Friday, January 29, 2016

Carrying On as a Single Guy in a Tough Age

This has definitely been an introspective week.  We got a rather big snowstorm last weekend here in Lexington and that was followed up by a rather bad sinus infection/flu kind of thing that had me pretty home-bound much of this week.

It drove home a lot of things.  A lot of difficult things that aren't that easy to talk about.  This was a very lonely week and one that was in great contrast to a situation I was in at this time last year.   It involves so much that I don't understand.

I know, and have shown, that I am generous, kind-hearted, willing to go the extra-mile to show my appreciation, and have a true romantic streak toward, those I'd hoped to become my partners in crime on life's road.  It has astounded me more than once to see what paths have been chosen by others.  Obviously, I cannot go into detail in a public forum like this, but suffice it to say I have seen some really mind-boggling choices transpire.

I know I could be a great father or a great male figure, or even a great step-dad kind of person for kids.  A solid role model, a good example, someone that is supportive and guiding and caring.  I don't see a whole hell of a lot of that out there anymore, so I always figured that would be an asset.  Apparently not, but it's something I desire to be, in a way that I can only describe like a calling.  I know what my own parents were to me and that is something I would like to be for some kids in a very big way, whether they are mine in a biological sense, aren't, or perhaps both.  I know without question, if I did have both in my world (biological and non-biological) I would never treat the two any differently.

I'm sorry to say, but the bad guy is very, very rarely going to change.  As in extremely rarely.  A woman is not going to "fix" that person, or change them.  They will be doing the same things month in and month out, year in and year out, that they did before.  Leopards don't change their spots.

I'll never understand the pull that some truly loathsome guys have had on women (and I mean loathsome, as in the beater, the cheater, and the substance abuser).  Worse, I've seen, very often, women go from bad guy to bad guy as if there will be a different outcome from making the same kind of choice each time.  It's frustrating, and something I've often had to keep my silence on, but I can talk about it in a general sense here.

A guy that cares is not necessarily going to move as fast as a bad guy.  But that's because he genuinely respects, and wants to show respect, for the woman he hopes to become his partner.

Never think the good guy cannot be as spontaneous, or fun-loving as the bad guy.  The good guy is just going to make sure the context is in the right place, and that everything about a given situation is given appreciation and respect.  If the woman is patient, she will discover that there are layers, depths, and horizons to the truly caring guy that the bad guy cannot hope to reach.  The caring guy will be able to take a woman to some incredible levels of experience.

Honestly, I don't know what to think anymore.  I firmly have felt, for a long time, that I can bring the best of both worlds.  I am family-oriented and have a solid grounding.  I am loyal, and do not have any of the big red flag issues like violence, substance abuse or cheating problems.  I am also very fun-loving, creative, spontaneous, adventurous, and willing to go the extra mile to make a relationship a wonderful and exciting one.

I have no idea why I am in a place where I spent the last week alone, when I am in a place where I have so much to offer and give, and continuously watch others settle for so very little and often things that are of great harm.  It's an area that is vexing and frustrating.

I hear a lot of women posting and talking about there not being any good guys left.  There are, most definitely, but a woman has to make the choice to have one in their world to make that happen, and truly reject the bad guys so prevalent out there.

I know what I offer and I'll carry on.  But it isn't easy.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Music Motivations #2

Heavy metal and hard rock throughout the years has resounded with themes of believing in oneself, following your dreams, self-empowerment, being willing to stand alone, having the courage to stand up for yourself, and being willing to stand up for others.  It is one of the major reasons I love this genre of music and many times I have had to take strength and inspiration from songs that reflect these themes to get through difficult periods of my own.

In today's My Music Motivations, I want to spotlight the song "To the Threshold" by the hardcore/metal band Hatebreed.  Don't let the name of the band fool you.  These guys, through and through, have created some of the most positive, self-empowerment songs that you could find in any genre.

"To the Threshold" is a song that fires me up to no end, as it is not only about self-empowerment, but it is also about seeking to help empower others. The two-fold nature of this song resonates so powerfully within me.  I often do my martial arts training to Hatebreed, and songs like this certainly stoke the flames when I am doing high intensity training and building upon my own self-empowerment and growth in strength. 

The song wastes no time in getting at its core themes, in the very first lines:

This is the sound of the lost, beaten and broken, 
rising up and claiming what has been taken from us 
From the shadows of the past 
From the depths of our own failures 
Stepping forward into the light 
Denying our demise 
Decimating all uncertainty 
Bowing to only who can place judgement upon me

This song calls to those who have had heartache, loss, setbacks, and been knocked down in life, exhorting them to step out of the shadows of the past and into the light with a determination to fight. The denial of one's demise is at the foundation of rising back up again, embracing the will to keep moving forward and not to quit. Life is not fair and does take from so many of us in a very cruel way, so there are times when we must feel a degree of fury, set our minds, and rise back up again.  

All too often those who feel that they are broken and beaten remain mired in such a state.  In doing so, they become self-fulfilling prophets, and self-defeating. There is a path back, but we must each decide to take that path and step forward.  Deny your demise and decimate uncertainty! 

The next lines in the song reflect the other core aspect, that of building up and empowering others, with a very pointed nuance. The person is doing it from a position of strength.  They have pushed themselves to the Threshold and now they are in a place where they can lead by example. 

Give me your broken 
Give me your beaten 
I will build them up 
I will lead them 
To The Threshold 
Make you stronger 
Make you believe 
I am the one in the same 
but now stronger than uncertainty

These words encourage someone who has risen back up from hardship and regained strength to show others the path. The words reflect someone who has been in the shoes of the broken and beaten, a person who understands all too well what that is like. But this person has risen up and knows how to grow stronger and believe, and can do that by example, which is certainly one of the most powerful forms of leading others. The willingness to reach out to others and help build others up and guide them in self-empowerment. is a very special aspect of this wonderful song.

Within this army 
This is more than a battle - cry 
It's the blood of our lifeline 
Flowing faster

Once you come out of the other side of rising back up, knowing what it takes to grow stronger, the idea of being able to push yourself to the threshold, or limits, is not just a battle cry as the song states. It is a part of who you are, something that flows within your veins.  It is, as the song states so well, the blood of one's lifeline. 

This is the sound of the lost, beaten and broken 
Decimating all fears 
Stronger than ever 
Beyond every dream 
Ascension into supremacy 
Now we're stronger than ever

Backed by thundering riffs and rhythm, this section is the battle cry. The ascension into supremacy, to me, is mastering oneself and becoming the strongest and best person that you can be. That's the ultimate supremacy. Stronger than ever and decimating fears as the lyrics say. The lost, beaten and broken renewed, resurrected, and standing taller than ever. I love everything about this section and what it hails.

We were the broken 
We were the beaten 
I was once like you 
Now I push myself to the threshold 
Because I am stronger 
Because I believe 
Now I spit in the face of defeat 
Now I'm stronger than all uncertainty

This final section brings everything together and ends the song on an absolute high note. It reflects someone who has risen back up and those that the person has helped, reached out to, and guided, all empowered and stronger than ever before. The absolute defiance of spitting in the face of defeat and the strength to face uncertainty reflects those who are not broken or beaten in any way. It is the description of what a champion is all about, a person who can push themselves to the limits. To the threshold.

No matter what you have been through, believe in yourself.  And become stronger than ever. :) 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

When a Two Year Old is Called To Keep Moving Forward

I have often said that I have found myself in the role of the underdog since the beginning, and I've meant that in a very literal sense.  Today, I wanted to share some things about my childhood that had a very significant impact upon my life, my development, my outlook, and in many ways who I am today.

At the age of two, I endured a traumatic head injury.  Court cases later involving myself and several other children who were seriously hurt brought to light that this was the result of a violent and abusive daycare worker.

The back of my skull was crushed and I was rushed to an emergency surgery.  I was told by my folks later that I nearly died that day.  The back of my skull was essentially shattered to the point that even part of the brain was exposed.  Following a very extensive surgery and craniotomy, involving the use of a slew of tiny clamps, I made it through and even still could smile as the photo shows.

Of course, this was a hellish experience for my folks to go through and the beginning of a very long road.  I can't even imagine what it must have been like for them.

At the age of two, because of the vulnerability of my skull, I had to begin sleeping in what was a small hockey helmet at night.  I had to sleep in a helmet for a few years, in fact, as well as wear this helmet all throughout the day.  Literally, except for when I had gentle washing and baths, I had to wear that thing 24 hours a day.

Obviously, being on the playground, or at pre-school and later, in a helmet tends to bring you a lot of unpleasant attention from other kids.  The only good news was that I did not get beat up as even the bigger kids were savvy enough to realize that punching a hockey helmet would not benefit their hands very well.  But I did get called names quite a bit, and even to the kids who were my friends I was a curiosity.  I endured a lot of rapping knuckles like a door knock on my helmet and things like that.

It was a very difficult process to go through as I was very aware of the attention I attracted. I became very self-conscious and wondered what was wrong with me quite often.  Thankfully, I did end up having some very good playmates who more or less stuck up for me out on the playground and elsewhere, and teachers tended to keep a good eye out for me.

I learned to live with it and did not shut down.  The overwhelming amount of that credit goes to my folks who were absolutely amazing parents to have and who fought for me anytime any organizer had an issue about me participating in something while wearing a helmet.

They made sure I was in social activities with my peer group, supported my interests, and really were there to help me hold the line while I was struggling during that time as a three year old, four year old, five year old, and on up.  They didn't shelter me or coddle me, they encouraged me to engage, to participate, and to do anything any of the other kids were doing.

The doctors overseeing my development determined that my head was more or less normalized except for one very small zone as I entered my first years of t-ball and small fry baseball (like little league).  My mother's godfather, a wonderful man named Fritz Gassman, who we affectionately called Uncle Fritz, had an autobody shop and worked with materials like fiberglass.  He took it upon himself, on his own initiative, to create a baseball cap that had snaps in the back, into which a curving fiberglass plate could be fitted.

At long last, I did not have to wear a helmet anymore, and was able to shift into a baseball cap.  By that time I had been able to go to sleep at night without wearing headgear, so this enabled me to enter a much more normalized state of existence.  Since I went to a school that required uniforms (Catholic school), being able to wear a ballcap actually became a cool accessory that some kids were jealous of!

By the time that I moved on to Babe Ruth League my head finally reached the point where I was able to go full time without protective headgear.

Nevertheless, the experience, looking back on it, had a profound effect on my lifetime.  It instilled within me a sensitivity to those being bullied, and to anyone that had something that caused them to stand out a bit from the crowd.  It gave me a special respect for anyone saddled with some kind of health or physical-related challenge.  It gave me a passion for the underdog in any sphere of life.

I think in many ways, since I was singled out all the time because of that helmet, it caused me to think in terms of individuals and not groups.  To this day, I view each person on an individual level and shun labels and categories in my personal relationships and interactions. Truly, if there ever was a lesson about the importance of tolerance, then this was a big one that I took forward with me across the years.  I credit this in a big way for the fact that I have had wonderful friendships with individuals coming from all walks of life, no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, level of education, sexual orientation, or any other area typically used to define groups.

It required me to be resilient, to believe in myself and that I could still walk tall even if I was being made fun or being stared at.  I really did learn to march to my own drummer and be able to stand alone.  It toughened me in a lot of ways, and prepared me better for the interior self-esteem battle I would fight soon after putting on a lot of weight due to being hypothyroid just as I was entering my high school years.

In a matter of a few violent seconds, a two year old's life had a shadow cast over it that lasted many years.  Nevertheless, that two year old did keep moving forward ... onward and upward.

Monday, January 11, 2016

My Music Motivations #1

Music is an essential part of my world and many songs have had a very powerful impact upon me over the years.  I've played music (overwhelmingly on guitar), written to it, gone about my daily tasks to it, worked out to it, and simply given it my full listening attention, all throughout the years.

It has motivated me, bolstered, me, inspired me, and helped pick me up again more times than I can count.  With the My Music Motivation posts, I hope to give some perspective to how music makes such an impact upon me and spotlight a few special songs that have held a lot of meaning for me. 

In this first installment, I want to present the song "Marathon" by Rush, from their fantastic Power Windows album. 

This song, in my view, presents a powerful and positive approach to life as a whole.  The idea of life as a marathon is such a powerful metaphor and one well-worth pondering.

I used to run a lot when I played baseball, often for longer distances for conditioning purposes.  While I never ran a marathon's distance, in a technical sense, I did acquire an appreciation for things like pacing, endurance, conditioning, and training.

All of these ideas are reflected in the song.  Let's take a look at most of the lyrical content and I will share what I've gleaned and what I've taken from them.

"It's not how fast you can go
The force goes into the flow"

Life requires pacing.  It doesn't all happen at once and you can't force things to go faster or slower. It simply happens, at whatever scale.

The flow is where the force really is, as life involves all kinds of events and experiences that occur at different rates and levels of impact.  Again, the idea of a flow, rushing at one time and slow and even in another, resonates powerfully with the idea of life and the energy of life.

"More than just survival 
More than just a flash 
More than just a dotted line 
More than just a dash"

This, to me, gets at the sheer magnitude and nature of life. It IS more than just survival and existing, and going from point to point.  Life is something so much greater.  We only experience a finite number of years in this physical life, but it is important to retain the idea of a bigger picture, that life is not just the act of living in a biological sense from day to day.  In saying that life is more than survival, I believe the song hints at the idea that life can be about thriving too.

"It's a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race"

Life is filled with all manner of setbacks, heartbreaks, losses and pitfalls.   These are the moments that really test your ultimate will, in so many ways.  In my own life, significant passings in my family and significant heartbreaks I have suffered have required very steep uphill climbs.

I've had to pick up my pace many times over to get back into the race, as the song says, and it often requires all the willpower you can muster to do so.  I have to admit I'd love for at least the heartbreak part of it to come to an end, but I'm still girded to pick up the pace.  Passing that test of ultimate will is far, far from easy, but it is required.  

"One moment's high
And glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades
In the summer sky"

To me, this is a warning not to become arrogant. There is a distinct difference between confidence and arrogance.  Confidence is a very good thing, and it is based upon honesty about your ability and capabilities and what you know you can do. You simply can't get too caught up in the glory and hoopla, because the nature of life is transient, and even the biggest period of success doesn't last.  Things do flash and fade and you have to keep a sobered view when running the marathon of life.

"Your meters may overload
You can rest at the side of the road
You can miss a stride
But nobody gets a free ride" 

Nobody does get a free ride.  Life truly isn't fair, and in my experience rarely goes all that smoothly. Nevertheless, there are times when you do have to take a time out.  That might be resetting yourself, refocusing, and recalibrating.  It is perfectly fine to take a "time out", to get some rest, and to accept that fact that sometimes you are fatigued or overwhelmed, and a rest at the side of the road is in order.  I've had those moments myself and they've been very helpful for progressing on life's marathon.

The words about missing a stride I find interesting, as in my opinion it hints at making mistakes in life, and it suggests that's okay too.  I've learned from my mistakes, when I've missed that stride here or there, and it's helped me to run the race much better as I go forward.

"You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you've got to last"

There is a lot of positive encouragement in this section.  Each and every person CAN do a lot in a lifetime.  The key is making use of the time you have been given, but that means you have to last, you have to endure.  That means that you have to weather the storms, you have to grow stronger and progress, you have to develop,and  you have to adapt and adjust to what life throws at you.

In the end, you can complete the marathon in a way you can be very proud of.  To me, that's what this song is all about.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Full Song "Heart of a Lion" Released for Forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot Project Campaign

I had an amazing surprise today! The FULL song "Heart of a Lion", composed and performed by Kylie Jude of Frozen Creek Studios for our upcoming TV Pilot Project campaign, to bring to life a dedicated Rayden Valkyrie television show. Kylie Jude captured Rayden's essence beautifully and this is a full lyrics video too. This character, this series, is all about staying strong and moving forward, onward and upward, in the face of all storms.".

As the chorus goes:

 "You can't break me
I will still be

To sign up on the official mailing list for the Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot Project Campaign and to keep up with this exciting project, please visit

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Proud to Announce New Association With and Endorsement of NuHealth and Their Recharge Line of Health Supplements

I am very proud to announce a new association with and endorsement of NuHealth and their Recharge line of health supplements.  This could not be a more pure of an endorsement situation, as I have consistently used their products throughout my fitness journey, one that has seen me drop close to 180 pounds and go down eight pants sizes over the past 21 months.

Being hypothyroid, I have a challenge when it comes to a slower metabolism, and I found that using products such as Recharge Metabolism and Recharge Testosterone, for maintaining healthier metabolic rates and overall testosterone health and support (as when I started this journey I had a lower T level) was very helpful in the full process.  I also use a product of theirs called Muscle Shred 3D, also for metabolic support.  These products truly have been a valuable part of my full approach to health and fitness, which includes maintaining much healthier diet habits and a dedicated exercise regimen centered around training in the martial art Krav Maga.

Bryce and the good folks at NuHealth have always been kind and supportive of my journey, from the earliest stages and far before any kind of association was ever discussed or even any significant "before and after" picture could be taken.  They are truly engaged and good with their customers, champion healthy living, and I am convinced of their integrity having experienced it for almost two years first-hand.

With a store located in Lexington, Kentucky, NuHealth has a line of health supplement products that are also available at their online store at . As part of the new association, anyone who uses the code "ZFORCE" at the online store can get 25% off, including apparel items.

I am very excited to be associated with the NuHealth family.  With proven integrity on every level, and products I have found to be effective in a time-proven manner, NuHealth is a company I can put my name behind without hesitation. I am very grateful to Bryce and the NuHealth family for their support of my own fitness journey and look forward to a wonderful association ahead. Onward and Upward! :)