many of us are looking back on our year and making plans for the one ahead.

The first day of the new year comes with a tradition in western culture where we promise ourselves that we will accomplish certain actions. We call them new year’s resolutions and while many people make them every year less than 8% actually accomplish them.

I have watched this unfold year after year at various gyms across the country. January rolls around and they are slammed full of people for the first week making it hard for the regulars to get in a good workout.  Some people begin the month doing two-a-day workouts.  By February 80% are no longer working out.  The excuses are always the same: I’m sick, my children are sick, I have no time, I got hurt, work is busy, I’ll do it home. Sadly, by March 98% have quit.  The key is not two-a-days, the key is patience: slow and steady progression.

Last year I decided that I would not eat refined sugar and I decided to stay closer to my former fight weight.  It seemed an impossible task.  I eat healthy for the most part, but I enjoy a few treats.  One in particular that I enjoyed is candy corn. I love candy corn, and they have recently come out with so many new flavors that I have wanted to try!  The end of the year is now here and I have made it the whole year without eating a single candy corn!

Another goal I had during 2016 that has been very hard for me to do is to let go of grudges and anger that I had towards others. I have made progress, but this is a lifetime goal and will take a lot more work.

I had a few other goals in 2016, all of which I worked on bit by bit, and accomplished.  This year I have a few new ones.

I will start by defining my goals with a definite finishing point. Goals don’t begin with, “I will try,” or “I would like to.” They will be goals that while difficult are achievable with hard work.

I will have to be patient, because nothing will happen over night or even in a month if it is worth it.  It is hard to see progress, but change will come.

If your goals are fitness related, you will reach a plateau – most likely more than once – on your quest. This is where it takes strength to keep going.  When you make it past these difficult points you will notice notable, change.

I speak to a lot of people who tell me they wish to write a book.  A common reason for not writing it is time.  Everyone can find an hour a day to write.  If you cannot write at home, go to a coffee shop or a library for an hour. It is work, you have to do it on a regular schedule.  The more you do, the better your work will be.  Don’t worry about getting it just right at the beginning, because the first draft never will be right and neither will the second.  Instead, get it on paper from beginning to end and then go back and make it better.

Vocalize your goals to others, they become real when you state them.  It helps when others are involved and keep you accountable by asking about them.

If you do something every day it is like putting money in the bank.  Some days I do not feel like training, but I do. Writing is the same, but as long as I do something, it will be better than nothing.

If something beyond my control happens or even if I just get lazy, I make myself get back into it right away. You might feel that you are starting over.  It will be easier if you string together as many days as you can without missing any.

People often say Friday is my cheat day, or rest day.  Try to avoid that and keep a floating day off instead. This way if something comes up on Sunday or Monday take that day off from your schedule and then go right through the rest of the week.

This year I will read the Bible start to finish. I will also write two books.  My last goal is to have a podcast or a radio show of my own.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself.

 

Fitness & Faith

 

 

Moving from Los Angeles was exciting and scary all at the same time.  I knew I could always train people while I wrote on the side.  I had no idea if I could still sell anything I wrote, being so far away from Hollywood and all the producers.  

I love the martial arts and I love strength training.  In Los Angeles,

DCIM100GOPRO

Old School Boxing

I worked for Justin Fortune, a former boxer who fought Lennox Lewis the heavyweight champion who knocked out Mike Tyson.

Justin is a world class trainer who excels at strength and conditioning.  He is very sought after by elite athletes in combat sports. He trains Manny Pacquiao before his fights. I learned a lot from Justin and from all the top-ranked talent that came into his gym. Justin would pass off clients to me that he was too busy to train.  He gave me fighters and actors who I ended up training for a long time.  

One time Justin passed off a young kid named Santiago who was training for a film role.  He was not understanding the proper form for punches or the footwork, but he was willing to put in the time each day to get better. As I watched his boxing and physique improve over time, I also noticed his demeanor and confidence change.  Seeing someone change in front of my eyes was great.

My ministry as a Christian is helping those around me achieve their goals through physical health.  Ministry is about each of us helping those that we can, in ways that we are best equipped to do so.  I started training people in our basement and outside. My approach is simple, I teach each person like I am teaching a professional.  I explain it, show them, and if they choose to listen I show them some more. If they just want to get in a workout and aren’t interested in learning proper technique, I back off on technique.  Usually, after a time, they will also want to improve their form. I introduce them to a strength and conditioning program that is based on the programs we used for conditioning fighters in Los Angeles.  Each person can go at their own speed and level.

After the big move, I wanted to start training people again in the Midwest.  I knew it would take some time to build up clientele.   Not long after moving, I was sent this link to a video about a gym named Rock Steady Boxing that teaches boxing for Parkinson’s patients. You can see an improvement in the quality of life after a few weeks in every patient who trains.  I called them and tried to get into one of their weekend training programs, but they were booked until late in the year 2016. I added my name to a waiting list and received an email in March of 2016 that someone had canceled and they could fit me in that month if I was available – which I was.  

The three days I trained at Rock Steady Boxing were life changing for me because I was taught about the disease by leading doctors, researchers and professors in the field, and I worked with actual Parkinson’s patients.  One of the men in my group, Daniel, had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  I could see that it was weighing heavy on him.  Daniel was a pastor in the south who wanted to learn the Rock Steady Boxing program to help others while he helped himself.  Daniel had no boxing or training experience, so we partnered up and I helped him as much as I could.  I showed him how to hold focus mitts and to throw punches.

I worked with many patients over the next few days and I saw the same thing in every one of their eyes.  I saw hope!  It was the first time since they were diagnosed with Parkinson’s that they could do something to help themselves.  A way to improve their health and fight back.  I watched and trained them as they joked and laughed. I was excited to find a way to branch out my ministry – this was something I could do and be proud of doing!

I started training my first Parkinson’s patient just over three months ago, and the changes have been amazing.  He is stronger and his balance and coordination are off the charts now.  I have him doing complicated footwork drill and he can keep up. The bonus is that I train his wife at the same time and she has also seen some amazing gains.  Rock Steady Boxing gym always trains the spouse or caregiver alongside the patient, and they are referred to as “the cornerman.”

In my regular early morning fitness boxing classes, I recently gained another mature adult in my class, and I can see she is also making gains.  When we get older we tend to think there is not much we can do. Wrong!  There is much more that can be done, you just have to approach it in new ways.

Many people, believers, and non forget about their health or put it on the backburner.  They forget that we must all take care of our bodies. God calls us to take care of the bodies he has given us so that we are strong enough to do his work.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body, is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Rock Steady Boxing:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/boxing-program-trains-patients-to-beat-parkinsons/

Prospector

A prospector is someone looking for mineral deposits.  Prospectors are usually after gold. A prospector is a type of explorer: one with a specific purpose.

We spent our weekend cleaning out our guest bedroom and garage.  How did I accumulate so much junk?  One pile for charity, one for garage sale and one to keep.  The big decision to keep or not to keep?  Will I really use it or do I just like the idea of it? I am sure we have all gone through this at one point in our lives.  One thing I love are my books and they are so hard to part with.  I am going to sell some, but not many!  We will have to price them at twenty five cents because not many people buy books anymore.

Last week we posted a number of things on Craigslist.  We posted my drywasher.  A drywasher? A dry washer is used to separate gold from dirt in dry (desert) conditions. I used it in the deserts around Los Angeles. I love to spend my free time prospecting in the deserts and hills.

It turned out to be a great hobby because you cannot beat the exercise.  Hiking in nature and a treasure hunt.

When I was in a mountains by a stream looking for gold, I would use a sluice.  A sluice is much smaller than a drywasher, and you place it in the water.  I would dig up 20 buckets of screened, concentrated dirt, and run it through the sluice in the water.  The water would wash away the dirt and stones and heavy minerals (black sand and gold) are left in the ridges of the sluice. When I was a kid my mother could barely get me to get rocks out of her garden, but today for fun I dig holes and move rocks.

It was a sad day when a father and son drove up here from San Diego to buy my dry washer.  They saw the listing on Craigslist.  They had borrowed a friends dry washer the weekend before and gone to the desert, and then decided to find one of their own.  That is when it hit me, we are really leaving! My wife told me I could keep it, but lets be honest, there are no deserts in the Mid West.  Its gone and I wish them a lot of gold and great shared memories.

Monday I finally had a day off from work, so I got up at 4am and drove just under two hours to Goler Gulch in the Mojave Desert.  It was time for the final prospecting trip in California with my metal detector and my dog. Its called nugget shooting when you use your metal detector and go looking for nuggets on desert claims.  I belong to several Prospecting Associations that own claims that I am allowed to prospect on.

Golar Gulch is not even 2 hours from Los Angeles but it is a different world.  To many, the area may look dead.  It is a wasteland, but it’s rich in desert plants and wildlife. I love getting away from the city to a place where cellphones don’t work and few radio stations come in.

You won’t find people in designer jogging suits, yoga pants with headphones on these trails.  in fact, I only saw four people that whole day.

When I got there, I turned off the car got out with my dog, stretched, closed my eyes and took it all in. The wind blowing across the sand and rocks, the sounds of small birds and other wildlife. It was a good last trip.  I got my backpack on and with metal detector in hand I started hiking towards the Gulch.  You pass a small miner cemetery where they buried their dead in the late 1800’s and again during the depression.  I stopped to pay my respects and say a silent prayer, then was back on the trail.

The area is dotted with coyote holes, which are small, hand dug mine shafts in the side of banks.  Miners dug them chasing the rich gravel full of placer gold. So much history took place here back in the 1890’s when they had to bring supplies in by mule or wagon. During the 1930’s and the depth of the depression the area again saw a boom. Men who were looking for work and for ways to feed their families went back to old diggings to use more modern methods to extract the gold the oldtimers left behind.  It was a hard way to make a living, but they didn’t have many options.

This time I found no gold.  The trek, the hike and desert: that is the real treasure. I hope to see it again sometime in the future.

Moving Trucks & Internet

We’re going to road trip from LA to the farm, and we are going to do it in a car (we’re selling one of our cars).  That means figuring out how to get our things from Los Angeles to our new home, without driving it there ourselves.  I had heard of PODS and contacted them first.  Whoa, pricey.  Kept calling places and found the best option with http://www.upack.com.  1800PackRat.com started out quoting me higher than even PODS, but their customer service was fantastic and they were able to almost match upack’s quote.  I almost switched the reservation just for their A+ service, but when you’re moving, every hundred or two hundered dollars counts! If you think you *might* move in the next six months, if you have even the slightest possibility, go online and get a quote generated ASAP.  I did that a few months ago when we were tossing around the possibility, just to find out how much it would cost to move.  Then, when the date was set and we were a month and a half out, I went online to generate a new quote with the exact dates, and the cost had almost doubled.  Luckily, I had the old quotes and called and u-pack was able to exactly match their original quote, by just asking them to.  We’re moving in June, which is a busy month for moving (Jan-April are less busy), so keep that in mind if you are flexible on your move.  The way our move is set up, we chose a certain amount of feet inside a moving truck that we think we can fit our things into.  If we end up using more or less, the quote changes $90/foot, up or down.  When our things are loaded, they are secured with a “wall” and a padlock.  There will be other things loaded in the remainder of the space.

Questions to ask the moving company:  how are my items secured inside your truck?  what level of insurance is included in your quote?  is the tax included in the quote provided?  are there any additional costs or is that the amount I will pay, as long as my things fit inside the space in the truck quoted?
Our moving truck drops off the “trailer” and we get three days to load it up.  We lock it up, and they’ll pick it up.  It will arrive 7-10 days later at the farm for us to unpack (the road trip we’ve planned is about 8 days, so we may arrive before our belongings).
Since moving cross-country is so expensive, its smart to sell all you can.  Since I bought most of our furnishings on Craigslist or at thrift stores, it isn’t too hard for me to part with them.  We’re keeping one bedroom set (selling one), keeping our dining set (wedding gift) but selling our couch and living room furniture.  We’re taking our washer/dryer but selling our fridge.  I’ve listed most of our things for sale on Craigslist and have had a lot of luck selling things.  Husband was not happy to part with his drywasher, but that space hog would not do him much good in Illinois, where there isn’t desert (or gold) to drywash.
I’ve lived in urban areas for my entire adult life.  I’ve never considered that internet might not be easily available & affordable.  I’m going to be working remotely part time for my Los Angeles employers after the move, so I need to make sure internet is ready for us when we arrive.  Husband needs to be able to do Skype meetings for his work.  I went to price out the options, and kept running into “our service is not available in your area.”  The satellite options have data caps at 15GB (we’ve used 99GB already this month, and there’s a week left in May).  Now I’m looking for “small business” internet options, since all the “home internet” options have small data caps.  Once I figure out the best option, I’ll let you know….