DNA Surprises

As I started planning my 2020 trip to Poland and searching for more details as to where my Grandfather was born, I started a family tree at Ancestry. I able to find most of the information that I wanted. I found my grandmothers maiden names, “Gonzales and Archuleta” and all sorts of interesting tidbits. When my grandfather was born, Poland did not exist as a nation as it was occupied by Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. He was born in Nisko which in 1897 was part of Austria and is east of Krakow, just about two hours by car. In 2020, I”ll spend a week in the Krakow area, soaking up the culture, food and drink before moving on to Italy.

Growing up, I was always told that I was 75% Spanish and 25% Polish. So I decided to have my DNA tested. I ordered a AncestryDNA Kit from Amazon. The kit arrived in two days courtesy of Amazon Prime. I filled the tube with saliva and mailed it to Ancestry and waited for the results.

Three weeks later, The results were in and I was surprised! Here what I found out!

Italian 21%

Native American 21%

Polish 15%

Swedish 13%

Spanish 10%

Irish/Welsh/Scottish 8%

Poland was invaded by Sweden in the 1700s, thus most Poles have Swedish DNA.

I never expected to be part Italian. I call Italy my adopted home because out of the 20 countries that I have been to, Italy is where I feel most at home.

Good thing I never let my ethnicity define me!

“Surprise is the greatest gift that life can grant us.”

~ Boris Pasternak

Color Blind I Am

Over the past few years several large corporations that do business with the government have implemented a different kind of diversity program for their employees. Different in the sense that rather then teaching tolerance and equality for all; these programs revolve around the concept of “White Privilege.”

White privilege is the societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as white, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. In theory this sounds fair and after all it sounds academic but in practice I believe that it teaches us to label and profile people by their differences and it seems to want to shift blame for our circumstances from ourselves to the oppressive white man.

Today in America you can’t even talk about whiteness, if you try to embrace being white, you are portrayed as being a racist. I’ve heard that at some companies that saying “All Lives Matter” is a fireable offense. Can you imagine a “White History Month?”

We have become a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views, We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to our ideology.

What’s happened to political diversity?

After saying all this, it’s only fair to reveal my ethnicity. I’m about 75% Spanish, 25% Polish and I could have some Mexican and Native American blood as well. I’m also a disabled Veteran. I have had nothing handed to me, no special favors at all.

We grew up poor, my Dad was a addict and we were on welfare. In the Army, I was the only non-Black guy in my squad. Later when I joined the Air Force and lived in the Philippines, I lived with Filipinos, in England I lived with the English. I was part of Operation Boat People II, rescuing hundreds Vietnamese refugees. My Jump Master was Muslim, I trusted him with my life. Our flight surgeon was from Pakistan, he saved my life.

I have always treated everyone equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and even musical taste.

“The less we say about it the better

Make it up as we go along”

~ Talking Heads

What Are Signs That Your Physical Fitness Needs to be Evaluated?

Today, the majority of Americans get little physical exercise and as such, have lost the mind to body connections that we once had. It’s hard to diagnose a problem when you are blind to the problem.

Here are three symptoms that we could be blind to and merit getting checked out, especially if you are over 40.

1) Diminishing grip strength. If you find that your grip is weakening, this could be pointing to pre-diabetes, type II diabetics or cardiovascular issues.

2) Sudden decreasing walking speed. If for no apparent reason, you find your normal walking pace slowing down, it’s time for a physical.

3) Decreasing muscular strength and or loss of lean muscle mass. If you’re feeling week and your limbs are getting thin, time to call your doctor.

“You really don’t know someone until you say “no” to them.”

The Disadvantages of Being Physically Fit

Social Impact

It may sound like a bit of a joke but the reality is that becoming physically fit can affect your social relationships. Fitness is not just about eating a certain way or exercising a few times each week; it demands a complete change of lifestyle. This could make it difficult for you to maintain existing relationships and to form new relationships.

Dashed Expectations

During my three year body transformation journey I looked forward to my new jacked body. After all, how many 59 year old men have abs? I’ve found that in my dating age range which is around 45 to 55, that most women are intimidated! While they might enjoy looking at a rock hard lean body, they don’t want to date one! A common feeling is that their bodies won’t measure up, that they would feel pressured to get into shape. While there are men who feel this way, I think that in this day and age that most men including your writer, do not see women as a collection of body parts but rather see women in all of their awesome entirety.

Schedule Crunch

One of the most cited reasons for not exercising is that people are already too busy. Having to carve out an extra 30 minutes to an hour for exercise could be a real challenge for many people. While it is completely possible to do so, it will require you to make some changes.

Often, though, people find they spend a lot of time doing non-essential things – like surfing social media or watching TV – that could be converted to workout time. Or, your only free time might be at a difficult point in the day like before you go to work or right after work. Either way, you will have to rearrange your schedule.

I can assure you that the advantages of being physically fit far outweigh the disadvantages of not being physically fit.

“A dream without a plan is just a wish.”

~ Katherine Paterson

Long Term Relationships

There are couples that stay together forever, that are still in love and are each other’s best friend. If life is an adventure to be shared, why is such an adventure so elusive to so many people?

That’s a question that I can’t answer. Approaching this from a man’s perspective, I can point out things that were missing in my relationships and collectively they could be the keys to a successful long term relationship.

1. Marry your best friend”, that’s the key many will say. Still it’s not without some complications. You may not be attractive to your best friend or maybe you’re afraid that if it doesn’t work out that you’ll lose your best friend. The “key” in this instance is that if you and your partner are not best friends one year into the relationship then it’s not going to work because the next “key” is dependent on you and your partner being best friends.

2. Trust, easy to say, hard to do. Trust is mutual, it’s two way or it’s not trust. Jealousy breeds from lack of trust. How do you know who has your back? Would they take care of you if you were sick? Respond in an emergency? You can’t follow someone’s advice if you don’t trust them? Could someone really be your best friend if you did not have mutual trust?

3. Financial Intimacy, bet you never heard that one. Think this works without mutual trust? Money issues drive divorce, even more so than infidelity. How can you bare your soul if you can’t bare your bank accounts, if you’re hiding spending? Why is it harder to say “ours” than it is to say “his and hers”?

These may not be the usual things mentioned in relationship seminars and I could be totally off base (after all I”m a dude) but the happiest long term couples I know, have made it big league with these “three keys”.

Is a Longer Healthier Life Possible?

To answer that question we need to look at why we die. For the purpose of this discussion we will exclude accidental death, suicide and of course death by murder.

The big killers are cancer, cardiovascular events and falling down and it should be noted that death is not always quick, you can live for years in a degraded state with a low quality of life.

It’s not enough to live long if you can’t live well!

The single best thing that you can do to live long and well is to live STRONG and the best way to do that is through strength training.

Lifting weights is not going to cure cancer but if I received that awful diagnosis I would probably decline chemo and radiation and simply go on the Ketogenic diet and continue to lift weights with an emphasis on compound movements.

Ketogenic diets have been shown to prevent tumors from growing and since many times cancer patients die from body wasting, having strength and lean muscle might give me some extra time to wrap things up and maybe even have some fun!

Strength training builds muscle and if you are doing compound movements such as the bench, the squat, the deadlift and an overhead press, you are working your heart which is a muscle and you are working your entire cardiovascular system. Many people survive heart attacks but most do so in a diminished state, same with strokes.

You probably never thought of “falling down” as a killer but it just might be the cruelest of them all! We lose our balance and fall, break a hip, clavicle, ankle, wrist, arm, whatever. All of sudden we’re crippled, in pain and slow to heal. Did I mention lose of mobility and one day confined to bed? Every action a major effort!

Strength training, again the only real weapon if you don’t want weak bones. Remember, your bones are alive and if you don’t use them you lose them.

And so it seems that having strength and muscle is not just for aesthetics as strength and muscle are required for mobility and functionality.

“Expectations without a plan are just a thought.”

Time

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

That’s the opening lyrics of “Time” by Pink Floyd. The anthem of my life so to speak.

What value can be attached to time? You can’t save it for later and time does not build up interest. Time can’t be purchased but it can be given freely, for example when someone spends time with you be aware that they are giving you something of high value.

My exhortation to you is to value every moment and take nothing for granted. The conversations, the moments of silence, the shared laughter. When you travel, try skipping the tourist sites where you’re running to and fro, a picture here and a picture there. In exchange spend time in local eateries and pubs, in vintage bookstores and shops. I guarantee that is not a waste of your time.

You are always only one decision away from a totally different life!