it’s between you and God (and a few hundred other people)   Leave a comment

i have been exposed to some comments lately. some of them were in conversations i have had and some are just things i have seen people post on social media. they have been about God, and they were comments made by people that aren’t really into God. that is a weird statement i know. into God? can you be in to a certain degree? i mean… either you believe there is a god or you don’t. the ramifications of either side of the argument are HUGE. i think most people do not understand the stance they are taking by believing or not believing. but that is another blog.

if you DO believe… well then you must understand that your words and actions are not without consequence. you would live life with a LOT more incentive. is this you?

if you don’t believe… this one is tricky. if there is no entity to set the standards in your life (morals, values, etc.) then how do you justify your actions? your values? your value? why do you have any morals or regard for others? 

i don’t want to get too deep into this. that would pretty much avoid my real point. what i am getting at is people who “try” religion.

what exactly are you trying? let’s use Christianity as an example (mostly cuz that is what i know the most about, and that is what one of the comments was directed at)

the common misconception is that a thing like Christianity is a social club. maybe some religions are, but Christianity is not supposed to be that way. and yet it is. i will explain.

if i am a batavian (which i am), then i am of batavia. i am not a batavian if i hang with people who are from batavia.

i am a christian. the term “christian” was given to people who followed and emulated Jesus the Christ. so if one was to “try” christianity, one would NEED to know what Jesus was all about.

this is easy info to access.

we have about 3 years of recorded data on the life and death of Jesus. you can read all the stuff that he said and was said about him, or you can look at one little statement (biggest statement he ever made with few words).

what is IT all about?

He summed IT all up: Love God, and care for (love) your neighbors the same way you care for yourself.

So then… being a christian is to be like Christ, and that equals loving God and loving people. you might want to find out how to do that, but i think most people know how to love. if you know how you want to be loved then you know how to love. most people are not good at it but they at least know what is expected.

so if you are treated a certain way by a group of people who claim to be christian, but do not love you, well then… are they christians? perhaps. maybe they are just a bit self centered as we all are and are trying to mature and prioritize their “neighbors”. honestly… most people need to learn how to love. it takes practice because it takes fearlessness.

but my REALLY REAL point is that christianity is between you and Jesus. so you cannot say you tried it and didn’t like it based on the behavior of others. YOU are the one seeking to emulate the One who told us to love God and others. you cannot say it didn’t work for you, because YOU are the one with the work to do. 

Christianity is not a club in that you join and then receive benefits. YOU provide the benefits to those around you. if you are not receiving the benefits (love) then you need to keep loving and find others who are better at it than the ones you were associated with. but it’s still on you. 

whether you are or are not a christian is completely based on whether you love or do not love God and others. 

sadly… if you belong to a group of people who are simply charged with loving others, then you should be well loved. often this is not the case. like i said… loving takes practice. many people don’t try hard and never achieve any level of proficiency.

what about you?

my very last analogy… it is like joining a gym and then claiming the gym and the people in the gym did not work for you. 

i hope this is clear. i would be happy to elaborate on any part of this, written or implied.



Posted June 27, 2014 by john b in philosofickle, Uncategorized

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Time, and Time Again. And Again.   Leave a comment

time = experience

there are just some things you don’t know until you have lived long enough. you have to go through some experiences. i am an adult. it is weird to type that. i go to school with individuals who some might consider to be kids still. i mean really, when is a person an adult? you might be 18 and in some circumstances you are a grownup. you are responsible for some things. but when you get to 25 years of age, and look back at that younger you, that 18 year old… was that you really a grownup? no, i don’t think so. for me that is certainly the case. at 38 years of age I am just starting to see myself as a grownup, and only in certain circumstances. very few circumstances.

getting older has taught me some things. let me rephrase that. getting older has SHOWN me some things. whether I actually learn from those things is my choice. so getting older has taught me SOME things. a few things i still haven’t learned. there are some hard lessons. the voice of age says things like, “don’t wear that. ever again. ever.” but I might answer; “why? it’s still really cool.” and age responds with, “did you just say cool? you did. you said cool. i rest my case.”

some things are much harder lessons. you might be going about your business and by the end of the day the voice of age might have told you that, “you are not as strong as you were once, and you never will be again.”
“the most attractive you was 8 years ago.”
and realizations start to set in like: you actually are not as smart as you thought you were because you keep trying to learn new things and they are not sinking in.
you are deeply flawed because what the people you love want most from you, just doesn’t come naturally to you.
you have developed habits over the years that either hurt, or might hurt your loved ones.
what was so important to you for years is just not important. did you just waste all that time and effort?
you better figure out a new identity because the one you have is old, faded, and not really you anymore.

age is not bad; it just takes some work. refocusing. it can be a violent process. a serious throw down between me and me. or, you and you. the me of last year feels entitled. after all, isn’t me in the past happier than me in the now? but me in the now is the wiser one. the one who has seen more. knows more of life’s terrain.

i am going to bed now. tonight i had to shed last year’s me. but it’s ok, i’m still me.

Posted March 22, 2014 by john b in philosofickle

i don’t like the tone of your voice! (or your muscles. especially your muscles)   Leave a comment

new year! 

i decided to put a little info out there that i have amassed in my last 18 years of working out. (the last 8 years i have also been a personal trainer)

so, this is my opinion, and it is based on countless conversations and encounters with people and fitness marketing.


that stupid word infuriates me. it is a word that i first encountered in fitness marketing. products will tone you. what does that mean?

the thing is… usually the word tone  is associated with products that do not build any real amount of muscle, and neither does the product cause any loss in body fat. so what does the product do? well it tones you.    


so, people come to me and they tell me that they want to lose weight and tone their __________. (pick a body part. usually thighs, arms, belly)

through many conversations consisting of me prying for detailed info i find that what they mean is they do not want to jiggle, and they want to see some muscle.

fat jiggles. muscle does not. bones do not. on some rare occasions skin may. these people grasp the problem area and squeeze a sizable amount of jiggly material to emphasize and illustrate their point.

 so what they are asking me to do (when they say tone) is to reduce their body fat and make sure there is muscle there to see. 

here is the nugget. the gold. the steak on the plate… all people want to have less body fat. a “toned” person is a person with little body fat and some muscle. most people do not want large, veiny musculature. they want to look trim. lean.

fitness products sold in tv infomercials usually do not do that. you want a lot of muscle? you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

you want some muscle? you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

you want just a little muscle? if you do not have it already, you have to lift weights. heavy weights.

the word “heavy” that i am using here is relative. it refers to weights that you can not already lift.


i mean… you need to start doing something that your body cannot already do. your body is already shaped and able to do what you do now. you don’t want that. you want a body that is shaped to do bigger and harder things. why would your body change and adapt to your training regimen if it is already capable of doing it.

first piece of advice- learn the difference between the word Can’t, and the word Won’t.

hint: can’t is usually a lie. I get can’t all the time from people.

to have a toned body you need to get lean and have some muscle. 

toning is still lifting weights and eating right. there is no middle area called toning. 

exercise is not lifting heavy on one end of the spectrum and toning on the other end. it is all the same. 

all great bodies are hard work. you don’t want to work hard? that is fine. but it isn’t some process called toning.

Posted January 4, 2014 by john b in Uncategorized

you have to laugh…   Leave a comment

i never truly the understood the phrase “I had to laugh…” Or, “you gotta laugh…” usually people use those when they are starting to tell an anecdote.

to be honest, i had never really thought about the phrase before. today i realized why it is important to laugh. i mean think about it. someone is telling you that you HAVE or HAD to laugh. i have no other choice? sometimes a person does some thing so peculiar that you will laugh. you have no choice in the matter; you WILL laugh. whether you want to or not.

but sometimes i HAVE to laugh cuz if i don’t, someone gets a beating. the choice is laugh or react with swift violence.

Posted June 3, 2013 by john b in oh ssstop

but, he’s doing it wrong!   Leave a comment

one of my favorite things about being a fitness trainer is when people tell me what is correct and what is not. let me clarify a little. there are many ways to perform certain exercises. there are countless variations to exercises and, if i have learned anything, people modify exercises to accommodate aches and pains. keep that in mind as you read on.

so i am in an appointment with my friend brett. brett does everything i ask of him. he is pretty much the perfect client. as we were talking, an elderly woman came up to me in a huff. (not to be confused with wearing a huff. most people don’t wear huffs to the gym. she was shrouded in huff.) she exclaimed; “that man on the “gazelle machine” is doing it wrong!” “His knees are straight; he should have his knees bent”! my first thought was what the heck is a gazelle machine? I saw the man in question and told her that it was quite common for people to set the machine for a straighter-legged stance if they have knee issues. the man was probably late 60s or early 70s. safe to say that his knees are not what they used to be. the woman was probably the same age.

what i am about to write may offend some people. please realize that it is just an observation based on evidence i have accumulated without trying. elderly people are definitely the most opinionated, the most vocal about it, the least apt to change, and the least forgiving of change that they are subjected to. it is unfortunate. i am 38 yrs old. i would like to look to them for guidance and motivation. occasionally i come across an older person who inspires me, but in my job, the older people complain about any little change to their rituals. in this case the woman was acting as if another member was wandering across a busy freeway.

after i explained the reasons why the man was potentially-performing the exercise, she declared loudly “well fine, but he is doing it wrong!” that was when i smacked her. just kidding. i kinda laughed about it as she walked away. in retrospect i should have asked her for her training credentials and pointed out that she called the Cybex Arc Trainer a “Gazelle Machine”. that last act alone precluded the credibility of her complaint.

brett and i laughed about it and did our workout. it was a good workout. lots of pullups, and all manner of grunting.

the man who was performing the exercise comes to the Y regularly. he is an inspiration to me. he exercises almost daily and is in a pleasant mood.

Posted June 3, 2013 by john b in oh ssstop

Class of Spring, 2013   Leave a comment

Who doesn’t smile at the first Robin they see each year?
Oblivious, hopping about, respected, honored, saluted.

Warmer air… in walks the Robin, the Goose, the little colorful ones.
The class smiles. Some cheer! High fives, handshakes, hurrays (as if happiness rides their tail feathers in.

So also come the skunk, the possum, the raccoon.
The class groans.

Raccoon should have snuck in with the birds;
No one would have noticed.

Posted April 27, 2013 by john b in Uncategorized

I would carry you up the tallest hill   1 comment

her breathing was loud and rhythmic. each breath seemed like the ticking of a timer. counting down. for the first 15 minutes i watched the clock right above her to see what minute and second would be the last breath. after 3 hours of sitting and listening i gave up.

my mind wandered for a little bit. i was digging through the memories, trying to pull out and look at as many as i could to try to dim the one i was a part in creating in this moment. the one that is most vivid. the one where there is an oxygen mask pulled tight over her nose and mouth, her hair stringy and matted down, her head cocked slightly back and off to one side. a broken-down shell of a body that would finally completely break down in a matter of minutes, or hours.

i drifted off… i could see her face when she and my dad gathered us all together to tell us we would have a baby sibling soon.

when i was back in the room i realized i was tapping my feet and my hands to the beat of her breathing.

dad was a rock. i was a mess. i tried not to cry in front of the nurses and the doctor.

i wanted to touch her. i hadn’t touched her in years. this was my last chance. i put my hand on her forehead. and then got to the bathroom as fast as i could, and sobbed.

my sister got there. she drove 3 hours through the night, and snow, and wind. by now it was 3 am and i was so tired. i just didn’t know if i really wanted to see the breathing stop.

…I was very young. It was sometime before before ten years of age. I don’t know what my problem was but I was quiet and somber. That was unlike me. I was a happy kid. My mom noticed. Maybe everyone noticed but it was my mom who came to me one Saturday and said she was taking me to lunch. Just me. That had never happened before. With 4 siblings you just don’t go to lunch alone with mom or dad. She took me to Friendly’s on Ridge Road by the mall. She bought me a burger. I could have it any way I wanted it. I also got a milkshake.

…Mom owned a Chevrolet Chevelle. I think it was a ’74. I bought a ’72 Chevelle when I was 21. Mom got me into muscle cars. I remember saying once that I thought horses were dumb and I didn’t care if they all ran off a cliff. Mom asked me, “What if they were all Chevelles driving off a cliff?”

3:00AM Dad says I should go home and go to bed. He thinks I will be going to work in the morning. Not a chance.

…I was in the living room. I sat on something. I don’t remember what it was. Probably an ottoman. That day it was a tractor. Mom was in the kitchen. I was too young for school so I was home playing. My tractor was in front of one of the chairs in the living room. That way someone could get in the tractor with me. Mom left her stuff in the kitchen and got in my tractor. I got to drive.

I decided to leave. I got up, hugged dad and told him I loved him, I hugged my sister. I kissed my mom’s forehead. It was colder… much colder. I said goodbye very quietly. And left. I put my head down so the nurses wouldn’t see my crying. I passed their station quickly. They were all laughing loudly about some story one was telling.

I wish Jesus sat on a throne at the top of a very tall hill. I wanted to pick my mom up and carry her. I wanted to carry her til I had no strength left. I knew I would make it though. No one would have the strength and endurance it would take to carry her up. No one but her eldest son. I would carry her and place her at the feet of Jesus and give her to Him to watch over and care for until I would return some day. I wanted to do this so she knew that I loved her more than anything. Because I’m not sure she knew that. I wanted a chance to prove it. A trial. A test that all would fail, except her strongest son. She would know that I loved her as much as anyone in this world has ever loved her.

Christa, my sister stayed. At 5:19am my mom’s breathing stopped. Christa checked her pulse. Mom was gone.

It has been many years since the dementia started. At first it was using wrong words for things. Ultimately it would become silence, then her body would start shutting down. She was in her late forties when it started. I didn’t have my mom when I was an adult, but I had her when I was a child, and that is all that matters to me.

Posted February 20, 2013 by john b in Uncategorized