Tag Archives: life improvement

Nor’easters and Forced Perspective

It’s a lovely day here in New England… well, I mean it’s lovely if you look past the massive power outages, electrical wires draped across road, trees smashing into cars and the prospect of no electricity for up to week.  But beyond all that, it’s a lovely day in… October.  I need to re-check my calendar… huh, it really is October?  Hmm.

Snowtober damage
You mean your Octobers aren't like this too?

This above photo is a taste of what awaited me when I sojourned out of my house to see how things were today.  As extreme as that looks, it was not terribly unusual during my travel of about 1.5 miles to the highway.  Seriously.

This is the second time in the last several months that severe weather has caused a power outage which is supposed to last days.  Yesterday I made the best of it as the power went out during my lifting session in my home gym.  As my previous post shows, it’s amazing how you can get in a darn fine workout by candlelight.

But what all of this also does is force perspective upon many people yet again.  Sure, there is the initial levels of outrage over events out of the control of we mere mortals – just look at Facebook for anyone you know in my area for proof of that.  But then at some level, you are immediately forced into thinking about what is truly essential: food, warmth, shelter and the well-being of those you love.  Those rise to the top of the list in an eyeblink.

It’s also an interesting lesson in how far removed we are as human beings from truly having to rely on our own wits on a daily basis. Hell, we are so far removed from that kind of pure self-reliance that we create reality game shows to mimic that experience so we can watch it unfold in the comfort of our own homes.

Believe me – I have bitched a bit about this power outage too.  I think it’s natural.  It’s a horrible inconvenience… but it will go away and I will return to First World living.  However, I am hoping to get myself to step back and appreciate what I have a little bit more because I am only experiencing a few days worth of what far too many people experiencing constantly.  If the worst thing that happens to me today is my inability to watch the NFL, then that’s a fairly high class problem to have.

And if you are wondering how I am able to even get this blog post up given the state of power in the glorious Constitution State… my place of work still has power… and I am completely unsurprised by that. Nothing seems to stop this place. Ever.

The Fine Line Between Possibility and Stupidity

People who lift weights… I mean really lift weights… tend to get viewed through a certain lens by a large bulk of society. Muscle = moron in a lot of contexts. You need look no further than your average Planet Fitness commercial. It’s as if there is an inversely proportionate relationship between size and smarts. It’s fairly ridiculous, but since it tends to make for an easier way to categorize or pigeonhole people, then hey… why the heck not? There are certainly people I’ve met who reinforce the view that weight trainers are not even as bright as the iron they throw around, however, there is also an inherent sense of wisdom in those who take their lifting seriously that I don’t think anyone outside of the lifting community ever really understand.

Let me see if I can illustrate a bit.

I stroll into my basement gym on the day I will be doing deadlifts. Now, the deadlift is a fairly straightforward exercise: the bar is on the ground and your job is to pick it up off the floor to a standing position. There is more technique to it than just that, but at the end of the day, that’s about it. Bar on floor. Bar being held in standing position. Ta da!

Bar waiting for a deadlift

But the deadlift, like many big lifts in weight training, is also a greater truth serum that sodium pentothal. Either you can pick up the weight or you can’t. There is no debating with it. There’s no reasoning with it. And the beauty… perhaps the misery… of the deadlift is that when the weight is too much for you, it stays completely stuck to the floor. On a lot of other lifts, there can be a modicum of movement before you bomb out and sometimes you can pull the bar a few inches up in a deadlift before all hell breaks loose… but much of the time, there is absolutely nothing.

That’s humbling. It never feels good. You know what else it is? An incredible learning experience in the shape of steel and iron.

When you get pretty serious about weight training (as I believe I generally am), there is a pursuit of pushing yourself a little further all the time and over a period of time. You are continuously pushing the outer edge of what you believe to be possible for yourself. I could deadlift 405 lbs. before and suddenly… huh… I can lift 425 lbs… and now I can do 445 lbs… and I never thought I would get there. Then one day… BOOM! I’m stuck. I can’t get any more than 445 lbs. I know exactly where I stand at that moment – again, the weight simply does not lie.

But what I am trying to do is move past that limit and see what else I can accomplish. At it’s most basic level, when I go down into my gym and lift weights, I am constantly looking to see what my limits are and how I can exceed them. It’s as if the entire activity has nothing to do with getting bigger or getting more muscle or any of that and everything to do with learning more about who I am, how I handle adversity and whether I can pick myself up when I get knocked down. It’s a constant learning and testing experience when done properly. In some ways, those who take this activity so seriously have a finer understanding of who they are than 99.9% of the people on the planet.

It’s certainly not just weightlifters either. Endurance athletes looking to run farther and faster or the Crossfit devotee who is looking to finish their WOD with more weight in less time fit the bill as well.

Everyone in this community who takes training (not just working out or going for a light jog or looking to “tone” up for Summer) seriously is always walking the fine line between find out what is possible and pushing themselves too hard to potentially get hurt, burned out or maybe just get funny looks from family and friends. To many, all of it looks more like stupidity than possibility. But sometimes you need to risk a bit in the search for greater self-knowledge. And trust me… I don’t want to get hurt (been there a bunch of times) or burn out (I am there right now because my ego outstripped my recovery ability)… but I must confess I do enjoy the funny looks from time to time. 🙂

So before you see someone who takes their weight training incredibly seriously as basically a semi-evolved primate… stop and ask yourself… when was the last time you put yourself in a situation where you were forced to figure out what was truly possible? And then think about what it would be like to do that 3… 4… 5… maybe even 6 times per week.

If you realize it’s been a while, then I would prescribe a little bit of iron therapy. You would be amazed at what you will discover about what is possible within you.

Toxic People and the Superfund of Life

I’m not sure if it’s El Nino or global warming or the Winter or some mysterious cosmic force only foretold of by Dionne Warwick and the Psychic Friends Hotline, but toxic people have been on my mind.  Some of these have been people I have had the dubious pleasure of interacting with, but more often than not, it’s been friends of mine dealing with this abomination of the human spirit.

In thinking over this phenomenon, I tried to look to the cultural giants in human history for guidance.  There is certainly nothing new about the existence of toxic people – they have certainly existed for probably about as long as human beings have walked the earth… and at least as long as MTV has decided to collect them for the purposes of reality TV.

So I quote the bard:

You’re toxic I’m slipping under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic

Yes Ms. Spears… yes.  I do know this, but it was never going to work out between us in the end.  We come from two different worlds and… umm… wait, where was I again?

Oh yes, toxic people.  I think there are essentially a few different ways to handle this bane of human existence:

  1. Avoid them. Like the plague.  Seriously.  Certain people out there will just suck the life out of you every time you interact with them.  It’s just their nature (or maybe their nurture if they grew up oppressed by a toxic parent).  In the end, they are just not worth the time, aggravation and drama.  And ohhhhh, the drama!  The drama queen/king is really one of the more common forms of toxic people running around.  Sure, there are people out there who look to tear you down with biting comments, but they are more rare than those who seem to have a parade of complete disaster trailing in their wake.  They make me smile and chuckle softly to myself because their dead giveaway to their drama-dom is the line “… and I cannot figure out why all this stuff happens to me!”  If they repeat that a lot… flee.  The reason that all that stuff happens to them is because they subconsciously enjoy the drama (it gives them attention) or they constantly make bad choices that bring it upon them.
    But what if they are your family member or co-worker or boss?
  2. Address the drama: Family members.  This is trickier, obviously.  It can be a little easier with family members because… well… they cannot really fire you from being related to them.  I think in this case you just need to ask more gently when they are in the midst of a drama meltdown “Huh… well, why do you think this is happening to you?”  They may have no idea they are creating their own drama and you need to ease your way into discussing this with them.  If you go this approach and it stays the same or, God forbid, gets worse, then you will probably have to default to tip #1 more often than not.  As harsh as that sounds, think of it this way – if you have brought the issue up with your family member and they continue the behavior and you end up absorbing all the stress, how fair is that really to you?  I know you love them, but a little tough love through the absence of your presence may begin to snap them out of it.
  3. Address the drama: Your boss.  A boss is a harder one because you don’t want to derail/ruin your career or lose your job by ticking off your boss… and if your boss is a toxic person, this is a definite possibility.  I ain’t gonna lie to ya.  The first and clearest option to me is to complete kick ass at your job and be sure you can prove you kick ass at your job.  Why?  Because a toxic boss who likes to pick away at you or create havoc for you will have a difficult time refuting cold hard facts of your complete awesomeness.  Is this easy when you work for a toxic person?  Hell no!  But it’s what you truly need to consider because there are 2 primary benefits of doing this beyond having material to use with your boss if the gauntlet is thrown down: (1) You are making yourself more marketable and prepping your resume for your next step; and (2) Other people in your company/organization/department will begin to notice you are really good which can ease your transition to something new.  You cannot underestimate the power of this second point, especially since other people where you work likely can tell you work with a toxic boss.

As you can see, there are various themes to these tips and avoidance is a piece of it (if possible).  I can see a reaction from people that avoidance is a bad idea because you aren’t really “addressing” the problem.  My response to that?  Umm… yeah, that’s the point.  We are often taught that every problem must be met head on… confronted directly in order to vanquish it like St. George slaying the dragon.  Hogwash.  Why?  2 reason: (1) It’s not your job to fix everyone else in the world, quite frankly.  In addition, toxic people are by their very nature stressful to those around them.  Why seek out stress you really don’t need? My life philosophy these days is to keep things very simple because life adds its own complications just fine without your help. (2) A toxic person has to choose to change.  Yes, your confronting them on it may cause that change, but at some point, it’s like yelling at a wall.  Believe me… I’ve yelled at some walls in my time and they really don’t listen well.  Heck, they may not even listen AT ALL.  Umm… oversharing?

In the end, putting in an effort to handle those people who are toxic is fine… to a point.  After that, let it go and enjoy a life with a slightly smaller slice of happiness.  Believe me, life is much better outside of the Superfund.

LiquidDisposalMaComb-B1_167776_7

All About the Fundamentals

The company for which I work frames several of its most important core values in its Code of Ethics.  It’s something I genuinely appreciate about where I work because it’s something that’s taken seriously and in my current job, it’s my role to support those values and ensure they are not compromised.

vince_lombardi As part of some training today related to all of that, I began to think a little bit about things you might consider to be the “fundamentals”.  I think to some this may conjure up thoughts of some old-school football coach yelling about the need to block and tackle or your high school history teacher discussing some dusty concept from ancient Greece.  Or possibly it makes you think about eating your broccoli because your mom tells you to.  Truthfully, there is really nothing about fundamentals that seems all that sexy.  They often are cast in terms of things you have to do because, gosh darn it… they’re good for you!  Not exactly the greatest sales proposition of all time if you ask me.

But as I got to thinking about it a little more, I started to think about the lifting session that was to come this evening and everything about it just screams fundamentals.  I would be doing military presses (standing barbell presses), dips and then pull-ups.  There’s nary a “core exercise”, stability ball or fancy piece of gym equipment in sight there… but it’s actually what I love about it.  After finishing all of that up tonight, it just felt really damn good to focus on the fundamentals?

Why?

Because there is something pure about the fundamentals.  It’s stripping away all of the extraneous extra “stuff” that is often added onto things in life.  We as humans have an amazing ability to take simple concepts and make them unduly complicated because we figure we are pretty advanced creatures, so we must prove this by making things really, really confusing.  That’s how you show you’re smart!

I find myself liking the fundamentals (or values) so much because I am the kind of person who finds comfort and strength in having a firm foundation which I can always rely on, but which also allows me to get a little creative beyond it.  So here is my list of life fundamentals which you may find handy too:

Lifting/Exercise:

  • Focus on the big, basic lifts. Bench press, squats, deadlifts, military press, pull-ups, dips, lunges and such.  There is a place for more specialized stuff too, but never lose sight of these bang-for-your buck exercises.
  • Intervals for conditioning are much more effective (and fun) than being stuck like a rodent on a treadmill.
  • Play sports or do something active (like maybe go dancing if you are into that).  They’re just fun and they are an easy way to disguise exercise.
  • In the words of Connecticut native and 800 lb. bench presser Vincent Dizenzo, people need to worry less about debating minutiae of programs and just “smash f**king weights.”  This applies to more in life than it may first appear.  Don’t get caught up in paralysis by analysis.  Sometimes the enthusiasm of execution means 100X more than the planning.  Maybe if you are a runner, it’s “run f**king miles” or a swimmer as “swim f**king laps”.  You get the idea.
  • “Eye of the Tiger” is guaranteed to add 10 lbs and 2 reps to any lift.  It’s just science.

 

Eating/Nutrition

  • Eat protein at every meal.  This just seems to work for me and honestly, I just like protein.
  • Fish oil kicks ass.  Every single study you hear about seems to find a new benefit to taking it, from brain health, heart health, lower cholesterol, improved body composition, decreased inflammation of all kinds, etc.
  • Fruits and vegetables.  They are good.  Eat them.  Nobody gets fat from eating too many fresh fruits and veggies.  My Mom would be happy to read this.
  • Green tea is good for you.  Like fish oil, they keep finding out good stuff about it.  Drink some.
  • I enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, so as long as I am sticking to the above 4 points 90% or more of the time, it’s perfectly fine.  This is the part where keeping the strong fundamentals in place allows me freedom in some other areas.

Life Rules:

  • The Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not some hokey notion. It’s probably the single most important lesson I have ever learned in my life.
  • Related to #1, kindness counts.
  • When my life eventually comes to a close, I want to be remembered as a great friend, brother, boyfriend/significant other/husband, uncle and son.  If no one really remembers what I did at my job, but remembers that first part, I will consider my life a smashing success.  I wish more people felt this way.
  • The more I read, the more I feel both more relaxed and sharper, all at the same time.
  • Reality TV might be the worst thing I have ever seen in entertainment.  I don’t mean reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” or even the ones that are on History Channel and such, but basically any of the genre which seems to thrive on the enjoyment of other’s peoples most base elements… i.e. any dumb MTV reality show, ever.
  • Every year I am amazed at how much more I realize my parents were right about a lot of things. At some point, I should probably admit this to them.
  • Every year I am also amazed at how much more ridiculously good-looking I get.  I feel a little bit bad for the rest of you slobs.

My advice to everyone is to figure out what your own core values or fundamentals are because when life gets hard (which it will) and you are not sure what is the right decision to make, at least you will be true to yourself if you rely on these values.

From Whence Shall Come Our Catalyst?

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of friends, family and co-workers will ask me variations of the question “How can I get into better shape/health?”  It’s pretty much the most popular question I get… you know, besides “Do they sell elite-level handsomeness like yours in a bottle?  Because I would totally buy that.”  The answer to the 2nd question is, sadly no.  This is just how God made me.

Truth be told, the 2nd most popular question I am asked is “How do I get started on getting healthier?”  This is a trickier and much more fundamental question than the first one entirely.  The first question assumes a level of action or momentum whereas the second question is looking for something to begin that momentum.  Essentially, the person asking the question is looking for some kind of catalyst to get things moving.

I found the following definition of a catalyst over at Chemicool:

A substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction; hence the catalyst can be recovered unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up, or catalyze.

The more detailed discussion on the definition goes on to say that a catalyst acts  to lower the amount of energy required to cause activation in a chemical reaction.

Isn’t that really what someone is asking about when they want to know what it takes to get off the couch and get going with a better lifestyle?  Some way to ease the transition from one state to yet another by lower the barriers and resistance?chemistry

I know it may seem like I am getting off into semantics here, but it’s an important point and why I think the catalyst concept is so important for people who feel like they want to change, but cannot muster up that first push.  The catalyst helps get things going by making the transition from one state to the next easier and it does not get consumed in the process.  After all is said and done, the catalyst remains.

So where does that get us for those looking to make the move?  Here are my tips and thoughts on that.

  1. Get pissed off.  No really.  There is a substantial amount of power to be tapped from a complete sense of being fed up and dissatisfied.  I am not suggesting you turn into a wall-punching lunatic, but to take some time to think about why you are even considering a lifestyle change.  Maybe you were playing with a grandchild and were getting winded easily and had to cut short the fun.  Maybe you are sick of your lower back feeling like it has daggers sticking into it every time you want to go dancing.  Maybe you think wistfully back on the days of being an athlete and wonder why you replaced quick feet for a beer gut.  Or maybe you saw your doctor who shook his head disapprovingly at your stress levels and blood work results.  Give some time to really think about whatever it is that got you thinking about making a change.  Many times, it will make you a little more restless… and that’s good in this case.
  2. Start small.  It’s not necessarily the case that you need to make a full 180 degree change from how your life was before.  That approach does work for some people, but for others it’s just a quick path to hitting huge roadblocks, stalled progress and eventually giving up.  But some action is absolutely better than none and as any high school physics student can tell you, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  If you are even doing something small, the barriers to moving onto the next step are not going to be nearly as great.
  3. Go after things of interest to you.  I can give someone all the advice in the world about weight training and interval conditioning, but if they simply are disinterested in that, it’s of no use.  I think that points gets lost on some people providing advice – they treat it as an all-or-nothing kind of thing.  I am a strong believer in the power of a proper resistance training program, smart diet and good conditioning to make a big impact not just on your health or bodyfat, but your quality of life.  But I also know it’s not going to interest everyone, so I am not going to force feed anyone my philosophy.  I will try and seek out what is the area that someone may have an interest to seek out.  Again, the catalyst is all about lowering the barriers to make the reaction change occur.  If someone used to be a dancer, they might like to try a dance class.  Then the ball may begin rolling along and they branch out from there, but the key is to seek out that thing of interest first and make the push there.

I only went with 3 tips because what I considered as a 4th option is not really a tip so much as a fact: it’s your own personal decision to take action in the end.  There are a lot of wonderful ways to ease that decision, but it will still be ultimately up to you to make that choice.  The trick is that when you are in a long-term state of inaction, the choice can seem massive and curling up on the couch with some Cheetos to watch Jersey Shore is a whole lot easier if that if what you’ve been doing… and if that is truly what you’ve been doing, God help you.  That show is crap.

So from whence shall come your catalyst?  Look to thine own self.

Now I need to go spend a few minutes thinking why I lapsed into sounding like the King James Version of the Bible.  Hoo boy.

The Quiet Drive

I have a list of things I wish I would do (or do more often), not unlike many people.  It’s a fairly simple list:

  1. Date Scarlett Johannsen;
  2. Demand recognition of my rightful claim to the Polish monarchy; and
  3. Devote more time to thinking and reflecting.

The first one got screwed up by the allegedly dreamy Ryan Reynolds and on the second one, I just need to figure out how to recreate the Winged Hussars.  Boy, I get me some of those bad boys, it’s game over.

On the third one, I used to find myself often lamenting, “Every time I spend some quite time to myself just sort of thinking over life and whatever pops into my deranged noggin, I really enjoy it, get some good ideas and generally feel a lot more relaxed.”  But you know what?  I would almost never do it.  Genius, I know.

So in around November of last year, I was getting myself ready for my morning commute which usually runs me between 20 and 30 minutes and for some reason, I decided I would do it with no music or radio.  The result?  The quiet drive, something I have done pretty much every morning commute since.  And as you can tell from the photo below… my morning commute is not exactly an eye-popping visual treat (at least not during your typical gray New England winter day).

Generally I am a morning person and so some time to think things over before the hectic rush of the day swept over me was ideal.  The commute home is just decompressing from the day and music then is ideal.  But first thing in the morning?  Not so much.

The end result of this new practice is I feel like I am making really good use of my commute time, much more so than I have at any other point in my life.  It does help that my commute is actually longer than it used to be at my old job (since that was 7 minutes door-to-door) and I can actually allow my brain to wander a bit.  I might use the voice memo feature in Evernote on my Droid to record some random thought or get down what I want to do as a blog post.  Whatever it may be, I feel like it’s almost a form of mental stretching or warm-up before the work day begins.

If you have a commute that is 15 minutes or longer, I highly recommend giving it a try.  At first it can be odd without the constant distractions you have become accustomed to of music or talk radio… but after a few days, it becomes a great fit like a perfectly broken in pair of jeans.

And maybe… just maybe… it will be the solution to my Winged Hussar dilemma.  Seriously, I need me a Polish cavalry to wreak some serious havoc, people.  CRY HAVOC AND LET LOOSE THE DOGS OF WAR!

The Polish Winged Hussars bringing some sweet justice.

Walking away from it all

Could you do it?  Up and walk away from everything in your life that your family and friends may associate with who you are?  Your job, money, status and prestige?  What would it take?

This is what Jonathan Fields, author of the book Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love went and did.  He up and left his huge salary, high prestige job with one of the best law firms in the country to become a personal trainer and entrepreneur.  Pretty scary eh?

Jonathan is someone I have only learned about recently and have not had the chance to read his book, but he has a great post about what caused him to make a leap most would describe as “freakin’ insane” as well as the challenges in doing so. But here is the quote that grabbed me:

I’d realized what makes me happy isn’t money, power and prestige, but rather the opportunity to:

  • Engage in activities that make me come alive,
  • Surround myself with people I can’t get enough of and
  • Earn enough to live well in the world.

Short, sweet and one pretty darn good list, wouldn’t you say?  What’s fascinating about it is I think most people would have a hard time arguing with it.  What’s not to like?  It’s practically motherhood and apple pie.

So then why do so few of us actually do this?

From my own perspective, I would say because I make it waaaay too easyfor myself  to get distracted by 1,001 other things.  Does that make it OK?  Aww hell no.  Every time I stop and reflect, I want to kick my own behind from losing sight of it… again.

One thing to keep in mind with the list above is that you don’t need to up and leave your job, move to some brand new place and make a hugely radical change at all.  While that does work for some people, that kind of sudden shift is not going to work for most.  What we can all do (me too!) is begin to figure out our end point of happiness and begin to redirect towards that goal. Maybe it’s some small changes where you work and how you interact with your boss and then making more time for those activities you love, but just seem to neglect.

But then again, you could just trade in your wingtips for flip-flops  I’m just sayin’.

Politics, religion and resolutions

Politics. Religion. Beef-lovers vs. vegans. The notion that anyone is a better James Bond than Sean Connery.  In my life, I’ve found certain topics to always engender impassioned debate and are considered taboo in some polite circles.  The other topic?

New Year’s resolutions.

People are all over the map on these and whether they are of value.  Some love them and look forward to mapping out all of the ways they will scrub their life clean of past disappointments and be born again in a shiny new year.

A common argument against them (which I think makes a lot of sense) is that why must you pick something as arbitrary as the start of the year to make positive changes?  Isn’t any moment of any day just as good?  Why wait?

Fair points.  I’ve long liked New Year’s resolutions for myself (more on this in a moment) because it’s very easy for me to get rolling along and not find particular moments to stop and take stock of what direction I am even rolling in.  Don’t we all get like that?  Don’t we all get sucked up in work, family, friends and the general fast-pace of life in 2010 and forget to stop and ask “Why a second… is this even where I want to be headed?”  I am trying to work more of these stop-and-think moments into my life this year, but it’s always good to know that one time per year, EVERYONE seems to be talking about what they should be changing or doing better.

The reason I emphasize why I like the New Year’s resolution for myself is that I usually do a half-decent job of keeping some of my resolutions in mind.  Sure, I don’t nail all of them, but I have cleaned out old drawers and found resolution lists and was pleasantly surprised that I got about half of my resolutions taken care of.  Allow me a moment to bask in my own complete and utter awesomeness…. Ahhhh!  Refreshing!

But go to any commercial gym in America in the month of January and you will see the inevitable mob scene of people looking to start off their resolutions to get in shape and lose weight.  What happens in February?  Probably 9 out of 10 of those people give it all up.  So clearly this approach is not working for everyone out there.  Let’s just all get on the same page and collectively hope that Lindsay Lohan can meet her resolution for 2010.  I think that is a cause we can all believe in.

So my own resolutions?  This is not a completely finalized list just yet, but this is the general scope:

  1. At least one posting for Fierceandmighty.com a day.  So far, I am en fuego.
  2. Finally go snowboarding for the first time.  My GF got me a really nice full-on boarding outfit from Burton.
  3. Attend a seminar on entrepreneurship.  I just find this topic endlessly fascinating and would love to learn more, irrespective of whether I decide to up and take the plunge into my own business at some point.
  4. Attend a strength/conditioning seminar.  I went to one about 4 years ago, had a lot of fun and have been meaning to go to another ever since.
  5. Trying to figure out my weight training goals right now.  I have some general ideas on lifting figures (315 bench, 500 deadlift and 500 squat), but those need to be balanced against all of the soccer and other sports I plan on taking part in.
  6. Finally stake my rightful claim as lost heir to the Polish monarchy and begin my inevitable march towards world domination through the power of kielbasa and pierogies.  This one almost feels like a foregone conclusion.

For a nice top 10 list of suggestions on how to get your resolutions to stick, go on over to this post at Lifehacker (numbers 1, 2 and 5 are my faves).

Now go out there and get cracking on your lists… and if you hate resolutions? At least take a pause moment and assess your life’s direction. 5 minutes of honest reflection is a precious, precious thing.