Tough city. Lone wolf. Get your Jason Bourne on. For all the naughty nomads that just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
Today is the 22nd, a master number. You would know that if you read this book. Numbers are the language of the Universe. The word universe means one song. You are that song. Know thyself, yo.
$24.00 Check it out
For under 10 dollars you can take the feeling you get after the perfect high-five and multiply it by 5 million. You will submerge yourself in a pool of celebratory love butter when you make direct eye contact with that lucky someone who is ready to take their high 5’s to the next level.
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You were cold last winter. That was stupid. Don’t worry though, this time it’s going to be different.
Thorlikes.com has your back. Here are 8 items you must have when the temperature drops to well below freezing.
Canada goose jackets are the coolest. I once had to work outside in 0 degree weather. The only person who was warm on set was wearing one of these. He actually had a t-shirt underneath and would have to unzip once in a while just to cool down.
That fur on the hood. It never freezes and repels water naturally, natures design.
This is what scientists wear on the north pole when they’re searching for Santa Claus.
Pick one up here on Amazon for a cool $974.95
Hand warmers are cheap and can save you from frost bite if you get caught out in the cold. Keep some in your jacket pockets. I’ve even put them on the top of my feet before putting my boots on.
Grab some here on Amazon.com
Wearable sleeping bag
Great invention. Self explanatory. I made a viral meme for this. Keep the block hot, even when it’s cold.
$169 Check it out
For the people that don’t like wearing a sleeping bag but still want to stay fully covered.
$88 Check it out
Fresh. Go good with the Parka.
Click on the pic or right here to find out more.
Electric Boot Dryer
This is an electric boot dryer that works over night. You will be very pleased with the results. The dryer is rated for 36 Watts and circulates warm air by convection, so there no noise and little to wear out – this unit came with a 30-year guarantee. It does not come with an On/Off switch, but a switchable power strip solves that problem.
Maxx Dry SD Boot Dryer
Grab it here on Amazon for $28.
Zippo Hand Warmer
American made since 1932. Zippo lighters have an undefeated 83-0 record in the lighter game. Nobody comes close, and they’re guaranteed for life.
This one in particular just happens to keep your hands warm as a cup of coffee would. Which is just enough.
Read some of the reviews here to learn how to properly use it.
Smart Wool Socks
These socks change lives. Your feet become warmer and start to smell better too. This is special wool. You can wear them everyday and only wash them once a week. The wool never collects bad bacteria. They’re basically acidophilus for your foot. Click now and within a few days you can experience the best foot you’ve ever had.
A legend died yesterday. If you don’t know, his name was Yogi Berra.
He was a 15 time All -Star. MVP of the American league three times. Won World Series as a manager in the National and American leagues. And he appeared in 21 World Series, winning 13 of them.
He grew up in an Italian neighborhood of St. Louis called “The Hill” and fought in World War II as a Gunners Mate in the U.S. Navy.
Even though he dropped out of school in the 8th grade, that never stopped him from dropping serious jewels of knowledge on the all of us.
I remember being a little kid at baseball camp, seeing his crazy, confusing and paradoxical quotes. It was at that very moment I knew it was okay to be weird, and still be respected and considered a successful adult.
He was a master of hitting bad pitches, which to me, is symbolic to making something out of nothing.
Here are my 10 favorite Yogi Berra isms of All-time:
Never give up. Don’t quit. Just because you’re down and out doesn’t mean you can’t make a comeback, because it’s never to late to turn it all around.
A lot of people look at the score board when they’re losing and start thinking real negative thoughts. Especially when they’re losing by a lot.
The secret is to never take the scoreboard seriously. Convince yourself that the comeback will be easy, because with confidence and hard work, it will be.
Some of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of started with a simple mental switch. Convincing my team and myself that coming back from a bunch of runs or points is easy and that we’ve done it many times and we will do it again.
Never, under any circumstance count yourself out.
Mental mastery at its finest right here. He couldn’t imagine eating six slices so he asked for them to be cut into four. Genius.
He was a “life hacker” before any stupid hipster coined the phrase.
Just another reminder that you are the master of your own universe. Break the rules and manipulate labels to cater to you and your needs. It works.
Wan’t to learn something? Watch how the greats do it and take notes.
Be yourself, you’re the only one who knows if you’re doing it wrong.
Pretty self explanatory, when you find a fork in road pick it up and take it. Use it to stab an enemy in the eye or to eat your next meal.
Don’t just leave a perfectly good fork, those cost money.
Do you know what the most important part of getting a hit is? It’s knowing you’re going to get one.
Step into the batters box of life, stare the pitcher in the eyes, and shove the ball down his fucking throat.
Have a plan and stick to it. All you have to do is a little something great everyday and you’ll be great for life.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” -ME (after I stole that from whoever said it)
Little thing called preparation folks. It’s no coincidence that Yogi out lived all the other Yankee greats. He knew how to master the art of timing.
I hate being late to anything. But I also hate rushing. Rushing makes time move faster, which in turn, makes you grow older quicker.
Ever notice how the mornings before work or school go by very fast and you never have enough time? Yeah, that’s because you’re in a rush to get somewhere. Or as I like to call it, a rush to nowhere.
Take your time. Create some distance.
Want to know one of the best anti-aging secrets? Take your time and slow the clock down. There’s a very good reason turtles out live us all.
You’ll get there when you get there. Only fools rush in.
You don’t have to volunteer information every chance you get. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing things. It takes a wise person to admit when they don’t know something and then ask someone who does. Being stubborn and pretending you know everything will just keep you in the dark on a lot of important information. You’ll only be hurting yourself in the end.
It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to look stupid. That’s how you grow.
I know the title of this post says top 10 but I couldn’t leave this one out. It’s also right along the lines of something Yogi would do.
Some of the best hitters I ever played with were very stupid people. What I mean by that is they were simple minded. They weren’t the type to over think anything. They literally had no clue that a slump was even possible and if they ever fell into a funk it wasn’t because they were in a slump it was just because sometimes you make an out a bunch of times in a row.
Don’t over think things. You’re not bad you just ran across a few bad breaks. Chalk it up to the law of averages and carry on.
Even though you will be missed, your wisdom will always live on. Because legends never die.
You were the only catcher to ever call a perfect game in the World Series. Who would have thought?
The little short runt who everyone underestimated, is the man with the most World Series rings of all.
What started as a funny facebook status turned into a reality:
In times of peace, children bury their parents; war disrupts the order of nature, and parents bury their children.” – Herodotus
War can disrupt the natural order of life and create a sense of meaninglessness and uncertainty.
Just because you don’t agree with the war or violence, doesn’t mean you have to turn your backs on soldiers coming home from battle.
In fact, since more and more people are doing just that, be different, reach out to a fellow vet and be a source of guidance.
A lot of Vets are suffering from PTSD.
PTSD is defined as: “An anxiety disorder triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event. “
Basically, post traumatic stress disorder is the result of the brain trying to process an unnatural order of life.
When faced with an out-of-order experience that is life threatening, the brain compresses the traumatic experience so that you are left to deal with it after the danger is over.
Our brain means well in the short term, but putting our emotions on layaway can really mess us up later.
Since reliving past trauma produces anxiety, we tend to avoid “processing” it, and the unresolved shock eventually comes out as random panic attacks.
This is the brains final and desperate attempt to deal with and decompress the trauma.
So, what is an out of order event?
That totally depends on how you grew up and what you were PROGRAMMED to believe is right and wrong. Everything comes down to a matter of perspective.
Some people actually grow up with death and violence around them, so it’s their normal, and doesn’t rock them as much as it would someone who isn’t accustomed to it.
- 33,000 suicides occur each year in the U.S.
- 91 suicides occur each day.
- 22 out of those 91 suicides are veterans.
- 22 veterans kill themselves a day.
- Their number one method to take their own life, drugs or poison.
- Men take their lives at nearly four times the rate of women.
- Veterans are at greater risk than those in the general population.
Both Soldiers and citizens can all do a lot more to reduce this risk.
The fact that illegal immigrants have an easier time getting medical help than our American born citizens who risked their lives overseas is a problem.
365 days is how long it takes for most vets to get checked on mentally and once they are checked on they aren’t being handled the best way possible.
What do I know about coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan? Not much.
I have no idea what it’s like to kill a man or be at war, but I do have friends who have, and I’ve spent a good amount of time around them.
One of them in particular just called me after getting home from his last tour and he suggested I do a post to bring some awareness to this situation. I think it’s the least I can do.
So I interviewed him and a few other of my veteran friends to find out what’s really going on.
If I left anything out or you disagree with something, just leave a comment below letting me know.
Here are 6 ways that can help yourself or someone you love avoid ending their own life.
1: Self Worth
Self Worth is extremely important. It is the value you give yourself based on your personal accomplishments and feedback from your cultural editors.
When people turn their backs on Veterans after coming home it can be a hard pill to swallow.
It can cause a lowered sense of self worthiness.
When you choose to commit suicide your self worth is nonexistent.
I’m here to tell you that you CAN get it back.
Don’t let anyone else’s views of you or the war become your reality.
You have the final say in how you feel about anything that happens in your world.
The strongest reality wins.
If you don’t think you can unlearn and re program from these problems Dr. Mario Martinez is out to prove you wrong in his book The Mind Body Code.
He’s a Neuropsychologist, author, the founder of biocognition and a public speaker.
He teaches you a way to perform self cognitive behavioral therapy.
We are a lot like computers. When computers have a virus or malware we update the software.
Well we have to do the same things with our brains. We have to update the software, unlearn old habits and replace them with new upgraded thoughts and emotions.
One of the ways is through a form of Meditation. Just like a computer goes into safe or default mode, you can too.
You can’t just speak things into existence, you have to really feel them.
You can’t tell someone the stove is hot, they have to put their hand on it.
How do you feel it? Guided meditation and breath work, breathing into parts of the body and repeating a set of commands while you’re in there.
Below I have copy and pasted an exercise from the book that helped me a lot, and I think it can help you as well.
I recommend doing both.
Look at it as a mental boot camp that will make you stronger and more resilient in taking on your new battle, life in civilization.
From the book “The Mind Body Code”, By Dr. Mario Martinez:
The Method— Witnessing and Breathing
“Before you begin, here is an important reminder: the mindbody code pathways are accessed indirectly and communicated experientially . They do not operate in a linear or intellectual way. Simply reasoning out or wishing for a solution will not change the conditions that maintain dysfunctional patterns. This is a key reason why self- destructive behavior does not change as a result of fear tactics or appeals to logic.
Please read the following instructions several times until you can do the technique with your eyes closed. Do not worry about following the steps perfectly. Trust that with practice, you will develop the proficiency you need.
Please note that this experiential exercise will introduce you to all five of the
wellness portals, but you do not have to explore them all at once. You can practice working with one portal at a time for as long as you wish, or you can practice with all five portals during one sitting. The method works best when you adjust it to your personal preference and needs.
- Sit in a quiet place, in a comfortable chair or on the floor. If you choose to sit on the floor, elevate yourself on the edge of a pillow to take any pressure off your back. Always sit with your back against a wall. (Sensing that your back is protected is the mindbody code for embodied safety.) If you choose a chair, use one with a solid back.
- Close your eyes. Keep your back straight without straining. Tilt your head slightly forward. Relax your jaw and drop your shoulders.
- Feel your back touching the back of the chair, or sense your back resting against the solid wall.
- Feel your body being held by the chair or the floor. Release the belly and pelvic muscles that tighten when you’re standing. Trust that the solidness holding you in place will sustain you. (Sensing solidness holding your body is the mindbody code for embodied support .)
- Allow yourself to feel gratitude for the consciousness of safety and support you have created. Let this emerging gratitude slowly permeate your body. (Gratitude is an exalted emotion a term we will explore more fully later in the book— that promotes receptiveness. The manifested experience of gratitude is the mindbody code for embodied acceptance and assimilation of wellness .)
- Witness your breathing as if you were watching a film. Do not interfere with the rhythm; simply be aware of your breathing pattern.
Explore the Five Portals
THE FIRST PORTAL: BELLY TO FEET
- Repeat in your mind the word safety while focusing attention on your belly and your legs. Every few breaths, repeat the word safety like a mantra, and begin to witness your belly and legs as a unified field.
- Do not expect anything or try to modify any reaction you may have. Your only task is to make the mindbody connection between the word safety and the first portal.
- If memories or emotions surface, witness them without attachment and let them pass. If tension builds in the safety portal, simply witness the sensation and breathe as if you were sending a gentle wave of fresh oxygen to the tense area.
- Let your breathing embrace the area rather than trying to relax the muscles in the area. (This breathing- to- an- area technique is the mindbody code for embodied release .) Although you can’t literally breathe directly into an area beyond the lungs, breathing as if you can indirectly triggers the relaxation response to the tense area.
- After a few minutes of doing these steps, change the mantra from safety to “I am safety,” and follow the same witnessing procedure for another few minutes.
- Now engage the final mantra, “I take safety wherever I go,” for the same amount of time and with the same steps as for the other two mantras.
- After completing the three mantras, you can choose to end the exercise by counting from one to ten, opening your eyes, and slowly reorienting yourself before getting up. Or you can move on to the next portal.
THE NEXT THREE PORTALS
- The next three portals, love, expression, and peace, are experienced using the same procedure as for the safety portal.
- Each time, move from the mantra expressing the specific portal (repeating its name every few breaths) to the mantra “I am [the portal],” and finally to the mantra “I take [the portal] wherever I go.”
- Proceed from the love mantra (the solar plexus and upper chest), to the mantra “I am love,” and finally to “I take love wherever I go.”
- Begin with the expression mantra (arms, hands, and neck to eyebrows), move to “I am expression” mantra, and then repeat “I take expression wherever I go.” Go from the peace mantra (forehead to crown), to “I am peace,” to “I take peace wherever I go.”
- After you complete the exercise for the fourth mantra, if you choose to, you can move on to the fifth and final portal.
THE FIFTH PORTAL: SPIRIT
The procedure for this portal is different from the others because, as I mentioned before, the spiritual dimension does not have locality and does not reside in time and space; it has a nonlocal presence in an infinite realm. Thoughts, sensations, and feelings are amorphous glimpses of consciousness that take form and identity when we attempt to describe them. Spirit, however, is beyond consciousness and cannot be accessed directly. We can only experience the undulations of spirit the reflection of its presence. (I will explain the concept of undulations in the next section, Going Deeper.)
- Before starting the spirit mantra, scan your body and witness what is going on without attempting to intervene or change anything. Just be aware of the process. Whatever thoughts, sensations, or feelings surface, notice them and allow them to move on.
- Focus on your breathing and begin to repeat the spirit mantra at the end of each breath. Notice the gap between the end of exhaling and the beginning of inhaling. Imagine that
while in the gap, you are in the presence of spirit.
- Since spirit is not a physical entity, you can only experience the undulations of spirit (like a ripple effect). You are no longer accessing the mind or identifying a physical area. This is a contemplative dimension that does not respond to linear thinking.
- Continue focusing on your breathing and repeating “Spirit” at the end of each breath. Witness the gap between breaths with a consciousness of receptivity. Do not try to control or prolong the gap; just let the process guide you.
- When you are in the gap, experience its boundlessness. And in that boundlessness, switch from the spirit mantra to “I am spirit.”
- Continue repeating the “I am spirit” mantra for a few minutes, and then move on to “I am spirit wherever I go.”
- Notice that, because of the essence of spirit, I propose “I am” for the third mantra rather than “I take.” Also, if you do not believe in God or a deity, you can still use spirit to represent something more universal than yourself (for example, nature, or Buddhahood).
- Now you are ready for the most important step. Stop reciting the mantra, and permit yourself to trust that it continues to be expressed in your implicate consciousness a dimension that is inaccessible to intellect. (I will also explain the notion of implicate consciousness in the Going Deeper section.)
- Shift your attention from the gap between breaths to the gap between thoughts. Trust, without seeking evidence, that transcendental wisdom resides in the gap, and accept the experience as the most auspicious (best fit) in the long run. The gap experience reflects implicate wisdom rather than intelligible information. This trusting process is the mindbody code for taking a leap of faith. It is consciousness without form. Note that I am not referring to religious faith here. Instead, it is faith as a path to spiritual wisdom.
- When you are ready to end the exercise, count from one to ten, open your eyes, and slowly reorient yourself before getting up.”
I highly recommend his book The Mind Body Code:
2: Stay busy
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think of it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie
When you’re busy you don’t have time to worry about all the stuff that bothers you.
You’re so focused on the task at hand that it puts you right in that moment, directly where you want to be.
How can you stay busy?
- Build or create something
- Join a sports team
- Take a form of martial arts
- Get two jobs
- Volunteer as a coach or teacher
- Work out and exercise
- Read a book
- Start a blog
3: Don’t resort to drugs.
A lot of vets suffering from Post traumatic stress disorder resort to taking drugs to numb the pain.
Just like there’s no such thing as the fountain of youth, there is no pill you can take to erase killing someone.
There is no serum you can inject to take back seeing one of your brothers killed.
You have to go inside, relive those feelings, and replace them with new ones. That is the only way.
I know it’s easier said than done and I know it’s a quick escape, but long term, drugs will only make things worse.
It’s like putting a small band aid on a deep cut that really needs stitches.
You can’t truly love yourself if you’re abusing drugs on a regular basis.
Once you look at drugs as a weapon against your self, it’s a lot easier to stop doing them.
You wouldn’t cut yourself with a knife everyday and harm your exterior physically, so why do it with a pill that can cause harm emotionally and internally?
Once in a while marijuana can be cool if it works for you, but everyday habits that are detrimental to your mind and body are not. It is a form of self abuse, and once you look at it that way, and start honoring and loving yourself, it is a lot easier to stop the destruction.
Look at drugs as a weapon that you are using against yourself. Like a razor blade that you are using to make little cuts that add up over time.
If drugs are damaging your mind and body, why put yourself through that pain?
You are better than that and you deserve more.
Repeat those words to yourself over and over until you believe it. Because it’s true.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself or treat yourself as the enemy.
You are not the enemy you are the hero. Regardless of what may have happened.
Remember that always.
4: Get a dog
A ‘battle buddy’ service dog is so much more than just a service dog for a disabled veteran –they not only increases the quality of their handler’s lives on a daily basis, and allow them to decrease the intake of the harmful medications. They are also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling with Post Traumatic Stress and invisible wounds– showing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a way to find yourself again after combat, and create a new ending….that the best way is not necessarily through pills, but instead alongside a battle buddy, working towards a common mission.” –Battle Buddy
Coming home from war can be tough.
I wanted to have one of the points in this post be about friends, family and or a significant other. But I know not everyone has a support system like that, and humans can be pretty unreliable.
That’s all good though, because we have dogs.
Dog spelled backwards is God.
We all have a need to connect with, learn from, and empathize with others. It is necessary to our survival.
With honor, commitment and loyalty comes healing.
Commitment is the cure for abandonment.
Loyalty is the cure for betrayal.
Sad thing is, those attributes can be hard to find these days.
Getting a dog can bring these healing fields into your life.
If you want to obtain a service dog, you can link to their application on their website here: http://www.tbbf.org/apps/service-dog-application
Or go to the pound and adopt a dog. Save the dog while you save yourself.
5. Help Someone
Helping another person can give you a great sense of purpose.
It is now proven that doing good deeds for others raises the oxytocin in your brain naturally.
By killing yourself you are letting the enemy win. By helping others you are beating them even after the fact.
You are thriving and growing.
If you feel bad about anything you’ve done in the past, it’s never to late to start making good things happen in the present.
Give the gift of love, and you will receive it back ten fold for yourself.
Watch this video:
I used tapping because I was grinding my teeth in my sleep.
I don’t know if it’s a placebo or not, but it worked really well.
I do it before bed and when I wake up.
It makes me feel good.
It’s free and it can only help you. You have nothing to lose by trying it and I’ve heard stories of Veterans using it with much success: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4hhMm8qsCs
Here is an article on the science behind tapping and how it can help someone with PTSD: www.eomega.org/article/tap-your-way-to-healing-ptsd-with-eft
I really help this post can help you or someone you love deal with this difficult topic. I had a hard time writing this because there really is no right way to talk about dealing with death.
There is no equivalent to the worth of a human life, and there is no greater pain than parents having to bury their children.
The best way to getting back to being you is finding something you love.
First, starting with yourself.
You are not the bad guy. If you kill yourself you are making yourself the enemy.
You have to find a reason to truly love yourself and forgive yourself for what you’ve done or what you’ve seen.
Meditation or going within is a magnetic force that can bring you to a happier more peaceful place.
Getting a dog can bring back that lost sense of commitment and loyalty to your life.
Helping others can give you a sense of purpose.
Don’t expect people to be grateful and bend over backwards for you.
People are ungrateful. Not everyone is taught gratitude, and a lot of people are against the war.
Remember, it takes a special person to risk so much for people who care so little.
Never put your happiness and self worth in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every single time.
It’s up to you.
You can always friend me on my facebook page if you need someone to talk to.
Resources and places to get help:
There once was an old Sicilian man named Pops from Jersey City. He built his house from scratch with his bare hands in a time when the American dream was still very much alive. Although it was a little bit sideways the house was strong and was his own. He didn’t owe anyone anything.
Pops never locked his door and would even leave it wide open most days. Even when all the Sicilians and whites started moving out and Blacks, Hispanics and Asians started moving in, Pops stayed strong. He kept that door wide open everyday. Everyone knew pops.
Pops was old school. A man’s man. He used his bathtub to make wine and his windowsill to grow his own tobacco and tomatoes. He rolled his own cigarettes way before hipsters and made his own sauce long before the ‘jersey shore’.
Pops was deeply in love with his childhood sweetheart Nona. They came to America together and built a strong family of six boys and one daughter. Those children had children, and so the lineage goes.
Nona passes away, everyone officially moved out of town, his kids all grown up, but Pops still stayed.
He built that house and he wasn’t going to let anyone take that from him. So he kept on chain smoking his home grown tobacco and swimming in his home brew of freshly fermented grapes. He had permanent tobacco stains on his finger tips, holes in his jeans, and dirt on his boots. But he could beat anyone in an arm wrestling match.
One day his favorite grandson Larry got a call from Pops.
“Hey Larry, it’s Pop pop. I need you to come put my leg back together.”
“What do you mean Pops?!”
“I fell, my leg, the bone is sticking out of it. I need you to pop it back in.”
“What?! Are you o.k.? I can’t do that Pop we have to bring you to the hospital! I’m coming right now.”
Pops had been lying on the ground all day. His hip was fractured and the bone was sticking out of his skin. The whole area was purple. He tried to fix it on his own but he couldn’t, all he wanted was his favorite grandson to put it back into place for him. They don’t make men like Pops anymore.
See, Pops never went to a doctor in his life and he hated hospitals. This was a different case though, an exception to the rule. He needed to go to the ER, and he did. The surgery was successful. But the doctors noticed other things, or maybe had other plans. Pops was ‘unhealthy’. He had high blood pressure and ‘bad’ cholesterol. Doctors wanted to put him on a cocktail of prescription drugs.
They told him he only had a year to live.
All the women in the family threw a fit.
“Please Grandpa do it for Nona!”
“It’s a waste of money, I don’t need them.” He really just wanted to be with Nona in heaven.
“It’s free, you have medical! Just promise you will go down to the drug store and get those prescriptions filled!”
After a few weeks of being bothered he finally made that promise.
“Alright, I’ll go get the prescriptions filled.”
Pops was 85 years old.
Years passed. The neighborhood got even worse. Pops stayed the same. Still chain smoking his window sill tobacco and drinking on his bath tub wine. Bacon and eggs were a daily routine. Fresh Tomatoes from the garden kept his heart in his home land.
He really didn’t care if he lived anymore and not much bothered him.
But lived he did. Pops kept going. That medicine those doctors gave him really must have worked.
All the way to 110 years old!
Then one day Larry gets the call. Pops passed away in his sleep.
Larry was his favorite, and the one closest to home, so he had to go with the police to identify the body and collect all his stuff.
They get upstairs to his room.
There’s tobacco everywhere, half smoked cigarettes in a huge flowerpot. The once white porcelain tub stained a purplish red.
Something is really weird though. The closet in Pop’s room has a deadbolt lock on it.
Pops never even locked his front door. Why would there be a lock on the closet?
They break the lock and open the door. Inside is 25 years worth of unopened prescription pills.
Pops never took one of them.
“Hey, I promised them I would go get the prescription filled, I never said I would actually take them,” Larry heard Pops voice in his head.
All Larry could do was look up to heaven and smile.
True strength prevails, iron will the best medicine.
Using your messed up childhood as an excuse for being a subpar human as an adult is lame. James Todd Smith or LL Cool J as he is ubiquitously known is a prime example of someone who could have easily gone that route, but chose not to.
He’s a three time Grammy Award winner, 11 time platinum recording artist, talented actor, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He also was raised in an abusive household.
I recently had the chance to work with Todd for a couple of weeks. Within the first few hours, I realized why he is one of the most successful celebrities to ever step foot on the stage.
On his road to greatness, there were no favors involved or lucky breaks. He made no excuses, out worked everyone, and played to his strengths instead of his weaknesses.
He made his own rules.
1) No excuses
Todd Smith, also known as LL Cool J, didn’t have the easiest childhood. His Mom left his father when he was a young boy to go live with her parents. His father didn’t like that very much so he showed up one night and opened up fire on LL’s mom and grandpa, with a shotgun. Todd witnessed it all, the blood was everywhere.
Luckily his mom and grandfather survived.
Shortly thereafter his dad fled to California. Instead of his mom and grandparents pressing charges they just let him go.
While in the hospital recovering his Mom met a new man. His name was Roscoe. He would turn-out to inflict more pain on a young LL then his father ever could.
Once LL’s mom got back to good health she started working again. She worked two jobs so she could pay the mortgage on their house in North Babylon, NY.
The fact that she was at work all day and all night left Roscoe and LL alone most of the time.
He would rotate beating me with extension cords, vacuum cleaner attachments, and fists. He would punch me in the chest and knock the wind out of me — and then tell me to “raise up,” get up for another punch. One time he threw me down a flight of stairs in our house. He even beat me for looking in the refrigerator. There’s nothing worse than being hungry and staring into an empty refrigerator because your mother’s man ate all the food after smoking a pound of weed — and then getting a beating for being hungry. Yo, it could freak you out.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You can use all the screwed up things that happened to you in the past as a reason to fail, or you can use it as fuel for the fire that illuminates the path on your road to success.
You are not your past. You are the product of what you do today and what you do everyday from here on out.
What are you waiting for?
Nothing should motivate you more than being in a shitty situation. To get comfortable you have to go through some discomfort. There’s no excuse for not doing something for yourself today to give you a better life tomorrow. Whether that’s reading a book, going to the gym, or networking with someone who is more successful than yourself.
Having a full time job is a lame excuse for not building yourself, your brand, and your dreams. Having a full time job still leaves you many hours after work and on the weekend to work on yourself. There’s no reason to not give everything you have to your dream and what you love to do most, whatever that may be.
Hanging out with people going nowhere and or watching TV in your downtime is not an acceptable thing to be doing if you hate your life and hate your job. If you hate your job you should be doing things to get you out of that situation, not things that are going to keep you there.
Don’t let anyone or anything from your past hold you down. Just because someone treated you bad, does not mean you have to treat yourself the same. Just because you failed 100 times does not mean you will fail on the 101st time.
Reprogram yourself right now. Convince yourself that you are great. You deserve happiness and success. If you don’t do it, no one else will.
You deserve the best. You are your own best friend. Do for yourself, what you would do for the person you love the most in this world.
You are awesome. You are unique in your own way, and nobody can ever do it like you can. Just do it.
2) Out-work everyone
One of the craziest stereotypes about famous people is that they somehow just got lucky to get where they’re at. Or even worse, that they worship the devil and are part of the Illuminati. Nothing could be further from the truth. Clear that notion from your mind immediately. It’s bad programming and will keep you at the bottom.
Nobody at the top got there because of luck. They got there because they outworked everyone else, and didn’t stop working, ever.
We find all types of excuses as to why someone else made it and we didn’t. Whether it’s their good looks, famous parents or the, “all she ever did was a sex tape” line. Cut the bullshit right now. Stop making excuses for why someone else is successful and you’re not. Even if you’re right, it’s bad programming and it doesn’t work. It will never make you a better person or put money in your bank account. Only working harder than everyone else will do that.
We look at celebrities and see this “party and bullshit” lifestyle being portrayed, as if that’s how they really live. They don’t. That’s a lie. Celebrities work harder than you do. That’s why they’re at the top and you’re not. They. Worked. Harder. Than. You.
We see them at the top of the mountain, sitting under a rainbow with a pot of gold, but we never see them climbing the hills through all of the storms to get there.
Guess what? LL Cool J doesn’t go out drinking or smoking blunts with his ‘friends’ after work.
If our call time was 8 am in the studio, LL would be up at 6 in the morning hitting the gym. Bettering himself and investing in his brand.
The most successful person on set, up before everyone else, working harder than anyone else. While everyone else was sleeping this man was building. Coincidence? Not at all.
Imagine your name in lights.
3) Be confident
I came home after the show and practiced my stuff in front of the mirror. At first I hated my voice. It was nasal and just didn’t sound good. It didn’t sound like the guys on the records. But I kept practicing, trying to say words that sounded best coming from my voice. I know that sounds funny. But think about it: Can you hear Busta Rhymes on his record Woo-hah! telling you he wants to kiss a woman gently on her neck? I don’t think so. Or Chuck D from Public Enemy: “Bassm I want to make love!” It doesn’t work. But I kept listening to the great rappers and what made them great. And I found that each of them was doing rhymes that accommodated their voices. So I had to find mine. And I did.
Play to your strengths and not your weaknesses. Fake it until you make it. Dress the part. If you’re not one of the best pretend that you are.
All summer I had been begging Jay to let me get on the mike. But he looked at me like a snot-nosed kid. He kept telling me, “Maybe next year, kid.” I couldn’t wait until next year. Next year is forever when you’re 13. I had been practicing and writing rhymes for almost two years. As far as I was concerned, I was ready.
I finally wore him down by the end of the summer. He was doing a block party at 113th Avenue and came and got me. They set up the equipment and my fingers were itching to grab that mike and rock the party. But they were having technical difficulties. There was a short in a wire and they couldn’t get it working. On the other side of the block, a rival DJ crew already had their sound pumping. I walked across the street and asked them If I could get down. They handed me the mike.
Seize the moment. Don’t second guess yourself. If you want it, take it.
A 13 year old LL wanted it so bad that he left who he was supposed to be rocking with once their equipment wasn’t working to walk across the street and perform with the group that already had the crowd going. The outcome? Everyone loved him. His star power was on the rise.
Grab the bull by the horns.
No one knows who said this famous phrase first, but we do know they were a serious person. They weren’t saying it as a figure of speech during their little kids pre-game pep talk. They were literally telling someone to grab that bull by the horns or risk death by hoof to the heart.
Trying to grab the neck or legs of a dangerous creature like this is not an option. You have to face the problem directly by grabbing the beast by the horns and then pulling it to the ground with authority. Such is life.
I also started thinking about a record contract. I would go to record stores and write down the labels of every rap record they had. Then I would send a tape to each label – CBS, Sugar Hill, Island, Tommy Boy, Electra, Profile, Enjoy. I imagined myself getting signed to any one and becoming a huge star. But two weeks later, the letters started coming in. Most of them started the same way: “Thank you for your interest in CBS records, but…” Always that “but.”
Within a few months, I was getting so many letters that had the “but” in it that it wasn’t even funny. In the beginning my mother and grandmother were right there with me, consoling me. But after a while, I was so frustrated I didn’t want them to know. So I started hiding the letters, or just throwing them away. They knew what I was doing, but they never imagined where it would end up.
None of the record companies were feeling my art. The letters kept coming in. Sometimes I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. If I had cried that would have meant my spirit was broken and I would have quit. But something inside me told me to keep trying. And I persevered.
When he was 16 he got kicked out of his house for dropping out of school. He chose his dream over an education. It was all or nothing, and the gamble paid off.
Imagine if LL listened to those record companies that weren’t feeling him and just gave up? Where would he be today?
Never give up.
You will gain more wisdom from the process of reaching your goals than in attaining them. There are great benefits to be had by exploring and learning the wisdom of imperfection.
The resilience to overcome your disappointments, the perseverance to overcome your obstacles, the creativity to look for alternative answers, and the flexibility to navigate through the turbulence.
You can do it.
We can learn a lot from children. Some of the most important lessons we learn in this life time come to us at a very young age. It seems the older we get the more we forget that.
I know most public schools are useless when it comes to preparing us for the ‘real world’, but it also seems that we’ve overlooked A LOT of the basics that were taught to us in those early lessons.
Maybe some of our teachers just didn’t dive deep enough. They brought us to the pond but didn’t teach us how to fish. They gave us the words but didn’t teach us how to embody the message.
The Tortoise and the Hare.
How plants are also alive, just like humans.
Not crying over spilled milk.
Just to name a few.
We worry about stupid stuff. Trivial matters that wouldn’t mean anything to us if we were staring death in the eye.
In this ever-growing complex world we find ourselves living in, it’s important more than ever to realize how trivial some of this stuff really is. And how we can learn a lot from our old selves, those innocent little children who seemed to not have a care in the world.
Here are 5 things from our childhood that we must never forget, that we can utilize daily in order to be the most happy and at peace with ourselves.
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I asked my facebook friends what they missed most from their childhood and over 50 people commented.
Having fun was at the top of the list.
That’s a shame. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun.
Never stop living free.
Do what you want to do. Play some games. Make things up as you go along.
Create your own universe and the reality that surrounds you.
I remember in second grade I had one of those progress reports, or parent teacher conferences, whatever you want to call it.
The teacher told my mom that I was a great kid but that I had a problems paying attention. That my mind would wander and I would always get caught doodling on the sidebar of my notebook rather than paying attention to the lesson at hand.
Well yeah, I wasn’t paying attention lady. Your lessons were bad. Maybe I would have paid attention if you captivated me, which really shouldn’t have been that hard considering I was an 8 year old.
Quality requires attention.
So instead of figuring out why I wasn’t engaged, they punished me for my differences. That was a big mistake.
They were teaching me that my imagination was bad, and that conformity was good.
Imagination is everything.
Watching shows and commercials that bombard us with rapid-fire imaging that changes every two-to-three seconds is messing us up. They’re making it too easy for us, it’s brainwashing.
That’s one of the reasons kids have such bad ADD problems today. They have a huge crutch when it comes to imagination, all the work is done for them, and it shows.
A short attention span can screw up your relationships, making them shallow and unsatisfying.
It’s never too late to start creating. Just because you may have a boring job and have to pay bills doesn’t mean you can’t work on yourself and your own dreams on your own time.
Instead of hanging out after work or on the weekends start building something.
Most people have off weekends. That’s 104 extra days a year to get some work done for yourself.
Work that you love and enjoy doing. Whatever that may be, just do it.
2. Treating everyone the same.
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If you are awake enough, you will realize that you treat some people different than others.
That’s because you are role-playing.
The way you speak to a janitor may be different than how you kiss-up to a boss or that girl you want to impress.
The more you identify yourself with these roles, the more inauthentic your relationships become. Treat everyone the same, just like a child would.
“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Children don’t care if you’re a CEO or a gas station attendant. It’s all love and happiness.
So stop talking about that coworker in the cubicle next to you. They may just end up being your boss one day.
3. Being honest.
Kids can be the most genuine.
Kid: “These mash potatoes suck.”
Parent: “Now dear, don’t say that to your Uncle, that’s not nice.”
Boom, see that? We’re automatically taught to hold back how we really feel inside.
Programmed into liars by our parents and societal constructs.
This doesn’t mean you have to be brutally honest with people and tell them how much they suck.
It just means you don’t have to lie and tell someone how great they’re doing when in reality they’re not.
Keep it real. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
4. Taking naps.
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Starbucks on every corner. Red bull and five hour energy drinks are all the rage.
Majority of these people are trying to ‘floor it’ in a car that has already run out of gas.
It’s all a cover up, another band aid masking a wound that really needs stitches.
It’s pretty easy to figure out why so many people are on-edge, with their cortisol levels shooting through the roof.
We don’t need more caffeine we just need more sleep.
We don’t need more action we just need more rest.
We don’t need more stimulation we need more meditation.
Technology has us staring into artificial lights all night long. Two steps forward and three steps back.
All this technology is cool now, but will come at great costs later.
That bright-light we stare into before bed is messing up our circadian rhythms and draining us of vital life-force.
Once the sun goes down so should we. Besides some candle light or a nice fire give your eyes and mind a break.
One of the most well rested weeks of my life was when hurricane Sandy blacked-out all of New York.
With no power, I had no choice but to go to sleep earlier. I felt great.
Sleep is my favorite supplement.
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy,
wealthy, and wise.” – Ben Franklin
So what can you do to make up for the lack of sleep and all that over stimulation?
It’s easy, just do nothing for 30-40 minutes a day.
I do something called Corpse Pose.
That’s me lying on the floor in a hotel lobby. Guess what? I’m a better human because of it.
Lying in ‘Corpse Pose’ is the number one way to relieve stress. It’s nature’s Xanax.
Not shutting the display on your cell phone is the quickest way to drain the battery.
We are very similar. Majority of our energy is lost through our eye-sight.
Close your eyes for 30-40 minutes a day and just do nothing. You don’t even have to fall asleep. You just have to let go and get away.
If you don’t go within, you go without.
You’ll feel revitalized with a sense of calm sustained energy, just like you deserve to have.
Try it, let me know how it goes.
5. Losing sense of time.
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The Tortoise and the Hare.
The faster you move, the older you get.
The more you rush, the quicker time goes by.
Take your time. Breathe.
It amazes me how many people drive faster than they should.
Or they rush by the next person on the sidewalk thinking they’re getting ahead.
They are the hare, they just end up losing in the end.
Where are they really going? Where do they have to be that badly? They’re in a rush to nowhere.
“I never rush myself. See, they can’t start the game without me.” –Satchel Paige
One of the hardest lines of all time.
When you rush, that’s when accidents happen. Accidents can kill you.
When you rush, you get stressed, stress will kill you.
Break the word disease down. It’s dis and ease, dis-ease; a body not at ease. Be at ease.
Take your time, throw your clocks out. You’ll get there when you get there.
Think about the turtle. Everyone makes fun of him for being slow, but that guy out lives us all.
Follow nature. Slow down the pace of life in order to prolong its span.
Enjoy the view. Take it all in.
It’s now a clock. You can never be early, and never bet too late.
Living in the moment means not being worried about the future and not getting down about the past.
You are not your past. Stop thinking about it.
Kids are the best at that. You tell a kid that you’re doing something in an hour and they come back five minutes later telling you they’re ready. The time is now.
We lose touch with that. We worry about everything but the beautiful moment we’re in.
That’s why they call it the present. Because it’s a gift.
That’s why people love taking vacations. Because they’re finally being struck with new stimuli and which is giving them no choice but to live in the moment.
With all the new sights and sounds they’re so busy caught up in the moment, they forget about the future and the past.
They’re finally truly living.
You don’t need to go away to achieve that. It’s right here. Paradise isn’t some vacation destination, it’s wherever I am.
That’s what our authorities were trying to tell us with the whole spilled milk thing.
Once that liquid is down the drain it’s gone. You’ll never see it again.
Now is the moment of power, and all power comes from within.
Conscious breathing can bring you there. Training your senses can put you there as well.
It’s easy, all you have to do is appreciate all the beauty around you.
Whenever you can remember to take a few breaths. Out through the mouth and in through the nose.
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Check out some of my other posts, they’re funny and very informative:
- How to Get Pulled Over by the Police and Not Get Killed
- How to Take the Best Shit of Your Life
- 6 Reasons to Stop Hating on Donald Trump
- 25 Reasons All Drugs Should be Legal