Sharing Gift of Wellness; Cereal Celebration Menu

I continue to riff on the idea of spreading the gift of wellness via acts of kindness and play. Modeling in action and speaking about it only go so far. Immersing people into experiences are where change is likely to occur: Acts of Kindness + Great Attitude = Positive Change. 

Today, we tackled breakfast and the default of many working adults: either skipping it entirely or eating something quick (and perhaps too often unhealthy). And cereal becomes one such default if kids are in the mix. 

This is the menu shared with colleagues today at our Quest Cereal Celebration. People of all different ages, backgrounds, and fitness levels enjoyed this experience and shared how the food was surprisingly good! Hopefully, this gives these tremendous colleagues other options for them, their family, and their friends!

The Menu

A. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal

  1. Chop up two Quest Nutrition Beyond Cereal cinnamon roll bar into 30 pieces each and place in a bowl 
  2. Pour Almond Milk, Fairlife Milk, or MuscleEgg vanilla in a bowl
  3. Sprinkle with Cinnamon 
  4. Enjoy!!

Macros (w Muscleegg) Cal: 360 Pro: 49 Carbs: 36 (6 net) Fat: 9

 B. Waffle Sticks

  1. Slice a Quest Beyond Cereal Maple bar in three
  2. Fill a ramekins with sugar free syrup
  3. Dip and eat

Macros: Cal: 110 Pro: 12 Carbs: 17 (3 net) Fat: 4.5

C. Protein Hot Chocolate

  1. Heat up water (or aforementioned milk)
  2. In a shaker, put one serving of Quest Nutrion chocolate protein with 16oz hot liquid.  
  3. Shake and pour into 2-4 mugs 
  4. Shave pieces of a Quest Nutrition S’mores protein bar into each cup 

Macros (w water and without bar shavings) Cal: 110 Pro: 23 Carbs: 4 (2 net) Fat:0

D. Blueberry Muffins

  1. Cube a Quest Nutrition blueberry muffin bar into 6-8 pieces 
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Place  piece on baking sheet for 3 minute, flip, and bake for another 3-5 minutes

Macros  Cal: 190 Pro: 21 Carbs: 22 (5 net) Fat: 6

E. Cookie Jar Cereal

  1. Chopped the Quest Beyond Cereal chocolate bar into 32 pieces and place in a bowel
  2. Microwave Quest chocolate chip bar for 10 sec, break into 12 pieces, roll into balls
  3. Bake rolled balls for 5 min at 350 degrees
  4. Place the baked cookies into the bowl with Beyond Cereal bar
  5. Pour 3/4c of liquid in the bowl and sprinkle with cocoa 
  6.  Place bowl in fridge for 3-5 minutes
  7. Pull bowl out and pour remaining 1/4c of liquid in bowl.
  8. Boom!!!

Macros (w Muscleegg) Cal: 440 Pro: 58 Carbs: 41 (8 net) Fat: 10

Youth and Social Media: Shifting Mindsets

This past week I say on panel on social media and today’s youth. The panel immediately followed an an opening presentation by two speakers.

What was supposed to be “Understanding Social Media in Your Child’s World” turned quickly to what I often fear in these forums: Us vs. Them.

  1. Track
  2. Follow
  3. Oversee 
  4. Protect
  5. Block

And on and on with a tone that kids are ignorant of how to operate online and unable to make good decisions online all while there are evils awaiting them at each turn.

And while everyone was coming from a place of caring and desire to create the best conditions for kids, I’m fearful of the message that families took away.

My Take

I am not an expert. I don’t see all the evils that law enforcement encounter daily. And honestly, I’m not sure my message which was considerably different than anyone else resonated. But here it is in bite sizes

  1. There is a knowing-doing gap. Research tells us that kids can tell you how to act online, how to keep themselves save, and what to do when there are problems. However, they still make mistakes frequently.
  2. But… This isn’t a tween or teen issue. It is a societal issue. Adults are perhaps worse citizens online than children
  3. Historically, we have banned it then we tried scare tactics before saying we need to educate these kids. Education was “we know you don’t” before than gave way to “maybe they know more than us”. All of these approaches failed to some degree.
  4. Today, what is working is good parenting and good relationships in schools. Let’s embrace this together: explore, learn, and use social media together. It is part of a larger conversation about life than absolutes that governed early attempts
  5. We need to evolve the conversation beyond just Embracing together this journey into three key areas: Mindfulness, Mindsets, and Development of Self.
  6.  We need to know that all humans make mistakes when the emotions of the moment overtake the mindfulness that yields the ability to pay attention and process before action. Teaching mindfulness is key
  7. We need to know that a community mindset builds empathy, leadership, and connection. This frame of community makes us all aware and interested in the best possible things for people. It is human centric at the core.
  8. Knowing our self and developing the best version of that self is at the core. We spend far too much time on content that never yields growth beyond the surface intellectual. 
  9. We are so focused on catching them and assuming wrong doing that we sacrifice relationships, trust, and hope. Engage with your child in the ethical dilemmas we all face and be a positive model in a world full of adult models leading youth towards anger, tension, and meanness 
  10. Remember that right now digital distraction and lack of life focus is the greater concern. Lost in the intoxication of online and keeping up with the Jones is crushing the spirit of adults and youths alike. Mindful. This is the key

Notes to My Kids… Or Mindset Work.

Most mornings, my kids will find a note from me: thoughts, questions, and challenges. 

How did this start? Why did this start? When do you find the time to write these? How do you come up with these? 

Because I post many of these to my Instagram account, I get a lot of these questions so here you go:

How and Why Did This Start?

Honestly, it started from my failure as a father. Because I was not seeing my children in the morning and then at times not at all, I was not engaging in the meaningful conversations with them that I value. As a morning person and someone that thinks the entire time of the day is set within 60 minutes of rising, I became frustrated with myself as a father.

Like all things that disturb me, I go to work on them. I tried a few things that failed miserably: calling each morning, kissing them goodbye, and so forth.

But then a former student contacted me about how he was using two things from my time as an English teacher: BOHA and StoryLab. He, of course, has made them considerably better and more meaningful but he also sparked in me that, “duh… Why am I not doing this with my children.”

When do you find the time to write these? 

I write these all the time

  1. when the thoughts of my children emerge. The story in my head is often most readily connected with pieces that need to be cultivated. These tend to be reflective.
  2. when doing light cardio at the gym. My head is often clear and focused so I can be concise. These tend to be rather intense!
  3. when reading books and articles. These tend to be deep and inquisitive.
  4. and often at random times. These tend to be emotional.

In other words, I write a lot and on any random scrap of paper or phone app. I don’t tend to edit or revise; I keep it raw. 

How do you come up with these?

Experiences and my daily work on cultivating a better me. These are deeply personal and deeply raw, but I am wanting my children to be comfortable with chaos, emotions, growth, and vulnerability. This is a way to model.

Some might say they are too young or not cognitively ready. I’d argue this is the perfect time and example upon example shows me this mindset work is growing them in deeply profound ways.

Discover Each Student’s Story

All people have a story within a story, a tale of…

  • Needs
  • Barriers
  • Opportunities
  • Growth potential
  • Strengths 
  • Dreams
  • Failures 
  • Hopes
  • Disappointments

Our ability to understand the power of the individual story through all of our senses unlocks our ability to connect, feel empathy, and build a relationship.

And this allows for a bridge… A bridge to helping unlock human potential. When people feel they are heard and really listen to, the human condition is maximized allowing them to engage more, open up more, and explore more paths. Just think about a time you actually listened and heard someone’s story!

People light up when he or she is heard. As an educator, I can think of few things more important than hearing and knowing the story within the story of each student in your room. Listen with heart (feelings) , mind (ideas and opportunities) and body (cues).

From there, the connective and emotional bridge opens up growth of self and community. Invest in stories! 

Why Improv Creates Creative Chaos  for a Compassion Classroom

When I think about why I find it so valuable to bring improvisation to the classroom even to the point that I commit time during new teacher orientation week, it is about aligning our actions with our stated beliefs. Too many times, we talk at our teachers about things we believe but we never help shift them to action nor do we ourselves model those aspects.

Improv is a lever that provides pragmatic strategies, philosophical belief growth, and organizational values grounding.

  1. Mindsets
  2. Mindfulness, Mind-Body-Heart
  3. Courage – Creativity – Community
  4. Play, Fun, and Happiness
  5. Engagement and Movement
  6. Voice and choice 
  7. Growth minded
  8. Risk-taking
  9. Empathy 
  10. Agility, Assessment, and Reflection

These are just a few of the themes that emerged from working with teachers on improv. And many of these themes are what we say we want and believe to be important in the classroom. Improv work allows us to discuss these themes in pragmatic ways that make these deeply philosophical topics more digestible with ways to shape the classroom immediately.

Today, a partner and I continue our journey of reimagining learning and teaching using out of box, “noneducation” ways to approach key themes. Improv was one catalyst that evoked conversations in the aforementioned areas at an empathic, thoughtful way unlike years of conversation that seem surface levels.

Ideas flew at the end of how to use improv for all of the above BUT also the experience pushed them to reimagine practices that were counter to deep learning experiences.

Rethink. Reimagine. Get beyond education to create a new education!

Begin Mindset Work Young

I’m wrestling with the influence of society on human performance and mindsets. Very quickly, we come to believe we lack the gifts/talents/skills/intelligence which leads us to 

  1. develop and HEAR self-destructive language 
  2. Value complacency and settling
  3. Dismiss our dreams as possible 
  4. Shift to coping with what life gives 
  5. Buy into social expectations 
  6. Become change averse
  7. Live with fear 
  8. Talk without action 

So I continue to engage my children in deeply philosophical and growth driven discussions. At the same time, I am now pressing them for action to anchor these lessons. Some people say they are too young to discuss, engage, and utilize these lessons.

While I don’t know for sure, I can’t help but believe that I can counter the norm if I 1) engage them here 2) model for them these conversations and 3) monitor myself in relation to their lives.

Here are two examples from Today

From my son as we drove to practice:

Me: what does it mean if you fail?

Finn: I’m still learning and not there yet. You never stop! 

Me: Will I be mad at you for failing?

Finn: Only if I give up or stop learning from it.

Me: will you fail at something today? 

Finn: No!

Me: If you do, what will you do?

Finn: hmmm…

Me: what could you ask your coach?

Finn: oh! How do I work on that area I failed!

Me: right on!

Before that at breakfast

Mac(19): talking about ISU

Fae (6): I want to go to @IllinoisStateU

Me: want or will- is there a Diff?

Fae: Will means I am – want means I might

Me: So…

Fae: I will! 

Oddly, this is the first time I’ve heard her use “want” instead of the assertive, positive language “will”. As we age, our declarative statements shift to these external hope and passive statements … I want… I’d love… Wouldn’t it be great…

As we enter into a new school year, I’m

constantly reminded of the paradox that exist between what we define as important and the actions we take to get there. This mindset work at any age along with the cultivation of social-emotional habits, dispositions, and skills through engaging, immersive experiences is where our work should sit. In other words, the growth of -self for maximum human performance. 

So what will be our work this year? What will be our driving focus? 

Will we think in terms of discipline? Content? Grades? Standards?


Will we focus on the cultivation of self? Human centric growth? Curiosity and Passions? Play and joy? All of the things that foster the mindsets needed to #livelaughlove for life and continuing growing!

Finding And Centering Around Your Purpose

Finding And Centering Around Your Purpose

I get a lot of questions about why I do all the things I do, why I can’t just be one thing, how do all these different interests link, etc.. All good, genuine questions.

Let me try and explain how I centered around my passions, which I believe can help everyone!

There are questions and there are life focus points that can help you find your true north:

  1. Where do you put your effort? 
  2. What’s your purpose? 
  3. What is a meaningful life? What is a life worth living? 
  4. What is your pursuit? 
  5. What gives you meaning? 
  6. What brings you joy (not happiness)?
  7. What’s your cause? 
  8. What’s your belief? 
  9. Why does your organization exist? 
  10. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? 
  11. How do you measure yourself? And why should anyone care? 

I believe in the need to discover a deep sense of purpose for one’s life. These questions help one center themselves to a purpose. Then one must not only believe it but live and work for it daily on fulfilling that purpose! As Terry Orlick eloquently proclaims, “The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”

 Define your horizon and anchor to it by exploring sparks, engaging curiosities, paying attention to where energy flows, and growing ideas. Passions will emerge and then you are free, you are born. If you don’t know, begin removing the things that aren’t/don’t.

Chasing and growing from my sparks, curiosities, adventures, and experiences has created a unique and diverse passion set. But… it has created an intersection that is my path, my vision, my obsession. My quest is the intersections of those many strange and unique passions (including a foodie!!): I want to be a blueprint for how one maximizes human potential in the area of mind, body, heart, and self – to help everyone #LevelUp. If I can learn with and help grow all of those around me, we can collectively rewire the human condition. Obsessed with mindsets and innovation, I am chasing that horizon to #livelaughlove to the fullest. I’m less an athlete, less an educator, less a leader. I am a human scientist using everything I can.

An ethnographer and seeker at heart, I’m constantly seeking new adventures, challenges, connections, and growth. Without that, I’m dead inside. Without that, I become fixated on being happy (things that often lead to bad decision making) instead of lasting joy.

#levelup #horizon #life #living #lifeworthliving #livelaughlove #growth #joy #happy #love #living #mindsets #motivation #mindfulness #passion #neverdone #myquest #questsquad  #fit #fitness #education #teacher #seeker #passion

Passing Time on Steady State Cardio

Most of the time, my cardio is HIIT and Conditioning based so time flies. However, I believe steady state cardio has its place. In brief, I’ll add 20-30 minutes of steady state after HIIT during the offseason. I’ll also use steady state on days when I don’t do HIIT. Finally, steady state becomes a large portion the closer I get to a show. Right now, I’ve been at two 60 minute steady state sessions.

And that is a hamster wheel experience that gets old quickly especially for someone easily victimized by boredom.

But I’ve developed a few strategies that really help:

  1. Chunky Chunk: I’ll break up steady state into multiple sections and utilize different machines. For example, I’ll use 4 different pieces of equipment at 15 minutes each. This changes the mental and physical state. Wake up!
  2. Play Frogger: I’ll utilize different movements on equipment. For instance, I’ll go sideways, backwards, forwards, etc.. By breaking things into 30sec time frames, time picks up because the stimulus of change.
  3. Audio/Visual Learning Time: this is key for me. I listen to podcasts and watch videos of things of value to me (education, cooking, interviews, fitness events, etc)
  4. Course Experiences: I take a lot of MOOCs like Coursera. I’ll spend an hour in my course work. 
  5. Curation and Writing: I actually spend a potion reviewing my various feeds and then write or tweet about them. I’m actually blogging this during cardio. I’ll do my Yelp work, blog for my profession, and work on my brand in fitness

This is a good time to say get distracted. If you focus on how much time is left, you’ll fight it and struggle deeply.

Level Up!


What Makes a Teacher Distinguished

Let’s be clear that there is no one answer at least in my opinion. There are, however, common themes that emerge if we listen to enough stories about teachers that are distinguished, truly making a mark on the lives of students and the profession of education.

Listening to the stories about our distinguished teacher this year, a number of points about her resonated with me because these are themes emerging in other stories about other teachers given similar honors by students.

Distinguished Teacher Traits

  • Unique style
  • Engaging – Not a single student was ever bored
  • Allowed our voices to be heard 
  • Embraced and cultivated our individuality 
  • Empathetic to our world
  • She recognized potential and pushes each one to reach and even exceed
  • Persistent care for us – endless memory remembering every detail about us 
  • Content was merely a vehicle to us and our minds not the end all be all 
  • Modeled a life worth living
  • Taught us to trust ourselves and become our own person

emphasis my own

Hearing the stories of how this teacher captured the hearts and minds of her students brought me to tears. It also leaves me wondering what can we draw from these traits that can (should?) be applied in education.  

Expectations of Students and Teachers Must Align

I don’t write much about education these days because much of what I say is so counter to what is being said that it is perceived as  abrasive.

This will no doubt fall into that category but it comes from the purest of intent: get you to think a bit differently.

So here it is… 

Social media and education outlets are full of chatter about students needing to build, create, design, innovate, collaborate, go global, be public, do big things, transform the world, etc..

I couldn’t agree more. But here is the thing: how many of the adults in your school/district are doing this themselves regularly? How many of them are pushing the status quo in their professional and personal life? How many are growth and change minded?

The number will directly correlate to the number of students experiencing these things in the classroom.

In other words, none of this will happen systemically if the adults aren’t living it themselves. Leaders – align the expectations of students with the same expectations of teachers or you’ll never see systemic change.