My Headphone Obsession

The start of my headphone obsession stems from the fact I hate the standard issue iPhone earbuds. I love all things Apple, but hate the earbuds. They’re hard plastic, hurt my ears, the sound quality sucks, and using them makes me a conformist and just like everyone else.

But I love being able to answer the phone by the inline remote control, hang-up a phone call, and control audio volume.

Luckily, a man can spend hours on-line researching and looking for the better alternatives. And when I was exercising, I found the Adidas-Sennheisers OCX 685i pair, and loved them – even though the over-the-ear design, and blue color, made them a big obnoxious looking.

Then I slammed them in the car door, and they were toast.

I became obsessed with sound quality, and it led me to the Sennheiser MM 70i which I have to say made me happy every time I listened to music – brilliant sound quality, comfortable in-ear silicone buds, and an in-line microphone that pointed up at my mouth versus out or toward my chest. I should mention something else – I really don’t like holding an iPhone to my ear. My arm and hands get tired (actually my right hand falls asleep quite easily from years of video gaming and repetitive movement). Anyway, the microphone design, in my opinion, was superior and I felt I had found the last set of ear bud headphones I would ever need …and then I lost them. I don’t know how, or where, but they’re gone.

Now what? Along with my 7 pairs of Bedphones, I have burned through 9 pairs of ear buds and I’m starting to think I don’t deserve nice things. So today I bought a $6 pair of Sentra ear buds with a microphone from T.J. Maxx and that will be good for talking on the phone, and I have another pair of Sennheisers ear buds without a micrphone or in-line controls, and I’ll need to think twice before shelling out another $50 or more.

This is the type of the thing that will haunt me.

So Much Goin’ On, It’s a Joy

So much goin’ on, I don’t know where to begin. So let’s just cover two things.

First, I might’ve made a poor decision when I recently bought a pair of jeans. They’re Levi’s. Good. They’re a 30-inch waist. That’s freegin’ awesome. Yes. I’m bragging about my recent weight loss. They’re light blue. Some people (I’ll call them “my daughter” and “my wife”) think they are lady-jeans. While some other people (I’ll call them Donnie Wahlberg, Billy Squier, and Tiffany) think they’re totally retro and cool. You be the judge. Vote below.

Second, in the last place you’d expect to be inspired (sarcasm), I really got inspired. At Church this past weekend, the Priest gave a rather long Homily. He’s usually pretty funny, but this time he was very serious. His Homily went on and on and he finally brought it around to a story about Mother Teresa and never being able to match her level of compassion, mercy, and giving. All true. But what struck me was how he challenged us that we could also never match her level of joy. He talked about how she didn’t simply do all her acts of charity out of duty and obligation and she didn’t do it while wallowing in pity and despair. No. She did amazing things with a smile on her face and with joy in her heart and that is truly the divinity behind her life’s work. He talked about how it was impossible to ignore her joy, energy, and charisma.

Then the Priest made us laugh, which is his way, until eventually he got super serious again by pointing out that, no, unless you and I give away all our worldly possessions and spend the rest of our lives feeding the poor and caring for the sick, no, we can never match her level of charity. But, we can match her joy.

In whatever we do, we should be joyful, and it will be impossible for others to ignore and impossible for them not to admire us and be inspired by us.

This smacked me in the face. This reminded me of a wonderful person I work with who does, indeed, seem to go through her life full of joy, and last week, I was rude to her. Then I had a less-than-comfortable conversation with a client. Why? That shouldn’t happen because I admire this particular client and am incredibly impressed with how much success he’s had so quickly. When I talk with him, he should know that I want some of that success and brilliance to rub off on me. When my joyful co-worker stops by my cube to give me a high-give or throw a wadded up ball of paper at me . . . I should soak it in and return the favor. I mean, I make time for the people who stop at my cube and wanna gossip and complain . . . why couldn’t I make time for a little silliness, kindness, and a random high-five?

Shame. On. Me. Shame for being rude and not welcoming and matching her joy. And more than that, shame on me for not living with joy. I’m healthy. I have food and shelter and a house full of people who love me. Why shouldn’t I be joyful in everything I do?

It’s probably more than 50% of the reason I like Chazzano Coffee. The coffee is great and always freshly roasted. But the owner is joyful about what he does and it’s contagious and probably makes the coffee taste better.

If I can make one change over the next 40 days (which I’m calling Lent Part 2), it’s bringing joy back into my day.

OK. Back to my jeans. What do you think?

Masculine or not?

Lung Update, or I Might Be a Hypochondriac

It’s been four years since I saw my Pulmonologist and I’ve had some ups and downs with my lungs and my coughing. I remember his words four years ago when he said, “you’ll always have this and it could get worse, but it probably won’t.” He told me to get a pneumonia shot every four years, to make sure I get a flu shot every year, and whenever I catch a cold, call him and he would call in a prescription for antibiotics.

“What about the wheezing,” I asked? He said it will happen, and will be worse in the evening. He was right.

“What about the coughing up blood,” I asked. He said that, too, will happen and as long as it’s not more than a teaspoon at a time and subsides in twelve hours, then it’s nothing to worry about. He was right, except every time it happens I can’t help but worry a little.

“What about the exercise and the 5Ks and the triathlons,” I asked. He said, hey, that’s probably not a great idea but we’re not trying to get you into that extreme shape, but try some moderate swimming and fast-walking. If you swim or walk briskly for a half-hour a day, you’ll be in the top 10% of fit and in-shape people in the U.S. and healthy. And, he said, walking is a non-impact exercise and is actually much better for you knees and back and all that. I’m sure he’s right. But it sure makes me feel like I should be busting out an A.A.R.P. card and walking around the local mall.

So today he listened to my lungs, made me do some breathing into a tube, measured my oxygen levels, listened to my chest and back, ran some tests that might prove or disprove I’m asthmatic, and did a chest X-ray. He listened to my stories and theories and symptoms and worries and said, “I think you’re fine.”

He ruled out asthma. He ruled out the night time coughing is from the bronchiectasis. He thinks it might be a post-nasal drop. He wants me to breathe into a meter three times daily and measure the strength of my breath and oxygen levels but he suspects they’ll be like it was today – perfect. He thinks my chest-pains is just from coughing and sleeping on my side – and is not my heart. Oh, yeah …he tested my heart. He wants me to take a mild Allegra at bedtime and really thinks that’s going to make a world of difference.

So, that’s it. That’s the update for those of you who were wondering, hey, what’s up with Don’s lungs. Once again I’m being told not to worry, everything looks and sounds good, and that wheezing and coughing? Try some Allegra.

I kinda hope this is one of the last times I’ll ever have to Blog about my lungs. But stay tuned. I go back in 2 months to assess the Allegra experiment.


A Man of Principle (I am Not)

Remember how I was all like, “I want black running shoes,” and made a big deal about it?

Let’s just say one man’s black shoe is another man’s grey-black-and-neon and blue-orange.

Both pairs were on clearance at DSW and the New Balance 850s will be for long walks and the Pumas might be the sleeper shoe of 2015. Light weight, like a Skecher GoWalk and crazy comfortable.

Black shoes are soooo last week.

My daughter tried to ruin my happiness because when she saw them she said, “no offense, but they look like ‘old man’ shoes,” and I told her to shut up, slammed my door, and cried. Not really. I kinda like that my 12-year-old has the confidence to rip on me, her Dad. I give her those little wins. For confidence. Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like that’s a good thing.

Thought you’d all want updates on the shoes and a quick bit of parenting advice …fathers …let your daughters “win” some times.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the new fishing boat.

Follow me @donkowalewski.


Remember when I wrote that “I Won Christmas?” I made such a bodacious claim because I asked for a buncha utility items for Christmas and it wasn’t really a vanity play. What are “utility items?” Because I’m an old man, it means I’ve started to ask for things I “need” versus “want.” And it feels good.

I got a dog last year. When it’s rainy or a little snow outside, I won’t want to walk in heavy boots for long distances. And tennis shoes get wet. Enter the BOGS Urban Walker. Utility.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things I own – the Bedphones.

I bought them to listen to music while sleeping or trying to get to sleep, and they’re popular for that because they are thin and lay on the outside of the ear so as not to jam deep into your ear canal. But, I like them better than all my ear-buds (because they’re comfortable and the bendy-wire design makes them bend exactly as you need them to fit around your ear). They serve their purpose, but …what I missed is that they have a microphone, too, so I can use them while walking or driving and talking on the phone, and the sound quality is terrific – so I wear them almost exclusively. An earbud won’t ever be used again if I can help it. And I’m not longing for over the ear Beats by Dre or Bose noise cancelling headphones.

If I still traveled, these would be my music-listening earphones, my talking-on-the-phone head-set, and my “I can’t sleep in hotel rooms” sleep remedy. Heck, I’d chat up people at the airport or on the plane just to talk about my Bedphones.

What is the point of this blog entry? Maybe so the Bedphones people will send me a free pair? Or because I just love them that much? Mashable’s review says, “you’ll probably forget you’re wearing them.” That’s spot on. I get up at 5 a.m. and start breakfast and listen to podcasts and I literally forget they’re on my ears.

My life is better for having Bedphones. And because I have a blog, when my life improves …guess what. I write about it and you get to read about it.

If you travel alot. Get Bedphones. If you like to or need to listen to music or any sort of audio in bed. Get Bedphones. If you frequently work remotely and join conference calls and sometimes need to talk. Get Bedphones.

I’ll fight any man who says they have something better.

When your Christmas, Father’s Day, and birthday wish-list are designed around the concept of making your life better, and your well-researched items actually perform as (or better than) advertised, it’s worth blogging about and sharing.

Yes. I like these better than my BOGS, I think.

Follow me at @donkowalewski.

Things I (Will) Have: Two Resumes

I have this idea that I should have two resumes. One for the life I have and have lived for 20 years, and one for the life I want.

And it’s not as if my better resume has me living the life I imagine Justin Timberlake has. No, my better resume says I’m a sought after speaker, published author, and social media thought leader. I’m not trying to be Tony Robbins, Stephen King, or Seth Godin (trust me, those are leaders in each of the fields I hope to excel in). I’m trying to be me. I’m trying to let my true, joyful self out of his box.

My non-work resume, don’t get me wrong, is pretty awesome. Three kids. Two cars and a house. A great wife of 16 years. I just need to add to it “goes to bed happy” and “wakes up a conqueror.”

Have you looked at your résumé lately? Ready to update it? Better yet, ready to invent a new one?

Ever wonder what I’m doing on some random Saturday morning? @donkowalewki is where you’ll find the answer.


Things I Have: Bronchiectisis

It flared up again last night, which makes that the third time this summer. Logically, I’ll simply make a note of it, log it in my journal, and rest easy knowing that when I calmed my breathing, sat very still, and relaxed, it passed. I coughed and wheezed for about two hours. Laid on my side, then the other side, then my chest, and slowly started taking bigger and bigger breaths.

Bronchiectisis is, for those reading about it for the first time, a lung disease that most often happens as the result of a lung trauma. For me, that was a really bad bacterial infection and then a burst blood vessel (these things might’ve been related, might not have been, tough to tell). Bronchiectisis is a little different for everyone who has it. Some people cough up phlegm every day …and lots of it. For me, it’s when the air changes or allergens are high. I almost should’ve expected it …the weather got hot and humid, I’ve been doing lots and lots of talking at work (“talking” seems to effect it), and then I went to a Detroit Tigers game and cheered and screamed. All day I go into the A/C and then out into the humidity and heat, and back into the A/C.

The bad news is, it keeps happening. The good news is, it passes.

Now I’ll start to examine what I ate, how much I ate, and see if there was anything, besides the quality of the air I breathe, that might’ve made this happen.

It’s a glorious adventure and scientific study I’m conducting daily on myself.

I know this blog post isn’t exciting to everyone, but I have a few fellow Bronchiectisis friends who read and we bounce ideas off each other. Like so many things in life, it’s more fun and easier to beat something, or accomplish something, when you have support. Simply to get some encouragement from someone goes a looooong way. People join running clubs, because they all benefit by pushing each other. People sign-up for, and pay for, 5K, 10Ks, Marathons, and Triathlons. Why? Because doing something alone isn’t as fun. I mean, I don’t know if you realize this, but you can run a 10K any time you want. For free.

But that’s not what human beings are built for. We train alone, but we celebrate with others.

Am I “celebrating” my bloody lung? Not exactly, but I’m bolstered and encouraged when a few fellow lung warriors come around the blog and say, “me too” and “it’s normal” and “hang in there.”

Who have you encouraged, today?

I don’t Tweet about all my bodily functions, but definitely my lungs. So, if you want to follow along, I’m @donkowalewski.