Being Sick Often EQUALS Being out of Balance

While listening to Tony Robbins ( last month, he mentioned that he hasn’t missed an event since he began motivating people. He wasn’t bragging, only letting listeners know that it’s possible to remain healthy despite a hectic travel schedule – a schedule that is demanding and exposes him to numerous viruses.

The audio tape was on the subject of health including the “whys” which make us vulnerable to disease. He spoke in detail about how the body works and the way many of us don’t put ourselves and our health first. It was clear from his dialogue that when one is out of balance with unhealthy habits (i.e. improper nutrition, high stress, lack of exercise and limited “Me Time”), it’s easy to fall victim to sickness.

It was refreshing to hear this from an expert as I have been baffled at times by the prevalent sickness I’ve witnessed (children and adults) during my life, particularly here in Sweden during the last 6 years. After listening to Tony, it now makes perfect sense.

I agree with his health philosophy, and fortunately have experienced remarkable health my entire life. In almost 5 decades, there have been less than 10 days where I didn’t feel good; a few days with an upset stomach and two days of a high temperature. I’m grateful for this blessing as it has helped me to fiercely target my goals and dreams. My good health is no fluke as I put a high priority on being in balance and maintaining a lifestyle conducive to good living.

My focus has been laser-like in making sure that my stress levels are low and getting big doses of “Me Time”. In my opinion, these two vital areas are essential to feeling good and staying in balance. I simply cannot do without my “Me Time”, especially the passion I love most, writing.

Keep in mind that one doesn’t need to excel in every area of a healthy lifestyle – the key is to have a strong balance. I sleep less than the average person (6 hours) and enjoy delicious yet unhealthy food occasionally although I balance it out with extreme patience, helping others, a positive attitude, not worrying, a loving family and doing things I enjoy on a daily basis.

Here’s a quote from the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden:

“Balance is crucial in everything we do. Along with love, it’s among the most important things in life. I strove for balance in my leadership and coaching and taught that balance was necessary for Competitive Greatness: The body has to be in balance; the mind has to be in balance; emotions must be in balance. Balance is important everywhere and in everything we do”
(Wooden on Leadership, chapter 8, McGraw Hill publishing)

In previous articles, I’ve written about the importance of TAKING CARE OF YOU. I’ve also shared my view with acquaintances and some of my inner circle, particularly when they express how often they are sick or how difficult life has been.

When I inquire and dig deeper into their lifestyles, 95% of the time it boils down to stress (job, family or kids), lack of “Me Time”, worrying, bad nutrition, no exercise or not living the life they desire. They often realize that they are living life for others or their jobs or their family and not doing what should be priority 1 – taking care of themselves.

If you or those you love can relate to any portion of what you have read, I implore you to begin the process of caring for yourself BETTER and MORE INTENSELY. If a good friend or family member is suffering in this manner, don’t be afraid to lovingly confront them in order to inspire them to improve their life.

I love life too much to let sickness or unhappiness tarnish even one precious day. What that means is my mind, body and soul are priority 1! Most importantly, this makes me a better husband, father, son and friend because I am usually in a strong and happy frame of mind when I am dealing with the daily challenges of life.

Being in balance keeps me fresh, energetic and ready to tackle life’s obstacles. Can I improve in some areas? Of course and I consistently work on ways to enhance aspects of my lifestyle. As long as I have balance, I’m confident that my body will take care of itself and avoid sickness.

The words of a former Coach Wooden player sum up it up well:

“He always talked about balance: body balance, scoring balance, team balance, and most of all, mental and emotional balance. Your feet have to be in balance. Your body has to be in balance over your feet. Your head needs to be in balance with your body and arms. He said if you’re not in balance, you’ll eventually fall over, and he meant it in more ways than one.

I came to see balance as one of the keys to success not only in basketball, but in life. When things get out of balance, it’s generally not good. Everything needs balance. That one word he kept drilling at us – balance – has stuck with me, became important in how I try to do things.”
(Wooden on Leadership, chapter 8, McGraw Hill publishing)

Are you in balance?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's first priority is living a balanced life. What about you?

Not Appreciating what HE has

An unappealing characteristic is “Not appreciating what one has”.

Below is the snapshot of a man who falls into this category and he was okay with me writing about his life as long as I didn’t use his name. He thought that maybe it could be insightful for others who might relate to his experience.

A husband and father and from what I observe, he is good in both roles. He takes his responsibility seriously although he knows he can be a better husband and more patient with his children. He’s well liked and people enjoy being around him yet high stress is a constant in his life – something most people don’t see.

In addition, he isn’t concerned with recharging his batteries and soothing his soul by having weekly “Me Time” – time that is essential for all of us.

His wife is kind and calm. From what he tells me, she could improve in the wife category. According to him, she is a wonderful mother and he admires her loving and patient ways with their children. She’s one of the most likable people I know.

Both are career oriented/ambitious and have been successful in their occupations. Infidelity has never been a problem in their marriage as far as I know. The stress of marriage with their small children presents daily challenges.

What he talks about, sometimes incessantly, is how unhappy he is with his situation – primarily his marriage. It was puzzling the first time I heard it and continues to baffle me. In my opinion, he has a good life (which I have told him) – a life admired by more than a few.

I’ve counselled people on both sides of the fence, those truly unhappy and those who say or feel they are unhappy yet are only masking the true unhappiness - themselves. This man falls into the latter category and my advice to him is usually similar to the advice I give to people in his situation. I let them know in no uncertain terms to “Appreciate what they have”.

One of his issues is thinking that his life should be super exciting all the time. He gets irritated when the small kids are whiny or the wife is tired from a long day and only wants to rest or his job inbox is overloaded or life in general is stressing him out…just to name a few. In addition, his outer family members (generally) are not the caring types which he allows to affect his mind and behavior.

He must have thought that life with kids and a wife would be similar to his previous single life. I’ve told him time and time again that life with small kids, dual careers and a marriage is hectic and challenging for most people I know. Also, nobody has a thrilling life all the time!

The key for him is appreciating the positive blessings and not dwelling on the tough or negative moments. A little positivity could help him immensely. He tends to put the blame on the marriage (or other outside elements) instead of looking inside himself at the real problem – his damaged soul.

Another plus in his life is that he and his wife have “date nights” which I’ve told him to be thankful for. After speaking to numerous people about their lack of time alone with their spouse since their kids were born, what he has is special.

His main issue is thinking that the “grass is greener” in another life he dreams about or admires in others – again looking outside instead of inside. Unfortunately, far too many men (and women) share this same warped sense of reality and often leave situations they later regret.

In my experiences with the relationship breakups/divorces of those close to me, the grass is rarely greener. Sometimes yes, most often no.

Let’s look at his positives:

 He and his wife have successful jobs and careers
 Both are healthy
 They have “date nights”
 Their children are happy, smart and healthy
 While his outer family is nothing to be desired, they are supportive towards him
 His wife is patient, calm and deals with stress much better than he does
 She’s a wonderful mother (his words)
 His wife is one of the more likable people I know
 He is very likable and has numerous close friends – more than most

Is there really any point looking at the negatives?

Everyone has negatives (or challenging moments as I tend to say) in their life or things they don’t like although I find no use in dwelling on them especially when the positives far outweigh the negatives - as they do for him.

If the negatives outweigh the positives, then a change should be a consideration. A good friend married a person no one thought was good for him. We did a positive/negative list with him before the marriage and the negatives were more than double the positives. He got married anyway. Needless to say, the relationship was soon over and everyone is happy that he made the change. The “grass was greener” for him as his is now happily married the second time around.

When a simple list like the aforementioned is done with people contemplating a major life change, they usually see the light. Fortunately, for this man, he has a few close friends who he trusts and opens up to about his life. For the most part, they have given him advice similar to mine. That’s what good friends are for.

To have a more fulfilling life and begin the healing process of his soul, he needs to improve in three main areas:

1) Patience – Being impatient has very few benefits. Most of the people I admire or respect are patient people.

2) Stress - A high level of stress can make life difficult in many areas including a major breakdown. I realize that it’s not easy to lower one’s stress although to not work on improving it can be extremely detrimental to one’s health.

3) “Me Time” – Maybe the most important to master for one’s happiness. I wrote an article about it and told my friend “that there is nothing more important than daily or weekly “Me Time” to do the things that you enjoy”.   He read the article and knows that I get mine EACH AND EVERY DAY so I think it has helped him.

The link to “Master your Me Time” is below:

He’s doing better now and his complaints have decreased considerably which is a step in the right direction. He still has a long way to go in order to improve in the “Me Time” and stress area although his patience has improved. It would be sad and disappointing to see him leave his family only because he wasn’t happy with himself. It’s very difficult to be happy in most relationships if you don’t take care of number 1 (YOU!) first.

In my opinion, I could almost guarantee that his “grass wouldn’t be greener” in any other situation.

If nothing else, I know he has a better appreciation of the positives in his life.

I wish him well.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

One can appreciate the beauty of autumn, yet fail to appreciate the beauty in their own life. (Picture by Helena)

Mississippi - Two Women, An Outrageous Injustice

When I first read about these two women, I was beyond surprised as I had never heard of something "so utterly inhumane" as Bob Herbert of the NY Times wrote this past week.

If ever there was a punishment that DIDN'T fit the crime, it's this one. Keep in mind as your read the paragraphs below, that there have been murders in America released from prison in less than ten years.

Here's a snippet from the article about this severe injustice:

It was not the kind of crime to cause a stir. No one was hurt and perhaps $11 was taken.

They were convicted by a jury and handed the most draconian sentences imaginable — short of the death penalty. Each was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in state prison, and they have been imprisoned ever since. Jamie is now 38 and seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Gladys is 36.

This is Mississippi we’re talking about, a place that in many ways has not advanced much beyond the Middle Ages.

The authorities did not even argue that the Scott sisters had committed the robbery. They were accused of luring two men into a trap, in which the men had their wallets taken by acquaintances of the sisters, one of whom had a shotgun.

It was a serious crime. But the case against the sisters was extremely shaky. In any event, even if they were guilty, the punishment is so wildly out of proportion to the offense that it should not be allowed to stand.

Not only is a sentence like this completely ridiculous, it's an outrageous waste of taxpayer money.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour should do the honorable thing and release these two women. If not, this inhumane sentence will continue to shine an unfavorable light on a state that has had more than its share of darkness.

One of these dark moments was the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evars:

Dropping out of high school at 17 to join the army, Evers served in World War II. Returning home, he finished high school and later graduated from Alcorn A & M College. After working at Magnolia Mutual Insurance, one of the few black-owned businesses in the state, Evers became an NAACP field secretary in Jackson. His civil rights work made him many enemies, and on June 11, 1963, Evers was shot and killed by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith. His wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams, carried on his work.

Do the right thing Gov. Barbour........ We are watching.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Musician Jonathan Butler - 2 Random Conversations

My first encounter with the music of South African guitarist and singer Jonathan Butler was at a sold out concert in Boston, MA.  Although I knew some of his music, I was blown away by his nimble guitar playing and extraordinary voice. That night, he became a Gswede favorite!

One year later, I was on vacation in London – aimlessly walking around a huge flea market. I‘ve never been that interested in these type of all day selling places so I was passing the time by "people watching" which is never boring.

I spotted a man who probably had my same mindset as he was sitting alone on a step. He looked very familiar. As I got closer, it became very apparent who it was. I’m not surprised very often although this moment was a big one – it was Jonathan Butler.

Never being shy about approaching well known or famous people, I told him how much I enjoyed the aforementioned concert and how his music had touched me.  He was gracious and we spent a few minutes talking.

As you probably inferred, I was not happy about going to this flea market. I compromised that day as my girlfriend at the time wanted to go.  Since then, I have tried to make a habit of embracing situations/invitations I wasn’t fond of as one never knows what interesting moments may occur.

About ten years later, I became Director of PR and Advertising for a financial organization.  Part of my responsibility was promoting the company utilizing sports sponsorships and concerts – one of the most fun aspects of my new job. There were numerous events throughout the year including the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers along with a diverse group of concerts. A Long Island jazz concert would give me my second random meeting with Jonathon Butler.

My company was the major sponsor of most concerts we were involved in and this jazz concert was no exception. I had carte blanche for this event including but not limited to backstage passes and guest invitations. Never being one to exploit my privileges in business, I only invited 3 close friends.

It was a beautiful and warm summer night and I was more excited than usual as I knew I would have some quality time with Jonathan Butler. I didn’t mention to my friends that they were going to have special VIP access, including pre-concert drinks to mingle with the artists.

They were beyond thrilled when we arrived and were escorted to a private area filled with great food, drinks and interesting musicians. After meeting and greeting nearly everyone in the VIP section, I asked Jonathon to sit at our table so we could get some private time with him. My guests learned about his life and rise to stardom despite the conditions he grew up in. It was a wonderful thirty minutes for all of us.

For those who may not know his music or anything about him, below is a snapshot:

Butler grew up in the townships of South Africa, the youngest of 12 children. He started singing and playing guitar at age seven. Even before he reached age ten, he traveled cross-country performing in villages with a 100-member troupe making money to help support his family. The audiences would vary from poverty-ravaged black townships to opulent halls open only to whites. Traveling accommodations were dismal and atrocious. In his travels, the young entertainer could neither comprehend the extreme destitute nor the harsh treatment he endured and bared witness to under the reign of Apartheid. Afrikaans was his native tongue, but he learned English in his travels. (

Our time with Jonathan was special as he inspired us with stories of his challenging childhood along with his love of music. In addition, he couldn’t have been more kind to my guests; not dissimilar to our first meeting ten years earlier.

To gain a small taste of his life and talent, take the time to watch this ten minute video interview (he sings!) from the Tavis Smiley program.

Every time I hear his powerful and soulful voice, it moves me. If you love music, you may be moved as well.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Jonathan Butler - (

Stock Symbol SIRI – Great Product BUT …should you own the stock?

In the summer months of 2009, I told a group of friends about Sirius XM Radio, Inc. (SIRI). I encouraged them to consider a purchase. The stock was around .60 cents at the time.

In mid 2010, I informed a similar albeit smaller group of friends that they should consider a purchase of SIRI. The price had risen to .90 cents.

As far as I know, only one person acted on my recommendation which surprised me.

Many of them knew about my success over the years with this stock. I wanted them to share in my success although I only gave them a tidbit of information about SIRI (

I could have written specific facts and easily convinced some to buy the stock but I believe it it’s essential for anyone considering a stock purchase to do their own homework and research about the company. In addition, one should talk to people who are in the financial field or those you respect who have managed their finances well.

Those I told probably didn’t want to “put in the time” to review SIRI thus missing out on a good investment.

This past week the stock was in the $ 1.20 range.

For those in the USA who don’t know about this product, I encourage you to explore it as I love the product and enjoy it immensely when I am in one of the 50 states. While driving in a car, there is nothing better in my opinion.

A brief description of the company is below followed by a recent news link on the stock:

Sirius XM Radio Inc. has two principal wholly owned subsidiaries, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Satellite CD Radio Inc. The Company is engaged in broadcasting its music, sports, news, talk, entertainment, traffic and weather channels in the United States for a subscription fee through its satellite radio systems, the SIRIUS system and the XM system. The SIRIUS system consists of four in-orbit satellites, approximately 125 terrestrial repeaters that receive and retransmit signals, satellite uplink facilities and studios. The XM system consists of four in-orbit satellites, over 650 terrestrial repeaters that receive and retransmit signals, satellite uplink facilities and studios. Subscribers can also receive certain of its music and other channels over the Internet. (Reuters)

For those who own the stock or are familiar with the company, you’re probably as big a fan as I am. Whether it be talk radio, sports or news… nothing compares to the line-up of SIRI. Just having the music is worth it yet one gets so much more with this satellite radio giant!

To give you some aspects of my financial insight, below you will find 2 articles from the Gswede Sunday archives:

“World Financial Crises, are you Swimming or Sinking” from October of 2008

“Big Bank or Community Bank” from 2009

Here’s my plain yet potentially profound SIRI advice:

If you enjoy the stock market and like some risk and volatility (I do), SIRI could be a stock for you. As you may know, stock volatility can be a good thing for an investment if one pays close attention to a stock’s inevitable ups and downs.

Should you buy the stock? That decision is up to you.

If you asked me, I would simply say to consider SIRI for your portfolio. If you are a first-timer in the stock market, SIRI is probably not the proper choice. At the very least, make sure you have this wonderful product in your car or home, especially if you like to listen to a vast assorment of entertainment.

And yes, I currently own the stock.

Happy Gswede Sunday!