Starve Ego, Feed the Soul Challenge

Day 11: Forgiveness

Forgiving: Simple yet sometimes so difficult to do right in the moment. But even if you do miss that exact initial moment — like I did today — due to focusing on yourself, go ahead and let go as soon as you realize you need to do so.

Being able to get past your own moment of pain, disappointment or entitlement is empowering. It’s not about becoming a doormat to anyone or allowing people to “get away with” saying or acting in ways that affect you.

It’s about letting go of things deeper inside ourselves that will be the ultimate thievery of our innermost peace. They don’t deserve that power … and only we (not others!) actually grant it or deny it.

Day 12: Leaving a Note of Encouragement

Today was a quick and easy Starve the ego deed. I was having a hectic day with meetings and clients and driving to three different cities. But I stopped to take a moment to leave a note of encouragement for someone I thought might be needing it later that day.

I wasn’t sure, but the “maybe” was enough to make me search out a little piece of paper, fish for a pen in the Bermuda Triangle that is my purse, and write something I hoped would offer a moment of support for that person later on when they found it.

Whether it was deeply needed or not…or appreciated or not…or effective or not…is not necessarily the point, and is never necessary for me to know for sure. But I know if I’d had a stressful day and then found a note indicating someone recognized it would not be the easiest day ever and then that they had the forethought to leave me a note — I’d feel pretty cared for and that would help.

I think it’s important to emphasize that some days our decisions are smaller and that’s ok. Not every day offers up a huge moment where we make an extremely freeing decision. Life is made up of many “little things,” right? That doesn’t make them less important.

Day 13: Prioritizing Health and Friends … Again

Okay so there’s no rule saying I have to starve my ego in a totally different way for 60 days straight, right? So despite the fact that this is apparently a newly-emerging theme in my life…today I chose once again to prioritize my health and social life more than some other things this world would tell me I should be doing otherwise.

I met up with not one but two of my oldest friends for workouts today. Noooo…not that THEY are old (because they’re my age and I’m never going to be old) but because I went to high school with them. I’d made plans on Monday, so on Tuesday morning when I wanted to sleep in and work on school/work things, my set plans kept me in line. (Yet another advantage of working out with friends.)

During the lunch hour, I went to the fancy schmancy Corsicana YMCA and—YEA!—to my pleasant surprise my Fort Worth YMCA membership allows me to work out there for no additional fee. I was pretty excited about that.

There at the YMCA I got some swimming tips from my old buddy Nathan who has been working his way up to full Ironman triathlon status lately. His first-ever Ironman event is this coming weekend and so he had some great pointers to give me since I’m a newbie and still at the sprint-level triathlon.

Later this evening I went on a run out on the country roads outside my hometown with my best friend from high school, Jennifer. It’s always great to run with Jennifer because it’s a double dose of cardio since we not only run, but we talk the entire time! I figure if I can run for 30 minutes while talking with her, running 30 minutes without talking will be a breeze.

Day 14: Taking words of truth from Russell Brand a step further

It’s 9:30a.m. and I’m already feeding my soul. And NOT in a way I think I ever would have predicted! I’m contemplating how to put into action the words of truth & wisdom & life from…Russell Brand??

Is this a weird dream or is this for real? I woke up around 7:15 and as I love to do, I was sifting through Twitter and Facebook activity on my professional accounts.

One of our fellow ‘Starve the ego” challengees had shared a video compilation of soul-feeding greatness from none other than Russell Brand!

No offense to Russell (especially since I just received such inspiration from him!), but I’ve never been a fan. I’m not a big celebrity followers by any means but I do remember thinking Katy Perry was crazy when I saw they were dating (as if I know Katy Perry, right?). I found what little I saw of Russell over the years to be offensively ego-centric.

So if this video hadn’t been mentioned in collaboration with our Starve the ego participants, I doubt I would have clicked on it. (Hows that for a judgemental moment? Sorry, Russell. I’m getting better lol.) But I did.

I never thought Id be saying this, but I strongly encourage EVERYONE to listen to what Russell is saying and to truly absorb it. It is my hope that people can make these concepts their realities in their lives–and end the dead-end lies that they may otherwise be living by.

So far I’ve shared Russell Brand’s video with some friends, clients, family members, & strangers this morning. But I’m also taking it a step further by making a commitment to further explore yoga & meditation.

A week ago I visited my friend, colleague, & fellow Texas Wesleyan alumni, Monica Barnes ( for a yoga session. I now feel I need to commit to that even more than before in order to get my “yoga feet” under me so to speak. I’m texting Monica in a few minutes to set up my second session. I know I need it.

Day 15: Trying New Things …
Like Prosciutto on French Toast

Today I had lunch with two women who are interested in joining my Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Leads Group. We decided on a nice little lunch spot called Ellerbe Fine Foods.

Ellerbe prides itself on its natural, fresh, local foods and ingredients. The lunch menu featured some “safe” items such as a grilled chicked Waldorf salad or pork loin.

But we decided to try something more unique for our lunch: French toast! But not your everyday French toast … this consisted of shaved prosciutto, melted mozzarella, mostarda and arugala salad on top. Yum!

Not quite sure, but I’m considering this a “feed the SOUL” moment because it’s living life more fully. Even in the everyday little things we can be a little more adventurous.

Day 16: Making the Most of the Day

Today we started our FTX (field training exercises) at my Army Reserve unit. This training day is to help prepare us for our upcoming summer training that is pretty realistic and takes place in California.

As usual, my role wasn’t given much attention in the preparation. So instead of just sitting around and doing things half-heartedly (no one would know but me, lol), I made the most of it.

I “set up shop” as though I were actually in a deployed setting. I’ve been deployed more than once so it was easy for me to make realistic decisions regarding things such as where my office would be, who I’d team up with and what I’d be doing during the day.

I teamed up with the chaplain section and we drove around in a “Humvee” to go around and talk to our other medical units who were setting up in the area.

We had a great time, and it ended up being great practice for our upcoming summer training. We realized logistics and supplies we’d be needing, for instance. And I even made little signs for us which we will bring with us this summer. Fun day!

Day 17: Sharing wisdom whenever there’s a chance.

I’m spending my day with my Army Reserve unit preparing for our upcoming 3-week July WAREX (War Exercise) event. We are setting up outdoors as though we are in a deployed setting and playing out scenarios that we might encounter in future “real world” settings.

My job is Behavioral Health and my role at the Battalion level is managerial and advisory of the units under us regarding mental health-related matters.

While it’s just “pretend,” my job is also something that’s always very real. My soldiers around me do not all have perfect lives, so every day here is an opportunity to share wisdom with them about how to be emotionally secure and thriving.

In my personal, humble and not statistically-verified opinion there’s an epidemic in our U.S. military right now that is but a sample of our general population. And that is ill-advised and poorly-handled mental health issues.

The VA hospitals in general are refusing to hire Licensed Professional Counselors or Therapists. Shady? Yes. And unfair that Troops do not receive full range of psychological care, especially since those two professions are arguably the best-suited for addressing the most prevailing mental-health-related issues (adjusting back to “normal” life and routine, adverse reactions to deployment experiences, marriage difficulties, sleep pattern disturbance, transition difficulties, etc.). The result? Almost exclusively pharmaceutical “treatment” of Troops’ mental health issues that are primarily NOT biological in nature.

What I have personally observed is that our major mental-health-related incidents are occurring more times than not once Soldiers reached out for help and were only given the option of medications! Also, I’ve seen statistics first-hand over a 3-year period that Army suicides were NOT coinciding with multiple deployments (but often 0 or 1 deployments), and took place not on a deployment but Stateside. Also, every single suicidal ideation, gesture or attempt I responded to was brought about by a relationship issue — that’s an event, interpersonal and not a biological deficiency within that soldier.

So yes, I take my job seriously at all times. I’m lucky to work under a chain of command that seeks truth about mental health rather than simply checking a box and pretending they’ve addressed an issue. We are working to build an extensive referral list for our soldiers so they have non-medicine options to address their non-chemical issues.

And today I’m getting to spread truth to some of my soldiers by offering them words of wisdom about mental health, and teaching them that the power to address life’s concerns comes more frequently from within. Because most of them are not hearing that message elsewhere. As the Dalai Lama wrote in his Twitter feed (yes, you read that correctly — the Dalai Lama tweets!), “In addition to modern education, there is a need to learn how to achieve inner peace.”

Day 18: Standing up for what’s right

I believe people are deserving of respect and common courtesy as a basic foundation. When I’m at my Army Reserve unit I of course like to see that the soldiers I represent are treated that way as well. That of course doesn’t mean they will never have an urgent order barked at them or that they won’t receive a verbal lashing for doing something wrong–that’s kinda how things go in the military so we deal with it.

This particular weekend, we had to participate in a urinalysis (where soldiers have samples taken & screened to reveal any drug use, fun right?). Not a situation in which anyone should be yelling at soldiers or treating them harshly or rudely … one would think.

Today there was a civilian in charge of the urinalysis who I observed speaking to everyone around her very disrespectfully & unprofessionally. (Sometimes we Veterans unfortunately have to deal with this from time to time–civilian employees treating us disrespectfully. Because they are not military, it is difficult for us to make a formal complaint or for them to be held accountable for their actions.) Then it was my turn in line & I had to ask her a question to which she ignored, then spoke rudely as though I was not there & physically pushed me forward.

It’s not that she necessarily affected me drastically or anything, but her behavior is unacceptable and no soldier in the building deserves to be treated on that manner. By the end of the day, several others had similar experiences and one woman even revealed that she’d been treated similarly by this person several years ago (and while pregnant, by the way), providing information that this behavior has been going on for years.

I spoke with my Commander and a legal representative in order to issue a complaint. It will be a time consuming task but it’s the right thing for me to do. Not to seek revenge or anything such as that, but to hold her accountable for her actions so that hopefully she’s more hesitant to treat our Soldiers I this manner in the future.

Day 19: Get Outside!

The weather is starting to heat up in Central Texas … which is only a good thing in the beginning phases! There was a lot on my plate today work-wise. But someone extended the opportunity to me to get out and enjoy the day by going to the Colonial Golf Tournament in Fort Worth.

At first I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it since I would only be able to attend for a brief period of time. And to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of who invited me (sorry, but true!) but was thankful for the invitation and thought it would be a good opportunity for a positive interaction with that person.

So I accepted. Then the person unfortunately reinforced some of my not-so-fond impressions by then letting me know they’d given away a ticket and may not be able to get one for me after all. Great. But at that point I didn’t just say, “Fine, forget it then.” I didn’t want the day to end on a bad note with my negative impression of this person strengthened. And after a while, another ticket was located and so we met up and enjoyed some time at the golf tournament.

I had a great time, got to visit with some people I knew, and enjoyed being outdoors. I even was thankful for a great time with the person who’d invited me so was very happy about how things turned out. Well…until the shuttle ride from the golf course back to our vehicles where the person started being very negative and rude about the appearance of someone we saw out the window, etc. Again, reminding me of why this unfortunately will just never be a person I will likely be close friends with, which made me sad. But, at least I tried, right?

And hey, I got to enjoy the sunshine instead of being under fluorescent lights for the afternoon!

Day 20: Finding Time to Support Charitable Efforts

I knew of an event going on this evening through the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce that was in support of a local charity for helping individuals with Cancer. My week was pretty packed and I needed to meet with some potential new members of my Chamber Leads Group and this particular evening was the only one that worked for all three of us. So … what to do?

I found a way to make it work: Have the meeting but also attend and support the event. So I invited the two new potential members to the event, of course! Not only were we able to accomplish our goals for our meeting, but being at that event also gave them an opportunity to meet other Fort Worth Chamber Leads Group members and to see the kinds of events that are planned to support local charities.

This is exactly the kind of thing that might lead us to at first say, “Well … I’d like to go but I’m too busy” when in fact, all we need to do is think outside the box and plan how to make it work within our schedule.

Read Day 1-10 | Read Day 21-30
How do you feed your soul? Tell us in the comments section below.