Life advice from Josh: Fill buckets

You have two options: 1) you can empty buckets or 2) you can fill buckets. Choose to fill buckets. We’re lucky in that our 9-year-old goes to an excellent public school in Austin. At 7:30 a.m. every weekday the principal addresses the entire student body in person in the gymnasium. One of the repeated messages is about filling buckets. A simple message to children is very applicable to all ages.

In our daily lives we’re either making deposits or taking withdrawals. We’re either giving or taking. In the emotional sense, we’re either lifting someone up, or breaking him down. Filling a bucket is simply making a deposit in someone else’s life. Rendering a compliment, holding a door open, making a conscious effort to do good and abide by the Golden Rule. When you fill a bucket, you’re making a conscious effort to make someone else’s life better, no matter how small the effort or task. You’re choosing to be selfless.

When you empty someone’s bucket, you’re taking a withdrawal. You’re invariably breaking him down for your own benefit, if you’re conscious of it or not. You’re being selfish. Breaking someone down can cause immediate and long-term damage to both the receiver and the giver (you). Now you’ve got that scarred inventory in your heart and head until you choose to make it right. And you’ve taken away from someone.

Imagine that everyone is carrying with them a bucket that’s not quite full. Do what you can to add to that bucket. Don’t take away. Make someone laugh or smile or blush. A small effort can make a huge difference in a person’s day, and probably make an impact for a lifetime. And make filling buckets a habit. Things that we become really good at become habits.

Try to fill five buckets a day. Fill buckets.

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Life advice from Josh: Read

Read books. Turn off the TV. Put down your phone. Pick up a book and read it. Read it before you go to bed. It stirs the imagination, boosts your vocabulary, clears your mind, teaches you things, and, most importantly, it’s much-needed you time. You’re reading yourself a story. It’s therapeutic. It helps you wind down. Trust me.

We got rid of cable television some number of years ago. I don’t remember — I want to say it’s been at least five years, and me, personally, I don’t miss it a single bit. Six plus years ago I started the habit of reading every single night before I go to bed. When it truly became a habit, I asked for a Kindle for Christmas. My kindle is dutifully at my nightstand and travels with me when I won’t be sleeping in my own bed.

Can’t think of a book to start with? Try Harry Potter. Seriously. It’s a wonderful, well-written series of stories that’ll turn reading into a habit for you. Then try re-reading those classics that you were forced to read in high school when you might’ve been too cool, or too busy to read back then. You’ll relate to them now. Then ask your friends for book recommendations. Ask me. I have great recommendations. When you talk about books with your friends and family, they’ll always have great recommendations for you because they know and love you. They have a pretty good idea of who you are and what your interests are, often times taking into account your moral compass and imagination. My mother-in-law always loans me really good books. And those are really special gifts because I know she thought of me and wanted to share something that I’d find of great value.

I’m reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to my oldest daughter right now. That book will make you realize how most of us have sadly dumbed down our personal prose and conversational vocabulary (or just don’t know any better). I like to alternate the kinds of books that I read. I’ll read a classic novel, and then I’ll read a “fun” novel. Right now I’m reading a “fun” Pet Semetery by Stephen King. I’ve always been a fan of horror.

Go to your local bookstore or library. Tell an employee you’d like a book recommendation. Be humble and divulge your interests. Get lost in the books section of Amazon.com. Fun fact: all of the classic novels are free on the Kindle.

Read books. Let your mind paint pictures. It’s better than Netflix doing it for you.

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Life advice from Josh: Go for walk

Stop what you’re doing. It’ll be there when you get back. Get up and go for a walk. And go walk some miles. Put some time and distance into it, emphasis on the time. Go be by yourself and just walk. Mosey and think. Find a trail or walk some unfamiliar streets. Walking gets the blood flowing and promotes good health and posture. And you need a break. And you need to smell the air and hear the birds and see the new architecture and plant life. And you just need to get away from whatever it is that you think is so important. Again, it’ll be there when you get back. What’s really important is you moving and breathing and thinking about what’s really valuable and important in your life at that moment. The walking will help you realize this. A work email isn’t what’s really important. When you’re walking you can think about scheduling a Daddy/Daughter date. Or how beautiful of a woman your wife truly is and how she enriches your life so. Or how you could earn some extra passive income to save up for a nice family vacation, or to double up on the mortgage payment. Or you could just look at those ducks over there and think about what they’re thinking about when they’re just standing there, all ducky.

And consider investing in a gadget that helps you track your steps and distance. It’ll be that tangible thing that reminds you to go for a walk. And then you can look at your data and motivate yourself to persist and beat yesterday.

Go for a walk.

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Life advice from Josh: Water

Drink water. Plain, good ol’ H2O. Pitch the cokes & coffee. Well, maybe not pitch them, but scale back a bit and augment your liquid intake by drinking some more water. Our bodies are made up of it, and it’s freely available. And it’s good for you. And it fills you up. Always have a cup or bottle next to you to remind you to drink your water. Chug a bunch of water before you eat. It’ll fill you up and you won’t be inclined to eat the huge portion of food in front of you.

I’m learning the drinking more water lesson the hard way. I was diagnosed with a kidney stone this past Friday. On Wednesday night I trying laying down in bed, I tried walking around the house, I tried curling up into the fetal position on the floor in our bedroom in a desperate attempt to rid myself of the unbearable pain I was feeling in the right side of my back, just below my rib cage. I finally woke Elise up at 2 a.m. and had her check my temperature because I thought I might’ve had appendicitis. Long story short, the pain I was feeling was a calcium oxalate stone moving around in my kidney. After my CT scan and confirmed diagnosis of a kidney stone, I learned that I get to wait for its “passing.” The cause? Well, thankfully it’s not hereditary (according to my mom). Since I’ve been running so much, I haven’t been hydrating with plain water as much as I should. And I’d been taking a lot of vitamin C supplements in the form of Emergen-C. And spinach. And salt. And nuts. And chocolate. And tea. And animal protein. All of these things are high in calcium oxalate.

So, I’ve modified my diet and I consciously drink a lot of water throughout the day. You should drink more water, too. If anything, I’d just like to prevent you from getting a kidney stone. They’re not fun.

Drink water.

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Life advice according to Josh

Since I’ll be reaching the age of 40 in a few months, I figured I’d start writing down things that I’ve learned along the way, and lessons by which I try to live. All of these life nuggets are simple, and warrant not much explanation.

So, with that said, here’s the first:

Put down your stupid phone. This year I’ve adopted a no phone policy. When I’m in the presence of other people, my phone goes away. I have one of the latest and greatest iPhones, and I’ll probably always have the latest and greatest iPhone. But I consciously avoid having my nose buried in it at all times. I keep it in my pocket. Next time you’re in public, look around. What you’ll notice is all the people who are letting the real world pass them by. And they’re missing time and interactions with their loved ones. When I’m with someone, I no longer have my phone out. It’s in my pocket. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and email can wait until you’re taking a poop.

Be present. Put your phone away. Your phone will probably be there next to you on your death bed, but it’s not going to cry when you’re gone. Your friends and family will though. Be here for your loved ones right now.

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Capital To Coast Relay


This past Friday a group of us made a valiant effort in running from Austin to Corpus Christi in the 6th annual Capital To Coast Relay.  A 223-mile around-the-clock relay.  We didn’t make it.  Unfortunately one of our runners had a bad run-in with the Texas heat and suffered from a heat stroke during his first leg (a 7-miler.  Four miles of which are up “Alice’s Hill,” with a net elevation gain of 375-feet in 92-degree south Texas heat & humidity).  Our team of 12 was divided up into two 15-passenger vans.  We were on our 9th runner and had covered around 55 miles when he went down.  Van #2 was quick to react and pulled the guy in, poured ice water on him, covered him with cold towels, pointed the air conditioner vents on him at full blast, and after a 20-minute rush the the emergency room in Seguin, TX, his core body temperature was still 103-degrees.  From what we were told, he was on the verge of full kidney failure.  Had Van #2 not taken such quick action, he probably would not have lived.

So our team, the Coast Busters, decided that we would not finish the race by traditional standards, accept the Did Not Finish (DNF), but the Van #1 guys would complete their legs as planned.  So we kept running.  And we still did pretty well.

I ran legs 1, 13 and 25.  My day started at 2:30 a.m. in preparation for the weekend ahead of me.  My friend Harry picked me up at 4:30 a.m. and we started our drive around south and southwest Austin to pick up the rest of Van #1.  Our team of six consisted of yours truly, Harry, “Moose,” Eric, Weston, Markeiths, and our driver/manager/brains, Brad.  I spent the next day and half with these guys and, while I’ve never been a team sport kind of guy, enjoyed slogging it out with that crew.

I started our team with a brutal 9-mile run through downtown Austin starting at 6 a.m.  This was the first year that the first leg of the race had changed, so there wasn’t an elevation gain map available for us (me) to study before the race.  I thought I new the downtown Austin topography pretty well.  I was wrong.  It felt like I was running uphill the entire time.  And, to add insult to injury, it was an urban assault leg of a run.  The other runners and I were hopping curbs, dodging traffic, waiting at red lights, traversing downtown sidewalks, dodging commuters and other foot traffic, and managing what seemed like 5 miles of busted concrete, uneven surfaces and general urban construction.  It sucked.  It hurt.  My pace was off and the elevation gain flat-out sucked.  Oh, and a runner’s worst nightmare — I was enduring some gastro-intestinal “issues.”

I slogged through it, though.

To be continued…

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First day of Fourth Grade

First day of school today:

First day of 3rd Grade last year

First day of 2nd Grade 2 years ago

First day of 1st Grade 3 years ago:

First day of Kindergarten 4 years ago:

First day of school 5 years ago:

First day of school 6 years ago:

First day of school 7 years ago:

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Mara’s first day of pre-school


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Two years running


Two years ago today, on July 11th, I started running. In those two years I’ve shed 40 pounds, covered 2,661 miles in over 334 hours, and have done a lot of thinking. I still wake up every day before the sun and before my alarm and excitedly slip outside to hit the road.

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The 20-miler

I ran my first 20-miler today. It was rough. Elise texted me around noon (after I’d come home, ate, showered & took a nap) and asked how it was. My response: “Run was a lot like what I think death would be like. Raw, real, painful. Some parts were nice. Other parts not so nice.”

If memory serves me, I think it was 78-degrees at 5:45 a.m. today. So after about 3 miles in, my personal running microclimate was somewhere in the mid-90’s. And it was humid and the air thick. I hit a bit of a wall at mile 15. Then I hit another wall around mile 17. I finally had to stop and walk around the neighborhood I was in and fine a water hose on the side of someone’s house and take some big mouthfuls of nasty, rubbery-tasting water. I slogged through the remaining 3 miles, but it kind of sucked.

I’ve always resolved that I’d just have to slog through the really long runs when it gets hot in Austin. I’m hoping the slogging through will make it easier and better when the cooler weather comes back in 7 or 8 months. In the meantime, it’s kind of a cool feeling of accomplishment to’ve run 20-miles.


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I ran 17 miles today. I actually slogged through 17 miles. This week Spring officially sprung, and it’s been hot & humid in Texas. I’m definitely more of a Winter runner. My optimal temperature for running is between 37 and 40-degrees. But, I’m totally fine with my 8:17 pace. This morning’s run was a Zen run. I didn’t look at my Garmin watch once and I didn’t give a rat’s ass about my pace the whole time. I listened to Led Zeppelin’s Greatest Hits and I made sure to pay attention to the scenery around Town Lake. Since it’s now spring, there were lots of flowers and grass and tree buds to enjoy, and people to watch and ducks to see. I also saw an armadillo hanging out in front of the Statesman’s office.

The best part was that I felt great after the run. In fact, I thought about pressing on and making an even 20-miles. But I’m sticking to my plan of increasing my mileage by 1-mile on my long runs each week or two. I know the pace will increase on its own. And even if it doesn’t, I’m fine with that.


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Camping in the backyard

We decided to pitch the tent and all sleep in the backyard last night. The weather was cool, but the ground was hard. It was still fun though. There were many a time when I thought, “what the hell are we doing.” But then I remembered, time goes by so quickly that I knew I’d regret it if we never did it.




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16 miles at 7:16

I ran 16 miles this morning. I prefer to go on my long runs on Saturday so as to have Sunday to recover. This past Saturday it rained all day. In hindsight, I probably should’ve ran on Saturday because the rain would’ve been cool and refreshing. However, wet feet & socks leads to blisters.

I get pretty pumped about going on long runs. I don’t usually dread them. If there’s an ounce of dread, it’ll show around mile 10. Today there wasn’t dread so much as there was some nervous anticipation. I slept terribly last night, last night’s meal was a bit spicier than it should’ve been, and I knew the second half of the run was mostly uphill. Sleep is a big factor. I need a lot of sleep the night before a long run. I think I only slept for a good four hours last night. I stayed up too late farting around with creating my playslist for today. I think I went to bed around 11:30. Then I read for 30 minutes. And then, for whatever reason, I woke up at 1:30 and had a hard time falling back to sleep.

My alarm turned on at 5:45 and I decided to seize the run, despite the normal eight hours of sleep I should’ve given myself. The first 10 miles were okay. The last 6 felt okay, but I didn’t keep the pace that I wanted to keep. I think that’s due to a lot of things: 1) it’s getting hotter outside (it was probably 60-degrees by 8 a.m., which is about the time I hit mile 10. I prefer 40-degree running weather. 2) Obvious lack of sleep. 3) Elevation gain 4) carrying a bottle of water (which I never do) and 5) terrain. I ran a route that consisted of major streets in south Austin with a lot of busy intersections. Luckily it was early on a Sunday, so traffic wasn’t bad, but I did have to stop running a few times and wait on traffic lights and cars.

Nutrition: Today was my first experiment in eating while running. I know I’m fine running between 10-15 miles without eating or drinking. I decided that my first 16-miler would be when I try eating. And by eating, I don’t mean a chicken leg and mashed potatoes. I mean the infamous “goo” that athletes snarf down while mid-run/ride. I’ve always liked CLIF Bars, so I decided to try a CLIF Shot. One of these goo/gel packs is usually a pack of gooey dextrose that provides quick sugars and carbs that your body can use for fuel to burn. After about an hour of intensive activity, your body pretty much depletes its glycogen. The gel packs are relatively quick to digest and bump up blood sugar levels. I’ve always had a hard time fathoming swallowing anything beyond water while running, but knew I had to practice. I took the Mocha CLIF Shot that Elise got in her goody bag from the 3M Half Marathon back in January. And I slurped it down at around mile 8. I actually took it in three servings on a downhill so I could actually close my mouth and swallow when I wasn’t panting like mad. It wasn’t bad and it didn’t jack with my digestive system. I’ve read horror stories about how some gels and goos affect people differently. Thankfully I can eat pretty much anything, so I didn’t experience any kind of gut issues. The package says you’re supposed to drink a mouthful of water after taking the shot, hence me running with a bottle of water. I didn’t much like toting around a pound of water in my hand while running. Extra weight on one arm for any given amount of time makes a difference. So, now I know I can eat & run. I think I’m going to have to carry a much smaller little bottle of water next time. I don’t think I can have one of those drink holsters on my SPI Belt. I can’t imagine that not bouncing all over the place, banging against my ass and bothering the hell out of me.

So, I ran 16 miles today and ate while doing so. I wanted to keep my pace below 7:15, but also knew that given the lack of sleep and terrain, I really just signed up to get used to the 2 hours on my feet. Once it’s cold again, and after a lot more long runs, I’m confident that I can pace myself where I need to be.


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