About A Breakup, Part 1 of 5: Code Angst (An Introduction)

Hell, forget soft intros. Here’s what you need to know: I’ve been through a divorce and a broken engagement. And I’m happy. And I have a stellar relationship with my ex-wife, her husband, and my ex-fiance. And my kids are thriving. The last time I visited them, E, one of their friends from home, flew up with me, courtesy of her kickass mother. And my ex-wife and her husband and OUR two kids and THEIR two kids and E and my ex-in-laws and I ALL went out for pizza and drinks. And it was a blast. AND THIS IS A STORY OF HOPE. 

So after my latest blog entry (addressing patient death), a bunch of you crack sleuths noticed the “About A Breakup” series and inquired about why I hadn’t finished it. I started it about two years prior, and it sort of fell by the wayside. What do losing patients and breakups have in common? Hey, don’t focus on the wrong part of the story. I just figure before I start routinely contributing to The Impossibility Movement again, I should complete the unfinished entries. Here’s an updated introduction to the “About A Breakup” series. Final entries are in progress. I’ll do my best to make each entry short, powerful, and to the point.

If you didn’t decipher it by the enigmatic title, this is a multi-post series about a real-life breakup, in this case, a broken engagement as experienced by me. I figure it applies to a wide range of broken relationships. I’m writing with the day-of-the-dead-2041971_1920intent to relate to YOU in your own breakup, personal tragedy, or otherwise crossroads, and to perhaps be a signpost to hope and joy on the other side. Hope and joy, dammit. I insist. 

At age 37, with a warm-up marriage (a.k.a. “divorce”) already under my belt, I would describe the experience of defaulting on a subsequent, almost-marriage (a.k.a. “engagement”) as something along the lines of a hormonally-saturated lovesick teen, geeked out on Pixy Stix, standing in the middle of a fire and brimstone hailstorm during the First Zombie Apocalypse, armed with only a Little Mermaid toothbrush for self-preservation. Yeah, it hurt. And yeah, I’ve been through the turd ringer. And yeah, I’ve got some mad credentials. Stand on me. It DOES get better. I swear.

So here’s the thing. I’m gonna talk about some shitty experiences in this series. Some dark and frustrating and sad and plain old shitty experiences. And like all human brains, YOUR human brain is going to zone in, like Corgnelius The Corgi to a Poodle in heat, solely on the negative emotions, out of a sense of fear that YOU might have to experience the same emotions in your pursuit of personal happiness. Vintage Muse: Stevie NicksDo not buy into that mentality. It’s bullshit. We’re all well-trained to visualize all the worst case scenarios and to convince ourselves that stepping up and saying “this is what I want in life” will certainly lead to torment and regret. But you deserve a life that you love. And for all that we say we want in life, we certainly spend vast amounts of brain cells on what we have to lose, and almost no brain cells on what we have to gain.

In order for you to get the GREATEST impact out of this series, you MUST understand that no transformation in the history of mankind has occurred without a meltdown occurring first. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a transformation, would it? Suppose you found yourself in a state of beautiful and happy and unicorns-shitting-Skittles bliss. And suddenly, you awoke from your dream and found yourself in a state of beautiful and happy and unicorns-shitting-Skittles bliss. Yeah, you read it right. It’s redundant. If all you ever knew was total bliss, you wouldn’t know a transformation if it bit you in ass. How the hell would you know the difference? How would you know blissful light without experiencing darkness? The greatest and most powerful transformations that I’ve ever experienced in my life came on the tail end of the greatest heartbreaks and tragedies. 

 It’s Yin and Yang, my friends. This is what all the great spiritual teachers mean when

imagesthey say “delight in your suffering.” They don’t mean have a tea party in the middle of the shit storm and throw rainbow confetti and eat fucking cupcakes with sprinkles and bathe in a champaign-filled hot tub whilst being battered by rain and wind and flying cows and washed-up celebs and whatever. They simply mean that endless possibilities exist when there’s nowhere to go but up. Remember that.

When life sucks now, we’re convinced that life will suck for eternity. But the future isn’t as shitty as you are convinced it’s going to be. Sure, it hurts like hell when it’s happening. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t. But too often we choose to endure the mediocre because we’re afraid of how much it will hurt to go after what you really want in life. This is your happiness at stake. As my dear Aunt Janet so poetically puts it,

“You just have to keep reminding yourself that it’s going to suck. Until it doesn’t suck anymore.”

Now don’t be half-assed about it. If you’re gonna start reading this series, see it through. Way, way, way (sometimes WAY the hell down there), underneath our tears and sorrow and guilt and regret, there’s a flame burning within us from a time when we knew ourselves to be forces of nature, before the world told us we were worthless, and we started to believe that crap. I’m not guaranteeing that this series will change your life. But I do guarantee that you won’t get the full effect if you don’t read the whole thing. Stick it out, my friends. Hope and joy, dammit!

Look for About A Breakup, Part 2 of 5: Courage (The Cold War).

Cheers.
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A Quick And Dirty Guide To Happiness

WARNING: Explicit language may or may not exist in this post. If that sort of thing offends you, well, choose for it not to. I find that a little colorful language is liberating, helps drive the point home at times, and also expresses the nature of being human.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adipics/47715711/in/photolist-5dydF-jhLmxb-6qwX5m-hSGZiK-k5izge-8Ws4q4-p3nzhz-m3yYoj-p3nyKH-5dv273-5P4kXc-ij32Vk-4eQcX4-oL9Kv9-7uv953-nfozmb-8pFCNE-pN4n9B-oL938k-dkJ3o-kWwAPg-yjpTSu-hSHQ36-ahH7SF-ikaEss-BZwR-ahH9JD-oL9KV7-ijWMCA-9afTBB-7BAWDb-4eQdHB-dWT2xN-qi8bEY-9cyftY-bxggsL-qrwUN-kZjenV-z2UrJ-p3B117-f4kRCA-5zMsYu-93gHo-p3nyWz-o54nqA-p3CWbT-EXDty-8xz6Tb-sdkmks-65ARu

Of all the people I’ve coached and mentored, of all the human behavior that I’ve observed, of all my experiences and reflections, from all the psych and sociology I’ve studied, from all the choices I’ve made (both powerful and shitty), and from the various self-improvement courses I’ve undergone, there’s a central question that makes itself known pretty regularly to me, and it usually goes something  like this:

What’s the key to personal happiness?

And if it’s addressed directly to me, it’s usually followed by

Make it quick. I have things to do. You’ve got five minutes.

So in the spirit of quick and dirty, here goes:

Step 1 – Define what you want. 

Step 2 – Do it.

The end.

OK, for those of you who might be interested in a slightly extended version of the above steps:

Step 1 – Define what you want. As Tim Ferriss states in The 4-Hour Workweek:

For all their bitching about what’s holding them back, most people have a lot of trouble coming up with the defined dreams they’re being held from.

I  happen to believe that it’s purely fear that paralyzes human beings from declaring what they want. As long as it’s floating around within the confines of your own mind, you have nothing to risk and nothing to gain. You can simply daydream about it without any accountability to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s happiness purgatory if you ask me. It’s warm and fuzzy and logical. But once you declare it, oh shit. It’s on. Are you shaking in your boots, yet? You should be.

Tell me something. How the royal hell can you skydive, or travel to Tahiti, or get a black belt, or learn a foreign language, or sell all that useless shit that clutters your garage, or leave your deadbeat job, when you can’t even SAY where you want to dine out on a Sunday afternoon, for God’s sake?

Step 2 – Do it. Oh shit. You’ve opened your big mouth and declared what you want. People think you’re weird. You’ve been ostracized. All for choosing the restaurant for Sunday lunch, and now everyone else in your lunch party thinks you’re a complete selfish asshole because you were the only who didn’t say “I don’t care where we eat.”

Here’s a tip about taking action after you’ve declared your intentions: MOVE YOUR ASS, DESPITE WHAT YOUR BRAIN IS TELLING YOU. By this point it is completely full of shit and screaming all the reasons why you shouldn’t be proceeding, like a safety rep in the emergency medical department, explaining to the nurses why they should wait to pump lactated ringers into the bleeding patient who is ten minutes from death, because it’s safest to chart everything beforehand.

A few weeks ago, I made a declaration on a personal goal. My action plan requires harsh workouts, and ingesting so many calories per day that food has completely lost its pleasure, and I occasionally have to suppress the urge to vomit. The same urge to vomit is usually present after workouts, too. And do you know what my brain says every single day?

Stay put. This is way too hard. Have a day off. You deserve it.

And do you know what I tell my brain every single day? STFU. That’s what. I’m not in the business of declaring something with no intent to deliver. During last week’s vacation, after a night of extreme good times and fantastical memories, I dragged my sleep-deprived aching carcass to the gym on workout day with a mild hangover. Do you know what my brain was screaming the whole time? You get the picture.

To pull a quote from a previous post about the current pursuit of a music career:

True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it. 

Define what you want in life, my friends. And go after it like death is on your heels. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurt, you’ll fall flat on your face, and you’ll climb the highest mountains, and you’ll LIVE. To the arena, my fellow gladiators. Don’t tell me what you’re capable of. Show me. Cheers.

Poop And Love, Entry 3: Project Iron Man

Pain and GainYou can do anything you want with your body. ANYTHING!

In 2013 after a massive drop in body weight from a bad ulcerative colitis flare, I got the nerve to do some self-experimentation based on an article by one of my all time favorite life gurus, Tim Ferriss: go from 128 lbs to 150 lbs in 40 days. And I freaking did it. In January 2015, ANOTHER flare, the worst one since my diagnosis. I lost all that weight and more. After several months of lying around on my snot-stained pillow and feeling sorry for myself, I stepped back into the House Of Pain, used the aforementioned method, worked my ass off, and ONCE AGAIN put the muscle back on (122 lbs to 145 lbs in about 45 days). That’s TWICE I deliberately and intentionally created a goal for my body and delivered on it, despite some HEAVY circumstantial resistance. And there is NO reason why you can’t do the same thing.

I’m currently creating a brand new goal for myself: to break my personal Body Mass Index record. I’m calling it Project Iron Man. According to the National Institute Of Health, a normal BMI range is between 10-24. I’ve averaged around 20 or below most of my life. I’m shooting for 22.5. All that means is that in order to top the record, I have to gain an additional 12 lbs of muscle. Target weight: 157 butt-lbs (underwear only), which will incidentally will be the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.

Get inspired. I’m putting my money where my mouth is and inviting all you canker blossoms to drop your lame-ass excuses and get into motion on something in your own life. Whether you want to gain muscle, lose weight, get ripped, run a marathon, strengthen your core, or just be a plain old sexy-ass beast, here are 4 tips from my personal stash that I’ve implemented for success. I guarantee you if you use them, you will see results. After each tip, I’ll tell you how it applies to my current goal.

1. Define it. “What can be measured can be managed.” -Peter Drucker
People say “I want to get into shape,” and they hop onto a treadmill a few times a week, with no structure or plan. They say “I want to lose a few pounds,” and add a daily salad to their meal plan.  It’s not enough to say you want to lose a few pounds, for example, or that you want to gain some muscle. First and foremost, create a SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE goal. How many pounds? How much more muscle? You want to be able to visualize your progress. If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, start with a small goal, get some victories under your belt, and work your way up to bigger goals. Or hell, go big or go home! There is no wrong way.
MY GOAL: 22.5 BMI (gain another 12 pounds of muscle mass).

2. Time it. “Begin with the end in mind.” -Steven Covey
Have a START and an END time for your aforementioned goal. Once you declare that start date, deliver on it as if your life depended on it. My start date was Sunday, and it was a near-puking workout AFTER I washed and waxed my car. Jim Morrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi could have returned from the dead to have drinks with me at the local bar, and I would have instructed them to go shoot pool while I finished my workout. As long as you’re throwing out start dates (or any other plans) with no intention to deliver on them, you’ll never move forward.
MY DATES: Start 9/20/15; End 10/26/15

3. Declare it.”Embrace peer pressure. It’s not just for kids.” -Tim Ferriss
You can wander around all day with a goal inside your own head and see how far it gets you. But declare it definitively to everyone on Facebook and watch your motivation change. I’ve even found it helpful to do a little friendly trash talking from time to time. One of my co-workers is going on her fifth week of quitting smoking cold turkey. One of the greatest motivators according to her? Husband and kids taking bets on when she’s going to buckle and have a cigarette. Tangible risk of failure after you’ve publicly declared it can be a great tool for keeping that locomotive in motion.
MY DECLARATION: By 10/26/15, I will weight a minimum of 157 sexy muscle butt-lbs (in underwear only; no cheatsies).

4. Plan it. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” -Alan Lakein
When will you workout? How will you workout? Will you alter your diet? How will you chart your progress? Who are you gonna talk trash to? This might require a little research. Calm your life. Sit your dramatic arse down and take 30 minutes to an hour to investigate the best method and sketch out a plan. There’s a wealth of resources out there. I’m by no means an expert, but if you’re completely stumped about methodology, look me up.
MY PLAN: Workout one day on (Beast Mode), two days off (Repair Mode), using only a barbell, a few concrete blocks, a kettlebell, and bodyweight exercises. Minimum 2000 calories consumed per day, limit 75 grams maximum sugar consumed per day, minimum 120 G protein consumed per day. One binge day allowed per week if all other plan requirements were followed for that week.

Work your plan like you would contract syphilis and drop dead if you didn’t deliver on it; like every failure to deliver would result in being forced to watch The View for seven days straight while hungover; like your very life depended on following through!

We break commitments to ourselves with embarrassing regularity. -Tim Ferriss

Jump on it. Start something. AND FINISH IT. If one of the three smallest kids in my class throughout grade school WITH A CHRONIC CONDITION THAT DIRECTLY AFFECTS BODY WEIGHT can do it, so can you. Cheers.

Taking A Cold, Hard Beating In Life

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Photo Credit: M&R Glasgow Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/glasgows/2200685325/in/photolist-4mt65r-ekrgJt-a6vJdG-5FH4VD-uF9ih-8XjWpc-rG1Ab2-rzxLc5-waqrBf-v1cxSC-u87vbu-tnA3Gy-wnFUzk-qMamXQ-qTnkp1-tFD3rq-7UTZAg-7Fk5f2-hMPcyx-dQCf9W-wTyKP-bWiVm2-72FndA-cJWEi-6dS18j-kja511-jAnYzN-p8LucZ-8txYwK-cE5u1w-63Sp2P-ku75L6-bwDfTi-csKbXb-cB5abE-4RGYkK-63WCb7-762KYT-7v33Ly-762Jb8-4AE4Gy-766Fij-5x79sv-6KiwBU-63WCmE-5TGymf-4LHZv2-5HyVxA-63WC27-63WC6j  The last nine months or so have delivered a few harsh blows in life, the latest of which has left me reeling with fear, and the blast radius has affected some of those closest to me. It happens to us all. I’ve put a lot of time and work into transforming my once permanently cynical mentality. But none of us is immune to a breakdown from time to time. The last few days, I’ve found myself uncharacteristically asking which day will be the one where I finally throw in the towel. A small but significant memory has begun to show up for me repeatedly, no doubt a result of this damned positive brain training I’ve been practicing the last few years.

I’ve dabbled in several martial arts forms over the years, including Aikido, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, and Kempo Karate. A few years back, I entered Faglier’s Kempo Karate in Augusta, GA, home of some of the biggest badasses of the CSRA. I’m proud to say I’ve trained on the same mat as local MMA champs Jason Faglier (Sr.), Jason Faglier (Jr.), and Alex Faglier. Until that time, I had mostly trained in controlled application of joint locks, chokes, throws and takedowns. Faglier’s was the first dojo I had visited where they routinely practiced full contact sparring, and anyone could try it.

I appreciated this new opportunity, figuring if I was ever to gain real confidence in a street fight situation, I should probably learn to take a punch and give one back. So I dove in head first as usual. I picked one of the biggest, baddest mofos in the dojo and asked him to spar with me after class. Go big or go home, right? His name was Matt. He was an advanced brown belt, MMA and competition experienced, and he also happened to outweigh me by around 80 pounds of solid power. He cheerfully obliged. Come to think of it, perhaps that should have worried me.

Anyway, we chomped down on our mouth pieces, gloved up, and stepped onto the mat for three rounds. Around, oh, fifteen to twenty seconds into Round 1, I was gasping for air like a chain-smoking asthmatic. I was in pretty considerable shape at the time, but let me tell you something: Being winded in the gym with a jump rope is one thing; it’s another thing altogether when you add The Iceman, delivering shots to your rib cage like a jackhammer to a Popsicle stick birdhouse. I dropped my gloves to insinuate I was done. He swiftly replied by delivering a solid right cross to my jaw. It’s hazy, but as best I recall, I believe I momentarily saw a grinning purple unicorn wearing gold clogs, a Black and Mild clinched between his teeth, tap dancing on Matt’s left shoulder.

I shook my head and regained my focus. “Never let your guard down,” Matt said in a lowered voice with a piercing stare. “Never give up.” It was obvious I was going three rounds with him whether I felt like it or not. Round 2: Shot to the nose. Dazed. Another shot to the jaw. Dizzy. Shot to the solar plexus. I was fighting the urge to yark. Round 3: By this point I was secretly just hoping for a knockout blow to put me out of my misery. I was struggling to keep my gloves up. But every time I would drop my guard, he would deliver another shot to my face. “Stay with me. I know you’re tired, but you can’t quit. Come on, man, stay with me. Stay with me.

After three eternities, the Round 3 bell rang, and I realized I was still alive. I had survived three rounds with one of the best fighters in the dojo. He grinned with spirit, slapped me on the shoulder, and told me I’d done well. And he reiterated, “Never, ever, EVER give up.” We bowed and exited the mat. I could only assume what he meant by “I’d done well” was that I hadn’t vomited, had a seizure, pissed myself, or offered up the ghost. He had pushed me WELL past my level of comfort. But he had ignited a fire deep within me to push on, despite several very convincing urges by my mind to throw in the towel. See the first paragraph. Sound familiar?

Every visit to the dojo after that I would step onto the mat with him again. I took beating after beating . . . at first. But then something began to happen. After several weeks, I discovered I could take several hard hits in succession without losing focus. I could swiftly respond with my own flurry of strikes and maintain my defensive guard. I could anticipate an incoming strike based on his body movements. I could spot holes in my opponent’s defenses. And I could make it all three rounds and still have the stamina to go three more.

Some blows in life can leave you in such a state of shock and dismay that you’d swear you could hear the gentle whisper of Death offering sweet (albeit false) relief. Whenever I take a crushing blow in life, or several crushing blows in succession, as seems to have been the case these last several months, when the panic sets in, when I feel like I might puke or pass out from the sheer stress of it all, I start recalling those same sensations as I went head to head with Matt. In my mind’s eye, I can see and hear him, voice lowered, determined stare, urging me to press on, to never give up, to stay with him, even as he beat the shit out of me, because he saw something within me that I didn’t see within myself, and he knew he would be doing me a great disservice by letting me throw in the towel.

I can still feel those body and head shots like torpedoes, rattling my chest and brain, leaving me dizzy and gasping for air, not unlike the aftermath of some of life’s atomic bombs, but slowly etching a permanent message onto my heart and soul: that though I may feel pain, guilt, fear, panic, anger, sadness, frustration, hopelessness, and a whole host of other vivid human emotions at any given time, and though they may FEEL very real, even debilitating, at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, at my core, I’m still a fucking gladiator.  See Two Breakthroughs, Part 2 of 2: Fearless

For what they’ve taught me, I’d like to acknowledge my friends at Faglier’s Kempo Karate for being a part of my mental and physical training. You can find them here for more details.

If I took pictures of every injury I’d sustained in martial arts, I’d have a small bible. Here are a few minor injuries:

After Percocet. Broken and dislocated.

Head contusion. Bow staff to the temple.

First Album Release and the Quest For Perfection (Which Is BS, By The Way)

Superglue NightmareI’m thrilled to have just rereleased the Superglue Nightmare Demos, number one of my first three albums released from 2002 to 2009. These albums are raw and far from perfect, and after enough internal conflict and angst to fill three psych wards and still have enough left over for both sides of the Caitlyn Jenner debate, I’ve yet again found myself fumbling (and occasionally just walking) down the path of self discovery. Current life lesson: Peace with imperfection. Let’s discuss this elusive bitch, er, beast that is “perfection.” It’s a pandemic that has infected every human mind in history at some point or another.

We humans have this obsession with flawlessness, with the way things SHOULD be, but aren’t. Then at some point, we have this big revelation and decide that being flawless is crap, and we’re not going to give a shit about our flaws anymore! What you see is what you get! Then we have a meltdown because we realize we’re not flawless at being cool with our flaws. So then we do some yoga or meditate or pray or stab our spouse or something, after which we arrive at a peace with our newfound discovery: that everything ALREADY IS flawless, for better or for worse! Perfection! We just didn’t see it before! And that makes us better than you, because you haven’t made that particular discovery yet. But it’s OK, young Grasshopper. Here, you can bask in our flawless glow. 

In December 2014, you may have read my post about splitting with a promising record label. In January 2015, after dealing with some frustration, I picked myself up again and started making plans for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remainder of my half-finished Tripp Powell & Co. debut album, Vintage Revival. I also began working on a publicity album entitled The Shotgun Sampler. The premise of The Shotgun Sampler was to put a few original songs from each of my first three albums onto one compilation for distribution. The album was so named for the manner in which I intended to release the compilation: quickly, without worrying about over polishing it, just to give fans a sense of my original sound. I’ll give you three guesses to see where this is going.

So four months later, I’m still working on the finer points of this “quick” album release, finding myself averaging 4-5 hours of crappy sleep per night, sucking down one to two energy shots per day, juggling my paying job (nursing) and my non-paying job (music), in the middle of my worst ulcerative colitis flare ever, frail and sickly. It took me that damned long to admit to myself and to everyone else that I was stressed out of my mind. After all, I’m the positivity guru, right? I’m beyond stress . . . cough, cough, BS!, cough, cough. And the ultimate stressor? DELUSIONAL SEARCH FOR PERFECTION. I found myself completely sold on the notion that this musical venture should be flawless, perfect and without mistakes. Are you starting to smell what I’m stepping in?

So once again, I picked myself up (side note: NEVER GIVE UP; thank you John Eliopolo), checked myself into the ER for a jump start to wellness, started therapy with a great new GI doc, picked up the kettlebell once again and started putting on the muscle with an old trusty (and absolutely brutal) weight gain regimen (thank you, Time Ferriss and Pavel Tsatsouline), and took the following detours:

  1. The Shotgun Sampler can go to hell, or at least collect dust on an earthly shelf for a while.
  2. All three of my first albums will be hitting online stores, starting with the Superglue Nightmare Demos. Look for the next two in the coming months. They each have imperfections, and dammit, I’m cool with that.
  3. Vintage Revival will be postponed, but is still very much alive. I’m leaning toward giving Kickstarter another shot later this year for funding.
  4. In the words of my good friend and mentor Javier Silva: “Get your shit out there and start playing live! Get messy! Make some mistakes!”

My friends, we human beings have the misconception that there is a way life SHOULD be, which causes us to resent and to resist the way life IS. Consider my notion that this musical venture SHOULD BE flawless, perfect and without mistakes. See where it got me? A pretty fair shot at taste testing different soil types and contributing to flower growth, if you catch what I’m saying. Have a look into where you expect perfection, or where you try your best to portray it. True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it. 

“I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking of making some more.” -Cheryl Cole

Tripp Powell & Co. are rehearsing and gearing up for live shows in the near future. If you’re itching to get your hands on a copy of the Superglue Nightmare Demos pronto (and you should be!), you can find it here. Expect it on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Amazon and all other major music outlets soon. Cheers.

Poop And Love – Entry 2: You Are A Sexy Beast

IMG_1241 (1)This is me around mid-June 2015. I’m approaching 140 lb. from 122 lb. About six weeks prior to this photo, I was down to 122 lb. from my latest ulcerative colitis flare, which started in January 2015. Skin and freaking bones, man. But I had a breakthrough in my mentality, my way of being, and I will happily share it with you in this second entry of Poop And Love, if you will agree to be infected with positivity and sexy confidence. Poop And Love – Entry 1: Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis.

If you want to create change in your life, strive first to accept the way you are now. To clarify, that doesn’t mean you have to LIKE the way you are now. For example, I’m a sexy-ass beast. And so are you. And I mean that in a most non-arrogant way. It’s how I choose to carry myself. It’s joy, not pessimism. It’s confidence, not conceit. But here’s the thing (the part I don’t necessarily LIKE sometimes): I’m a relatively small guy, an ectomorph, i.e. considerable strength packed into a body made out of pipe cleaners. Chances are you won’t see me flexing on the cover of Bodybuilding Magazine anytime soon. Between the ulcerative colitis and my body type, my historic challenge has always been keeping the weight on.

Now, before all the canker blossoms chime in with how amazingly kickass it must be to have no worries about obesity, allow me rattle off a few challenges for my fellow stick people in this obesity-focused society:

  • Good luck finding legit literature on how to GAIN weight; you’ll have better luck finding the Yetti sipping on Cognac and playing Spades with a Chupacabra at a hookah lounge in France. Incidentally, a few years back I did land on some solid lit by life guru Tim Ferriss, and I did some extreme self-experimentation from his book, The 4-Hour Body, to prove whether or not it could be done. See the results here. BOOSH.  
  • Whether you’re circling the death drain from fluid depletion at 115 lb. (true story) or getting ripped kettlebell style at 150 lb. (true story), it’s all the same to the handful of people who will tell you EVERY time they see you that you look sickly and need to eat your meat and potatoes. Never mind that an hour ago in your quest for weight gain, you nearly sacrificed a testicle in your efforts to leg press to muscle failure, or that shortly afterward, you swallowed a smidgeon of your own vomit when your body attempted to regurgitate that 1000 calorie weight gainer concoction you forced down.
  • When brute strength of any kind is being requested, if those seeking assistance have a choice between you and a 450-lb smoker with congestive heart failure, well, let’s just say you can go have a nap.

The aforementioned list is characteristic of the way I USED to be: self-conscious, pissed off, working out daily because I despised my frail, sickly body. In January 2015, I went into another ulcerative colitis flareup, and within three months saw all that hard work quickly waste away, from 145 lb. to 122 lb. But this time I tried something different: accepting my body for what it is, and for what it isn’t; letting go of the anger, the stress, the resentment; accepting it and creating new possibilities. So I got to work. I reconnected with some great mentors and found a good doctor who prescribed some alternative meds. After I held 122 lb. for a week with no further weight loss, I picked up the kettlebell, weak and fatigued, and Pavel Tsatsouline (Enter The Kettlebell) and I returned to the mat, where I’d left off six months prior, not because I hated my body, not because I wanted to look like somebody else, but because I know and accept who I am, and I know who I want to be: fit for life, e.g. a sexy-ass beast!

We have this common misconception in society that the fastest way to progress is to hate who you are so much that you are driven to change it. Here’s a news flash: If you don’t like who you are now, you won’t like who you are then. Just have a look at the numerous studies of the relationship between hitting the lottery and personal happiness (hint: it won’t fulfill you as much as you think it will). Learn to generate lasting change by first seeking to accept yourself exactly as you are, for everything you are, and for everything you aren’t. From there, you have a blank canvas, my friends. You are not attached to any pre-conceived notions or hindering circumstances. You are free to create a life that you love.

Cheers.

Poop And Love – Entry 1: Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis

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I’ve been entertaining the idea of throwing out a periodic entry on The Impossibility Movement about dealing with the chronic condition known as ulcerative colitis. You can thank my defective, rotting gut for the inspiration. Calm your life. It won’t be loaded down with force-fed anatomy lessons or sultry emotional agony that would rival angst-filled teenyboppers thrown headlong into premature menses at the news of Zayn’s departure from One Direction.

I’ve been inspired to share a little personal nugget about my life that you may not know about me. It might inspire you. It might give you the warm fuzzy tinglies. Or it might make you want to vomit.

Well anyway, I shall tell you the story of my diagnosis. I will spare you the gory anatomical explanations. All you need to know for this entry is that UC means “ulcerative colitis,” and its most recognized defining characteristic is lots and lots (did I mention lots?) of shitting.

As it happens, I’ve been in and out hospitals a lot in my life. A torn ACL; a head contusion (twice); bloody noses (multiple); dislocated and broken fingers; deep foot laceration; complications from some rare bizarre bleeding disorder (for which I still have no diagnosis); and a host of hospital stays for the UC (amongst other things) have led me to the receiving end of medical care many times. It’s part of what inspired me to become a nurse.

One thing that happens when thrown into a hospital setting for the first time is that you lose certain parts of your dignity right swiftly. Many people resist it. Me, I chose to embrace it. It’s actually quite liberating to stop giving a crap about how you look. For example, during my first hospital stay for UC, multiple nurses and medical staff bore witness to my numerous sprints to the bathroom, open butcher paper gown traipsing merrily upon my exposed naked ass, breaking wind and/or other substances, left hand flailing violently in front of me as if to clear traffic, tips of right fingers crammed against my asshole like a mobile home versus a tornado, not a chance in hell of stopping the great deluge of Montezuma’s Revenge about to vacate the premises of my bowels.

When an imminent liquid bowel movement comes forth, your life’s priorities are suddenly quite simple. Nothing in life matters at that moment except making it to the nearest toilet; not bills, not looks, not relationships, not personal safety, and you certainly don’t give a rat’s ass about how many total strangers lay eyes upon your sunshine and biscuits.

During that particular hospital stay, I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy. That’s where they shove a small camera into your brown star to inspect around 80 feet of your colon. You have to prep by completely emptying the colon, hence the aforementioned sprints to the bathroom (as if I wasn’t crapping enough as it was). Twelve years ago, prepping for a colonoscopy was simple. I’ll paraphrase as instructed by the nurse:

Only consume clear liquids the day before this fantastical, magical experience; twelve hours before, quickly drink a half gallon of this pasty liquid that tastes like Vomit of Lucifer on a decaying possum carcass, with just a smidgen of skunk piss; you may add grape or lemon lime Gatorade to sweeten it. Try not to yark.

Bollocks. Lady, Wille Wonka and a Pope’s exorcism wouldn’t touch this forlorn concoction. I think I vomited more than I shat.

Anyway, the next day, after like 30 days of round the clock bloody diarrhea, my new GI doctor would report to my hospital room to deliver the official news that I had ulcerative colitis. Admission weight: 112 pounds as I recall (down about 30 pounds from my average weight at that time). I looked like Skeletor on Speed and Adipex. He would go on to explain all the wonders of this exciting new disease for which there was (and is) no cure, and with which I should be prepared to deal for life. So here I was at 25 with no major medical history, thrown headlong into the world of chronic disease.

I must say that I’ve been blessed to have spent the majority of my life since my diagnosis in remission. That is to say, I usually only average a flareup about twice a year, and through self-experimentation I have developed several methods for quick recovery.  Over the years, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve learned about life with a chronic condition. You learn that you can take much more than you thought, that you can find peace and happiness even in the midst of excruciating pain, and that your outer condition and circumstances have little (if anything) to do with your inner spiritual state.

My friends, true peace is possible in any circumstance or condition. I am the evidence.

Cheers.