Alzheimer’s

My biggest fear in life is Alzheimer’s disease. It runs in my family. It took my Grandma away from us. My Dad is involved in an ongoing study and he worries about it (and I think he shows he has a gene that makes him getting it more likely). I obsess about it. Every time I forget someone’s name, or when I can’t remember what the halls of my high school looked like, I start to think I’m suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s.

Hey. It’s my obsession. Give me this one thing (because I rarely obsess over anything …yes, that sentence was meant to be read sarcastically).

Enter the book The Brain Fog Fix by Dr. Mike Dow. I’ve read many self-help books in my day. I rarely read fiction or biographies, but instead I read self-help and self-improvement books, and never has a book spoke to me more directly than this book. Only 2-hours into it, and it’s like I’m sitting with a counselor/dietician/friend who “gets me.”

My early takeaways . . .

  1. Fix what I eat
  2. Fix how I sleep and exercise
  3. Make it my lifestyle

Why do I like this book? Isn’t it stuff I already know? Well, yes and no. I tend to eat in ways that are geared towards athletes or people who need to lose a massive amount of weight and the diets tend to be gimmicky and unsustainable. And I’m not obese or overweight, so eating like someone trying to lose 3o, 40, or 50 pounds is a little silly. I’m not saying to obese people they shouldn’t try silly or gimmicky diets – do everything you need to do to lose weight. My quick thought on being overweight – once I read about being 20, 30, or 40 pounds overweight and the author said, “imagine when you woke up in the morning I handed you a 25 pound bag of sand and told you to carry it around all day.”  The point was, you’d hate it. By the end of the day, your back would hurt, your knees would hurt. You would feel tired. You would want to sit down and rest. You might find yourself out of breath when walking up a flight of stairs or playing in the yard with your kids.

You see where the lesson is, right? If a person is 20+ pounds overweight, this is how they’re living every day. Most weight gain is gradual and we don’t feel much different because the weight gain came a pound or two at  a time, over many months and years, but if you’ve looked at the height-weight chart, lately, you and I both know how many bags of sand you’re carrying and what that’s doing to you.

OK. So “weight” is another thing I obsess about. Two things, OK. That’s not a problem. I could quit obsessing at any time.

I’m not here to scold anyone about their weight, but I wish anyone overweight would help themselves lose a little – obesity is as bad for you as smoking or drug use. Just my strong opinion.

Back to the “brain fog.” I’ll admit. I’ve been in a bit of a “fog” and it’s partly because of some crazy diet and eating pattern I’ve been doing.

Dumb. Well, no more!

And the point of this blog isn’t about “whoa is me”, but the main point it this – if you feel like you’re struggling a little with brain fog, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems, well, I’m not a doctor, but it could be partially (and I do want to make sure you notice I used the word “partially” because I know it’s not a quick fix and one-size-fits-all solution), but it’s a part.

Eating right and exercising isn’t a revolutionary concept, but this book puts it all together and maybe, just maybe, if I was (or am) going to get Alzheimer’s, maybe I can take some steps to delay it (or avoid it all together).

Thanks for reading.

 

Pretty Excited About This Eurolux Stainless Steel Cool Touch Electric Kettle

Do you know how you know when you’re old? It’s when you order a quick-boil electric kettle on eBay and you want to high-five someone. Or, you know you’re old when you talk about the quality of a chair because you can sit in it for a long period of time and when you stand up, your back doesn’t hurt. Or, another sign you’re old is when you start driving about 2 m.p.h. under the speed limit because you’re really not in that much of a hurry, and driving conservatively saves gas and will prolong the lifespan of your engine.

Yup. I’m old. But I’m excited, especially about the 6 temperature settings.

  • 160°F- Delicate Teas
  • 175°F- Green Tea
  • 185°F- White Tea
  • 190°F- Oolong Tea
  • 200°F- French Press Coffee
  • 212°F- Black Tea

And it gets many, many 5-star Amazon reviews.

I also ordered socks for the legs of my chairs to protect my new hardwood floors. Oh, yes. I party on Monday night’s like a mutha!

Keep checking back to my blog as I will be building shelves for my laundry room to custom fit into an odd shaped area. It will either be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done, or it will make me look like the guy in A Beautiful Mind and while my brain tells me I’m brilliant and saving the world, my wife will be asking me to sit and talk with a counselor.

It ain’t like I’m bragging, but I will have a badass (and organized) laundry room.

Just in case I forget to blog about every last detail, follow me at the following places.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/donkowalewski
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Building 2017 Around Magic #44

44-image2My Dad was born in 1944. I was born on 7/11/73 and if you write that as (7-11) and (7-3) you get -4 and 4 and, well, that’s two 4s in a row.

I want to weigh 144 pounds by the end of the year (or sooner). I want to exercise for 44-minutes a day. I want to write for 44-minutes a day. I want to listen to (or read) something motivating for 44-minutes a day. I want to make 44 new business calls each month (11 per week) and make my cold-calls at 8:44 a.m. for 44-minutes every day. I should dedicate 44-minutes a day to a hobby or passion project. I’ll set my alarm for 4:44 a.m. I’ll turn off all TVs and glowing devices by 9:44 p.m. each night and spent 44-minutes getting ready for bed, journaling, or meditating until that 44-minutes is up. I’ll work up to 44 push-ups a day. I want to increase my billing at work by 44%. I want to grow my income by 44%. If I can fit it into my schedule, I’ll take 44-minutes to have lunch each day. I want to follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and turn my work and my life into quality social media and focus on 44 pieces of social media content each day. (1 Blog, 8 Tweets, 6 Retweets, 2 Personal Facebook Posts, 2 Posts to Kaleidoscopic Raygun’s Facebook Page, 1 YouTube Vid, 2 Instagram Post, 8 Snaps, 3 LinkedIns, and then some other stuff to get to 44).  This social content should be relevant to my passions and my livelihood (but I’ll still post about coffee and some random stuff …I’m only human and I’m still Don). OK. 44 social posts might be a bit much, but if I count Comments, I can do it.

I should build a new Blog and call it “The 44th Parallel.”

I do well when I’m obsessing about something. We all do. Obsessing about a deadline. A project. A goal. What if the obsession became your magic number and you built your year around it?

I don’t care your magic number …just pick one and apply it to some categories.

Why 44?

I turn 44 years old this year. That means I’ve reached the high end of the Adult 18-44 demo. I’m still solidly in the Adult 18-demo, which is considered younger skewing, and I need to take advantage of this youth (as defined by media companies). Because in 2018, I jump into the Adult 45+ demo and by then, I don’t matter to anyone (and everyone will know I got a tattoo because I’m desperately trying to show I still belong among the Adults 18-49, but we all know a 45-year-old has very little in common with an 18-year-old or 24-year old …crap).

Let’s get started and, oh, my next blog is going to be about #WhatsYourStory.

A Shave at a Barber Shop Changed My Life

I grew a beard for No-Shave November. 31199767612_04158c1b23_bMe and my friends at work raised some money. I learned, at age 43, my beard grows and looks more like a beard than my last attempt in my late 20s.

I also learned I hate having a beard. At no point was I ever not aware of hair on my face. I felt like I had always just-walked-through a cob web. It was . . . just . . . . there. I don’t know how bearded men do it.

I couldn’t wait for December and to shave it. Having never been a hairy guy, I’d never gotten a shave at a barber shop. Plus, long gone are the days where a shave and a haircut cost two bits. Nowadays, looking at the chalkboard of prices at my local barber shop, a shave is $36. A shave at a barber shop has become the equivalent of a facial or pedicure …something you do for a special occasion.

My barber shop is The Barber Pole in Birmingham and this past Saturday I treated myself to a shave and a haircut and as the title of this post proclaims – it was life changing. I expected them to lather on some hot shave cream, break out the straight razor, and shave me. But ooooooooh no. It’s much more than that. It’s a hot towel. It’s hot shaving cream for starters, then that’s wiped away. Then another hot towel, followed by this pine and woodsy scented oil massaged into my face and another hot towel. Then more hot shave cream and then the straight razor and the most careful, accurate, and exact shaving I’ve ever seen. It made me realize my daily shaving routine is a violent attack on my face. It’s no wonder I always have irritated skin and acne breakouts. I assault myself almost daily.

The shave is followed by more hot towels. Then some cold cream, a cold towel, and finally after shave balm.

This was a man’s facial. I felt like a new man. I might make this an annual tradition. One thing I know for sure …I’m going to treat my face better.

Every man should do this at least once in his life.

Life. Changing.

Selfish with the Weekends? Am I Selfish?

I have more work to do at work than I have hours in the week. And not your typical, lazy 8 1/2 hours days. I’m talking 10-hour days. And I still can’t get everything done. On Monday, and all week, I’m going to journal every minute at work and see where I’m going wrong and where my distractions are, and I’ll try and figure out where my time is going and what I can automate, delegate, or skip entirely.

But back to the point of this Blog entry. When I get to my weekends, if you ask me on Friday at 5:40 when I’m leaving work, I’ll tell you, I’m going to get up early on Saturday and Sunday …early. Like, 6:00 a.m., and I’m going to dominate the 3-hours of peace and quiet until my family wakes up and starts their day. That’s like a 6-hour day.

Guess what? I don’t. I sleep until 7:00. I get up and take the dog on a half-hour walk. I come home and make a fabulous cuppa joe. I make a healthy breakfast. I hop on my iPad and read things and look at things. Before I know it, it’s 9:00 a.m. and I start contemplating going to the library for a few uninterrupted hours and really crank out some work (write some scripts, update some pending, put together some proposals).

Guess what? I don’t.

Instead, selfishly, I spend some time with my kids, make them breakfast, sometimes watch English Premier League, and tackle some chores. Sometimes, like yesterday, I head to the hardware store, my son and I both get haircuts, and we walk around the pet store researching dog harnesses because I don’t like the two we have. Then I make lunches. Then I clean up my firepit a bit because we plan to have s’mores later on.

gary_vaynerchuk_300dpiWhoa. It’s mid-afternoon. I’m relaxed. I’m enjoying living. And I start to feel guilty and lazy and like I’ll never “get ahead” because I just don’t have what it takes. I’m a big fan and devotee of Gary Vaynerchuck and his thing is “hustle” and he’s one step shy of being the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” type mentality and it makes me think – maybe I’m not that type of guy.

Is that OK? Is that selfish of me to want to enjoy my time and my family and my house? Is it selfish to rake my own leaves and mow my own lawn and wash my own car to (a) save some money and (b) because it all needs to get done and what’s the point of paying someone else to do it?

Gary Vaynerchuk definitely doesn’t clean his own house, wash his car, or mow his lawn.

What’s the point of all of this (for anyone who read this far)? The election. That happened and everyone was angry and yelling and people are still protesting. You’d think the way we voted for a billionaire who said he’s rebuild our economy, cut taxes, and make us safe …well, you’d think every single person in American could be a millionaire if only it weren’t for the oppressive Clinton and Obama polices. Everyone!

But guess what? We’re alllllll lazy and selfish. The vast majority of us aren’t the types who will work 12 hours on the weekend and 60 hours Monday through Friday, and delegate and farm out all our chores and tasks because most of us …and when I say “most”, I’ll bet I’m talking about 90% of everyone in the U.S. . . . most of us just wanna work a little and enjoy alotta of our life. We want to coach our kid’s soccer teams. We want to have people over for BBQs and cocktails. We want to take a walk. We want to see some sports and go to the movies, do a little shopping, take a nap, and read a book. We want to have a hobby. We want to throw a ball around with our son.

I want to clean out my gutters.

So, back to my question. Am I selfish? Or am I normal?

Sleep is Important

Wanna know who my nemesis is? My ultimate rival? It’s Night-Time-Don. That guy is completely out to sabotage Morning-Don and Daytime-Don.

Let me tell you about Night-Time-Don. He eats like shit. He loves cookies, chips, beer, ice cream, and Halloween candy. And not just a little bit. Sometimes all of the above. Calories on top of calories, and sometimes more than one alcoholic drink and Night-Time-Don makes it impossible for Morning-Don to wake early and get the day started on the right foot.

Night-Time-Don is also like a spoiled child and refuses to go to bed. Not because he’s doing anything productive or is engrossed in a work project or an amazing book. Nope. Night-Time-Don stays up to watch mindless TV. To check Facebook. To watch sports. Games, in fact, that don’t even involve a team he roots for.

Night-Time-Don knows that Morning-Don and Daytime-Don need sleep to function at their peak performance levels. Morning-Don likes to wake up, drink some water. Put the dog on a leash. And then take a 1/2 hour power-walk. It’s good exercise for the dog and for Morning-Don and gets his juices flowing. He listens to a Podcast or, more often than that, he’ll meditate over the Rosary while walking. But when Night-Time-Don doesn’t head to bed until midnight(ish), well, Morning-Don can’t drag himself out of bed at 5 a.m. . . . nor 5:30 a.m. . . . and not even 6 a.m. Morning-Don, instead, hits the snooze and starts stressing about the day and cursing Nighttime-Don.

And don’t even get me started talking about Daytime-Don and how that guy curses the choices that Night-Time-Don makes and how disappointed he is in Morning-Don.

Daytime-Don, too often, finds himself tired, unfocused, and unable to cope with the tasks and demands of the day. Daytime-Don simply doesn’t function well on less than 7 hours of sleep. Well, you ask, why doesn’t Daytime-Don and Morning-Don agree to sleep-in until 6:30 or 7:00 a.m.  Ahem. Don (all versions) has kids and a morning routine. Morning-Don needs to shower and be ready for the day by 6:55 a.m. when he wakes his kids and starts their 6:55 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. morning sprint out the door. That’s non-negotiable. OK. Yes. Morning-Don could set his alarm for 6:45, spring out of bed, handle the morning routine of his kids, and then at 7:40 when they leave (along with his wife), take a walk, shower, and then head to work, but that’s not realistic either. His work-day starts at 8:30 a.m. Morning-Don’s commute is 25-minutes. So that means if Don waits until 7:40 to get ready, he only has 25-minutes to shower and leave his house by 8:05 a.m.

Working backwards. Let’s say Night-Time-Don could live with an 11 o’clock bedtime. In order to get 7 hours of sleep, he would need to sleep straight through to 6:00 a.m. So, yes, that’s an option and will be taken under consideration. But understand this. Morning-Don, not by choice, has a bad habit of waking up at 5 a.m. anyway. He’s not sure why this is. It just is.

The point is this: when Nighttime-Don isn’t so dang selfish and heads to bed at 9:45 and spends some time reading or listening to a Podcast, and gets to sleep by 10:15 or 10:30, and then wakes up at 5:00 a.m., it has a profound impact on Morning-Don and Daytime-Don.

Wow. What a long blog entry. Nobody read it, I’m sure of that. But if they did, they know all I’m doing is beating myself up about the fact I stay up too late and then fail myself by neglecting my morning routine and lacking energy and focus throughout the day. Everything suffers when Don (all versions) neglect sleep, which is really neglecting his brain.

“Early to bed. Early to rise. Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  -Ben Franklin

How come nobody lives by that, anymore? You can’t Google search “morning routines” or “power of sleep” without reading about the benefits. Damn you, Night-Time-Don.

benajmin-franklin-early-to-bed-early-to-rise

Focus. Focus. Focus. Organize. Organize. Organize.

Do you, like me, often feel like you bite off more than you can chew? How does a normal person manage it all?

I think it’s about focus and organization. It’s about being honest about how many hours exist in a day and in a week, and using them to your full advantage.

For example. Here I am at work at 8:03 a.m. and I’m firing off a quick blog entry. Should I have done this at home? Well, at home, I got up at 5:40 a.m., was out walking (with the dog) at 5:45 a.m. saying the Rosary until 6:10 a.m. Then it was a quick cuppa coffee, a shower, and then some morning chores (empty dishwasher, make breakfast for the kids, wake the kids, make my own breakfast, make my bed and pick-up my side of my bedroom, floss, and brush teeth).

I want to write my own book. I want to ghost-write another book. I wish I still had time to write for spunkybean. I want to chillax with my kids in the evenings and help them with homework. I like coaching their soccer teams. My billing at work isn’t where I would like it. I should be working 10- and 12-hour days to make up for that. I want, and need, 7 hours of sleep each night and would do better with 8-hours. I worry about EVERYTHING and, then, I wake up at 4:00 a.m. in a near panic.

It starts with focus.