Something Cool with my Google Home

I love my Google Home. I’m sure some people like their Amazon-whatevers, but I find it impossible to believe anything could be better than my Google Home.

I have a Google Mini in my Kitchen and a Home in my Living Room and Google Home App installed on my phone so almost any audio is at my fingertips.But… the cool think I figured out is how to link a high-end Harmon-Kardon Bluetooth speaker to the Google system and the high-end speaker can be my Google enabled device.

If you want a how-to, leave a comment. Or just watch the video and be amazed.

#Be #Enthusiastic

Two videos below well worth your time and here’s what I want you to take away from each of them …#BeEnthusiastic. Have fun with everything you do because …why not? Why wouldn’t you?

We have to go to work? We have to interview for jobs, pay bills, have uncomfortable conversations from time to time, and we mourn the loss of people we love. Yes. Bad and sad things happen, but they don’t always happen (unless you’re really, really unlucky).

Most of us interact with co-workers, go to meetings. Sometimes too many meetings. We go to the doctor and dentist. We wait in lines at airports. And at the grocery store. And in the bathroom.

Challenge yourself and make these moments fun, full of energy, and positive.

(in the vid’ below, I’ll even let you skip to the 4:40 mark)

#Whole30 and #ResolutionADay

Oops, I did it again. I did the #Whole30 and once again I feel like Superman. It’s amazing what happens when a person stops eating packaged foods full of chemicals, added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and that person eliminates alcohol, pizza, and pasta and that person eats only fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. That person loses weight, gets rid of brain fog, and if that person has Bronchiectasis (which I do), he’ll almost forget he even has a breathing problem.

Which brings me to my #ResolutionADay.

  •  Day40 Live and eat #Whole30 from Sunday 10:00am until Friday 6:00pm. That’s the majority of my eating life, but leaves room on the weekends for, oh, a few slices of pizza, a bourbon or beer (good beer …that’s gonna be #ResolutionADay Day 41), maybe a burger with a bun, some popcorn with a movie …ya know …just a little unhealthy eating and then discipline the other 128 hours of the week.

Look out, world, when I start doing more than walking briskly in the morning.

p.s when I’m in my Friday-evening-to-Sunday-morning eat-bad window, I’m not going to be a glutton. I don’t need 4 slices of pizza and 6 breadsticks. Just because I’m in my cheat window doesn’t mean I’m gonna two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wash it down with Oreo Double Stufs and a glass of whole milk. Still moderation.

My Lungs, Chapter 188 and #ResolutionADay

Quickly for the new readers (SKIP TO PARAGRAPH 5 IF YOU DON’T WANT THE BACK STORY) – I have a lung condition called Bronchiectasis. Learn about it here. In short, it’s kinda like Asthma, kinda like a never-ending cold, and kinda shitty. When I eat rich foods, dairy, or enriched white flour, I wheeze, struggle to breathe, cough a lot, my heart hurts, I wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath, and I have to cancel concerts because I can’t sing.

In late 2018, let’s call it “the holidays” I said screw it (because I’d been feeling and breathing really good) and just started eating, well, everything. By the time New Year’s Day rolled around and I was scooping chips full of cheesy queso dip in my mouth as an appetizer for a big, greasy, double-cheese pizza dinner, I felt like I was dying.

I know better. But I also looooooove junk food, bourbon, beer, cookies, and pizza. But enough was enough.

Back on the #Whole30 and here I am on Day-20 and I feel like a new man. I feel as if I don’t even have bronchiectasis. I’m down about 7 pounds on the scale. I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night gasping for air since New Year’s Day. That’s all it takes. Simple. Just eat right.

PARAGRAPH 5: Really. You skipped ahead? You can’t take 40-seconds to read about my woes? Nope. I’m gonna stay positive. Thanks for reading.  Where was I? Right! Why am I telling you this? I’m sharing because I think my refusal to take care of myself and do what I know is right …I think it’s the biggest thing keeping people from being happy. Hence my invention – #ResolutionADay.  It’s overwhelming, they say. It’s impossible, they tell me. But, it might be the best thing ever invented by anyone ever anywhere on Earth. Here’s why it’s working. It forces me to review and be creative. It’s not vague like, “write a book,” or “lose 10 pounds.” It’s little, tiny, daily things I change or add to my life (or weekly, or monthly, or however frequently this thing needs to be. Like today’s…

  •  Day27 Every-other-day as part of cleaning the kitchen after dinner, put the vacuum on “Bare Floors” setting and do the hardwoods in the kitchen and living room.

Something I’m passionate about is cleaning the kitchen after dinner. I have it in my head that I’m going to make the kitchen so clean it looks like we could welcome company over for a party. It’s just my thing because I feel, when I’m done and everthing is in the dishwasher or hand-washed, dried, and put away, and I mean everything and the countertops are empty of random crap …I can relax better in the evening because I don’t have this dark cloud of a “half finished” job hanging out there. It’s a small thing, but actually a big thing toward being a guy who never leaves things half-finished.

Start something. Finish something. Then move onto the next thing (like reading a book, writing for my clients, watching TV with my kids or watching the Spartans).

But Don? This Blog was about your lungs?

Right. It was and is. For me, being healthy and breathing with clear lungs won’t happen from an up-front New Year’s Resolution of something like, “in 2019 I’m going to stop eating bad foods.” For me, it comes in the form of little, daily improvements. Vacuuming all the hardwoods eliminates dust and the way-too-much dog hair that accumulates. Going on #Whole30 jump starts my healthy-eating and squashes my (our) addiction to sugar. And on and on.

Every day, I make myself a little better and I hope you might join me in #ResolutionADay, too.

Female Empowerment

I love a girl-power anthem. Alissia Cera is one of my favorite new artists. I love Katy Perry’s “Roar”, Christina Aguilara’s “Stronger”, everything by Pink and Kelly Clarkson …and don’t get me started on Sia. Let’s just say if Sia had a Detroit area fan club, I’d be the President (or Treasurer).

I blame Alanis Morissette. This song … have a GREAT Friday and do amazing things.

#ResolutionADay

Fourteen days in the books in my #ResolutionADay idea and I’ve successfully made FOURTEEN NewYearsResolutions – and stuck to them. I can do this. It means I have to get creative and really put some thought into it, but it can be done!!!!  Don’t listen to Stacy from It’s Not Just You.  OK. Actually. Listen to her. And to her co-host and my old-friend, Lynn M.

Listen here:  http://www.empoweradio.com/home/podcasts/on-demand/its-not-just-you/814577-How-Make-Changes.html

It’s a quick listen. Laid back. And if you listen to this particular episode you’ll hear them talk about my insane (<–their word) #ResolutionADay.

Something they brought up is that it’s too intense and too many #Resolutions, but if you look at some of the new items on my list, not every Resolution will take time or add tasks to my day.

For example, a future #ResolutionADay will be Buy Flowers for My Wife Once-A-Month and Include a Note Telling Her a Reason I Love Her.  This is NOT a wimpy way out. It’s simply realistic. Maybe another #ResolutionADay will be Leave a Not Under My Daughter’s Pillow Telling Her How Amazing She Is Once-A-Month. Or another could be Make Family Dinner Once-A-Week or Make Saturday-Morning Family Breakfast Once-a-Month.

Yes, my list has stuff like “floss every day” and “pray every day” and future items will be daily things, but some stuff will be me, reflecting on my days, weeks, months, and years and acknowledging things I should do and want to do and will make my life better.

One more time. Listen to the How To Make Changes episode of It’s Not Just You.

Oh, and here’s my first set of #ResolutionADay resolutions and below are the latest.

  • Day14 NO snacking in the evening Sun-Thursday. Dinner. Dessert. DONE! Exceptions = special occasions, and I mean SPECIAL! When I do this my mornings are way better and I always sleep better.
  • Day13 Use my phone but in secret. So my family never sees me on it. Meaning when they are with me, I’m WITH THEM and not also somewhere else via a text exchange or Facebook comment thread.
  • Day12 ONLY cook in my from now on, and learn to master it. Maybe in the two metal pans but beginning today – never on a synthetic nonstick surface. I hear it’s healthy …and it’s manly. Pancakes will be a challenge.

Join me, crazy people.

Found My Old Blogs

Guess how long I’ve been Blogging? Go ahead. Guess.  OK. I’ll give you a hint. It’s more than twelve years. I actually don’t know when I started. And while I can’t really determine the exact date of my first ever Blog entry, there was a time when nobody really understood what a Blog was and what a Blog should be, but I knew I wanted one to write things about my shoes, my hair, and other random stuff.

First I called myself “Donniego” which is a combination of “Donnie” and “ego.”  I felt like anyone who Blogs must have a huge, massive ego and think of themselves as far more interesting than they are. I shouldn’t have been so patronizing because some people have become millionaires because they Blogged about a very specific thing (unlike me who Blogged about coffee …sometimes …and sometimes headphones …GOOD LORD I blew it).

Here’s DonniEgo:  https://donniego.blogspot.com/

I think you’ll really be interested in what I thought about a “funny” time on vacation when I ignored a nagging cough and paralysis and thought it was simply a funny story. I was on the eve of my “lung thing” and I documented it on my Blog.

Then somewhere about 2009 I left the “Blogger” and moved my ranting to a WordPress Blog I called “Don’s Ego” and here’s an “I Love Don Week” post from 2009. Ugh. The list then is mostly the same as my lists now. I’m an old man.

Fun memories looking back on all that stuff I thought was important enough to Blog about.

#ResolutionADay

Here’s my new thing, and you can make it your thing, because if you do and Twitter fills up with hundreds of people all Tweeting a #ResolutionADay, I’ll feel like I’m making a difference in this world and at cocktail parties when people ask what I do, I can say, “I invented #ResolutionADay”.

Being able to tell people about it, and then to act offended when they say they haven’t heard of it, that’s really all I want out of it.

No, actually, I want to prove it can be done and that I can actually improve myself a little every day for a year. Maybe it’ll become a movement. Maybe it won’t. But at the end of the year, if I really have made a daily resolution, I will be a better person and my life will be better.

Yes. I’m starting pretty far down and have nowhere to go but up, but eventually I’m going to have to really get creative.

Are you still not understanding how it works? Read my How It Works and FAQ sections to learn more.

HOW IT WORKS

Every day, make a resolution. Examples of my first 8 days are below. Do it in private in a journal. Or, post it on Twitter with hashtag #ResolutionADay and we can support each other and encourage each other (and I can brag to people at parties about my cult …er …movement. Which is the whole point. My ego. Right?)

FAQ

Q: Why should I do this?

A: Oh. LIke you can’t improve in any way ….la dee da. Look at you all perfect.

Sorry about that snippy answer. I guess I know what a future #ResolutionADay will be for me …be more patient with people.

OK. Who’s with me? Below are my first 8 days.

  • Day3 Phone and iPad OUT of my bedroom and off my bedside table at night. Gonna be tough because I use audio to lull me back to sleep when I wake in the middle of the night. Maybe I’ll have my player on the nightstand instead.
  • Day4 Pray the Rosary daily. This is my form of meditation. I will have family in friends in mind and pray for them. I will talk to God and ask for guidance. I will clear my mind. See? Like
  • Day5 30Minutes of exercise and/or activity every single day, even if just a very fast power walk. Need to get my heart rate up, break a sweat. But I actually want 60 minutes a day exercise.
  • Day6 Wake up at 5am. No snooze. Period. No matter how late I stayed up the night before. Just gonna wake up at 5am right when my alarm goes off and my clothes will be downstairs (so I don’t have to hunt in the dark for everything).
  • Day2 Floss every day. It’s science. People who floss daily live longer, are healthier and have better cardiac health.
  • Day7 Journal and do each night as the last thing I do before bed. Part of my routine like brushing my teeth and drinking a glass of water or taking my magnesium supplement.
  • Day8 Make a new resolution each day. So in 2019 I’m going to improve myself by 365 little things. So what if I didn’t come up with this until Day8

Some Burnt Corned Beef Doesn’t Mean No Corned Beef

Just write it. Just say it. Just do it. Below is a hastily written story I posted to Facebook on January 1st as my mission statement for 2019 and my reflection on 2018. Guess what? I see quite a few mistakes and parts I wish I could re-write. Hmmmm …maybe I shouldn’t have posted it until it was perfect. Maybe I should’ve slept on it another night. Maybe I should’ve asked my wife to read it and edit. Maybe I should’ve written it in my journal and revisited it in a month. You know? Once I had a chance to sleep on it. Maybe it’s self-serving and I’m only posting it for Facebook Likes and to feed my ego and while, yes, I will get some Facebook Likes, maybe those people will simply be polite and maybe those people ‘Like’ everything on Facebook all the time. And what aobut the 300+ of my Facebook Friends who will not ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’? Are they sitting, looking at their phones, rolling their eyes at yet another emotional Facebook post about 2018 turning into 2019. Maybe people see the post and are thinking, “who the f’ cares, Don?!?!?” And maybe those people are right? Who does care? Haven’t I already posted enough on social media about my friend Matt and who is this story and post for, anyway? Nope. Don. Don’t post it. It’s self-serving and it sucks and nobody cares. Save it for your next StorySLAM and tell it as a story to a room full of strangers. I can fool those people into thinking I’m sincere and I can arrange the story in just such a way that it’s powerful and I might win. But, Don …seriously. Who do you think you are? What gives you the right to post sappy stuff like this story about corned beef and Matt and, shit, what if I’m remembering it differently than it actually happened and Jen, Kathy, and my Dad call “bullshit” on it? I mean, yes, this is how I remember it and how I’ve told the story a few times over the years, but I’m a professional bullshit artist. Nope. Don’t post it. Ever. I’ve said enough. I need to stop talking so much. I’m just one of 100,000 Bloggers saying nothing about everything. Don! Get. Over. Yourself.

Read the above paragraph, again. And then again. And then again.

For me, this is the conversation I have with myself again …and again …and again …and have been having for decades. Why? Does anyone else ever talk to themselves this way? I hope, in 2019, I’ll stop having these conversations with myself and change the inner-dialog to, “even if one person cares about what I have to say, I’ll keep talking and writing.”

And guess what? I posted this and heard from people in the Comments section of the post, by text, by phone call, and by private Messenger on Facebook that it moved them. I can’t tell you how great that makes me feel. Because guess what else? I didn’t write it for my own ego and for ‘Likes’ on Comments. I wrote it because it’s a fun memory I have with my friend Matt and his wife. It involved my wife, and my Dad, and a little bit of my Mom (well, her kitchen, at least). This can be re-written quite easy to add a little more flavor (pun!!!!). And now that I have pulled it from my memory banks, maybe Jen will tell her daughters about it or maybe I’ll be able to tell them about it someday and they can have another memory of their Dad, Matt, to have forever.

So glad I posted it. So glad I ignored my inner-dialog. Here’s to 2019 and you ignoring your inner-critic.

Some Burnt Corned Beef Doesn’t Mean No Corned Beef

When my college friends and I were first out of college and going back to MSU for football games, all of our tailgates had themes based on MSU’s opponent. Like when we played Wisconsin, a tailgate would be cheese themed. When we played Northwestern, it would be Chicago dogs.

One year when Michigan State played Notre Dame, Matt Bair and I said we would prepare a corned beef.

So Matt and Jen (his girlfriend or fiancé at the time, I can’t recall), and my wife Kathy and I, we went to Grand Rapids to my parent’s house with the idea we’d use my Mom’s kitchen, all her pots and pans, to prepare everything. Logistically it made sense to do this in West Michigan instead of where we all lived in the Detroit area. Just trust me.

Having never made corned beef, Matt and I didn’t realize how much time is needed to boil a corned beef. Boiling and cooking began very late. Having traveled for three hours to get to my parent’s house, it was 11 o’clock before the corned beef hit the pot. Matt and I had chosen a very large corned beef and estimated it needed 5 hours of boiling to be right.

Here’s the rest of the math …tailgate morning wake-up call is at 6:00 a.m. to drive the hour to MSU’s campus and coordinate with our friends and their cars. It’s important all of us arrived at the same time so all cars would be parked together and especially for us because we had the main course.

6:00 a.m. wake up call. Ouch.

Our wives would play along and act excited about it, but wives would not be required to do anything more than wake up, shower, and not murder Matt and I while we lovingly begged them to hustle.

Matt volunteered to stay up all night watching our boiling beef and Kathy, Jen, and I could all sleep. He’d sleep on the car ride. So brave, young Matt.

I remember waking up around 3:00 a.m. and smelling smoke and hearing my Dad’s voice and I bolted down the stairs to see my Dad and Matt fanning smoke out all the open windows and doors in my parent’s kitchen.

Matt had fallen asleep, the water all boiled out of the pot, and the corned beef burned in the pot. It appeared to be ruined.

Maybe this was the beginning of Matt’s next 20 years of masterful cooking. Maybe he vowed that day to never disappoint anyone again who would ever count on him for a meal.

Taking his direction, we cut off the burnt, inedible parts of the corned beef and salvaged what we could. We boiled what we could save until the very last minute before we had to leave for East Lansing shortly after 6:00 a.m.

We made it to tailgate and everyone loved the corned beef.

2018 will be remembered as the year I lost my friend Matt. At his funeral(s), everyone talked about the fabulous dinners he would prepare. He was magic in the kitchen and enjoyed hosting a dinner party. Nobody had a story of a bad meal. The stories were all about him being a wizard in the kitchen and the perfect host.

Matt passed away in 2018, maybe 20 years since the corned beef incident (give or take a few years)

Losing Matt was the burnt, inedible part of 2018. But I’m not going to throw out the entire year. Matt wouldn’t want that.

Like we didn’t throw away the entire corned beef, and we salvaged what we could, I’m determined to salvage what I can from 2018.

I had Matt’s friendship. I have many many blessings I need to be grateful for every day. I’ll never forget the burnt corned beef and how it stunk, and I’ll never forget my shock when I learned Matt died. That stunk, too.

But I will keep enjoying the good parts of life (and corned beef from time to time).

Good and Bad

Can you believe Christmas is already over and in the weeks leading up to Christmas I didn’t post my annual Christmas Wish-List? Either I’ve slipped into a depression or, some would argue, I’ve grown as a person and I’m realizing it’s not all about me and that gift-giving is better than gift-getting. Well, no, I haven’t grown and evolved. Trust me. I think I just ran out of time, what with my StorySLAM winning, my salsa making, my book-writing and my crazy busy day-job. I had many, many, many awesome things on my list, I got many great things, but sadly I also didn’t get many things I would’ve liked to have gotten.

This Blog entry will be interesting if you’ve ever wanted to be a writer. No, actually, I’ve stumbled upon something I think is brilliant that is better than journaling, better than scrapbooking, and better than Blogging, but will enhance any of those things. It’s called Homework for Life, and you can skip right to the bottom of this Blog and watch the 19-minute video. Or you can read what I have to say about it.

I’m nostalgic about things. I’ve lived a fairly normal life, but because it’s my life, and they were my grandparents, and these are my kids, well, it’s all extraordinary. So is your life. I’m not saying my life is better than yours. As I get older, memories get fuzzy or some disappear entirely. Ask me about the day I graduated from high-school. I mean, the actual ceremony when I was in my cap and gown and then later that evening at the Senior All-Night party and I can’t really tell you what happened, but I’ll bet I had a great time and felt very proud. I’ll bet my Mom wore something nice and my Dad said things like, “it was touch and go there for a while whether Don would actually get his diploma.” Or maybe he didn’t, but I don’t know. Or my college graduation. I have some photos of myself and my best-friend, Chad, and my Grandpa. I remember thinking, wow, I’m the first “Kowalewski” to have earned a college degree. But what did I eat? What was the most interesting moment of that day? What was my Mom wearing? Did she cry?

Enter Matthew Dicks’s Homework for Life. Essentially it’s this. At the end of every day, sit down for 5-minutes (actually takes less time than that), and write down the most memorable moment of the day. He recommends this because he’s a writer and award-winning storyteller and says it’s a tool for finding more stories. But, and I think he agrees with this, it’s for everyone who wishes to save things they hope to never forget. Like vacations – I’ve gone on 15 years worth of summer vacations with my daughter, and I’d like to tell you about some of the best moments, but they all blend together. Not anymore.

This year, my 12-year-old admitted she knew Santa wasn’t real, so for the first time in 15 years, my wife and I weren’t Santa and that rabid excitement that a magic man from the North Pole would stuff so many toys under your Christmas tree …it didn’t happen. I won’t miss the 5am wake-up call from kids tugging at my blankets on Christmas morning because they can’t sleep another minute knowing what’s downstairs under the tree. OK. I will miss it, a little. It was strange to have teenagers and nobody even woke-up until almost 9:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. I nearly started opening my own gifts just because I was awake and bored.

This is where Homework for Life comes in. I will never forget 2018 was the year our house stopped having Santa. I won’t forget when our 15-year-old reported to us that our 12-year-old knew about Santa. And I won’t forget my wife’s tears at hearing that. And I won’t forget that I made my wife have the official conversation about it because I felt the 12-year-old needed to see my wife talk through tears while admitting the truth. My other two kids had that moment, so should my youngest. I don’t cry (yet) when I talk about it. Because of Homework for Life I’ll remember my sister’s mother-in-law accidentally arguing a very racist phrase wasn’t racist, I’ll remember my 80-year-old Uncle with a heart condition sitting down with a can of Red Bull thinking it was a craft beer, and I’ll remember a few more highlights from the season.

I would call it a game changer. And I’m ready to change the game at the end of 2018 and into 2019.