Archive for July, 2007

A Eulogy for Mike Stine

As some of you know I managed to be at the site of Mike’s crash some time between when it occurred and just before the arrival of the Montgomery County coroner.

Mike, at that time, should have been should have been riding back into his driveway, tired, sweaty, but energized thinking about the shower and cold drink waiting for him.
Words barely work, even in your own mind.  Unreal, surreal, stupefyingly unspeakable. Flashbacks to dinners,  parties, long and deep conversations,  the pink flamingoes we would secretly plant in each other’s gardens,  the hideous Elvis lamp we would regift over and over again, stories, histories, inside jokes, to all of the ups and down of enduring friendships. How in such a moment all of these memories come flooding back leaving you awash in the reality of what in life really counts – the quality of the moment?  You think of how easy it is to take for granted, this time, this now.
While I waited with the police detail for the Coroner to arrive, I needed to explain to Detective Boughter who this man on the ground was and why his loss will be so hard and will be felt so long and so deeply by so many.

 How could they know?  Would they ever have imagined that this free thinking, humane, literate, loving Lutheran chaplain educator who specialized in pastoral counseling had just spent the past five years teaching his special brand of humanity to military chaplains at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington?  Could they have known his outrage at the carnage of war he saw there?  Could they know that he was ready to put his career on the line to explain to the world the real human costs of war? The shattered bodies, the shattered dreams, the shattered lives? It was and is to be the documentary film, “Aftershock” that we have been working on with film maker Will Stanton for the past three years. 
Could they know that years ago Mike had been a Navy chaplain in Viet Nam and that he took the painful and difficult and very public path of challenging the abuse of conscientious objectors in military prisons at the time calling the responsible leadership to account on 60 Minutes and in the national press.  That he marched for civil rights in the heat of the struggle in Selma Alabama.

Or that he had just this spring taken a teaching position at Georgetown University in Washington, again to share his vision of the caring pastor with oncoming caregivers?  Could they have known that Mike was a talented artist, a loving husband and father, a true, and loyal and selfless friend?

The tough men at the scene seemed to soften, to understand to appreciate the person lying on the ground before them.
I left the scene when the coroner arrived and before I was asked to leave.

What else is there to do but to turn to the tasks that Mike would have counseled us to tend to – of grieving, of remembering, of honoring, of sharing, of caring, of living, of never forgetting Mike

Bun Gladieux
August 2, 2007


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By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr

It appears to be a fact of contemporary life that many of us, active athletes no less than anyone else, are over-stimulated, over-worked, over-committed, stressed and frustrated. We have too much to do, too much information to digest, too many demands on our minds and our energies and too little time in our waking hours for all, or maybe even a part, of it.

simplifySources of our over-filled cup are not difficult to identify. Consider the automobile, the telephone, the computer, television and a thousand and one other technological innovations and stimuli that were supposed to make our lives bigger and better or easier and more efficient. Surely most of them have made it possible to extend ourselves and, in at least some respects, to enjoy a richer, fuller existence. But taken together and, perhaps in excess, they have speeded up daily life, often beyond our coping capacity.

What to do?
Unfortunately not everyone has clear choices available to them and are, by fate, consigned to lives of quiet, sometimes frantic struggle. Active athletes, on the other hand, although certainly not immune to such stresses are at a distinct advantage and typically find that their regular training, far from sapping their strength, provides a net yield in both mental and physical energy. If you do not find it so and are tempted to lop off exercise as excess baggage on your journey, first try some of the following techniques that will help simplify, clarify and bring balance within.

This is, at once, the easiest, most direct and sometimes the most satisfying action you can take. In most instances it means just eliminating: a committee, a habit, any activity that you don’t truly care about and which does not give you or people you care about any true benefit. The key to removing yourself from an activity is being clear about what you have to be willing to give up, then following through. Consider carefully.

Most of us live through a demand schedule that may seem to have set itself up spontaneously and then controls us like a zombie tyrant. Don’t count on the zombie to be a benevolent despot with your best interests at heart. The zombie doesn’t care because it has no brain and doesn’t think and has no heart, so it can’t feel sorry for you. Better arrange you own routine. Decide week to week what you want/need and to do; slot in your tasks and times to rest and recover. Realism and common sense should dominate this planning.

Don’t shortchange yourself on your vacations. Some “Type A” types used to pride themselves on never taking them, presumably on the basis of being tough and/or devoted to the job. Balderdash. Vacations restore healthy perspectives and rejuvenate mind and body. If the idea of taking a vacation gives you a queasy feeling, better check out whether or not you really do have as firm a grip as you think.

Think through the things you do week to week or month to month. Sort them according to how important they are to you. Don’t be reluctant to break activities up into pieces. For example, you enjoy the process of cross training for triathlons, but the competition is beginning to become a drag. So train, but thin out your competitive schedule. Take a week or two break from your least favorite activity, and do something else like kayaking or hiking. Once you have honestly sorted out those activities that are the most and least important and satisfying to you, making decisions about how you spend your time will get easier.

The killer threat to inner balance and harmony in the end is not really out there among all the competing demands for your attention; it is in the humid fog inside your own head that beclouds your own self-awareness and aspirations.

Make it a matter of your own internal routine to concentrate clearly on what you plan to do, how you plan to do it and what you expect to get out of it – whatever “it” may be. Then do “it” and nothing else until you choose to go on to the next item on your self directed schedule, agenda or itinerary.

One of the most valuable fringe benefits of aerobic, endurance training, whatever the actual activity may be, is the opportunity it affords for clear, unimpeded thinking. On a long run or a ride or a hike, the mind empties of its crossed, static laden signals. In it there are only the fundamental rhythms we are born with and an image of the path ahead. In that focus there is a peace that gives you back your steering wheel, your renewal and simplicity itself.

In Good Heath,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
President and Founder
The Pressure Positive Company®

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Your Own, Personal Road to Fitness
By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Choosing a sport or a mode of physical activity for fun and fitness can be as easy as falling off a log. It can also be as risky for your body and spirit if your choice takes you away from your physical or psychic or practical center.

Road To FitnessIt does seem that some of us drift into our sport and fitness activities without much conscious analysis. We just go with the flow. If the flow leads us into a successful path to find health, happiness and fulfillment, Hooray! But if continued athletic success seems elusive, another look at who and what you are just might lead you in a more rewarding direction. Here are some thoughts about making smart, personal choices.

In great measure what you are given controls what you will become. That is not to say that you have no options that will allow you to carry yourself beyond the expectations you, your friends and family might harbor for you. But if you find, for example, that your running or jogging has begun to wear thin or to leave you fatigued or hurting, it could be that your genetic gifts make you more like a Clydesdale draft horse while you have been exercising more like a gazelle or a cheetah. Take a clear, hard look at yourself. You may not want to shift from running 10 K races to pulling a beer wagon, but having a sound view of your physical strengths and gaps will help in setting your track and staying on it.

Childhood sports experiences can create lifelong interests, attitudes and skills. They can also burn you out, sometimes for life. If you have a powerful and positive early sport or athletic background, use what you retain of it to support your activity whatever it may be. If your background is absent or negative, think of it as just another challenge to transcend. If you are athletically inexperienced, no matter what your age, you can begin walking and/or jogging any time. These activities are as far away as the first step. Use common sense and check with your physician if you have the slightest doubts.

A football knee, a touchy sciatic nerve, a Morton’s toe – name your weak spot; we all have at least one. Some of us tend to entire gardens of chronic injuries and anomalies. Know yours, and be able to assess their impact on your athletic viability. Clearly if running invariably stirs up an Achilles’ tendonitis, opting for an activity that spares you high-impact bouncing makes a lot of sense. Serious leg problems need not end a runner’s athletic career, but once they are chronic, they need tending to, and in general, the sooner, the better. Chronic injuries could require a temporary, partial or perhaps a full and permanent shift from running into some other training regimen that maintains your conditioning but affords your body its healing respite.

If there is one characteristic that is common to just about every marathon runner, it is the mental toughness necessary simply to survive the enervating, sometimes numbing hours of training. Doing it, sticking to it and following through are not for the faint- hearted or the tentative. But you can be a runner without ever running a marathon or wanting to run one. Take your training and your competing only as far as you choose and can sustain out of your own, internal enthusiasm and fortitude.

Elderliness seems to be less a barrier to athletic achievement than ever. Still age does demand certain caution and concessions. Know when to quit the racing circuit and head out from the competitive arena into calmer, safer pastures. If you are older and are just thinking about starting to exercise, start slowly, take your time, rest early and often and quit at the drop of a hat to come back another day.

Setting your own, internally directed training and competitive objectives, if any, is arguably one of the most important steps you will take in the months ahead. Be deliberate and sober about it, but don’t shy away from your own best visions of what might be, given who and what you are.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Co.

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Techniques to Improve Your Breathing.
Bernard L. Gladieux Jr.

Breathing is something that most people take for granted, something most of us do without thinking, roughly 25,000 times a day on the average. That’s a pretty rapid respiratory rate according to some physiologists and is about how fast you would breathe in a fright response. It is not very efficient.

tn BreatheFor the endurance athlete, efficient respiration is the foundation of efficient performance. Hence if you improve your breathing, you should also improve your ability to perform under the stress of training and competing. Improved breathing techniques benefit the endurance athlete as well as the non-athlete.

Think of your breathing apparatus as a great bellows with the diaphragm stretched out under your balloon like lungs. When your diaphragm stretches and drops, it creates a partial vacuum in your chest, and your lungs inflate with vital, oxygen-filled air.

When your diaphragm contracts, it pushes up and expels carbon dioxide – air from which you have drawn what you need to function.

Here are some observations and techniques that you can employ to strengthen your breathing and to improve its efficiency.

  • First, learn to belly breathe. Breathe in by relaxing your belly muscles, not by throwing your head back and lifting your shoulders and entire ribcage. Breathe out by contracting your abdominal muscles. Lie down without any distractions and concentrate on this way of breathing. Belly breath all the time whether you are actively exercising or not.
  • Focus on slowing down your breathing. Breathe in for 4 seconds; breathe out for 8 seconds or longer. When you think about it, take the last couple of seconds of your exhalation to push the last bit of air out. Maintain this tempo and the one to two in-out ratio routinely.
  • When you are exerting yourself, as in weight training, breathe in just before the effort and breathe out during the effort.
  • Use this exercise daily: Sit on the edge of a chair. Belly breathe in through the nostrils for a count of four, out for a count of eight or longer. On the out breath, tuck the muscles of the butt and rock the pelvis forward; on the in breath, lean the upper body forward. In addition to improving your breathing this one is an excellent exercise for low back pain.
  • A more vigorous variation: In the same position, breathe in and out explosively through the nostrils like a steam engine. Keep a tissue handy! If it makes you feel faint, slow down and breathe into a paper bag for a minute until it passes. Concentrate on stretching your diaphragm.
  • When you are running, biking, swimming or whatever, try to maintain the same relationship between the time it takes you to breathe in and the time it takes you to breathe out. Breathing out should take twice as long per breath as breathing in.
  • In competing and in general, if you think about breathing at all, think about the exhalation phase of the cycle. Think about contracting the large muscle of the diaphragm that will force out the old used air. Breathing in should be a shorter, almost effortless action.
  • When you are anaerobic, think through how you are breathing, exhale consciously and deliberately. Get your breathing under control.
  • Avoid places and situations where the air quality is poor. Stay away from smokers and other places where you’ll pull toxic exhaust fumes into your lungs.

In Good Health,
Bernard L. Gladieux Jr.
The Pressure Positive Co.

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