Dang, Someone is Always Watching, by Will Saunders

I’m often reminded how much I influence others. It’s good inspiration for me, because I’m often second guessing myself or I don’t think my success or progress or progress is as great as I think it is or want it to be. That’s especially true when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition goals.
     Yes, I am usually dedicated and stick to my plan. I’m mostly a vegan eater. Many of you know I strive to be a vegan eater, and I succeed about 90% of the time. But sometimes I snack on too much of the wrong things and if I have a spirit — which is usually Kendal Jackson Merlot, I tend to snack even more than I usually do. Lord knows if I didn’t maintain regular physical activity, I’d have ’swole up immensely, and not in a good way. But for the people who are watching, in spite of faltering a lot the past few months, I’m still apparently a few steps ahead of one of my coworkers who told me how much of an inspiration I am to her. She told me this on Tuesday, February 13th. Ironically, a different person asked me about Lent and if I had thought of sacrifices I would be making this season.
     Well, I realized it would be no better time to re-commit my dietary focus than now. So, I’m back on my wagon. I got back on it about a month ago, and fell off again, but this last time I only fell a little; however, I’m back on in full effect now. I am regularly tracking my nutrition and fitness progress daily via MyFitnessPal instead of entering random numbers just to keep my account active like I had been doing. I’m also cutting out Facebook for Lent, a huge obsession of mine. I deleted the app so I won’t be tempted.
A year and a half ago, I was doing well, logging consistently for as many as 538 days. Then I fell off. After a couple of months I got back on and I’m now at 294 consecutive days of logging in. I got re-energized again by my co-worker’s interest in my efforts. I wrote about this back then when a fellow Metro train rider mentioned how he noticed the progress I had made. I wrote a post titled, You never know who is watching, in which I articulated many of these same points. I also wrote about it in Health and Fitness Failure: New Beginnings.
     It is like I have long believed.Life is really cyclical. We go in and out of good and bad phases, and it’s up to us to kick ourselves into gear. I also am convinced you’re always being watched, whether you’re doing good or bad.
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Michael Jackson: Ben, by Will Saunders

Are you a fan of Michael Jackson’s music? I think you don’t need to look too long and hard to find MJ fans. I’m certainly one. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.

In elementary school, a birthday gift was a record player and several albums. My favorite of them all is Michael’s Ben album. Though I had other albums, I played this album over and over and over again. I can safely say it is my favorite of all the songs on the album.

A funny tale may amuse you. At the time, I didn’t realize the song was about a rodent. I thought the song was about a lover. It wasn’t until many years later, probably after I was in college, that I realized what it was really about, after I saw the movie of the same name. Isn’t that funny? I think it is.

Michael was a diverse, talented man. He touched many facets of the music industry. A gem that is missed by many. Here’s my song.

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Green Eggs and Ham, by Will Saunders

I’m currently taking some online classes via Cornell University. One of the team building exercises included a discussion about our favorite children’s book; mine happens to be the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. That discussion stirred up some fond memories of my mom.

When I was in elementary school, probably around the third grade, I was reading this book. In a nutshell, the book is about two characters talking about eating a plate of green eggs and ham; one character was trying to persuade another to eat it, though he didn’t want to.

When I mentioned to my mom how I’d eat it, that I wouldn’t need to be persuaded, she used some green food color and made me some. Can you imagine my reaction when I came to breakfast to find green food on my plate? My initial reaction was that of shock. But I quickly got over it, and I enjoyed my meal.

That’s my momma. It sure is sweet the way simple little things can bring up memories of special people who have departed this earthly life. If I still ate them, I would make some green eggs and ham.

 

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Ever-changing Music Industry

Do you think CDs will ever be valuable to collectors? I think of how the old fashioned record players began to fade away and now are coming back in demand; people are digging out their old LPs. I often wonder if the same will happen with CDs too.

Well, I remember my parents and their  8-tracks. Then records and cassette tapes made their rounds. Then CDs popped up, followed by digital recordings. I have a huge CD collection. I ended up building my collection via the Columbia House music company. Do you remember Columbia House? You could get something like 30 CDs for a penny, and they’d send you music periodically after that and you could either keep and pay fair market value for their choice or send it back. I always cancelled then signed up again. I have nearly 300 CDs. That’s just a rough estimate. It might even be more than that. I keep them because I keep thinking they might be worth something one day…maybe a gold mine.

Maybe they’ll never be worth anything at all. Who knows? As long as they are not encumbering and don’t take up too much space, I’ll hold on to them.

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Self-Discipline

I have been seeing a lot of posts and articles making suggestions on improving one’s self-discipline lately. Each of them focuses on the diet as the greatest catalyst for making the start.

The idea is, if you can be consistent with your diet, then other problem areas of your life will fall into place. I understand that very well. I know like most people know that controlling your diet is a major undertaking. It’s hard. Always eating and drinking the right thing be a challenge. But for me, that’s the easy part. Being that I’m a vegetarian eater [I try to eat a vegan diet but I don’t succeed 100% of the time but vegetarian is where I am most of the time], I eat plenty of the right things. The hardest part is refraining from eating and drinking all of the wrong, unhealthy things. I sometimes snack on things I ought not snack on.

 The funny thing is, when I’m strict and on point with my diet, I tend to be on point in other areas of my life as well. When I eat right, my fitness and exercise are consistent. When I eat right, I’m more mindful of some of the practices I vowed to improve in my life (i.e., community service; unity; improving my mind/self-development; renewed spirituality; etc). I hadn’t thought of it before now, but when my mind and heart are focused on maintaining a healthy diet, I tend to make healthy choices in other areas of my life. In fact, when I’m eating right and living right, I tend to make time to write new blog entries more regularly. I know I’ll really be doing well when I get back to writing the sequel to A Shattered Heart, fiction novel I wrote a few years back. I should have been finished long ago but that evil monster called procrastination kept rearing its ugly head and stopped me. By the way, you can get it for your Kindle or your Nook. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know and I’ll hook you up.

Anyhow, I’ll get back to writing the sequel before the year is out. I promise.

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I Could Have Told You So, by Will Saunders

Many people don’t know Chuck Brown recorded a jazz album, The Other Side. It’s a sweet little gem. It was a project he did in collaboration with the late Eva Cassidy in the 1990s, and it departed greatly from his well-known go-go brand.

With many old famililar songs such as, You Don’t Know Me, Over the Rainbow, and God Bless The Child, it’s a CD that is sure to appeal to many lovers of this genre, young and old. It’s clearly Cassidy’s, one of her several great productions, but The Other Side included Brown on a few tracks. Incidentally, I acquired it when it first came out as one of the CDs I got for a penny when I signed up for Columbia House. Do you remember those days? I still have more than 200 CDs. I hold onto them thinking they might one day be valuable to collectors.

Anyhow, I digress. My favorite song on the CD is I Could Have Told You So. It was recorded by many artists through the years, including Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Arthur Prysock, and lots of others. But this rendition by Brown and Cassidy is by far the best, in my humble opinion. I think you’ll agree with me, taking nothing away from the other versions. This one is top notch. In addition, you should download the album for your listening pleasure. It’s filled with many greats. meanwhile, here it is:

 

 

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Be a Blessing to Be Blessed, Part VI, by Will Saunders

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason …

People sometimes frown upon doing a good deed for the wrong reason. Generally I agree, particularly if you relish some sort of personal gain for your kindness. But, I believe that a few rules ought to have a clear exception, and this is one of them.

When I was in middle school, there was a kid I’ll call Michael who got teased a lot. But by today’s standards, it would be a serious case of bullying. From what I could tell, it wasn’t anything too serious. But, when you’re the one who is the brunt of the unkind treatment, it is very serious. So, I would sometimes sit with Michael during lunch, ask him about his day, and I would even partner with him in gym or on class assignments sometimes. He seemed appreciative.

Here’s where the wrong reason comes in. I went out of my way to be nice to him because I felt bad for how the other kids treated him. He wasn’t one of my school chums, but I didn’t like seeing him go through that. I always root for the underdog. It’s pretty pathetic that bullies prey on people the way they do. Nobody really  knows how bullies decide who to pick on, but Michael was one who got it almost daily. That’s why I made a little extra effort to show him some kindness.

Fast forward to today — well not literally today but to the present time frame, I ran into Michael at the DMV when I was renewing my driver’s license. He worked there and recognized my name. I hadn’t thought of him since middle school. If someone had asked me the name of that kid who got bullied who I was nice to, I wouldn’t have remembered. But he sure remembered me. He looked at my name and asked if I had attended Andrew Jackson Middle School in Suitland, Maryland (At the time, it was called Andrew Jackson Junior High School. The name changed at some point.).  I confirmed that I went there,  and he reminded me who he was, and he thanked me for being nice to him and even told me how I had saved his life. He had contemplated suicide several times, but my thoughtfulness helped him to feel a little better and helped him to get through the school day.

Listen, I had no idea. He didn’t talk much back then. So, he never articulated to me his suicidal thoughts. He never mentioned to anybody else either that I’m aware of. That day in the DMV, he told me all about it, and listening to his story nearly brought tears to my eyes. He told me every time he was about to hurt himself, he’d remember how kind I was to him and wouldn’t do it. Yes, I was only kind because I felt sorry for him, and usually that’s not a reason to be kind; however, that saved Michael’s life, stopping him from killing himself. He even got married, has two children, and is now living happily ever after.

You never know what impact you’ll have on someone’s life. Like I always say (mostly to myself, but I say it all the time): “Never miss an opportunity to be somebody’s blessing.”

B a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part V

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part IV

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part III

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed, Part II

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed, Part I

 

 

 

 

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A Brand New Me, by Will Saunders

 

Courtesy of ArethaFranklin.net

Did you know Aretha Franklin recently released a new album? Well, it’s not technically new. It’s a remastering of some of her old stuff. If you’re a fan of her old music, you’ll most assuredly love it. The album titled, A Brand New Me: Aretha Franklin With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was released via Rhino Records and features London’s Royal Philharmonic.

You might immediately think, “No, thanks!” but don’t think that way. You will be pleasantly surprised, I guarantee it. It includes Son of a Preacher Man, Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, and several other old time favorites. My favorite on the album is “Don’t Play That Song” which is down below.

Incidentally, she is also working on a studio album, featuring some great artists, including Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and Sir Elton John. It should be another hit, due out very soon in 2018. It was supposed to be out this month, but production is behind schedule allegedly due to some health issues she’s had. Stay tuned. But meanwhile, enjoy the song.

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Karma, by Will Saunders

Karma: what goes around comes around.

 

Be Careful How You Treat People

… that’s especially true in the workplace. With the way things work, you never know who knows who you know — and you never know who you will end up working for.

A situation happened that got me thinking a lot about this. There is a guy at my place of employment. For anonymity sake, I’ll call him John. As far as I can tell John is a decent enough person to work for, although I have not worked for him. My interactions with him on various projects and on working groups have shown him to be knowledgable, personable, flexible, and well-respected. Sometimes, interactions with people can be different if you’re working for them. Though I have heard some sporadic things about him that were not very favorable, I have no firsthand knowledge of that, only hearsay. Furthermore these rumors came from a source that isn’t credible. My impression is John is an above board guy.

Well, it just so happens that one of the former members of his team (someone John used to supervise a couple of years ago) is now John’s boss. Additionally, another person he formerly supervised a year before that is now John’s boss’ boss. I’m guessing John treated them in a fair and square manner. Just imagine if he wasn’t so fair and square with them. They could make his life misearable now that he’s working for them. Even without crossing the line, avoiding any prohibited personnel practices*, a boss can make your life a daily hell if he or she wanted to, still operating within what is legally allowed.

Most likely, neither he nor they ever thought the tables would turn like this so they would be his first and second line supervisor. A lot of other people never thought that would happen either. But it is what it is. The person you give compassion to — or the person who’s neck you step on today — is someone could very easily end up in a position to give you the same thing.

People say Karma is a bitch, but that’s not true; Karma gives you back exactly what you give. What are you giving?

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* Prohibited personnel practices, commonly called PPPs, are employment-related activities that are banned in the federal workforce; PPPs entail some form of employment discrimination; retaliation; abuse of position; or failure to adhere to established laws, rules, and regulations. https://osc.gov/ppp

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Taking Things For Granted, by Will Saunders

I was talking with a friend who grew up in the hood. Not the, as he called it, “the sensationalized hood” that you see on television or in movies. But the real serious, “get your butt beat for no reason” hood — at home, at school, on the block, or wherever you were. It’s not a thing of the past. They just call it bullying nowadays.

 

Random Kid Being Jumped

I’m far removed from hood life, but I’m sure it’s just as stressful now for kids than it ever was, and the problem is likely compounded by social media. This friend went on to talk about the number of his peers who hardly ever saw their parents because they worked two or three jobs, so the older kids were essentially raising their younger siblings.

That got me to thinking about school. It is amazing when kids in the hood do well in school. I know many do succeed. But I’m thinking that its hard enough to do well when you don’t have all of those kinds of stessors on your mind and your heart. But when you’re thinking about getting jumped when you get on the bus or getting beat up when you leave your house, or having to provide guidance and emotional support to your younger siblings — the type of support you aren’t getting yourself — that makes it hard to concentrate and focus on school like you need to.

Additionally, it must be equally hard for teachers too. Being an educator is a tough job. I have many friends in that line of work. Both my parents were teachers and school administrators too. It’s tough. Teachers care so very much for their students. Yes, some students are bright and eager and want to do well; but some students are only glad to be in school because they know they’ll get a good, hot meal, something that’s not always guaranteed at home. As an aside, I remember getting chastised in middle school because I shared my lunch with a kid who got a free lunch from school. If you know me, you know I’m a thoughtful, giving person. I’m that type of person now, and I was like that as a kid too. I personally don’t understand why me giving some of my food to my friend would be a problem. My mom often made me some slamming lunches, and I didn’t mind sharing. But after three consecutive days of being kind to my school mate, I was sent to the principal’s office and got scolded. I don’t think there was a legitimate policy reason why I wasn’t supposed to do that, but I guess some people in power love to exact control over others merely because they can.

Anyhow, what’s the point of all of this? The point is, all students, all kids are not created equal. We should remember just how much we take for granted. A lot of kids have much more to deal with than writing a book report or studying for that history test. Have a little empathy for all our students. Many of them need much more than they are getting.

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