It’s He-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-re…

This weekend, I will need to water my trees, flowers, and succulents – for the first time since Thanksgiving. Summer arrived yesterday. Well, one of our summers. We get a few of them here.

Yesterday it was 82 degrees on my front porch by 2:00pm. I wasn’t prepared for summer.  It just showed up. I’m already sick of summer, and it’s less than a day old. I know, only a fool complains about good weather…

It rained a great deal this winter. The overnight lows have wavered between crisp and, holy living f#ck, is this Colorado…?. The drought conditions which have threatened this region for a decade are receding. In 18 years here, I’ve not seen this region so grown out, so lush, and so enchanting, despite the cold temperatures.

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The dried ponds, and sand bottom creeks where I walk each day have filled, and now flow. Some now overflow. Just the sight of water, in nature, recreates us. Water can cleanse us, even from a distance. I cherish more, the water that cleanses my soul, than that which cleanses my skin.

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I’ve made it a point to spend more time than usual in these places this year – walking in the growth and near the waters. It’s become my obsession. I’ll still walk every day, as summer begins to dry my surroundings, but my walks might be less inspired.

With summer upon us, all the greens will slowly fail, and become tans, and then browns. The blooms will shout for attention for a few weeks more, then fade to crisp. It may cool again for a time, then summer will show up again in late June. The peak of life though, and the height of the waters for this year, is right now.

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I’ll long remember this winter – this El Nino which nobody predicted. I know that rain like we have had may not return for a while – or maybe never again, not like this.

At some point, probably later today, I’ll start anticipating winter once again, in hopes it doesn’t disappoint. All things must pass. In an eternal universe though, they will rise again, it’s just a question of when… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Shocking Blue.  Enjoy…

Hear Here: A Tale Of Jaw Cardio

Work-out Kryptonite…

For the better part of 20 years I have been able to work-out alone in my basement gyms, garage gym, or in the fitness studios I have owned. Occasionally I have had partners, but for the most part it has been me. Alone. Solo. Smile.

One of the better garages  have had...

Royland, 2003:  One of the better garages have had…

Through the years I have been able to avoid intermingling with lunks throwing weights, unnecessarily grunting, and messing up the place with traces of blood after prying their acne covered simian roid-backs off of the bench press.

I have also been able to avoid clueless cardio bunnies dressed like porn stars, with their ponytails fishing lures swinging back and forth as they stare aimlessly at CNN in front of them, all the while not really knowing where Libya is – and such.

"Like, I know how to make toast..." "Shut up!  I know how to make toast too...!"

Girl on right:  “Like, I know how to make toast…”
Girl on left:  “Shut up! I know how to make toast too…!”

And best of all, I have not had to navigate through the sea of old men in striped warmup suits taking up space as they read the Sunday Times in-between sets of the only exercise they know, triceps pushdown, as they loudly exchange ideas amongst and between them about how to save the world.

Yup, for 20 years I trained in my underwear if I wanted to, listened to audio books, lectures on physics or religion, and only occasionally loud music. My best training partner was the clock on the wall, there was no monthly auto-draft, and the gym was always open – to me.

I have though, maintained memberships pubic gyms – just in case. I have used them sparingly, only on those days when I needed to get out of my own studio for reasons of sanity, or to join my friend Marshal for our lunch time pre-burrito StepMill sessions.

When have ventured into public gyms, I have always aimed my head at the ground, kept earbuds plugged in, and I made eye contact with nobody. All of this to avoid the one person I knew could ruin my work-out, and subsequently my day; Jaw Cardio Guy. You know, that one guy who could carry on a 20 minute conversation about nothing, all by himself, and still hold me captive, all the while keeping me away from my precious deadlifts. I hate that guy.

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy...

A face I hope to never see again; Jaw Cardio Guy…

On those occasions when Jaw Cardio Guy would be so insistent that we speak, that he could break me from my trance and get me to take out my earbuds just to appease him I would, in very clear terms, make him aware that my time is precious, my work-out is necessary, and his conversation was kryptonite. I’m just not nice in those scenarios.

He-man Of The People…

I’m now working out in a public gym regularly for the first time since 1995. This gym is also where I have the proprietary interest for my fitness training business. Since each person working out there is a potential student, being a dick is not an option. Each conversation I have may augment my livelihood. Notwithstanding, this is my community now and being philanthropic with my time and my expertise is the right way to be.

Still, there remains my desire to be deep in focus, lost in my meat during my sets since strength training is the methadone of my existence. Despite this, if I am going to be the man in this town, I must be a man of the people and find middle ground.

For about a month now I have been assimilating myself into the local gym. I have already met some nice people and a few of them have become students. I have also been dragged into conversations that two years ago I would want or have no part of. Now I see these conversations as human, and am learning how to appreciate them and engage in them without losing the rhythm of my work-out.

This I Have Already Learned…

To let go a bar after a completed set and take a few minutes to answer a gentleman’s question about which exercises might help offset his sciatica, is not the end of the world. He will probably never be a student, but I enjoy watching him fulfill my suggestions, and can see that it’s already helping him.

Telling someone, “no, I’m not using that bench – go ahead” while I’m mid-set of a fairly heavy squat did not cause me to drop the bar, stop the set, cause my legs to shrink, or cause me to get fat. It simply caused me to smile and take an extra breath.

Where I once wouldn't be caught dead talking in the gym, I'm now likely to be found dead-talking...

Where I once wouldn’t be caught dead talking in the gym, I’m now likely to be found dead-talking…

If a political discussion comes my way while I’m doing dumbbell flies it won’t deter from completing my set, any more than it will persuade me to change my world view mid-rep, though it might help me better read the pulse of my community. I will eternally though, label an asshole an asshole if he or she uses the term, “nigger president” as happened so frequently in my last community.

Mostly, I have learned that talking, being friendly – being outright social in the gym can be a very human experience, enrich my day, and will not cause me to lose my gains. Along with work, human relationships are what we are here for. How blessed am I that I get to combine both on a daily basis… Be well… rc

If you enjoyed this, please scroll back to the top and rate it. 

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Reunion.  Forty years later I still nailed it word for word.  Enjoy…

Week Daze…

Nothing fitness related this week.  Working on several new fitness related essays for later this month, and for May.  In the meantime there is this from my personal journal, written last weekend. 

  Daze Of The Week

There are seven days in a week.  Though each day can be similar to the day before, the next day is sure to include some unique moment, fresh thought, or previously unknown experience.  Some of those moments and experiences will be good and some not so good.  Though each day of the week might represent something different to anyone of us, it’s fair to say many of us view each named day of the week pretty much the same.

For many, Monday is the daunting start of the workweek.  People often resent Monday for thrusting its blood thirsty hand through our chest, stealing the still-beating heart out of our weekend memories, and throwing it to the base of the pyramid.   Things at work might be accomplished on Monday, but often seem get done at a lesser pace for that resentment.

Tuesday it seems, is an unnecessary extension of Monday.  The primary difference between Monday and Tuesday is the rhythm of the day.  The weekend is all but forgotten and by Tuesday morning and the idea of bondage to the job has become easier to accept.  Tuesday is less sullen.  Things are likely accomplished at an increased pace over Monday, and the day might pass more easily.

Wednesday is hump day for many; the day that brings us past the tipping point toward the coveted weekend.  Wednesday is like Friday-light.  Wednesday morning we begin seeing the light of our impending weekend come into view.  That energy may prompt an increase in productivity during the first half of Wednesday.  Wednesday afternoon though, identifies a substantial roadblock between that blithe moment and the weekend – we’ll refer to that roadblock as Thursday.  On this recognition, productivity on Wednesday afternoon may be at a low for the week.

Thursday is just another unnecessary extension of Monday.  No, more like a sister moon to Monday.  How this chunk of Monday got thrown so far ahead into the week, scientists still don’t understand.  Thursday may be the longest day of the week.  However, Thursday is likely the most productive day of the week.  What else are you going to do all alone on that moon, except work…?

Friday needs no introduction.  Friday is at the top of the A-list of weekday celebrities.  Face it, Friday is the only day on any list of weekday celebrities.  Despite its probably low productivity, the mood is generally good on Fridays since nobody will have to see or deal with anyone else in the workplace again until Monday.  Friday is a celebration unto itself.

The perception of Saturday and Sunday differs much more for most.  There is less emotional gravity on the weekends holding us down.  Some degree of fun or relaxation is likely to be had – unless of course one has small children.  Then Saturday and Sundays become the other sister moons of Monday, and they are run by slave driver bosses much smaller than us.

Many flee on Saturday and Sunday, in different directions in pursuit of differing agendas.  Others just stay home and veg.  If nothing else, I’ll suggest that the weekend is a necessary pit stop to stay in the Monday through Friday rat race.   Regardless of how one spends Saturday or Sunday, weekends are a perfect distraction until Friday happens again.

Thus is the cycle of the workweek for the masses.  I understand that not everyone works a traditional workweek.  There is shift work, rotating schedules, technological intrusions on our soccer games, family outings, and meals.  But the days of the week are like puzzle pieces, and can be fit to replace one another for what is likely to be a similar conclusion regardless of one’s true work schedule.

When I was 19 years old Muppet Master, Jim Henson, told me that work is what we’re here for.  Through my many long and sometimes trying workdays, I have tried hard to remember and take regular inventory of that lesson.

The Colors Of The day

Since I was quite young, each named day has represented more to me than the place my life sits in the given workweek.  I’m not sure where this came from, but for most of my life when I envision the name of a day, Monday, Tuesday, etc., each of our seven days is represented to me by a color.  When I read, speak, or hear another speak the name of a day, I always envision a particular color in my head synonymous with that day, and I do so immediately.

  • Monday is red
  • Tuesday is brown
  • Wednesday is yellow
  • Thursday is blue
  • Friday is green
  • Saturday shares yellow with      Wednesday
  • Sunday is black

I can offer no explanation for the assignment of these colors in my head, but they have been there since grade school.  When I think of Wednesday I don’t think of hump day, I first think of yellow.  And so it goes for all the days of the week.  Each day is represented with an inherent color in my mind.  What these colors represent or why I may never know, they’re just ingrained in my psyche.

For those commenting this week, I am sincerely curious, does anyone else associate the days of the week with colors, or numbers, or anything else such as a car, super model, or breed of dog…?  I will be interested in your response.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Sun Volt.  Enjoy…

Day After Day, I Keep Waking Up….

I will be on vacation in Colorado and the wilds of Northern Nebraska until the end of the month, so this is my last column until mid-August. 

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“Humans are just a stage in the emergence of amazing complexity in the universe.” Martin Rees

Destiny, And The Big Picture

I’ve become obsessed with contemplating the increasing complexity and interdependency, in Darwinian terms, of societies and biology, and of how well intermingled they are – yet not necessarily parallel.   That’s a big-picture obsession.  To a lesser degree, I obsess on my own increasing complexity – because it’s a story which could have ended long ago.

And as I see myself grow more complex and increasingly interdependent with others, I still don’t know what I am destined to be within the expanse of my life, but I can say with great clarity at this moment, I am destined to be, and that’s a very little-picture statement.

A Letter To A Friend

I don’t wear a helmet when I ride my bike.  I love the wind through my hair when I ride at high speeds – it’s the rush of pure physical freedom.  Last month a concerned friend saw me riding in Fallbrook without a helmet and sent me an email to call me out on it.   She explained that her husband fell off his bike recently and his helmet probably saved his life.  I told my friend, based on that story, that I would begin wearing a helmet immediately – though I truly did not want to.  A couple of days later I bought a helmet, but never put it on.  Who was she, to tell me how to live my life…?

Below is a letter I sent to my friend this morning:

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Hi Danielle –

A while back I pledged to you I would begin wearing a bike helmet ASAP, and that I would prove it to you by sending you a picture of the helmet. And then, my life went very dark for a while.  “Fuck-it” was my attitude.  Things weren’t going well for me at all, and seemed to get worse every day.  One thing I could depend on each day though, was the wind through my hair as I rode to and from work – as exhilarating to me as any sensation I have known, and yes, I said ANY.  And deep down Danielle, there is a part of me that would be perfectly ok with being taken out by a truck.

Two nights ago I was riding down Green Canyon Road after work, and riding as fast I have ever been on that road.  On a straight section of the road, a truck passed me then suddenly crossed in front of me, and went off the road and into a tree.  It took less than 3 seconds for me to pass those tire tracks –3 seconds.

Before I left my studio that night, I bobbled my key in my hand for about 3 seconds. Now I know that if I had not bobbled that key, and had left 3 seconds earlier and been between that truck and that tree, I would have been killed, helmet or not.  But if the truck had hit my tire, front or back, and knocked me off my bike, who knows – vegetable soup..?

I’m sorry I did not keep my promise to you, but if you ever see me ride without a helmet again, call me out on it, please.

roy

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I have some bad hair days ahead of me...

Destiny, And The Little Picture

The driver of that truck was ok, called a tow truck, and did not want me to stick around.  I was trembling so much I could barely keep my feet on the pedals of my bike as I rode the final miles to my house.  All that evening I kept thinking about bobbling that key.  What, I thought, would have happened if I had left my studio 2, or 3, or 4 seconds earlier…? I would have been right were that truck was. 

One could play a futile head game of destiny that, if I had been in that spot 3 seconds ahead, perhaps the driver would have seen me there, steered away from me, and I would have actually saved him from swerving and hitting the tree.  But a more likely scenario exists where I could have been tenderized, pureed, or both.  There’s just no tellin’…

I don’t know what destiny is anymore.  I have survived a parachute malfunction, a lightning strike, the foolish act of jumping into a class IV rapid after a beer-based breakfast, driving a truck with an unknown rattlesnake under the driver’s seat, being thrown into a jetty by a wave that refused to close out, and a few other self-induced brushes…  Still, I carry on.

Biology expands.  Societies expand.  Time and the universe expand.  And at the end of the day, for some reason, the story of me continues to expand.  It’s not just me who’s lucky to be alive though, it’s you too.   I’m curious, please use the comments section and share your “lucky to still be here” stories.  They may be used in a future essay or series of essays.  Be well.  rc

Oh, and there is this, from Dog Trumpet, the modern day decedants of Mental As Anything.  Enjoy…

Ushering In A Moment…

Conversation Part I

A conversation ensued recently between a friend and me, prior to us getting underway for a short but fast 20-mile bike ride.  My friend, in her late 50’s, explained to me how years ago, the sound her golf club made as it lowered to and struck her golf ball, took her to a different place.  That sound; the swish and the subsequent strike of the ball, put her in a state of, all is good with the world – at least for a while.  Golf was where she found timelessness.

A Short, Relevant Story

Eventually my friend would give up golf in favor of raising of her daughter, and developing her career.  Her daughter would grow up, go off to college, and settle in another town.  My friend’s career became so successful that it would come to run on auto-pilot.  Soon my friend had a void in her life, and chose to fill that void by being active once again.

Rather than return to golf, my friend took up triathlons.  Soon she was swimming, riding a bike, and running, in a competitive set.  She took to triathlons well and has competed as far away as Australia.  When she’s not placing well in her age group, she’s winning it.

The Conversation Part II

As we got on our bikes, my friend explained to me that she has a new sound now; the click.

Clipping in as us cyclists call it, is the act of fitting a connection on the sole of a cyclist’s shoe into an awaiting connection on the pedal of the bike, for more efficiency in pedaling.  The act of clipping in is accompanied by a clicking sound.  That click is what now puts my friend in that state of, all is good with the world – at least for a while.  A simple sound, acting as a signal that inner peace is about to commence.

After the clip, and as the ride begins, she will develop a rhythm with her legs, start a cadence play in her head, and her mind and her body will become supremely correlated.  So long as her mind and body are thus tethered, her essence will exist independent of the world around her – dictators, natural disasters, mass shootings, and budget defecates give way to the sounds of her gears, her heart, the wind, and her most essential thoughts.

One Woman’s Click, Is Another Man’s Clank

I remember precisely when and where I was the first time I heard an iron weight clank against another iron weight.  I was at the District #3 Police Station in Denver, Colorado – I was 12 years old.  Officer Ray Bingham had put the iron on the bar for me, explained to me how to lift the weight, encouraged me to do it with purpose, and I have never looked back.

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For me, when the second weight clanks against the first weight, as I load up the steel bar for my first movement in the workout, that clanking sound sends a signal to my head that I am about to enter a timeless state.  At that moment, all is good with the world – at least for a while.  With the sound of a simple clank, little else matters but the impending lift, the feel, the connection created between my mind and my body, and the barrier that the act of lifting weights creates between me and all that is not right with the world.

Babies die. Wars rage on.  Bankers corrupt. Congressmen cheat.  Crybaby millionaire athletes refuse to play the very sport that made them millionaires.  But when I hear that clank, my fingers wrap around that cold metal bar, the flow of my blood is redirected to the burning muscles in need, and I’m in absolute control of the weight as I raise and lower it, little else matters.  It’s why I keep going back for more, day after day, year after year.

Your Sound – Your Song

I have high expectations of myself, and almost none of anyone else.  I try hard not to impose my values and my beliefs on others.  Occasionally I might share something which, in my life, has helped me better deal with the chaotic world around me, even if it can’t help me understand or change it.

An instant sound that prefaces a timeless state is like fast acting medicine.  To be injected into a moment by a connection made between one’s own flesh and brain is near holy.  It’s a feeling of not just being, but of being alive.  This kind of exhilaration in an otherwise stifling world is as cleansing as a prayer.   That, is an ideal I wish to impose upon everyone – and it always begins with a sound.

So for those who wish to comment this week, I am curious; what sound precedes your timeless state, and what does your daily action consist of…?  Be well.  rc

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 If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Mavis Staples.  Enjoy…

In Chaotic Times…

I first wrote this a couple of years back — on the heels of the Tsunami in Japan.  On the heels of the recent presidential election, this is a good reminder that in a chaotic world, rigorous exercise can be a welcome break — if only for a moment…

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A View To A Time

I long to be in a simpler state…

Taking inventory of the events of the day – of these days, is better disclosing to me all the chaos within; the chaos within me, within the world, within an idea, or and within an atom.  We are doomed, yet we may only be probable at a given moment.  Humanity itself is either my illusion, or is god’s own Ponzi scheme.

The events in Japan have been heart-wrenching to watch unfold – from my comfortable sofa, wine glass in hand.   Earthquake, tsunami, radiation, and logistical chaos add up quickly to become guilt for me not being there to receive god’s ass-whoopin’ myself.  Rarely do I get included in disasters, warfare, or turmoil anymore.  Put me in Coach Yahweh, put me in…

Like many of you, I want to give Japan a big hug, or to roll up my shirts sleeves and help them dig out, but $75 via PayPal will have to suffice.  I feel like a donation is not enough.  I feel helpless.  Still, the events in Japan won’t change the facts that my bills need to be paid, my dogs wake me up barking every morning at 3:00am, and I have accrued some unsightly fat on my belly and am concerned that people will judge me for its presence.   And at the end of the day, I ride my bike 18 miles, and on completion I run 3 more, that I can feel good for a moment.

Pundits Of Doom

After watching 10 minutes of Glenn Beck today I asked myself,

How can intelligent, educated, and successful human beings buy into this…?”

Still, day-in and day-out many intelligent, educated, and successful people from all parts of this nation grasp Mr. Beck’s values and ideas as though they were the seat cushion which doubles as a flotation device as the jetliner of America must prepare for a ‘water landing’.  Not to mention, the uneducated, less-than-intelligent, and more easily influenced passengers on this jet of whoa, who also cling to Mr. Beck’s wisdom.

A Christian friend once told me,

If you call yourself a Christian, you are either a missionary or a liar.” 

That ideal is just dangerous.  It’s dangerous to the billions of people who are not Christians, and more dangerous still, to the hundreds of millions who are Christians but who don’t subscribe to that ideal of  proselytization.  That statement is an emotional bayonet pointed in the back of a would-be religious prisoner of war.

This nation might fare better if we could return to the good old days of suggesting to each other, my god is better than your god, and so too is my candidate.  Each month though, we are falling deeper into the trap of, my god is the only god, and so too is my candidate.  This nonsense needs to stop – please…

And at the end of the day, I lift weights for an hour and stair-step for another 30 minutes, that I can feel good for a moment.

The Hurt Locker Guy

Jeremy lives across the street from me.  He is a bit younger than me, career military, the father of 4, and one of the most well adjusted men I have ever met.  Oh, and he’s a veteran Hurt Locker guy.  When he’s home, Jeremy is an active and engaging father, and has a calm and present disposition – almost Zen-like.  I know him scarcely, but know that he defuses bombs for a living, and has done four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last eight years.

When I spoke to him on Thanksgiving day, he told me that he would be leaving for deployment number five in several days.  He then chuckled and asked me if I needed any help with my yard.  When I saw his car pull into the garage a month later, I asked Jeremy’s 8-year old son, who was playing soldier in our cul-de-sac, why his dad was home from deployment early…

“Oh, he’s dying of cancer” the boy told me, “and the Marines gave him back to us.”   I was gulp-smacked into the next week, and had no idea how to respond.  I just closed my eyes and tried to transport myself to Mayberry.  When that didn’t work, I went for a hard trail run, that I might forget the plight of Jeremy and his family, and feel good for a moment.

Making Sense Of It All In Chaotic Times

My view to modernity has become surreal in recent months; I feel like a passenger in the front seat of a car which is driving a long distance in reverse.  I’m looking ahead, but ahead is moving further away from me.  It occurs to me; time may not be moving forward as most believe.  Rather, time might be moving backward, and humanity, I’ll suggest, might just be looking out the wrong window.  That’s my analogy and I’m sticking with it.  And at the end of the day, I will exercise with some degree of intensity, and feel good for a moment.

Oh, and if you’ve come to this fitness blog expecting tips on lunges, chicken salad recipes, or thoughts on how to lose weight, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.  To compensate, I will now share everything you need to know about the concept of fitness:  Put down the cookie, and lace up your shoes.  Be well.  rc

a footnote:  although jeremy, the marine i referenced in this essay, and i are no longer neighbors, i’m glad to say that i spoke with him last week and has been deemed cancer-free.

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…

Oh, and there is this from Singer/Songwriter James McMurtry.  Enjoy…

Not enough time…

Assuming the sun rises on a given day, we will be blessed with 1440 minutes to live, give, and to complete the tasks of our day. If but 30 of those minutes were given to exercise, you would still have 1410 minutes remaining to live, give, and to complete those tasks.

A calling to wake up, to live, to move…

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average person sleeps for 460 minutes per day – a grand bank of time to be sure. Withdraw just 30 minutes from that account for your exercise, and you are still left with 430 minutes to spend on your sleep – nearly twice the sleep that the human body needs. Now add-in the increased energy and productivity that comes with daily exercise, and a more efficient day will be at hand.

What looks like a vault is actually a bedroom door. You have the combo, open it up, make a withdrawal…

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average American will spend 360 minutes every day watching television, socializing, or engaged in leisure activities such as computer solitaire, XBox, knitting, or whatever. These may bring about relaxation and escape, but will do little to promote increased energy, self confidence, and improved health. Subtract 30 minutes for exercise from this time and you will still have 310 minutes remaining for your TV viewing, though I doubt you will find anything worthwhile to watch.

So much has changed in the last 50 years, including our girth….

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

The average American spends 330 minutes doing little things each day such as eating, drinking, shopping, and general dilly-dallying. I’ll bet with a little planning these could be done in less than 300 minutes, and you could eliminate dilly-dallying altogether. More exercise time has just been made.

From simple math, we can see at least 90 minutes of time from which 30 minutes of daily exercise can be had.

Still, many say feel they don’t have time to exercise.

There is time to exercise – lots of time. It can’t be found though, it can only be made; taken from the bank of time you use for other aspects of your life. I say so often, what you are looking for is not to be found, but to be created. Your exercise time will not take you by the hand and lead you to the workout. You must take your own hand and lead yourself to the time that you choose to use — to make your life better with daily exercise.

Though we feel time controls us, I think we have the potential to control time…

And ah, if the sun doesn’t rise? Don’t sweat the calories from that caramel frapacinno – it will be the least of your worries.  Be well.  rc