Interlude: Fear

Hello friends this will be another interlude on my blog. These are just short posts on my thoughts on life and things. This one came to me while I was cutting grass. As you know I am a US Army veteran and have done two tours in Iraq. Once in 2003 and again in 2005. I was apart of the initial invasion that thrust into Baghdad in March of 2003. Luckily the parts of the conflict I was involved in was minimal.

I eventually returned home to thankful family and friends. Sometime after I  went to my mother’s church  and the Pastor asked an interesting question. He asked me if I was scared while I was other there. I said ” of course! “. Who wouldn’t be scared of driving into a foreign country who has a reputation for using chemical weapons? Did I let the fear paralyze me? No! I used it. Thats what kept me alert and ready, helping others who needed the help.

Leaders transform fear into something useful then lead.

Leaders transform fear into something useful then lead.

That is how we use fear, not as a barrier but fuel to keep alert and safe. Not paranoid or nervous but cognizant and aware. Its okay to be afraid thats how we see the challenge and choose whether or not to accept it.

Mastering your fears will liberate you.

Mastering your fears will liberate you.

Until next time.

Dean

Yoga: Year One

Hello friends and family!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Summer and finding fun ways to beat the heat!

Looks nice but imagine heat and humidity making it 104 and up!

Looks nice but imagine heat and humidity
making it 104° and up!

Todays topic will be about Yoga and what I have learned from my year of re-acquainting myself with it. As I mentioned in 100 Days of Yoga I focused on Yoga during the brutal days of NY heat last summer of 2012. It was an awesome experience and learned a lot from it.

My Favorite Yoga Poses

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Well a year has passed and wanted to share some ideas and experiences from this year of doing Yoga. Some you may have heard before . But if  not I will share them here today anyway.

Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action. …Perform actions, firm in discipline, relinquishing attachment.

Bhagavad-Gitã  (2.47-48)
  • Yoga is a way to focus on your Internal world after dealing with the external world. This means centering yourself while the world goes on.
  • A perfect way to learn and listen to your body intimately.
  • You can apply what you do in Yoga daily while working at your desk or lifting grocery bags from the store. As in breathing correct posture and breaking the habit of slouching in a chair.
You will notice a difference in your posture.

You will notice a difference in your posture.

  • Yoga is Skill in Action: This comes from the Bhagavad-Gitã . I will let you think about that one on your own.
  • Patience becomes a virtue and you learn that being in a rush isn’t that serious. I know I am guilty of this one.
  • Abolishing bad habits become easier as you can focus and become more aware of them.
  • You will respect eating and be more mindful while eating.
  • Once you learn your limits you will want to challenge them in a healthy way.
  • Yoga will make other physical activities seem flawless and fluid.
  • Yoga is fun!
Enjoy Yoga! Its fun!

Enjoy Yoga! Its fun!

So these are some reflections and lessons I have had while doing Yoga. Its a journey with no destination. Everyday is a opportunity to learn something more about your own capabilities.

Enjoy the Summer and I will see you soon!

Dean

Crafting Your Skill

I read this blog the other day and it got me thinking about things. Things like what I am doing with myself and my skills. There are people who work just to pay bills and that’s their only unfortunate goal/role. Some people  have families and need to provide for them. That goes without saying. Sometimes we get stuck in a loop of our own habits with even knowing it.

” our habits are invisible to us”

How do your Circles connect?

How do your Circles connect?

 This is where having a hobby or a craft comes in. Something that you can do in your pastime that can not really be a distraction but a SELF fulfilling activity that brings you joy.

Once you start to do it and do it well it will bring you the best satisfaction beyond any drug that’s out there. Also you can profit from your skill and you won’t mind doing so because its fun. I know I love to exercise and as soon as I get my qualifications I would love to profit from it. To quote the Joker in The Dark Knight, “If you are good at something never do for free”. Sounds selfish but at the same time it makes sense. Banks are good at saving our money (sometimes). So we pay for that service. We don’t have to profit monetarily from our potential.We can still but profit in other ways as in your own joy and happiness.

So working on a skill that you enjoy will reap benefits for years to come. Even if you don’t profit from it. The joy of doing something else than just being an automaton of waking up, driving to work and going home to your couch and doing the same cycle over and over again.

You know where the pieces fit..

You know where the pieces fit..

Share your skills here and inspire others to do the same…

Dean

It’s YOUR Year in 2013!

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying your gifts and nursing your holiday party hangovers. Hey! We even survived the impending Apocalypse! With that being said lets look to the future and what opportunities 2013 will bring.

Someone asked me what my new years resolution was. I told her I don’t have one, all I want is to do better than I did last year. That’s it. Nothing more or less. So I am going to share with you all how I plan to do this. Maybe it will help you get ideas on what you want for the new year.

  1. Get an annual check up. I get a physical/dental exam around my birthday month. This way i know whats going good or bad. You are the only one who can take care of your self.
  2. Continue to study and practice Yoga. This is my hobby maybe yours is reading, drawing or exercise, having a hobby is great. Its keeps your mind fresh and away from bad habits.
  3. Stay in school and continue the practice of Autodidacticism. If you don’t know what that means; basically it means “self-taught”. This gifts from this are infinite. I will always be a student.
  4. Family time. Yeah I know we get caught up in our rapture and routine of our lives. Family is the gel that will keep you together. Plan a day out and go somewhere, doesn’t even have to be fancy, dinner is good.
  5. Travel! One of my favorite things to do. Going somewhere different is great as you can look outside the sphere of your life and reflect. Even a simple road trip for a day will let you experience something new. Also go somewhere alone and use your natural skills to figure out who to get around.

Well that’s all I have and will be my last post for 2012. Once again thanks for all the support and following my blog. Happy New Year and see you in 2013!

happy_new_year_1-flower

Peace!

Dean

End of 2012

Hello everyone! How are you all doing out there?

Well the year has finally ended! We all wind down this one and gear up for another exciting year. I can say personally that this was a year of deep introspection for myself, some of it good some of it bad. I found flaws and things that make me not so good. But on the flip-side found the qualities that make me a better person inside and out. That’s what life is right? Learning and growing while trying to balance out everything in between.

I enjoy this blogging thing; but school work makes it hard to be consistent. So please be patient and I will post when I can. Have a few ideas for some topics that will I can share with you all. In the mean time thanks for reading/following.

So stay strong and live/love life how you see fit.

potraitII

Peace,

Dean Joseph

100 Days of Yoga!

Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Fantastic I hope. Well today I am going to share what I have learned from doing Yoga for a 100 days.

During the Summertime I wanted to find a way to stay fit during the sometimes brutal Summer heat of New York. Personally I am not a fan of being all sweaty while exercising; its annoying and distracting. Usually I do some Yoga moves before and after my exercises. So on another blogger mentioned she challenged herself to do straight Yoga for a week. That was the inspiration I needed to try it out. So I did it for a week and enjoyed it.  Being familiar with Yoga already I was able to design a session that would keep me strong and maintain my levels of fitness. I can say that my strength has increased and I am more resilient doing other exercises.

I am going to break down a session that you can do to evolve your exercises. Before I start Yoga is not all about standing on your head or bending and twisting; there is a philosophy behind it also. But the basic premise I want you to focus on while you try these these poses out is mindfulness; what is mindfulness? In the short term being in the moment NOW. Not your job, Facebook status or whats for dinner. Being focused on how your body moves through the pose.

So here is my basic sequence of sessions, this will get you started as you progress I have added two more phases to get you in the groove. I will give you a breakdown here but its up to you look into it a little further. Links for help will be at the end of the post.

PHASE I

  1. Corpse Pose – This is where you set the tone and start to unplug from the daily routine of your life. Lie down face up and relax. Breathe! Its not uncommon the first times to doze off sleep. Get a timer start with 60 seconds and build up to 5 minutes.
  2. Easy Pose – We are still setting the tone here and really begin to let the Yoga state of mind sink in to yourself. From here you will do neck and shoulder rotations.
  3. Sun Salutations – This is to warm you up and get ready for the session. Start with 3 rounds, 6, then finally 12 rounds. *** face East if you can ***

                 You can stop here and you are essentially warmed up for anything else you like to do in the Gym.

Phase II ( continuing from number three)

  1. Leg Raises – This is to stretch your hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. Do these 3 times.
  2. Wind Relief Pose – This will massage your stomach and spine.
  3. Cat Stretch – To help the upper back muscles and release tension there.
  4. Bridge – This will help the lower back muscles relax and release tension there also.
  5. Fish – This will help the neck and shoulders stretch out tension.
  6. Wheel – The wheel will elongate your and charge your whole nervous system very good to way you up.
  7. Forward bend – This will help your legs and back, also it will counter balance the wheel pose.
  8. Cobra – This is to strengthen the spine and tailbone area.
  9. Locust – This is a great pose to build and develop inner strength. Start with one leg raise then do both.
  10. Bow – This will counter stretch the Cora and Locust pose. Also another great stretch to build power in your arms.
  11. Spinal Twist – This will help your hips and lower back become supple.
  12. Stick – This will aid your posture by  straightening out your back.
  13. Toe Balance – This will help your feet and toes become strong.
  14. Hero Pose – This is to stretch your legs especially if you sit down all day or stand all day.

Phase III

I used to do this after my exercises as a “finisher” to lock in and strengthen my muscles. You can continue from number 14 or as a stand alone exercise.

  1. Mountain Pose – This is all about standing up straight, not hunched over. Just standing shoulders back chest up and spine erect. You will the difference in your posture and will build inner strength also.
  2. Over Head Mountain – Pose in Mountain with arms raised above your head. Great for your shoulders upper and lower back.
  3. ***God Pose*** This is a variation of mountain pose. What you do is stand with your legs a little more than shoulder width apart and arms out with palms facing down. Look straight ahead and breath slowly. You will feel a tug from all four limbs.
  4. Wide-Legged Forward Bend- Great for hips, hamstrings and your whole leg basically. This is one of those poses that takes time to master. be patient and reap the benefits of it.
  5. Warrior Pose I – Great whole body exercise will get your system fired up all over.
  6. Warrior Pose II – The focus here will be on your legs and lower back while keeping your arms straight.
  7. Warrior Pose III – This will help you learn balance and focus. Your ankles and feet will thank you for it.
  8. Triangle – Great side bend pose for your mid section and chest.
  9. Chair Pose – Another way to build strength from the inside.
  10. Corpse Pose – Still is to relax and reflect on your body and mind. This will slow everything down for the moment. Just lie back and breathe.

Well That’s it! I left pictures out for two reasons the first is so that you go and find the poses own your own. Second there are many variations and styles out there. You have to find the one that works for you and your body. I hope that you go out and try what I have shown you here. This could help you in other ways also. But remember! Know your limits and boundaries as with any form of exercise it can harm as well as heal. Its up to you to find that perfect balance as you do with anything else.

Everyone have a great holiday and a prosperous new year!

Some links you help you on your journey.

http://www.yogajournal.com/

Two awesome books that will teach the fundamentals of Yoga.

The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga

Swami Vishnu-devananda

Interlude: Dreams

Hey everyone! Its been awhile! I know, school and work are keeping me from doing this blog. I haven’t forgotten about you though! Wishing everyone a great holiday season and a positive new year in 2013!

So in the meantime while I finish up my Yoga blog I will leave you with a gem that I found on my phone from last year. This was written as I sat in Heathrow Airport in 2011 returning back to NY. I have left it untouched sans any grammar or punctuation corrections. Enjoy!

American_Dream

Dreams…
I am taking this time to reflect on my trip and a lot of other things. We as Americans take what we have for granted or lose sight of what we want. Well lets just say get distracted. As some of you know I went to London for vacation. This was a great trip and sort of inspired me to write this.
On my last night out I was talking to my friend Mac, I had said, “the dream is over.” he replied,” Well least you are going back to the land of dreams.” What he said made me think about other people who come to America like my grandmother and came to accomplish what they desired.
I here a lot of talk about “foreigners” coming over and taking jobs from Americans. Sometimes I want to yell in their ear and say that they came here the same way their forefathers/ancestors/grandparents did jackass! This makes me very annoyed because WE ALL have a fair shot to get what you want. But if you sit there and don’t do anything, while they are busting their ass to get that house and car who is to blame? That’s the question i leave to you…..

Welcome to Number 10!

Hey everyone! What’s good. Out there? Hope all you readers are doing as well as I am.

So here we are, post number 10! First off thanks for taking the time out to read and check out my side of the world. Also I hope you are learning and being entertained from all what i have been sharing.

I started this blog for many reasons. First as a way to keep my mind focused and keep an account of my life. Second, a lot of people have praised my writing skills . So why let my skill go to waste? Finally this is a great way to secure and promote my name on the World Wide Web.

As this being my 10th post. I figured I would share some of my top ten blogs and sites that I go to. Some are fun, interesting and even profound. Some of them have inspired me to blog in the first place. So here they are. Enjoy!

Once again thanks for reading and stay tuned for another ten posts!

1. http://societyofamateurgentlemen.wordpress.com/linkage-archive/

This is a cool place for men to get a lot of insight and tips for living in today’s modern world, some of the posts and blogs are raw, plus brutally honest. You have been warned.

2. http://www.psychologytoday.com/

Great site for figuring out all that stuff that goes on inside your head. Lots of stuff to learn in there!

3. http://io9.com/

This is where I get all my comic news and Sci-Fi stuff. A must for comic book nerds like myself.

4. http://www.blogilates.com/

Her energy alone will make you want to workout. But lots of fun exercises for women and guys too. Women always ask me fitness questions, so I usually steer them here.

5. http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/

This is a cool site that I enjoy reading. Her writing style is awesome and always gives me inspiration to write more.

6. http://thestrengthshop.blogspot.com/

Another site that motivates me to write, especially about fitness. If you are a true athlete then this is the place to get that boost we all need sometimes.

7. http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/postures.asp

Great place to brush up on your Yoga skills. The Animations are cool and show you how to hold each pose.

8. http://earthsky.org/tonight

If you like to star gaze and track the moon, this is the place to go. It will let you know what stars and phases of the moon are around daily.

9. http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/excercise.html

All the exercises you will ever need and some great lectures on nutrition.

10. https://www.facebook.com/

Yes Facebook! It gets a bad rep sometimes, but its only entertainment! Nothing more, nothing less.
There it is, some of my favorite places to go while I am on the World Wide Web. So join me in a toast for 10 posts and to 10 more into infinity!

Stay well!

Dean

Tools For Being Healthy & Fit

Hello everyone! What’s good out there? I hope everything is fantastic in your world.

Today is my favorite topic. Want to take a guess? That’s right Fitness! Especially the “tools” or items you can use for success in maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. Like a craftsman who uses his tools well; you can “craft” yourself the same way with the tools I am going to share.

NUTRITION:
In order to stay healthy and fit nutrition is the base from which it starts here are some tools to help you stay on track.

  • Food Pyramid Chart

Great way to see and make sure your eating the essential Foods to keep you healthy and fit.

  • Measuring Cup

Yes! A measuring cup great for tracking and controlling your serving sizes when you cook and prepare meals.

  • Blender

Can you say Smoothies? Blend,purée and liquify fruits, vegetables and grains. Mine is 5 years old and still going strong!

APPAREL:

I would suggest investing in some workout clothes. Something that will keep you cool and dry while your sweating when working out.

Also from a personal standpoint when you change and put on some fitness gear you are more likely to be motivated to workout,even on down days.

EQUIPMENT:

This is my favorite right here! So many things to choose and train with but I am gonna give you the basics and then you can go from there.

  • Mat

Even if your Gym provides mats bring your own. That way it’s clean and no one can interrupt your workout if they are short on them.

  • Jump Rope

Easy way to do some cardiovascular exercises if the treadmills are full. I am a advocate for it because it’s so much fun.

  • Interval Timer

Another fun tool to do some circuit training and mix up your fitness routine. There are many brands to choose from like the Gymboss and Everlast.

  • Gloves or Carpenters Chalk

Personally I don’t use gloves but they do help your grip especially  the work gloves with the rubber coating on them.  Carpenters Chalk is solid and less messy and gives you the same grip as regular chalk. Its better if you want to be a naturalist like myself.

These are a few of the tools that will keep you healthy and fit for your lifestyle. You don’t have to go broke and buy them all at once! Over the course of three years I acquired things here and there that makes me want to go and play with them. At the gym I am like a little kid in the playground having a blast. Also having your own equipment means not having to wait or rush that last set because someone else is waiting for what you are working with.

So stay fit, stay healthy and be good!

Dean

Dean’s Day Off

Once again it’s that time of year for Dean’s Day Off. What is Dean’s Day Off you might ask? Well it’s the first Friday in October that I celebrate my separation from the Army. It’s a day where I can do whatever I want to do (which is like any other day). But it’s still a major milestone in my life that I feel needs recognition.

The Army was one of the best things that happened to me. I regard it as one of the cornerstones in my life besides my family. As a person coming from a single parent household and not having much it was a good place to start a new life.

Me in 1999 at Fort Jackson, SC (South Carolina)

I went in the Army and stayed for seven years. I started my career there at Fort Drum as a generator mechanic. From there I went to Germany and eventually Iraq in 2003.

Camp Dogwood, Iraq 2003 (the Suck)

Going to war was a life changing experience for me. Not only did it take me out of the comfort zone of Garrison life; but showed that no one should go to war with the U.S. This country has the resources to do some major damage to any country. I seen this first hand, and it’s not pretty at all.

British Soldiers called us American Soldiers Mutant Ninja Turtles, I wonder why?

While I was in Germany I reenlisted to go back to Fort Drum. While in Iraq though I knew I had to move on to something better for myself. So I returned from Iraq and off to Fort Drum again. In 2005 I was off to Iraq for a year this time. By now the bases were built up and secure.

Iraq 2005, chilling this time around.

Thankfully I returned home and left the Army On the first Friday in October.
Becoming a civilian again isn’t as easy it sounds. Since basic training I was brainwashed resocialized by the Army. Not saying its a bad thing but it makes adjusting to normal life a bit difficult. But my family was there for me and helped me along the way. I was once asked what have I learned since I’ve been out. What have I learned? A lot!

First have a plan and stick to it. I seen friends and acquaintances doing the SAME thing when I returned home; no progress at all. I almost got sucked into it as well, luckily my ambition for self-improvement kept me away from drugs and hanging out.

That brings me to my second thing I learned. Drugs may good for you and a great way to unwind and socialize but it’s a black hole that gets deeper with every blunt, line, drink, etc. I was a weed smoker and all I learned is that it got one of my friends killed by association of it.

Third is seek out and you will find. If you come where I came from you know there is no golden goose. No free rides or handouts. I did the leg work and put in time go out and get what I wanted.

Another thing I want to add is don’t DEPEND on anyone when you can do it for yourself. Someone once said friendship is like good credit; the less you use it the better it is. Truest words ever said! I am not saying not to ask for help, but take the initiative and be independent. People have a tendency to take advantage of your compassion and kindness. To quote my homeboy Mo Blak, “Gotta get your own!”.

Finally is to follow your instincts if something seems wrong or not right then don’t force it. My first few months home I got a ton of job offers. My mother even recommended hat I go back to school. All I knew is that I wanted a job using the skills I got from the Army, local and with healthcare and other benefits. Nine months later I got this job I am working now. I fix Subway Trains for NYC. I could have rushed headlong into the first job offer I got. Even though going back to school would have been great but that would have just delayed me looking for a job now in this austere job market.

I am happy to say that I have come a long way from where I started. The path wasn’t easy at times but I stayed the course. I never got distracted and never let my time get wasted.

So to all my Veterans out there don’t rush the transition into civilian life. As a veteran you have an advantage to use the benefits that’s out there for us. Look around! ask questions there is resources for us to use. Email me if you have any questions! Just don’t end up on the couch high or drunk waiting for the golden goose.

Stay focused!
Dean