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The Blog Has Moved!

Thanks for stopping by and following Choose To Be  A Hero. I started the blog early in my blogging career and have since figured out better ways to build content and get it out there for people to read. I’ve rebranded the mission as the Brass Knuckles Revolution and have sent the blog here to grow and motivate people to get off their ass and make a difference! I’ll be migrating some articles and of course I’ve been adding more great original content and guest posts from other amazing people who are out there making a difference!

Stop by and join the revolution!

Happy Veterans Day to all of our American heroes both former and actively serving. Know that you are viewed as a hero and that I recognize you are not tied to the politics and debates. You act to protect and serve and do a damn fine job. I take my issues up with the politicians and provide you with 100% of my support.

This also goes out to my own family members and to my many close friends who are actively serving in the army, navy, and special forces (you know who you guys and gals are).

 

Squirell-ator

During a long workout or on days when you’re just not inspired you may be tempted to read, watch television or talk while you workout. Yes this may keep your mind busy and trick you into thinking your workout went by faster than normal, but what you may not know is that you are actually causing more harm than good.

The mind-body connection is always strong, but never as strong as it is during exercise. Exercising with your mind detached from the activity makes just as much sense as eating bag of potato chips then going for a walk. Why is it such a bad idea? Several reasons:

  1. If your mind is focused on the television, book, phone, or friend on the treadmill next to you, your body is not in proper form. Improper form leads to injury.
  2. Mindful exercise is more effective than when you “zone out.” According to a recent study published in the New York Times, participants who were mindful during physical activity had lower blood pressure and lost more weight than those who worked with distractions.
  3. If you’re distracted, then you’re not operating at maximum output. Half-ass effort yields half-ass results.

So how do you practice mindful exercise?

  1. Before you begin your workout take stock of your mental and emotional state. If you’re feeling

    Via Woman's Day

    blah, sad, or otherwise less than grand an attitude adjustment may be in order. Your attitude has a major impact on the effectiveness of your workout. This post from Mindful Muscle goes into greater detail about state of mind and its effects on workouts, but I doubt anyone would disagree that attitude is a big part of any endeavor, exercise or otherwise.

  2. Eliminate all unnecessary distractions. I find that listening to music helps me focus and block out everything, but for others it’s a distraction. You know best what makes your mind wander.
  3. As you work out focus on the muscles you are targeting. If you’re doing a triceps press, focus on isolating the muscles as you contract. Concentrate on your breathing, making sure to exhale on exertion. You will notice that you feel the contraction deeper in the muscle and that you will feel a higher level of exertion than when you workout with distractions.

Try it for a week while also tracking how you feel before, during, and after your workouts. Trust me, you’ll notice a major difference.

Rise of the Anti-hero

People have been fascinated with heroes since the dawn of time. The Greeks and Romans had their pantheon of heroes, as did the Celts and Native Americans (among others). Often those heroes represented a perfect ideal, the ultimate vision of our human potential. Usually this meant a hero free of flaws–a one dimensional 1950’s boy scout who loves his mother, is ind to animals, and helps old ladies across the street. A worthy image yes, but terribly boring and unrealistic.

Enter the Anti-hero.

The anti-hero often lacks grace along with a few other desirable qualities (like tact or sobriety). They represent a less than perfect ideal, a more realistic picture of a hero who may not do everything right–despite their good intentions, who may not have a handle on his personal life, and who deals with other issues such as unemployment. The anti-hero finds a soft spot in heart because even though they screw up most of the time they come through when it matters most. They are also more interesting to watch (because you really aren’t sure if they’re going to come through) and are more dynamic than the perfect superman, which means they can actually grow and change.

I’m sure we all have our favorite anti-hero. McClane from Die Hard, Tony Stark as Iron Man, Hellboy–the list goes on and on. I fall into this category. I know I’m not perfect. I’m a little messy, have a temper, and I don’t always react the way I should in certain situations, but I like to think that when it matters most I come through. So I may not be a 1950’s Girl Scout–at least I’m not boring!

So here’s to the anti-hero. May you not destroy more than you create, may yo always come through in a crunch, and may you please work on the relationships that matter most

Yesterday was Halloween, so naturally I watched the Ghost Hunters marathon and live event on the Syfy channel (yes, I don’t like the name change either–it’s supposed to be Scifi!).While watching Jason, Grant, and the rest of the TAPS team I started thinking about the many ways they represent what it means to be a superhero (which made me love them even more).

TAPS Founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson

For those of you who don’t know the story, Ghost Hunters is a reality series that follows the investigations of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or TAPS. Started by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, TAPS investigates paranormal claims for residences and businesses. Everything they do is pro bono–the families and businesses they help don’t pay for the service, but what they get in exchange is a piece of mind and a caring, levelheaded team that will conduct an unbiased empirical investigation of their property. They aren’t sensational in their approach–on the contrary–they often debunk claims, finding rational and physical reasons for certain experiences.

So why do I think TAPS can teach us a thing or two about being a superhero? Actually I have several reasons:

One-They found a way to help people by drawing on their own skills and experiences.

Jason and Grant both had their own personal paranormal experiences. This shared background–and the lack of help available to people in their situation–made them decide to start a service to help other normal, everyday people experiencing paranormal activity. Jay and Grant weren’t paranormal researchers by trade. In fact they are plumbers. That may not seem like a natural progression, but their knowledge of plumping and homes combined with their problem solving approach has allowed them to debunk many claims (and fix a few leaky faucets during investigations). Every team member they bring on comes with their own backgrounds and experiences, all which help add credibility to the team and enhance their investigations.

Two–They’re not in it for the money. 

TAPS Team Members Dave, Jason, Grant, Steve, and Kris

Real heroes don’t do it for fame or money, and neither does the TAPS team. Like I said earlier, all investigations are done free of charge. TAPS invests their own money (plus some donations) into state of the art equipment and covers all overhead including gas and their time. Because of their unique, level-headed, and caring approach TAPS earned interest from the Syfy channel and now they have a growing brand to associate with their service, but this wasn’t the goal for the team. They did it to help people.

Three–People come first.

Every member of TAPS demonstrates the value of people first. Whether it’s their client, team member, or their own families, TAPS only does what’s best for others.

Four–They started small.

Jason and Grant started small and local, keeping their efforts in line with their resources. As they gained support, equipment, team members, and other resources they started reaching out more. Even now they recognize their limitations, especially when it comes to meeting their personal obligations such as family, and operate within those boundaries. This way their mission is sustainable, which is important for the many people they have yet to help.

Five–They attract and train others.

Every superhero needs a prodigy. TAPS is always looking for other serious, kindhearted team members to join them in their mission to help others. They have teams stationed in other areas (including with Ghost Hunters International) and continue to grow. Attracting and training like-minded people helps further their mission and to extend their reach, without overextending individual members.

Six-They balance family, work, and their superhero endeavors.

Just like any superhero, TAPS members have regular lives that they also have to keep up with. Family, work, friends, and home all need to be balanced with the many people who need their help. Though it isn’t always perfect, TAPS manages to keep everything balanced and fulfills their superhero role without neglecting loved ones or other obligations.

Above all, TAPS has heart. They saw a need and found a way to help people, even if it was in an unconventional way. So in my mind, the Ghost Hunters are real life heroes and we can all learn something from them.

As a superhero you are naturally inclined to help people. You see someone struggling with their groceries, you run over and help them. Someone is having a tough month so you offer to take them to lunch or bring by some extras you made for yourself. Sometimes people appreciate it, but other times they are offended by your gesture.So how are you supposed to know when someone truly needs help and if they are willing to accept it?

Unfortunately, we live in a society (I’m speaking to the West, primarily the U.S. here) where people are expected to always strive and struggle alone. Where needing  help or asking for it are considered sins and where helping people is an altruistic duty–but only so long as those people are willing to refuse that help. It makes no sense. Everyone struggles at least once in their life. Stuff happens outside of our control–layoffs, accidents, death–and once in a while we need a hand. It doesn’t make a person less hardworking, less noble, less anything. The only requirement in my mind is to pay it forward.

There is no shame in asking for help, nor is there anything negative about offering assistance (no-strings attached of course). I say that a hero should always try to help, even if it means facing ridicule. It’s better than the alternative–pretending everything is okay and ignoring those in need.

What about you–would you offer your help even if it meant facing ridicule or scorn?

Why do superheroes need to wear masks? Typically masks are a symbol of shame, but often the hero chooses to wear a mask in order to protect his or her identity. It is that need to wear a mask–that fear of being known and putting yourself and loved ones in danger–that keeps most from ever attempting a superhero life. Very few ever own their superhero status. Tony Stark felt no shame or fear when he said “I am Ironman,” but most superheroes find it difficult to tell even the people closest to them that they are indeed a hero in disguise.

Fighting crime incognito wouldn’t be such a big deal if it didn’t make things hard for the hero. How many dates did Peter Parker miss? How hard was it for Bruce Wayne to keep a girl? Why did no one ever figure out that Clark Kent and Superman were never in the same place at the same time (wrong post–another question for another time). Of course there is always the alternative–a laundry list of villains who not only know who you are, but where you live, work, and who you care about most. It’s sad that heroes have to wear masks, and it’s sad that we live in a world where we need heroes at all but I am glad heroes do exist. Hopefully one day more will be able to live in plain sight.

Here’s to a world full of people willing to proclaim “I choose to be a Hero!”

Being a superhero can easily become a full-time job. If you don’t watch it, you can find yourself spending so much time-saving the world that you ignore the ones who love you most. Like Peter Parker flaking out on Mary Jane and Batman losing girl after girl, a hero who doesn’t make home a priority ends up a tortured soul. Saving the world is a noble thing, but taking care of your obligations and honoring the ones that matter most to you is nobler.

To keep family and friends a priority and still meet your superhero obligations, follow a few guidelines:

  1. First Come First Serve: The first one to ask you for your time should get it. So, if you already have plans with your wife and the charity you volunteer for needs help they’ll just have to wait until next time. Of course, emergencies take precedence and sometimes things happen, just make sure you don’t always have an excuse for not spending times with the ones you love.
  2. Keep Your Obligations to a Manageable Number: The more you put on your plate, the harder it is to keep up with everything. To keep from going insane and to make sure you can always meet your obligations only commit to a few (this way you also ensure you have some time for yourself).
  3. Learn to Say No: This is an exceptionally difficult thing for some people, but a true superhero masters the art of saying no. At first it may be hard, and you may think people hate you for it, but in the end you will see that they appreciate your honesty and your commitment to keeping your priorities straight.
  4. Reflect: It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, which is why you need to stop every once in a while and take stock of what matters most, compare it to your daily activities, and make sure that the choices you make are in-line with your values.

Remember, the best thing you can do for the world is to love and cherish the ones close to you. A good world starts with a happy family, strong friendships, and safe communities. That’s why superheroes know that the first rule of being a superhero is to put loved ones first.

Saturday October 23rd is Make a Difference Day. Although I think its great to take a day to purposefully reflect on ways we can make a POSITIVE difference in the world, I think a much better approach is to make it a lifestyle change. Making a difference should be a way of life, not just a one day affair. One day of good deeds is not enough to undo a year’s worth of injustice, ignorance, and apathy. We need to strive to make a difference 24/7, 365 (plus one extra day of superhero antics every leap year).

So yes, please stop on Saturday and think of ways to make a difference and then ACT on them, but don’t stop there. Think of ways to make it a part of your life. Small acts repeated over time have a snowball effect, eventually resulting in major and lasting change. So instead of only celebrating Make a Difference Day, why don’t you take the pledge to be a hero and make a difference for life!

Mean People Suck

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that poignantly declares “mean people suck” and I doubt that anyone who has ever read that bumper sticker disagreed. Then why are there so many mean people in the world and why do they get away with it? The mean people phenomenon is not new nor is it isolated to reality television (which seems to lift mean, idiotic people up on a pedestal). No unfortunately mean people can be anywhere, from the checkout line at the local store to your kids school or public events. I see these people and wonder, first of all do they realize they are mean and second how come no one ever tells them so?

Enter me.

I can’t help it. I have to say something. Just because someone has gotten away with being a jackass for years doesn’t make it acceptable and just because I don’t know them doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to say something. If your bad attitude is mucking up my day I have the right to stand up and say “stop being so rude” (or something to that affect).  So yes, when some snotty woman is laying in to a cashier who has no control over the return policy I say something and when someone is letting their kids push and shove and run into people I am going to say something and if someone insults another person’s intelligence I will point blank question theirs because someone needs to put an end to the unnecessary meanness. Someone has to say “mean people suck and right now sir/madam you are sucking something fierce.” Either that or I have to start carrying around a bumper sticker that I can shove in front of their face. Frankly, I find flat out saying you’ve crossed the line to be both more effective and gratifying.

So maybe this isn’t the most heroic thing I do, but sometimes heroes have to piss people off to make a change and I have no qualms pissing off someone who is being rude to another person who doesn’t deserve it. So I say, mean people do suck so instead of taking out your bad day or issues out on someone else practice the golden rule, otherwise the woman standing behind you in line might just call you out on it.