Tag Archives: kids

5 Things You Learn When Your Preschooler Sees the Summer Olympics for the 1st Time

My child is not yet 5 years old, therefore this is the first time she has really seen the Summer Olympics on television.  When I first turned it on, I expected her to show zero interest in the games since many of the sports are completely alien to her (inexplicably, they don’t do a lot of Whitewater Canoeing at her preschool).  So, I figured she might ask a couple of general questions and then demand these shining spectacles of human accomplishment and perseverance be replaced by reruns of Paw Patrol.  I was extremely wrong.  It turns out when innocent eyes view the Olympic Games for the first time, you learn some things.

1.  Swimming is awesome

Young children can relate to the sport of swimming since they are still trying to learn the skill.  Many kids my daughter’s age can stay afloat to a reasonable extent and therefore understand and respect the general mechanics of the various strokes.  Other kids, like mine, still struggle with the basics and the only stroke they demonstrate is the lesser-known Plummeting Anchor.  My daughter watched in amazement as athletes shot through the water as if the act of swimming required little or no effort.  She also observed that none of them appeared to be wearing “floaties” or water wings, which may inspire her to shed her crutch sooner than later.

SwimCarnival 010

2.  Volleyball makes sense

Some events are more difficult to explain than others.  However, a preschooler can easily pick up the basics of volleyball since there is one ball and a net separates the two sides.  My child had never seen a volleyball match, but was absolutely fascinated by a women’s match between the U.S. and China.  And when I explained that most of the women were taller than her daddy, she gazed on in amazement as she surmised giants really do exists.

3.  Springboard Diving defies belief

Somehow I’ve taken for granted that there are people who can do somersaults and twists in the air before heading downward and knifing into a pool of water.  To eyes which have never seen this, it’s a phenomenon that defies all explanation.  My daughter quickly grasped the basic concept, but became impatient when divers stood on the springboard to collect themselves.  She couldn’t understand how they could control their excitement at having the opportunity to bounce off the board and splash into the blue (or later green) water.

4.  Synchronized Swimming may kill all of us

Much like her father, my child quickly became bored by this event.  At one point she yelled out, “I wish water didn’t exist.”  Confirming my suspicion that if she ever finds a genie in a bottle, we’re all toast.

genieLampHeart

5.  Fencing is anticlimactic and not at all like Star Wars

Imagine the disappointment on my sweet daughter’s face when, in spite of the competitors wearing cool masks and wielding “swords”, not one of them lost a hand prior to learning the true identity of a parent.  Additionally, not one competitor seemed to identify with the Empire or the Rebellion.  Instead, they all represented boring entities like actual countries.  Also, from the way some of the fencers whined about points, it was pretty clear none of them had trained in the Dagobah system and they probably needed to toughen up a bit.

Overall, watching the Olympics with my little one has been a fun experience.  The beauty of the games are that if my daughter is bored by one event, there is always another one to watch.  While she is less interested in some of the events I’d like to watch (distance running), many of the other events have become the subjects of long conversations that have led into general discussions regarding competition, nationality, adversity, and expectations (she asked me if I’d ever won a marathon).  In fact this Olympic Games may end up being my favorite of all time, even if nobody loses an appendage.

What has been your favorite event in 2016?  Comment below.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

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Participation Trophies are Evil!! (Except for Mine)

“Trophies shouldn’t be given away, they need to be earned!”

“My child won’t be allowed to keep a trophy he didn’t win.”

“Participation trophies give kids an unhealthy sense of entitlement.”

Participation trophies are a hot topic and with good reason.  We’ve all heard quotes like the ones above when people argue that we are sending kids the wrong message by awarding them simply for showing up.  How insane must we be to allow our future generations to cling onto awards symbolizing an 8th place finish, when the only real accomplishment the kids made was to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide?

It’s silly.  It’s preposterous.  As adults, we know better and would NEVER subscribe to the current participation trophy culture that is obviously a sign of something horrible like the apocalypse or perhaps a Men With Hats concert.

I’m a distance runner (not a particularly good one), and it is an incredibly humbling sport in which only a handful of individuals in any race can earn awards.  It would be nuts to think every runner should receive a trophy simply for showing up and taking part in an event.

Well, I mean most races give you a T-shirt with the name of the race printed across the front.  But, that’s different.  Most runners have to work and train simply to be part of the event and not everyone is as naturally talented as those who can actually win a race.  It’s not like the race organizers give away trophies.  Well, except of the times every runner gets a race medal.  But again, that’s entirely different.  As well-adjusted adults, we understand we didn’t actually win the race.  The T-shirts and medals are simply reminders of the journey and the sacrifices made.  For runners, medals are symbols reminding us that we were part of something bigger.  They are reminders that we took part in something that can be challenging, yet fun.  The T-shirts and medals are simply tokens that show we… participated in a journey.

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The PA Dart Classic – 12th place in dart throwing (probably)

Okay.  Maybe this isn’t the best example.  After all, not everyone is a runner and plenty of people don’t take part in sports in any way, shape or form.  The closest many of us get to playing a sport is to root for the local baseball or football team.  And we certainly don’t blur the line between celebrating the accomplishments of professional athletes and our role as a spectators.

Sure, we wear clothing labeled with the logos of the teams, but we know we are doing nothing more than showing support for the organization.  It’s not like we say things like “We swept the Dodgers last week” or “Look how we stopped their running game”.  And the last thing we would do is to rush out and buy a Super Bowl Champions shirt or hat if our team won it all.  We aren’t part of the team.  We didn’t earn a championship.  We know that.

But let’s not trivialize our roles by acting as if we were nothing more than bystanders.  We watched the games on TV, sat in the stands, yelled and screamed, and debated with fans of the opposing teams.  We were emotionally (and financially) invested.  We were part of the entire journey.  We… participated.

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Huh.

Now that I think about it, maybe participation trophies aren’t really the problem.  After all, there are kids who really do deserve a trophy for doing little more than showing up.  There are children who struggle with being socially awkward.  There are kids with disabilities who want nothing more than to play on a team with all the other children who don’t have the same obstacles.  There are young people who have to overcome huge hurdles simply to take part in an activity.

Maybe participation trophies aren’t really a big deal after all.

Maybe the fact we are teaching our children that a trophy, rather than the experience gained throughout a journey, is the true measure of accomplishment, is the real issue.

What are your thoughts on participation trophies?  Leave a comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Preschool Steroids, Gymnastics Tailgating, and Novel Writing

I don’t want my daughter to take gymnastics lessons.

You see, if she takes lessons then she may want to participate in competitions.

If she participates in competitions, then she will be judged by people who cannot help but allow some measure of subjectivity to influence the score she receives.  Therefore, the end result will always seem somewhat ambiguous and possibly biased.

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So, I also don’t want my daughter to compete in diving, ski jumping, and figure skating.  Of course this also means certain kinds of snowboarding, bike riding, and dancing are off the table.  Pretty much anything that involves “style points” just has to go.

I want my little girl to grow up in a world where if your team scores more points than the other, you win.  If your time is faster than the competition, you win.  If your opponent lifts more weight than you do, she wins and she did it honestly.  Unless she’s on steroids or HGH, which has yet to have been a problem identified in her preschool class.  Or so we think.

After all, isn’t the world supposed to function in a manner where quantitative measures define winning vs. losing and improvement vs. set backs?  We evaluate companies based on stock prices, employee performance based on statistics, and organizations based on memberships levels.

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Except when we don’t.

How can I not let my daughter to partake in activities based on subjective judgments while I navigate the realm of writing fiction?  What could possibly be less objective than the process of getting books published, having readers assign values to your words, and then watching helplessly as your work is discussed – and yes, judged – by those you have never met?

The hard truth about writing is that there are some very well-known bestsellers that aren’t really any better than some manuscripts that never get published.  The only difference is that at some point a judge in a publishing company decided one book “stuck the landing” while another had a technical flaw.  If you ask another judge about the same two books, the answer will often be the opposite.

The big secrets to success in the writing industry are:  1. Having some ability to write.  2.  Possessing a knowledge of the business.  3.  Getting lucky.  4.  Remembering that #3, trumps all other aspects.  The entire enterprise is extremely odd.  There is a ton of subjectivity involved and, while hard work helps, it does not guarantee an author will achieve any predetermined level of success.

Of course, now that I think about it, in the business world our performance could be evaluated unfairly by a supervisor.  Even if one uses statistics to assess your performance, who is to say the right stats are used?  And in our personal lives, we are constantly judged by some subjective measure.  The chances are you didn’t marry your husband simply because he rated high on a battery of tests and his Myers-Briggs personality type was found to be compatible with your own.  Not to mention, we often remind our kids that life isn’t fair and there is a reason that adage has been passed down for generations.  It’s because… life isn’t fair.

Someday, my child will get passed over for a promotion she earned.

Someday, my child will get screamed at and heckled for simply doing her job.

Someday, my child will own a broken heart because some guy made a subjective judgment.
(May I use this moment to remind any future potential suitors of her daddy’s training and background)

She will be judged, just as all of us get judged.  I suppose she may as well get used to the feeling.

Damn.  Do people tailgate for gymnastics?

I’d love to read your opinion on the topic.  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

 

Crushing Toy Dinosaurs in Your Home Gym

I’ve had many gym memberships over the years. Much of that time was when I was an apartment dweller and lacked the space or resources to have my own personal workout equipment. But even when I became a homeowner, while I was able to stay in adequate shape with a regimen of push-ups, sit-ups, and running, I sometimes missed weight training and the variety of exercises available at a local gym.   Even after my wife and I purchased a home with plenty of space, I frequented a 24-hour fitness center and shelled out $40 per month for the privilege of torturing my body. They gym was great because when I went to the gym I knew I would workout. I know that seems silly, but the simple act of walking through that front door meant that I was going to exert myself for the next hour or two because I’d gone through the trouble of paying the gym fee and making the trip. But as I got older (and busier), my wife and I accumulated some equipment for our home. The initial expense wasn’t insubstantial, but the various devices we purchased paid for themselves over time. The best part is, we can fit everything into one corner of our basement.

I present to you… our gym.

gym 1

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t look like much.  And there are no dinosaurs… but, I’ll get to that.

First, let’s look at how you can get great workouts with relatively few pieces of equipment. You’ll notice there is no treadmill pictured, as I’m not a huge fan of those things and I prefer to run outside if at all possible.

THE WEIGHTS:

I think these were a Christmas present from my wife and they are outstanding. They are Bowflex SelecTech adjustable weights that can set anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds each. I admit they are expensive ($299), but I use these babies for bench pressing, shoulder presses, shrugs, curls, and anything else you can think of that you can do with dumbbells. While I own some regular 15 lb dumbbells (pictured sitting in front of the Bowflex weights), I almost always use the SelecTech weights. Now, for those of you hoping to bulk up like Wolverine, 52.5 lbs probably isn’t enough for you. For those of us who are satisfied with falling somewhere between the goofy kid from the movie Road Trip and Wolverine… this will be fine.

gym 3

THE BENCH:

We picked this thing up for about $100 and the best part is that it inclines. It’s great for bench presses, incline presses, rows, and a variety of other exercises. My preschooler likes to climb on this thing an growl while she lifts her purple 2 lb weights, so you KNOW it’s the real deal.

FREESTANDING PUNCHING BAG:

The base is filled with water and it DOES tend to scoot around the room when you punch it hard enough, but this $130 purchase is great when I need a quick cardio workout (or close-quarter combat training in case I’m going to be speaking to a rowdy book club). The height is adjustable and you can buy some gloves relatively cheap.

RECUMBENT EXERCISE BIKE:

I have mixed feelings on this one. It was expensive ($400 – $500) and while it’s been good to have during the winter months, it feels like I have to be on the thing FOREVER to get a really good workout. However, we’ve had it for years and put a ridiculous number of miles on the thing. And watching a movie while peddling is better than simply sitting on the couch.

PULL-UP AND DIP STATION:

Surprisingly, this was not crazy expensive (approx. $140) yet it gives us the opportunity to do exercises that are great for multiple muscle groups. One side of the station allows the user to do pull-ups – not an easy thing to do, or maintain. The other side lets the user do dips and leg lifts. I really like this piece of equipment, as I’ve never been able to get door frame pull-up bars to work well, and there are few other ways you can do dips unless you are at a gym.

Gym 2

 

EXERCISE BALL:

I don’t use this as much as I probably should, although I do a variety of other ab exercises. Maybe it’s because part of me thinks the whole exercise ball thing is a passing fad that will seem silly in another 10 or 15 years, but you can buy a ball for $20 and there are some good core exercises you can perform on the ball. Not to mention small children love to take the things and roll them over toy dinosaurs, although you rarely see those photos in the ads.

dinosaur

 SPEED ROPE (not pictured):

Jumping rope is great for cardio and agility. Ropes are cheap ($10 or less) and speed work burns fat. Rocky Balboa knew it. Now you know it. Get to it.

OTHER OPTIONS:

I already mentioned my semi-hate / hate relationship with the treadmill.  But, many people swear by them and I can understand why.  If you are a runner and need to get your miles in and mother nature, work, kids, etc. won’t cooperate, then the treadmill can be your salvation.  Some people enjoy having more elaborate weight machines.  It all depends on your preferences.  I’d like to have an elliptical and would probably use it quite a bit.  However, a marathon coach I know burns up his treadmill, but avoids the elliptical.  Some people like rowing machines and others hate the things.

Regardless, you can create a fantastic home gym with a few pieces of equipment.  It will cost some money (our setup was created over several years), but when you consider the annual cost of a gym membership plus the time and gas spent going to and from the gym, it’s not a bad situation.  If you have children, you can exercise with them in the same room (sometimes) and therefore you won’t feel guilty bailing out for an hour or two.  And sometimes you can incorporate your kids into your workout.

Do you need any of this stuff to stay in shape?  Of course not.  However, you CAN get the feel of a complete gym workout without buying an entire gym.

What equipment do you have/want in your home?  Comment below!

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the upcoming LEGACY anthology: 

 

 

 

How to Exercise on Jupiter with Your Child

Keeping in shape can be a challenge.

Keeping in shape during the holidays can be incredibly difficult.

Keeping in shape during the holiday season, when you are the parent of a young child, can be a lot like trying to quell a toddler’s temper tantrum during the thunderstorm that caused the power to go out, prematurely ending an episode of Dora the Explorer.

So how do you exercise when the weather demands patience and your child demands attention?  I mean it’s not like you can exercise with your three-foot-tall bundle energy, right?

Over the past couple of years, the “exercise room” in my house also became the “playroom”.  So, I’d take my daughter down there in the hopes that she would entertain herself while I would lift weights or put in some time on our exercise bike.

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Inevitably (and understandably), she would want me stop my bench press routine to join a tea party.  Or, she would ask me to stop peddling the bike so I could try the strawberry coffee she “made” for me.  Of course, not wanting to be THAT parent, I’d stop lifting to sip “tea” from a tiny blue cup or I’d stop peddling because… well, we all know that nobody in his right mind can turn down a nice cup of strawberry coffee.

One of the other games she likes is “being a giant” with me.  This is nothing more than her sitting on my shoulders while I stomp around the room.  But one day while we were enjoying our gianthood, I took a long stride and did a lunge.  Then another, then another, then another.  My daughter thought it was incredibly fun and I found it extremely tiring.  In fact, it was exhausting like… EXERCISE.  And without warning, the Pipsqueak Workout was born.

Below are a few simple exercises you can enjoy with the most important person in your life.  To them, you are everything.  To you, they are everything… including great workout equipment!

Obviously, the safety of you and your child are the most important thing.  Do not attempt any of these exercises unless you are absolutely certain that no harm will come to you or your little one.

LEGS

Silly Squats:  Put the child on your shoulders (or back) and make sure they are secure.  Stand up.  Keeping your back straight, perform a few squats.  Each time you stand, make a sound like rocket launching, or cuckoo clock, or whatever.

Lion Lunges:  As I mentioned with the “being a giant” game, put your child securely on your shoulders and take long strides across the room.  Make absolutely certain you can maintain balance.  Roar like a lion with each stride.  It will make you feel fierce and primal and keep your kid laughing.

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ARMS

Creature Curls:  While standing, have your kid reach up and grab your hands.  Gently lift your child up by curling your arms.  Don’t do this too many times, as you don’t want to hurt your child’s shoulders.  If you prefer, hold your child under him arms and curl his bodyweight that way.  Make monster sounds with every repetition.  Because monsters are strong.  Probably.

SHOULDERS

Pee-wee Pull-ups:  If you have access to a pull-up bar, lift your child so she can reach the bar.  While standing behind her, have her grab the bar and try to pull herself up.  Of course she won’t be able to do this, so you will have to lift her above your head for each repetition.  This is great for your shoulders, upper-back, and triceps.  And you kid will feel superhuman because she will think she can rattle off a Gummy Bear-load of pull-ups.

ABS

Crazy Crunches:  Get in your normal crunch position.  Then have your toddler/pre-schooler lay on you in the same position.  Start performing crunches and marvel at how much harder they are when you have an extra 30 pounds of weight on your chest.

CHEST

Planetary Pushups:  You are both on a planet where the gravity is extreme.  Pushups are going to be extremely difficult, due to the gravitational pull.  Or… maybe it’s the kid on your back.  Have your child lay face down on your back while performing pushups.  Not only is it a good workout for your chest and arms, but it works your abs while you try to stabilize a wiggly toddler who is clinging on to you.  If your kid holds on by grabbing you around the neck, you get extra points for completing the exercise while being deprived of oxygen on this strange planet.

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CARDIO

Tag!  You’re Tired!:  Imagine there is a circle on your floor (maybe a 10 ft diameter) and that you and your child are not allowed to go outside of that circle.  Tell your child you are playing tag and have them start by being “it”.  As your kid tries to tag you, you will have to jump, dodge, bob, weave, and slide.  You will be amazed at how quickly this little agility exercise can wear you out.  Once you get tagged, you’ll need to chase your child.  There is no way she will stay inside the imaginary circle, so enjoy your new sprint workout.

 

It’s also possible to turn these exercises into a learning opportunity for your child.  Have your child count the pushups or or recite the alphabet during crunches.  Have her say a different color for each squat or a farm animal for each curl.  Be creative.

But most importantly, don’t do any of this if your child isn’t having a blast.  It’s always better to pack on a few pounds rather than being the jerk who forces his kid to “have fun”.  Believe it or not, your kid doesn’t give a damn if you can do 10 pushups or 100.  If most of your curls involve lifting a tiny blue tea-cup, then you are doing just fine.

How do you balance parenting, exercise, and everything else?  Leave a comment!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Measure Twice. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

RESOLVE was a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization, was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine, and is one of Authors on the Air’s Best Books of the Year.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

Measure Twice 750 x 1200 jpeg

 

Planes, Trains, and BENGAY in Uncomfortable Places

I learned a great deal in school.  I learned how our government is structured.  I became acquainted with the roles of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  I discovered I’ll never be able to finish Wuthering Heights.  I learned that if I’m on a Train A which is traveling at 35 mph, and Train B is 5 miles ahead and traveling 15 mph, it will take me until Hell freezes over to figure out when I’ll catch that stupid train.  But, I also learned a great deal outside of the classroom through sports.  There are 5 main lessons I learned on the baseball diamond, basketball court, and cross-country trail and all of them have proven to be extremely valuable in life.

1.  We all have limitations

If you watch TV commercials, you can be fooled into thinking that if you work harder than anyone else, you can make it to the pros.  Here’s the thing… you probably can’t.  Some of us can work extremely hard, but will not possess the physical gifts to be able to play centerfield for a professional baseball team, linebacker in the NFL, or win a marathon.  If fact most of us – regardless of the level of effort given – will not be good enough to play at the collegiate level.  And that’s okay.  If we pay attention to this lesson, we figure out that we can get a great deal out of the struggle to achieve, whether or not we actually reach our goal.  Not everyone can be a pro hockey player and not everyone can be an astrophysicist.  Maybe you wanted to fly a jet in the military, but your eyesight isn’t good enough.  That’s just the way it is.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best, but it puts our “failures” in perspective.

  1. Sometimes you lose

Our best, or our team’s best, may not be good enough on a given day.  Sometimes things just fall in place for your opponent, or maybe you have been the victim of a bad officiating call.  It happens in sports and it happens in life.  At some point, most of us have been rejected for a job for which we knew we were qualified.  Or you probably missed out on a promotion you felt you earned.  I think this is easier to handle when you learn winning is not absolute at age 8, rather than when you are 28.

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  1. People need to be able to depend on you

Most sports and jobs involve a team.  This means there are others who need to know you will show up and try your best each and every day.  If you mentally check out, the ramifications are not limited to your own well-being.  Just as your basketball team needs your full attention, your work unit is relying on you to finish an assignment.

  1. Never rub BENGAY on a pulled muscle, forget about it, and then go to the bathroom.

This is just solid advice.  Always.

fire

  1. Practices should be just as difficult, if not more difficult, than the real game

I played basketball in high school and I cannot remember one single game that was harder than our practices.  One of my fondest sports memories is when we beat a talented team from a much larger school, in triple overtime.  We won because our practices were so demanding that even a 3 OT game wasn’t overly daunting.  We were both mentally and physically tough because our coaches pushed us beyond what we thought were our limitations.

It’s the same if you are giving a presentation or coordinating an event in the workplace.  If you can make the practice sessions ridiculously hard, everything goes smoothly on game day.  That lesson has served me well when I was in law enforcement and when I moved to the “civilian” side of operations.  When your game day feels like a rest day, there is a decent chance you’ve already won.

 

There are plenty of other quality lessons we learn from sports when we are young, but these may have been the most important for me.  What concerns me now is the fact so many kids are not participating in sports and instead lose themselves in a videogame world where you never really deal with loss, but simply start over with another life.  While I played my share of videogames, my parents always encouraged me (but never forced me) to compete in athletics.  This forced me to deal with the elation of achievement as well as the despair of defeat.  Now, I fully realize that not all kids are able to play sports, but there are other ways to learn these lessons.  Whether the field of play is a baseball diamond or a math field day, the same lessons can be learned – although you may not need the BENGAY advice for a social studies fair.

What lessons have you or your kids learned from competing?

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
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https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

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Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 

 

Why the Ancient Greeks Hated Running Strollers (probably)

Greek mythology tells us the story of a deceitful king named Sisyphus who the gods punished by forcing him to continuously roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down.  Some have suggested the story symbolizes the vain struggle of man in the pursuit of knowledge.  Some believe it is intended to remind us that striving for power is ultimately an empty quest.  These are foolish theories.  All of them – foolish.  The story of Sisyphus and the boulder was obviously meant to give us a glimpse into the future.  It’s is a window into the modern world where a torturous mechanism has been thrust upon us and society has been told to smile, sweat, and rejoice.  So, what demon contraption did the Greeks foresee?

Of course, I’m talking about the running stroller.

If you have never seen a running stroller, here is a photo:

 

ball and chain

 

Oh, sure… that’s not what they look like in advertisements.  When you open up a running magazine or see an image online, this is what you get:

 

stroller 1stroller 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just look at the smiles, the joy, and the freedom!  Nothing can stop these runners.  They are gliding along with happy children and free spirits.

This is the new mythology.  The ads tell us the stroller is practically weightless.  “Go on out there,” the ads tell us.  “It’s like pushing a feather!”  And I have to admit, some strollers are fairly lightweight.  They can be anywhere from 20 to 30 lbs and roll smoothly across the asphalt.  I mean, just look at those ladies smiling.  What difficulties could be caused by a simple 25 lb stroller?  It’s a piece of cake.  We can do this!  Sweep the leg!!!

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Well, I’ll give you some difficulties right now.  Yes, the stroller may be 25 lbs and be shaped like the nose of an F-16 fighter jet.  But, that’s the economy model for this vehicle.  Let’s discuss some standard features.  First, you’ll probably want to take a water bottle with you.  Some are rather large.

 photo waterbottle.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, It adds a little bit of weight, but not much.  No big deal.  And maybe your child needs an extra blanket or jacket.  Perhaps a hat and sunglasses too.  Did you remember to grab the kid’s snack or favorite toy in case he/she gets fussy?  Not that children ever get fussy.

 photo temple.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh… do you know what else adds a little bit of weight?  THE CHILD!

My daughter is now 30 pounds.  It may not sound like much, but you fail to understand that my daughter has magical powers.  Really.  She is an amazing sorceress who can change her weight when a certain topographical feature is upon us.  Look again at those pictures of the smiling ladies pushing the strollers.  Now, do you see what’s missing?  Look carefully.  That’s right… hills.

As soon as my running stroller hits the base of a hill, my daughter can perform this incredible transformation where she goes from 30 lbs to 280 lbs while singing “Wheels on the Bus” and pausing only to point out every airplane in the sky.  I usually see the first few jets, but by the time I’m half-way up a hill, they are mostly blotted out by the spots floating around my eyes from oxygen deprivation.

Fortunately, my daughter has a tremendous amount of empathy for me.  I mean, she must because every once in a while a tiny shoe or a Dora the Explorer water bottle gets tossed from the stroller like a grenade and I get to stop and pick it up.  During those precious seconds, the world stops spinning and hallucinations fade as I realize the guy on the corner is washing his car with a hose and not handling a fire-breathing Boa constrictor.

Now, here is where I should admit that my disdain for the running stroller comes from a mental scar that will not heal.  I remember every detail with absolute clarity.  The year was 2008 (probably).  It was a simple Pittsburgh 5K for a worthy charity (probably).  I was on the last quarter-mile (I think) and I turned on the jets (tried not to throw up).  The next thing I knew a woman blew past me like I was standing still.  Now, I’m no running egotist and I have absolutely no problem with being, as some people say, “chicked”.  There are plenty of women out there who can outrun me any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  So seeing this woman hit Mach 3 while I was in a school zone would normally be fine.  But, what got to me was THIS:

 

stroller 3

 

The double-wide urban assault vehicle filled with at least 50 lbs of toddler weight was too much for me to bear.  The woman was pushing Beelzebub’s Chariot at such a rate, I doubt she saw my jaw drop as she passed by.  However, I’m pretty sure one of her kids leaned out, looked back, winked, and gave me the finger.  By the time I crossed the finish line, the trio had finished their post-race bagels and Spongebob juice boxes, and were headed to their minivan.

So, I’m biased.  I don’t care for the running stroller one bit.

Well, that’s not completely true.  My daughter enjoys it and she sings the cutest songs and practices counting while we run.  Sometimes she stops mid-song, asks me a question, and then treats me like I’m a freaking genius when I answer her.  Also, there are times that if I didn’t have her in the Sisyphus Stroller, I’d not be able to go for a run and you really don’t want to be around me if don’t get regular exercise.  So, I guess it kind of makes me a better person.

Not to mention, soon she will be too big for a stroller but too small to run very far.  Then, before you know it, she’ll be too cool to hang with dad and she’ll figure out my answers to her questions aren’t so profound.

Maybe that’s how this will all go down.  Several years from now I’ll be five miles into a solitary run and I’ll glance down at the hard ground scrolling in front of me.  I’ll come to the base of a hill and charge upward sensing no unnatural resistance.  Then, without warning, something inside of me will become painfully aware of all the weight that is no longer there for me to carry.

Perhaps the running stroller isn’t that bad after all.

 

 

Have you used a running stroller?  Like?  Dislike?

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and other works of fiction.  His new novel, Measure Twice, also involves a distance running protagonist.  He is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

RESOLVE has been named a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization.

RESOLVE was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Available Now 

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