Tag Archives: Passion

Yoga Dad Turns Cancer To A Positive

Yoga dad Dennis Ingui has a story to tell that all you dudes need to hear.

Now, I don’t normally turn over the precious white space here at A Dude’s Guide very often, much less three times in less than a week, but this is a special case. See, a friend of mine told me about Dennis and, once she did, I knew I’d have to have him share his story here with all of you. It’s a long story, so I’m going to have a jump that I want you to follow and I think you will.

This yoga dad is more than a health nut, more than a cancer survivor, more than a business man. Although he’d probably fight against anyone telling him this, he’s a bit of an inspiration. But let’s hear the story from Dennis’ mouth instead of mine.

Despite completely changing my life starting with a yoga practice at the age of 48, I wouldn’t call it a mid-life crisis.  

My mid-life turnaround was brought about after a stunning diagnosis of prostate cancer and surgery. What began as a journey of recovery and self-discovery has grown into a new business venture, mentorship for other budding entrepreneurs and a path toward philanthropy, touching the lives of children and adults across the globe.

Born and raised in the Bronx, I’ve always been athletic and physically fit. Which meant I was thrown completely off guard after a cautionary check up with my urologist showed a slightly rising PSA test. I will never forget the moment I received a call from the doctor on my way to the airport for a business trip. Immediately, I turned the car around and my wife and I went straight to the doctor. Within a few weeks, I was scheduled for surgery.

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The Now You Versus The Future You

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

For Walt Whitman, astonishingly erudite poet of years gone by, it was a sign of intelligence, of passion, of an attempted understanding of the world’s infinite variations.

For most other people? Eh, not so much.

How many times have you had to defend yourself when you suddenly have a different opinion than one you previously held? In a politician, that’s called flip-flopping and it’s considered a bad thing. Not sure I understand that. I mean, if you continue researching a problem, come up with new information, why is it a good thing to hold to an outdated opinion, rather than reassessing what you do based on new information?

And that’s what I wanted to talk about today. How it’s likely that you as a parent are going to run afoul of you decreed as a parent years, months or even days before. And how, really, that’s all right, even though you’re going to have to fight the little dudes and dudettes about it.

There’s two concepts I want to include in this: Present bias and generalization.

Present bias is something we covered over the last couple of days when we talked about procrastination with David McRaney, from You Are Not So Smart. It’s the inability to understand that your desires will change over time. That what you want today is not necessarily what you will want next month.

The now you may see the costs and rewards at stake when it comes time to choose studying for the test instead of going to the club, eating the salad instead of the cupcake, writing the article instead of playing the video game.

The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties.

In this case, McRaney was talking about how the people who acknowledge that they will procrastinate and find ways to work around it are better prepared to counter that tendency to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done the day after tomorrow.

In dealing with the little dudes, it comes into how we set the rules. For instance, you might decide that it’s all right for the little dudette to stay up later for a week because there’s a great educational series on Discovery that you want to share with her, as a sort of father-daughter bonding experience. So you guarantee that she’ll be able to do it all week.

However, two days into it, you come down with a cold and decide you both need to hit the hay early, taping the show to watch later. When you promised up late every night, you didn’t conceive that the future you might want to change things.

So even though going to bed early is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, considering the circumstances, your little dudette is not going to be happy about it. Here’s the thing: You can’t beat yourself up about it. She, or any little dudes involved, will be more than happy to give you grief, you don’t need to heap any more on your own shoulders.

It’s important to know that, while you must do everything you can to keep your promises, to make sure that future you does what now you says he will, sometimes life makes other decisions when we’re not looking.

We can’t predict the future, but that doesn’t stop us from assuming that we will always be the same as time goes on. And when you add that to the idea of generalization. . .

Well, that’s a story for tomorrow.


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Standing In The Company Of Giants, Instead Of Only On Their Shoulders

Our society envisions success as a ladder: Those who climb to the top do so one at a time. I think that’s bunk. I’d like to see success as a wide road to a mountain top, with room enough for everyone to come along.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been talking about an African philosophy that’s being used in Awesome Elementary School by a fifth-grade teacher there, Mrs. C. She’s been helping her students understand that success can only be measured in a group basis. Individuals can go well, but, if they are the outliers rather than only the leaders, if they do not use their skills and knowledge to aid those behind them, then those dudes and dudettes haven’t really succeeded at all.

Ubuntu, the philosophy Mrs. C has been spreading through her class, is one that encourages people to help those around them do better, while also helping them realize that they also can accept help from others without being ashamed or worried. Personally, I think it’s done some wonders in her class, having observed it in action.

In talking to Mrs. C about Ubuntu and her class, I wondered if this kind of thing might help out little dudes and dudettes who aren’t using this to make their school day better.

“One of our class goals is to be better people! We practice and talk about it every day. A child is not educated if you forget the human aspect of their lives. I always tell my kids that you cannot be perfect, but we must try to be the best we can be. We are all on a journey and practicing Ubuntu can help us make good choices and treat others with compassion.”

There’s folks all over who get onto schools and teachers for not doing enough to turn the little sociopaths who enter schools into well-behaved worker drones who have the right skill sets to step into menial, low-wage jobs. Although, looking back, I might have mixed up a couple things in that last sentence. Let’s just say that teachers and schools get a lot of flack. Some people think they do too little. Some think they do too much.

Helping parents to mold the little mushy minds is, I think, one of the most important jobs for which a school or a really good teacher can strive. Stuffing a little dude full of facts doesn’t help him develop the love of learning necessary to succeed in academics further up the line. Training a little dudette to be compliant, but only think of her own success, won’t help many people aside from her own self.

Mrs. C is doing a great job in helping to bridge that divide between strictly academics and some sort of feelings retreat. It’s a lesson we adults can learn as well. Helping others does not mean we hurt ourselves.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where spontaneous acts of kindness were the rule instead of the exception? When everyone succeeds, we are all winners.

“I am who I am because of who we all are.”

Words to live by.

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