Monday, December 28, 2009

The Tao of Frappe'



Greek Frappé

Preparation Time: 2 minutes Serves: 1 Ingredients 2 tsp Nescafé Classic 2 tsp sugar Ice cubes.

Preparation: Pour 10-15ml of water in the shaker (preferably not chilled, but chilled will still do). Add two tea-spoonfuls of Nescafé Classic and one tea-spoonful of sugar, or more if desired. Shake strongly until all the water becomes foam. The use of an electric hand mixer, instead of a shaker, will make a shinier and creamier foam. Pour into a glass of 250ml, add 3-4 ice cubes and chilled water to fill the glass for black Nescafé Frappé. For white Nescafé Frappé, add 20-30ml chilled evaporated milk. Ideal serving temperature is 10 degrees Celsius.
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Hint: The quantity of water in step 1 plays important role in creating qualitative foam. Very small quantity will not produce enough foam while large quantity will produce soapy foam. If you desire different dosages of coffee and/or sugar, the exact quantity of water in step 1 should vary accordingly. Milk should always be put after stirring otherwise the foam loses all its stability.
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I am watching a video called "My Life in Ruins." It is a B+ grade movie about a college professor who lost her job and takes a position as a tour guide in Greece. We'll just say that things don't exactly go her way and she is a bit up tight and cranky. After many mishaps she is blowing her cool and begins to melt down. Richard Dreyfuss is the smart ass of her latest tour group. She finally blows her lid at him after he makes another comment and no sooner than some defensive words leave her lips than she realizes she said something she didn't really mean. Come to find out Dreyfuss lost his wife a few years previous and went on this tour because she always wanted to go to Greece, so he goes in memory of her.


The movie reminds me of my Greek travels last year. Seeing many of the places that I went to. Simply breath taking! I feel very fortunate to have been able to go. I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have, do the things that I've done and meet the wonderful people that I have along the way.


There is a part of the movie where someone is drinking a "frappe' " and it reminded me of my first frappe in Greece. Nestled in a quaint outdoor cafe' in the center of Athens I was told that a frappe' in Greece is kind of like having a Starbuck's here in the U.S. only MUCH better! Having a frappe' is more than just a drink it's an experience to be shared and to be relished, not rushed. So that is exactly what we did, enjoyed the conversation, watched all of the crazy people go by, talked about where we all had been, what we did, would like to do, what we thought and just about any other subject you can think of and sometimes we all talked about nothing in particular at all. This went on for hours. It was strange at first and took me some time for me to fully appreciate and embrace. My fast paced corporate habits were difficult to shake, but after the guilt went away and the feeling that I had to be doing something more "productive" subsided, I was able to enjoy simply being, sharing and living. It was simply wonderful!
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What can be more productive than sharing the experience of being alive with others? Joseph Campbell said, "I don't believe that people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive!"
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I think Joe was absolutely correct!
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The person who I have to thank for introducing me to my first taste of Greek culture was Hannah, a sweet Aussie bartender I met at the hostel Athena on my first night in Athens. She taught me a few things about Greece; Ouzo, frappe, torpedo's, how to drink guy after guy under the table and probably the biggest lesson of all, how to really live life. Hannah was young, full of life and fearless. She befriended everyone she met and lived for the moment. When I heard of her death this past August it made me reflect on many things. I was glad to have met her and continue to be inspired by her zest for life.


It just goes to show that you better be enjoying the ride you're on, because tomorrow may never come. Do you remember the movie Captain Ron? At the beginning of the movie some guy on the elevator says, "We all have things we want to do in life, but before we get to do them some window falls on us, some truck flattens you or you catch some disease... Someday I'll retire to Wisconsin, someday we'll all have more time for our kids, someday Marty will do something worth writing about. Well, what if someday never comes and this is all there is? Huh?"

Well, what then?!


If one day you woke up to believe this was true how would you change what you are doing right now? How would you treat others? How would you choose to spend your time?!


Food for thought for the new year.


Enjoy that frappe' as long as you can my friends! Life's too short!


All the best,

~Craig

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eye of the Storm


Yes it is true I am back from Jersey and training with Jack Hoban. I decided to leave GR early to avoid getting caught in the blizzard that was threatening to paralyze my travels. Attempting to stay in the "Eye of the Storm" so to speak, I left Wednesday afternoon of last week and missed the storm completely! The trip driving back was equally un-eventful which I am thankful for as well!
For those who I train with here in GR, I'm sure that you know what main themes I usually come back with after training w/Jack:

1) Warrior Ethics - Universal Values - Protector/Defender Mentality

2) Controlling Space

3) Smithwicks

It is always good training and this month was no exception. I especially liked the material that we worked on this time. December is also the time that the Buyu has their Daikomyosai which is a celebration honoring Jack's teacher Masaaki Hatsumi. So after the training everyone gets duded up and has a fancy dinner and drinks. It was wonderful to share that with everyone!

On Sunday I had the opportunity to hang out with Jack at his abode. He and Yumiko were wonderful hosts! Thanks so much for your hospitality!

Jack and I chatted, watched the Jets beat the Buccaneers and we talked about Jacks new company - Resolution Group International (RGI) http://www.resgroupintl.com/index.html. RGI is a conflict resolution organization created to address the needs of military, law enforcement, peacekeeping, security organizations, and international corporations.

During a conversation with Jack I pointed out that in order to maintain your tactical space you have to keep your emotions in check while under pressure. If you get overly emotional you rarely think, respond or move in the manner that gives you the tactical advantage. This is true physically, mentally or emotionally. If you lose your cool you often make decisions that place you in harms way. How many times have you gotten angry at someone and "lost it" finding yourself saying and doing things that you regretted later. Or maybe you can remember a test you had while in school that you studied hard for, but you lost it mentally and could barely write your name down. On the battlefield if the soldiers break rank they are more vulnerable and put themselves and others at risks, not to mention they cannot accomplish what they set out to do.

Keeping a cool demeanor is critical in life, especially to save it! If you get the chance pick up and read "The Survivors Club" which tells many true survival stories of all types. It talks to people who have survived some pretty "un-survivable" circumstances ranging from cancer to accidents, assaults; the gamut. The book also outlines common traits that each of the survivors have and how it helped in their survival. Among these traits the ability to stay calm was the number one common trait among the survivors.
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We are so inclined for drama in this day and age most people don't know what to do with tranquility if they ever experience it, hell, I don't know what to do with it half the time. As Dan Millman said in his book "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior," "It is the way OF the peaceful warrior, not the way TO the peaceful warrior and walking the path itself makes the warrior..." This is essential especially when working under stress.

This attitude of staying calm under fire; being the eye of the storm will help you in life and in crisis, but it needs to be cultivated and constantly worked on. As Jack says, "A warrior does two things, fight in wars or trains. So if they aren't in a war they are training for war."

Without staying calm in a situation you put yourself and others more at risk.

Some hints for staying calm are:

Keep a good attitude:

Have a certain amount of faith that things will workout alright even if...especially if you don't know exactly how it will happen, be open to opportunities that you weren't expecting.

Positive internal dialog:

Keep that coach inside your head telling you positive things that will help you to keep yourself under control (rather than not).

An example of this would be:

Let's say you were having a conversation with someone who you don' t think is listening to you how do you respond to them? Or how about if you were waiting for a loved one to get home and they were late: If your Internal Coach was telling you that the person that you were waiting for was in a horrible accident you might be anxious or upset; but if you were thinking that they may be running late because they were picking up something nice for you, then you may be in a different state of mind.

Our Internal Dialog frames the neutral event and we tend to play into how we frame things.

Breath:

Taking a deep breath helps to clear the mind. Maintain a slow steady breathing pattern from the abdomen.

Remember the acronym T.A.C.T.E.? We went over it in a previous blog:

T- Take a deep breath & think clearly

A- Assess the situation

C- Create a simple plan

T- Take action

E- Evaluate your progress

So there you have it.

Happy Holiday's everyone!!

Be well,

~Craig