As noted in my NY resolution post, I’m doing my best to get in a daily laugh. It’s not that I’m a curmudgeon, but like most of you, I have days where I just need to relax and laugh a little.

I’ve recently stumbled into several blogs that had me rolling. I’m a fan of finding humor in the world around us and these blogs are just the ticket for a daily laugh.

Enjoy.

Most popular: People of Walmart

Friends version: Airport Classy

My favorite due to generic office examples: Passive-Aggressive Notes

Celebration of male ingenuity and duct tape: There I Fixed It

Others:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/all

http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/

http://www.unnecessaryquotes.com/

I know there’s a ton of these, some of which I left off due to their funny yet inappropriate nature (I think my parents read this). Check out the blogroll on several of these and you’ll find your way into the network of humans are odd humor.

Prepare yourself for one of the most original posts you’ll read all week. That’s right, it’s new years resolutions time! Seriously, I wanted to share my personal resolutions with the hope that you’ll join me in reaching some of these goals. I hope you’ll pick up on the theme of “improvement.”

1. Spend time taking care of my “stuff.” This means taking the cars in for scheduled maintenance, investing in the DIY home improvement projects we’ve been talking about for months, and even the little things like cleaning and storing the grill rather than leaving it out all winter.

TimTaylorTooltime.jpg Tim Taylor image by TimTaylor1

2. Break a sweat at least 5 times per week. You may see this as working out, running, cycling but I include wrestling with the kids at night, playing soccer or racing my boys in the back yard, or taking the stairs on the busy days. I re-read a great book over the holidays called Fitness is Religion: Keep the Faith that reminded me that fitness is a life long endeavor, not some new years resolution tied to a body fat %, per mile split, or miles ridden. It’s a great read that helps me keep a long term perspective on focusing on my health which in turn improves my overall wellbeing.

3. Laugh and smile more. This isn’t about subscribing to a ‘joke of the day’ email, but rather avoiding and removing the stress factors associated with the root of what makes me smile less. Items on this list include reducing my bad debt with more “cheetah” like tenacity, striving to find that ideal work-life balance, and stop sweating the small stuff in order to enjoy life’s little moments.

4. Boost my brain power. I’ve subscribed to the theory that I enjoy the IDEA of reading and have struggled with actually doing it. I’ve found a great solution for overcoming this reality. No, it’s not books on tape. It’s finding the reason and motivation to read. This year I’m going to embark on getting my PMBA, or Personal MBA. I’ve wanted to get my MBA for some time but have yet to figure out how to come to terms with the associated student loan debt and time requirements. Then I evaluated the reason why I wanted to pursue furthering my education and realized it was to better my professional and personal knowledge base in order to raise the ceiling in my career. That’s when I stumbled on the PMBA system and decided it was exactly what I needed. I won’t go into great detail here but in the end I’m committing to making my way through at least 50% of the recommended PMBA materials and experience. This ties directly to boosting my brain power, specifically reading, because it’s based on reading some of the classic and emerging thought leaders works.

4. Last but not least, I plan to do everything in my power to raise at least $5,000 for MS research. Of course, my main event will be the Bike MS event in May. This will prove to be a large challenge since a significant source of my fundraising will not be in place, but that’s no excuse. I’m shooting for at couple of events… the 2nd annual casino party with my dear friends as well as a potential for another event. The leading idea currently is a kids triathlon with a slight twist. If you have experience in managing large events like a triathlon or road race, please contact me because I could use your expertise and advice.

I hope that this has inspired at least a small bit of introspection on your part as to what you want to accomplish in 2010. I would like to thank the awesome bloggers, some of which are good friends, that laid the groundwork and inspired the content and ideas within this post. Feel free to take a look at their fine work and systems in order to fire up your resolution ideation:

1. Pixel Maverick’s 2010 goals (aka: Eric “one of the best in the business” Williamson

2. Josh Kaufman’s year and decade in review (aka: the mastermind behind the PMBA)

3. The GROW model for setting effective goals

Last week I attended my third funeral in the last year or so, all at the same church. Each was a bit different in nature yet they all yielded the same clarity and reflection. Whether it was a wonderful mother of three who lost her heroic battle with cancer, a young man who was taken far too early after a fairly routine chest cold turned fatal, or an accomplished, proud grandfather who never met a stranger who was gone in a blink of an eye after a freak blood clot incident, these stories remind us (at least me) that we all have numerous opportunities and blessings to focus on. I wanted to share some of these thoughts because I found it to be a nice way to (re)focus on the true spirit and nature of the holiday season.

  1. Appreciate the “small” things – Sure, we’ve all heard this time and time again. Many times it is realized after a terrible disaster, personal scare, or life-changing event. It is in these moments that we are stripped away of caring about the day-to-day rat race and have clarity on exactly what’s most important. Be it family, friends, physical health, or mental well being, I encourage you to take a few minutes to identify your core list. Doing so will shed some light on where your focus is – and where it likely should be.
  2. Value your time – I, for one, need to heed this advice as much as the next person. I’m a busy guy between my various commitments and many times give the most attention to the squeakiest wheel or most out of control fire. Regardless, it’s what we do with our time here on this Earth that defines us. So (note to self), stop wishing you had more time and redefine what you do with those 1,440 minutes in every day.
  3. Do something today – One of the many things I learned from reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch is that wishing you had done something in your life or complaining about the reasons why you did not or cannot accomplish something is lame (paraphrased). One of the funerals I attended was for a man that retired after a 25 year career as a partner in an insurance adjusting agency, who immediately went on to purchase a couple of beauty supply stores. To my knowledge he didn’t know the first thing about owning a retail business like this. He did this for several reasons, most importantly to have flexibility to not only provide for but to spend spend time with his growing family. And he would be the first to tell you that if he can do it, so can you. This isn’t about starting a business, but rather to encourage you to take up that hobby, train for that event, change careers, get more involved in that charity or church you love so much. No matter what it is, just do it… today!
  4. Get your priorities in order – Now, the above suggestions are all for naught if you lack clarity as to some order of importance. Take note as you work to identify those items in #1 that stand out as the points of focus in your life. Those need to be what you prioritize at the top of the list and should your list be greater than your waking hours, something has to give. This exercise of sorting and evaluating should provide some amazing and hopefully life-adjusting clarity from which you and those around you will benefit.

More than likely you’ve had a brush with something that gave you a wake up call of some kind. I can easily point to mine and it has truly rattled my cage. I’ll give you a hint…the title of my blog captures the raw emotion and the story can be found here. Let me be one more person to tell you that your life can change in the blink of an eye. I pray that it doesn’t take a catastrophic event to rattle your cage.

Sure there’s a 1000 books and websites dedicated to helping you find these answers, but in the end the common denominator is YOU. You have to sort through your life and decide whether your interested in changing and investing the time it will take to get there. Regardless of the outcome, I hope you find some piece of clarity and the happiness that generally accompanies a purpose filled life.

Because bikini car washes are so yesterday. (pictured: not me)

So every year I try to think of a new, creative way to fund raise and keep my seat warm in the Club 100. I do the standard letter & email campaigns to family and friends, but I’ve also done a few other things at work like an eBay auction, BBQ, fajitas & margaritas, walk-thru beer barn (big hit in my work environment), a golf tournament and most recently a casino party that our good friends hosted. Each of these had their up’s and down’s but it’s time to think outside the box a bit.

By nature I think and dream big, the issue comes when I try to pull it all together. That’s where good friends and logistical realists come in handy. In my time participating in this even, I have seen some incredibly creative & unique ideas that have raised thousands for MS research & support. So in the spirit of sharing, here’s a few ideas I’ve been kicking around for 2010:

1. Battle of the Bands >>> either real bands or team Rock Band contest. This will come down to the venue, prizes, and creativity of the participants (i.e. full KISS make up, etc).

2. Texas Hold ‘Em series >>> this is a mini series of poker where you have monthly winners working towards a grand prize. Thinking multi event (3-4) over the course of the new year where you can buy in each round and accumulate points. I like this even though I am not a great poker player.

3. Sponsors >>> this is the marketer in me. If people can sell ad space on their pregnant bellies, surely I can sell it on my self during a 2-day bike ride across N. Texas. I’m also thinking about how I can monetize this blog so I’ve started talking to several small businesses about profiling their products and getting a portion of any referral sales donated back to the National MS Society. If you know of any businesses who may be interested, please let me know and I’ll reach out to them to discuss a fair partnership.

Whatever your style or fund raising level, thank you for all that you do and please feel free to share your ideas or reach out with questions. Feel free to take any of these ideas and run with them.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Matt

If you’re a Twitter user like me, check out the Twibbon I created for the ride. You’ve probably seen these for the Lance Armstrong Foundation during Cancer Awareness week, etc.

Check it out and add it to your Twitter profile image. It’s easy to do and will help us raise awareness to this event benefiting this great cause.

http://twibbon.com/join/Bike-MS-2010

Full Disclosure: In my day job, I am a Strategist at a marketing agency here in Dallas. My current client is a pharmaceutical company that is undergoing R&D for a new MS treatment. It’s exciting for me personally due to my growing passion to better the lives of those with MS.

As part of my work, I’ve been monitoring marketing research with a variety of MS patients from around the country. I’m currently three cities into a four city tour and have learned more than I ever thought I could about the daily lives of MS patients. Regardless of gender, age, life stage, or even progression of their MS they surprisingly have similar goals, struggles, and visions of hope.

While their struggles and hurdles are not new to me, it was insightful to see and hear these similarities given that I’ve experienced them with the MS patients in my personal life.

What’s encouraging is that beyond my clients efforts, there’s hope on the horizon. From new symptom-specific drugs, breakthrough devices, growing research funding, to a groundswell of supporters (like you) donating and participating in awareness & fund raising events like Bike MS, Walk MS, and many more.

Below are a few links I gathered from patients sharing where they go for research, encouragement, and general information online:

1.  National MS Society: Great organization with incredible resources and information on everything from how to get involved to living with MS.

2.  Myelin Repair Foundation: Exciting work and research driving towards the cure and/or reversal of MS.

3.  Shift.ms: An edgy, cool site geared at younger MS patients who want more interactive (video, social media, etc) and a voice similar to theirs, not the typical 40-50 something crowd.

4.  Active MS’ers: is designed to help, motivate, and inspire those with multiple sclerosis to stay as active as possible—physically, intellectually, and socially—regardless of physical limitations.

5.  MS News Today: Comprehensive and great way to stay plugged into all the news and happenings in MS research, funding, etc.

6.  MSunderstood: “the website on MS that doesn’t suck.”

7.  29 Gifts author Cami Walker: amazing book by an inspiring author. My wife described it like the Girlfriends Guide to MS. You understand this if you’ve read the Girlfriends Guides (to pregnancy, toddlers, etc).

8. Brain Cheese Blog: funny blog written by a MS patient. His description… “A forum of musings and adventures while traveling down the road with Multiple Sclerosis.”

9.  Last but definitely not least… Trevis Gleason’s blog: His name came up numerous times as a funny, helpful personality that others found interesting and engaging.

Enjoy,
Matt

This video makes me want to jump up and ride every time. Once you’ve experienced riding in an event like the challenging and satisfying Bike MS: Sam’s Club ride you’ll know the adrenaline rush that comes from watching this video. I hope you’ll join me in 2010 for this inspiring and wonderfully supported & managed event!

I don’t know about you but I’m always on the look out for opportunities to improve my situation. That’s why I’m going to take advantage of the time change to use that “extra” hour in the morning a little differently this year. I’m going to renew my AM workouts. Exercise makes me feel normal and is my Cymbalta. I need it and I know the people close to me like me a bit more when I’m exercising regularly.

Plus, I accredit my fitness in last year’s ride to starting an “offseason” training regiment that allowed me to ride hard and recover quickly during the ride without having put in long rides over 45 miles. These are definitely recommended but extremely difficult to fit in with a family, work, and all of the associated responsibilities, time constraints, etc.

So, since my body thinks I’m sleeping an hour later than normal, I took advantage this morning and headed to the gym. According to my workout journal, it’s been over a month but even then I was petering out, going 1-2 times a week for the month leading up to that. While my exit strategy from the house was a bit rusty (got to sneak out so I don’t wake the family), I managed to get out and to the gym without forgetting anything important.

I’m going “public” with this so I can keep myself honest and accountable. If you’re with me great! If not, there’s always New Year resolutions.

Lastly, I thought I would share my workouts in case you were looking for something new. I discovered a new, free system a while back and I love it. It’s called Crossfit and it’s

1) perfect for the time crunched exerciser

2) challenging as all get out

3) takes the thought out of planning workouts

4) consistently changes to keep your body guessing and mind engaged

5) it’s free and scalable (meaning, you can find posted workouts for all fitness levels)

If you’re interested in learning more, visit crossfit.com to understand the overall picture and then visit http://www.crossfitbrandx.com/index.php/forums/viewforum/16/ to get the daily scaled workouts (buttercup = easiest, big dawg = hardest).

Here’s what I did today: http://www.crossfitbrandx.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/8506/

Regardless, I hope you’ll join me in taking advantage of the time change to really make a change.

Well, this blog isn’t about me or my story. It’s about two amazing ladies in my life and numerous other wonderful friends and family members of friends.

In years past, I prepare for the adventure that is the MS150 to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”) that affects millions of people worldwide, including my wonderful mom Valorie Noe. She’s been a rock throughout my life and this is the best way I know how to help find a cure for a frustrating and disabling disease.

Well, my passion for fundraising and first-hand knowledge of this frustrating, relentless disease grew ten fold in May 2008. Approximately five days after the 2008 MS150, my wife Andrea was diagnosed with MS. Man, life is full of surprises and this was the ultimate blind side punch.

The road leading up to the diagnosis was a rocky one. Shortly after giving birth to our second son Carson, Andrea began having trouble walking, specifically issues with her left leg dragging when she got tired or too hot. After months of numerous MRIs, tests, physical therapy and doctor’s visits, we were almost relieved to have a name for her symptoms.

It’s been about 18 months and thanks to the drugs and wonderful doctors, Andrea is doing better. Well, she’s not doing worse. That may sound negative but that’s the way you treat MS… hope is primarily based on not getting worse.

For the most part, her symptoms do not stop her from being an incredible mother to our two wild-and-crazy boys, amazing wife to a well-intentioned husband, wonderful teacher to her pre-schoolers, and thoughtful friend to her tight-nit circle of girlfriends. She is a rock and source of inspiration to all of the above, but especially to me.

So that brings us to how we can make a different together. The MS150 – a two-day, 150 mile bike ride – raises awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis research. As I’ve expressed before, it’s an incredible event that’s filled with hills, thrills and great times. As always, I’m riding with the Feisty Devils, the largest friends and family team in the nation. Lead by some of the most amazing and inspiring leaders I know, we have raised over $1,000,000 and counting for MS research. But we need your help in continuing the fight against MS by supporting events like the MS150 which funds newer & better drugs.

Please stay tuned over the coming months as I chronicle my adventures in training & fund raising as well as share my experiences as a husband who wants nothing more than to support and provide for my lovely wife Andrea.

Take care,

Matt

Greetings and welcome-

The 2010 ride is going to be special for several reasons. First, I’ve been asked by my friends at the Lone Star Chapter of the MS Society to blog about my experience leading up to the ride. I’m one of five “Ambassadors” selected to represent several rider profiles: team captain, new rider, rider with MS, non-traditional rider, and top fundraiser (me). You should check out each of their blogs (see links to the right) and learn more about their stories.

Second, I’m thrilled (and hopeful) to ride 150 miles. The 2009 ride was interesting with torrential rains that trapped many of us in our team tent and washed out Day 2. I was definitely conflicted in that I wanted to ride the full distance to fulfill my responsibility to all of the generous folks that donated. On the other hand, my tail and legs were so sore and ready to stay on the couch for Day 2.

Stay tuned,

Matt

Top Fundraiser

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