Waking Up to Your Why

Each morning I wake up with a why in my heart and head; sometimes two!  What is a why?  A “why” is the motivation for taking on something difficult and the purpose for doing so.  A why drives you forward even when you feel you can’t go on.  Why’s are imperative to change a bad habit or get out of a rut.

I did not always have a why nearby.  I did not have an overall cause or purpose from 2007 to 2014.  I wandered without a why, for those seven years.  In the process, I gained over 100 pounds, lost my drive, and in general was a bear to be around.  The years of wandering without a why are described in this blog: Fit to Fat: Lessons Learned While Doubling My Weight

Then three things hit simultaneously at the end of 2014 that got me back on track. First, I learned that I had a serious health issue caused in part by my weight.  Second, I received an invite to my 30th West Point Reunion.  Third, I received a discount to Weight Watchers (now WW) through my company.  The three combined to develop that first why.  I decided to lose weight and increase fitness to look presentable for my 30th reunion and regain my health!

I was introduced to the power of “why” at Weight Watchers and have expanded my understanding through my own story and experience.  Here are 4 things you need to implement your unique why.

1.  Visualize Your Why.   It is important to have a visual representation as to the outcome you want to obtain.  A visual representation serves to remind you why you are making the change and helps to keep you motivated when times get tough.  One way to do that is to create a Vision Board; a series of pictures and text snippets that visualize your goal. 

Below you see the visual representation of my first “why” that I created at WW on the Hay House Vision Board app (located here Hay House Vision Board).  I wanted to do two things as represented in this Vision Board: to lose weight to look decent for my reunion and to get healthy in memory of my parents.  Pictures include my company from West Point, a picture of my parents, my WP graduation picture, a picture at near peak weight with a classmate, an image of my family, and me working out in support of my mission!  I topped it all off with my class moto “For Excellence We Strive, 85”. 

I looked at the Vision Board each day.  It drove forward when times got tough.  I looked at it after getting through TSA with my CPAP machine, so I could get good rest on a work trip.  Or when hitting the hotel gym at 9 PM after work.  Or when avoiding a beer and eating vegetables at the concierge lounge.  Slowly but surely it kept my eye on the prize as I lost 100 lbs. before the reunion.

2.  Adapt Your Why.  Once you obtain one “why”, focus on another.  Whys are not static.  The excellence of today is the mediocrity of tomorrow.  A new reason or mission can drive you on to greater things.  Here are three of my subsequent “Why’s” to show you what I mean.

First, my reunion served to stoke two new motivations.  Having lost 100 pounds, I wanted to lose the other 50+ lbs to achieve Lifetime designation on WW.  Second, I wanted to do something to remember a fellow officer who was lost in Afghanistan by supporting returning Veterans.  Combining the two, I created my second Why that led to the creation of the McEvoy Memorial Walk in support of the Merivis Foundation.  I trained from August to Veterans Day in 2015 to walk 50 miles in one day in support of Merivis and the Young Marines of the Capital Area (read more here Go Big to Get Small – The Art of Improbable Goals ).  In the process, this why drove me to my Lifetime weight goal and raised funding for these worthy organizations.  Here is a YouTube clip on the walk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaaijB9ybX4

My next goal was to maintain my weight and support the children of St. Jude’s by becoming a Certified Spin Instructor and riding the entire 4-hour St. Jude’s Ride for a Reason.  I talk about this motivation in the following blog Spinning is Winning! A Ride for A Reason

Spinning helped me maintain my weight, diversify my exercise regime, help a worthy cause, and gain a new skill.  Now I was ready to play it forward with my current Why.

My current why came about due to two events: a milestone birthday and the ongoing pandemic.  Having been given so much, I wanted to pass it on to others.  I came up with a new acronym for my Why – CRAFT.  The acronym stands for Coach, Religious, Author, Friend, and Teacher.  You can read more about CRAFT here 5 by 5, Rumination on a Milestone

In simple terms, I wake up each day whether in this blog, my continued workouts, or wellness programs paying it forward. It is now my mission to teach others how to heal both their body and soul, especially during this difficult time.  To impart what I have learned through example, stories, and wellness programs.  Read about one such wellness program called Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium here .   

3.  Share your Why.  When you determine your why, do not keep it to yourself.  Share it with friends and family to help prod you on and keep you on track.  The ability to share helps you immensely.  I am grateful both to my WW Round Rock Saturday group and my sister in law Sheri and niece Rachel for creating Facebook groups.  These communities allowed me to share my motivation and progress toward health.  Live and share your why with friends to keep moving forward!

4. Wake Up with Your Why.  I end with the beginning.  Each day you can take concrete steps to wake up with your why.  I accomplish this through journaling and meditation.  I use the Kindness Journal (located here Kindness Journal) to help prompt me along to realizing my why. 

Each day I record three “I am statements” to help me visualize my end goal.  Here is a recent example in pursuit of my current why:  “I am a devoted coach that passes on the lessons that have served me on my health journey to improve the lives of others”.  I also visualize my favorite moment from the day before and list the thing that I will do today to help make the world better.  The journal helps me focus on why I was put on this earth.  Along with meditation in the form of prayer, I remain fixed and progressing towards my why.

In closing, do not wander and wallow in the unknown without a why.  Instead, visualize your why with these four simple tricks and build a better future for yourself and others!

3 out of 5 Ain’t Bad – What to Do When Eating Out!

It’s 3 days after Thanksgiving, and you are tired of turkey and leftovers.  So, you decide to go out and eat or order on UberEATS.  What do you do to stop adding to the pounds?  Here are 5 proven methods to stop from overeating when eating or ordering out!

1. Track before you attack.  The first rule is always to figure out what you will have before departing.  Most restaurants now post nutritional values in menus on their website.  Read the menu, pick your menu items, and record the calories before departing.  Like a good soldier, never eat without a good plan of attack.

2.  Bring it to Boots! Portion control is the key to keeping your weight down and your friends happy.  In my case, my friend is a bear/dog named Boots shown below.

I always think of my buddy Boots when craving a big steak.  I then make a conscious choice.  I eat 5 oz. instead of 10 oz of a Porterhouse, cutting my calories in half and making my dog leap in delight!  This trick also works with humans, but it is more fun with dogs. Half your plate and make your friend feel great!

3.  Stop the cravings at the Concierge.  Rule 3 works best when traveling, but is easily modified during the current pandemic.  I had access to a concierge lounge back in BP (Before Pandemic) time, when I was traveling a lot for work.  I would hit the concierge lounge and load up on vegetables before going to a restaurant for dinner.  Many times, I would skip dinner and just eat in the concierge lounge.  I lost over 100 pounds following this trick.  I swear by it!  The approach still applies even with limited or no travel.  Eat some vegetables or small appetizers at home before ordering or eating out.  Fill up on veggies, instead of filling out on steak and burgers!

4. Eat like a Plebe.  The faster you eat the more you repeat (think Buffet).  When I eat out, I go back to my training and eat like a Plebe!  We learned to eat slow at West Pont, by squaring our meals, so we would not wolf down food. 

Here is how you square a meal.  You lift your fork straight, bend your fork at a 90 degree to your mouth, straighten your arm back out, and then bring you fork completely down.  You do not bring your fork back up until you completely chewed your food.  On top of this, you needed to take small bites to be able to recite knowledge to senior cadets without your mouth full.  All served to slow how fast we ate, and cut down on our food intake, while practicing good manners.  35 years later, I still eat like a Plebe.

5.  3 out of 5 Ain’t Bad.  I cannot claim this last rule, since I learned it from a colleague.   Every meal at a restaurant usually includes 5 options:  bread, appetizer, entrée, dessert, and alcohol.  The simple rule is to keep it to three!.  Either Bread, Drink and an Entrée or some other combination.  Remember scrap 2 and keep 3!  While I can’t claim this idea, I can confirm it works and claim the below song parody to emphasize.  Make like Meatloaf and remember. 

I want you,

But I don’t need you,

And there ain’t no way I am ever going to eat you,

Now don’t be sad,

Because 3 out of 5 ain’t bad!

Three Out of Five Ain’t Bad

Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium

The ongoing pandemic is stressful.  The recent pandemonium around the Presidential Election even more.  What is the anecdote?  Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium (PP))!  What is that?  Read on!

My love affair with spinning is chronicled in several of my previous blogs listed here Spinning is Winning! A Ride for A Reason Back in the Saddle for St. Jude’s Don’t Stop Believing: A Weight Loss Journey in Three Intervals Heroes of Health Series, Episode 2 – Corey the Cycling King.  Spinning classes helped me regain my health, brought me new friends, and a new skill as a certified instructor! So, when the pandemic hit, I loss my number one stress outlet.  My gym and cycling class were closed.  I could no long Clip-In and Tune Out before or after a long day at work.  What to do? Peloton!

Peloton for those uninitiated is a virtual platform for cycling and other exercise programs.  You can ride with other cyclists around the world virtually!  You can do so either on the Peloton stationary bike or by using the  Peloton virtual service available on your phone, with your own equipment. On Peloton Live In-Studio rides you can compete with other cyclists on the virtual leaderboard.  They have excellent instructors who are fun and uplifting like my four favorites Jenn Sherman, Leanne Hainsby, Alex Toussaint, and Kendall Toole.  The others are great too!

I had used the virtual Peloton app as a supplement to my gym spin class.  But now decided to get the bike.  I loved it from the moment I got it.  And it made me think that my fellow work colleagues would love it too.  So, I and a friend came up with a virtual stress valve program appropriately called Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium.  Each week we pick up to 3 live rides and post the time and date on our company’s local website.  People join with our group’s hashtag and we have a fun virtual race.  Also, we give each other virtual high fives and chat as we ride. 

Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium helps us stay healthy and happy during these difficult times.  Here are the three major ways that PPP helps to keep you sane in these insane times:

1.  Endorphins!  Spinning, especially the Peloton variety is an endorphin rush.  The mixture of music and interval exercise brings a flood of endorphins that helps to counter the darkest thoughts.  The endorphin- exercise connection is well documented (read here WebMD Article).  PPP is the way to crush, despair with an endorphin rush!

2.  Tune-in and Sing!  I love exercising to music.  Nothing is more relaxing and stress relieving then belting out your favorite tunes as you spin. The good news about PPP is you can sing in the comfort of your own home.  No embarrassment and no drowning out by the person next to you.  But watch out!  Singing too loud while biking at 100 RPMs can nearly cause you to pass out.  I need to watch it the next time we do another Hamilton (Robin Arzón) or Bon Jovi (Kendall Toole) theme ride.  (Need to add Jenn Sherman’s Epic Sing Along Series).

3.  Community.  Peloton and our company group PPP is a community.  We care about each other.  We high five when people hit a milestone and pick them up when they fall-down.  In addition, theme rides really help celebrate commonalities and share hardships and trials.  One of the best such rides is Kendall Toole’s ride on World Mental Health Day which focused on the importance of Mental Health.  See my thoughts especially on Veteran’s Mental Health here. Mental Health Thoughts

So, there you have it.  Three ways Peloton helps you with the Pandemic and Pandemonium of today!  Message me or comment if you would like to participate in PPP!

A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 1 of 2 Part Series)

Two recent events forced me to accept something that I have been putting off for two years.   I am now officially a “Senior”, and, as such, there are certain things I need to adjust.

The first event’s linkage to my advancing age is apparent.  My youngest of four children Kendall graduated from college recently.  She may not have been able to walk across the stage due to the current pandemic.  However, her name flashing across the scoreboard at Texas A&M’s Kyle field signified that my wife and I were officially empty nesters (Gig’em!)!  

Graduation Name - Kendall

The second event, our dog Boots’ reaction to the loud rainstorm in Austin last night may not be so apparent (more in Part 2 of this blog!) A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2).  But both conspired to make me finally accept my new season in life.

I did not embrace my age two years ago! When I turned 55, I staged a ritualistic burning of my AARP card application on YouTube (see video below).  

I was trying to show that I had no intention of slowing down in what I then thought was a humorous way.  It was not! The part not captured on the video could have caused me to miss my next birthday, but in hindsight was funnier.  The part I cut out is the AARP card caught fire rapidly and I had to drop it.  I asked for someone to give me some water to dash the flames.  Unfortunately, the pan with the water had been in the sink with some oil that had not been removed.  The pan lit up like a torch until someone gave me a lid to snuff it out.  Almost lit the house on fire!  Not good for my health and those around me (although that video would have gone viral!).  How did I finally embrace my age and adapt to stay fit?  Read the second part of the blog series on the event that was the final tipping point – Boot’s whimpering at the rain here link A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2)

A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this blog series here A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 1 of 2 Part Series) , I showed I was ready to risk life, limb, and house instead of embracing my age.  So how did the dog and the rain change my disposition

Boots and my attempt to calm him reminded me that I no longer had the stamina that I once had.  At 3 AM, with the lightening striking, thunder rolling, and Boots barking, I decided to sing him a lullaby like I did when the recently graduated Kendall and her three older siblings were scared.  It worked for a bit.  I sang the following to the tune of Bing Crosby’s Little Man Your Crying while petting Boots.  Like Kendall’s lullaby I changed the lyrics but this time for a dog, not a girl.

Little dog you’re crying,
I know why your blue,
the rain is loud and took
Your time to walk away.
Better go to sleep now,
because little dog you had a busy day.
Lacy took your dog bones,
now I’ll tell you what I’ll do,
I’ll go out and get you new ones right away,
better go to sleep now
because little dog you had a busy day.

Lacy is my oldest daughter’s Pit bull. The song worked! But I had to keep singing it or Boots would cry. So, I decided to get up and do the next logical thing.  Do aerobics!

What?  That does not sound logical.  Well I was not going to come up with multiple Boots lullabies.  Unlike my kids, the dog did not fall soundly sleep. Each flash of lightening made him howl anew.  Since I had to stay up with my frightened dog and it was my weigh-in day for WW, I decided to do some exercise to music earlier than usual.  But unlike other Saturdays, I was feeling all my 50+ years and was not ready for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or something like that.  So, I did what I never said I would do.  I did an exercise video for Seniors. 

And boy was I glad I did.  I had avoided Senior based videos since I thought that such videos would be boring and not much of a workout.  Instead the videos by Paul Eugene (see here) were energizing, fun and just the right level to get a great workout. 

I liked the first one on Latin Dance for Seniors so much; I did a second Aerobics one!  If I had done HIIT or something more strenuous in my dog induced, sleep deprived coma, I would have ended up with a pulled muscle or on the floor.   Instead, I was ready for the day and more. 

When the videos ended, the rain had stopped, and Boots was finally asleep.  Lucky for me he feared rain but loved Paul Eugene!  The sun had started to come out and I decided to take a walk.  And then the biggest surprise happened.  On the path to my park, I saw a Doe that looks to be ready to give birth!

 It took me back to the days of Kendall and lullabies, but not depressed with my advancing years.  And hopefully in a few years as I stay healthy Sweating to and with the Oldies, I may have the chance to rock a grandchild instead of a dog!  Embrace your age! Stay Healthy!

Getting Rid of Junk Food and Throw Away Values

I would never say that the current pandemic is a blessing in disguise.  It is a painful scourge that has caused pain to many and has dramatically changed our lives.  But I would call it an opportunity, if we are bold enough to seize it.  An opportunity to reflect on what is important and perhaps change the direction that we are taking individually and as a nation.  In that way, it is reminiscent of a personal health scare that I had some five years ago.   This event, while extremely negative and scary at the time, changed my life for the better. 

Six years ago, I was on a downward trajectory. The bottom hit in 2014 when I was out of shape (350+ pounds), stressed and overworked. I was in Kansas on a work project and I was trying to keep up with one of my colleagues who had offered me a lift to the hotel. I was trying to keep pace with him  as we climbed the stairs. On the third flight as we approached the car, I could not catch my breath in the brisk air. It took more than 5 minutes of deep breathing to get it under control. My chest was constricted and heart beating out of control.  In that way it had some of the symptoms of the current virus.

Something had to change! Left to my own devices, I would have done what I always done – driven on. But this was something scary and new. The Iron Man’s armor was beginning to rust, and I had to reassess my habits.  In this case, one of the habits I had to change was eating junk food.   A sugar junkie I used to literally drink Peanut M&M’s as I drove through another 14-hour workdays.   

This scare made me make abrupt changes to some of my habits, but not all.  Instead of eating junk food such as M&Ms, I switched to apples.  Instead of sitting in a chair for 14 hours, I got up and took a walk.  Slowly over a year and a half I took off a 150+ pounds and got healthy.  But I still retained some bad habits.

That is where the current pandemic comes in.  It is a similar shock to the system.  But instead of getting rid of junk food, it has forced me (as I suppose some of you) to reassess and replace junk values with real ones.   Chiefly these three:

1.  Reassessing Work-Life Balance.  I am not sure I ever practiced work-life balance.  I was more Work first then life; but the current situation changed that.  Work can disappear in a second.  If you pour yourself into work only, you lose your identity.  And then what do you have when work goes away?  Fortunately,  that has not happened to me yet.  But the situation has caused me to reflect and rebalance.  I focus now on life first.  That has also rippled into my reactions with others.  I used to focus exclusively on work in discussions. But with everyone working from home, it has made me more tolerant and even appreciative of the lives of others seeping into work.  Just the other day I had the joy of seeing a colleague’s child sing “Baby Shark”.  My kids are all adult and with no grandchildren to date it was fun (although you younger parents must think I am nuts!)

2.  Slowing down instead of speeding up.  I used to change gears at the moment’s notice.  With no restrictions, I would get in a car or plane to meet a friend, take in a movie or fly to a client site.  The need to social distance and shelter at home has slowed everything down and took away our freedom of movement.  But if you think about it, maybe we were too frantic in the first place.  We now have more time to plot our next move and to think reflectively.

3.  Appreciating the human touch.   I am not one for crowds.  Truth be told I am a bit of a curmudgeon.  But with the inability to see people real time, I now have a longing to be back with friends and family.  I cannot wait to be back in the office and see my colleagues at work or sit with my Weight Watchers group in the studio again.  Virtual Zoom meetings can help replace some of the interaction, but it cannot fully satisfy the human longing to be with each other.  Springsteen says it best that when facing a world with too few answers:

“You might need somethin’ to hold on to
When all the answers they don’t amount to much
Somebody that you can just talk to
And a little of that human touch”

 – Bruce Springsteen “Human Touch”

I would like to close with one a verse of my favorite Irish song.  Although I could not sing it with others on St. Patty’s Day, I am hoping the shock of Covid-19, like a thunderstorm in April, can lead to a flowering of new life in May.   And we can again shake hands …

Slow Down You Move too Fast

One of my favorite songs is Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feeling Groovy” and nothing makes me feel groovier than taking a slow walk Saturday around Lady Bird Lake in Austin. The song goes something like this with apologies for some modifications:

“Slow down you move to fast,

Got to make the Saturday last,

Just kicking down Lady Bird Lake,

Austin is great and feeling groovy.”

Here is a picture I snapped last weekend during my weekly trek.  These turtles sure know how to Slow Down, bask in the sun, and feel groovy.

While the word Groovy may have been out of vogue since the Seventies, slowing down to regroup is still key to a better life.  Even more so in this time of constant noise and nuisance.  Nothing restores the soul and the spirit then a good podcast, a crisp wind and nature all around.

Slowing down is the key to the healthy and happy life.  I seldom miss a Slow Walk Saturday for the following three reasons:

1.  Time to reflect and adjust.  When we are running from one task to the other, there is seldom time to reflect, learn from experiences, and adjust.  I find that when I slow down and quiet my mind that I come up with the answer that I need.  Proof point?  I have been so busy with work and life that I have been having writer’s block.  A few minutes and miles and I had ten new ideas when I had been stuck for at least a week.  Sometimes the best thing when you are struggling for a solution is slow down, quiet your mind and be thankful for the nature all around you. 

2.  Destress and feel blessed.  Nothing stokes compassion and soothes the soul than to experience nature.  It is hard to feel hassled when you see 20 turtles sunning on a log or see a bird take flight.  It is a wonder this world! Our role is to revel and reflect the love of God in his creation.  Not to strive and stifle.  Slowing down makes us thankful for the pauses and pleasures that are in each day!

3.  Listen and learn.  When you are alone with your thoughts and those of a good book, you learn new things about yourself and your place in the world.  I recommend to everyone the library application Libby which provides audio books for free if you have a library card.  I have learned so much while walking and listening from how Changing your Habit can Change Your Life  to  How to be 10% Happier.  Truly my Slowdown Saturdays have made me a better person!

Life is not a sprint. It a slow walk to the better angels of our nature. So, take the time to slow down and feel groovy.

Let in Snow! 3 Tricks to Stay on Track Despite Travel Woes

Keeping on track with your weight loss journey is tough when traveling under the best circumstances.  It can be doubly so when your plane is delayed or even cancelled on a Friday.  But it does not have to be!  You can stick to your healthy habits with these three tricks.

1. When it snows, find a Skywalk!   Getting stuck overnight in a hotel because of a blizzard can curtail your weekend exercise routine.  I do not know about you but walking on a treadmill just does not get it for me.  I like my walks with some scenery and adventure.  One way to switch it up if you can’t get outside is to find a mall or even an indoor Skywalk.  Last weekend I was stuck in Des Moines, Iowa when my plane was cancelled.  Luckily, I did not have to miss my Saturday Morning walk.  I found an entry to the downtown Skywalk about a block away.  After a brief bout with the sub-zero wind chill, I was soon walking and getting lost in the Skywalk.    It was quite an adventure trying to find my way back through the maze of corridors.  Also, felt a bit like Maxwell Smart with all the automatic opening doors.  When I was finally done, I had five miles in, while braving the cold for only a few minutes.

Des Moines Skywalk

2.  Don’t stress, catch up on your rest!  Missing your flight home due to weather can be stressful if you let it.  But it also can be an opportunity to catch up on your rest.  If you can’t get out of your hotel, catch up on your snooze time.  Most of us are sleep deprived anyway and a few extra hours of rest can do wonders for your metabolism.  On the flipside, overly worrying can lead to stress eating. 

3.  If your late, just meditate.  You do not have to get caught up in the noise and bustle when stuck in an airport.  Most airports have a chapel, lounge or quiet space where you can meditate or pray according to your practice to clear your head.  Here is a guide that can help you out.  https://www.sleepinginairports.net/

One of my favorite places is the chapel at DFW.  But you can also find one of the gates that does not have a flight for an hour.  For just type of these delays, I keep meditation applications Headspace, Calm, and the podcast Christian Meditation on my iPhone.

A plane delay or cancellation does not need to be a reason to go off the wagon.  Use these three tips to keep on track when travel sets you back!

Lessons from Three Mister Rogers: Taking Time to Care

This in the sixth in the Be Good Not Great series.  The purpose of this series is to examine the lives of those people that seek goodness over greatness.   Hopefully the lessons from their lives will inspire us all to eschew worldly greatness to store up the more eternal treasures of love and kindness.   You can read the first of this blog series here:   https://weightlossleadership.com/2019/03/16/be-good-not-great/ .

Most of us are familiar with the Mr. Rogers from the PBS show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and the recent Tom Hank’s movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”.  I have had the uncanny luck to have had three Mister Rogers in my personal neighborhood.    Each of these good men taught me the importance of slowing down to listen, teach and learn.  I still struggle with inculcating this lesson in my daily life.  It is sad to say that in this hurried world the loudest voice is often the last voice.  But it shouldn’t be that way.  To connect with another person’s heart, you must take the time to be quiet and listen; to provide guidance in a patient, introspective way.   The three Mr. Rogers in my life modeled this lesson during my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. 

The Mr. Rogers of my childhood was Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Each day after elementary school I would watch his show.   I loved the routine to it.  He would come in through the door with the stop light flashing yellow; a signal to all that it was time to slowdown.  Then he would switch into his sweater and sneakers to impart his daily message of patience and love.  He talked in a slow and quiet manner; a contrast to the Saturday cartoons of the day and even a sharper contrast to the hyperactive shows of today.  He provided me a different sort of male role model; no less masculine but more nurturing.  Something that I needed sometimes since I had a larger than life Father, more akin to Fred Flintstone than Mister Rogers. 

In the wonderful book, “The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers” by Amy Hollingsworth linked here:   , Mr. Rogers explains his talent as ‘The Gift of Going Slow”.  As he explained to Amy in the book: 

“…I’ve never been a kind of hyperactive, runaround kind of person.  I think one of the greatest gifts that we can give anybody is the gift of one more honest adult in that person’s life – whether [the recipient] be a child or an adult. 

And so, for me, being quiet and slow is being myself, and that is my gift.”

Indeed, the gift of slowing down is one that we all should strive to obtain.  Taking time to care for one another and to glean from the introspection the needs of the heart.  Also, slowing down to discern the right path forward.  As this first Mr. Rogers sang in one of his many songs:

“I like to take my time
I mean that when I want to do a thing
I like to take my time and do it right.”

The second Mr. Rogers was someone in my actual neighborhood in Chesterfield Township, Bill Rogers.  Bill was co-coach with my Dad Big D on our little league baseball team Red Sox and worked with my Dad at De Laval.  Mr. Rogers and my Dad made a great coaching team leading us to many wins over our arch nemesis the Black Sox and other teams in our little league division.  They made a good team both coaching and work since they had contrasting styles.  Dad would get in the faces of the umpires, rival coaches, and players.  He could be both inspirational but also intimidating.  In contrast, I learned more how to improve my baseball skill from Mr. Rogers, who had a more patient teaching style.  It may have been a Father/Son thing; but when I wanted to learn the technique to properly field a grounder, I went to Mr. Rogers.  He would take the time to show me to follow the ball into the glove, get to low to the ground and use two hands to secure the ball.   I also had the pleasure to visit Mr. Rogers and his family at their home.  I spent time exploring the woods near their house with Glen and talking to his daughter Mandy and Mrs. Rogers.  I was always struck by the kindness, love and respect of the Rogers’ household.

The last of the Mister Rogers that taught me the lesson of patience and introspection was my Sunday School teaching partner for over ten years – Roger.  He was called Mister Roger by our middle school students as a sign of respect.  Mister Roger much like my Dad and Mister Rogers as Little League coaches made a great team as Sunday School teachers.  I was always thinking of crazy ways to teach the lessons of Christ through entertainment.  Roger in contrast would use quieter, more spiritual methods that nevertheless captured the teen’s attention.  I still remember with amazement the popularity of his retelling on the Legend of the Candy Cane.  It is really a great children’s story, but I thought it a little young for our rambunctious, middle schooler audience.  In addition, Roger read the book by showing the illustrations in the book by making slides and showing them on a projector.  Nevertheless, the teens were captivated as Roger read the book that relates the Christian symbolism of the candy cane and its meaning for Christmas.  Sometimes the simple, quiet approach works better than one that is flashy.  I learned this powerful lesson from Roger, a truly devout man and Confirmation sponsor to my two middle children.The three Mr. Rogers in my life have taught me the lesson of quiet, patience, and introspection in a world that is often loud and overwhelming.  During the blessed season of Christmas, it is important for all of us to learn the lessons of the three Rogers and take some quiet time to think about the good people that shaped our life.  And especially God’s only son that came to teach us in the stillness of a silent night.  Merry Christmas!