Only What You Can Handle!

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

August has come and gone! In July I coined it Daunting August. For as long as I can remember, August has always held a special place in my family’s life. For many others, they associate it with the start of a new school year, new college semester, summer winding down, Friday night football games. In our household we refer to it as the month of everything and then some! We have birthdays, more birthdays, anniversaries, and a myriad of everything else. August seems like it contains everything and lasts twice as long as the average month!

“It is not more than you can handle. It is merely more that you thought you could do.

– Laura Breckenridge

This year was incredibly challenging and no different. As we strolled into the month of August, the family braced for the relocation of one of our own. I think this proved to complicate matters more than we could ever have imagined, but in true fashion the family prevailed. In addition to the run of the mill items August usually brings it piled it on incredibly hard this year. As the team plunged ahead the family suffered a minor setback in the dryer department. It was inevitable. It was only a matter of time before the clanking went south …and it did 😦 So for the husbands reading, don’t think it will get better with time. Lesson #1 …replace it when your wife brings it up the first time instead of waiting until you relocate overseas!

The previous paragraphs are only one part of the equation. They do not even account for the busy month I had doing Army stuff. The Army piled it on pretty heavily and boy was it a doozy! As I look back on it, I’m not sure exactly what I witnessed. I did survive and have even more belief now that everything happens for a reason. Literally and that is all I can say. Remember, you live to fight another day and regardless of your personal beliefs we all have an obligation to put forth our best effort.

So you are probably wondering where Daunting August is headed. A story riddled with a lot of hardship, work, major family events, to include a few highs such as our youngest turning sixteen, as well as the adoption of our newest addition, Ms. Zoey.

Our newest edition, Ms. Zoey. She is the sweetest, loving cat!

I am not a man of high spiritual belief. I do believe in something larger than myself and I think as every challenging situation passes, one has to take a look at exactly what life has given you to handle. In fact, I firmly believe LIFE only gives you what you can handle. From a physical perspective, the mind gives up before the body quits. From a mental perspective, attitude and patience are two of the finest qualities one can possess. These go hand in hand and can really be the difference in making it out of a situation with all your marbles in tack or completely losing it!

The next time you meet your daunting week, month, year, event, major life obstacle, or just the regular stressors, think about the team you have surrounding you. Think about those you rely on and how important it is to build a support structure based on trust, love, and togetherness. In 20+ years of raising a family, deployments, etc…our crew has taken a lot of pride in these principles, and just like the August’s before, we were able to tackle 2019’s with the same tenacity. The only exception is that we did it from three different geographical locations! Find and leverage your team. Tackle life’s challenges head on and remember, together is better and life only gives you what you can ultimately handle.

Dressed in Overalls and Looks Like Work

Oil drillers talking with bits in front of them and drilling equipment in background, Kilgore, Texas. 1939, photographer Lee Russell

July is gone and I am full steam ahead as I march into August! The schedule is picking up, the heat and humidity is intensifying by the day it seems, and the family is busy getting ready for college, school, birthdays, and a myriad of other things. I’m missing my annual Michigan getaway and I routinely day dream of cooler weather …as I’m sure many others are doing this time of year. I deliberated, maybe even stalled a bit this week coming up with something to write about. Normally that wouldn’t be hard for a rambler like myself, but honestly I struggled. Here is why…as well as, what I have to say!

When the week first started, I was very optimistic about where things were headed. As life quickly unfolded it became evident how easy it is for people to just quit! This reinforced my theory, as well as triggering personal thoughts on opportunity vs. hard work. As the events unfolded and as I continued to ponder the situation at hand, I was reminded of  a former senior Warrant Officer email signature that read, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Made famous and often linked to the great Thomas Edison, it resonated with me throughout the week and ultimately led to a little bit of rambling about quitting, hard work, and how we overcome the challenges ahead.

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Personally, I cannot understand why it is so easy to quit. Is it a generational thing? Is it a personal thing? What is it? I am at a loss. The other side of this coin is the unwilling attitude to work towards something you want, mostly of which entails hard work, dedication, and drive. Is this true about everyone in society today? Absolutely not! However, as the old adage goes, “there is enough to be dangerous!”

So what’s my take on the matter? First, I think it is about those we look up to and the role model we directly or indirectly become to others. In my mind, it is those that came before me. It is the stories of my great-grandfather, the Charlie, Mack, Slick, and Herbert type figures. Men who woke up everyday, donned their overalls (synonymous with coveralls) and through example showed others what it meant to never quit, regardless of the conditions  or situation. That is where some of my motivation stems from. I firmly believe, setting the example is one of the ways we tackle, what I perceive to be a systemic problem in the future. Our ability to carry ourselves appropriately and mentor the younger generation is incredibly vital to the reversal of this trend. Of course that’s how I view it in my mind.

” I thought about quitting once but then I noticed who was watching “

Secondly, (and last I promise) it is about spirit and mental toughness! Easy for me to say. I have worked among some true warriors! In the same breath, I have also worked alongside some duds (probably more) who quickly gave up at the turn of every corner. The mind can quickly give up. I have learned that in my quest to train like a Spartan. It is a hard quality to teach and instill. How do you callous one’s mind. Repetition, repetition, and repetition. Honestly, when I reflect on the single event that led to my motivation on this topic, it was really about people giving up before they even started. How do you know you cannot handle something or you have the cerebral capacity to overcome something? Simply put, you do not know until you try. I truly believe that, which is why me must invigorate this spirit not only within, but also in those that will follow in our footsteps.

Hopefully today’s piece stimulated some thoughts about quitting or even better changed your views, beliefs, or stance on the matter. Maybe they did none of the above and I am perfectly ok with that as well. There is always room for conjecture as well as personal opinion. That is what makes the right to freedom of speech so special 🙂 As always, I welcome any thoughts, comments, or concerns. Stay the course and never quit!

What’s the Move?

Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Greetings to all from muggy South Korea! I mentioned in my previous article that I wanted to commit sometime here at Rambling with Rooster to share my experiences, as well as opinions and helpful tips that I learned pertaining to health, fitness, and nutrition. I intend on making this a multi-part thread. Over time, I hope to share micro-threads, such as healthy recipes, workouts, and good to know tips (of various sorts) that I stumbled across in my quest for a healthier me.

I acknowledge your apprehension. Another lame website or article telling you how to live healthier or get ripped in 7 days. I DO NOT  intend on making this site a Health centered website, nor do I intend on asking people to endorse or buy a particular product. In fact, the path traveled over the last 19 months has every bit of doing things my way …which I believe is natural, safe, and quite effective. I must admit though, I enjoy my chocolate protein post-workout. Simplistic, $11-13 for a month long supply and it assists in meeting my macro-nutrients. Sales pitch complete.

The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick.     

P. T. Barnum

So what sparked the interest in health, nutrition, and fitness you probably wonder. When I quit smoking, I literally ate everything I could get my hands on. XL Papa John’s pizza, animal crackers (in bulk), and oh by the way, I quit during crockpot season. Yes there is such a thing. It runs parallel to football season and usually involves cold weather. I embraced it; however, when January rolled around and it was time to get in the ole Army Service Uniform, it hit me! Although I took a significant step forward quitting, I actually took a few steps back by allowing my nutrition, fitness, and health deteriorate. It was then I asked myself, “What is the move and what do you aim to do about?” In my mind, I said, “You did not quit smoking to develop other bad habits, so take action and do something about it!” It was from that period forward in January of 2018 that I decided to make some moves …for the better.

So …for those still interested and reading. Step #1 – Make a conscious decision to change. I did in fact quit smoking but my motivation rested deeper than that. When I assessed this beast known as “my health,” to me it actually meant the potential of a longer, healthier life.  Notice I use the term potential. Murphy’s law is always in effect! Change is not only about doing it when you feel like it. It is very much about consistency, routine, and discipline. These are the underlying factors that help support your important decision and were tremendous in my journey.

Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

Step #1 complete and you are on your way, right? Probably not that quick, but it can be, if in fact you commit to it. Up to this point, I have failed to show you what the conscious decision to change really consists of. Of course it is saying, “I want to change …or in my case, what’s the move?” In my opinion it is more than one singular thing. Instead, it is a multitude, but not solely limited to, nutrition, fitness, activity level, sleep, and most importantly, You! These are the components or building blocks of sorts that will help you achieve your goals.

Ok, so maybe I rambled a bit and the piece was not as short as I may have mentioned in my previous work. We all have a passion for something and in the last 19 months I have developed this passion for health, that I absolutely love sharing with others. This is not the last I promise and I hope you enjoyed the introductory piece. Feel free to share your thoughts below and do not forget to encourage others who want to improve on this front. I have learned firsthand about all the resources available. I aim to share every single one of them! Thank you for reading and I hope I sparked some interest!

P.S. Please feel free to enjoy a few of the hyperlinks I included. For some, it may be a start to arming yourself with information in your quest for a healthier you!

Whew …It Has Been a Minute!

Photo by Dušan Smetana on Unsplash

Friends, family, followers, and strangers (not for long I hope), it has been a long time since my last post. 130 days to be exact, not that anyone or I is keeping track. A lot has transpired since my last post and I finally got up the courage to get back at it. It is probably more like make time more so than find courage. When I initially launched in March I had super-super high expectations for myself. Churn an article or two a week, manage the blog site, nothing for someone as experienced as myself. Or at least that’s what I thought! Boy did I ever fool myself. Life happened, family took priority, and I had to prepare for another trip across the Pacific (thanks to another individual who didn’t get a trophy …but we will save that for another rambling). Ultimately I had to cease fire on all projects that didn’t involve the four most important people in my life. I did so knowing that the war would be there when I was ready to return. So here it goes!!

The one positive aspect of waiting this long to write is the fact I have a few cool things to write about, as well as provide some insight as to what I think the future looks like for Rambling with Rooster. I assure you I have thought a whole heck of a lot over the last four months. I am happy, anxious, and hopeful, that with the right attitude and energy, I can grow this website into something fruitful.

So where did we leave off? I believe it was volunteerism. A great opportunity for individuals to give back to society. More on that later. First allow me to start with the turmoil and chaos! That is the one thing we do really well in our house. We have perfected the art of doing many things at once to see just how painful it can be. To our credit, it is usually not self-inflicted. Last December I did not think I would land in South Korea. In true Army fashion, it happened. Our family saw the graduation of our middle child coming, but it too hit us like a Peterbilt Truck! Graduation, departure, moving, college visits, affairs in order like stuff, and probably anything else you can think of, happened. We absolutely love it. I say that with every bit of sarcasm in me. I hope you can tell. Nonetheless, a lot went down and it can get very crazy …very quick. I am sure many of you reading can attest. You probably have your own stories that topple mine.

For those who routinely leave home, you understand the pain involved with saying goodbye to your loved ones. This time it was incredibly hard. You ever heard of the band Spiral Staircase? In 1969 they released a song titled, I Love You More Today than Yesterday, and buried in those lyrics they mentioned it not being more than how much they would love them tomorrow. That describes my wife and I. With over twenty years together, the tensile strength of our marriage has continually grown, unlike many you routinely hear about in social circles and society today. As for my kids, they are now grownups. We get coffee and write papers in awesome coffee shops. Together we enjoy a pleasant 160 degree sauna after a rigorous cardio or leg day workout. We watch fights and cheer on our favorites, or as a family enjoy Taco Tuesday. They all smile (not really …more like sigh) because everyone knows it is my favorite. We watch Marvel movies on release day and eat lots of Chick-fil-A afterwards. They are all awesome in their own, unique kinda way!

That is what makes it so hard to leave; however, their understanding of my obligations and support is what drives me, as well as catapults me through it. Hell, even if it is the sixth trip overseas spanning longer than 30 days.

This as I have described is what kept me away and I have no regrets. However, that is in the past and the team must forward. Resilience is one of the key ingredients to every tough situation. Adapt and overcome. Collectively we have done just that. Daily I seek ways to improve in this area and encourage those reading to internally explore the mechanisms you have in place. If you are struggling then simply seek help. Sometimes life gets to be a little too much. Do not suffer in silence. If you do not know who to ask, please feel free to email ramblingwithrooster [at] gmail [dot] com and someone will gladly provide you a resource or two. Often times, it is just a matter of talking to someone. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

So in the last 130 days, that is where the preponderance of my energy has been spent. Of course a few of those days have been spent here on the peninsula, diving into a new job, environment, and seeking new ways to become fit. So what is next? Where are we headed at Rambling with Rooster? As mentioned, I’ve had 130 days. The direction is simple. I still want to write about things that are meaningful. I want to share my experiences in hopes that it will spur someone’s curiosity and help them live their best life. In the next 6 months I will decide whether or not to stick with the same domain name and Title. It could possibly change. I don’t know. This I think is an important decision, because I want Rambling with Rooster to be more than generalized blogging and writing. I want to share my experiences about health, as well as expand the aperture of my content, which includes a section on health, education, and anything else I become passionate about or someone recommends.

“Education Means Inspiring Someone’s Mind, Not Just Filling Their Head”

Katie Lusk

Next week I’ll begin an after hours study program tailored to helping less fortunate individuals achieve educational, personal, and life-long goals. I want to include this on the site. Material that will help others. I want to educate myself on non-profit organizations so I can establish one and raise awareness for those less fortunate. People who want to pursue a trade or skill. There has to be more we can do and I aim to find a way! All of it is stuff I want to include on I just have to find a way, which sometimes can be a struggle when family and the mission comes first. That I will not default on, even if it means another 130 days (just kidding)!

It was great to sit down and write today and I look forward to more to come. Expect these to get shorter. At the recommendation of a dear friend, I think I will aim for small, quality pieces until I can get settled back into things. I’m always interested in feedback or comments. Please feel free to drop them below, email, or social media. I always value what others have to say, good …bad … or indifferent.

Celebrating Volunteerism

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

The motivation behind this week’s blog comes from my time spent this past weekend with JROTC cadets across the midwest states of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. [I promise to keep it short in the interest of everyone’s much needed Spring Break!] By definition, volunteerism is the use or involvement of volunteer labor, especially in community services. It may be a large assumption on my part, but many of the special programs, school functions, charitable and non-charitable community events we have grown to love and enjoy, would falter without volunteers.

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
― Abraham Lincoln

This is probably a little more information than you’d like as a reader, but my wife and I once had to volunteer for our child to attend school. At the time I thought it was absurd to ask a parent to take time out of his or her schedule to volunteer over ten hours a month to the school, while managing a career, and raising two additional children. Little did I know then, that today, I’d hold that year in high regard, thankful my daughter had an opportunity to attend an extra year of school, without incurring any additional cost.

Imagine if the 10,000 volunteers [estimate from a 2014 article] didn’t show for the Boston Marathon. What if the local Christmas Toy Drive or Salvation Army had nobody to ring a bell. Where would we find ourselves? How would we help others in need? The short answer is…we wouldn’t. We need volunteers more today than we ever have.

I hate to sound like the late night, overpaid celebrity spokesman, but even a little bit of your time goes a long way. Do something memorable. Volunteering in my day consisted of your parents signing up for your favorite holiday party. That is not the case today, in fact, the opportunity is likely 100 times more! Volunteering has a long lasting effect and in some cases might be the therapeutic relief one may need. Even if it entails waking up at 5 a.m. to judge a JROTC Drill competition. There are endless opportunities. A superficial search will yield a handful of options. If you’d like a few pointed recommendations, please feel free to contact me. There is always some way to make our society better, while brightening the day of someone in need or delivering in some impactful way! Happy volunteering and I hope your Spring Break landed you some well deserved time off and family memories

P.S. If you haven’t already, go watch Captain Marvel! It’s terrific!

Race Against Time

Photo by Luis Perez Companc on Unsplash

The rooster crows [no pun intended] and it’s time for another round of….let’s see just how much we can fit in to a short amount of time, hence the motivation for the title.

As I reflect on the years, I constantly wonder where the time went, how my kids grew up so quickly, and how, twenty years after joining the military, I ended up right where I started with respect to training, flavors, and tendencies. I somewhat feel like all I do is race through life, knock down targets, and make quick memories that are sure to last a lifetime. This is all in an effort to get me through to the next opportunity of fellowship, leave [military terminology for vacation], family, and friendly gatherings with other like-minded individuals and loved ones. Time management helps but I like to refer to my pressing need to always do more with less as controlled chaos. It is an orchestrated, precision maneuver to cram everything in like it’s our last. Take no prisoners and row as hard as you can for said amount of days! That’s what it’s like in my household when the whistle blows and it’s time to make memories and honestly to just live life.

This is what we’ve come to accept as normalcy, I guess…

We are going as fast as we can as soon as we can. We’re in a race against time, until we run out of money.

Jack Nicholson

What direction am I headed in you are probably wondering? Well I’m obviously going to encourage others to slow down and enjoy life, but who am I or anyone to judge, especially when tomorrow is never guaranteed. Just because I’m in a race against time doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying life. I’ve just learned how to ingest life at that speed. We never really know what the future holds, so why not do as much as you can. I’m playing through the whistle as my ole high school football coach would say. That’s who I am today and I’ll likely do that for the remainder of my time on earth. There is obviously some risk associated with pushing hard and sacrificing longer than usual hours in a vehicle. I wouldn’t trade it for the world; however, those I’ve drug along may.

When we arrive at our destination it is comical to see the relief in everyone’s eyes, especially when we’ve arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August when the weather is a lovely seventy-five degrees and sunny. We made it everyone yells and oh by the way….the clock is still ticking, so when does our ferry leave for Mackinac Island, what day am I riding Harley Davidson’s with my wife’s uncles, and the kids continuously asking if we are going to watch the weekend firework show and get ice cream.

Photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise, MI, United States

Waking at the butt crack of dawn and driving nearly 900 miles in one day is only one aspect of how I am in a constant race against time.

The other aspect is life in general, outside of leave mode. The first part of this article is just the funnier version. I’ve mentioned no guarantee of tomorrow and to some people that may seem like a bit of an exaggeration. It’s very much true and alive today in my life, as well as the circles I run around in.  We constantly hustle to do more in my household and many others for that fact. Whether it’s in preparation of a kid graduating high school, setting conditions for an upcoming deployment, something on the calendar, or the basic need to get family related events coordinated, arranged, and executed. On any given day its: rise, kill the gym, eat breakfast, work, emails, and workout, lunch, boxing practice, dinner, blog related things [really hard stuff in case you didn’t know], rinse and repeat! I absolutely love it!

Someday I’ll be retired and vow to never again wake at 3 a.m. for a northern vacation. I’ll likely take life at a slower pace, as well as stop occasionally for the night instead of driving straight thru. Sometimes we only have one shot to get it right. Splurge and live. The race against time is here to stay and we as humans will continue to face this challenge. It’s ultimately up to the user to determine how he or she handles it. In Shawshank Redemption, the character’s probably put it best, “get busy living or get busy dying.” As for me, I’m going to stick with “get busy living!”

I wouldn’t know what to do otherwise. I’ve been fortunate to make great memories and I wish all of you reading this today the same good fortunes. Just because my race against time is fast paced and speedy does not mean yours has to be. Determine your pace, but most of all make memories. They are what drives us to the next opportunity. I’d love to read how others race against time and any special memories you and yours made. Please feel free to leave a comment below and share your experiences with others.

Fortune favors the bold

A colleague and I shared a conversation on our recent business trip to North Carolina and in our colorful one hour long commute we discussed the movie Bohemian Rhaposody, a blockbuster hit detailing Freddy Mercury and the band Queen’s rise to fame. Upon returning from the trip, my wife insisted we watch the movie. After an anxious two weeks, I could finally witness for myself what the rage was all about.

As I intimately watched each song surface, I continuously hung on Jim Beach’s comment, “Fortune favors the bold.” In case you are wondering I get hung up a lot, which is likely why I used it as the title to my first, featured article on Rambling with Rooster.

I’ll never be the figure Freddy Mercury or the band Queen went on to become and I believe Jim Beach’s line resonates with me for one large reason. I once made a bold move that would forever change my life, as well as that of my family.

You see, the fortune I sought was something different than that of a band in pursuit of their dream. Let me be honest, I can sing a mean Chris Ledoux and I routinely mess up lyrics but I wasn’t chasing the platinum or in the business of proving naysayers wrong. I was in pursuit of something exciting, new, and challenging.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The fortune I truly sought was a new world for my young family to grow and prosper. Unbeknownst to me at the time and almost two decades later, the fortune continues to pay dividends. Worthy of noting is that this is long before the mystical Rooster creature, or the disgusting, violent acts that occurred on September 11, 2001, and oh my, how that aforementioned bold move would try me for years to come!

Life is too short to wonder “what if” or doubt yourself. Hell, I’d argue you should never take no for an answer if it’s something you absolutely believe in. There are exceptions to every rule but ensure you understand why before settling.

“Be BOLD like a cicada – Pipe the heck up!!” 
 Maureen Joyce Connolly

Whether it’s fortune in the purest sense or good ole fashioned happiness, fortune does in fact favor the bold, especially when you are willing to take the risk. Twenty years ago, I didn’t think of this act as bold. I merely thought it was a means to remove myself from the West Texas grind.

Cadillac Ranch, Texas, United States
Photo by Matan Levanon on Unsplash

Without sounding like a broken record, don’t be afraid to jump in head first. The fortune continues to pay for itself today and the family has grown, developed their own personalities, and been front row for one hell of a ride. There are probably a million stories of how a young man left home, family in tow to start and pursue something new. I’m no different, except I used this bold move to jump start Rambling with Rooster. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I hope it wasn’t terrible. I can assure you I am my most fiercest competitor and will strive to get better with every post.

Fortune favors the bold!