The Yin & Yang of Being Beaten by Your Kid

I have three claims-to-fame in my 39 years on this lovely planet.

  1. I once placed 2nd in a BMX bike race. Seven years old. My first BMX bike. A brand new birthday helmet. A big dirt track with hills and jumps. Early 80’s when BMX was super cool. And I came in 2nd…in my very first race! There were only two riders. It was also my last BMX race. But I did hang my red 2nd place ribbon on my wall.
  2. In the 8th-grade yearbook, I was selected as “Best Dressed.” The climax of my life – and the height of my style – was only a short 25 years ago. Not too shabby.
  3. At six, I was the youngest green belt my YMCA Karate instructor had ever encountered. I stopped shortly thereafter. A local YMCA record seemed sufficient.

There are no BMX tracks near us.

8th grade is still a long way off.

But…

On Saturday, Little Dude captured his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do. He’s only five.

My meaningless YMCA record has been crushed. By my prodigy.

Sort of.

There’s a bit of a technicality.

As “they” say, every great teacher wants their student to be better than them.

I love seeing Little Dude kicking ass and taking names. It literally warms my heart – yes, literally, as in my heart is physically warmer watching the awesomeness of my offspring.

But…

Dad’s don’t like to be beaten. Especially by their kids. At anything.

The technicality…

In the generic YMCA karate of my youth, the green belt followed the white belt. In Little Dude’s TKD class, green follows yellow.

In Little Dude’s mind, Dad is still in the lead. And I’m keeping it that way.

I have the green belt (thanks Mom), and I’ll pass it down when the time is right – IE when Little Dude is 7.

Long live the Dad champ!

Congrats Little Dude…

And for contrast…

MenEssentials: Smell Waaay Better than Your Grandmother on Fire.

MenEssentials Beard Gear

A few weeks ago the Dude was in need of some new beardscaping products.

I conducted the perfunctory Google investigation and turned up too much and too little. Too many options with too little details.

I quickly turned to Amazon and their highest sellers. Mistake.

The first time I oiled up the beard and slapped on some aftershave, Mrs. Dude responded with…

Sniff. Sniff. “What’s burning? You smell like a camp fire.” Sniff. Sniff. “And those spicy candies my grandmother always had. Pretty much my grandmother on fire.”

Not the review I was hoping for.

Thankfully, MenEssentials sensed a bearded bro in need.

A well-timed email, and the Dude had a box of beard gear waiting on the doorstep. Rad.

MenEssesntials gear is solid. Natural ingredients. Sweet smells. Healthy beard.

Waaay better than your grandmother in flames.

A couple favs: Bluebards Beard Wash + Bluebeards Wonder Beard

Happy bearding matey.

Meditation: The Ultimate Life Hack? [A Dude’s Guide to What, Why & How]

The Dude is all about some life hacks.

Simple. But effective. That’s my jam.

As I travel down life’s path, I continue to refine. Every aspect of my life. Daily.

How can I improve? Make this better. Easier. More efficient.

Everything can be improved. Always.

Regardless of the area of life I place my attention – work, art, fitness, relationships, health, well-being – a common thread that binds is the suggestion to practice mediation. It is astounding how often mediation comes up from all walks of life.

I’ve tried to create a mediation practice for years. Read. Researched. Started. Stopped.

I never felt I was doing it “right.” Or my mind would drift, and I felt my efforts were wasted.

Practice was consistently inconsistent.

Almost two years ago, I hit my stride. Daily practice has become a reality.

What changed?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the magik bullet. I did land on a style I dig (check out Theurgy), but mainly, I think I’m at the right place at the right time.

I may not have the magik bullet, but the interwebs sure do have A LOT of valuable info.

During meditation tenure, I’ve collected a variety of articles, blog posts, etc. that discuss the vast benefits of meditation. Coupled with the real-world effects I feel on the daily, I’m starting to believe mediation just may be the ultimate life hack.

Let’s take a gander at what the interwebs have to offer…

What is Meditation

  • The Paradox of Meditation: Great source. Subscribe. The book reviewed here has been on my Amazon list for a while. Time to buy.  In Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (public library), neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris argued that cultivating the art of presence is our greatest gateway to true happiness. After his extensive, decades-long empirical romp through the world’s major religious traditions and humanity’s most potent psychedelic substances, Harris returns again and again to meditation as the holy grail of self-transcendence, the single most promising practice for slicing through the illusion of the ego to reveal what Jack Kerouac so memorably called “the Golden Eternity.” (You can also find a great interview on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Book AND source. Foreshadowing?)
  • Ram Dass on Meditation (Polishing the Mirror): Meditation is basic spiritual practice for quieting the mind and getting in touch with our deeper Self, the spirit. Meditation provides a deeper appreciation of the interrelatedness of all things and the part each person plays. The simple rules of this game are honesty with yourself about where you are in your life and learning and listening to hear how it is. Meditation is a way of listening more deeply, so you hear how it all is from a more profound place. Meditation enhances your insight, reveals your true nature, and brings you inner peace.
  • Meditation & Theosophy: Builds on my Theurgy link above. Meditation is thus a continual process of remedying our ills by remembering who we are and adapting to the circumstances we face in life. The techniques of meditation are varied.
  • The Rituals of Kumar Pallana: Kumar loves mediation. Wes Anderson love Kumar. You should love meditation AND Kumar.

Why Meditate

  • A Scientific Revolution Driven by Meditation: Harvard level professors giving attention to mediation. Meditation vs. Mindfulness – same? Maybe. Maybe not. Seems pretty close to me. This article discusses Jon Kabat-Zinn– one of my first entrants to mediation/mindfulness and still one of my favs.
  • The Power of Meditation & How it Affects the Brain: Great mediation overview on Buffer (Don’t know Buffer?! Dude!) – 4 types of mediation, how mediation affects the brain, how mediation affects us, getting started.
  • Meditation Enhances Creativity: David Lynch, famed movie/TV director, uses mediation to find great ideas. Agreed. Keep your bullet journal nearby…sweet creative ideas will bubble to surface.
  • Meditation Alters Genes: Methodology – Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Subjects trained 26 adults with no prior experience in meditation for eight weeks. Results – All of the subjects’ blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation. The changes were the exact opposite of what occurs during flight or fight: genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were turned on, while those involved in inflammation were turned off. These effects were more pronounced and consistent for long-term practitioners.
  • 10 Benefits of Meditation: The length of your practice isn’t as important as the frequency; you’re far more likely to experience the many benefits if you meditate for five to 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week than if you squeeze your meditation into a 30-minute session once a week.
  • Meditation – Key to Longer, Stress-free life?: Telomeres are portions of repetitive DNA at the ends of our chromosomes that protect our chromosomes from deteriorating. Meditation was the focus of research at UC Davis and UCSF by Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. The 2011 study found that meditation increased activity of telomerase — enzymes that can rebuild and lengthen our chromosomal telomeres — when meditation was conducted twice a week for three months.
  • How Meditation Can Boost Your Brainpower: For skeptics, this study showed how the brain literally changes with meditation in order to provide dozens of positive benefits for anyone who starts a practice. The sizes of key regions of our brain improve as a result of meditation, memory is made far more efficient, and empathy, compassion, and resiliency under stress are also improved.
  • Meditation Appears to Produce Enduring Changes in Emotional Processing in the Brain:  A study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that participating in an eight-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating. The researchers also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.
  • Increase Happiness, Bravery & Attention Span: Great post from a great source. A number of good quotes. Will motivate you to take five minutes out of your day to test a habit that could offer widespread, lasting positive effects.
  • How Changing Your Breathing Will Change Your Life: Think you know how to breathe? You do it every day. Even right now! Yeah, nope.
  • Google’s Jolly Good Fellow: Meditation, emotional intelligence, and Google. Safe to say it’s worth the read.
  • Meditation & the Brain: A team of researchers from Norway and Australia are trying to sort the different forms of meditation and the benefits each one yields.
  • Superhuman Energy Cultivated by Meditators – It’s Science: The energy emitted by people who have reached an advanced level in meditation practice has been shown by multiple studies to exceed normal human levels by hundreds or thousands of times.
  • Meditate Before You Medicate: There have been numerous studies of the health and financial benefits of meditation including: 28% cumulative decrease in physician fees, 55% less medical care utilization with lower sickness rates, including 87% less hospitalization for heart disease and 55% less for cancer.
  • Does Meditation Make You Smart?: A new study claims that meditation activates parts of the brain that simple ‘relaxing’ cannot.
  • Does Mediation Slow Aging?: A Nobel Prize-winning biochemist is engaged in serious studies hinting that meditation might – as Eastern traditions have long claimed – slow ageing and lengthen life.
  • Think Meditation is a Waste of Time? Watch This – The Neuroscience Behind Meditation: Despite its continued growth and popularity, meditation -like so many other practices -is not without ridicule, as a large portion of the world’s population are still happy to classify it as pseudoscientific, or a waste of time. In response to this common classification, the group at Big Think have created an easy to understand short video that explains the neuroscience behind meditation.


How to Meditate

  • 10 Ways to Work Meditation Into Your Day: Surprisingly good suggestions for a quick list. Great accompanying quotes as well.
  • Meditation for Beginners: 11 easy tips to get you started.
  • 100 Breaths Meditation: Increase concentration by using the breath as a focal point for meditation. It should take between 10-15 minutes depending on your natural pace of breathing.
  • Guided Mediation – Destress in 5 Minutes: Thinking is the cause of stress. The most effective way to relieve stress is by taking a break from thinking. Guided meditation does not involve thinking. Guided meditation is one of the easiest meditation techniques available. All you have to do is press play, close your eyes, and follow the voice instructions. Meditation downloads can be found by searching for guided meditation in any search engine.
  • How to Finally Start Meditating (Like a Pro): Without guided meditation, I could barely last for 3 minutes without getting bored, anxious, and giving up.
  • TED – All It Takes is 10 MinutesTransformative power of refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day.
  • 5 Minute Guide to Meditation – Anywhere, Any Time: All you need to meditate is yourself.
  • 12 Meditation Apps: Guided meditation is a great way to start. These apps have you covered.
  • Mind the Gap: Notice that in between thoughts, there’s a small gap of “no-mind.” Thoughts run in succession, interspersed by gaps of empty space. Over time, with practice, we become aware of the feeling, and we learn to extend the gaps, feeling more and more stillness and inner peace.
  • Two Minute Meditation: The most important two minutes of your life.
  • 5 Methods of Meditation: There’s a myriad of methods for meditation. Some are easy and some are difficult. All require daily practice to perfect. Here are five of the most popular methods of meditation and what they each bring to the Meditation Table.
  • Four Primary Skills of Meditation: Presence, awareness, focus, concentration.
  • Learn How to Meditate in 8 Easy Steps: We all already know how to meditate. Meditation is the natural state of all human beings, and we have had to work ourselves very hard to condition ourselves out of that natural blissful state of unity with the universe.
  • Solitude as Meditation: Losing oneself in solitude is a means to the end of finding oneself in meditation.
  • 7 Day Meditation Challenge: 7-Day Meditation Challenge to see the positive affects it has on your life and on reducing stress.

Mindfulness Meditation

  • Science Behind Mindfulness: Researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART (self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence). These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.
  • Mindfulness – Meditation for People Too Busy to Meditate: Practicing mindfulness – and reaping its benefits – doesn’t need to be a large time commitment or require special training. You can start right now – this moment. These techniques quite literally train the mind and rewire the brain – ability to concentrate increases, see things with increasing clarity, which improves your judgment, and develop equanimity.
  • How (Mindfulness) Meditation Works: In a practical sense, “sitting” is really all there is to the meditation aspect of mindfulness meditation. You sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath as it moves in and out. Your mind will inevitably wander, which is where the mindfulness aspect comes in. Instead of growing frustrated with your lack of focus or getting caught up in the web of your thoughts, you train yourself to observe the thought or emotion with acceptance and curiosity, and to calmly bring your focus back to the breath.
  • How Mindfulness Meditation Works: Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have devised a model that sheds light on the science behind mindfulness. Instead of a single dimension of cognition, the researchers show that mindfulness involves a large framework of complex mechanisms in the brain that lead a person down the path of developing self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART). Practitioners can begin training themselves to become less emotionally reactive and to recover more quickly from negative emotions.
  • A Simpler Guide to Mindfulness for Beginners: Learn how to do your daily routine activities mindfully.
  • Brief Mindfulness Yields Long-Term Results: Even brief mindfulness practice—typically, a kind of meditation that focuses on a particular aspect of the present moment, like your breath, your body, or a particular sensation—has a substantial positive effect on mental well-being and memory. It also appears to physically improve the brain, strengthening certain neural structures that are tied to heightened attention and focus, and bolstering connectivity in the brain’s default mode network, which is linked to self-monitoring and control.
  • Inhabit the Moment: Practice occupying the current moment. Inhabit it, by really being in it, fully experiencing all our senses in everyday ordinary actions.
  • The Shadow Side of Mindfulness Meditation?: Every yin has a yang. Meditation shouldn’t be viewed as a cure-all. But from my experience, it’s a pretty rad addition to your daily.

Kids & Meditation

HeartMath

How To Transition from Movember to Winter Beard | A Dude’s Guide to Beard Care

We’ve reached a crucial point of transition in the annual calendar. November to December.

Thanksgiving to Christmas. Real world to holiday world.

Most importantly, Movember to Winter Beard.

You’re feeling good with your Movember scruff, right?

A chance to let the beard hair down. And now you’re supposed to shave it?!

The Winter Beard is your savior. The opportunity to hold onto your bearded freedom – at least until April.

If you’ve missed my previous love of facial hair, peep the links below. But to start, let’s do a quick refresher on why beards are the dopest of the dope.

 

I dig a good beard. Especially during the chilly winter months.

I’m not alone is this love. Here’s a groovy website dedicated to “the celebration of The Beard” – BeardRevered.com. In fact, the December Beard is now a thing.

Despite my longstanding beard love, I’ve never taken the time to understand how to properly grow, groom and care for the winter whiskers.

Seems the start of Winter Beard season is the perfect opportunity for some facial follicle edification.

To start, we need to be honest with ourselves – Should you shave?

Use this handy infographic/flowchart to determine if you’re a candidate for a Winter Beard. We can’t all be beardos.

 Onward, beardo.

But how will the rest of the world deal with your righteous beard? The Art Of Manliness has you covered

Alright, the world is going to love your brawny beardedness. But how do you take care of your new companion?

Keep it trimmed. Keep it hydrated. Keep it looking sweet.

Your beard is a piece of art. Treat it with the respect it deserves.

How To Trim Your Beard; with Joey Tasca from Freemans (coincidence – no way! Beards = freedom) Sporting Club Barbershop – thanks Birchbox.

How to Shave Well; with Charlie King from London Barbers – gracias Mr. Porter.

Don’t forget to Mind the Line

GIF Guide How To Tame a Wild & Bushy Beard – hat tip Birchbox.

Beardsmen unite!

Tools of the Trade

A couple bonus items…

Dude’s Beard Links

Everyday Mobility: Every Dude Needs to Move

Mobility: The Dude Abides

As you may recall, I plan to live to 137.

To make that journey worthwhile, I’d like to make movement a prerequisite.

In order to maintain, said,  movement, we need to move. Everyday.

I’ve mentioned the idea of “mobility” a few times:

  1. Take Care of Yourself
  2. Best Exercises to Keep a Dude Healthy
  3. Dude’s Flow: Off the Reservation
  4. You Should Stand More

Mobility has become a part of the Dude’s everyday. Not even in my vocab a few short years ago, but now it’s daily go-to. We gots to move.

But here’s the catch, Mobility is not a quick fix. It’s a marathon. We’ve done years of damage to our bodies. It takes time and consistent focus to get back on track.

I squeeze my mobility into the early AM routine, before the young’ins start to get too crazy. A little meditation, some movement…recipe for a great morning.

Here’s a quick rundown on some sweet mobility ideas I’ve been digging lately:

  • Becoming a Supple Leopard
    • Great mobility “bible” written by the rad mobility guru Kelly Starrett.
    • Best advice I’ve seen about this book is don’t try to do it all at once. Choose a muscle group and focus on slow, consistent improvement.
    • Read the first few chapters. It will change the way you move everyday, in every way. Do you squat right? Probably not.
  • Mobility WOD broken down by muscle groups
    • Awesome library of Kelly’s mobility YouTube videos categorized by muscle group. Seriously good resource. Hat tip Bryce Lewis putting it together.
  • 5 Things You Should Do Everyday
    • Bret Contreras is a rad dude. Worth following for fitness and mobility ideas.
    • Squatting everyday is one of the best things I’ve started to do…and one of the most difficult. Seriously, as simple as lowering you butt into a squat and holding it for 30+ seconds will rock your world. I’m a believer this will help me hit 137.
  • Sarvangasana(shoulder stand)
    • Loving this classic inverted yoga pose. 10 reasons you should too.
  • Circling Hands
    • Sticking to the classics, here’s a perfect start for Tai Chi beginners.
    • Tai Chi Circling Hands offers most of the potential health and healing applications available in tai chi–without the complex choreography.
  • Boomerang pose rocks.
  • Thoracic Bridge – rockin’ fo sho. Hitting some hard to reach spots. Especially for you desk sitters.
  • Hips don’t lie
    • His and shoulders are key. Hinges that allow you to move. Open ’em up!
    • Great ideas to gain strength and mobility in your hips
  • Test your mobility skills
    • Some good tests to see how mobile you are and to track your progress.

Get to moving.

Where Does “Dude” Come From? Seems So Obvious.

Dude could be the perfect word.

So simple. So many uses.

But where does it come from?

Thanks to Slate for the Etymology of Dude. More accurately, thanks to some rad researcher dudes.

A massive, decade-long “dude” research project has finally yielded convincing results.

What’s the answer?

Yankee Doodle Dandy!

I’ll let you take a gander at Slate for the details.

But dang that seems obvious.

12 Tips for Fatherhood Awesomeness

Little Dude - Before THE Haircut

Little Dude – Before THE Haircut

Short, but sweet.

I’d like to think I have a firm grasp on the majority of these tips, but some great reminders never hurt.

12 Tips for being a radical dad [from LifeHack]…

  1. Give ’em some love.
  2. Spend time with the rug rats.
  3. Show up at the big game/recital.
  4. Show the kids things you dig.
  5. Talk to them.
  6. Reading is always cool.
  7. Be grateful. And show it.
  8. Play.
  9. Treat everyone with respect and kindness.
  10. Smile.
  11. Pursue your bliss.
  12. Never too many “I love you’s”

Can Ten Tips from a Shaolin Monk Keep the Dude Young Forever?!

I’ve told Mrs. Dude I intend to live to 137.

Not sure why 137. Or how to make that possible.

But it seems like a good idea to set big goals with life expectancy.

I’m psyched to find this sweet list of 10 tips to stay young forever from a Shaolin Monk:

  1. Don’t think too much.
  2. Don’t talk too much.
  3. Work 40 minutes, and stop for 10 minutes.
  4. Control happiness.
  5. Don’t worry or get angry.
  6.  Don’t eat too much.
  7. Take your time.
  8. Do Qigong to find balance, build patience, and develop yin.
  9. Exercise to build yang.
  10. Shaolin Gung Fu to blanance yin and yang.
I need to work on my yin. See you at 137. 

 

The Dude Family Tackles “Secrets of Happy Families”

A little known Dude fact: I once attended law school.

Yep, a full year of law school – they say the first is the hardest.

Then I left.

Flunked? Au contraire mon fraire.

Killed it. Dean’s list. Law Review.

But the life of a big city attorney paying off six digit school loans was not very appealing.

Definitely the right decision.

Although I walked, I did retain some benefits. I still dig the law. I have a much better understanding of legal matters. And I can consume a book while highlighting, underlining, and taking notes in the margins.

A skill and a curse. But my legal reading skills came in handy as I soaked up Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families.

I love the idea of “hacking” the family. Finding tips, tricks and secrets to create a happy, fun, organized, always-learning family.

Efficiency? Simplicity? Count me in. 

Here’s a great TED talk from Bruce about the Agile Family. Pretty awesome.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6oMG7u9HGE[/youtube]

I just finished Secrets, and I’m ready send the Dude Family through a test run making the most of the “low hanging fruit.”

Awesome, right?

Mr. Feiler, you are officially on notice. The Dudes are putting your Secrets to the test.

There are 13 chapters. All with good thoughts.

Love the closing lesson: What’s the secret to being a happy family? Try.

But 13 chapters is a lot. And each family is unique. Every secret will not work for every family.

Be creative. Be flexible. And see what works.

We’re choosing a few of our favs and making a run at it.

I definitely recommend the book. However, the proof is in the living. I’ll let ya know how the living goes.

Dude Family Secrets

  1. Family Meeting (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Wednesday evening 
    2. Under 20 minutes 
    3. Q’s  
      1. What worked well in our family this week? 
      2. What went wrong in our family this week? 
      3. What will we work on this coming week? 
  2. Self-directed checklists (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Morning routine, chores, etc.
    2. Put checklists on whiteboard on the fridge for kids to read and check off 
      1. Add weekly “goals” to whiteboard 
      2. Choosing own punishments and rewards
  3. Family meals (Easy, already doing…continue to have meals together)
  4. Family rituals important (Mid-term, start working on rituals with Mrs. Dude)
    1. Rituals have to be created. We can’t sit back and hope they’ll just happen. We have to go out and make them happen.
    2. Fun, hokey, memorable.
    3. Seasons, holidays, vacation/bonding?
  5. Branding our Family (Mid-term, start working on branding with Mrs. Dude) 
    1. Belief Board – p. 52 
    2. Family mission statement – p. 56 
    3. Puts onto one piece of paper all the words that matter to us – ex. p. 60 
    4. Check Bruce’s “toolkit”
    5. Keep it short?
    6. Make drafting it a special occasion.
    7. Post in a prominent place
    8. 80 example values – p. 65
    9. Value Q’s – p. 67
      1. What words best describe our family?
      2. What is most important to our family?
      3. What are our strengths as a family?
      4. What sayings best capture our family?
  6. The Buck Starts Here
    1. www.FamZoo.com
    2. $ penalties?
    3. Allowance = $1 per week, per year of age?
    4. Chores separate from allowance?
    5. Loans from parents?
      1. Write essays for major purchases?
    6. About understanding constraints
      1. Constraints force creativity
    7. Pay for passions
      1. Accept passions 
      2. Great people are great because they find their passion. 
      3. The goal is not equality; the goal is fairness. 
      4. Focus on what they really need, not how much you’re spending. 
    8. Put them to work 
    9. Part-time jobs are great for kids