Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not buying anything

I’ve learned we have the famous city of brotherly love to thank for giving us the shopping day name Americans know as “Black Friday”. 

This day one of Christmas shopping season, early retail store openings, bargains-galore prices and much glitz and hype is a day for which many Americans patiently waited.  They wasted not a single shopping moment when Black Friday 2013 finally arrived yesterday. 

Supposedly, the name Black Friday originated in Philadelphia over fifty years ago to describe heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic occurring the day after Thanksgiving.

For many Americans, this traffic now takes place in large indoor shopping malls providing a comfortable shopping experience with protection from outdoor pre-winter cold weather and vehicle pollution that yesteryear shoppers painstakingly endured.

Now, the day after, Black Friday 2013 has come and gone but many Americans are at in again for day two.  

Others are exhausted from their marathon shopping day and are choosing, instead, to relax and give witness to us non-Black Friday believers about their previous day shopping-mania experience.  They like to overwhelm us with detailed accounts of the great deals they begot. 

Women, in particular, like to engage their husbands in a friendly aftermath game of “Guess How Much?”  This is a game where wives showcase their great bargains while husbands are supposed to guess how much it cost. 

Sometimes if the bargain is clothing, wives will don it and walk the fashion ramp during the guessing game.  In their sharing excitement and glee, they’ll often flash a giant smile so blindingly bright that husbands can barely view the bargain.       

For us men, it’s a delicate and volatile experience because if we don’t want to play, it’ll get us in the doghouse.

If we guess too high, it’ll offend our wives’ shopping skills and get us in the doghouse. 

If we guess too low, we’re accused of not being interested and, that too, will get us in the doghouse.

This show and tell ordeal, besides competing with our manly desires to relax and be silent, is living proof of married life challenges.  It’s a “heads I lose and tails I lose too” phenomenon.

Well another Black Friday has come and gone and that’s fine with me.  To all those bargain shoppers stewing in their juices and basking in their glory about all the money they saved, guess what? – I did better. 

Tell me all day long about the fifty percent you saved and then let me tell you about the one hundred percent I saved by not buying anything.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fit, strong and well as possible

On Thanksgiving Eve, I made a rare guest appearance at a popular shopping mall looking for a warm long-sleeve shirt which I never bought.

I also wasted time meandering the mall’s vibrant “retailscape” dotted with shoppers out and about doing both real and window shopping.  Eventually, I found my way to a Barns & Noble bookstore, a place that used to be my “public library”.

“Wow” I privately thought upon learning it was still there, bursting at its seams with books galore and a modest count of shoppers inside.  I guess people still buy real books but I can’t imagine all the books there will eventually find a home with a buying reader.  

“Where do these books go when nobody buys them?” I thought to myself.

Quickly walking down aisle after aisle surveying my window shopping choices, I eventually found my way to diet books.  I was curious about the current flavors of this subject.  What I found was a selection so vast that I wouldn’t know where to begin if buying a diet book was my goal.

Many of these books had an attractive, smiling and young woman on the cover with titles likely to get the attention of females. There’s a reason for this, I thought, because women probably buy more diet books than men. 

Several of the diet books targeting men had titles and book cover images catering to our unique “macho-syncrasies” and some promoted a Paleolithic (Paleo) diet which is so popular nowadays. 

This diet is also called the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet with its "meat-centric" message appealing to our manly testosterone-laced steak and bacon hunger appetites.

Later, in trying to confirm my hypothesis that women buy more diet books than men, I was unable finding an American statistic supporting it but discovered women buy two-thirds of diet books sold in Great Britain.

I learned men and women diet and lose weight differently with men preferring diets offering a simple message such as “eat this and avoid that.”  Women, on the other hand, want to know more about the ins and outs of nutrition science.

I also learned men tend to lose weight more quickly and find it easier sticking to a diet than women.  They prefer looking at their journey as “getting in shape” while women are more likely to share they are dieting.

Male pride doesn’t allow us men to freely make an announcement to the world that we are on a diet.  That’s a tad too submissive for us. 

All this diet stuff overwhelms me so buying a diet book isn't on my buying short list this Christmas season.   I’ll stick to my own way of doing it which focuses not so much on what I eat but when and how much I eat. 

When I’m on task, I eat little as possible yet enough fueling me to be as fit, strong and well as possible.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Good as my soul

As a Roman Catholic, I accept the teachings of my faith that a soul exists within me.  

It’s defined as the spiritual principle of my human being.

A soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom.  Together, soul and body form my unique human nature.

My soul is individual and immortal and created by God.  It does not die with my body, from which it’s separated by death, and with which it’ll be reunited in the final resurrection.

While this is my accepted faith, I still struggle having spiritual comprehension of it.  Seeking the spiritual wisdom of great saints, therefore, does help me with my struggle.

St. John of the Cross, for example, shared:
“. . . the thicket of God’s wisdom and knowledge is so deep and so broad that the soul, however much it has come to know of it, can always penetrate deeper within it.”
While Saint Thérèse of Lisieux shared:
Then I looked at the poor sick woman whom I was attending. . . I heard her occasional groans and sighs . . . I cannot express what took place in my soul.  All that I do know is that the Lord illumined it with the rays of truth which so surpassed the flickering glow of earthly revels, that I could scarcely believe my happiness."

In his recent apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, Pope Francis reminds me:

“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.”

Just like exercise helps me achieve middle-aged man health and wellness fitness, prayer helps me achieve middle-aged man soul fitness.  With prayer, I raise my mind and heart to God and request good things from Him.

I’ve previously shared how, as a middle-aged man, I’m only good as my last workout and what I eat.  Recently, I also shared how I’m only strong as the bottom of my feet.

So now I share my eternal fitness is only good as my soul.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fit and strong as he wants to be

Chasing middle-aged man fitness and strength is still fun for me although the intensity of my cardiovascular and strength training has mellowed somewhat.

I still enjoy a giant-size serving of anaerobic cardiovascular conditioning seasoned with short-duration intensity.

I also still enjoy lifting heavier weights – as in heavier for me - but less often and for fewer sets and repetitions with several days between workouts for quality rest and recovery.

All this is good enough for me at this point in my life because how fit and strong does a middle-aged man need to be?

My answer is fit and strong as he wants to be.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Neither am I

So I continue being seduced by the devil who wants me to join the “with it” crowd by entering smarphone-land.  

One is not in my game of life toolbox because I’m an old-fashioned middle-aged man. I own a flip-style Samsung Rugby III and am quite happy with it.

About 18 months ago when needing to purchase a replacement cell phone, I toyed with the idea of buying my first smartphone so I went shopping that day exploring my options.

While talking to a salesperson at a kiosk inside Costco, and asking him a rapid-fire series of tough consumer questions, I looked to my left and saw a mother pushing a shopping cart with her little daughter strapped inside the seat.

The little girl was yelling “Mommy, Mommy”, trying her best getting her mother’s attention but with no success.  Dear Mommy Mommy was busy on her smartphone taking care of immediate business, however important or urgent it may or may not have been.

Well that was the straw breaking my camel’s back so I purchased another flip-style phone.  That observation confirmed I didn’t have immediate and urgent needs in my life to check e-mail or surf the internet while shopping at Costco or anywhere else for that matter.

Soon again I’ll replace my simple flip phone.  I’m sure the devil will try his very best seducing me with tantalizing messages about how better my life would be if I just purchased the latest and greatest smartphone.         

Maybe I’ll be weak and purchase one; or maybe I’ll refrain again, like last time, realizing I don’t need to make my life both simpler and complex at the same time with all those fascinating smartphone apps.

I really don’t need to be surfing the internet while on the go.  Nor do I need to be checking for e-mail messages when out and about because most of the time they’re really not that important and, quite frankly, neither am I.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, November 25, 2013

What awaits us thereafter

I'm well known for my repetitive saying "Every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year-old kid" and I'll continue doing so in jest.  

It drives my wife crazy.  She one day responded how I'm closer to age 85 than age 16.  My Dad was that age at the time.    

I clearly remember the first time she gave me this reality message.  Quickly, I pulled out my fingers’ Chinese abacus and did the math discovering she was correct.

Now, I've done this math again except comparing the distance of my current age to both ages 16 and 100 years and guess what?  

The years to both are the same but since I'll soon be age 59, I'm actually closer to the century mark than my adored 16-year-old kid point in life.

So my cyberspace middle-aged man message is we're all going to die and preparing for it is an absolute must because if we don't, I guarantee we'll experience an emotionally-agonizing death. 

I've witnessed it first hand during my father's hospice and have spent much time identifying my own thoughts and feelings about preparing for my death.    

My only concern about always chasing our fountains of youth is whether these pursuits are distractions in denial about our eventual dying.

They may be impediments to us spending quality time reflecting our end of life on planet earth and what awaits us thereafter.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I fired Facebook

I’m not sure how long ago this year I threw in the towel and cancelled my Facebook account but it’s among my better accomplishments for 2013.

I’m also not sure when I joined because all evidence accessible to me about my account is gone.  I’m sure Facebook knows and good for them.

My Facebook time definitely gave me several memorable tit for tat exchanges with a small cadre of “friends” as Facebook calls them.  Actually, they were selected clients, some cousins, some real friends and others best described as cyberspace acquaintances or pals.

Looking back and reflecting on my Facebook time, I fondly recall three distinguishable and memorable periods.      

One was time leading up to a large family reunion on my mother’s side of the family.  Facebook was a good communication tool we distant cousins used when sharing planning tidbits about the reunion.

It was fun participating in these exchanges and they gave me anticipatory excitement about seeing aunts, uncles and cousins, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Another period was participating in discussions with others who had memories of growing up in Sacramento long ago.  I became an active participant and contributed much because I had many native memories to share.  This Facebook time was a fun trip down memory lane of Sacramento in my good old days.

The last memorable period was sharing about my father when he was dying.  I posted photos of him and me and shared several private thoughts and feelings about what I was experiencing during this dark period of my life.  The outpouring of empathy and condolences I received from my Facebook friends truly touched my heart. 

But beyond that is my honest admission of wasting too much time and getting caught up in the details of too many dog and pony shows of my Facebook friends.  It reminded me of elementary school show and tell when the teacher gave us time to be the center of attention by sharing something with other students.

Truth be told, I did my fair share of Facebook show and tell but didn’t realize what a time waster it was until OD’ing on my Facebook friends’ show and tell time “stories.”
Then there were those Facebook friends – names I dare not share - who were the consummate drama queens and cyberspace models walking down an economic prosperity or fashion ramp.   They posted photo after photo of their smiling faces in the company of other smiling faces at fun places that were sometimes so very far from home.

All their photos could bear the same caption of:  “Hey look at me looking so fine and having fun at this far away place that costs big money to be here.”

I must honestly admit that I too walked down that ramp a time or two too many!

Yup, I wasted too much time on Facebook as I’m sure so many other people have but now no more because I fired Facebook.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, November 22, 2013

Unpredictably predictable

I’ve had fun at various times playing with words and creating my own verbal and written expressions of an aphoristic nature. 

Admittedly, I'm not in the same major league as baseball great Yogi Berra who prowess is so established that the word “yogi-ism” was invented describing his many paradoxical and wise sayings. 

But wise sayings come from many years of wise life experiences in which wisdom is gained and lost.  Hopefully, as more of my lifetime passes, I’ll establish my own patented brand of “Pierini-isms.”  

You know the old saying, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”  Last time I checked, she wasn’t singing.

My self-described and, hopefully, sometimes clever verbal and written expressions surface when I seek opportunities to be clever and then quickly respond. 

They can be offensive or defensive in nature just like a stand-up comedian trying to make his audience laugh, or a boxer’s punch in the ring.  Just the boxer, they must be delivered with precision and in the right combination to be effective and create a “win.”

Most of my time, this win is nothing more than a good old-fashioned deep belly laugh giving me relief from the toils of daily life and strife. 

Sometimes, however, my chasing a quick laugh is directed at someone else’s apparent goofiness or shortcomings rather than at me and my own foolish and goofy behavior.

It’s better to be the clown dishing it out than the subject of some else’s clowning.  I learned this lesson early in life as a young boy on the school playground.

In previous amateurish efforts of my own play with expressions, I’ve asked if perhaps I'm zealously lethargic or have a fascination with procrastination.

Now I’m wondering if at times my eccentric, sometimes manic and definitely off-the-beaten path middle-aged man behavior borders on being realistically bizarre or unpredictably predictable.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Patience is platinum

You and I are familiar with the old saying “silence is golden” and it seems so true in the decibel-piercing world in which we live. One of my most memorable silence is golden moments was over thirteen years ago. I wrote about it here.

I’m getting better creating and enjoying silence is golden opportunities. One daily favorite is when driving my car because I don’t listen to music or news on the radio or CD player. Strange you think to which I reply not so. Try it; you might like it.

My wife’s preferred silence is golden practices are contemplative prayer and Eucharistic Adoration, a Roman Catholic practice in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and adored by the faithful.

Besides silence, another enjoyable state for me is being patient – an ability to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. I need patience in my daily life challenges and can’t get enough of this virtue.

My truth be told, I have more opportunities testing and cultivating patience in day-to-day living than experiencing silence is golden moments. It’s probably fair to say this will continue being my truth for some time to come.

Why this is so I ask myself. My only answer is perhaps I’m not patient.

So I’ll continue cultivating this virtue because, for me, patience is platinum.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, November 18, 2013

"God Bless America"

A California U.S. Army veteran employed by a hospital was recently shocked when supervisors ordered him to remove “God Bless America” from his e-mail signature block. 

What happened next was even more shocking.   While this employer-obedient veteran complied with his supervisors’ orders, he was nonetheless placed on administrative leave for “insubordination” when he said he wanted to consult with legal counsel about his rights.

To add insult to injury, this happened a few days before November 11th Veterans Day!

It mattered not to his supervisors that he had been a dedicated employee for ten years.  Nor did it matter of his prior Employee of the Year Award for his work in quality assurance.

Pierini Fitness salutes this fellow veteran for his attempt to spread a positive message to all receiving an e-mail from him. 

He’s welcome here anytime to share his good words in a comment.  We’ll never delete his comment or place him on cyberspace administrative leave.

To my fellow veteran, please continue spreading your message of “God Bless America.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The bottom of my feet

When it rains it pours; at least when it comes to my middle-aged man “ouchies” like the bottom of my feet.  I injured both of them about two months and they're healing slower than I'd like.  

My aching bottom feet announced their presence the following morning after a gym workout consisting of heavy barbell squats and a test one-mile run on the treadmill.  I hadn’t done much running up to that point choosing instead to do other tough anaerobic training for my cardio conditioning.

But I got an itch and tested my one-mile time on a safe treadmill surface and really put my pedal to the metal in a timed effort.  Seems like I ran a decent time but paid for it the following morning. I’m still paying for it with sore bottoms of my feet.

Once again when it rains it pours because recently I’ve also added another “ouchie” that’s keeping me on my major league disabled list.  It's something below my right knee that “arrived” almost a month ago as I was rising from a rock bottom position while doing a heavy barbell squat.

So maybe both episodes and injuries are whispers from my wiser power that I’m getting older.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be doing some of this tougher fitness training stuff.  But I've really enjoyed it and the challenges of testing my limits.    

“What’s the point” I tell myself when pondering the stuff I’ve done in my recent training past.  I’ve enjoyed chasing heavy loads in my strength training – well at least heavy for me.  These heavy loads are so seductive but just like a naughty lady of the night, perhaps they’re better left for someone else than me.

There’s one good thing about being on the disabled list; it gives me much time to ponder about this and that.

Is it time for me to throw in the towel doing this stuff and instead start improving my game of checkers?  How about joining Toastmasters International and mastering my public speaking skills? I could also start being a weekly regular at the nearby church bingo hall.

A big fat middle-aged man yawn and "heck no" is my initial reply to all three of these ideas!

Well I know Father Nature is a great healer but at this point in my life, He requires more time to do the wonders of healing me.  Waiting will test my patience and that’ll make me a better middle-aged man.

There’s always an upside lesson to be learned in a downside experience of a training injury and I’ve learned mine – I’m only as strong as the bottom of my feet.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Before I turn 100

This morning I read a news article about a man celebrating his 100th birthday by taking his first parachute-assisted skydive.

Friends of this new centenarian asked him what he wished he had done in his 100 years of life.  He replied how he always wanted to jump from an airplane with a parachute.

“Foolish risk taker!” you quickly call him.  Not so because this centenarian gentleman wasn’t that foolish; he first got a green light seal of approval from his medical doctor.

This wonderful story is another example of how we should be careful what we ask for because we might get it.  I’m sure this Mr. 100 had plenty of time pondering his 100 years of life while taking his 13,000 foot parachute-assisted skydive back to safe ground on planet earth.

His moment of glory story makes me reflect on my long list of wild side things to do.  They remain unaccomplished because my time isn’t right or I’m too busy, or at least this is what I tell myself.

Maybe they remain unaccomplished because of my chronic fascination with procrastination.  Or maybe it’s because deep down inside there’s a little “Chicken Little” in me.  Well in another moment of middle-aged man denial, I conclude this latter self-perspective just isn’t true.

So what about all those risky things I’d like to do in my lifetime?  They’ll continue “sitting” because I’m in no hurry knowing most of them will get accomplished – either in dreams or realities - before I turn 100.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum