subtitle

maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

01 July 2014

Photo Blog Challenge-July 1: Red and White

As with many holidays, decorations and preparations start well before the target date. With Independence Day approaching, finding red, white, and blue isn't a difficult task. However, finding something solely red and white, took a little more observation. My adventure to the beach today literally showed me the light.
A single red flag flown atop a white, unmanned lifeguard tower. Or the red flag whipping about in the wind below the white-hot sun. Either way, it was my red and white target of the day (but still with a blue background).

The first time I went to this beach (last week), it was overcast, and about an hour in, the clouds surpassed holding capacity, and the rain came down in the most glorious summer rain I've played in since I lived on the east coast. This time, the sun was shining, and it was a great summer day. But the red flag meant no swimming, due to strong riptides and too much E Coli measured in the waters.

But I'll be damned if I didn't have fun. So I did.

17 May 2014

I Am Here and Now

As I have seen more years, I have seen more things.

As I have seen more things, I have seen more of the same things.

As I have seen more of the same things, I have begun to recognize them sooner.

As I have recognized them soon, I have still often ignored them.

As I have ignored them, I have been swallowed by them.

Here is where I learn.

As I now recognize that I ignore them, I can now more confidently take action to bob and weave instead of taking the punches blindly. I can keep my eyes clear instead of being blinded what I think is real.

Here is where I begin to trust myself.

Now is when I begin to trust myself more.

Now is when I take what I have learned and recognize that I am exactly who I should be.

For all the things that I have seen over the years, the things I have recognized and ignored, the things I have learned but have not yet put them into practice, this is where that ends.

This is where I begin.

Now is when I begin.

Here is where I am.

Exactly myself is who I am.

29 April 2014

Facebook is like a brother to me

Facebook, you're a funny thing.

And not in a funny, humorous, "Am I a clown, do I amuse you?" kind of way, but in a fickle friend, somebody-please-give-me-a-warning-if-you're-having-a-bad-day way.

Blogging and tweeting are similar, but not in as personal a way as Facebook is.

For example, a couple years ago I remember talking to my friend about how we love Taco Bell so much and how if we were a Taco Bell menu item we would be _________.

This spurred a Facebook status post asking "If you were a Taco Bell menu item, what would you be?"

I'd say in about two hours there were 50+ comments and at least 75 likes.

BUT

When I share something about Support the Arts, or pose a question of something, dare I say, serious or (for fear of sounding condescending or snooty) intellectual, I'll maybe get three likes and people rarely comment on it to share an opinion or have a conversation about it.

Occasionally, when I see someone else's status and it pertains to something I don't agree with, or would like to learn more about, or have some opinion on in any way, I tend to keep scrolling because who likes getting into actual conversations or (the horror!) an online argument.

I totally get that, by nature, most of us are non-confrontational, but does that mean we can't have conversations through our laptops and smart phones? I know that having a round table discussion about marriage equality, abortion, vaccines, immigration, politics, or whatever can be intense for many people because of volume, interruptions, eye contact, body temperature...whatever physiological reactions may occur, but online you're safe behind your computer wherever you're typing. No one can interrupt you, and you have as much time as you need to think things out, present them rationally, and breathe through whatever nervousness you have.

I guess what I really mean is...

Why have we drifted so far away from actually talking to each other? And why have Like buttons and Shares claimed plots in our land of communication skills?

And why has social media become such a factor in sharing feelings, asking questions, relationships, jobs, and essentially every aspect in life whether it's interpersonal, individual, happy or sad, joyous or sadness?

Why is it so simple for friends/followers to Like, Share, RT or double tap for like anything devoid of emotional response or critical thinking, but when there's an actual discussion that could be had where questions could be asked, viewpoints can be shared, and knowledge can be exchanged, we clear the road like a wild west duel at high noon?

Maybe this is more a question for Facebook programmers' algorithms for News Feed sharing. How do you decide what's important to share in my friends' feeds? Is anything relating to food, sports, or pop culture highlighted? Is it based on #NowTrending topics? Or is there a filter that actually hides posts with emotional/inquisitive words like "feel" or "help" or "why?"

Facebook, you're like a brother to me.

But in the way that I know "brother" as I was raised and not as I learned to use the word brother as in "my brothers were in my wedding party" or "I served aboard a submarine with my brothers".

You're like the older kid that lives in the house with me but doesn't really talk to me. You're that guy that is  used as a model for excellence for when I screw up, and as someone who takes credit for when I succeed. I share with you in hopes of conversation, but all you really want to know is what I had for lunch, how many games of Words With Friends I'm playing, and how many other social media apps you can follow me on.

You don't really care that I have a job, as long as you know I have one. Nor do you really care what's on my mind, how I'm feeling, what I'm watching, eating, reading, listening to, or what. You don't what to know why anything is going on, but more so just what.

Or maybe this is really about people I think I connect with on Facebook.

So I'm taking back control of my life online as I am taking back control of my life in the sunlight with my feet on the ground and the warmth on my face. I'm not worried about Likes or Shares or updating my information or if you care how many firsts, or places I've been, or relationship status, or hometown, whatever.

I'm calling the shots. I write my own chapters. I ask my own questions. But if you really care what Taco Bell item I am, then ask someone else. I'm a Sonic Chicago dog with cheese tots and a strawberry limeade. I'm a fresh funnel cake with powdered sugar on top--straight up classic no frills. I'm a chocolate Frosty with fries on a summer day while you sit on the curb with sweat dripping down your calf from the back of your knee.

And yeah, if you care, I love my job as a Service and Training Manager at Old Navy. My hometown is TBD because home is home wherever it is. But I was raised in Oakland and Antioch, California. I don't specify that as my singular hometown, though. The LBC is also my home. As is VB back east. And does it really matter if I select Separated, Single, or Divorced? Because anyone that really wants to know could probably have a better conversation with me than your drop down menu.

My life is my life and sometimes I'm more raw and open about it than some people are ready for.

But the cool thing about social media--whether it's a blog like this, or a tweet, or a Facebook status--is that it's like leaving a postcard on the floor of a club. Most people will probably step on it or over it, but every once in a while, something will catch someone's eye and they may read it.  Someone may even pick it up and share it with someone.

Whatever happens to it, I got it out in the open, and for me, that makes it more real. That puts my thoughts down "on paper," for public consumption, and I stand behind what I say. That's really me. And as much as I don't fulfill the stereotype for musical-loving theatre geek...

Take me or leave me.

17 April 2014

Domino the Philosopher

Failure.

The antithesis of success.

For some, it is "not an option." For others, an extreme description of a hiccup or wrench in the works.

Failure is occasionally regarded as a sign of weakness, incompetence, or a lack of drive, passion, or a positive attitude. Not twelve hours prior to seeing the commercial below for the first time, I was just talking about failure with a friend of mine. As any good friend would, she assured me I wasn't a failure, nor had failed, but I diffused the situation's potential for an emotional dip by approaching it with an objective eye.



Failure doesn't imply I executed incorrect actions, at least to me. Failure means to acknowledge the actual results in closed-loop event were in gross contrast to the preferred result. In simpler terms, it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, and an opportunity to start over, or even begin something new, is presented.

And that's ok.

Last night I was watching Game of Arms (specifically S1, Ep5, Welcome to the Slaughterhouse). Yes, the show on AMC about arm wrestling, not the often trending Game of Thrones. Before the match they focus on Mike Selearis of the NY Arms Control Team. Some would call him cocky and arrogant, others would cheer on his self-confidence and constant self-assuring. One cocky guy isn't anything new, especially in a testosterone-saturated show like Game of Arms. But what stuck out was his Ricky Bobby-like parenting.

A high school teacher, husband, and father of two, he instills the spirit of a winner in his two children. Cheers echo through the house as he and his two kids take turns proclaiming, "I'm a winner! I'm a winner!" For many, this is a good thing, instilling a positive attitude and a desire to be the best. But the wife shares a reality check with the camera when she says there's one problem with all the winner conditioning: dealing with losing.


No one's keeping score for you. They just notice what you do in between possessions.

11 April 2014

April 11: 3 of a Kind

I met Paula back on March 19th, but haven't spent as much time with her as I thought I would. After a trip to Guitar Center this morning, quality time with my new six-stringed friend should be picking up quickly.

As the saying goes, "like a kid in a candy store." That's how I walked around the store, admiring all the instruments and set ups while other customers were shredding in the other room. It's been so long since I've been in a music store, and as I flipped through music books and perused the shelves I struggled to find a definite reason of why I stopped.

But I'm picking up speed on the on ramp, not on a Highway to Hell, but in more of Life is a Highway manner. No time needs to be wasted on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, this Low Rider is Cruisin into the Danger Zone.

If you don't get all the musical references, don't fret, I finger picked a few for this post. Eventually I'll have enough to be enjoyed by a Seven Nation Army. If you're still lost, maybe you should stick your neck out of whatever hole you're living in and push the pedal to the metal so those who aren't moving forward see nothing but tail lights and Dust in the Wind.

April 10: My Fave Part of the Day

As the gray, snowy days have been becoming scarce, clear shots of the sunrise have been more frequent. If I've won the battle with my snooze function, I usually get to work a few minutes before I have to actually go in, as I did this particular day.

There's a level of clarity that is bestowed upon you at this point in the day. With the parking lot still rather empty, before the doors have been unlocked, and the customers arrive, there is serenity in the stillness.

In my post from March 26th (I Am Here), I talked about how it's important to be present in whatever you do. That's why I enjoy this moment so much. It's before I even enter the building. Before I get out of my car and walk up to the doors and cross the physical threshold of my place of work, I take a moment to myself to mentally prepare for a transition.

I'm no escape artist attempting to wriggle out of a strait jacket and chains in a locked box filled with water, but it's still imperative to let yourself know that you are stepping into a different environment when you get to work. The focus is different, the attitudes may need some alterations as well, and to put it bluntly, you're on stage.

And actors stay in character well before they get on stage, and for a bit after they leave. But listen to RDJ in Tropic Thunder.



Sidenote: I'm not using this to condone the use of the word "retard".


05 April 2014

The MDA and Me: Make a Muscle and Make a Difference


Picture your life when you were 17.

I turned 17 a couple months into my senior year of high school. I was just over a hundred pounds soaking wet, with not much of a clue of what I was going to do about college. I sat first chair in my high school orchestra, joined the Drama Club, and ran around the gym during rallies making me the first unofficial mascot in the inaugural graduating class of Deer Valley High School.

Successes? Um, I had won a handful of spelling bees and received a few certificates for perfect attendance, but not much else. Oh, I did win a dance contest in the first grade at my private school.

Struggles? I wore glasses and had to watch what I ate because of food allergies. My all-time favorite color is red. (But of course I had other phases: blue, orange, and yellow. Oh, yellow.) Matchbox Twenty has been my favorite band since I was in high school. And I love lemon bars—really any dessert treat or pastry with lemon in it (without nuts of course, since I’m allergic). I was just another kid who had never broken a bone, loved hugs, and laughed as much as I could.

In the last fifteen years I’ve graduated from high school, joined the Navy, deployed on a submarine, been to Norway and Scotland, learned to shoot multiple firearms, lived on both coasts, loved, lost, and loved again, earned a Bachelor’s in Theatre Directing, shoveled snow, cried in the sand, written the majority of my first book, and exchanged vows on a sunny January day in California before moving to Indiana where I am today.

But if someone told me when I was seventeen that I wouldn’t make it past my thirties, I’d probably have a better plan of what I wanted to do with my life.

The other day I got to meet a seventeen year old who very definitely knows what she wants to do after she graduates. She wants to major in Clinical Microbiology, ideally at Northwestern. And she wants to minor in singing. Over the last 7 ½ years she’s been practicing Taekwondo, and she’s currently a 2nd degree Black Belt instructor.

But let’s backtrack a bit first.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been in contact via email with Alison Eckert. Alison is with the Muscular Dystrophy Association as their Fundraising Coordinator for Northern Indiana, and she wanted to introduce me to Nikki as a local ambassador for MDA in preparation for the MDA Muscle Walk on April 26th at Bethel College.

Through these emails Alison and I exchanged in coordination of this meet-up, I had not asked if Nikki was living with Muscular Dystrophy or if that she was talking to us as a representative from a family who is affected by MD. Alison had arrived first and so we chatted for a few minutes in the front of the store while we waited for Nikki to arrive. When she walked in with her backpack on and her blended beverage in her hand, I felt terrible for being so uninformed and doing some pre-judging in my head, because Nikki looked like any other customer that would walk into the store. She didn’t have any leg braces, canes, or a wheelchair. She looked…normal.

If it weren’t for Alison calling her over to introduce her to me, I’d have treated her like any other person walking into the store that day, or any other day. But in thinking about it, that’s the way it should be.

But it isn’t always that easy.

Looking at her, you would probably have no idea. And that’s the best part of getting to know someone. You find out about the stories you can’t see. But who I do see is in the break room at work. She sits on the opposite end of the couch from me, half cross-legged with one foot on the floor. The braid her brown hair is in curls around her neck, perched on her right shoulder, and her face is calm, adorned with black-rimmed glasses, framing her eyes that await questions I have not prepared. Her friend Alison sits in a folding chair in front of us on the couch, but she turns to face Nikki, the woman of the hour, as if to silently defer.
Alison (left), Nikki (center), and myself at Old Navy.

I was not prepared to do a one-on-one interview. I was hoping for a small group of us to be in attendance for their visit, but the universe had other plans, so I decided I would take notes to share with the others. What happened over the next hour (and I hate to sound cliché, but it’s true) literally changed me life. What I learned from Nikki and Alison accelerated the development of a bit of my work life, and plenty of my personal life.

After some small talk and getting settled in the break room while we waited a few more minutes to see if anyone else would show up to meet Nikki and Alison, I decided that I just had to jump in and just start asking questions. I apologized for my fumbling around, but I was swimming in awkward attempts to be politically correct and sensitive and inoffensive and didn’t know how to bring up what we all knew she was there to talk about.

What was I supposed to ask? These were my options in my head:

“What are you suffering from?” Because she definitely didn’t look like she was suffering at all. She looked more lively and moved more enthusiastically than most people I see day to day.

“What is your affliction?” Does anyone even talk like that?

“Why are you a part of MDA?” Is the MDA a club? Was she initiated like a sorority? C’mon, Marlon.

While I considered my options, she just went ahead and said it because she knew that’s what I wanted to ask but didn’t have a way of asking it “nicely.” She called me out.

“ ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Right?”

Right. Even though I knew that was a rude way of asking, in addition to be incorrect because I didn’t even think there was anything wrong, incorrect, or in any way negative about her.

Nikki Losievski is living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA type 3), which affects a portion of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. SMA is an invisible muscle disease with genetic roots that doctors don’t even know if it’s hereditary or caused by a genetic mutation. That means she doesn’t know if she got it from her parents or if it’s due to a surprise abnormality in genetic coding. In turn, that means researchers and scientists are challenged with finding a cure let alone a solid treatment since they don’t even know its origins.

And that’s just the overview of why MDA plays a part in Nikki’s life. Before last summer her family didn’t even know she had SMA. She had shown signs of as early as 18 months, but not everyone has been helpful, or correct for that matter, along the way, including two incorrect diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy and Congenital Myopathy. She admitted that one doctor even told her, “Yeah, you’re not gonna be walking much longer,” and that she would be “lucky to make it” into her twenties and thirties.

Did you miss the part where I said she’s a 2nd degree Black Belt in Taekwondo? Well she is. And I was subject to a fraction of that strength when she slapped me a strong high five before she left.

So how does the Muscular Dystrophy Association play an integral part in her life? There are plenty of services available to her and her family, but the most fun comes from camp. One week out of the summer, kids and young adults from 6-17 years of age gather for plenty of fun and safe outdoor experiences, partnered with a camp counselor of their own. Nikki loves MDA Camp for many reasons. One of the first things she said is that
“[MDA camp] is a place where you’re actually normal.”

Nikki goes on to say to summer camp is a great way to “hit the reset button” and “build a support system.” At a place like this, no one has to feel different, out of place, or fear being bullied—something that happens weekly, if not on a daily basis at school. Additionally, there is a 1:1 member to counselor ratio, and one of the best perks for parents and caregivers is that they can attend at no cost to their family. The cost of $800 per child is covered by MDA (thanks to donors like you) to provide a safe, fun, worry-free environment where these children and young adults can focus on sharing stories, making friendships, and living their lives instead of a muscular disease controlling them.


As the Community Leader at my Old Navy, it’s up to me to partner with community organizations and get our team members to provide services and assistance to the neighborhoods we live in. I signed up to do the MDA Muscle Walk because it was opportunity to help out, but I knew I had to do something more. It’s one thing to share my personal fundraising page for the upcoming event, but I think of all those pictures and links with captions that scream “1 LIKE = 1 RESPECT” or “RT OR USE #[inserttragedyhere] TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT”.

Medical research, flu shots, and services like summer camp can’t be paid for with retweets and likes. They need monetary donations. Alison kept it simple, saying that donations “provide hope.” And what did Nikki have to say about why you should donate?

“[Muscular Dystrophy] deprives kids of having an actual childhood.”


Nikki is not SMA, just as her friends are not ALS, Mitochondrial Myopathy, or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Nikki Losievski is a 17 year-old junior at Penn High School whose favorite dessert is coconut cream pie. She’s a younger sister and a daughter. She loves metalcore and rock. Her favorite bands are Parkway Drive and Black Veil Brides.

She is not her diagnosis.

But she is the reason I’m sharing this story. She is now a personal connection to the MDA, and why Team Old Navy is fundraising for and participating in the MDA Muscle Walk on April 26th. I started on this path with MDA because it fit the bill for a work-related responsibility, but I’m continuing because I have the opportunity to help someone else.

29 March 2014

PBDC Day 28/31: Nostalgia

I love country music. Sugarland is my favorite, and I'm also a big fan of Blake, Miranda, Brad, The Band Perry, you get it. But I didn't always feel that way. It wasn't really until Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)."



I was raised on plenty of Motown and other classic oldies. (Sidenote: "oldies" as in from the 60s and 70s. I was listening to an "oldies" station the other day and heard some early 90s U2. #gettingold) My childhood in the late 80s and through the 90s established musical memories with plenty of rap and R&B: Tupac, Boyz II Men, Jodeci (and the K-Ci and JoJo), Bone, Busta Rhymes, and of course, Janet (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty). There was also a good bit of 3 Doors Down, Creed, Blink 182, Reel Big Fish, and other non rap and R&B artists.

During my lunch break, I may or may not have had a 3 minute dance party in my car when this started:
I met him once. early 2000s at the NEX in Norfolk. Yeah, in Virginia while I was in the Navy. He was promoting his newly-released album Active Duty and happened to be doing an album signing on base. I found it interesting that he and I both had roots in Oakland, California, but I met him on the east coast.

Just earlier this week at work I heard a remix of Justin Timberlake with E-40. Yep, E Feezy Fonzarelli from the V-A-L-L-E-J-O, H-I double L side. It through me off a little bit, hearing the distinct voice of E-40, but it also made a little homesick for the Bay Area.

As an added level of California love, I heard the above Hammer track after getting some awesome Mexican food for lunch.
Don't get me wrong, Chipotle hits the spot every once in a while, but when I want real Mexican food, I have a higher standard. Growing up in northern California, going to college in southern California, and even getting treated to a few places in Texas along the way, Mexican food is soul warming.

And I can't wait to come back to the Bay next month, even if it's only for a few days.

27 March 2014

PBDC Day 27/31: Something I Made

Orange marmalade. Soy butter. Wheat bread. I took a picture of this not yet assembled sandwich this morning when I made it in case I didn't find anything better to take a picture of for the day.

And then this happened.
Duolingo, I know you're just using words I've already learned, but damn, this hit a major chord in a minor key. In the direct (and possibly most generally interpreted) manner, this sentence says that said soldier has no immediate family. Immediate family to mean nuclear family, parents and/or siblings. Or if they have their own family, a spouse, pets, and/or children. In that case, it's a heartfelt tug for the soldier who is "alone" with no one to write to, get letters from, or greet him/her at the airport or pier upon their return.

But once become a soldier, sailor, airman, reservist, member of the National Guard, Coastie, whatever you may call it, you are part of a family. Perhaps it becomes your second family. Your family away from home. Or even the only family you have. In any case, the soldier serves with brothers and sisters in arms, to protect the flag and everything the stars and bars represent.

And whether you believe in the military, the wars soldiers are sent to, or "stories" you may hear (but veterans and active duty can call experiences and simply "their life") are real things that they go through with, alongside, and in no way without their enlisted and commissioned family.

Just like "home" can be a feeling, "family" is as close, extended, expansive, and diverse as you make it.

That being said, Duolingo presented me with a gruesome pebble of a lie that snuck into my boot right before my division left the compartment to do drills on the grinder. It was that last pallet of supplies on the pier that left me with a splinter in the palm of my hand as I tossed it on top of the others before we untied and sailed off. It was that one local that had way more than any of us in the bar did that night that bumped into me and spilled the "one for the road" shot just before we piled into the duty van to head back to the boat that final night in port.

And so, I really didn't get to truly satisfy the prompt of the day until now. My writing a blog about the picture for Something I Made was somewhat of a prophecy or prediction. But now that I'm here at the end of this post, I can now present something I made.

26 March 2014

PBDC Day 26/31: I Am Here

I'm playing the "artistic license" card on this one by not taking a photo to encapsulate the day. That, and I couldn't find the right composition to convey what I want to say. However, if you want the literal depiction...
Thanks to my wife for indulging me, because yes, when she took that photo I could honestly say, "I am here." And I also enjoy the illusion of my own beheading as my hooded head blends into the black night, despite seeing my full form in my shadow.

Thinking about it, I guess I did take a photo of where I was earlier this morning.
Shocker, I was at work, at the ON where we had an awesome one day sale for tee hoodies for the whole fam. (If you're reading this, the Old Navy nearest you is probably closed and the sale pictured above is no longer valid. Just saying.) If you missed out, sorry you missed out. But if you snagged a tee hoodie, or six, or for your entire family...high five!

But back to my stance on not denoting one photo as my Photo a Day submission for today...

I am here.

In no way am I attempting to say I'm an omnipotent being (nor is this a coded confession that I'm impotent). What I'm saying is that I am here at all times.

"I am here," is more than a declaration of my location.

"I am here," is a reminder to pay attention to your life, your environment, and to respect the time of those you have requested their time (or those that have requested yours).

In short... BE PRESENT IN EVERYTHING YOU DO.

In acting classes I've taken, and many rehearsals and performances, there are reminders among the cast members to be present in each performance. In each scene, and in every moment. Don't just recite lines by rote. Don't walk to certain parts of the stage to "hit your mark." Understand your character, your world, and your story and fuse them all together to connect with your scene partners and be present together to create a piece of art.

If you aren't, the audience can tell. They can always tell. And when they know, you'll know. And it isn't pretty. The glow of smartphone screens illuminate their faces from their cupped hands. Their elbows leave their knees and they lean back in their chairs to count the lamps hanging from the overhead. You hear the rustle of programs and purses as they fumble for something to keep their attention.

And all is lost. The magic is gone. The story is decapitated. And the art is deflated.

This also applies to any vocation which involves customer interaction. Before we go on, let's broaden the perspective on "customer." Typically, when we hear "customer" we think "paying customer" at a retail location, food service, clothing, sporting event...anywhere someone would be looking for something at a place of business at which they'll be exchanging a product for currency. Support departments also have customers. Human Resources, IT, Accounting, management, their customers are the employees, but sometimes this gets lost because there's no direct exchange of money for the services received.

Starting with the traditional sense of the word "customer," let's take the situation of being on the sales floor and interacting with a customer. (For a specific, real life example, check out Far Away from Day 10 this month.) If I'm present while working with my customer, I can pay attention to her, engage her in conversation, take in information from verbal and non-verbal cues, and provide her with an excellent shopping experience. If I'm not, I can miss what she's telling me, make ill-informed suggestions, and ultimately, frustrate her instead of helping her.

What entails not being present? Thinking about off-the-clock topics while you should be engaged with customers. Wondering if you forgot to lock your car, an argument you had with your partner the night before, a math test you think you just bombed before coming to work, anything that is not work-related that distracts you and prevents you from fully investing yourself to your work.

In college, when we showed up to rehearsals and performances, we would sign into a Call Sheet to let our stage manager know we have officially arrived. At a couple different jobs I've had, present employment included, we punch in on an electronic time clock. In a basketball game, you check into the scorer's table and wait for the next in bound to step onto the floor. All of these examples are exact moments in which you remind yourself you are stepping onto the playing field and clocking in. Literally. This is the moment you are given to mentally step through the threshold and lock in.

You're on the sales floor, you're engaging with customers, you're helping people out, and maybe you run into a challenging situation: an angry customer, an off-putting interaction, we've all had them. If a deep breath and a quick count to three doesn't do the trick, maybe you need to step off the floor for a moment and head to the break room out of sight of the customers to regain your composure. In a position of customer service, you're putting on a show for the customers whether they are buying anything that day or not. Lock it in. You're getting paid for it. It's your job.

Think about everything else on your break, on your lunch, or after work. If you can't leave it at the door when you come in, maybe you shouldn't be there, or maybe you need to try to control your mood a bit more so you can be present when it's crunch time.

For an extreme example, say an EMT arrives at a crash scene and three compressions into a CPR cycle,  she remembers her father starts chemo that day.

Flatline.

To apply it to retail, maybe you're helping someone in the fitting room and you come back with an incorrect size, and what you guessed, since you blanked when you got to the dressed on the floor and just grabbed one, was way off and she just ended up leaving because you struck a chord of body image insecurity.

In the theatre? You flashback to the fight you had last night and start spouting off what you should have said when you should be telling young Juliet how a family vendetta means nothing to you.

So yes. I am here. Try it out. Maybe saying it in your head when you clock in, step onto the sales floor, or wipe your feet on the non-skid pad before stepping onto the court at the start of the 4th quarter. A little focus goes a long way.

25 March 2014

PBDC Day 25/31: Soft

It snowed again today. It's March 25th, five days into meteorological Spring. It snowed for the better part of the day, but none of it really stuck. A nasty wind decided to come play today so most of what happened was a sideways snow. Blech.

So I decided against taking the easy route and writing another snow/ice-related post to join the ranks of:



Oh, you get it. California kid gets a long, snowy winter and he has to blog about every couple weeks.

But this was waiting for me when I got home.
Go ahead, yell like Brad Pitt in a field with Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey...

"WHAT'S IN THE BOX!?!?"

I had been waiting for this since the Season 2 premiere of Hannibal when I ordered it. It's finally here.

My fan-art Will Graham zip-up hoodie from Shirt Punch. That's what was in the box. Will Graham's head.

And yes, it's as soft as the show is awesome.

24 March 2014

PBDC Day 24/31: One of a Kind

This is my class ring.

Here's a look from the other side.
California State University, Long Beach. Class of 2011. Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre Arts-Performance, with an emphasis in Directing.

I couldn't tell you why I've wanted a class ring since high school, but I have. I think it's tied to me being a first-generation American in my family and hearing about how letterman jackets and class rings are often handed down as mementos of family tradition, but I'm unsure if that's exactly it. Well, high school came and went, without the letterman or class ring to show for it. After confirming my acceptance to Long Beach State, I knew that I would definitely be leaving college with two items-a diploma and a class ring.

I don't ever remember being a fan of yellow gold, and I've never really been attracted to the traditional sunburst design of class rings that remind of me of mafia dons and high-ranking clergy. So I opted for the rectangle-cut, shiny, smooth onyx (also because my birthstone isn't the appealing of colors) with basic engraving on the side. There were plenty of other graduates that year who were conferred B.A.'s in Theatre Arts, and as to make it unequivocally mine, I had my name engraved on the inside. (Added incentive, it may not take as long as this guy's ring did to get back to him.)

I didn't go to college right after high school. I spent more than four years working towards my degree. And I paid for college primarily with my own military service through the GI Bill. So yeah, my class ring is a tangible reminder of success through my own path. There are many like it, but this one is mine. #riflemanscreed #usmc #oneflagoneteam

23 March 2014

PBDC 23/31: I'm Loving

When it came time to pick which foreign language path I was to traverse in high school, I chose French. Living in California, this was in the minority opinion with such a high Spanish-speaking population. But, I did get an opportunity to use my developing bilingual skills while still in high school. I believe it was the summer of '98, and I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to join my church youth group on a trip to Italy.

We had a considerable layover in Paris, and I got to order everyone's food. Somewhere in between a fractured request for a tuna sandwich and more sodas, this is what happened (in French, but in English, for your enjoyment):

Pierre (or whatever his name was): I don't mean to be rude, but why is the Asian speaking French and not the white people?

Me: Because we're from California, and more students take Spanish classes than French. I'm the only one in the group that is taking French.

Pierre: Interesting. Well, thank you for learning our language.

I didn't do much with French after high school, with the exception of a random phrase here or there whenever speaking a foreign language comes up in conversation. J'aime les pommes de terre. (I like potatoes.)

Just over a couple months ago I heard about Duolingo. It's a free app that sets you up with bite-sized lessons in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese. I haven't yet cracked any lessons in French, because I chose to start down the path of Espanol since I now have reasons for it to be useful--customer service at work.
I haven't yet used it at work but I have found it wonderfully simple to find a few minutes each day to squeeze in a little Spanish homework. Go ahead, say it, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," but I'm not one to consider myself old, and learning is learning whatever your age is. Je suis un ananas. (I am a pineapple.)

It's fun more days than not, and the biggest challenge has been learning in a different style than what I've normally preferred, but it's still awesome. I've learned more than a few words, and have been able to successfully string together sentences instead of just regurgitating phrases I've memorized.

Yo no leo los diarios. (I don't read  newspapers.)

¿Tu bebes cervezas? (Do you drink beer?)

El sombrero azul es para mi abuela. (The blue hat is for my grandma.)

I don't think this is all part of me having "school withdrawals" or subconsciously regretting not going into grad school after finally achieving B.A. status, I think it's just my desire to want to always be learning something. Anyone that says that don't need to learn anything else is essentially saying they know everything, or at least everything they need to know. Either way, that's not my preferred attitude, and I hope I never get to where I'm thinking that myself.

Bonjour, Je m'appelle Marlon. (Hello, my name is Marlon.)

Yo no duermo en una cuna. (I don't sleep in a crib.)

Merci, et bonsoir.

Gracias, y buenas noches.

22 March 2014

PBDC Day 22/31: Morning

Each morning, when I wake up, regardless of what time it is, I open the blinds at the balcony door. Most days, it let's the sunlight in, but on those days when I've woken up before the sun has risen, I still open them.

I do this because I was on a submarine.

Yes, I've been out for almost ten years, but what I experienced and learned while in the US Navy (not to be confused with Old Navy, which I'm still happy to be with), applies to my life every single day and helps me to appreciate what's around me.

Let's just be out with it: There are no windows on submarines. Yeah, I know the Yellow Submarine, Nemo's Adventure at Disneyland, blazi, blazi, blah. But on actual functioning, deploying, diving, Silent Service submarines there are no windows or portholes to "watch the fish swim by" or "look to see where you are."

There are so many things that I appreciate so much more after having served aboard a submarine than before, one of which is natural light. Think of all those times you turned on a lamp out of habit instead of opening the blinds or drawing the curtains? If given a choice, I go with sunlight every time. It just feels better. Really.

Those days when you walk outside and literally stop for a couple seconds to feel the sun warm your face? When's the last time you did that in a hallway under fluorescent lights or LED lamps? That's right, you didn't.

I fully recognize that there are billions of people who will never experience the privilege (or sentence) of serving aboard a vessel devoid of windows and natural light like the USS Hyman G Rickover, SSN-709, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate things many still take for granted.

Like that coffee maker on your counter, or that toaster. Or that water heater, oven, or dishwasher. Or those windows in your apartment that you live in by yourself with out hundreds of other people in the room with you. Or fresh vegetables and fruit.

I'm very proud to have served in the Navy, but also a little bit ashamed that it took me such a drastic lifestyle change to appreciate things I was privileged to have as a child, and still today. Like I said, you don't need to serve in the military to appreciate certain things (like those who served in the military), you just have to open your eyes are really see. Open your mind and really feel.

Open your heart and really live.

21 March 2014

PBDC 21/31: Full

I used to be mildly afraid of frying bacon because hot oil splatter freaks me out. But for the treat that you are rewarded with after the struggle, it's more worth it to leave with a couple of "bacon kisses" than to not have bacon.

With my bacon this particular morning I had some leftover rice and quinoa from the dinner feast the night before.

What started as a jar of apricot preserves, a packet of onion soup mix, and russian dressing...
 Got mixed together...
And was poured over these chicken breasts in the crock pot...
To give me this a few hours later.
(Right about now would be an awesome time for Smell-O-Vision).

Tossed in a bowl with rice and quinoa gave me this:
And between my wife and I, we may or may not have devoured all of the chicken because IT WAS AMAZING.

In recap:
1 1/2 cups of apricot preserves:
1 packet onion soup mix
1 1/2 cup of russian dressing
6 six chicken breasts

Mix the preserves, soup mix, and dressing all together. Pour over all the chicken you've set in the crock pot. 1 hour on High, 3-4 on Low. Devour in happiness. Share if you're feeling generous.

20 March 2014

PBDC Day 19/31: Cropped

This is the first picture I posted of Paula and I together. Yes, I already named her. I had only met her a few hours before, when I had walked in the building of our apartment. She was on a stand by the mailboxes, and as I saw my upstairs neighbor coming down I asked if it was his. Turns out he was moving and was going to put her out with a sign that he held up to show me, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME."

Shoot. Done. I don't know if he named her, but I named her after her dad, Paul.

I had been wanting to learn how to play the guitar for years, but never got around to getting one. With the opportunity for a free one, I have no excuse now. Thanks to my violin background and a online tuner, I was able to get her back to good and figure out steps and half steps to play scales on each of the strings.

I'm nowhere near the level of joining jam sessions, but this is damn exciting.

Here's a full body shot of my new friend
...which, technically, this was the first picture of Paula and I, but when I posted it to IG, I cropped out my feet to make the shot all about her in the square frame.

There it is. Cropped. Check.

Next!

PBDC Day 18/31: Five Years Ago

 In February of 2009, a bunch of rowdy theatre kids from Diablo Valley College and a few faculty and staff members traveled by caravan from Pleasant Hill, California to CSU Fullerton in Fullerton, California to present their production of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train at KCACTF XLI.

Growing up in California, we didn't see much snow, so when we drove over the Grapevine and saw some of this mysterious ground cover, we knew it was going to be quite a weekend.
Back when Facebook Notes were still a thing, I wrote a Note after we returned. I have since then imported it to this blog for easy access. Enjoy:

The Morning After

It's...not crazy, or amazing, or weird, but it's...____________ to realize that this amazing experience was only five years ago. I still lived in northern California. I had not received my acceptance letter to Long Beach, and actually at that point when the picture was taken, I had not yet met the adjudicator who would see the play I directed, share with me that she is adjunct faculty at The Beach, or knew for certain if I would be attending a university.

Man, how time flies.


PBDC Day 17/31: Today's Weather

I'm lying to you. This isn't today's weather. Today is Thursday, March 20th, and I'm showing you a picture from Monday the 17th. But when I took it qualified as "today's weather." Having seen so many gray skies in the last five months, seeing the sun on a blue background was quite a treat. In this particular shot, there's barely a trace of winter on the ground, but over my left shoulder...

And there it is. Winter grasping for a few final breaths in Indiana.

Today is technically the first day of Spring, so we really aren't that far behind. It just feels like it since snow came early and hit us pretty hard.

Team Old Navy and the MDA Muscle Walk

On April 26th, a group of us from Old Navy in Mishawaka will be participating in the MDA Muscle Walk at Bethel College.

As of right now, there are four others besides myself who are officially registered for the team:

  • Katie Andrews
  • Kristin Blazi
  • Bridgett Bradberry
  • Paige Tomchak


If you're in the Mishawaka area and would like to join our team (whether you're an Old Navy employee or not), click the link below

YES, THIS LINK

Before I wrote this post, I donated $6, not just because it's a good cause, but because I wouldn't ask people to do something I wouldn't do myself. And I thought about it in terms of food.


  • Lunch combo at a fast food place: $6-$7
  • Med espresso drink: $3-$5
  • Vending machine snack: $0.50-$1.00


So before you tell me you can't donate anything, think about the last time you grabbed a latte on the way to work, or a candy bar from the vending machine. Even if it's just a dollar.

According to this article, the average adult Facebook user has around 250 Facebook friends.

So, if you say I'm average, if each friend donated ONE DOLLAR, then I would exceed my goal of $100 by another $150.

So think about it. Can you spare a dollar? And if you can or cannot, can you share this post so that others can? Click on this cool guy below, he'll take you to the MDA page and lead you through it.

If you can donate more, that would be awesome, and I would get absolutely nothing out of it besides the satisfaction of knowing that I know people that like helping other people they've never even met!

Thanks in advance!

16 March 2014

PBDC Catch-Up: Days 14, 15, and 16

Day 16/31: Beautifully Ordinary

A bright moon. Open blinds. Shadows. Lamps in the parking lot. These are all common things that, individually, are often overlooked and taken for granted. Seeing the moon on a clear night isn't anything new to most folks. And the temporary stripes that are painted on my bathroom wall but the street lights and blinds aren't much of a surprise either. But for whatever reason, this specific composition aligns for a moment that smacks you in the face and makes you stop for a second.

I tweeted the other day that I realized why I enjoy writing these blog posts and taking these pictures.





Ironically, after Day 13, my streak of consecutive daily blogs ended at 41 posts. What interested me the most is that I didn't beat myself up after missing Day 14. Or Day 15. And just like that, I'm back today with Day 16's post.

"Beautifully Ordinary" is an interesting phrase. "Beautiful" comes to mind first, and when thinking of things that I would consider beautiful, "ordinary" is far from what I envision. "Ordinary" initially speaks to me as "boring," but then I realized that it didn't need to have a negative connotation. It can just as easily mean to be something common and simple.

Like my blog.
Just a collection of entries over the course of several years. And each post begins with the same simple start as any other.
I'm no celebrity, high-powered journalist, or internet icon, but just as easily as anyone else can, I can share my voice for all to hear. Subjecting it to a fate that I have no control over once I click on "Publish." And because of this shot in the dark into thin air, what starts as a simple thought in my head becomes a piece of art I hang on the walls of my online gallery. That is when it becomes beautifully ordinary.

And now for some catch up...

Day 14/31: Care

Not that you asked why I missed Days 14 and 15, but I did because hanging out with friends is much more fulfilling than continuing a streak of blogs that no one but myself asked for.

It's no secret, I want a dog. This past Friday I met a new canine companion, and like most dogs I've met, she wanted nothing else than to be scratched and petted. She didn't care who did, just that she was getting some love. Most dogs I've met in my adult life don't discriminate. They just love being loved. I think that's the primary reason I want a dog.
Just look how relaxed she is with two people she just met. Open to new friends that know how to speak her language. Sure, I may have ended up with some slobber on my shirt, but it was totally worth it. Having a furry friend snuggle up to you while you have dinner with friends was the cherry on top.

If only more people could care as openly as animals (not just dogs) can.

Day 15/31: Evening
For the first time in over a year my wife and I were privileged to have back to back nights of dinner with friends. It was the first time we had guests in our apartment, and we had our own kick back movie night.
I really do enjoy writing these blogs about my past adventures, insightful anecdotes, and commentary on current events, but hangout out with some cool folks is always a better choice.

As Spring begins to emerge and the temperature rises around these parts (there's still a bit of snow on the ground, albeit much less than recent weeks), I look forward to going for walks, baseball games, barbecues, and lazy days by the pool. As that happens, my evening blogging routine may become more sparse, but in that case, for good reason. If anything, hanging out with more folks means more hugs. And I love hugs, if you missed Day 11/31: Something Good.

13 March 2014

PBDC Day 13/31: Fresh

I love iced tea. I know, not your most riveting of admissions, but it's true. There truly isn't anything like good sweet tea, especially when you've had it in the South. Iced green tea is another favorite of mine. But today, the tea spotlight goes to traditional black tea.

There's a place I know...

Take two.

"Ah, Salaam and good evening worthy friends." -Yet another Robin Williams reference in my blog. If you don't get it, watch this clip. *Roll Clip*

But back to the tea. This place has the best iced tea of anywhere I've been to since I've moved to Indiana. It isn't a coffee shop, or a snack shack, or my apartment. It's just good. It's made well, it isn't over-brewed, it doesn't taste like an aluminum arm, like I said, it's just good. It tastes the way traditional black tea should taste (at least as far as my amateur taste buds know).

It doesn't stop there.

You get hot pita bread while you wait for your order.
Whenever I come here I think about trying something new, but I usually end up ordering the same base with a new protein each time. This time I ordered Jasmine's Favorite Rice with lamb.

MY LUNCH WAS BETTER THAN YOURS.

Everything I've eaten here has freaking rocked. You ever eat something so good that whenever you take a bite you shake your head in disbelief? That's what this place is every time.

Aladdin's Eatery.

Shout out to the crew in Mishawaka where I get to partake of this culinary awesomeness.

Additional points go to their social media presence...as in they're on top of it.
I know it doesn't really speak to the quality of their food, but it does show their level of attention to what folks are saying.

(Sidenote: Shout out to @HannibalCafe!)

That's it for today. Aladdin's Eatery serves it up fresh. But in a different way, these guys are fresh too.
#tbt #tmnt #oldschoolversion #jacket

12 March 2014

PBDC Day 12/31: Partial

Monday and Tuesday were the first consecutive days of 50+ degree weather in way too long to remember. Probably no more recent than Christmas week. Into Tuesday afternoon we started getting storm warning notifications for anywhere from four to nine inches of snow, freezing sleet, strong winds, thunder, or any combination of the aforementioned meteorological afflictions. This morning there was quite an accumulation of snow on my windshield.
And it was gross snow. Not like the powder we graciously received for the majority of the winter, or the ice that frosted over quickly, it was wet and chunky like angry bleu cheese or a mixture of bread crumbs in a bowl with just enough egg in it to make it clump together but not really stick to anything. The roads were a slushy, bumpy mess, and it was not pretty in any way.

By noon the snow had stopped and the sun had come out in full force. Not to say it warmed up, it barely squeaked into the 20s at best, but at least the roads were cleared out enough where you didn't have to fear for your life. Leaving work this afternoon I noticed that my car was adorned by a double-decker icicle mustache, thanks to the snow that started higher up and warmed up enough to flow with gravity before refreezing.



Despite the sun's presence in the now cleared sky, the winds had already painted Mishawaka with the pasty snow, sticking it to every inch of tree, bush, building, and traffic light that got in its way. Seeing traffic lights partially blocked out was definitely a first. I have no picture for those since I don't touch my phone while I'm driving.

I did, however, see the most unique ice form I've seen all winter. Imagine a snow-covered pole. Now melt it just enough to where it starts sliding off the pole, but not where it falls apart. Add wind. Include a sign on the pole that catches the partial-sleeve of snow and prevents it from falling to the ground. And now freeze it in a position that would catch the eye of someone looking for cool things to capture on camera.

I give you, The Twisted Partial-Sleeve:
And a couple other pictures to get the full effect
and...
Cool, right? Natural art on a man-made canvas with a sweet blue background. Looking at it again, it looks like a water slide. Or one of those twisty tube slides at a playground. I've walked past this pole numerous times, but for some reason it caught my eye today, and I'm glad it did.

So it might have been the ugliest snow storm of the winter this morning, but even so, I'm partial to living in an area with four seasons. That way you really start to notice more as things are always changing, and if you don't keep your eyes open, you may never see them again.

11 March 2014

PBDC Day 11/31: Something Good

)

A friend of mine shared an image on his Facebook page that stated something to the effect of, "1 song has the power to reignite 1000 memories." So true. So very true.

While searching through different versions before going with the one used above, there were so many comments of attributing That 70s Show to their introduction to this song. Stuff like that makes me cringe, but I try to stay open. Television shows often make references to past events and memorable media, the most recent example coming from my wife, who, before a couple nights ago had never seen Dead Poets Society, but had heard about it in a reference in HIMYM, and from other instances when I had brought it up having seen it before.

Professor Keating has found his way back into the minds of a new generation of students thanks to this iPad commerical:

)

Sidenote: Robin Williams is freaking amazing.

Music is wonderful. Movies are fantastic. But today's prompt doesn't ask for things that are wonderful or fantastic, it urges to look for something good. And when I got home from work today I knew what I wanted to capture.
It was a hug from my wife when I got home. Yes, she did know I was taking this picture when I did, and I gave her a full-on hug, focused on her aside from the one in the shot.

I love hugs. I always have as far back as I can remember. I want to say at one point in high school (or somewhere) I was voted (perhaps unofficially) as one of the Best Huggers. Being shorter than most of my friends and classmates throughout grade school, hugs were fantastic (but sometimes dangerous if the group hug gets a little out of control). They're simple, readily available, and one size fits all. But for myself, going back to little kid-sized Marlon, hugs from my much taller friends were great. I felt safe. I felt protected. Well, actually there's no reason to make that past tense. When it comes to a good hug, I feel safe. I feel protected. I feel cared for and loved.

It's a simple act that you can pretty much share with anyone who's open to it. It isn't overly aggressive, and it isn't linked to romantic exclusivity like a kiss or sex. Still, some aren't comfortable with hugs, and that's ok, but I am. I love hugs. Handshakes are professional. Hugs are friendly.

Have you hugged someone today? Why not?


Hugs are definitely something good.

10 March 2014

PBDC Day 10/31: Far Away

I love my job. I really do. There are aspects that are more challenging than others, and of those there are some that aren't directly business-related. They're challenging on a personal level. Like most folks I know, I didn't have the greatest self-esteem in high school. My self-image, at least in regards to physicality, was not very positive. In grade school I was always more comfortable around the girls. I was neither athletic nor aggressive, so those quiet ones that played off to the side by the swings with their hand games and jump ropes were definitely the ones I felt more comfortable around.

In the Navy I had the pleasure of serving aboard a submarine. That sounds more generic than I intended. I had the pleasure of serving aboard the USS Hyman G. Rickover, SSN-709 out of Norfolk, Virginia. This boat, like many submarines, had a crew without a single woman as a part of the team (or a married woman for that matter). Being in a male-dominated environment was new to me, especially being raised in a house under matriarchal rule.

The gender-role-imploding shell shock I experienced was amplified after I was discharged when I began a period of time where most of my time was spent in bars, mostly for work but also because it was a bar. I'm not proud to admit it, but in this period of time between the first time I got my heart demolished after boot camp and around when my time spent in bars was being phased out by time in the theatre, I didn't respect women as much as I could have.

I was surrounded by plenty of negative influences, but remained in contact with enough people who were grounded and just flat out nice that I finally made my way into the clear.

College helped me back onto my professional, respectful feet, and realizing how off the deep end I was as a single sailor, a traveling Army contractor, a bartender, and a karaoke DJ, it became clearer that I was finally heading in the right direction.

Once I started at Old Navy I discovered a great opportunity for improvement in my interpersonal communication: how I communicate with women in regards to their physical appearance. From a traditional background (some may call it "old-fashioned") I was raised to never ask a woman her age, weight, or anything that may require her to divulge information about her body shape, size, or general opinion about her self-image.

Today I broke through a wall.

Two woman were in the fitting room area while I was at work today, the slimmer one, "Jane" we'll call her, with a couple pairs of shoes in her hand as moral support for "Jenny," the other, as she was looking for new jeans. Approaching them to help them out, Jenny was blunt in her request, asking if she could "possibly find jeans to fit this"--at which point she turned around and lifted her sweater to show her butt (still clothed of course). She said she had lost some weight recently and had no idea as to even what size she would start with.

I admitted that I felt like guessing her size would be as awkward and possibly as offensive as guessing someone's age, but she said I couldn't offend her if I tried. Luckily, she told me that the men's jeans she was wearing were a 32 or 34, and she had no way of knowing this, but having tried on some women's pants the other day (Day 7: Fly) I knew exactly what size a 34" waist would translate to being that was my size.

I told her that I wore a 34" waist and that perhaps a 12 would be best. She cringed at the number, and without hesitation I replied, "people won't be commenting on what number they think your jeans are, they'll notice if they fit you or not." To which her friend Jane turned to me and thanked me for my encouraging words and a good point. But it's really true. Take a wedding dress for example. Say you purchase a 12, but you need it altered as the wedding gets closer, or for an extreme example, you need a new one in a size or two larger or smaller. Guests at the wedding won't be sitting out there saying, "OMG she used to be a 12, but now she's in a 16," they'll be focusing on how good you look in whatever size dress you wear. (However, if your "friends" are guessing your size and criticizing that, then maybe you need to rethink your circle of friends.)

Over the next 20 minutes or so, I brought Jenny different shirts to go with a couple of pairs of jeans I was able to strategically suggest, and without realizing it until later this evening, I got over my apprehension for constructive criticism in the fitting room and was able to help Jenny go home with some new jeans that she didn't think she would find.

My point is this--we obsess over numbers. 14, 16, 2, 0, oh, the unattainable 0, or 6, whatever you were before. Or another example, benching 150 vs 120, running a mile in 9 minutes vs 8:30, or eating four slices of pizza versus 3.

Who's holding you to a certain size? The fashion industry? Magazines? Musicians and actors who have personal trainers and spend more time working out than you do working to pay your bills? So, I ask you again, who are you trying to impress by attaining a certain size? Who's putting that pressure on you?

YOU ARE.

One of the many things I've come to realize in the last seventeen months I've been with Old Navy is something very simple and in plain sight for everyone to see...

Clothes are made in multiple sizes for a reason. And that reason is that people come in multiple sizes.

Stop obsessing about what size you wear and pay attention to how it fits you. I don't care if you could fit into an 8 in high school, you aren't in high school any more. Or maybe you had a 30 inch waist a few years back and now you're a 36.

THEY MAKE CLOTHES IN ALL SIZES SO YOU CAN FEEL COMFORTABLE IN A SIZE THAT FITS YOU PROPERLY.

I know I'm just one guy. One man. One person at an Old Navy in Indiana, but hopefully more than a few people will read this.


This scale is in my bathroom at home. I don't use it often, and whenever I do I think to myself exactly what I was saying above, "Why am I targeting a specific weight when I could be focusing on just being healthy and being comfortable with myself?"

Well, today I've broken through a wall that will help me provide better customer service to Jennies in the future. And maybe I'll mention to a few more when I notice a cringe or hear a groan whenever a size comes up. I know it isn't in my job description to help someone feel better about themselves, but it is in my job description to provide excellent customer service. If I can do that by ensuring they leave with a new outfit that they love and that she feels great in, then yes, I'll keep providing great customer service.

The numbers of sizes and measurements are there to help us find what we can use. They aren't there to trap us or make us feel bad about ourselves. I took a big step today with this, and it may only be one step, but it's a step. Maybe I can help alter the perspective of a few people here and there. Or maybe just one. I wish I could see a time when there people stop obsessing over their sizes, but that day seems so far away.