About Nat

Marketer and Triathlete in Salt Lake City // Pound the rock. Do good. Have a great time.

We Each Have a Story

Given in the Holladay 10th Ward

Sources

  1. “We Each Have a Story” by By Elder Gerrit W. Gong – Apr 2022 General Conference
  2. It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn, published 2016
  3. Coco, Disney-Pixar, 2017
  4. “The Family Stories That Bind Us” by Bruce Feiler, published March 15, 2013 in New York Times
  5. Job 1:21 KJV
  6. Notes on The Hero’s Journey from Damon D’Amore
  7. Beyond Order by Jordan B Peterson
By |2022-07-21T14:36:23-06:00July 10th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

My Personal Travel Tips – Making Weekend Trips Awesome

When I lived in New York my brother’s family was in DC and later Philly, and my sister’s family was in Boston. I liked seeing my nieces and nephews . . . and getting cannoli in the North End . . . so I visited them a lot. You’ve heard people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” and sometimes my weekends were like that too. After a couple weekends that were more exhausting than rewarding, I wanted to figure out how to have a great weekend and still hit the ground running once I was home. These personal travel trips are what came of my thinking on managing wellbeing while making the most of travel time.

Travel Tips – Schedule

  1. List what I personally want to get done over that period of time
  2. Ask of people I am staying with / traveling with (a) what’s fixed on their schedule and (b) what they’d like accomplish/do with me
  3. Put their fixed items in my calendar
  4. Communicate what I have fixed in my calendar AND what I’d like to get done, and, generally, what it takes to do those things
  5. Considering 1-4, talk through, negotiate, manage, plan the days with my travel companions / hosts

No surprise — often a large chunk of what I want to get done is exercise. I appreciate family and friends who support my getting out and being active.

And here’s one example of loosely laying out a week:

Travel Tips - Week Plan

Travel Tips – Transportation

Rent my own car.

And if I’m not renting, intentionally create ‘I’m not renting’ as a choice. Visualize being driven and taken care of.

Travel Tips – Sleep

Think about what I am going to sleep on/in. Be with it. Practice zen detachment about it. Anticipate that it may change. Consider specific needs/desires (e.g. temp, pillow, light) and make requests.

Go to bed by 1230am the first night.

Get up by 630am the first day.

Shower and change into day clothes the first morning before 10am.


There you go. Curious to hear what works for you.

By |2022-07-21T14:38:07-06:00May 2nd, 2022|General Life|0 Comments

’Tis the Set of the Sail

Dang, this is good.

And from 1916.

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919; found here)
’Tis the Set of the Sail
By |2022-07-21T14:37:23-06:00April 19th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Merry Christmas: “Witnesses of Christ” Christmas Concert

Christmas concerts, cookies, caroling and celebrating Christ. I look forward to the holidays every year.

But as the years go on, I wonder if I’ll feel the spirit of the season — whether I’ll access the youthful, innocent spirit of wonder, or if cynicism, disappointment and growing responsibilities have layered so thick that even the penetrating messages of Jesus’ birth and the magic of Santa Claus won’t reach my heart.

When I was young, my parents gave me The Polar Express.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

Inside the front cover, my mother wrote: “May you always hear the bell.”

Not a year has gone by when I haven’t asked, “Will I hear the bell again this year?”

The disappointments and challenges of the year are what they are. And music doesn’t make them go away. But the performers in this Christmas concert offered praise that reached my heart. And so, once again, I thank God that I have heard the bell and felt the promise of the gift of His Son.

🔔

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Performed by Truman Brothers
  • Witnesses of Christ – Introduction / Host, David Butler
  • Witnesses of Christ: Shepherds / by Adam Hartshorn
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks / Sung by USU Chamber Singers
  • Witness of Christ: Simeon / by Matheus Santos
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear / Sung by Daniel Beck
  • Witness of Christ: Manger / by David Butler
  • O come, O come Emmanuel / Sung by Allie Gardiner and Wade Farr duet
  • Kids Talking about Christmas / Presented by Shaunna Thompson
  • Deck the Halls / Played by Josh and Lindsey Wright
  • Witness of Christ: Mary / by Mary Alisa
  • Infant holy, Infant Lowly / Sung by Stella Yeritsyan
  • Moment Video – Nativity
  • In the Bleak Midwinter / Sung by Rise Up Children’s Choir
  • Witnesses of Christ Today / by Host David Butler
  • Oh, Come All Ye Faithful / by Abraham Thomas, Aitana Alapa, and Terrell Baker

Memories of singing at Temple Square and my music background.

By |2021-12-15T14:24:23-07:00December 13th, 2021|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Cash Management for Small Businesses

Small businesses live and die by their cash management practices.

I’ve run my own business since 2012 and seen the inside of +100 small businesses. Time and time again I see it and feel it … you gotta be smart with $ or else you’ll run yourself into the ground.

As my good friend Brian Lofrumento says, most businesses fail not because people give up but because they run out of money.

Running out of money is a preventable problem.

Smart cash management is the solution.



I first wrote about intentional cash management in Get a Grip on Your Time and Money (Podcast Bonuses). Since then I’ve learned a few more tricks.

Remember my Money Tripper approach to cash management?

Version 1.0 – First list expenses/outflows in priority order, then track money as it comes in … my fancy spreadsheet would show how deep down the list of expenses you actually had cash on hand to cover. The approach forces prioritization of expenses and reveals how much (or how little) of those can be afforded in the present moment. A huge cash management hangup for a lot of businesses is spending money that’s not yet in hand. “Oh, we can pay for this once Project X comes in, and then after Dave pays us, we’ll be in a real good spot.” Then Project X doesn’t come in, and Dave goes out of business and you never collect. So your money is already spent, but the $ you planned to receive to cover it never came in. #Hosed.

Version 2.0 – Same concept, but a fixed % of every dollar of revenue that came in was stripped away and dedicated to saving up for taxes and saving up to make a donation to my church. So whenever I got $100, instead thinking the business had $100 to spend, my Money Tripper 2.0 took out a percentage for taxes and tithing, leaving more like $75 for the business to apply toward expected expenses.

Version 3.0 – What I’m sharing today.

Introducing … Profit First.

The Profit First approach to cash management for small business:


I’m so glad friends in YNAB Fans said something about entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz so that I could find Mike’s Profit First cash management method and the YNAB for Small Business group.


Cash Management for small business - the Profit First approach

Go ahead and get a copy of Mike’s book and lean on this summary:

(FYI there are add-on variations for contractors, e-commerce, micro gyms, dentists and tradies.)


[1] We are taught that profit comes LAST.

revenue – expenses = profit

First, you make money.

Then, you cover expenses.

And what’s left?

… that’s profit.

Our inherited/default psychology runs our businesses in this order.

[2] Things expand to the space allotted to them: Parkinson’s Law.

Small business owners make decisions on the fly.

We open our banking apps, look at $ in the bank or available credit on a card, and decide ON THAT whether to make a purchase.

We see it … we spend it.

[3] Expenses expand to all visible dollars, consuming 100% of revenue. There is no profit. 💸


Put [1] and [2] together and this is the outcome.

Cash management that sucks.

What if we flipped the profit order and used Parkinson’s Law to our advantage?

You can, and it will RADICALLY improve your cash management to keep expenses in check, grow your business and produce profits you actually realize and enjoy.

Enter … PROFIT FIRST.

[1 revised] Profit comes FIRST.

revenue – profit = expenses

First, you make money.

Then, you set some aside for profit.

And what’s left?

… that’s money available for expenses.

[2 revised] Things still expand to the space allotted to them, but we draw boundaries to how far they can go.


The crux of the Profit First method is to open at least 5 separate bank accounts (more later on why you might do more than 5):

  1. Income
  2. Profit
  3. Owner’s Comp (OComp)
  4. Taxes
  5. Operating Expenses (OPEX)

Deposit all revenue into Income: deposit checks there, have Stripe and Square deposit funds there, etc.

Once or twice a month, EMPTY the Income account into the other accounts.

How much will you put in each account? Chapter 4 lays out a process for determining that. The amounts will change each time as they are not fixed $ amounts, but percentages. Each of the 4 accounts (#2-5) have their own Target Allocation Percentage (TAP).

Every business is different, and Chapter 4 has an exercise to help you land on your TAPs.

The book has this table of benchmark TAPs by Real Revenue Range.

Cash Management for Small Business - Target Allocation Percentage benchmark from the book Profit First

[3 revised] Expenses expand to just visible dollars in OPEX, a smaller % of revenue. There IS profit.


Yes, this is like the Envelope Budgeting Approach applied to small business.

If you are running a business that doesn’t have a full-time bookkeeper, accountant and controller who can fill you in daily, then you need a cash management approach like this.



The best banks for Profit First

OK, so now that you’re onboard with this small business cash management approach … how on earth do you implement it??

If you are running a microbusiness, chances are GREAT that traditional big banks (Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank, BoA) are not going to work for you. They have significant account minimums that would tie up precious working capital or monthly fees that eat away at your profit.

So what do you do?

Here are my favorite banks for small businesses that also make it easy to follow the cash management practices of Profit First:

[1] Brex

zomg. Love Brex.

Based in my home state of Utah.

Super clean interface.

Free ACH transfers – makes it mad easy to pay vendors.

No minimums.

No standing monthly fees.

FREE to open up to SEVEN accounts under one business … perfect for Profit First!

Each account has its own account number, so you can send and receive directly into these accounts if needed.

MAD easy to add as many cards as you need to give to contractors, employees, while also limiting their spending limits.

Can create virtual “vendor cards” in 5 seconds online. If that one card gets compromised, you can shut it down without having to reset card info for alllll your other vendors.

For US businesses only.

Use my link and get $250 after signing up.


[2] Novo

Novo is also part of the wave of new, online-first banks.

Also a very clean app, great features, and the option to create “Reserves” (up to 5 per account) for following the Profit First method.

Includes a tool to send and process invoices for free!

Bank with Novo


[3] Small Business Bank

“YOUR HOMETOWN BANK. WHEREVER YOU LIVE.”

I’ve been with SBB since 2013!

While Brex and Novo are more like startups with designers and developers making a slicker banking experience, SBB are first and foremost small business bankers. So their website and app are a bit clunky, but when you need to interact with a person who knows what’s up and is ready to offer premium service, they CANNOT be beat!

Similar to Novo and Brex, SBB has no minimums and no regular fees.

Service is and always has been amazing.

They allow up to four accounts (two checking, two savings) per business … and you can register more than one business under your individual log in. (Brex and Novo allow just one business per log in, so if you have multiple entities, you’d use a different email/login for each entity.)

www.smallbusinessbank.com




“You said earlier ‘at least’ 5 accounts … why?”

Thanks for the reminder.

If you run a product sales or resource-heavy business … it would also be smart to open (at least) two more accounts “on top” of the 5 noted above.

These would be:

  1. Gross Revenue
  2. Cost of Goods/Services Sold (COGS/COS)
  3. Income, aka Real Revenue
  4. Profit
  5. OComp
  6. Tax
  7. OPEX

COGS/COS would be … the price of inventory you buy to sell. The cost of raw materials used to make a product to sell. The cost of a temporary subcontractor to fulfill a project.

Managing your money this way will ensure you always have working capital.


Remember, there are industry-specific suggestions for additional accounts and Profit First adaptions in these these extension books. Profit First, for …

Regardless of what industry you’re in …

Starting TODAY, strive to have 3 months of working capital on hand. Then shoot for 6 months. Setting and accomplishing that goal will require significant changes to how you’ve been managing cash up to this point.


Adding Gross Revenue + COGS accounts also makes it SUPER easy to calculate gross profit margin (GPM), while the rest of the system makes it easier to calculate net profit margin (NPM). What’s the difference?

Business Success Rules of Thumb: 50% GPM and 10% NPM (see page 53).

In simple English this means:

  • If you sell something, you better sell it for DOUBLE what it cost you to make it (50%). You will spend at least 40% of the rest of what you brought in paying yourself, your staff, taxes, accounting, marketing, rent, etc.
  • If, after paying for ALL expenses (including your wages if you work in the business), your business doesn’t have at least 10 cents left over from every dollar brought in (10%), you might as well give up the business and work for someone else. The risk, in this case, is not worth the reward (profit). You’ll be better off putting your effort and money into another investment with prospects of better returns, or possibly running your work thru a nonprofit corporation with a public-serving mission instead.

While we’re on it … Mike’s advice is, “When in doubt, open an account!”


There is no end to the number of accounts you can open that will help improve your cash management strategy by clearly tucking $ away for specific purposes.



Was this helpful?

Let me know which new cash management habit you’ll adopt first.


Comment below, and definitely drop a link to your business so we can check it out and celebrate your success.

To your success … and profits 💰

By |2022-01-03T11:14:54-07:00November 22nd, 2021|Marketing|0 Comments

How to Make Stuff Happen

Everyone’s got dreams: things that have never been done or that are bigger than what can be done alone. A few notes to make stuff happen:

[1] Be up to something.

Be up to this thing until you have momentum. Momentum is the flywheel of force that makes it easier as time goes on for you to continue contributing to this thing you are up to. Momentum consists of habit and ritual you’ve created which draw you back into taking actions for the same thing. Progress is an evidence of momentum. Being up to something means you have something at stake. You are living for something.

Make Stuff Happen - start by pounding the rock
How to Make Stuff Happen: start by pounding the rock for your own cathedral

[2] Test for traction.

Once you have momentum, share what you are up to with another human being. Traction is momentum that attracts. When people are really up to something, it’s attractive. People will ask questions, dive in, ask for more, make offers in the presence of what’s attractive. If they want more of it, you’ve got traction.

[3] Invite.

Invitations without a background of people getting what you are up to leaves them unable to answer for themselves … “what’s in it for them to be asking me?” People are suspicious. Aren’t you? Invitations made in advance of experiencing momentum, with an absence of attraction, fall flat. People have their own stuff they are up to. Why would they create lifeless busy work for themselves? After people witness you being up to something and experiencing the momentum of it, only then does an invitation to participate stand of shot of landing.

[4] Stay the course.

Regardless of response to invitations, keep going. Making things happen requires not being messed with by responses.

Make Stuff Happen - stay the course
Stay the course.

Other considerations to make stuff happen:

Why invite someone to do something you aren’t up to? If you won’t do it, if you aren’t doing it … why would they?

Often a prerequisite to [2] is Make a connection. Connect with another human being so they can paint a picture of what’s going on in their world; something to which you can relate. Give them a chance to say what they are up to. You may find they are up to nothing. Start with a no-stake, no-demand, no-request contact. When they experience that you are willing to look into their world, they then may be willing to hear you offer something from yours.

By |2021-12-27T13:27:49-07:00October 17th, 2021|Faith, General Life, Marketing|0 Comments

Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

A friend posted: “I need some good topics for Sunday speakers. Hit me up with topics you have liked or would like to hear about.” Without any hesitation I banged out this list of ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks.

A few of the immediate reactions:

Reaction to my ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks

“If I ever write a book, you’re picking the title.”

“Holy cow! Where did all these come from? Seriously the titles alone speak a sermon.”

“Nat holy cow. If you just came up with those that is mind blowing.”

Spice up your Sunday meetings with these starting points off the beaten path.

If you write a sacrament talk or ask someone to speak from one of these titles, send me a copy or comment.


34 Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

When People Don’t Apologize: Forgiving and finding reconciliation with God

Would borrow from Forgiveness + Tribulation, a talk I gave fall 2019.

Honoring Fallen Parents: The Fifth Commandment and Romans 3:23

The Fifth Commandment enjoins: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

How can we, how do we, honor parents … when they have ALL fallen short—at best—and done real harm, at worst?

Mediating Identities: Being an independent agent AND part of a family, part of a ward, part of a Church at the same time

… for there is a God, and he hath created all things … both things to act and things to be acted upon … Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.

2 Nephi 2:14-16

[M]en should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will … For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.

D&C 58:26-27

vs.

And let every man esteem his brother as himself … And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:24-27

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.

John 17:22-23

Forgiving Ourselves: Letting go of shame, expectation, guilt and perfectionism

The Appeal of Hakuna Matata, and Gospel Prompts for Finding + Making Meaning in Shouldering Responsibility

“Time Isn’t Found, It Is Made” — and other pedestrian truisms the gospel turns upside down

I believe “time isn’t found, it is made” is a Henry B Eyring line. Need to verify.

We’re All Wart: How The Sword and the Stone helped me rediscover what it means to be a child of God

There’s so much to unpack from these opening 8 lines.

Heavenly Mother & The Tree of Life: Symbols of Divine Femininity

7 Years of Plenty and 7 Years of Famine: What I am really learning to lay up in store for my family

The Good Samaritan: Seeing myself in every character

I Am Alma Too: Conversations with my present-day children of varying degrees of faith

(I don’t have kids. To someone who does, go for it.)

From Obedience to Integrity: The personal transformation to leader from follower

Skeletons in Our Closet: What to do when family history uncovers unsavory characters

The Prodigal’s Sibling: Learning to love as my father did

Cardinal Truth: Spiritual directions intimated by North, East, South and West

Seeing Thru a Glass Darkly: The beams that got in the way of knowing my parents, siblings and spouse

The Kingdom of God is Within Me … so why do I place so much stock in others’ accusations?

The Tarnished Rule: Consequences of misapplying The Golden Rule, and how I finally buffed out the error

Why Hope When You Can Ask … and Act?

Being Nice and Cowardice: Which, really, am I being?

Being Even As He Is: A Chapter on Courage

Every Day is a New World: Living with Creative Force in Every Moment

Clinging to Dregs: The unseen upside to keeping ourselves dirty and why we make that horrible tradeoff

Embracing Possibility: The absolute terror of becoming the best possible versions of ourselves

Letting Others Grow: The petty ways I’ve kept my friends & family small

No One is Coming: Stand Up and Lead Your Own **** Life

Taking Responsibility: Voluntarily shouldering the burdens of mortality and climbing upward to The City on a Hill

Empty Handed at the Pearly Gates: Coming to grips with my own vapidness from a life of ease

Oh, So You Think YOU Could Be a Prophet?

Admitting Laman and Lemuel are there to Mirror Me

Lehi and Alma: Grace for parents who “failed”

Ether 12:27: Weaknesses and Epic Fails which only now, a decade later, I can appreciate and be grateful for

Leaning on The Atonement to Overcome Humiliation

The Sound of Silence: Answering my own prayers

There you go. What ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks do you have now?

By |2021-12-22T17:15:01-07:00April 27th, 2021|Faith|3 Comments

Forgiveness + Tribulation

I gave this talk on forgiveness in my ward September 15, 2019.

Three and a half weeks ago, my wife and I landed in the Paris airport, ready to begin a two-week second honeymoon and celebration of my progress in triathlon — the chance to race at the ITU Age Group World Championships.

I qualified to participate during races last year (oly, sprint), and we got married in June of this year. So as we brought our carry-ons down from the overhead bins and shuffled off the plane, we were well familiar with our feelings of anticipation and nerves of excitement to embark on a journey one year in the making.

Forgiveness + Tribulation: Our bags at CDG
Our bags for a week in France, a week in Switzerland and two World Championship triathlons.

After passing customs, navigating French directional signage for traces of English and snacking on chocolate croissants, we boarded a train, hoisted our things up on a luggage rack and collapsed, again, into our seats for a 4-hour ride. 30 minutes in, I got up to walk around. I crossed into the car behind us and, upon returning, passed the luggage rack to look down and find the lower slot empty.

Our bags were gone.

Stolen.


From just those few words, you might have felt, right there in your seat, that gut sinking, stomach-in-a-knot-tying sense of dread — the feeling of being violated, of the world not going the way you think it should, and grand plans running awry.

Perhaps you recalled a time something someone said or did broke your sense of reality, when your trust corrupted, or when unexpected circumstances shattered your sense of the way the world and people are.

We are all familiar with tribulation.

I am going to talk about forgiveness.

We all face tribulation. By tribulation, I mean events that bring about trouble, suffering and sorrow.

We experience tribulation …

. . . from our own weakness
Our own humanity guarantees mistakes.

. . . from our own intention
Yes, on occasion we know better. We rebel.

The line between good and evil cuts through the center of every human heart.

AS, emphasis added

And sometimes, we act in evil.

. . . from others’ weakness
We are surrounded by humans, like us, blumbering along, dropping balls, communicating poorly, forgetting, assuming incorrectly even with good intent, innocently insensitive and so on.

. . . from others’ intention and malevolence
Yes, on occasion we brush up against crime, the intent to harm and destroy and rob another of his or her agency.

In all 4 situations, millstones temporal and spiritual end up around our necks.

[B]ut we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

Romans 5:3-4, emphasis added

And whether we be afflicted [no matter the source or type of our afflictions], it is for []our consolation and salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:6, emphasis added

Among patience, experience, hope and the many attributes we can develop in tribulation, practicing forgiveness is one that is always available.

A heading from a Come Follow Me lesson reads:

As I am forgiven of my sins, my love for the Savior deepens.

March 11-17

Further, I believe our love for each other and God and the Savior also deepens as we forgive — whether for sin or weakness — ourselves and others.

DISBELIEF / REJECTION

When I first looked down at the empty luggage rack, my initial reaction was disbelief. As my gut sank, I rejected the possibility of theft. “THIS THEFT CAN’T BE TRUE.” I first accused myself of mistake and error: “Am I really looking at the spot where I put them?”

I looked up. Yes, Emma was just seats away.

My gut again said they were stolen, and I held off, granting general humanity the benefit of the doubt as I wondered, “Perhaps someone had good reason to move them?”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the natural, hasty accusation that I was in error.

RECOGNITION / ACCEPTANCE

When I determined our bags were nowhere in the car, I shut off my disbelief, my willingness to be generous and my willingness to believe in the goodness of others. I began to accept the reality of theft. After leaving the first station, we had stopped at two others.

“NO, THE TRUTH IS WE REALLY HAVE BEEN ROBBED, AND OUR THINGS ARE GONE, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN.”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the harsh abandoning of granting others the benefit of the doubt, and for saying things like, “I’ll never let our luggage out of our sight again,” a statement which implies the accusation that no one, in any circumstance, can be trusted.

REACTION / RESISTANCE

But I didn’t want the theft, or the consequence of it, to be true.

In a moment, the meaning of the theft transmuted from “a few material things are no longer in our possession,” to

  • “this entire trip is a bust!”
  • “Emma will never travel with me again!”
  • “I am a failure of a man, not doing my duty to watch and protect my family and our things!”

In the swell, I resisted the reality and rejected my emotions of sadness and hurt.

Rather than letting my emotions come over me, I fought — “I don’t want this to be true” — by seeking for things I could control in vain attempts to force time backward and reality to undo itself.

“I will contact the conductor. I will get him to undo the situation, notify the police, review the security footage, apprehend the thieves, restore our belongings to us, and make all well in the world again.”

We did that, and I even paced up and down every level of every car of that train, saying to myself, “By checking every nook and cranny I might magically rewind time, undo what has happened and bring the suitcases back.”

My sadness, unacknowledged, gave way to anger, badgering the conductor to do more, and saying under my breath, “Just wait’ll I find those thieves and see what I do to them…”

Were I sharper, I might have metabolized my own anxiety rather than pushing it out on others.

Upon visiting every car and exhausting the conductor, I came to that place where Father Adam and Mother Eve arrived some time after The Fall: the realization that there is no going back to the Garden of Eden.

Emma and I experienced, as we all do, another Fall in mortality. And there was no going back to the way life was before.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for life generally: I forgave, generally, that it happened — to forgive the world, knowing the conditions of mortality.

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for my own proclivity to catastrophize situations — to shout “woe is me, all is lost!” in a selfish show to win sympathy and attention from others.

I forgave myself for responding to feeling robbed with attempts to rob others of their agency.

I forgave myself for entertaining, even if briefly, the thought that it was Emma’s fault because she was facing the rack.

I forgave myself for being less than gracious with the conductor.

There was forgiveness for the conductor: I forgave the conductor for being a man of limited means and doing his best, which was far short of stopping the train and turning back, or calling in French special ops to drop their present tasks, review security footage at the 2 stations we stopped at and put all resources into tracking down and apprehending the thieves.

There was forgiveness for the police: I forgave the police for doing what seemed to be so little — asking the station Lost and Found departments if they had received anything and inviting us to file a report.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves for the feeling of being violated.

REACHING OUT / CALL FOR HELP

I came to myself as I realized we weren’t in this alone and that there were more ways forward than the singular solution I had at first: rewind time and undo the theft.

I sat down across from Emma and we looked at each other, aware of our shared sadness. We expressed gratitude for having each other, and offered each other assurance that all was not lost, that we’d have a good trip, and everything would be OK.

I emailed the Team USA managers to ask about getting a replacement racing jersey. Just in case, I contacted a friend here who had the jersey in my size, and asked him to give it to another friend who was traveling to the event later.

Emma contacted a neighbor to ask her to fetch a new pair of my contacts from our home and rendezvous with my friend before he traveled.

Emma made conversation with the people sitting around us, and the man behind us asked a friend of his, who was into triathlon, to recommend a store where I could buy the proper shoes and pedals for my bike, since mine had been in my suitcase.

WE COULDN’T UNDO THE TRUTH OF THE THEFT, BUT WE COULD ASK OTHERS FOR HELP TO LIVE IN OUR NEW REALITY.

REPAIRS + RESTORATION

Once we arrived at our destination, we spent the next 36 hours receiving help and going to work to restore what was lost.

We visited the bike store.

We got new clothes.

We got toothbrushes and toothpaste, and essential things to live comfortably for the next two weeks.

WE RECEIVED HELP AND TOOK NEW ACTIONS ALLOWING US TO LIVE WELL IN OUR NEW REALITY.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for my uncle: I forgave, even here, my uncle, our host, for not knowing exactly where to take us to get what we needed to replace what we lost.

There was forgiveness for the store owners and the small town: I forgave them all for having what they had — and not everything we hoped they would.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves again, now for us taking time to do all of this, instead of our original plans.

RECONCILIATION / PEACE

It is easy to replace a shirt, or pants, or a toothbrush.

It’s harder to replace unique, sentimental and one-of-a-kind items.

Around my birthday in March, Emma remembered that during a previous trip, I threw out a suitcase that had come to the end of its days, and she presented me with a wonderful new suitcase. With our Europe trip months away, the gift was as much a gesture of restoration as a statement of promised companionship in the months to come.

I gave the suitcase a dry run during business travel that spring. Finding myself pleased with Emma’s selection, and also wanting to say, “I’m looking forward to an adventure with you,” I got Emma a matching suitcase. Having matching suitcases for our European adventure was part of the thrill of going.

The suitcases being gone, and everything within, seemed to tarnish the memory and the sentiment. And it seemed buying new suitcases simply wouldn’t polish that out.

One is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord ‘seeth fit to inflict upon [us].’

NAM, Patience, emphasis added

Beneath any temporal restoration lays a sense of spiritual and emotional loss — where the tribulation actually lives.

Even as Emma and I restored our lives temporally, my soul was troubled:

  • Why did this happen?
  • I would have put the suitcases in a different spot had I known . . . 
  • I should have never taken my eye off our bags.
  • I could have prevented this fiasco had I . . .

The bottomless pit of worrying “Why me? Why us? Why now?” in search of an explanation where there is none, and the troubling triumvirate of woulda/coulda/shoulda, are certainly predictable, normal, human responses to tribulation. And I don’t blame myself for having had them, and wouldn’t blame you either.

But they are millstones and were around my neck on that train and the days following.

To endlessly ask “Why?” when the Lord has said, “I give you tribulation for your salvation” seems to be an impatient plea to bring about justice on our time table, rather than to shoulder the cross of mortality and continue walking toward Heaven.


My grandfather died in a military plane crash in 1961.

Some time within a year of that event, my aunt was talking with friends about whether God lets things happen, or if things happen and He is surprised. After that conversation, my 12-year-old aunt knelt in her room and prayed and asked God about it.

The Holy Ghost overcame me from head to toe and the answer was: ‘i-t d-o-e-s-n’t m-a-t-t-e-r.’ And that has given me comfort throughout my life. That it’s not given to us to know in this life. And on the other side in the grand scheme of things, we’ll be able to see and understand. But for now it d-o-e-s n-o-t m-a-t-t-e-r.

PHH, personal notes Sep 22, 2016

The answer revealed to her reminds me of the oft repeated scriptural phrase: “it mattereth not.”

To beat oneself with woulda/shoulda/coulda, seems to deny ourselves “the grace that, so fully, He proffers me” (Hymns) and to reject the gift of the veil and conditions of mortality, wherein we have space between our choices and the necessary, full, eternal magnitude of their consequences coming down on us, so that we can repent and go at it again without being doomed to live forever in our sins.


In all tribulation, there is the physical-temporal component, and the spiritual-emotional component.

The spiritual component and how we feel about it is more important than the physical because …

Things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18, emphasis added

Our visible things will not go with us.

But our unseen hearts and thoughts will.

From President Henry B Eyring:

If we are to have unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34). We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil’ (1 Cor. 13:4–5). And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the fault of others and forgetting our own when he wrote, ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known’ (1 Cor. 13:12).

That We May Be One, Apr 1998, emphasis added

I promise to do my best, to be patient with you. To cultivate a forgiving heart. And to seek spiritual gifts in the tribulation we experience, inadvertently and intentionally.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Books that helped tremendously in my practice of and growing capacity to offer and receive forgiveness:

I listened to all of these on Audible, except Alice Miller’s work which I found on YouTube. It’s now also on Audible.

Try Audible Plus or gift someone a 3-, 6- or 12-month Audible membership.

h/t to Ashley Rasmussen for these suggestions. Her man Danny was featured here earlier.

By |2021-02-11T14:11:12-07:00September 15th, 2019|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Weight Loss and Management: Nuts and bolts from a physician

This is a guest post on weight loss and management from my friend and former classmate, Taylor Christensen. He blogs over at Clear Thinking on Healthcare. My go-to resource on weight loss and management is Matt Fitzgerald’s Racing Weight. That book is useful if you are pursuing performance as a very active person or competitive athlete, as I am with triathlon. Having read Matt’s book, I enjoyed his research-based, field-tested, no-dogma approach to nutrition. Similarly, I appreciate Taylor’s straightforward look at the fundamentals. Knowledge like this is useful when well-meaning friends, who are ideologues about nutrition, and glossy marketing fluff come your way. Enjoy.

Weight Loss and Management: Nuts and bolts from physician Taylor Christensen

Speaking as a physician for a moment, I’ve had a long interest in weight loss, and over the years I’ve accumulated a list of things that I believe anyone trying to lose weight (or trying to avoid gaining weight) should know.

If you have any questions about these points, please ask.

Here are my 9 Principles of Weight Loss:

1. Changes in total body weight are attributable to changes in the amount of fat, muscle, water and stool in your body.

Daily/hourly variations are water and stool.

Fat and muscle change slowly over the long term.

If your weight isn’t decreasing over weeks, it’s either because you’re not losing fat or because you are losing fat AND gaining muscle at the same time (if you have increased your exercise recently).

2. 80% of weight loss is dietary, 20% is exercise.

To lose weight, the focus needs to be on your diet.

Exercise has huge mental and physical health benefits (including motivating you to do better with your diet), but it’s not the primary thing that will directly make you lose weight.

An example: It’s a lot easier to not eat a 900-calorie piece of cake than it is to exercise off that extra 900 calories (a 200-lb person would have to run about 6 miles to burn 900 calories).

3. Weight loss is simple math.

You must take in fewer calories than you expend.

If you expend more calories than you take in, you will lose weight (assuming muscle mass is constant). No exceptions.

There are thousands of things that predispose to weight gain or make weight loss more difficult for people (including genetics, sleep, stress, medications, insulin resistance, etc.), but all these things can only affect weight either by causing you to eat more calories or burn fewer calories.

4. There are only three types of calories: proteins, fats and carbohydrates (aka ‘carbs’).

One calorie of protein = one calorie of fat = one calorie of carbs.

But carbs are different in an important way — they also affect hunger/fullness hormones. Eating carbs stimulates more hunger/cravings, which usually leads to you eating more calories total. The more processed (i.e., “simpler”) the carbs, the more they seem to stimulate those cravings.

5. Our bodies are amazing at interconverting these three types of calories, so your diet’s balance of carbs vs fat vs protein is less of a concern for weight loss.

There are a couple caveats to this.

First, as mentioned already, eating lots of carbs, especially simple ones, is going to make it more difficult to lose weight due to the extra hunger they stimulate.

Second, for some people, the timing of eating and also mix of calories (proteins vs fats vs carbs) may have a nontrivial effect on how many calories their bodies are burning. These caveats (and many others not mentioned) do not change the calories in vs calories out equation, and their importance varies by the person.

6. One lb of fat is about 3,500 calories.

A calorie deficit of 500 calories per day means 1 lb of weight loss per week.

7. Setting your daily calorie limit so that you will have a 500 calorie deficit per day (it’s calculated based on your age, gender, size, and activity level) and then tracking every calorie you eat to make sure you don’t go over that limit is a GUARANTEED way of losing 1 lb per week.

The preferred calorie tracking app for this seems to be MyFitnessPal.

This calorie limit will be fewer calories than your body is used to taking in, so you might feel hungry for a few weeks until your hormones adjust to this new intake, and then you will find that you’re not hungry like you used to be and even feel overfull if you try eating as much as you used to.

If you are not losing 1 lb per week, it is because you are either:

  1. eating more calories than you’re tracking (food labels can be at fault sometimes)
  2. burning fewer calories than the calculation estimated, or
  3. gaining muscle mass.

8. Being thin and being healthy are not the same.

You can eat horribly and have a sedentary lifestyle and still lose weight as long as you don’t consistently go over your daily calorie limit.

So please exercise and eat lots of vegetables, not for your weight but for your health.

9. The above points should make it clear that, to lose weight, you do not need to adhere to some strange or restrictive or trendy diet.

Chances are, these will not be sustainable for you anyway. The sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off is to enjoy food, eat healthfully in a way that fits your life and to not eat too many calories.


Taylor originally published this April 18, 2019. The comments there are worth looking at too. Thanks T!

By |2021-12-13T14:03:18-07:00May 7th, 2019|General Life, Triathlon|0 Comments

In the news: “How A Utah Man Became A Triathlete By Changing His Morning Routines” – KSL TV Feature

Change your routines. Change your life.

Pleased that Aley Davis and the KSL (NBC) TV team asked me to share how routines helped me turn around my life and remain a core part of my success today. (If the video doesn’t show below, click here.)

Wanna try a tri? Come train with Balanced Art Multisport’s #bamtrifam and you’ll fall in love with training in a whole new way.

Or come to an Intermountain Tri clinic for a safe, welcoming space to learn basic skills in swimming, biking, running and triathlon.

Or if you’re not in the Utah/SLC region, check out www.mytimetotri.com (a project by USA Triathlon and IRONMAN) for tips and resources to give swimming, cycling, running and triathlon a go.

And you’re always welcome to ask me for ideas. I love when people reach out with questions about shoes, gear, training on heart rate, nutrition, what races to do, how to run faster …

Our bodies are incredible machines and a big part of my life is mastering mine and helping people celebrate theirs.

Notes:

  • In Jan 2018, I co-founded Intermountain Tri and now serve as the president — join with just your email. Come just to swim, bike or run … or all three in triathlon.
  • When I talk about consistently being up until 3a and having no habits … I’m talking about 18 months into having started my marketing business (launched Aug 2012; 2013 was ROUGH and I kept sliding right into Apr 2014). With no boss to report to, no office to show up to, and so on, there was no fixed activity pushing against the demands of my time. So everything got very loose. I lost sense of the day of the week. Weekends were indistinguishable, as was afternoon from morning and “too late” from “time to go to bed.” And my lack of strength with managing my own time became evident. Just as I crammed assignments and studying in school, I tried to cram client work. Hence the late nights. So many days, I would give myself a huge pep talk that “I’m waking up at 6a tomorrow to reset the cycle!” And then I would surely sleep until noon or 1p. And the cycle continued. For months. Until I did these three things to hijack the death spiral:
    • Signed up for Ironman Maryland. I wanted to have a good experience and knew I had to train to succeed. I couldn’t just show up and wing it. It was too big a stress to waltz in.
    • Asked someone who was already really good at getting up in the morning and going to bed on time for help. Many thanks to Erica Wiley for her gentle and supportive texts as I got sleep on track, starting with shutting down and going to bed at a consistent time.
    • Committed to a training plan. I made half progress here with a half-marathon training plan I found and then peppering in runs and rides. But then I hired coach Alan Gulledge who really got me in gear.
Triathlon routines supported by group classes early in the morning
530a M/W all winter long at BAM’s tri training studio in Sandy
  • The cycling class I teach is the BAM Power Program.
    • The workouts are written by sports medicine doctor and pro-cycling coach, Dr. Max Testa, of Park City.
    • Anyone who rides any kind of bike for any purpose at any level of competition/interest/competitiveness can benefit from the classes because they start with an assessment of your present fitness and then are structured around helping you progress from there.
    • It’s very different from a traditional gym/studio “spin” class, which is structured to burn calories. And it’s not like riding on Zwift or Trainer Road because you don’t waste effort “racing” people. Yes, we’re all in the same room (you can join online too!), but each person is in their individual zone, and there’s no leaderboard. It’s just a cool crew of people working hard together and supporting each other.
    • Dr. Testa adjusts the classes each year based on his research and the real outputs of all his riders.
    • Bottom line: it’s the most effective method possible for gaining fitness on the bike that makes you stronger and more efficient.
  • The doc they interviewed is absolutely correct about momentum is your ally with routines.
    • The momentum also comes, as he says, from “feeling much better than you did before.” Once you experience the state change, you know you can get it and will work to get it again.
    • If your baseline is zero, just start moving. A gain of 1 is a gain from zero! Once you baseline is 1, then a gain to 2 is still a gain . . . and on and on, until you perform the routine 5-7 days a week no problem.
  • At USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals in Aug 2018, I finished 20th in the Olympic-distance race and 10th in the sprint. End of summer 2019, I will wear the red, white and blue on Team USA at the ITU Age Group World Championship in Lausanne, Swizterland.

Watch (2:04) and read the whole KSL story here:

KSLtv also did stories on BAM Coach Suz Martin and BAM Coach Bill Fowler and his family.

By |2021-01-15T16:40:55-07:00April 19th, 2019|General Life, Triathlon|0 Comments