Friday, March 28, 2014


   I rose up out of my slumber this morning to an email from a very close friend. The subject line was blank and in it he simply wrote, "This changed me for the better. Check it out.", with a link to this awesome video (please watch before proceeding):

   That was, without a doubt, extremely fucking powerful. Asher Roth is a hip-hop artist out of Philly sharing this incredible message - WE ARE VERY LUCKY. We walk around this modern world and tend to forget this. We forget to feel the breath in our lungs and the hearts in our chests; we forget to feel alive; and we forget about everyone else who forgets about this too. Our everyday struggles are so small compared to the fact that we actually HAVE the life itself, to live each day. Like the song says though, "Someone's always caught up in the fast life.".
   My friend who sent me this faces that challenge regularly. He's a true family man. His gorgeous wife loves him unconditionally and the two of them have the absolute best behaved children on the planet. Everyone that comes into their home gets treated like family because they simply wouldn't have it any other way. However, something deep rooted in his past (well before starting his own family) haunts him every moment of everyday.
   Once his family gets to bed, he's left alone with his guilty conscience. He loses himself in the darkness, suppressing it with booze and cocaine. As the night turns to dawn; his guilt becomes regret and his self-value drops through the floor. It's followed up with a wicked hangover and severe anxiety for a couple of days. THIS is being caught up in the fast life. It has been going on for years now and he's finally reached a breaking point.

   We've been friends since we were kids and confidants in all sorts of matters over the years. Honestly, he has helped lift some of the heaviest stones off of my chest. I know all about his gloomy past and self-deprecating actions. At times, I've felt like a shitty helpless friend. About a month ago, he wrote me one of the most compelling and passionate confessions. He felt as is if he's been living a lie. It was about his guilt for the past, remorse for the present, his fear for the future and his love for everyone involved. He wants life to be better and admitted he did not know where to start. Though he didn't see it, this open self-awareness has become the foundation for setting his goal.
  Change like this does not happen over night. Fully adapting to a new perspective takes its time and old habits die HARD. We've had some extremely moving and positive conversations since then, but last week he found himself hanging out in the darkness again. The booze, cocaine, depression and anxiety rolled through like a freight train. He wrote me a letter second guessing his new direction, feeling guilty about even trying to change. His brutal honesty filled my heart.
  Like me, all of his emotions are fueled with passion. We both have an obsession with music, humor and people's drive to be creative. I made sure to relay that in my response and I reminded him that I would never love him any less for being himself. Then I joked about him calling me a "hippy", sent him a link to a song and asked him to listen. I told him to listen to it a million times, if that's what it took to get the lyrics to sink into his heart. I myself didn't have the words, but I refused to leave him hanging. This song describes such a willingness to seek the life you want. Have a listen..

   We all have a choice to hold onto what makes us strong and let go of what makes us weak. We need to learn from our experiences and let go of the past. This is my friend's daily battle and he has to be the warrior that overcomes it. And I will always fight my own battles right along side of him, as a reminder that he's not alone. Brothers-in-arms fighting the good fight; both on a search for our honest selves. The more truth we reveal, the better men we become.
   This morning the music revealed to him an absolute truth - WE ARE VERY LUCKY - to have lived through what could have easily killed us. WE ARE VERY LUCKY - for the love from our families. WE ARE VERY LUCKY - for knowing we want to change for the better. WE ARE VERY LUCKY - for caring about and sharing the things that mean the most. WE ARE VERY LUCKY - that it makes us smile to make someone else smile. WE ARE VERY LUCKY - to have a friendship like this, regardless of our demons.


Scotty J ~ "It doesn't take a whole day to recognize sunshine." - Common

Listen to "The Fast Life" by Asher Roth here!!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Passionate Cave-man Seeks Dancing Cave-woman

   There is something really special about waking up with a smile, getting stoned while a fresh pot of coffee brews and cranking up the music loud enough for the birds to enjoy. This usually encourages me to sing at the top of my lungs (occasionally free-styling) and move wildly about the cottage (otherwise known as dancing). Honestly... I do this with every ounce of passion in my body. I consider things like this "strength-building" for my soul.

   I don't want to get into a debate about smoking weed, having too much caffeine or not being able to turn up the music, so others can sleep. I'm saying do whatever it is that lets you let it all hang out there. Humans have been beating on drums and dancing naked around fires probably ever since we started walking upright. When we hear a song we love, we feel it in our bones. Everything we know about the modern world just vanishes and the music plays right through us, literally. Yes, even "twerkin'" counts.
   It was nice to wake up this way because I've been fighting a strange emptiness this week. Life is definitely good, but this has been a different kind of primal feeling. I yearn for the company of a lover. A feminine touch, if you will. Where our physical connection would cast us off to our dreams every night and jump-start our human confidence every morning. I mean this in the most unselfish way possible; she has to want it for those very same reasons. We don't have to start a family or save a million dollars, we just have to make love. As our lives unfold, our love will be there to iron out the creases.
   My belief is that if two people share the primary goal to start and finish everyday making love to each other; they will not fail in life. The laws of attraction still apply, but their commitment to primitively expressing themselves has no allowance for modern-day complications. All other things become second to the passion they share together.

I gave her that bone (yeah, I said it.).

   I know there are a lot of you out there thinking, "What?!? It's not really that simple. Scotty has his head up way up his ass... again!", and that's okay!! You don't have to dance or have sex with me, we can still be friends. However, I do believe there are other people out there that share this visceral outlook on survival. Being human comes before a nationality, an occupation or an affiliation of any kind. We're prehistoric DAMNIT!! That means we knew how to live before we knew ANYTHING!!!
   The primitive passions rooted in music and sex are inside all of us. It's just naturally a part of the human existence. I appreciate those examples others have set out there for me to believe in this. Sometimes we settle on comfort and not passion to guide us through life (which I'm definitely guilty of in my past and I know some of you are too!), but we don't have to remain that way. Life will always have the most reward if we stay true to ourselves about how we see fit to live it.
   So, in the meantime... the birds and I are just going to keep on moving to the music, strengthening our souls. The woman of my future is out there just beyond the horizon, doing a dance of her own. When the two of us eventually meet, our passions will intertwine and we'll only do what comes natural. We'll settle for nothing less!! So all of you reading, please do me this favor... put on this fifteen minute long song, stop thinking too much and dance like nobody's watching...

Scotty J. ~ "Something about the music, it got into my pants."

My kind of woman.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saving Scotty Jacobs - An Honest Update

   Last Friday, I wrote and completed an entire post titled Saving Scotty Jacobs - Humble Pie. After I proof-read it a couple of times through, I hated everything about it. My heart was in the right place while I was writing it, but the title Eat My Righteous Shit-Sandwich would have been more suitable. My intention was not to be an arrogant prick, yet I certainly nailed the tone. It really took the wind out of my sails and I chose not to post it.
   After spending a creative weekend in Kalamazoo (putting the disappointment of "Humble Pie" behind me), I came home late Sunday evening to a house with no heat and an outside temperature of twelve degrees. I immediately thought of all of my rants about how we needed to embrace this difficult winter and laughed. While reflecting, I put on two more pairs of socks and triple layered the rest of my body. When I finally got comfortable in my 7 blanket nest, I thought maybe I could relax and just accept this slice of humble-pie. Instead, I felt like a penguin eating a frozen shit-sandwich. IT.WAS.COLD.

This doesn't smell like humble pie....

   The cold might have been uncomfortable, but I think the worst form of torture is when we hide from ourselves. Hence, my confession. Most things in life are much easier said than done, so we usually just say something and settle for that being good enough. THAT is hiding; and I know this because I hid from myself (behind all sorts of things) for over a decade. These Saving Scotty Jacobs posts have effectively kept my actions honest and accountable. It's the "honesty" that I hope inspires others to take action for themselves. We all have our own starting points and tempos. It's not a race!!
   Yesterday marked my 77th day of living a better life. I've successfully kept pop and fast-food out of my body, I am still training in "hardstyle" kettlebells and I've lost 51 lbs. This makes me 9 lbs away from my original goal of losing 60 lbs! I feel strong, motivated and alive. I really kind of feel like I could smash through a wall.. in a good way. I've actually reached the point where it's time to upgrade to a heavier kettlebell and set some new short-term goals. This all happened so fast, I really am excited to see where it leads me next!! Progress feels amazing!!
   In all honesty, this whole setting and accomplishing goals thing is uncharted waters for me. I've done a lot of hard work (and even harder play) with little reward before now; and I know that's because I had a poor approach to life. I have learned that I must continually challenge myself in order to reach new goals and gain new perspectives. Just like training, LIFE is progressive. Even though it may not seem like it some days, the direction is always my choice.

   Today, I start a brand new adventure with the good people at Fat Blossom Farm. They are a local organic farm right here in West Michigan and I really couldn't be more excited!! This is a lifestyle change I have thought about embracing for years and can't wait to learn more about it. The opportunity to work with the earth, sow seeds and genuinely experience the fruits of my labor makes my soul smile. I can't wait to get my hands dirty and meet a few like-minded people along the way.
   I really don't feel like it was even a decision to work at a farm, but maybe more of a calling to the farm. My heart has not loved coming to work with me in the last few years and that's made life difficult. I hate consumerism and greed. I hate that I've given into both of them, even more. I was selling lawn-care earlier this year and had to walk away from it to follow my heart. There are a lot more important things in this world than green grass in August heat, trust me. I had settled on that job for all of the wrong reasons and probably would have stayed there (and in limbo) if I didn't have the support from all of you.

Observation can be inspiring, if we let it!!
   A new friend of mine had said to me the other day, "Conviction defines people.", and that simple statement blew my mind. Some of you know, I always keep a post-it note on my keyboard that reads, "Believe In Yourself!", and it's for that same reason. It's a reminder to never compromise who I am, to trust my instincts and to learn from my experiences (which learning can be quite a process at times...). We all have our own code or formula to living successfully and that makes us all very unique. For me... The past is my foundation, experience is my education, passion is my motivation, love is my reward and the world is my playground!!

...and the world is yours!

Scotty J ~ "This humble-pie tastes like a shit-sandwich."


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Donate Your Love For Life - A Message From Matt Ramah

   There is nothing more breath-taking, in the human culture, than selflessness. A random act of kindness has the power to change not just a person's day, but their entire world. The intent is to reward someone who is unsuspecting, however the power of the action goes well beyond that. In most cases, the unsuspecting person goes on to pay it forward. It's rare when we get to witness something this incredible, but every single one of us is capable of creating the moment. This takes me back a few weeks ago, when a very dear friend called me with an update on life.

Seriously take the time to do this!

   My friendship with Matt Ramah goes all the way back to 1994; and has only grown stronger since the days of our youth. We've been there for each other, with a shameless confidence, in some of the best and worst moments that we've ever experienced. Therefore, I was not the slightest bit shocked when he told me he was in the process of becoming a kidney donor. He simply explained to me, that a friend (who is like family to him) had a close family member with fading health. He didn't have to go on... my heart was beating with his. He spoke from an amazingly humble perspective and I realized, at that very moment, he had grown into the man that many of us hope to become one day.
   In his everyday life, Matt Ramah is a medical adjuster living in Columbus, OH with his family. His beautiful wife, Alicia, is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met; and his six month old son, Elijah, has been practicing his soccer skills since he was in the womb. Raylan, their pit-bull mix, keeps the whole family laughing with her loving antics (and, of course, secretly runs the household.). I'm trying to get them to adopt me, but no luck yet... Thanks Raylan! Basically though, the Ramah family is badass.

Look at the center of attention there....
   Ramah and I wrote this piece together. Our goal is to put any worried or discouraged loved ones' hearts and minds at ease; and inspire others to explore themselves and give what they can truly live without. I asked him what attracted him to helping people and how he determined selflessness; his response was this:
   "I have had many selfish moments in life. More than I would like to count, but it's the selfless moments I find easier to recollect. It's the look on someone's face - when you take the time out of your day to be there for them because they are clearly in a place more difficult than you. Whether that's jump-starting a car, responding to an accident scene or volunteering at an animal or homeless shelter. It's a feeling that stays with you and helps you see the greater purpose in life. I don't see a determining factor in someone's selflessness. I think it's something that only the person doing the act can fully understand. We can't stop at every flat tire (metaphorically speaking) along the way, it just doesn't work like that. You will know when you passed up the golden opportunity to positively affect someone else's day. The key is to use that moment to recognize you had the opportunity; and commit to not passing it up the next time an opportunity arises."
   It just goes to show you how honest you have to be with yourself about your own character, in order to take selfless action. Do you stop and pull a large fallen tree limb to the side of the road, so that traffic doesn't have to swerve around it? Do you call the phone number on a stray dog's collar?? Do you give up your spot in line at the grocery store to someone behind you with less groceries??? These little gestures save lives, make families whole again and help people move on with their day in a positive fashion.
   "I am donating my kidney to one of my best friend's sister-in-law. Alicia and I are pretty close with most of their family. To be honest, I do not know the sister-in-law much at all, but it was the closeness with the entire family, including her husband, that led me to make this decision. 
   When I originally determined looking into being tested for a match, it was a very rash decision. Alicia noticed me taking a screenshot of the Facebook post (by the family in need) requesting anyone willing to check into this more. She made a comment about "seeing what I just did" and this kicked off the whole process. We have had excellent communication with each other along the way; educating ourselves to the max to ensure this decision we were making was going to be the right one. The decision to move forward with donating an organ was something that had to be made knowing that my family would not be affected in a negative way (This in no way was something that only I would decide.)."
   When he found he was actually a match for donation, a whole new set of challenges was in front of him. His honesty about what he was feeling gave me a warm and fuzzy sensation. Like we had just scored a touchdown to tie the game and there was still a lot of hard work to accomplish for the victory.
   "Finding out I was officially "the match" was a really shocking thing to hear. I think most people go into this situation expecting to hear - Thank you so much for the selfless consideration, but... - and I'll be honest, I really expected to hear the same thing. That doesn't detract from anyone that puts themselves in a position to be a potential donor, but man, the weight of it all doesn't really start to settle into place. That's until you get more finite information that you actually have a decision to make, in regards to moving forward with the donation or not. Alicia and I took every step of the process as a way for us to sit back, review where we were as a family and where this would take us. There never was a phone call that came in where I just said "yes" or "no" to something. It always revolved around them giving us time to make a rational decision. So when we found it was as official as it is going to be, we took the time to weigh out positives and negatives. And EVERY single time, the positives outweighed the negatives in a HUGE way."
   His attitude has always been humble about the kidney donation. He has been calculated in conversing with others about what he's doing because he didn't want things to "get crazy" early in the process. We all want to be supportive, but some of us might project our own worry that could negatively influence him. He let some of us who are closest to him know what was going on, so we could wrap our heads around it. He also needed us to be a voice for him through the process. Ramah wants to maintain his positive outlook through this journey and knows he can't connect with every single loved one, individually, prior to surgery. He had this message to share with everyone:
   "It is going to come out to everyone what I am doing and I am okay with that. I want people to know what I am doing, so they can look differently at situations in the future. I am in no way advocating that everyone should be willing to donate an organ. What I AM saying is to find the situations that are presented to you where you can make a difference in other people's lives. Don't immediately find a reason not to help. Sit back and think of your options. If your positives for helping someone else outweigh the negatives, why not give it a go? You will feel better about yourself and, believe me, the person that you help will be more grateful than you realize prior to helping them. I am not better than anyone for what I am doing, but I am an advocate to the idea of the positive impact a selfless decision can have on the world. A world that's dominated by negative headlines and the selfish acts of the celebrities that are idolized by the public eye."
   The opportunity to change somebody's world for the better came knocking on the Ramah's door. They graciously answered with their hearts full of love, which honestly guided their way through this decision. It's that love forged in their young growing family that builds confidence and easily manages their fears. Though it seems effortless from an outside perspective, I know they work hard to live genuinely happy.
   Prior to surgery, Ramah plans on doing things that will be off-limits during his six week recovery period. Most importantly, holding his son Elijah. He also plans to go out with some friends to wish his kidney "bon voyage" and feed it a few drinks. As he so enthusiastically shared, "because that guy is going on a journey!", and I certainly don't blame him!


   "After surgery it's quite simple, as well. My goal is to get through the next six weeks as quickly and safely as possible. This, so that on the last day of restriction I can pick up my son, load him in the car and drive him to the driving range - where I am going to swing a golf club for the first time since surgery (that the public will know about because a certain someone will get pretty upset if I push it!). Eventually, getting back into my workout regimen to continue training for my second "Tough Mudder" in September. Which I plan on completing faster than the previous year. In the long term, I should not see any effects of having one kidney, but I don't see that as entirely accurate. I believe this procedure will help me become healthier as a person because I will want to treat my remaining kidney with great care.
   In a different long term mindset, I want to use this experience to help guide people in directions that will help them and others. I want to be able to tell the story to Elijah; helping him grow as a man. A man that thinks of others and takes the opportunities (when presented to him) to help others out when they are in a tough situation themselves."
   Ramah's words speak for themselves, but his actions echo in all of us. There is no doubt that he has been faced with some of the most challenging decisions of his life. However, when the positives outweigh the negatives, there is no more room for excuses. He is proud of his family, he's dedicated to loving them unconditionally and he willingly accepts life with all of its challenges. He believes in living to our fullest potential and does this by example on a daily basis. Though I know he appreciates all of the thoughts and prayers for him; he definitely believes that kind of energy is better spent selflessly helping someone in need. Please be inspired.
   He would be quick to tell you that the recipient of his kidney is the real hero in this situation. For she is faced with ultimate vulnerability and was left to ask for help in the most difficult way possible. Her will to live inspires him and he knew that he would fight just the same as her, if in her situation. He also believes someone would help his family just the same. These are the types of friendships he instills. After next week they will be forever connected in life; not only by a kidney, but by a grateful appreciation for a selfless action. Both of them rewarded in the most amazing way possible.
   We plan to update you in the future and hope you're all making a positive difference, no matter how big or small. Ramah left me to wrap this up anyway I saw fit, so with that I leave everyone with a video from Talib Kweli....

Scotty J ~ "Life is a beautiful struggle."