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Thanksgiving musings…

Thanksgiving musings…

For pretty much my entire adult life I have tried very hard to live by one of the core tenets of Taoism: the man who knows when enough is enough will always have enough. Through times both thicker and thinner, the more closely I’ve been able to hue to the intent here the happier I’ve been. For Thanksgiving Day I’ve come upon a companion piece that may very well bookend a philosophy for life.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” (HT Mrs. Bill Livingston)

Enough is a truly powerful thing. Enough is the portal to satisfaction, if not happiness. Enough is the antidote to yearning, to wanting. Once you have enough there is no reason to covet. After enough anything else is a bonus, life’s equivalent of that overflowing Holiday cornucopia. Gratitude is a straight shot to enough. On this Thanksgiving Day I am grateful for all that I have, for as long as I have had it.

For a life where for so very long enough has been enough.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“Traditional CrossFit” Sunday Musings…11/3/19

1) Fall. As in fall back. Daylight Savings time is over. I will miss our sunsets.

That extra hour of sleep, though…

2) Toddler. We have been hosting our little Man Cub (and his Dad) while the Pipsqueak is away with her Mom. Nothing, and I mean nothing up to and including fusion, produces more energy over the course of a day than a male toddler.

Even that extra hour of sleep isn’t enough to catch up.

3) Goals. Mens Journal has a fluff piece about Michael Strahan in last month’s issue. Seems like a nice enough guy (though you’d like to see one of these whirling dervish success types manage to stay married). Got lots on his plates. It’s a fun peek into his work week. As is often the case there is a little gem tucked into the text, this one about how he sets goals: SMART.

Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Time-Bound.

“Attainable” and “Realistic” are redundant, but the idea behind this little ditty is pretty good. After reading this I fired off an email to one of my teams at work about a service that we have not successfully integrated into our business. While we may still fail, putting my proposal in this format at least makes our process a better one.

As is so often the case it was worth reading about one more golf-obsessed retired athlete to get this one little pearl.

4) Traditional. Those of you (both of you?) who have been reading these Sunday missives for a bit will remember that “Sunday musings…” was  my way of giving back to the (much younger, earlier version) of the CrossFit community. I discovered CrossFit in 2005 and began to interact online in 2006. The website also had a Message Board back then; folks got to know one another in what I called the “cyber gym” both on CrossFit.com and the Board. Those free-wheeling, wild west spaces are long gone, replaced by a subscription/sign-in and monitored corporate locale befitting the grown-up business that CrossFit has become.

On Instagram, a place I do not visit, a pundit in the fitness arena opined that “Traditional CrossFit” is no longer, and that his version of “smarter” CrossFit was now what one should practice. What he is actually saying is that the practice of “CrossFit, the Sport of Fitness” is no longer what the masses should be doing, because so-called traditional CrossFit has really never gone away. The very best affiliate gyms have always used the kind of CrossFit that you found on CrossFit.com (with rational scaling options provided each night from BrandX)  from 2005 through around 2011 or 12.

While I no longer have any type of relationship with CrossFit, Inc. or a local affiliate gym (though I continue to be very friendly with the owners of the original Box here in Cleveland), I still work out much as I did when I discovered CrossFit in 2005 (interestingly in a Mens Journal article). There is still wisdom in the original version of “What is Fitness” published in the CFJ volume 2 ( the re-edited version is not of the same quality; I wish I’d saved a copy of the original). Constantly varied (do lots of different things) functional movements (do exercises that involve the whole body, not isolated parts) performed at RELATIVELY high intensity. That last part has always been key, and it is one of the parts that, if forgotten, leads to suboptimal outcomes and injury: intensity is relative to the individual on any given day. At 59 (and coming off a hip replacement) I am hardly going to have the same intensity I had when I started CF at 45.

Form, or technique (do the exercises properly), consistency (do the exercises properly all the time; adhere to a schedule of exercise and recovery), and only then intensity. This was once dogma that was unassailable. The “gamesification” of CF after 2012 prompted many a gym to lose this as they chased the competitor and as members chased competitions they had no business chasing. “What is Fitness” also introduced the masses to the 10 Characteristics of Fitness and the concept that a truly fit individual was equally competent in all 10. That IG opinionater  makes the classic mistake of stating that strength is more important than the other 9 characteristics. This  is as misguided as one of my other favorite reads, Outside Magazine, which consistently posits that cardiovascular endurance is the sine qua non of athleticism. Jeff Martin of The Brand X Method (who has no affiliation with CrossFit) should be credited with the real insight regarding strength: the vast majority of individuals are under-strong relative to the other 9 characteristics, and therefore supplemental strength training is necessary.

It’s not necessary to learn that IG opinionator’s name because he is just the most recent example of someone who almost gets it. Man, the conversations we had about this stuff in those halcyon days of CrossFit.com–scaling, strength, additional work, recovery–my kids called in “CrackFit” because we were all so into the intellectual side of this new way to approach fitness. Without a doubt “CrossFit the business” bears little resemblance to those early days, but the very particular way “CrossFit the program” applied classic HIIT principles was, and still is, revolutionary. Layering on traditional training techniques (periodization, supplemental exercises to address weaknesses) while remaining firmly committed to the original core principles (technique -> consistency -> intensity, etc.) is simply proper evolution.

With or without CrossFit, Inc. that particular era is far from over.

I’ll see you next week…

 

The Purge: Re-Visiting the Process of Shedding Material Things in Our Downsize

Six years ago this month Beth and I downsized and upgraded to Casa Blanco, our tiny little lakeside “retirement” home. It took 3 years to let go of our accumulated “stuff”, not a little bit due to the fact that there was quite a bit of “stuff” that belonged to our kids. We have new neighbors moving in next door, also downsizing, and some of my friends around the country are starting the process. Here’s what I had to say about our experience when we finished our “purge” and as our grandchildren started ramp up the acquisitions of new stuff.

 

In a couple of days we will be one step closer to completing “The Purge”. No, no…not THAT purge. I’m talking about completing the purge of all of the stuff that filled up our larger home with all of its modern storage spaces. Our new home, a tiny 1947 two-bedroom cottage, is 50% to the inch the size of our old home, but it has only 1/3 as much storage. Our purge has partially furnished at least 3 other homes, and the upcoming delivery to “Lovely Daughter” adds another home to the list.

Clothes, art, tchokes…you name it. We’ve been liberated from our stuff.

Have you ever seen George Carlin’s classic riff on “Stuff”? Truly funny stuff (Huh? Huh?), and easily available on YouTube. An entire cottage industry has grown up around the purging of stuff. That’s kinda funny, actually. The concept that you need someone to come in and tell you how to get rid of your stuff. In addition to a few minutes of belly laughs, Carlin gives you the place to look for low-hanging fruit: other people’s stuff! Set a timer, and if them others don’t pick up their stuff, off it goes.

The harder part, if it’s really all that hard at all, is when you are down to the stuff you think you might need someday. You know, like that really interesting, sure to be useful gadget you just had to buy at Sur La Table 10 years ago that’s still in its original packaging. Or those holiday dishes you’ve forgotten to use every Christmas since you got married 25 years ago. Stuff like that. When you literally don’t have a place to put ‘em, this category becomes not at all different from other people’s stuff: if you never used it, it was never really yours, right?

Before I get too self-congratulatory and get injured by patting myself on the back, I should point out that we DO have an attic, and also a tiny little vestigial cellar. Both are filled with unpacked, lovingly examined, and re-packed memories. Sure, I could digitize the photos and upload them to the Cloud. The 55 year old “Teddy Monkey” that hasn’t been cuddled for 2 decades would certainly fit better in an album than a box. It’s here where the line is drawn in our home, that place where “stuff” intersects with memories. Maybe I’m too old school, or perhaps just plain old, but the memories and the things that trigger the memories are safe from the Purge.

The whole exercise has been a helpful and useful one in my never-ending journey on the “want vs. need” highway. Stuff? Firmly on the “want” side of that equation. Every day in our cottage, more joy from less. Letting go of the stuff has also brought me closer to cherished memories, which in turn is bringing me closer to cherished people. Funny, eh? The less room I have for stuff, the more room I come to have for the people who helped me make the memories I’ve been saving. I’m off at the moment to round up a couple of those people, hopefully to create a few more of those memories.

After all, the size of your heart and soul need not be bounded by the kinds of walls that surround your stuff. There can always be room for your memories and the people who made them with you.

 

And with that Beth and I are off to visit family in Rhode Island and friends we made on our Honeymoon 34 years ago!

Harmony, An Introduction: Sunday musings…9/22/19

Sunday musings…

1) Cat. I’m allergic. Pretty sure the barn cat is aware of that.

The barn cat who insists on sitting on my lap while I type “musings…”

2) Fashion. Happens every year around this time. All of the large national papers have a big, glossy magazine filled with the latest creations from the world of fashion. The stuff for women is wacky enough, but have you seen the garbage they have created for men?! Seriously, have you ever seen anyone wear an asymmetric suit larger than the one the guy from the Talking Heads wore in the “Stop Making Sense” tour video?

That trees were felled or energy created to send the electrons over the internet for this crap is criminal. Sheesh.

3) Emmys. Tonight we here in Cleveland will have to choose between the televised spectacles of the Emmy Awards and the Baker Mayfield Show. Both will feature suspense of some sort; it’s a done deal that something or someone will go off the rails in both. With the Browns seemingly on the brink of relevance and the Emmy Awards stepping back from the brink of irrelevance by acknowledging so-called “new media” productions, one of the side effects is that there is a renewed interest in the historical excellence of both. I’ll not bore you with tales of Jim Brown or Otto Graham; it’s really more fun to talk about historically important TV shows IMO.

Parade Magazine listed 20 of the top TV shows of all time. Pretty good list, actually. You probably have seen a bunch of similar lists if you are a TV watcher. Not much to quibble about on a list of 20. I would have added something like Happy Days. Maybe subbed out “Friends” for Seinfeld. Still, pretty good list. What are your favorites? Pretty easy question for me, as is the “favorite movie” question (Shawshank Redemption): Hill Street Blues (medical school) and M*A*S*H (college and med school).

What I love about TV now is both the current “binge-worthy” shows that I can watch like a really long movie (or a non-Stop “Roots”) as well as re-runs and anthologies of classic shows, especially comedies and variety shows. Like Carol Burnett. I am convulsed in spasms of laughter each time I see Tim Conway and the “Elephant” skit that cracks up the entire cast. Another treat with the Emmy Awards and nostalgia is trivia. Did you know that only one person ever turned down The Carol Burnett Show? Bette Midler.

Betting she wishes she had that one back.

4) Harmony. My day job, as you may know, is medical. I am an eye surgeon. My side gigs involve a little bit of creativity and communication. I write both as release/escape and as a service to my colleagues who spend the lion’s share of their work time in front of patients or in the OR. Same thing with speaking; I am either speaking as an educator (sponsored or not), or working behind the scenes representing my fellow clinicians.

This weekend was a bit different, though. My colleague Alice graciously invited me to be the Keynote speaker at the annual educational meeting put on by her group’s foundation. I gave two clinical lectures on topics I am known for and know very well. It was the third talk, though, that was different. At the end of the long day of very technical lectures I gave a talk about the challenges of being happy, especially (in this group) for physicians. This was a talk born out of discussions that Beth and I have had with Megan over the last several months, and the joy of putting it together is that I have been privileged by the inspiration that Megan has given me through her insights. Here, then, is a small introduction to our thoughts as I prepare a “long read” version for a later post.

We have been bombarded with the conflicting impacts of a need to “have it all” and what we are told is the need for something called “work/life balance”. What is implied, if not outright declared, is that happiness can only be achieved if one is able to achieve, or acquire, both. Having it all and a work/life balance, that is. In reality there is no such thing as a work/life balance. It is a false construct. Work is a part of life. It’s all “life”. In a similar vein, what is implied by “having it all” is actually “having everything”. This is, of course, impossible. No one can have everything. You can have it all only if you recognize and accept two tiny little “buts”:

You have to choose what “All” is, and you can’t have it “all” at the same time.

Your choices have consequences, not only in terms of what you choose to include in your “All” but also when you choose to include those things. Happiness occurs not when you have balance because balance never occurs; something is always underweighted (or not chosen at all) so that something may be chosen and emphasized. Happiness occurs when your choices flow into and out of one another in a way that they do not conflict. Think of your favorite song, sung or played in key, each or the pieces parts moving in and out of the spotlight, sometimes leading and other times simply supporting. Megan and I like the image of a fountain, it’s shape and size built by you to reflect the choices you’ve made about what will be part of “All” for you. Water flows up and over, around and through, it’s speed and volume and direction the result of what you need and want at any given time.

Too much flow and you run out of water; you tried to have everything, or you tried to have it “All” at the same time. Too little flow and you wither; life and living is an active pursuit of both mind and body. Harmony occurs when every surface of your fountain is bathed in flow at some point, neither overflowing nor draining away. Your fountain rests in the larger body of water that is humanity, the fountains of friends and family nearby, sharing the collective stream.

Happiness is possible when there is harmony between the choices you have made. You can’t have everything. You can have it all, just not at the same time. You have to choose what “All” is and when you will have each part of it.

I’ll see you next week…

Youth Sports: Sunday musings…8/25/19

Sunday musings…

1) Westbrook. Russell Westbrook was traded to Houston?! When did that happen? Reunited with Hardin. How is that a better idea now?

2) Luck. As in Andrew Luck. As in lucky to have his wits enough about him to realize that the near-constant reality of injury-rehab-repeat as an NFL quarterback was making  him unhappy to the point of being unhealthy.

Ans so he has retired at 29.

He will re-pay the Colts for either $12MM or $25MM depending on the reading of his contract, but will leave the NFL having made at least 40 or 50MM, so money is not the issue. Disaffected Colts fans are unhappy because he waited until 2 weeks prior to the season to make his decision, putting the team in a difficult personnel position. I can honestly sympathize with that feeling among hardcore fans, but ultimately Luck worked in a meat factory where he was just one more piece of meat. And he said no more.

Fair winds Mr. Luck. I walked away from amateur football at 21, the game done with me before I was done with it. Not you. May you be at peace.

3) Sport. The retirement of Andrew Luck comes on the heels of a series of events and subsequent opinion pieces on those events regarding the state of youth sports in the U.S. You’ve doubtless heard all of this before. Single-digit aged athletes who are single-sport specialists and all of the pitfalls therein. Participation in sports overall is apparently in the midst of a decline. Something like 45% to 37%, or numbers to that effect.   Did you know that the average age at which this cohort retires is 11? No, not 11 years of participation (I hesitate to call it “play”), but age 11. Washed up before they get to try out for a Junior High JV team.

What was your youth sports experience like? Mine was strongly influenced by the times of my upbringing. The 60′s and 70′s when I was playing local league and school sports had yet to spawn the tyranny of youth travel teams (except for hockey) and all of the havoc they wreak. I’ve written on this here on Random Thoughts at length (search “Three Sport Athlete”), but this latest news about the corrosive effects of early hyper-competition prompt me to spend a few more moments on the topic.

Among the many benefits I accrued from being a team athlete was learning how to both lead and be led. At least as important was learning how to sublimate my ego, my own need to not only excel personally but also be singled out for excelling, in favor of the more generalized success of my team. Tough, tough lesson, that. As a genetically programmed early achiever I certainly would have been selected for any number of teams that were filled through scouting, recruiting, and try-outs. Looking back I can hardly imagine a worse outcome for me as a kid. You see, I wasn’t really all that good, or at least it turned out that whatever gifts I may have been given at birth only made me look good in the earlier stages of an athletic career. With the exception of a little mini-peak as a college sophomore (and that only occurring due to an injury to the player who beat me out for the position), my reign as a standout talent was probably over as a high school sophomore.

What if I’d been on some sort of elite travel baseball or basketball team, all of my efforts (and likely substantial family assets) devoted to the singular pursuit of some sort of athletic achievement? It wouldn’t have been my choice to leave the games, someone would have escorted me out.

Kids who are true athletes, who will be capable of having some kind of advanced career in college or beyond, will find their way even if they aren’t put on a one-sport super highway at age 7. Andrew Luck is actually a pretty good example; I think he played pretty much everything well into high school. Heck, LeBron James was a heckuva wide receiver through 10th grade. Now we have personal quarterback coaches recruiting 8 year olds, parents being led on like so many sheep9ii. Not kidding. 8 years old and being taught how to read coverages in the secondary when you’re supposed to be learning how to spot bubbles in the sand so that you can dig up those cute little crabs that live 2 inches deep at low tide.

Please don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a missive about participation trophies and not trying to win. I am all about the lessons to be learned in preparing to win, and those you hopefully learn about how to comport yourself as both winner and loser. Ya gotta keep score to learn those lessons. The world keeps score for everyone eventually. It’s just a much better way, and time, to learn that lesson by playing youth sports. But playing on teams with kids who are both better and sometimes much worse at playing the games than you might be is in itself also a very worthwhile lesson to learn as a kid. How much better would I have been at life in general if I’d been a little aware of that part of the sports curriculum when I was a kid.

While I’m talking mostly about team sports I truly believe that many of these lessons are there to be learned in the individual sports as well, especially those in which you compete as an individual in a team setting. Think swimming, track and field, and any number of high school sports like tennis and golf. My buddy Chuck was number 1 on the tennis team from the minute he set foot on campus as a freshman, and yet he was arguably the most beloved member of that Williams team for all 4 years. Why? Well, partly because he never lauded his excellence over a single teammate, but mostly because he openly reveled in the TEAM outcomes, not his own W-L. Although he certainly entered his share of USTA Junior tournaments he never left his high school team in so doing.

Youth sports at their finest are played locally on teams consisting of kids who grew up together. Kids who spent lazy summer days touring their town hunting salamanders or hanging out at the city’s local Boys and Girls Club, away from harm. I can’t begin to count the number of boys who matriculated at one of our local Catholic boys’ schools specifically to play their chosen sport, only to be washed out of the program before 10th grade. How much more fun might they have had if they had gone to their home town high school and continued to play one or several sports with the kids they grew up with? My oldest son, Dan, went to school with a boy who went to St. Somebody as a 3-sport athlete and by the time he got to Junior year he was down to being an afterthought on just one team. It was heartbreaking because on a talent-basis he should have been starting on at least two varsity teams. His response? Well, he transferred to his hometown public school, played two sports, and had a ball. Got a D1 scholarship, too.

It’s time for a re-birth of local sports. Town leagues where kids get to play with their friends. A chance to learn a bit more about a sport, maybe even to excel, but more so a chance to be a kid having fun playing a game. At least at 8, no? At least until they begin to mature in adolescence, or at least until we start making cuts in high school. Play with your buddies. Learn how to be a good teammate, to win and lose with equal grace. To coexist, perhaps to thrive, with teammates who may not be quite as good at the game as you might be.

The average age at which children retire from organized sports is 11. That is a far greater tragedy than Andrew Luck retiring from the NFL at 29.

I’ll see you next week…

Taking Stock: Sunday musings…8/4/19

1) Crafty. Lovely Daughter’s term for the charting of a co-worker. Seems to mean equal parts clever and devious.

2) 28. This year marks the 28th consecutive summer vacation for the extended White family on Cape Cod. Same house, same beach, same neighbors. And yet, like so many years before, it was hardly the same trip. If memory serves this is the third Cape Week without my Dad (he passed in the fall almost 4 years ago), and it was one that saw for the first time less than 100% beach attendance by my Mom. Like the last 4 or 5 our children’s generation was sparsely represented as they pursue their early adulthoods. In fairness to them it should be noted that all four in my generation were out of college and married in the earliest years of Cape Week, 3 of us also already parents.

What is this year’s take home from our week? I’m afraid it was a bit too new and different, and it’s a bit too fresh for me to say. It was peaceful and free of rancor, but also awfully frenetic with the addition of my whirling dervish Man Cub; Beth and I had him solo for a few days. Being in the active pursuit of grand parenting without parents present does not lend itself to introspection of any kind, and since we flew home the internal dialogue of a 12 hour drive of years gone by has not yet taken place.

It was different. We were, all of us, different. It’ll take a little bit to sort through it all.

3) Goals. An Op-Ed in this week’s WSJ caught my attention. A daughter entering college asks her Dad at breakfast if he’d accomplished the goals he’d set out when he was a young man her age. It’s the kind of question I could easily see my own daughter asking me in any of a dozen scenarios. As I meander toward my 60th, in stark contrast to the year I spent careening toward my 50th, what little time for quiet thought I enjoyed this past week was devoted to this question.

Of course, like the author of the WSJ piece, in order to reflect on whether I’d actually met my goals I would have to reach back and try to retrieve some sort of memory of what those goals may have been. In doing so what strikes me the most is how few goals I seem to have had as a young man. At least when one thinks about large, grand, life-long goals that are significant enough that you actually express them in some way, shape or form. In retrospect most of mine appear to have been strikingly short-term, with a pretty complete lack of any deeper considerations of the longer term impact of those goals. I wanted to continue to be a football player as long as I could, and I wanted to be a doctor.

As far as I can see that pretty much covers it for goals as I exited adolescence.

What goals I remember setting and what accomplishments I’ve made seem to have arisen from the ground along the paths I’ve walked since my last moment on a football field and the milestone moments in the journey of becoming a practicing physician. We all start out believing that we will do something great. Something that will have a greater meaning with an impact that reaches far beyond our closest environment. At least the groups I was part of early in my life did. We’d just left the 60′s, a time of momentous change effected by seemingly out of nowhere leaders. Looking back I can see that I just assumed something like that would happen to me if I simply kept moving forward.

But it didn’t. Those great big goals and accomplishments that the author’s daughter was asking her Dad about never materialized for me. Each time the chance to choose that kind of path arose it was blazingly clear that doing so had consequences locally. All of the bigger, broader worlds fell away as the smaller, more intimate world around me became my focus. Our family. My modest, local practice. My role  model, Dr. Roy the pediatrician in Southbridge, was a very important man, but the reach of that importance was decidedly local. Each time an opportunity arose to extend beyond my own locale I chose, instead, to follow the lead of man whose life made me choose medicine as a career.

Looking back now I guess my goals were always rather modest. In the end what I wished to achieve was a family like the ones my wife and I grew up in, and a small measure of what Dr. Roy meant to our little mill town in Massachusetts: to be important in my own village. To be someone who had earned the respect of his fellow villagers. As I travel the slow, easy curve at mile marker 59 the journey is smooth because I’ve tried my very best along the way to achieve those two things. In the beginning and during the journey they seemed to be the only goals that I remember saying out loud.

After that I would just keep moving forward.

I’ll see you next week…

Sunday musings…6/2/19

1) Nature. It’s messy. The Avon Lake eagles dined on duck this morning. Hoping it’s not one of the mallards who routinely dine at Casa Blanco.

2) Equus. I continue to marvel that the horse, in all of its various forms, has survived its introduction to humans. Indeed, one of the equestrians I accompanied to a show this weekend shares my amazement.

“We’re talking about a 1200 pound prey animal with a tongue bigger than its brain. How are they still here?”

3) Mookie. Bill Buckner, unfairly cast as one of the greatest goats (as opposed to GOATS) of all time for his error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, passed away this week at the age of 69. He accepted his fault in the game changing error that allowed the Mets’ Mookie Wilson to reach first base and thereby drive in the winning run. Buckner handled the situation with grace and humor, at least publicly, for the rest of his life.

Mookie for his part held from the beginning and never wavered from his position that he would have beaten out the grounder even if Buckner had cleanly fielded the ball. Buckner you see was injured. “Of course I would have been safe; I had two good legs and he only had one.” I wonder, was Wilson offering Buckner an out? Allowing him space to shed the burden of prolonging the Red Sox Series jinx? Baseball is known not only for its characters but also for being the home for men of great character. Think Hank Aaron or Jim Rice in the latter category. Could it be that Mookie Wilson was an example of both?

That’s gonna be my take from now on. That Mookie Wilson offered a lifeline to a worthy competitor, one who was too proud to take it when he was alive. I hope Mr. Wilson never changes his story.

4) Loyalty. On Wednesday this week my long-time practice partner hung up his spurs. Scott and I worked hand-in-glove as eye doctors for 20 years. Ours was an amazing team. When I zigged so did he; when he zagged, so did I. No one had to tell me what he said to a patient we were sharing, and he knew without a shred of doubt exactly what I was going to say when it was my turn to address someone who’d come to see us. It took about 2 days to figure out that our partnership would work, and neither one of us gave a moment’s thought to the possibility that it wouldn’t for 20 years.

Everyone should have someone who works with them in whom they can bestow unquestioning trust. Scott was 100% loyal to the success of our enterprise. He treated me and each of our co-workers as if we were friends he’d had since grade school. If you laid the “extra miles” he went end to end you’d circle the globe a few dozen times. In world where business search, often in vain, for some sort of secret sauce to motivate their workers at all levels, the only time I ever gave any thought to motivation Scott was when I tried (in vain) to figure out some way to convince him that it wasn’t time to retire. No one ever worked harder with me or for me.

So it’s off to a well-deserved retirement for my friend Scott and his wife Bonnie, one likely filled with extended trips to visit their basketful of grandchildren and following their beloved Buckeyes. Years ago I dubbed him “the nicest man since Ghandi.” He stayed that way every day for 20 years. You never let yourself think what your day-to-day work life will be without someone like that bouncing through the door each day. Monday starts a new chapter for all of us at our little business.

A little bit of each of our hearts have been retired as well, wrapped around the heart  of the man who was the soul of SkyVision in a lasting, loving embrace.

I’ll see you next week…

 

Eyecare Out Loud Episode 8 EMR Follies Part 2: Reclaim the Stories in Medicine

Episode 8 of my Ocular Surgery News  podcast. There is hope, however slight and far into the future. I think that hope lies in physicians and their patients reclaiming the stories that are the underpinnings of our relationships.

https://www.healio.com/ophthalmology/podcasts/eye-care-out-loud/episode-8

 

Sunday musings 11/11/18

Sunday musings…

1) Veteran. “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” –Ambrose Bierce

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served. I sit in safety because of your service, wherever it may have been.

2)  Riposte. To reply, as in fencing, to an advance. “L’esprit d’escalier”: the unfortunate tendency to think too late of the perfect verbal riposte to an affront or attack.

Likely more the rule than the exception I’d say.

3) Risk. None other than Michael Joyner of Mayo Clinic fame is now calling for the inclusion of “fitness testing” as a distinct variable when assessing health risk in adults. Of course he is talking about aerobic, “cardiovascular” fitness only, having chosen as his metric some form of VO2 Max. It is entirely possible that he and other adherents to the tenet that fitness is completely described by endurance in any domain that can be measured through a proxy like VO2 Max are correct. The absence of data, any data whatsoever, in support of the notion that physical decrepency is the actual cause of early mortality leaves scholars such as Dr. Joyner with no choice but to use endurance as the definition of fitness. When designing risk models they have no other options.

Some weeks ago I included a RFP of sorts here and elsewhere for a measurement of fitness that includes other factors such as strength. I specifically reached out to the CrossFit and functional fitness communities asking for a test or a measurement that could be used to apply a broader definition of fitness (e.g. work capacity across broad time and modal domains). Crickets.

You can’t out train bad nutrition. Fitness is going to be measured and included in cardiac/all-case mortality risk profiles. In order to be relevant in health, public health, and healthcare the functional fitness community (which is arguably led by CrossFit) must step up sooner rather than later and join the conversation in a meaningful and measurable way. As one with a foot in both sides of the conversation (who admits to his inability to conjure up the requested measure) it is my firm belief that it will be far better to engage in the welcome evolution of thought in the healthcare community than to hope to lead an insurrection.

All of the necessary elements are in place.

4) Loss.  Half-blind, deaf, and dumb as a rock, Beth’s little mutt lived one of the happiest lives I’ve ever been privileged to witness. Tiny Tim died this week in his beloved “Mom’s” arms just a few days after his 17th birthday. It was quite a run for our little “shitpoo” (shitzu, terrier, poodle). Timmy was named after the famous Dickens character when he arrived in our home looking like a Beanie Baby with a broken leg. His bond with Beth was cemented when she broke her leg falling off a horse and they convalesced together on the couch. Though he was a perfectly sized lap dog he would only allow Beth to hold him for any but the quickest moments.

Like when he would go out in the snow and forget to come in before his little toes froze and he was “stranded” in the yard. As I said, dumb as a rock.

We are in our 50′s, Beth and I. We are surrounded by death. Friends and acquaintances pass unexpectedly and tragically in the middle of life, or lose children to any manner of mishap or misfortune. Our fathers are gone, each the victim of a terrible and agonizingly slow demise that left them but shells of the men we’d grown up with. Along with our siblings we were a powerless audience, spectators with a front row seat to their suffering. Like Tiny Tim both men lived lives far, far beyond what could have been imagined in their childhood. Both men, when they had control of their faculties, could look back with a smile at the lives they’d lived. We miss them both terribly. In the missing it is the men in full we remember as time blurs the final chapters of their lives and we turn the pages to our favorite parts of their stories rather than the end.

Some losses are expected; they are simply a part of living. The death of my 91 year old former partner. Our little Manster Timmy. We sit in a kind of “pre-Shiva” as my mother-in-law dances her last dance hand-in-hand with daughters who have loved her as we loved our fathers. Our sadness stems from the knowledge that what remains will be only the memory of that love. The last bedtime story has been read. The last ball has been tossed. The last pre-dawn wake-up alarm has been barked.

The last goodbye kiss has been exchanged.

I miss my Dad and Beth’s Dad. I will miss Beth’s Mom. I miss my dog. How fortunate am I, are we, that we had them for so long, knew them so well, were so well loved by them and allowed to love them so well. I asked for and offered forgiveness for any hurts that may have been occurred. I have been openly thankful for all of the gifts that they have given me. In the end I am comforted in the knowledge that I told each of them how much I loved them.

How fortunate am I, are we, to have loved so long and so well that we are so deeply saddened at our loss. How fortunate are we all to have one another, still, here to love so deeply for however long we may be so blessed.

I’ll see you next week…

–bingo

 

Sunday musings 10/28/18

Sunday musings…

Old is as old does. Kinda Forrest Gumpian there, I know. Sadly, even a relatively minor injury or degenerative issue can turn even the fittest of individuals into an older version of themselves. So I’ve been learning after a tiny little jolt to my hip while doing a power clean that was just enough to make a heretofore unknown degree of degenerative arthritis become an every minute part of my life.

As they say, getting old ain’t for sissies.

While the discomfort is certainly noticeable for a significant amount of my day, it’s really what it keeps me from doing that brings on that oldish feeling. All of my usual fitness activities are curtailed. In no way am I attempting to be any type of super version of the middle-aged dud I am, but feeling as if I was physiologically 10 years younger was a really big part of who I’ve been for some 12 years. That’s slipping away as I find more and more stuff I need to avoid in the gym. For sure, modern medicine (sick care) is all over this, and I certainly have any number of friends and acquaintances who have already crossed this bridge.

Was it CrossFit that did in my hip? Nah. Some of my less fit colleagues are almost delighted to tell my about what their doctors and PT friends say about CF. But my buddy Dr. Bones pointed out all of the miles I ran in my 30′s, the pounding I took as a rather small guy playing a big guy’s game. Is there some kind of little injury from that power clean making stuff worse? Who knows. The X-rays show the effects of decades of heavy use on both sides.

That first step to a fix, though, is as daunting as the first time you walk through the front door to a new gym. No matter; having spent 12 years doing high intensity exercise that included a heavy dose of lifting heavy stuff, the guy who will put humpty dumpty back together is kind of excited to get to work. Why? Well that’s the lesson here this week: prepare for whatever tomorrow may bring. Your work in the gym makes you stronger, more resilient, and more able to bounce back from adversity of all type. In the end only my hips are old. At least at the moment. More work now while I figure out when I go into the repair shop should have me street-ready afterward that much faster.

The fountain of youth flows freely in the gym.

I’ll see you next week…

–bingo

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