Monthly Archives: September 2011

30 While 30: Day 205 – The eve of October – an update:

The short story?  I got my flu shot yesterday, and I don’t feel very well today.  If that shot gives me the flu … I will not be a happy camper.

Just wanted to throw a few blog/list updates out there even in my weakened condition so none of the 4 of you worry.

1. Next week, I think I have finally been able to devise a plan that allows for a more consistent writing pattern to make sure the blog keeps up to date.  I am on the downward slope of the year (we are past the 6 month mark) and lots of things are being done, just with my A/P class currently, my reading/casual time has been cut.  (I am strongly considering adding my textbook and lab manual to my reading list)

2. Tomorrow, I can eat meat.  But can I share a little secret?  There are times when I don’t even miss it.  Watched a documentary last night (Forks over Knives) about some interesting research about animal-based protein, and will be sharing a short review of that probably on Monday or Wednesday of next week.

(on a side note, I have realized that several times I have teased you about something upcoming on Monday or Tuesday, etc., and that it hasn’t always happened on schedule.  Rest assured, as of last night, if I say it’s coming, it’s because it’s already written.  Hope that will make me better at not counting chickens before they are hatched… now, back to point)

3. 5k #2 is in about 2 weeks.  I am feeling much better about this one than the one last month, and am aiming to be 5 minutes under last month’s time (which would place me at about 31 minutes or so).

4. Some upcoming topics on the blog (that are stewing around in my brain and in half-written posts):

-Lessons learned from being a vegetarian for a month (1st one was here – which was about Conviction).  Part 2 is about the Joys of Simplicity, and Part 3 about what it means to Crave.

The reasons why knowledge will trump education every time, as evidenced by recent reports in the Tennessean (local newspaper) about the increase in cost and relative decrease in benefit of a bachelor’s degree.

Addiction and brain chemistry (2 parts).  I am working on a couple of more professional writing posts, gearing up for #27 (Launch my Professional Entity Website).  This will be a 2-parter about how our habits impact our future, and now we know even more about the science of that.

I’ll see you all back here next week!



30 While 30: Day 202 – On return from Charleston (Vegetarian Day: 27)

Photo courtesy of (re: your tax dollars)

Did you know that the VP garners 35k a plate?  I was unaware of this, until that is, I was down in Charleston, SC, trying to make a dinner date with my teammates from work at the lovely Magnolia’s Restaurant in the old district of Charleston.  We didn’t find this out until we got caught in traffic moving into the city, and noticing the fact that it appeared that every single officer in North Charleston and Charleston (yeah, there are two of them) was out on patrol for the event.

I digress … and I’m less than 100 words in.  I’d better get to point.

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the 16th Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health.  It was my 3rd attendance, but I am happy to say, the first time (with the help of some of my teammates) that I was able to assist in presenting for one of the breakout sessions.  The week was filled with presentations of working school-based mental health programs and initiatives, and several key-note addresses by forerunners in this modality (way of doing) mental health treatment.

A few things that I have definitely taken away from this last week.

1. It is so important to not focus on the negative.

Granted, we are prone to this. In fact, much of our society is predicated on this.  Police and Fire services respond after an event has occurred.  Most strategic plans of organizations and entities are focused on a “what if this happens?” mentality.  That, at least, lends itself to the idea of proactive planning.  One of the most promising things about this national conference is the shifting from fixing problems with the “tough kids” to the proactive nature in helping to build resilience.  You see, the former is generally focused on a small minority of our children, the latter is the great majority of our young people.  What is true is that on the whole, most kids function very well, learn lots of information, and overcome a great deal of adversity … despite what you see on television.

I mean, how many times do you see on the news how dropout rates are high or increasing, and that we have an “epidemic of illiteracy” in the United States? Well, while it is important not to ignore the plight of those that need the most assistance, the truth is that on the whole, there are a lot of things that are working … and working quite well.

In that same line of thinking, how much time and energy do we put into the ideas that take what we know that works and make those things better (or more prevalent)?  How are we looking for the programs that do not just eradicate the deficient areas, but continue to raise the bars of achievement, personal development, and youth resiliency?

There was a lot of that this week, and I was glad to see it.

2. I am not a life-long vegetarian.

I admit it.  I like meat.  There … I said it.

During one of the key-note presentations (where the conference hall provided lunch), I happily discovered a fellow vegetarian at the table.  Jessie, a Psychologist was also asking the quick-moving table attendant about the vegetarian options for the meal.  Not wanting to miss a learning opportunity, I struck up a conversation.  It went a little something like this:

Me (in my head): What am I going to eat for lunch?  Yesterday they gave me a salad with eggplant on it.  Eggplant?  I mean, I understand it looks like meat … but does grilled eggplant actually go on a salad?

(I notice across the table, Jessie ask for a vegetarian meal)

Me (out loud this time): Jessie!  I know that I am a complete stranger, and you don’t know me from Adam, but can I ask you a question? (Enter longer-than-probably-needed explanation of my 30 while 30 project) … So, do you mind sharing with me how you came about your decision to be a vegetarian?

Jessie: Well, I was 16 at the time and had been reading the Jungle, y’know that book about meat processing, and around the same time, I ate this beef burrito at Taco Bell, and it really messed with my stomach.  I haven’t eaten meat since.  I don’t even notice, really, or even miss it.

Right about that time, the waiter brought us our vegetarian entrée.  It looked a little bit like this:

Image courtesy of

Yeah.  I’m glad the starter salad was decent.  I am not a fan of eggplant.  Even less of eggplant meant to look like a dish that contains luscious meat, like lasagna.

By the way, this is not a slam on vegetarians.  The honest to goodness truth is that I could probably do this for longer than a month (thanks to simple eating – something I learned about myself this week – that you all will hear about on Thursday).

The thing is that I don’t really want to.

That being said, the more I look at and talk with vegetarians, either over the internet or in person, when I can find them in the wild, is that in most cases, they have a strong biological aversion or moral objection to eating anything that “has a face”.  I don’t mind that so much.

–         –          –

The thing that I think I will take away from this particular month, is the power of a strong conviction.  Conviction, or a strong drive or belief in something that changes (in most cases) a particular action, is the reason that many people to the things that they do.  Conviction also holds you do it.  Conviction isn’t a preference (like the difference between Coke or Pepsi), conviction is more fundamental than that … more simple.  Conviction is what causes people who see their parents die of heart disease to commit to and successfully shed their extra pounds and lose that weight.  Conviction to a faith will drive people to radically change their lives (or who they vote for) or may even lead them to death … that the belief is stronger than the will to survive itself.

I don’t have a strong conviction to stay away from meat.  Summer has a documentary that she wants me to watch before the month is out, so maybe that will change, but as it stands right now, I don’t have that strong pull.  And that’s ok.  And it’s ok if you do have it.  That’s the beauty of this existence.  There is room for the both of us.

That being said, what are your convictions.  What are those singular moments (like Jessie with the Jungle and Taco Bell), or pounding beliefs (religious or moral), or persistent experiences that shape your worldview?

As we learn to harness those, we learn to focus our energy, remind ourselves of what really is important, and regain our understanding on where we fit in the big picture.


30 While 30: Day 189 – Random thoughts … and inconvenient inspiration… (oh yeah, Vegetarian – Day 14)

So, it feels like I’ve been a bit absent from here the last few weeks (and it also seems like I am saying that quite a bit in the last 2 months or so).  Well, I have been.  Granted the months of May and June were certainly high-volume for the blog, with about 3 posts per week.  The posting recently has been a little sporadic.  Anyways,today is the story about why that is (and it’s not a sad one).

1. Races run.

Here is me one year ago:

This was Sherry’s Run, 2010. One year ago, I ran my first 5k.  Time: 46:26.  (embarrassing, I know, but I’m just being honest)  And I didn’t die.

Here is me last Saturday (September 10th):

Sherry’s Run, 2011.  My second 5k.  The first of a series of 2 5ks, leading to a 10k, and culminating into the St. Jude’s Hero’s Half-Marathon.  My time on Saturday: 37:21.  Also, I didn’t die.  Not just that I didn’t die, but I shaved 9 minutes off my time.  I must say, I am pretty proud of that, and with the next race coming up on October 15th, I am aiming to be in the 30-min range.  It’s a big jump from 37:21 to 30:00, but I am just now it feels getting into the swing of running (though I still miss some run days – like this very morning), and the route is much flatter than the last race.  Here’s hoping!

Photo courtesy of

2.  The hip bone’s connected to the leg bone … the leg bone’s connected to the …

I am back in school.  As I noted in my last post (last week), in the process of completing #28 (Decide whether or not I am going to get my PhD.) I have enrolled back in school at the local University to pick up 12 hours of pre-requisites for just one of the potential degrees.  To be honest, I am rather torn.  I am completing applications (to go out this fall) to two pretty different programs. 

First, there is the Counseling Psychology PhD program.  State school, solid program.  4-5 years (including internship) and you can call me Dr. Thomas (cause you know, no one uses their last name anymore, you hear that, Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil?).  It would allow me to increase my licensure to a Psychologist level, and increase my capabilities for research and testing protocols.  Also opens the door for university teaching placements if I desire that.

Second, and to be honest, the one these days I am leaning more towards, and that is a “bridge” program that allows me to earn an APN (advanced practice nurse) as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.  With this, I can combine my therapeutic counseling license with the capability to provide psychiatric and medication needs (as they come up) with my clients as well.  It’s this program that I’m having to take the pre-req’s for.

Anyways, going back to school is surreal.  I think I might honestly add my A/P book to my reading list (might as well get credit), and 2 nights a week, I spend 2-3 hours in a class, which shifts the time available to write and read my own things.


3. You can’t have your pudding … if you don’t eat your meat!

No pudding for me.  We are through week 2 of Vegetarian month, and to be perfectly honest … I haven’t noticed much.  I mean, mealtimes are a little weird, but it has been a bit liberating.  I have learned that I am quite a simple eater (more on that Thursday), but am recognizing that I would have a rougher transition to vegan.  I am relying on my yogurt, cheese, and eggs, and those would be a no-go on the vegan style.


I have a bit of a dilemma.  Next week, on the 20th, I travel (for business) to Charleston (my team at work is making a presentation at the Conference on School Mental Health).  I have considered experimenting with a version of vegetarianism that some people enjoy, called pescetarianism.  In short, it is a form of vegetarianism that allows for the eating of fish and shellfish.  And to be honest, I am feeling a little “shellfish” (punny, I know) about this, but I wonder if it’s cheating to consider this variation of vegetarianism for the 4 days I am on my business trip.  Here is my considerations:

a. Pros

– Gives more of a total experience of vegetarianism, as pescetarianism is often used as a “stepping stone” into full-blown vegetarianism.

– It’s Charleston for pete’s sake.

b. Cons:

– Most “official” vegetarian organizations don’t consider pescetariansim as being a vegetarian.

– I can’t eat some awesome regional food while on business.

So …. I need your thoughts.  Honestly.  Post here, or in response on twitter/FB.  I am not too ashamed to say that what people think about me might impact my decision.

–          –          –

Inconvenient Inspiration –

While I mentioned earlier some of the things that have changed my time constraints in recent weeks, I came about a bit of a revelation about something, something that used to frustrate me.

About a month ago, I made a post about “Sweet Interruptions“.  I encourage you to click on the link and re-read that post.  I did, just two nights ago.  I was up late, working on work (while at home, which in recent months, I have been very good about not doing – a boundary issue of mine).  That being said, there I was, typing clinical notes at 1130 at night, and inspiration came to me.  I started thinking about how I wouldn’t do “this or that” when I start my practice, or how I think ROWE environments (from Drive – Daniel Pink) are actually workable in a counseling practice.

I started thinking about these things, and started getting angry and frustrated and down. Upset because I wasn’t doing that now.  That I had a “job”, but that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the next 20 years.  I got mad, because at times, historically, getting angry was a motivation to change things.

– Getting mad at my excessive working conditions at Youth Villages motivated me to quit a job that I had been involved in for over 3 years.

– Getting mad about how I look has helped to motivate me to become more fit and healthy.

Getting mad is a strong motivator.  The problem is, it doesn’t last.  It lasts only as long as the problem of the moment exists.  It’s like a a shot of adrenaline, a cup of coffee, or a pixie stix.  It gives you a jolt to change your inertia, but then peters out, leaving you only with disappointment, sometimes regret, and often wondering what you were mad about in the first place.

That’s how I felt 2 nights ago.  That being said, I started thinking about it a little more, reviewed my post about interruptions, and reminded myself once again, that life is a process.  Sure, there is a physical beginning and a physical end, but everything else is development, change, and adaptation.

So, instead of simply mad that “I’m not there yet.”, I committed instead to recording those “shower moments”, those inconvenient inspirations, and either tucking them away, or seeing how I can impact my world now with those very ideas.

So, I don’t know how much of that made sense to you all, but to me … it absolutely did … and I’m going to make a note of that.

30 While 30: Day 183 – Tofu won’t kill you (Vegetarian – Day 8)

I have to write quickly.  I may not have much time.

Tonight, I ate tofu.  Fried in oil, and contained in the following recepie:


Sweet & Sour Tofu

From EatingWell:  October/November 2005

Sweet & Sour Tofu Recipe

4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks or tidbits, packed in juice
  • 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained, rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips


  1. Drain and set aside pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Whisk the reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Place tofu in a large bowl; toss with 3 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for at least 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the tofu to the pan using a slotted spoon; whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of reserved sauce. Cook the tofu, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red and green peppers and cook, stirring often, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the reserved sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and pineapple and cook, stirring gently, until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: The tofu can be marinated (Step 1) up to 30 minutes in advance.


Per serving: 255 calories; 12 g fat ( 1 g sat , 5 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrates; 4 g added sugars; 10 g protein; 4 g fiber; 368 mg sodium; 537 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (230% daily value), Vitamin A (35% dv), Calcium (25% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 other carb, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fat (mono)

–     –     –

And … it was good.  For those of you that know me in any context, you know I am a picky eater (more on that in a later post).  That being said, I trust my wife to not kill me with food – though at times it has been a close call – j/k babe ;).  She has been very accommodating in the last week, and even though this month might be very short, she has been a big help.

As far as other list updates go:

1. Saturday, I run in my first 5k of the season in Lebanon, TN, and am hoping to shave at least 10 minutes off my time last year.  An update on that once I get back on Monday.

2. I am already back in school.  Granted, it’s undergrad, but I have to take a few pre-reqs for even if I get in.  So, I am currently knee-deep in Anatomy and Physiology I, and am staring down A/P II and Microbiology in the Spring and Summer.  I should find out if I’m in the program by Spring 2012.  Let’s hope these classes aren’t just for my health.

Peace Out!


30 While 30: Day 176 – Enter Meatless (Day 1 – Vegetarian)

September 1st.  It has begun.

… What have I got myself into?

Now that that’s over with, I am honestly a little excited.  Now, I have climbed a mountain, fired a gun, assisted with tornado cleanup and recovery … but I am honestly feeling kind of adventurous today.  This is really something that I never thought I’d be attempting, and is related to something I love very much: meat.

The Farewell to Meat Extravaganza was a great success, if I must say so myelf, and I will not disclose here how many ounces of Ribeye steak I actually consumed.  Suffice it to say, it will probably last me a while.

So, I wanted to share with you all today, basically on how I am going to “cover all my bases” as far as protein, essential oils and fats, fiber, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients.

Protien (Along with essential oils and fats)-

There was more than I originally anticipated in this area as means to gain the 40-50g needed daily (as recommended by the people who recommend things).  As a result of feedback, I have rescinded my aversion to tofu, and my wife actually bought some, we’ll se how that goes.

Sources: Egg (6g), 2% Milk, Cheese, Yogurt (Greek 12g, Normal 3-6g), Nuts (6g per 1/4 cup), and various nut butters, beans, and soy.

Other Stuff (Fiber, Carbs, and simple sugars):

This area is about balance.  Balance between simple sugars (from fruits and such) to more complex things (from whole grains, starchy vegetables, etc.)

I will attempt in the weeks to come (in addition to posts on other goals in process) to write about various meal plans for some of my days.


Oh, did I mention I am back in school?  Anatomy and Physiology is fun …. yeah ….

Have a Happy Labor Day!