P90X:Phase 2–The “P” Now Stands For “Pain”

P90X: Phase 2

Here we are:  you in your computer chair, me in my ice bath. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the cool parts about the P90X routine is that it helps your avoid mental boredom and physical plateaus by employing varied workout routines.  On one hand, I do appreciate this approach.  After the first 30 days, I’ll admit…I was settling into a rut, and it was affecting not only my workouts, but my writing. 

I’ve often noticed that over the generations, the great writers always had an inner turmoil or pain—a psychological wound, if you will–that fueled their writing.  This has made me question whether they would have as great without that pain.  My guess is that they would not.  The same applies to my writing.  When I am in pain (albeit, from a workout ), I write better.  As the pain subsides, so does the inspiration.  Well, my friends, the pain is back and the inspiration is surging once more.  Thanks for that, Phase 2. (please read that last sentence with extreme sarcasm)**

**Side Note to Microsoft Word developers:  Please come up with an actual font for Sarcasm.  That shouldn’t  be so much to ask. After all, you gave us Wingdings—which are clearly nothing but nonsense.

The first new routine that I was able to enjoy was Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps.  In the last round, chest exercises were teamed with back exercises, so I figured this would just be the same exercises used in a different rotation.  I was wrong.  BAD wrong.  I knew from the very first exercise that I was in trouble.  Some things are cooler in slow motion. Push-ups are not one of those things.  I like to rely on momentum for my push-ups, and doing them in slow motion takes away this option.  For these, Tony makes you follow his pace for a four-count on the downward motion and a four-count on the upward motion.  I know Tony’s a smart guy…surely he can count to 4 without taking that…much… time…between each number to think about what comes next.  It’s brutal!  Immediately after that, he goes right into shoulder flies without stopping to consider the fact that the previous exercise has just stripped you of the ability to lift your arms—even when not laden with dumbbells.  It is this kind of abuse that qualifies as “muscle confusion”.  The confusion stems from the fact that we all have a self-preservation instinct and it’s clearly confused about the fact that you’re voluntarily contributing to your own demise.  But because of some warped sense of ego…or pride…or masochism, I completed the entire workout.  After I was finished, there wasn’t pain involved, so much as the inability to function.  I took that as a good sign.

“No Pain. No Pain.” That’s always been my motto.  At one point, I even petitioned John Cougar Mellencamp to change the lyrics in his song from “It Hurts So Good” to “It Hurts, So Stop!”.  He ignored my request.

So after Phase 2/Day 1, I moved to a day of Plyometrics, and that was the subject of yesterday’s post.  After this brief dalliance with the familiar, it was back to the unknown.  Phase 2/Day 3: Back & Biceps.

Due to time constraints, I will write more on the Back & Biceps workout later.  Because of the latent, debilitating soreness stemming from the Chest, Shoulders, & Tricep workout, it has taken me over 6 hours to write this post.  That’s what happens when you’re forced to type with your shins.

 

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Exercise Epiphany

Hey everyone,

Sorry for not writing in so long.  I know you’ve basically had to put your life on hold as you waited on my next post, so I hope you didn’t miss any important life events (i.e.—birthdays, anniversaries, promotions at work, births of your first children, etc.).   If you did, please let me know what you missed and I will do my best to research what happened and give you the Cliff Notes to your life.  In the meantime….P90X Phase 2.

Later today (or maybe tomorrow…or maybe next week…or maybe never), I’ll start giving you the lowdown on the newest exercises involved in Phase 2 of P90X.  The beauty of the program is that it focuses on “muscle confusion” by giving you completely new routines to master during the second phase, and after doing  the first new routine (Chest, Shoulders & Arms)yesterday, it’s clear that it works.  After an hour, my muscles were so confused that you would have thought I asked them to compare and contrast the spiritual significance of Maple Syrup and Fibonacci numbers.  But after the haze of confusion cleared, one thing was obvious: confusion equals pain.  More on this later.

 Today, as I enjoyed the emotional comfort of performing a familiar routine—Plyometrics—I was struck with a fitness analogy.  You see, I do not like Plyometrics.  Not even a little bit.  I like the results…but I dread the work itself.  So I asked myself, why I don’t just listen to Tony’s recommendation at the beginning of the DVD when he says, “There’s always Cardio X, for those of you that aren’t Plyo X –ready”.  Therein lies the genius of his plan.  I like Cardio even less than Plyo, so he knows there is no way I’m going to voluntarily choose Cardio X. 

Here’s the analogy that struck me this morning as I was doing Double Airborne Heisman’s:

 It’s like a high school dance.  Plyometrics is your date.  She’s not the most glamorous girl in the school, but she is by no means unattractive.  The problem is that you simply don’t like her.  There’s no animosity, but you’d just rather spend your time with other people.  After a couple dances, it’s clear to both of you that neither of you are enjoying the dance as much as you’d hoped, so she says to you, “Listen, we don’t have to do this.  I have this friend, her name is Cardio X, and I think she’d enjoy dancing with you.”  Here’s the problem: Cardio X IS a rude, socially backwards girl with really poor hygiene… AND she has a HUGE crush on you.  You’re a polite guy, so you don’t want to give her false hope and further fuel her obsession.  Because of this, there is NO WAY that you’re going to ask her to dance.  You’d rather just stick with Plyo and make the best of it.

That is my relationship with Plyometrics. 

 I don’t like her, but Cardio X is standing in the corner waving far too eagerly.  Since it’s best to avoid all eye contact with Cardio, Plyo remains my dance partner.  Like it or not.

Weekend Update: P90X-Style

Today’s post will be an exercise in efficiency—or laziness, depending on how you look at it.  I stayed current with my workout schedule over the weekend, but I cannot say the same for my blog posting schedule.  So rather than boring you with three separate posts, I will bore you three times as much with just one.  I know, I know…I’m all heart.

So here goes–

Saturday: Shoulders & Arms

Still slightly sore from the Chest & Back beatdown of two days ago, I decided to keep with my new “Full Routine or Bust” mantra. This one brought me close to “bust” than I expected.  Make no mistake, my arms got the workout they’d been dreading, but the crazy thing is that I really enjoyed putting them through the paces.  I’m not sure if this is cause for concern, but I think somehow all this physical exertion is making my brain work differently.  I think I felt a twinge of…dare I say it?  Motivation!  I KNOW!!  Freaked me out too! 

I did identify my favorite workout of the day though.  It was the “One-Arm-Full-Supination-Concentration Curls”.  It’s not the exercise itself that makes it my favorite–it’s the fact that it sounds like Jesse Jackson was responsible for naming it.  Just the way that “…supination concentration…” rolls off the tongue makes it sound like one of his sermons /speeches.  It was as if the curls were agents of oppression, and my biceps were the victims. (Cue inspirational background music)

The egregious pain and preposterous agony inflicted soooooooo long by these tyrants of torture has caused my biceps to RIIIIIIIISE UP and proclaim that though they are small…though they may be weak…they will not stand for this abomination, this desecration, this Sony Play-station, this ceaseless inundation. From this day forward they will lift longer, they will be stronger.

Thank you, Rev. Jackson! 

Sunday: Yoga X

So far, Yoga continues to be the most challenging workout of the entire series.  The ridiculous part of this challenge is that all the other routines require constant movement, and I’m doing just fine with those.  Yoga X is a different animal all together.  Much of it requires standing still, in ridiculous poses, and I wind up sweating more in one session of yoga than I do in all the other routines combined.  Today, it also introduced a new challenge—one that I’m certain the creators of P90X could never have accounted for.

As I unrolled my mat on the hardwood floor, this session began like any other.  I stood on the mat, performed my split-leg hamstring stretches and calmly moved on to the Ashtunga Sun Salutations.  I placed my hands on the ground, jumped my feet back, and held in Plank for a few moments.  This is when I sensed a disturbance in the force.  (Thought I’d throw in a Star Wars reference, since that is as foreign to me as most of the yoga moves).  Lowering myself slowly into the bottom of a push-up, I was overwhelmed with what would become the day’s chief struggle.  My dog had peed on my yoga mat.  Right where my face lowers on 90% of the moves.  Once this realization struck me, I found it impossible to clear my mind.  It is difficult to be “in the moment” when one would like to remove his dogs kidneys through her ears.  To mitigate the offending side of my mat, I spun it around—only to discover that since I had rolled the mat up before I knew of the stain, the scent was conveniently spaced at regular intervals over the entire length of the mat.  My little Cairn terrier had managed to claim my all 6 feet of rolled foam as her own, thanks to my oversight.

Toto was a Cairn terrier.  I can’t help but think that if Toto had peed on Dorothy’s yoga mat, The Wizard of Oz might have been a very different movie.  Mrs. Gulch wouldn’t have had the chance to take little Toto, because when Dorothy did her first vinyasa of the day, Toto wouldn’t have been in Kansas anymore.

Monday: Legs & Back

Today’s update can easily be summed up in three words.

Wall. Squats. Evil.

While the gang on the TV joins me in these squats, it does my heart good to see Dreya burn Tony with a look of disdain so intense that it’s only occurrence in nature was observed when an manipulative little dog peed on her unsuspecting owner’s yoga mat. 

Absolutely, unequivocally, positively preposterous!!

Plyometrics: Think Like A Cat

Plyometrics—Take Two!

Yep.  I said it.  And now I’m sorry.

Yesterday I said I was looking forward to my next Plyometrics workout.  As it turns out, my upper body was just bitter about having to work so hard.  It said things it didn’t mean. We all do from time to time.  It only hopes that my lower body will forgive it eventually.  After this morning’s plyo workout, it might be years before my upper & lower body speak to each other.

I’m finding that knowing what is coming in these workouts is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing because I don’t have to stand there and watch the first several reps to see how to do them, but it’s a curse because I don’t have the excuse of needing to stand there for a few reps to see how to do them. So now it’s up to me to just jump in and start destroying the very appendages I depend on for mobility. I still question my sanity.

At the start of every routine, Tony gives his “Tip of the Day”.  For Plyo, the tip of the day is “Think like a cat”.  Now I understand his reasoning—mainly because he explains himself right after giving this tip.  He wants us to focus on landing softly, like a cat.  I get the reference, but there’s just one hitch in this giddyup—I made a mistake and started thinking like MY cat.

My cat makes Garfield look motivated.  Content to merely take up space, he generally looks at any sort of physical activity as an affront.  I couldn’t figure out how this was going to help me, but hey—Tony is a professional.  Who am I to doubt him?  So for the rest of the routine, I thought about things like my cat would.  My internal dialogue took on an uppity British accent. ( It’s a little known fact, but contrary to what you see in the movies and cartoons, all male cats have internal voices that sound like Anthony Hopkins and all female cats sound like Julie Andrews.  Trust me, I used to work for a veterinarian.)

Tony:  “Welcome to Plyometrics—the MOTHER of all P90X workouts!”

Me: “My good man…my mother abandoned me when I was 6 weeks old.  I was re-homed to live with these humans.  If you’re telling me that this workout will leave me feeling scared and hollow inside, I do believe I’ll pass.”

Tony: “We’re all wearing heart rate monitors. I highly recommend one.”

Me: “Anthony, if my heart beats fast enough that monitoring it is prudent, then something has gone terribly amiss.  I will defer.”

Tony: (in reference to the upcoming exercise) “We’re going to do this for 30 seconds. You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds!”

Me: “Oh bugger. Ol’ Chap, if I blink more than twice in 30 seconds, I consider myself overworked. But you go right ahead. Spit, spot.”

I think you get the point.  Thinking like a cat did NOT help me one bit.  Actually, I started thinking like a dog, and made it through just fine.  Like my dog chasing a ball, if it gets thrown, it gets chased.  If Tony said there was another exercise to do, it got done.  I just did what he asked me to…with a stupid look on my face.  My legs are completely shot, but at least I did it.

So apparently his tip of the day wasn’t the best idea for me.  Like any workout program, you have to find what works for you and do it–even if it involves thinking like a dog.  Although I should point out, drinking from the toilet on your water break ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Round 2: Protective Gear Recommended

In breaking with tradition (two days in a row is tradition, right?), I did not work out in the morning yesterday.  I would like to claim that was intentional and that I CHOSE to work out in the evening in order to be able to “bring it” with more intensity—but the truth is that I overslept in the morning.  This seeming mistake led to a new and unexpected experience.

I spent all day actually looking forward to a workout.

Weird, I know.  But it happened. You see, I’m the guy that decided to be a goalkeeper on my high school soccer team because it involved the least amount of running.  That’s right—I’d rather take a knee to the head, get repeatedly kicked in the shins, and voluntarily throw my body in front of a solid object travelling at a ridiculously high rate of speed, just to avoid some additional running.  That’s why it was so strange to spend the day looking forward to the torture I was going to put my body through in the evening.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you this: for the first week, I decided only to do half-routines.  This was done so that I could still function in society the day after the workout.  It worked well.  I hurt, but I also didn’t require the services of a night nurse or a jazzy chair after the workouts.  So all in all, it was the right move for me.  However—this is the beginning of Week 2: Full routines—total commitment.  I’d given myself the call up.  This was the big leagues. 

Precariously perched on the precipice of pain provided by pushing and pulling, I pressed play.

The Chest & Back routine is divided into two rounds—12 exercises in each round.  The mantra of Round 1 is “pace yourself”.  Unfortunately, I paced myself like a kindergartener who ingested a Costco-sized sack of Fun Dip right before recess.  When it came time for Round 2, I was spent.  But I had made a commitment to myself, so I was going to finish one way or another.

Round 2’s mantra is “maximum reps”.  By the time I grabbed the pull-up bar, I was hoping that maybe in my exhaustion I misunderstood Tony and he had said “maximum good intentions”.  He didn’t.  At least the word maximum conveys that you’re supposed to do as many as you possibly can.  I definitely did that.  Sometimes 3 is the max.  I struggled through the entire round, but I made it to the end.  As fate would have it, the final exercise was Dive Bomber Push-Ups.  From what I understand, this is a popular exercise in the military.  That should tell you something.  The military also is fond of meals featuring powdered prime rib in a plastic bag, scrubbing urinals with toothbrushes, and drill sergeants that purvey unsavory rumors about your mother.  Luckily the Dive Bombers were the end of the workout, because they were the end of me as well.  I literally crashed on my face.  I’ll wear a helmet with a facemask for Round 2 from now on.

When I finally summoned the strength to lift myself off the floor, there was a me-shaped puddle on the hard wood.  At first, I thought it was sweat, but then I realized the truth.  My muscles were crying.  I would have consoled myself with a gentle pat on the back, but I think we all realize that wasn’t even remotely possible. 

Thank goodness Plyometrics is next—WAIT–did I just say that?!  Really?   I must have hit my head harder than I thought.

Welcome to the Dojo

Day 6: Kenpo X

Well, I made it.  This is the last day of the first week of P90X, and this is a fun one.  I get to do karate–or some form of movement that is loosely based on karate.  All I know is that one of the people in the video is an actual black belt instructor in Kenpo…so that makes it official as far as I’m concerned.  It makes me feel good that this guy who has dedicated the better part of his lifetime to learning the discipline and principles of this ancient form of self-defense is getting bossed around by Tony too.  It levels the playing field.

And that’s pretty much how it starts out: Tony yelling at the Sensei to get his knees up during warm-ups.  It makes me wonder whether Tony realizes that with one swift palm heel strike to the solar plexus his life could be over.  Maybe it’s good to be ignorant about some things.  Oh well, the Sensei lifts his knees higher, so I do too.

After warming up and stretching, we move right into the punches.  We work on jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.  I feel like I’m in the game Punchout, and I keep expecting to hear a computer generated voice screaming “BODY BLOW! BODY BLOW!”  There is no such voice…just the sound of Tony counting, and me breathing (technically, it was probably closer to panting, but you get the point).  I enjoy watching the “real” people in the video.  They know the routine, but they’re not quite as polished as Tony.  I think I can actually see the one lady’s mouth moving as she counts her jabs.  That’s the fitness equivalent to doing addition on your fingers.  I like her.  She can stay. 

The Sensei?  He is on another level.  While Tony makes the sequences look like well-choreographed kick-boxing moves, he is combining all the punches in such a lightning quick, smooth motion that I miss a pair of jab-cross combos because I’m hypnotized by his flying fists of death. 

After punches, we’re on to kicking, blocking, and eviscerating (at least that’s why I imagine in order to keep myself entertained).  I have to admit…Kenpo X is a lot of fun.  It’s pretty tiring, but it’s a good time.  There’s only one thing that bothers me. 

As much trouble as I have keeping up with the routine, I realize that if I, or my family, is ever accosted in real life, the assailant is in very little danger.  I can only hope that when he’ll be scared off when he sees how high I get my knees during the warm-up.

Let the games begin!

As promised, here is a brief rundown of the first 4 days of my latest P90X experience:

First of all, I should mention that “Tony” is Tony Horton—creator of the P90 series.  To save on word count, I will refer to him only as Tony from this point forward.  You will see his name mentioned in phrases like “When Tony says push-up…”, “Tony’s constant encouragement…”, or “I HATE YOU, TONY!”  Seriously though, this guy is pretty unbelievable.  He’s 50 years old, and he makes me look like a geriatric stoner when it comes to overall strength and energy level.  If I can get halfway as ripped as that dude, I will probably forgo wearing shirts in public for the rest of my life–except when attending church, of course.   Clearly, that would call for a freshly-pressed tank top.

So with that little bit of background information, let get started:

Day 1—Chest & Back:

Seems pretty simple.  It’s essentially push-ups and pull-ups.  Like gym class—with a hyper-intensity disorder.  The push-ups I can handle, just not at the level that the guys & gal in the video handle them.  They’re cranking out 30-40 with one leg raised in the air while whistling the 3rd verse of the National Anthem, and I’m still struggling with my 10th.  I know it’s a work in progress, but come on.  Have I let myself fall THIS far?  The answer is a definitive “YES”.   Then we move to pull up’s.

These are evil.  Wide grip. Close grip underhanded.  Overhand close grip.  Regardless of the chosen grip, the biggest problem is that it involves lugging my entire bodyweight skyward.  If you think about it, this is a pretty crappy deal for someone who is out of shape and overweight.  Sure, Tony is doing one-armed pull ups while making monkey faces at me…but that’s because he weighs a good 60lbs less than I do.  Technically, I’m lifting more than he is. (In your sculpted face, Tony. ) To avoid total failure on these, I place a foot on a chair to assist myself.  I still groan like I’m doing a real pull-up though.  At least I SOUND like I’m doing it right.

I finish my workout feeling like I’ve given my best effort.  I’m tired, but pleased.  I can only hope the latent pain that comes the day after a workout won’t be too bad.

Day 2—Plyometrics:

It is that bad.  The pain.  The inability to lift my arms for any reason.  If back muscles could speak, mine would sound as if they were scripted by Tarantino himself.  My. Goodness.  If the saying is true, and pain really IS weakness leaving the body, I have negative levels of weakness.  It’s a good thing that plyometrics focuses on the lower body.

Hah!

Focus isn’t the right word.  Picks on…humiliates…oppresses…tortures….any of these would be a better description for what this workout does to my legs.  Also known as “Jump Training”, this particular fitness gem requires me to launch my mass towards the ceiling repeatedly.   Tony keeps preaching that this routine will help me be better at just about any sport I choose.  If this keeps up, I may never choose a sport again.  If this is what it takes to get better, I’d rather suck. 

OK, ok…that’s just my inner-lazy person talking.  Truly, I know it’s beneficial, so I press on.  I move from something called a Run-Stance-Squat-Pickup to a beauty known as Airborne Heisman’s. Then it’s on to swing kicks and Mary Katherine’s (think “Superstar!!”).

I should have known that when the warm-up included walking lunges and deep-knee squats, the workout itself was going to be hellacious.  I know now.

After the workout, I do a little research.  It turns out the word “plyometric” comes from the Latin, metric meaning “to measure” and  plyo meaning “I hate you”.

 

Day 3: Shoulder & Arms:

This is the one I’ve been looking forward to.  As Tony says in the intro, this is the glamour routine.  Shoulders, biceps, and triceps…that’s what we’ll be working today.  We’re focusing on The Guns.  These are the muscles I’ve been showing off since I was 3 years old, so they’re the ones I’ve always worked when I would go to a gym.  I’m sure I’ll be familiar with the exercises, so I’m feeling confident. 

All in all, this workout went well.  The moves were fairly simple: shoulder presses, bicep curls, and tricep extensions.  To borrow a phrase from the musclehead community, I got a good pump from the workout.

I check this one off with a smile.

 

Day 4: Yoga X

I’m not smiling any more.  My triceps have staged a coup.  They refuse to work without causing searing pain.  From previous experience, I remember that yoga involves a lot of push-up style movements and a lot more holding very still in a posture that is not natural.  All of these involve the triceps.  Tony says “clear your mind”.  I’d rather sever my arms just below the shoulder.

Being the silent warrior that I am (for the duration of this workout), I press on.

This yoga thing is SO foreign to me.  I’ve played sports my entire life and done rather well, thank you.  I’d like to think I’m fairly coordinated.  These yoga poses seem indicate that I have the flexibility of ceramic tile and the balance of greased bowling ball on a steep incline.  It was not pretty.  My Upward Dog looked like a great dane that had just suffered a severe spinal injury.  My Sun Salutation actually made the sun ignore me like a hot chick in high school.  

One thing that did make me laugh is that during the routines, Tony will say “…now back to plank…push-up if you want to…now back to downward dog…”   That part about “if you want to” gets me.  It’s like he thinks there’s a chance I’m actually going to do more work that I’m required to do.  That Tony—so naive.

I was glad that I hadn’t signed up to take a yoga class in public.  The only eyes watching me were those of my golden retriever, and so help me, if he decides to show me his version of what a REAL downward dog looks like, I’ll throw a reverse warrior on him faster than you can say “Namaste”. 

Once I can feel my arms again, that is.

The “P” Stands for Punishment

In an effort to regain some semblance of physical fitness, I’ve started a round of P90X. I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve tried this before, haven’t you?” 

Why yes, yes I have.  Thank you for paying attention so closely.  “Tried” is the operative word. Having never finished a complete round, I thought I’d give it another go.

If you’ve followed my blog recently–I’m shocked.  Since there have been no new posts since the Haiti earthquake, there hasn’t really been much to follow.  So what exactly have you been doing?  Reading old posts?  Imagining new ones?  Muttering to yourself about the waste of valuable cyberspace?  Well, whatever it is that you’ve been following…thanks for sticking around.  Your patience has paid off.  I’m writing again.

I figured that one of the best ways to sustain my motivation for working out is to write about my experiences each day.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a commercial for P90X.  There will be no banner ads (unless WordPress puts them there).  There will be no offers to sign up in my Coaching Club for a small fee, so that I can encourage you in your own quest.  It’s just going to be my thoughts, observations, and ramblings as I puts my body through the rigors of a workout program designed to make grown men cry.  And possibly vomit.

I’ve already completed the first three days…so I’ll try to hit those highlights in my next post.  For now, I’m off to ice down my deltoids, triceps, lats, quads, calves, neurons, eyelids, and hair follicles.

Elvis Has Left the Building (Really!)

Much has been said about the decline of American society.elvis

Much will continue to be said, I’m sure.

Tonight, I simply add my two cents to the discussion.

This past weekend I witnessed what may be the single,most telling sign that America has lost its moral, ethical, and philosophical compass.

No, I didn’t see a child being refused the right to pray in school.

No, I didn’t see a Christmas display in a store that opted to spell it “Xmas”. (Well, yeah, I did…but that’s not the sign I’m speaking about)

The aforementioned harbinger of our country’s demise–subtle, yet undeniable–was encountered in one of the great bastions of Americana.

That’s right….I wept for my country in The Waffle House.  And the more I think about it, there is no question that the USA is scattered, covered, smothered, and chunked–UNLESS we reverse course, and we do it NOW!

What could possibly create this level of alarm?  The jukebox.  Yep, the good ol’ fashioned jukebox that is as much a fixture in these diners as line cooks named Shorty.  As is my tradition, when my family chooses to dine (term used loosely) at the Waffle House, I put a dollar in the jukebox and play 3 songs.  When I strode to the trusty, mechanical DJ on this crisp autumn morning, I first noticed that my old friend had been replaced by a younger, sexier model.  I quietly wondered if restaurants can go through mid-life crises.  Never one to judge, I decided to proceed with my selections.  Tradition required this of me.  I hit the left & right buttons and flipped through the CD selections.  Then…the watershed moment.  My trusty third selection was no longer a choice.

My first two selections were always a matter of whimsy.  They were dictated more by chance or current mood than anything else.  However, one hard and fast rule that I live by is: No trip to Waffle House is complete until Elvis sings “American Trilogy”.  Elvis was my closing act.  Save the best for last.  Well, this was no longer an option. (I’m tearing up even as I writer this).  I flipped again…and again…and again…refusing to believe what my eyes were trying to tell me.  I saw Toni Braxton.  I saw Tim McGraw.  Three Dog Night.  Johnny Cash.  The Backstreet Boys (I wish I were kidding about this one).  Garth Brooks.  Monster Rap Hits of the 90’s.  But no Elvis.

The King had left The Awful Waffle.

Defeated, I trudged back to my seat.  The grits were tasteless, the bacon anemic. My over-easy eggs were extra weepy.  How fitting.  Perhaps most telling was the fact that I only had one cup of coffee.  Yeah, you read that right.  One. Cup. Of. Coffee.

My wife, always able to read me like a book, asked what was wrong.  I tried to relay my discovery without my voice cracking like Peter Brady.  There would be no musical selections today.  Breakfast as we know it had changed–perhaps forever.

I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but this scares me.  What kind of country are we leaving for our children?  Sure, we might find a way to plug the hole in the ozone layer.  We might find a way to reduce, reuse, and recycle so much that we actually refreeze the polar ice caps.  We might even crack the code of William Shattner’s massive public appeal.  But without Elvis on the jukebox, the Waffle House is the new site of the Heartbreak Hotel.

If we don’t act now, the ripple effect of this egregious act may be felt for generations to come.  I call on you, my fellow Americans, to stand up and demand that they return the King.

God bless you, God bless America, and Thankyouverymuch.

 

 

Wisdom Found In Life’s Little Moments

From time to time life provides us with little moments that, if noticed, demonstrate the depths of God’s wisdom.   If we’re honest with ourselves, these moments happen more often than any of us realize.  From observing basic laws of nature to the contemplating the vastness of the universe….from conversations with a child to quiet moments of personal reflection…God’s forethought in designing everything around us is evident.

Last weekend, while on vacation, my wife & I were able to witness one of these moments.  We had the rare privilege to actually capture the moment on camera, and I thought that I would share it with you, my readers—my friends.

The lesson learned?

Sometimes God’s decision NOT to give us something actually frees us to focus on the more important things in life.

I hope the photograph is as uplifting to your spirit as it was to ours.

Tiki Pic