Practicing Connection

Don’t you love those moments when you FEEL so ALIVE? Dipping your toes into the cold ocean, walking in the moonlight, hearing exciting news, seeing something wonderful happen, feeling the rain on your skin, or tasting something delicious like ice-cold watermelon on a hot day.

I love those moments. I live for those moments and while those moments wouldn’t be “those moments” if they happened all the time I still desire to live in one of them forever. Don’t you?

So I wonder, what is it about that feeling? Why do I get the same feeling of wonder during different experiences?

My belief is this: it’s a feeling of connection. It’s tasting the life that is all around us. It’s a tiny awakening within our being that reminds us we are all connected. We are all alive. And when I say we I mean WE: the dirt, the plants, the rocks, the trees, the water, the sky, the animals, and the people. We, collectively are all alive.

So, while I long to stay in that awakened consciousness it does not stick around as easily when I am rushing to work or doing necessary chores. The awakening, the feeling of connection then becomes a discipline: a pattern or habit of thought.

It is the discipline of seeing life in everything, not just the sweet eyes of a puppy or the soft skin of a baby, but in the ants that annoy you, in the vegetables on your plate, in the cotton of your clothing. Something had to die so that you may live. Something dies everyday so that something else may live. The plants eat the fungi in the dirt, the insects eat the plants, the animals eat the insects, and so on and so forth.

There is no living without dying.

When I realize that it becomes an honor to exist here and now. My life however small it may be in this vast universe is important, because today I am the physical manifestation of life. All that fuels me and passes on to a new experience within my body allows me the strength and the love to share the connection and the awakening with everyone else.

In everything that you or I do we have the opportunity to practice connection and awakening. There is no task too mundane and no meal too small to be insignificant within our experience – everything we do matters and everything you and I do has the power to make a difference.

Let’s make a difference together.


Living on the Fence

For many years I chose to travel along the neutral top of the fence. Looking down from my perch I could understand why one might choose to travel along either side, but for me there was certain level of safety on top of the fence.

Remaining on the fence allowed me to proclaim the benefits of both sides while renouncing the cons but never forced me to bare the responsibility of owning either. In a sense, I was having my cake and eating it too, or at least so I thought.

At the time what I was failing to recognize was that my attempt at living neutral was not derived from the oh-so-smart part of my big brain I boasted. No, it was not intelligence or uncanny insight that had me tight rope walking my way between sides, it was fear.

Yup. I was terrified to choose a side.

What if I was wrong?

What if I chose a side and none of my friends, family members, or clients approved?

What if they all abandoned me?

I was terrified of the repercussions of jumping down. But it wasn’t just the repercussions of the potential lost relationships, it was the burden of responsibility, too. By picking a side I would have to own it. I’d actually have to live out in the open for all to see, for all to judge. Choosing might lead to losing. I couldn’t talk myself into taking that risk.

All those “what-ifs” weren’t mine, they belonged to Fear.

Fear is like a Vampire, for it to get to you you gotta invite it in. Once you do, it just starts sucking the life out of you. That is exactly what happened when Fear became my roomie.

Eventually (and fortunately), balancing on that fence became exhausting. My nervous system was taxed. My adrenals couldn’t take any more. Living in the middle had me attempting to please both sides all the time. Some of you know this feeling. It S-U-C-K-S. Big time. I was going through life being what the person in front of me needed me to be at that moment.

While I must admit there was a small amount of pride I felt for my chameleon-like abilities, mostly I was tired and lonely. Living Agnostically was no longer an option.

So I hopped down off the fence.

And I was right. There was judgement. People I cared deeply for chose to no longer be in my life. I lost friends and clients.  I felt depressed and  began to doubt my decision. I found my Self staring at the fence thinking about climbing back up on top of it.

I was frustrated. I cried. Screamed. Broke a lot of things. Lost my shit on more occasions then I would like to admit. Got angry, sad, angry again… and then out of seemingly no where, I got really freaking happy.

This hurricane of emotions turned out to be the purging process I needed to let go. When I un-balled  my fist it exposed my palms to receive.  New relationships began to flow into my life. I found myself surrounded by like-minded individuals whose dreams aligned with mine. They motivated me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be the best version of myself I could be. They actually liked me.

Not only did I receive new relationships but also peace. I felt calm inside. I was learning to be OK with Billy. I no longer had to validate myself through my relationships. I could simply be. The being has lead to doing.

Making the decision to live life on my terms was uncomfortable, but not nearly as painful as living on the fence.


The Problem with Motivation

“Mot-to, Mot-to, Highly motivated”, I would shout from the top of my lungs as my section, platoon, or company would double time next to me.

Then in perfect unison my brothers would shout it back, “Mot-to, Mot-to, Highly motivated!!!”

And motivated I was. How could I not be? I was one of the few, the proud… I was a Marine. “OO-fucking-Rah!” I loved being in the Marine Corps. I loved leading motto runs. I loved blowing shit up. I loved doing P.T. I loved putting on my uniform. I loved every damn minute of it.

Until, I didn’t.

There was a pivotal point during my enlistment where my motivation went from a state of being (this all encompassing state of readiness and eagerness to obey) to more of a running joke about overly enthusiastic ‘Boots’. At the time I really didn’t notice the shift in attitude. My lack of motivation was not due to an abundance of not-giving-a-shits or complacency. If anything, I cared more about the Marine Corps the day I drove out the front gate for the last time then I could have ever cared about it standing on those yellow footprints.

The issue was a simple one; my motivation to be an outstanding Marine was replaced by the action of actually being an outstanding Marine. The desire to make the cut, or prove myself worthy of the eagle, globe, and anchor insignia I wore so proudly on my chest, faded as I accomplished that goal.

In a sense, as my confidence grew, proficiency increased, and my place among my brothers solidified my motivation took a nosedive. I no longer needed to pep myself up on a daily basis to face the fear that I might not succeed. For all intents and purposes, I had succeeded. I was a Sergeant of Marines. My dream had become reality.

Mission accomplishment sent my mind looking for new feats to take on. My mind took my motivation to excel as a Marine with it. My heart knew it was time to move on. So I did.

I cranked Neil Yong’s “Rockin the Free World” as loud as I could and drove off base. By the time I had belted out the final chorus, Fear and Uncertainty had reunited me to my old friend, Motivation. Billy was back and ready to prove himself to the civilian world.

But what happens when our motivation is gone, but we can’t move on?

What do we with ourselves when the title, job, sport, relationship, or goal we have been clinging to for so long no longer provides us with the awe-inspiring purpose it used to?

I think a common response is to blame motivation. Hang a ‘will be back’ sign with an indefinite return time on our chest and wait. We expect at some point the vigor that drove us to our current position will eventually return. That’s the problem with motivation; it’s a moody asshole. One day it’s got you setting your alarm clock and up running before the sun rises, the next it’s no where to be found. So we keep forcing the feel and chugging along hoping motivation will feel sorry for us and return.

Maybe, just maybe it’s not a matter of motivation.

What if instead it’s a matter of growth?

What if the title, job, sport, relationship, or goal you’ve been aligning yourself with no longer fits because you’ve out grown it?

I didn’t stop loving the Marine Corps. I simply out grew it. The Marine Corps didn’t change. I did. I could have reenlisted and forced the feel. But I would have been miserable, the that last thing The Corps needs is one more disenchanted Staff NCO.

The reality is at some point we have to accept change. We have to accept the only way we can live a life that makes a difference is by allowing ourselves to be different. Besides, Motivation loves change. Want to get motivated? Go attempt something that scares the shit out of you. You’ll be walking hand and hand with Motivation like never before.

It’s time to stop clinging to those things that no longer define us; it’s time to stop forcing the feel. It’s time to stop waiting for motivation.

Do something that forces you to be different today than you were yesterday. (I am sure there is at least one thing you’ve been contemplating in the back of your mind for a long time but you been too scared to confront it.) If you do this, I promise you want have to look for motivation, because Motivation will find you.


Are YOU Ready?

At some point in our lives we have fallen victim to the belief that getting in shape  and staying in shape takes hard work. This idea is even built into calling the practice of getting healthy; “WORKING OUT”. Sounds terrible. Even Pavel Tsatouline, Russian kettlebell master and all around badass, says, “in the Russian language there is no word for ‘workout’… the implied meaning of a workout means let me just go and see how much I can reduce myself to a pile of shivering J-ello as quickly as possible.”

Again, sounds terrible.

Health does not come from getting up and beating the shit out of your body everyday. A healthy body is derived from understanding what your body needs, then making it a daily priority to provide your body with said need.  It is understanding that those needs change on a daily basis. This requires you to have  a relationship with movement, food, thought, and spirit. (Yup, I said spirit too. You don’t really think you are just a body do you?)

The hardest truth for almost everyone that I have ever worked with to grasp is that being healthy does not require hard work at all, it only requires conviction: a firmly held belief. When you are convicted to getting healthy or to a way of living it is no longer a hassle or hard work, it’s a lifestyle.

Yes, there will definitely be some work involved in getting healthy. BUT if you are really ready, if you are really going to jump down the rabbit hole of health, the hard work you will have to do isn’t going to come from physically destroying yourself. No, the toughest weight you are going to have to lift, will be figuring out what you really want and why. The toughest rep you are going to pull is owning your shit.

For years, I have watched some of my clients accomplish their goals and some of them fall short. This inconsistency could have been enough to make me pull my hair out. (Luckily, I don’t grow much hair these days.) With each client’s result, good or bad, I am always left asking myself, “What did I do right or wrong?”

Then a few years ago it occurred to me it wasn’t about a right or wrong course of action or flaw in program design.  The difference between the client who “succeeded” (I use this term loosely b/c success is subjective) and one who didn’t was about a state of mind.

After years of frustration, observation, and consideration I have arrived at a definite conclusion; One must be ready.

I have come to think of these four words as the “iceberg phrase”.

Like an iceberg, the initial appearance is nothing miraculous. Just like reading those four little words probably didn’t send you into a state of enlightenment. Nor did they knock you off your chair into a complete “’Aha’ coma”. Similar to seeing a picture of an iceberg, it’s cool, but really it’s just a big chunk of ice. You can open your freezer and see ice. No big deal. BUT to get up close to that iceberg and witness its size, is a totally different experience. To see it flip over and feel the power it creates connects us to our humanly position among Nature’s wonders.

The realization of how much deeper that iceberg goes below the surface when it flips upside down and reveals its true whole self, is to understand what lies within those four words, one must be ready. It’s the difference in shrugging your shoulders and letting out a passive, “I’m ready” and running to the top of the nearest hilltop with the rising sun and proclaiming for all nature to hear, “I’M READY!!”

Being ready is not about having a membership to one of the trendy new gyms or ‘boxes’ that are popping up around you, owning stylish gym clothes, or the latest fad in foot apparel. Ready is not an instantaneous emotional decision to commit to a goal because your piers decided they were all going to do it. Being ready does not come from deciding to prove some one else wrong or right. Ready is not powered by anger, fear, or ego. Ready is not going out and beating yourself into ‘a pile of shivering J-ello‘.

Ready is when you are no longer OK with the individual who is staring back at you in the mirror. Ready is the realization that you love yourself so fucking much you absolutely refuse to continue living life in such a way that causes unwanted and unneeded pain and suffering. Ready comes when you decide to flip over that iceberg and start revealing your true self to the world regardless of what the repercussions may be. Ready is when you realize this relationship, job, or body no longer fits you so you kindly remove yourself (or shall I say, your Self). Ready is you when realize there are no safety nets and you jump anyway.

Your coach, teacher, Sifu, mentor, instructor, best friend, trainer, spouse, parent, or anyone else cannot decide when you are ready. Only you can.

The reality is some of you reading this are not ready. That is OK.

I know I’ve forced ‘ready’ when I wasn’t, many times. I have watched clients’ motivation fade because they started working with me when they weren’t ready. As much as I tried to inspire them or adjust their program so that it better fit their lives, it didn’t matter because they were not in a state of readiness.

But when  you are ready, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY READY… health & fitness will no longer be an enslaving act of self-torture. Instead getting healthy will become a catalyst that will empower you to become your greatest Self. The Self you know deep down inside you are capable of being.

It’s in there.

Are you ready to let it out?

The B.E.S.T. Approach

A funny thing happens when people find out what I do for a living. They always ask me THE question. It’s kind of funny because I always know when it’s coming. This sort of serious inquisitive glaze fills their eyes, they shift their body weight, as if they are preparing to be enlightened and then IT roles off their tongue.  So I clear my head, wet my lips, and get ready to tell them a truth that they inherently know, but are usually not ready to hear.

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Inquiring mind:What is the BEST exercise for ________?”

(You can fill in that blank with almost anything – ‘for runners’, ‘to help me lose weight’, ‘overall total body toning’, ‘my butt‘, ‘my abs’, ‘this spot right here’ ‘this extra baby weight I can’t seem to get rid of’, etc. – it is literally an endless list.)

Me: “There is no such thing as a best exercise for ________.”

That is about the time the twinkle in their eye disappears and the look of confusion sets in. I can almost hear the next few thoughts go through their mind:

You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about…”


 “Whatchu talking bout, Willis?”


 “Great…God really does hate me.”

 In those next few moments, I feel an overwhelming amount of empathy because I know your co-worker, your sister’s friend, the trainer at the corporate gym you belong to, your neighbor, and the latest issue of your favorite fitness magazine have all told you that there is indeed a best exercise or super sexy movement that you should be doing to cure “________”.

They are all wrong… and all right.

As a culture we have clung for far too long to a one size fits all approach to health and fitness. While there is no such thing as a “best exercise” for everyone, there is definitely a way to sift through all the options and end up with a fitness program that best fits YOUR needs. A program should be designed around YOU, not the other way around. That is why I have decided to dedicate this blog to sharing my approach to health. I call it the B.E.S.T. (Breathe – Evaluate – Select – Trust) method to getting healthy.

Too many people seek out a health & wellness program with this idea in their head that a superior program exists. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. No program is superior to another.

Health, and more specifically fitness, programs co-exist on a horizontal line without one superseding another. Indeed, there are some that are more dynamic, comprehensive, or appealing than others, but to reign one over another is a fallacy. Depending on the individual, “Sweating to the Oldies” can be just as beneficial as “Crossfit”. For a program to be truly superior it must fit all of YOUR health needs, not just be an ‘ass kicker’, so to speak. Again, a program should be designed around YOU, not the other way around.

The convicted practitioner who shouts out to the world from his fitness pulpit that his program is superior to the rest does so with one huge assumption: that everyone is ready for HIS specific program.

My goal is to help you understand and choose which program is B.E.S.T for YOU. Before we can make that choice we have to determine if you are ready. That is what I’ll be discussing in my next blog; ARE YOU READY?

~Obedient to the Energy



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