Emily Brontë Died at Thirty

How Old Are You?

Charlotte Bronte coloured drawing
My wife and I recently watched the movie To Walk Invisible about the Brontë sisters. These amazing sisters created some of the most enduring works of English literature.

The eldest sister Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics). The youngest sister Anne wrote Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics). The middle sister Emily wrote Wuthering Heights (Penguin Classics).

Their decision to write and publish under male pseudonyms is an amazing story of strategy and perseverance. Charlotte was “Currer Bell,” Anne was “Acton Bell,” and Emily was “Ellis Bell.”

As with all writers in their day, their work was conducted often by candlelight and always by hand with ink and quill on paper. I am writing this post in an online editor with cut and paste, auto-spell check, and the ability to publish to the world with one click of the “publish” button. It is hard to even envision the painstaking effort they expended to bring these works to readers.

There are many aspects to their story that I find amazing, but perhaps the thing that strikes me most is the fact that Emily Brontë lived only 30 years. In fact, her youngest sister Anne lived only 29 years. Charlotte lived only to the age of 38.

I do not measure myself against women who were among the most gifted writers in the English language, but I do draw two lessons from their lives:

  1. Youth should be no barrier. If anyone told them they were too young, the Brontës did not listen. Some of us seem to be waiting until some magic future date when we are of sufficient age to do something important. Go ahead and do it now. Will you get better at it as you get older? Probably. Maybe. Maybe not. In the case of the Brontës, there was no getting older. Life is uncertain and short. That leads to the second lesson…
  2. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started doing something you really want to do and need to do. Don’t wait for later and older. Do it now. Get it started. Do not let resistance paralyze you. If you plan to do creative work (writing, music, art, entrepreneurship), get a copy of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles and let it motivate you. The main thing is to act. Now.

I have to confess that while we have had copies of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in our library for years, I have read neither. I am going to correct that soon. I think that as I read them knowing just how young these authors were when they wrote them, it will really reinforce the two lessons above.

Hopefully it will motivate me to act.

How old are you at present? If older than 30, take encouragement from what these young women did at a younger age than you. If you are younger than 30, follow the Bronte’s lead. Make it happen.

Are You a Cynic?

It is hard not to be a cynic. Put a less tortured way, it is easy to be a cynic.

The definition of the word “cynic” I have in mind is this from Dictionary.com:

a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view

I think the reason it is so easy for me to become a cynic is because I am often myself “motivated by selfishness.” I often myself doubt “selfless acts and disinterested points of view.” In other words, I am probably a cynic because I see those undesirable traits in myself and often ascribe those same motivations to others.

Cynicism can become so pervasive that you can come to disbelieve and doubt nearly everything. Most of us listen to political speeches this way. Everything Obama/Trump said/says is ascribed the worst possible motivations and intents. This is regardless of which side you are on. You may, in fact, become so cynical that you feel that way about all sides of an issue and about all representatives of those perspectives.

It is not confined to politics. It reaches into personal relationships where we simply do not trust that anyone is coming from a place of true sincerity or altruism.

Frankly, I am getting tired of cynicism. It is always easier to tear something down than it is to build it. The tools of the trade for the cynic include snide remarks, biting sarcasm, and derisive laughter. It is rather easy to be against.

Which is easier, constructing a high rise building or knocking it down with a wrecking ball?

At some point the onus must be on me not just to sit back, criticize, and tear down. Once I have knocked everything down there will be no more buildings. At some point I need to start building something. It is not enough to just be against everything. I need to actually be for something.

Of course, when I begin building, the cynics will be there to knock down. Perhaps that is the real barrier to positive action? Perhaps the cynic believes that he or she can avoid being a target by always being the wrecking ball. That is convenient. It is also lazy and timid.

This is not an argument in favor of naivete. I realize that human beings ARE often motivated by selfishness and insincerity. It is the human condition. I have already acknowledged it in my own life. This is simply me recognizing the limitations of my cynicism and stating a desire to stop being so cynical. I have a responsibility to actually do something.

Don’t just stand there – do something.

The real danger of cynicism is that it can devolve into pessimism. Pessimism unchecked can turn into depression and ultimately despair. What I need in my life is less pessimism and more optimism. I do not need unrealistic optimism, but I will take an extra helping of optimism nonetheless. Most of us are not anywhere near overdosing on optimism or hope.

Note: I thought of linking to Teddy Roosevelt’s speech delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910 where he derides the critic and the cynic. However, I can envision someone reading this that will be cynical about his motivations for delivering the speech. If you want to read it, it is only a web search away. Search the phrase:

teddy roosevelt the man in the arena

My Responsibility with Regard to My Potential

And Yours with Regard to Yours

We have all seen it before. A naturally gifted athlete with tons of potential refuses to work to develop that potential, and he or she ends up wasting it. We had a guy like that on our team.

It is sad.

I find it easy to get judgmental about that guy and about others who waste their potential.

Yet, it occurs to me that I also have specific and unique talents, abilities, and background that create my potential. The real question is whether I am putting in the work to realize my potential? Am I living up to my potential or am I instead wasting it?

That is a challenging question to answer with total honesty.

I have come to believe that it is my ethical responsibility to live up to my potential and to achieve my ambitions. To do anything less is to waste what I have been given. To me, that would be unethical.

My family, my community, and my world are counting on me to contribute what I can and to be the best version of me possible. They deserve nothing less.

So how do I achieve my potential?

Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics in “Run for the Roses” resonate with me:

It’s breeding
And it’s training
And it’s something unknown
That drives you and carries you home

While he is talking about race horses, I find application there for us. There is nothing we can do about our “breeding,” but the training and the “something unknown” is where we can reach our potential.

So, what is your potential? What is your responsibility with regard to it? What are you doing today to achieve it?

How Did You Sleep Last Night?

64 Max sofaMost mornings my wife and I ask each other “How did you sleep last night?” Let me ask you: How did you sleep last night? The answer we give is usually a combination of how long (number of hours) and the quality (e.g. “tossed and turned” or “slept like a rock”). The reason this matters is because the length and quality of sleep has an impact on how well we function during the day. If I were concerned that you would not agree with that assertion, I could point you to a lot of research that demonstrates the importance of sleep and how it affects alertness and performance. That information is only a web search away. However, I have not yet met anyone who thinks sleep is unimportant.

Until the last few years I did not think seriously about sleep. I was a night owl who thrived when the sun set and who despised the ringing of the alarm clock. Now I care about sleep because I care about how well I function during the day.

My recent focus on sleep is part of an overall improvement in health that I undertook over four years ago. When I lost weight through nutrition and began exercising regularly, my sleep improved. As the weight dropped, my snoring stopped. Now that I care more about the length and quality of my sleep, I monitor it more. In addition to losing weight, here are three habits I have developed that improved my sleep:

1. Monitor It Using Technology – I use a phone app called Sleep Cycle. It is available for both iPhone and Android phones. My fiend Kevin Wilson told me about it. This app does two things really well. First, it tracks the length and quality of your sleep. Using your smart phone’s accelerometer, the app tracks your movements in bed and correlates them to sleep phases. Each morning I can see what my sleep quality was (expressed in %) and the duration of time I was in bed (in hours and minutes). The second thing it does really well is wake me up. The app plays a low and soothing sound or a song from your music library to wake you up. The key is that the app waits to begin playing the music until you are in a light stage of sleep. Given that the music plays quietly while I am not in a deep sleep means that I awake much more easily and in a much better mood. I really cannot recommend this app too highly. Here is an example of a daily summary:

IMG_5725

I love this quote from The Guardian on the Sleep Cycle app’s alarm function: “The result is so gentle and lovely it feels like being woken up by a mermaid stoking your hair or a unicorn nuzzling your toes.”

2. Eliminate Blue Light Before Bed – Before electric lights people generally started getting ready for bed when the sun set and awoke at sunrise. With the invention of electric lights, TVs, smart phones, etc. we have created the ability to have our eyes exposed to light well after sunset. The reason this matters is that our bodies begin producing melatonin when the lights go down. Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone produced by our bodies that impacts our circadian rhythms. While all light can inhibit melatonin excretion, blue light from electronics devices is especially detrimental. I try to eliminate blue light in the two hours before bed, but I have to admit that this is a challenge during football season.

3. Deep Breathing Exercise – About 30 minutes before bed I take one 400 mg tablet of magnesium glycinate. I take KAL – Magnesium Glycinate 400, 180 tablets brand, but just make sure it is magnesium glycinate instead of other chelates (like citrate).

  • I then get in bed and inhale and exhale very slowly eight times. This is not chest breathing, but “belly breathing.” Put your hand on your stomach and feel it rise as you inhale. Inhale through the nose, not the mouth. Remember, this is not to be done quickly. It is slow.
  • When I get to the maximum inhale, I typically pause for a second or two before exhaling very slowly through the mouth.
  • Again, when the exhale is completed, I typically pause a second or two again before the next inhale through the nose.
  • After my eighth exhale is finished, I then read a book. I usually read a physical paper book, but an e-reader with no backlit screen would also work. In other words, I avoid blue light devices. It usually takes less than twenty minutes for me to get very sleepy and to click off the bedside light.  Also, I always sleep better when the room is completely dark.

A Word About Sleep Apnea & Jerrod Heard

Last week it was reported that Texas quarterback, Jerrod Heard, went to a sleep clinic and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. This was surprising to a lot of people because many believe that sleep apnea is an older person’s challenge. Jerrod is in his early twenties and is in top physical condition. His openness about this continues to be a source of encouragement to many people to consider their own sleep. Sleep apnea is only one of many sleep disorders that people struggle with. Let me be clear about this: None of what I have written above about how I sleep better is going to correct a sleep disorder. If you are not waking up refreshed and ready for the day at hand, please speak to your doctor and consider doing a sleep study. Thank you to Jerrod for waking us all up to the fact that even young people can experience sleep disorders.

How did you sleep last night? Use the Comment button to share your thoughts and questions about getting a good night’s sleep.

Tweets of the Week: Traveling Light, Food, Family, & Seth

Week ending July 25, 2015

twitter-bird-2Saturday is a good day to recap the activity from our Twitter feed from the past week. Not sure what Twitter is all about? That’s OK. Neither are we (or at least it remains somewhat mysterious to us). There is no denying, however, that there is some very valuable information shared on Twitter. That is what this weekly feature is all about. Click the links below to check out the good stuff. Here are my Top Tweets from this past week, great for retweeting (whatever that is). If you missed these, follow Forward Story on Twitter.

By the way, if you are wondering what the @ and # signs are all about, these are Twitter’s way to identify the Twitter handle (@) for the person who tweeted (for example, ours is @forward_story) and to allow for an indexing or categorization of the tweet by using one or more hashtags (#). Feel free to ignore these and just follow the link for the content we are sharing with you.

Grandparents

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Jul 17
RT @grandmasbriefs: Grandparents: Inspire grandchildren to create their own adventures http://www.grandmasbriefs.com/home/grandparents-inspire-grandchildren-to-create-their-own-adven.html

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent 17h17 hours ago
Grandparents, keep outings with the grandchildren affordable by avoiding the gift shop trap. @GRANDMMagazine: http://ow.ly/P9BDz

Training & Health

Experience Life ‏@ExperienceLife Jul 18
An insightful #training program for the high-performance senior — A review of @jfriel’s #FastAfter50 http://j.mp/1Ma3l8h #healthyaging

Mark_Sisson ‏@Mark_Sisson Jul 20
Doctors of the Future: 3 Promising Trends in Medical Education | Mark’s Daily Apple http://bit.ly/1HQRs5p

Amy Kubal ‏@AmykRd Jul 20
9 sleep mistakes you’re probably making after 9pm: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/55a68429e4b0896514cff197

KeithNorris ‏@KeithNorris 4h4 hours ago
Epigenetics of aging. Interesting stuff. If you *really* believe age is just a number, it truly is! http://www.nbcnews.com/health/aging/are-you-aging-faster-everyone-else-n387626 … @EclecticKitchen

Recipes from “Our” People

Civilized Caveman ‏@CookingCaveman Jul 18
Perfect Sweet Potatoes every time from http://www.civilizedcavemancooking.com #recipes http://pinterest.com/pin/64950419603045758/

Maria Emmerich ‏@MariaEmmerich Jul 18
Pizza Pot Pie http://buff.ly/1RBWlWt #LCHF #keto #lowcarb

Maria Emmerich ‏@MariaEmmerich Jul 24
Gingerbread http://buff.ly/1OwgFmN #LCHF #keto #lowcarb

Danielle Walker ‏@againstallgrain Jul 25
An easy recipe! Pressure Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup #againstallgrain #paleo #glutenfree http://grainfree.ly/1fDlgId

Maria Emmerich ‏@MariaEmmerich 8h8 hours ago
French Silk Pie http://buff.ly/1gQ75Qx #LCHF #keto #lowcarb

Wisdom from Seth

Seth Godin ‏@ThisIsSethsBlog Jul 19
Seth’s Blog: An alternative to believing in yourself http://bit.ly/1VgK5tJ

Seth Godin ‏@ThisIsSethsBlog Jul 20
Seth’s Blog: Preparing for a shark attack http://bit.ly/1I5bchs

Travels

Tim Ferriss ‏@tferriss Jul 20
How to Never Check Luggage Again http://bit.ly/1Lpsagh

Tweets of the Week: Food, Recipes, Health, Family, & Wisdom

Week ending July 18, 2015

twitter-bird-4Saturday is a good day to recap the activity from our Twitter feed from the past week. Not sure what Twitter is all about? That’s OK. Neither are we (or at least it remains somewhat mysterious to us). There is no denying, however, that there is some very valuable information shared on Twitter. That is what this weekly feature is all about. Click the links below to check out the good stuff. Here are my Top Tweets from this past week, great for retweeting (whatever that is). If you missed these, follow Forward Story on Twitter.

By the way, if you are wondering what the @ and # signs are all about, these are Twitter’s way to identify the Twitter handle (@) for the person who tweeted (for example, ours is @forward_story) and to allow for an indexing or categorization of the tweet by using one or more hashtags (#). Feel free to ignore these and just follow the link for the content we are sharing with you.

Here are a few recipes from people we trust:

Maria Emmerich ‏@MariaEmmerich Jul 13
Peanut Flour Cake http://buff.ly/1K01ctz #LCHF #keto #lowcarb

Danielle Walker ‏@againstallgrain Jul 12
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter “Granola” Bars #paleo #againstallgrain #glutenfree http://grainfree.ly/1flgUFD

Russ Crandall ‏@thedomesticman Jul 16
Seared Scallops with Sautéed Kale http://thedomesticman.com/2012/12/18/seared-scallops-with-sauteed-kale

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Cooking & Kitchen

 Colin Champ, M.D. ‏@CavemanDoctor Jul 13
Home Cooked Meals Make You Smarter, Healthier and Thinner http://www.myhealthwire.com/news/diet-nutrition/1080 … via @myhealthwire

Experience Life ‏@ExperienceLife Jul 14
Want to get healthy? Start in your kitchen! says @markhymanmd @mindbodygreen http://j.mp/1GjFbRu #learntocook #MyRevAct #healthyliving

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Health & Fitness:

William Davis, MD ‏@WilliamDavisMD
Novak Djokovic is “gluten-free” but also limits his carbs–I know because I wrote the foreword for his book…. http://fb.me/6EhfpO9pD

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Money & Finances

Rachel Cruze ‏@RachelCruze Jul 14
The Financial Mistake One-Third of Parents Make https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/the-financial-mistake-one-third-of-parents-make-123996068377.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma

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Parents and Grandparents

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Jul 11
Grandparents, don’t be unwitting drug suppliers: http://ow.ly/PuseU @aboutdotcom

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Jul 12
1 in 28 American children has an incarcerated parent. Often grandparents pick up the slack: http://ow.ly/PuR57

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Jul 14
Taking the grandchildren on an outing? 3 easy steps for managing their behavior: http://ow.ly/Pzrqh @aboutdotcom

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Wisdom from Seth

Seth Godin ‏@ThisIsSethsBlog Jul 13
Bounce forward http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/07/bounce-forward.html

Seth Godin ‏@ThisIsSethsBlog Jul 16
Seth’s Blog: In search of metaphor http://bit.ly/1HQhFg2

Seth Godin ‏@ThisIsSethsBlog Jul 18
Seth’s Blog: “Because it has always been this way” http://bit.ly/1LtdBIh

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For Entrepreneurs

Abel James ‏@fatburnman Jul 16
14 Entrepreneurs Share Best Advice From Their Fathers http://cr8.lv/1I6mNB6 via @creativelive