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.

Too Many Irons in the Fire?

warmth-fireIdeas are portable and easily shared. In a recent conversation with my friend, Coach Deborah Newkirk, I repeated the familiar refrain: “I’ve got too many irons in the fire.” This idiomatic expression comes from the days when blacksmiths had literal iron bars in literal fires. We now use it to mean “I am really busy.” Deborah shared something that her friend Dr. Jerry George said to her (see how portable ideas are?). Since I did not hear it directly from him, I will offer this as a paraphrase. I am not even sure of the context in which he said it to her, but here it is:

When you have a lot of irons in the fire, don’t be afraid to add more irons. Accept the blessing. – Dr. Jerry George

That resonates with me. Even though I do have a lot on my plate, I need to adjust my attitude a bit and remain open to new opportunities and blessings that come my way. The “too many irons” mindset can become an excuse for not doing something that matters. It may also prevent me from accepting a tremendous new opportunity.

The new approach I plan to adopt is to not be afraid of all of the irons I have heating, but rather to attend well to them while being open to even more irons. Now, not every iron is as important as the others at any given point in time. I may need to focus on some more than others at this moment, but they are all a blessing.

Having a lot of irons in the fire is a very good thing.

If you don’t believe me, just ask someone with nothing to do.

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?

I’m Having Trouble Seeing My Goals Through All This Clutter


I have always been a goal-driven guy. To me it is exciting to set a goal and then work to achieve it. I have never regretted setting and accomplishing a goal. Looking backward I have sometimes regretted that there were goals I did not set, and therefore never achieved. For the most part, though, I have had no shortage of goals. I still do not.

My goals are usually well structured to include all of the necessary ingredients to conform to the SMART acronym:






Sometimes, though, I allow the busy-ness of life to obscure my goals. The urgent often distracts me from my goals. At moments like this (in fact, this is now a moment like that) I try to simplify.

  • What is really important?

  • Why am I spending so much energy and time on the urgent instead of the important?

  • How can I clear the clutter, re-focus on the goal, and then zero in on the short-term objectives and next actions to make the goal possible?

  • What is the worst thing that will happen if I ignore the urgent?

These are not just questions I am asking myself. I invite you to share what works for you as well. I want to know how you deal with this. Please use the comments on this post to share your experience with me and our readers.

Like you, I have important goals to accomplish and only a limited amount of time to achieve them. It’s time to get with the program.

Soon I will be posting the next article in the series “How I Lost 50 Pounds.” Don’t miss a post in that series. Subscribe to the Forward Story newsletter to be notified when new articles are posted. In addition, you will receive my free eBook 15 Questions to Change Your Life.



How I Lost 50 Pounds (Part Three)

The Role of the Large Intestine



In Part Two of this series we examined the structure of the small intestine and how nutrients are absorbed from the food slurry that moves through. The muscular process that keeps the slurry moving through the length of the small intestine is called the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). This same process continues to move the slurry out of the small intestine and into the large intestine. Before we move on to what happens to the absorbed nutrients, we need to do a brief overview of the large intestine. The large intestine is also known as the colon. It is “large” in that it is larger in diameter than the small intestine. It is much shorter, though, as the colon is a little less than 5 feet in length. Under normal circumstances the process in the colon from entry to exit takes between fifteen and twenty hours.

Creative Commons Deed CC0

Creative Commons Deed CC0

There are two primary functions of the colon that I want to mention.

  1. Microbiome digestion. Your gut is populated by organisms that are not actually part of you in the way that your organs and cells are part of you. These are actually separate organisms that are the “good bacteria” that help with certain nutrients that could not be broken down higher in the tube. The reality of this colony still surprises and amazes me.  When you see advertising for probiotics, it is this colony of bacteria in your gut that they are claiming their product will help you build and nourish. The common terms used for this colony of good bacteria are gut microbiome or gut flora. Certain foods we eat can help nourish and build the microbiome. This includes cultured foods like yogurt, drinks like kombucha and kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. This microbiome breaks down certain nutrients and allows for the production of vitamin K and other vitamins. So, how many of these good bugs live in your colon? Believe it or not, they number in the trillions with a “t.” It is important to note that while most of the good bacteria is found in the colon, there are also beneficial bacteria that live in the small intestine. Many health issues occur when the good bacteria in the gut do not thrive and when bad bacteria do thrive. Here is an outstanding article on bacteria and the small intestine. I hope to write a separate article later with more detail on the microbiome of the nutrition tube.
  2. Removal of liquids and formation of solid waste. While we did not mention it earlier, water has been absorbed already throughout the small intestine. Now as the process continues, the remaining water is absorbed into the body and solid waste is left in the colon to ultimately be eliminated from the body. The removed water ultimately ends up passing through the kidneys, into the bladder, and out as liquid waste.

There are obviously serious disorders and diseases of each component of the nutrition tube that require the expertise of medical professionals to diagnose and treat. The explanation I have provided in this series is my understanding of how a non-diseased gastrointestinal tract should work. Some of the disorders of the digestive system can be treated with a nutritional approach, but some require more aggressive intervention.


With that much too brief treatment of the colon, we have finished tracking the slurry through the complete nutrition tube from top to bottom. In the next article we will go back to the small intestine where we said that most of the nutrients from the slurry make it through the inner walls and are absorbed into the blood stream. Ponder the thought that these nutrients escape the nutrition tube and enter into your blood. Now they become part of you.

My next questions are:

  1. What happens to these nutrients when they enter the blood stream?
  2. How does the body make use of them, and how does that decision you made several hours earlier to eat 1,000 calories of doughnuts or broccoli impact the body’s chemistry and how those nutrients are used?

As with every question we have asked so far, these are actually very complicated questions. We will explore them in Part Four.

Don’t miss a post in this series. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when new articles are posted. In addition, you will receive my free eBook 15 Questions to Change Your Life.

Tweets of the Week: Recipes, Health, & Wisdom

Week of May 24, 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.

Here are a couple of recipes from Maria Emmerich, a master of gluten-free and low carb cooking:

Low Carb Pancake http://buff.ly/1Aq7DWf

Fudgsicles http://buff.ly/1IVmf0L


 Some great information related to health:

A Hedge against Drought: Why Healthy Soil is ‘Water in the Bank’ https://shar.es/1rFlGK 

I know it’s counter-intuitive: Why People Who Sleep Longer Achieve More http://mhyatt.us/1wSPmLK 

When Daily Life Is Exercise, Everywhere Is the Gym http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2015/05/19/when-daily-life-is-exercise-everywhere-is-the-gym/

“Food should not contain ingredients, it should be an ingredient.” http://bit.ly/1Ap712w 


A little wisdom from two great sources:

New Podcast Episode: The Secret Power of Smiling http://mhyatt.us/1HL5lQY 

How to Run a Debt-Free Business Without Running Out of Cash [VIDEO] http://bit.ly/1AhZZgg 


Great flood safety tips:

5 ways you can be ready when a flood hits: http://abt.cm/1PNgR5m 


Seth Godin is always thought-provoking:

Seth’s Blog: The do over – http://bit.ly/1IXiOrS


Here is a wonderful article from Susan Adcox that speaks to grandparents helping their grandchildren cope with cancer:

When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, grandparents can help grandchildren cope: http://ow.ly/NwFc2