Pain: Tolerance and Acceptance

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Back in a previous life, I used to coach marathon runners. This was done through a charity organization raising funds for first blood cancer research and then pediatric cancer research. My wife and I spent a couple of years mentoring and training new runners on pushing their bodies to the limit over the course of 13.1 or 26.2 miles.

One of the runners I coached told me that they had a high tolerance for pain, therefore they may be prone to pushing too far and over extending themselves. This runner had convinced themselves that their pain tolerance was such that they wouldn’t know they were hurt until it was too late.

On the surface, this makes sense. I can withstand a lot of pain, therefore I wouldn’t know I was breaking my leg until it was actually broken. However, there is a bit of fallacy in this argument. Just because you can tolerate pain does not mean that you do not nor can not recognize pain.

While you are running, you may be able to tolerate the tightness in your calves or the jabbing in your shins, but does that mean you should ignore it. The answer, simply, is no. There is a tolerance level and also an acceptance level. The two levels should not be mistaken for each other.

So, let’s talk about acceptance now. It wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me that the way human beings face pain can be summed up into two different camps. This became apparent when I took my four year old daughter to the doctor for her wellness exam and she had to get shots.

She did not want shots (who does??) and was adamant against them. However, when the time came and the nurse inserted the first syringe, she definitely cried out, but no tears. The second syringe came and went and before she knew it, she was done. A total of maybe 6 seconds had passed. When we told her it was done, she was over it. No more whining, no tears at all.

On the other hand, when I took my eight year old son to get his flu shot last year, he screamed bloody murder BEFORE the shot even got near him. And after the shot, he probably cried for a good 5 minutes.

Now, this isn’t a knock on my son, nor stating that my daughter is super tough (though she is). What I realized is that they face pain in two distinctly different ways.

My son fears not only the initial pain, but also that that pain may never ever stop. Then afterward, he still feels the memory of the pain almost as if it were still happening. Whereas my daughter fears the initial pain, but then she realizes that the pain DOES go away and moves on.

I have been told that this is the way people who suffer from migraines feel. I’ve had two in my lifetime and I can tell you that in the moment, it feels like the pain is NEVER going to stop. So, while you sit/lay there trying to get better, there’s the nagging thought that persists that you could spend the rest of your life in this pain and misery.

I’ve talked to my son about this and he confirmed my thoughts. He says that he is afraid that once he gets hurt, he will never feel unhurt again. I can imagine that this can be translated into multiple avenues of fear….and not just pain.

Do we stop ourselves from living life to the fullest because we are afraid that something might come along and completely halt our enjoyment forever, when in reality it might just pause momentarily? Do we not move forward with the fear of just being pushed back? Or can we realize that any pain, setback, bad news, negative impact, or sadness will eventually fade?

I find that I will be having conversations like this with my son and probably my daughter too. It’s time to make sure we don’t let our fear control our happiness. We only get a finite number of minutes in this life….why waste them on fear? Spend them on happiness.

Choose Happiness.



In what may be the fourth or fifth reboot of this blog, we are going to talk about transitions! Every stage of life has them, going from our 20’s to our 30’s, going from being single to being married, no kids to more kids… get the idea.

When I first started this blog, it was a foray into eventual public speaking, career changes, book writing and more. Well, funny thing is, none of those things are come to pass. I still hope to eventually write a book. However, I think public speaking on its own is probably not in the cards for me.

However, this does not make me sad or disappointing. As we grow, we must learn and adapt. Realistically, being a public speaker would put a strain on my home life because with that is usually quite a bit of travel. That being said, I have found a new way of progressing.

Being in my current field of IT for almost 20 years now, I have learned a fair amount of things. I have made my share of mistakes and have had both awesome and scary scenarios pop up. All of these experiences have now led me into a leadership role in technology. More and more, I am asked to talk with and mentor younger, less experienced technologists in how best to learn and grow.

This has been a great experience for me as well and I will be starting to formalize these thoughts and perspectives in an official blog called If you have the interest, take a look. I will still be contributing to this blog, but I will do more of a business/leadership focus in that blog.

The point is….we must all transition. Sometimes these are forced upon us, sometimes they are by choice. Either way, it is how we deal with it that makes that be difference. Do we crumble with the change or do we embrace it and make the best of the situation? The answer to that is the key to our future and what lies ahead.



adult aged baby care

Common things, like sense and courtesy, seem have have taken a brief leave of absence from our world.  We have been living in a social media driven society for the past 5 years, if not more.  The proliferation of information, nowadays, is increasing at a rapid rate.  News that once took days, weeks, months to spread, now is global (viral) within seconds.

Think you’re safe from being found out if you did something against the norm, let alone wrong?  Not a chance.

While no one is perfect, there are some simple rules to live by in order to ensure you stay out of the spotlight.  Actually, there’s one rule in particular.  I think we’ve all heard of it.  The Golden Rule.  While it is biblical in it’s origins, one does not have to be devout to agree that it’s pretty straight forward and easy to abide.

I mean, let’s break it down.  With the outbreak of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, wouldn’t a lot of that be solved by the Golden Rule?  I may be oversimplifying the matter, but I don’t think so.  And, please DO NOT take this as an intent to minimize the above two movements, as I am not doing that either.  All I am saying, is that following the Golden Rule allows us to surround ourselves with the types of influences that will continue to make us happy.

Again, no one is perfect.  So, what happens if we don’t follow the Golden Rule?  Well, I know that if I find myself having wronged someone, I do what I can to make it right.  Which, goes back to the rule itself.  I expect that wrongs will be done to me, from time to time, but I expect that those who have done so will attempt to make it right as I would them.  If they don’t, then I don’t have a place for them in my life.

Easy in writing, hard in practice.  But you know what happens when you practice something hard?  It becomes easier.  Easier to cut out the negativity and toxic vibes out of your life.  Easier to be unto others as you would want them to be to you.  Try it out.  See what happens?  I wish the 1% would practice this more often and be appropriate role models to the rest of us, but like I said before….common sense and courtesy have left the building for awhile.  Until they return, be your own role model.



person standing near lake

One of the unfortunate aspects of life is the feeling of regret.  Maybe unfortunate is the wrong term to use, but it is the first term that comes to mind.  The whole idea of regret is that one is sad or disappointed in either an action or a missed opportunity.

However, in the idea of balance and perspective, what is regret if not an absolute learning tool?  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were not able to go to the Taylor Swift concert that your daughter was begging you to take her too because you had to work late that day.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were checking your phone in while driving and ended up swerving lanes, getting noticed by a cop, and getting a hefty ticket for it.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you decided to not ask for his/her number.

The examples above show the variety of breadth and depth of regret.  What they all have in common, however, is that they all show different levels of control and opportunity.

Let’s take the easy one first….getting his/her number.  Man, what a missed opportunity, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  The point is that to dwell on what could have been doesn’t actually solve anything.  Next time you have an opportunity for a number, might as well take it.  Doesn’t mean you have to use it, right?  Learning Achieved!

How about the checking phone while driving?  Sure, regretful.  However, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of that situation with just a ticket is a godsend.  We all know that scenario could have played out in a much more traumatic way.  Next time, put the phone down, ensure no trauma from a simple regretful action.  Learning Achieved!

Finally, the hard one.  Missing a concert.  What isn’t said in this example are the auxiliary details.  Was a promise made to the daughter?  Was the “working late” at work an emergency and unknown scenario?  Too many scenarios to choose from, right?  Well…maybe.  The devil’s in the details, so the point is to examine each detail and determine if a better choice could have been made.  It does not good to be regretful for things out of your control.  But you can make small incremental changes for the better.  Plus, there will always be more concerts to go to.

Examining how you are living your life is paramount to the success of living a happy life.  I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes.  We all know that it is not.  But the first step to making changes is to realize that regretting the decisions you have made does not actually propel you forward.   Learning from regretful decisions or moments is forward progress.  And any amount, large or small, of forward progress is the right kind of progress to make.


Power of Self Image


You have probably seen the trailers of “I Feel Pretty”. It looks pretty funny. Though I have not seen it myself, I think it is safe to assume it goes to extremes about the power of self-image.

However, it does pose the thought of how influential our self image is. Sure there are usually external factors at work when we create and mold our self image, but they only have power if we choose to believe it.

I would like to pause and state, for the record, that you cannot will yourself a new external image. If you are 80 lbs. or 800 lbs., but love yourself, you should probably still ensure that you are living as healthy as possible.

What I am talking about is strictly vanity. If you don’t like the way you look, then make sure you double check yourself on the “why.” If you do like the way you look, but feel the pressure to change clarify the “why” again.

Too many times in today’s culture, especially in America, we are driven by what others think. We become untrue to ourselves. It’s okay to not like something about yourself, but it’s not okay for someone to make you feel that way.

If you want a change, make it. Self esteem and self image are very important to happiness. Happiness is very important to overall health. Don’t let others dictate what it is that will make you happy.

You are in control. You have the power to make that change. Love yourself.


A Good Cry


I was having a conversation the other day and it eventually led to the subject of crying.  The question was posed, “Why do we hold in tears and the effort of crying?  Sometimes you just need a good cry.”  It got me thinking.  Why DO we not cry?

Sometimes it might be due to not wanting to show weakness/fear/whatever in front of someone.  Sometimes it’s an embarrassment factor that stops you from letting the tears flow.  And then sometimes it’s the fear that if you start crying, you may never stop.

I know that I have felt all three of these at different points in my life.  But, if I am honest with myself, I am probably leaning toward the third reason above.

I remember at one point, my dad telling me that if “you’re going to cry, you can just go to your room.”  In hindsight, and in previous conversations with my parents, I’m sure in that moment I was being a pill of a child and was probably crying to either get attention or get what I wanted.  My dad wasn’t condemning me to a lifetime of room-crying.  Nonetheless, that particular statement stuck with me and it was always my default reaction to tears. Go to my room or another private place.

Even to this day, if I feel that I am going to have tears, I will find a private place, a restroom, my car, whatever.  This is probably a normal thing, hiding while crying, right?  But in those moments, I do have that nagging fear that if I let the emotions turn on too far, there may be no stopping it.

I take this moment to pause any “worriers” out there….I am not depressed or have thoughts of never ending sadness.  Each time I have ever cried, I assure you, I have stopped.  🙂

The point is, that in that moment, you may just never know.  I have talked with people who suffer from migraines and it’s similar.  Even though they get migraines and they KNOW that they will eventually go away, there’s that “in-the-moment” fear that it won’t.  That this pressure will never subside and that the rest of their life will be pain and misery.

Can this translate to other parts of life and society?  I’m sure it can.  The key is to make sure you do that gut-check with reality and what is KNOWN.  Not what is unknown.  Emotions can be fleeting or they can linger.  If you find that you cannot see through the fog or the light, please seek help.  There are trained professionals who can and will be happy to help out.

I like to preach a “mind over matter” mentality, but I’m also a realist.  In the end, you have to decide what is best.  You have to decide when you are at your limit and when you need to ask for help.  Self help for as long as you can, then call on your village.  If you don’t have a village, go find one.

Sometimes you just need a good long cry.  Trust me, it won’t last forever.  Also, you can find sympathy if you ask for it.  We aren’t alone, let’s work together to make sure that no one feels like they won’t stop crying if they start.


Big Heart


I may lose a lot of you in this next line, but that’s a chance I am willing to take. So, I watched the new “Andre the Giant” documentary that HBO created. It was awesome!

Andre was one of my idols growing up. I mean what can I say?  He was a GIANT! The documentary did a nice job of speaking toward Andre the man and also to the mythology around what type of persona he was in the professional wrestling world.

Hands down, everyone who knew him says he was a very generous human being. Very nice and gentle, despite his size. In an interview Andre stated that he just wanted to make people happy. That’s why he travelled the world 300 days a year, being the greatest sideshow act in the pre-TV sports entertainment world.

He also stated that he was never able to be normal. Being as big as he was in the 70’s and 80’s, he could not go anywhere without immediately being recognized and/or ridiculed for his size. What a lonely life that must have been. However, despite that, he went on giving people an opportunity to live in that fantasy world where Giants exist.

I realized, after watching the documentary and thinking about his scenario, that Andre was a great example of what joy you can bring into your own life simply by bringing joy into others’ lives. That is what made him the most happy, was seeing his spectators ooh and awe at the feats he would perform.

So, if you have made it this far into the article about a long dead “Rassler”, then take that point away with you. The art of making others happy has an amazing effect in your own perspective and self-image. Happiness is the most contagious “disease” out there, so go spread it!


Passing Moments


My youngest daughter is turning three in a couple of weeks.  So, that means she is just about out of her “terrible twos”.  Though, a little known fact is that the “terribl-er threes” are coming…

Anyway, she has been a very strong test of patience.  A test that I have probably been failing.  But there are moments.  Moments when we catch her with her guard down.  Moments where she is the perfect sweet angel we know she can be when she wants to be.

For example, every night she will start to whine/moan/cry a couple of times because she has kicked her blankets off.  She’s not even fully awake, just awake enough to know that she is uncomfortable.  So, I get up and walk to her room, cover her up and go back to sleep.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “What’s so precious about that?”  Well, every now and then, after I cover her up, a tiny whisper voice will say “Tank you Dada”.

THAT is a moment worth savoring.

Taking this a step further, we all have our bedtime routine.  For as long as I can remember, I blow two kisses to my kids before I leave each of their rooms at the end of the night.  My oldest has had this done to him for years now and he returns the kisses in earnest.  Lately, my daughter has also started to return them as well from her bed.  Those are great moments too….little affirmations every night that no matter how trying the kids can be, love is still abundantly present.

One of my daughter’s favorite games is to play “nap time” with her playmates, whether they be her dolls, stuffed animals, me or her grandparents.  And in her dramatic play, when she leaves the room, she also blows two kisses.  It’s awesome.

So, what’s the point of all this mushy kid talk?  It’s that we should never take these moments for granted.  These little moments will eventually fade away and make room for new moments as time goes on.  I feel that building these moments of affection and love in my kids’ heart will stick with them as they grow older.  Furthermore, I hope this will lead to an open and trusting relationship between us that will last a lifetime.

The grandest moments in life are really just a succession of cumulative smaller moments that combine into a larger whole.



The evolution of air flight has been an amazing accomplishment over the years. It is definitely one of those things that I don’t completely understand, but completely appreciate. That being said, it is not always a smooth journey.

I am actually writing this from my flight. I sit here with my family, each one of them “plugged in” to their electronic device of choice as we soar through turbulent skies.

In front of us are a family of six. Behind us a series of strangers around a father and son separated by the aisle. The family of six are zonked out for now, the father and son, stewing in frustration.

You see, as we all were boarding, everyone was taking their seats and arranging their belongings. Our aisle was empty when we arrived so I took advantage of the extra space to open up our carryons and organize the “distractions” for the upcoming long flight. Then one of the people came to sit in our aisle and I quickly mobilized do allow them to sit down.

Eventually we were all in our seats and the flight attendants were calling for closing up the plane. All of a son, the father behind us gets up and opens the overhead compartment to get something out of his bag. He starts cursing under his breath and, it seems, takes everything out of his bag. The flight attendant approaches, asking if he can help. The father snaps back that he does not, to which the attendant lets him know that we cannot move the plane until he sits down. The father curses and slams the overhead compartment shut.

Oh boy, we can’t wait to see what “shifts during flight”.

As the flight goes on, the attendant checks in and asks if they are okay, obviously aware of the mounting frustration. Father and son say they are fine each time and you can sense the tension clearing.

It was amazing to see the flight attendant remain calm and composed. I realize that they deal with this every day, but I can vividly remember many times where flight attendants snap back and escalate the situation. Not this time, though.

I can tell you that the tension was thick at the back of the plane where we were sitting, but through calm words and offers of assistance, the situation diffused.

It is a nice reminder to not fight fire with fire. Keeping a cool head tends to prevail. It did in this case. So, thank you Mr. Flight Attendant. You definitely showed the power of patience and allowed us all to have an enjoyable flight.


Gifts and Invites


It might be time to throw away some old-fashioned social norms.  In particular, I am speaking of gift giving and invitations.

No, I’m not saying we should STOP giving gifts and STOP inviting people to things.  Rather, I feel it is time to stop having negative emotional responses to them.

Hear me out here.  Gift giving a a thoughtful process, right?  You see something that you think someone else will enjoy, so you buy it for them.  Sometimes it is spontaneous and sometimes it’s for a specific occasion.

But here’s where the obsolete social norm comes into play.  If someone gives us a gift, we feel compelled to return the favor.  Right?  WHY?  I mean, really…why?  Isn’t the whole idea of a gift….well, giving?  I know someone who keeps a closet full of random, wrapped gifts, just in case someone brings a gift over and they were caught un-prepared.

“Oh, my!  Thank you for this amazing print of the cover art from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  It just so happens, I have something for you too!  Haven’t you always wanted a set of Tiffany glasses???”

I’m sorry…I would almost be MORE offended for getting a thoughtless reciprocated-induced gift, than no gift at all.  The best gifts are the genuine gifts.  Not gifts for gifts sake.

Which brings us to invitations.  Invites are a funny thing.  Have you ever invited someone because you felt you had to?  How about NOT inviting someone because you thought they wouldn’t have fun or wouldn’t be able to make it anyway?

Hogwash to both, I say.  Again, the purpose of invitations is to invite people to a certain gathering or occasion you are organizing.  There should be a definite reason and desire behind each invitation.  Invites should NOT be influenced by what someone may or may not think about said invitation.  They should be focused on whether or not YOU want them at the occasion.

On the flip side, if you don’t get invited, try not to be too harsh on the invitee.  There could be NUMEROUS reasons you don’t get invited.  If it truly bothers you, then you should ask them directly, but not offensively.  This could be the third social norm that is outdated.

“I don’t want to ask them because they might get offended.”  Wait, so you would rather stew about being offended, then have a conversation about it?  Not healthy, my friends.  Not healthy at all.

The idea here is to stay genuine.  Genuine gifts leads to genuine happiness. Genuine invites leads to genuine happiness.  Genuine conversations leads to….well, genuine answers, which is where we should all strive to be.  It’s how we all become better and happier in the long run….genuinely.