52 Cards : Core Workout Card Game

I wanted to do focus on Cross Training this month as one of my resolutions.  Which was very successful.  I rode my bike 3 times a week as opposed to running.  Giving me knees a much-needed break.  Fall is just around the corner and there is nothing better than a jog in the autumn air.

However, I also wanted to refocus on the core.  I will admit that during the summer months, I don’t go to the gym.  Too many outdoor activities to take in before Central New York turns back into a frozen tundra.

Late in July, I stumbled across a TedEX Talk by Ray Lewis..

He spoke passionately about how, when he was growing up, he would have to watch his mother be physically abused by his step father.  “Her face would be so battered at bruised, that she would wear sunglasses in the house for days.”

Ray didn’t have the muscle to defend her so he took a deck of cards.  He flipped the first one and it read “7”.  He went down and did 7 push ups.  Flipped the next card “6” , six push ups.  Then so on and so forth.

When he would reach the end of the deck the would shuffle them up and start again.  But this time he would do sit ups.

Now I don’t have an as compelling  and heartwarming story as he does.  But what I do have is a busy mind and a busier body.

So in August, in between my so to-do list each day,   I played the card game.  I would do them until I couldn’t do them anymore. or I run out of time.  Some days my arms would not have the strength to push my body up one more time.

Day 1 push – ups :  I started with 62 push ups.   By 8/24  I had reached 164 in a day

Day  1 crunches:  Started with 116 crunches.  By 8/25 I had  reached 420 in a day.  (drawing 3 cards at a time)

At the end of the month I can differently feel it in my chest and abdominal muscles.

But the most important thing I am learning from the year all together is…I’m not 18 anymore and I will never look like that again.  The “Dad Bod” is here to stay.  But that doesn’t mean I need to let me conditioning and strength slide.  Just the work that I do won’t have as many noticeable effects and I can live with that

Here’s a link to Ray’s TexEx Talk here.  Truly a motivational story.




The Lucky Break


Today I take you back to February of 2011.  I was 24 years old, and even though I was a successful District Manager for a Dunkin Donuts Franchise in the suburbs of Rochester, I was enjoying the twenties lifestyle so much, that I had to work two other part-time jobs to support it and that box of a studio apartment that I passed out in.  Once in a while.

I had just found out that I was going to be a father and I hadn’t quite figured out what my next move was.  Like I said, I was working two other part-time jobs.  One being a bar back and cook at a local sports bar,  I was a bit overqualified for that position but I really enjoyed working there and for the couple that owned it.  And the other was a stint on the line at my current full service restaurant company.

I was hired with the company for the first time in late 2004 and though I had transferred and left employment from this company on three separate occasions, I always seemed to wash back on their shores in a moment of need.  Whether it was their need or my need depended on the situation.

Now, when it comes to my career.  I always have seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  “God protects fools and drunks” Anthony Bourdain once said.  And this occasion was no exception


Shortly after returning to life on the line that January, I remember how pissed off I was when I was scheduled against my availability to work the garde manger station on random Sunday afternoon.  That’s just a fancy term used to make a salad preparer sound more important, which these days depending on your restaurants concept can be very important.

Sunday afternoons were not in my availability and I sure as hell hadn’t worked that salad station in years.  Hell, I didn’t have a clue what half the preparations were.   But I showed up for the shift without complaint like the good soldier I was.   And there he was.

The “he” I’m referring to was none other that the Monopoly Man himself, the Regional Director.  He indeed bore a striking resemblance to Rich Uncle Pennybags from the famous board game and today he was going to change my life.

He and I locked eyes immediately.  Did the GM schedule me on this shift on purpose so that I would be here when he was here?  If so…well played sir.  I had worked with this RD before in many different restaurant locations and we had a great history, but I hadn’t seen him since I had left to gain management experience with another company.

And after hearing about what I had been up to lately and my son on the way, he inquired if I would be interested in getting into full service management.

The rest is history.  I few rides east,7795fdea050dd0849fbdf50e7bd76fc8--luck-of-the-irish-irish-luck to Syracuse in the winter for interviews and assessments, my POS Lincoln barely making the journey, and it was a done deal.  I relocated to Syracuse in March for Manager Training and my climb up the corporate ladder had begun.

Cazenovia 5K : Return To Road Races

The last time I ran at 5K race was in December of 2012.   I may have done the TM and Boilermaker every year since but my training and performance were mediocre at best.

So on the morning of 4th of July with less than a week before the Boilermaker Race, I headed up to Cazenovia for their 45th Annual 4th of July Foot Races.

I love Caz.  So many cool restaurants and shops.  Not to mention so many interconnected hiking trails.

There was a 10 mile loop around the lake but I opted for the 3.1 Mile race considering I haven’t ran that long in so long and I have to do 9.3 miles this Sunday.


1K – “No Hurry” by Zac Brown Band

I start out at a moderate pace.  Biggest mistake by a runner is to “come out to early” I.e.  Starting too fast and wasting all your energy.

Turn the corner on Emory Drive and there it is…huge hill.  I flip on my music and on comes Zac Brown Band.

I won’t be in any hurry getting up this hill
2K – “Devil went down to Georgia” Charlie Daniels Band

At the top of the hill we hit the 1K mark.  Time to pick up the pace and the tempo.  Charlie Daniel’s awesome fiddle work will do the trick.


3K  “Lose Yourself” Eminem

Like so many races before,  I depend on my mind and music to get me through these runs.  It’s more of a mental sport than anything.   The minutes and miles can go so much faster if you let your mind wonder and let the music take you somewhere else.

I’m a big country music fan but I find it hard to run to.  So I keep some high tracks with a higher tempo handy for when I run.

 This song makes me think about my days in the boarding house.  When I had to worry about what time I came home in fear of being assualted.  And what it would take to dig myself out.  

The run is easier now.  Steady down hill. 


4K “Invincible” Machine Gun Kelley

Waking up sweatin from the stress of being caged down

Everything I write is played out like what is this?
Tear the whole page out
Man I come from holes in the wall but they don’t know the path
Even if I told them it all, they wouldn’t know the half”

I only snap back to reality when the volunteers shout out the times at each kilometer marker.  

I’m going up a hill again and now for the first time.  I’m winded.  

5K ” Not Afraid”  Eminem

The thought of walking crosses my mind…but only for an instant.  

I remember how much work I had to do just to get back to running 3 miles.  How just last year I had the beginnings of a bad little drinking habit  that left me very out of shape and irritable.  

“It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me
Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally
For you, so I could come back a brand new me you helped see me through”

Soon I could see the finish line and I turned up the heat. 

“If you can fill the unforgiving Minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it”

It was a great run.  No personal records were broken but it feels great to be back at it.  


Breaking The Workaholic Cycle

I saw my cousin over the weekend and she told me how much she loved the blog and about her recent efforts to live a more balanced life.  

She has been working 65-70 hours between getting her degree, working full time as a teacher and part time as a restaurant server for so many years. 

She realized that she was “missing out on this thing called life” and recently left her restaurant job to spend more time with her husband and hopes to be blessed with a baby in the future. 

She mentioned how hard is was at first  to break habit of working around the clock.  

The struggle is real Ashley. 

For so many years I worked 60-80 hours a week while life just flew bye.  I don’t even know where my twenties went when I stop to think about it.

 One major theme  of the project is to live a more balanced life.  It’s so hard for me to put down my work at the end of that day and not continuously check logs and emails in a business where I’m always connected.   But so far I think it’s been successful.  

I’ve been working non stop for sure…but working to live a better life and to be a better person. 

July Resolutions

Time to list the 8 resolutions for the month of July.


  1.  Cut in half (portion sizes)
  2.  Practice the art of “small talk”
  3.  “Eat that frog” first thing.  Tackle Procrastination.
  4.  Put into Rotation
  5.  Seek out Deals to have more fun
  6.  Stop giving a F***
  7.   Tell people what you want.
  8.  Craft your personal bucket List



Tough Mudder Virgina 2017 Part 1.

This is our 6th year of taking on the Tough Mudder Obstacle Course.  But this was our time doing one south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

And the southern sun was shining bright with clear skies. and 90 degree heat.

No amount of sunscreen was saving our pasty white bodies from a horrible burn.

My teammates this year were Chris, the best man at my wedding and TM running mate for all six years, and his best friend Matt, this being his 4th Mudder.

I was interested to see if my focus on getting back in shape would pay off since I usually fall way behind, leaving my much more physically sound teammates waiting for me at the next obstacle.

The 10.5 miles course  was held just outside the Virgina State Fairgrounds and we could see King’s Dominion amusement park.


After being pumped up by the TM pump up guy, “Coach”…yes I know as little flamboyant.   We were off for a 1 mile jog through the hilly switchbacks.   This is where I hang back at a gentle jog because I know if I start a race going to fast that I will be exhausted half way through.


I go at my own pace and meet up with Matt and Chris at the first obstacle.

First obstacle is an easy one,  The Devil’s Beard.  Basically just a spider web of tight cargo nets that you have to crawl under.



Followed up by the Mud Mile 2.0.  Here’s where it gets muddy, climbing up and over muddy pot holes  While it’s not that difficult, you leave the obstacle with a few extra pounds of water weight and sneakers full of rocks.

mud mile


Then we are on mile 3 and the Hero Carry.

Nothing overly complicated here.  TM raises a lot of money for the Wonder Warrior Project so its only fitting that they have an obstacle where you carry one of your fellow mudders.    Matt carries Chris half way then I carry Matt the rest of the way.

hero carry


Head back into the woods and we come across Quagmire.  A new obstacle that makes the Mud Mile look like a walk in the park.  You jump into a deep pit of quicksand/tar light mud that was swallowing people’s shoes left and right  You have no choice but to have your fellow mudders  both up top and at the bottom help you to the top.

I don’t have a good picture.  Brand new obstacle.

Just before Mile 4 we hit another classic.  Kiss the Mud.

Now you are getting face down in the mud  Crawling low to avoid the barbed wire just above your head.

kiss the mud

Now its time for a long jog when we meet up with our spectators at the Berlin Walls after mile 5.

Your family and friends can purchase spectator passes but they don’t get access to every obstacle.  Hence some of the stock images

Check back for part 2.

My Personal “Hell Week” Begins

“Hell Week” is a Navy Seals term that is defined as “the defining event of BUD/S training. It is held early on  before the Navy makes an expensive investment in SEAL operational training. Hell Week consists of 5 1/2 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep.”

For me, Hell Week is the week before I take a vacation from work.  I’m quite the control freak and in last 4 plus years I have only taken a full week vacation AWAY from the restaurant twice.

Its stressing me out so much because Hell Week is being followed by a few crazy weeks already.  Since the beginning of May my restaurant has been crazy busy.  Last week was the busiest week in well over a decade,  looks like the recession is far behind us.

So busy in fact that we finished the week with a total system crash…Credit cards were down, internet couldn’t be accessed, bills couldn’t be paid, and inventory couldn’t be completed.

So the week started with a 330AM arrival time to work on patching the network and by the time the computer was fixed and all the paperwork we done it was 6pm.


No time to slow down.  Completed the last week of the C25K program.  Now onto the 10K program


Might be busy but still had time to take the family for ice cream in the rain.

Evolution of the Project

Hey guys,

Busy weekend ahead for those in the hospitality industry as Mother’s Day Weekend is in for swing.     So I apologize now for the lack of meaningful content until Monday.

But I wanted to take a second to tell you what to expect from the rest of the Happiness Project.

I think I have hit my stride and have a definite format to my writing.

The Project  content has evolved into three themes or categories.


  1.   Explorations of places both new and old.  If you have been reading you can tell that I find a lot of happiness in getting out of the house and seeing what is out there both near and far.


2.  Personal History: “Don’t you just take the past and put it in a room in a basement and lock the door and never go in there? That’s what I do. And then you meet someone special and all you want to do is to toss them the key and say, “Open up, step inside,” but you can’t because it’s dark. There’s demons.  I keep wanting to do that: fling the door open, just let light in and clean everything out.”  Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley


I’ve kept so much about myself such a secret for so long.  There are a lot of repressed emotions inside me that I can only seem to release by putting them in writing.

3.  And Resolutions – the idea that inspired the project.  Inspired by the best seller, “The Happiness Project”.  Every month I take on new resolutions that are meant to make me happier in many different ways.   So far some are very successful and some are very difficult.  But isn’t that how most resolutions go?  Some fail and some live on.


The Snooze Button – A Chapter From the Franchise Years.

I’ve recently been having an dysfunctional relationship with my snooze button.  Mainly from all the work I been putting in and my unrealistic wake up time expectations.  It reminds me of another time in my life where I would be hitting the snooze button more times than I should.  That time for different reasons.

It’s late 2010,  I’m working as a District Manager of Dunkin Donuts putting in at least 80 hours a week for the last 12 months also going through two break ups that year which both ended very badly.  I was coming to the end of my rope.

The hiring practices where very strange at this franchise, where as, I didn’t have anything to do with the hiring of my direct report store managers, that was the Director of Ops job.  But I was responsible for recruiting, hiring, and firing of all hourly crew members.  I was also called upon to fire managers more often than I care to remember.

If you read my article Leaving the Franchise, you learned that I was getting paid peanuts.  So you can imagine what we had to offer  store managers…let alone hourly employees.  When it came to quality employees I didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to through it out of.   I did have a few hard working, trustworthy individuals but  they  soon were corrupted or would leave for green pasture.

You could say I was a glorified babysitter…unable in any case to get my manager to uphold any kind of standards.  I spent the day running around  putting out fires, firing employees for theft, trying to keep the trains on the tracks.  Then when my bakers failed to show up I would spend the night filling and frosting then driving the racks of donuts to all the locations.  “Time to Make the Donuts”.  I could feel my relationship with my boss and owner quickly souring.

This is where the snooze button came in.  I dreaded getting up in the morning.  I would just lie there paralyzed.  Eerily reminiscent of what  Anthony Bourdain wrote in Kitchen Confidential, when is was used as a rachet man. “I hoped that if I stayed in bed a little later, showed up a little later.  Maybe, just maybe, it would be me that got fired this time.  That I wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  That his whole terrible business would end.”. 

I had not yet learned good organizational or management skills.  

Like in Bourdain’s case.  This would soon pass.  I would take a part time job back in full service in the beginning of 2011.  Now with middle management experience under my belt and a little luck.    My life would soon change forever.