Empty that bag

When I arrived home from Iowa yesterday, I kissed Elysha, hugged my children, and then I emptied my bag. 

Dirty clothes into the hamper. Toiletries put away. Charges returned into their usual locations. 

I did this because there are two types of people in this world:

  1. Those who empty their luggage immediately upon returning home from a trip
  2. Heathens and lunatics who can stare at a suitcase of dirty clothing for hours or days without concern.

These are likely the same kind of people who leave dirty dishes in sinks, folded clothing in hampers, and unopened mail on counters. These are people with thousands of unread emails in their inbox and dozens of unheard voicemails waiting on their phones.  

I'm not saying they aren't perfectly lovely people. Some of them are quite intelligent, beautiful and talented. The best of the best. But obviously broken in some fundamental way, too.  

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I made the mature decision.

You know how it goes.

You arrive in Cedar Rapids late because the plane that you were supposed to board in Connecticut was struck by lightning, so rather than going through Chicago, you are re-routed through Charlotte.

When you finally arrive in Cedar Rapids, you're tired. A lightning strike and a five hour delay in Charlotte has made for a very long day. You arrive in your hotel room, flip on the television, and see that South Park is on.

You watch and laugh.

Another episode comes on. You watch that one, too. Laugh some more.

Then another. "Hey, it's a South Park marathon. Maybe I'll watch another and get some of this mindless business done."

Five hours later, I'm still watching South Park. It's approaching 4:00 AM, and I need to decide if I'm going to sleep for two or three hours of just stay up all night.

Tough decision.

I sleep.

Even when Elysha Dicks isn't around, I'm perfectly capable of making the mature decision.

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Watch people dance and be happy.

It's 7 minutes long, which can feel like an eternity on the internet, but I haven't seen something this joyous in a long time.

We could really use some joy these days.

It's a supercut montage of dance scenes from more than 300 movies. Admittedly, I might be a little biased when it comes to dancing. Watching my wife dance is one of my absolute favorite things in life. 

Still, it's joyous. The dancing is joyous. The memories that each of these moments bring back are joyous. The whole damn thing will make you happy. 

And the editing is incredible. 

The answer to "How dare you?"

I hate "How dare you?" I hate it so much.

How dare you is a meaningless bit of outrage. Argumentative spittle. A waste of three words. A ridiculous rhetorical question designed to express overdramatized personal outrage.

We must stop "How dare you?" in its tracks. Bring it to an end. Remove it from the lexicon.

When faced with, "How dare you?" your response must always be to answer this stupid question. 

Something like this:

"How dare I? I'd hardly call what I said daring. I'd characterize it more as a valid argument contain vast amounts of truth and wisdom. How dare I? Who even says that? Who relies upon rhetorical questions of such little meaning to make their point? How dare I? I dare with the strength and conviction of a person who knows he is right and is fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. That is how I dare. Now perhaps you could say something of substance and meaning rather than spitting rhetorical drivel."

Maybe not exactly that, because it's a lot, but something like it.

In the case of Kellyanne Conway, a simple, "How dare I? I dare because children are at stake, and I am a journalists whose job it is to ask hard questions and point out bigotry, intolerance, and cruelty wherever I see it. I dare because it's my job to be daring." 

I would've loved that so much. 

So practice. Prepare yourself for verbal combat. Be ready to fire off a response when faced with this stupid bit of rhetoric. I've had the great pleasure of pulling off a "How dare you" rant more than once (including a college classroom once in the midst of a debate), and it is truly a glorious thing.  

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13 things that make me happy (5 years later)

Five years ago, I made a list of 13 things that make me happy, after being inspired by former acquisitions editor Jennifer Pooley and her own list (which is no longer on the internet). 

Narrowing it down to just 13 items was impossible, so it was by no means an exhaustive list. Just the first 13 things that came to mind.

Back then, I set a calendar reminder to check in on my list five years later, and today that calendar reminder popped up. I love when that happens. Kind of like time travel. A Matthew Dicks from five years ago reaching back from the past to speak to me today.   

I'm happy (and perhaps a little surprised) to report that five years later, my list remains perfectly relevant. The 13 items that I put on the list five years ago continue to make me just as happy today. 

  1. Bluffing and winning a poker hand
  2. Snow days
  3. Ice cream for dinner
  4. The perfect approach shot
  5. Dancing with my wife
  6. Reading to my children
  7. Almost any Springsteen song
  8. Seeing one of my novels on the shelf of a bookstore
  9. A New England Patriots victory
  10. Telling a story to a live audience
  11. Watching my children experience pride from an accomplishment
  12. Breakfast
  13. Making my wife laugh

I’d love to see your list if you’ be so kind as to include it in the comment section.

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Speak Up Storytelling #5: Renata Sancken

Episode #5 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I describe how I discovered two important things about myself that apparently everyone else already knew. 

Next, we listen to a hilarious story by Renata Sancken about ghost hunting in the south. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener question about telling a good anecdote, and we each make a recommendation.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 15 or so people to rate the podcast and 11 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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A celebration of so much more than just a book

On Saturday night, I took the stage at the release party for Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling, and told five brand new stories to an audience of more than 200 friends and family.

It was quite a night. 

My friend, storyteller, and producer Erin Barker once told me never to produce a show and perform in that same show. I've been violating her rule ever since launching Speak Up five years ago, but there have been nights when I fully understood what she meant. Preparing to perform while managing the multitude of problems that can occur in the process of producing a show can be challenging.

So it shouldn't have been surprising that being the only storyteller of the night, telling five BRAND NEW stories in addition to a brief lesson after each story, is extremely difficult and mentally taxing. I've done solo shows before, many times, but never before had I taken the stage with completely new material. Stories Elysha had never even heard before. 

It was a lot to hold in my head. 

Thankfully, once I stood behind that microphone, everything quieted in my mind and I knew exactly what to do. The stories were there, just waiting for me to begin telling. 

Happily, I wasn't the only performer that evening. Andrew Mayo of Should Coulda Woulda opened the show with a reconfiguration of his band consisting of three of my former students (and his children), the parent of a former student, and the siblings of a former student. 

They were brilliant. The perfect way to begin the night. 

But the highlight of the night came when Elysha took the stage in the second half of the show and played her ukulele and sang in public for the first time.

The story that I told just before she performed was about the months following a brutal armed robbery. I was battling post-traumatic stress disorder at the time but didn't know it. I was clawing my way through life, not sleeping or eating, and oddly not able to pass from one room to another without suffering incredible fear and mortal dread. 

Then one night I found myself standing before an iron door at the bottom of a dark stairwell in an abandoned building in Brockton, MA, wondering if I could find the strength to walk through that door to the room on the other side.

I was there to compete in an underground arm wrestling tournament (crazy, I know) with the hopes of winning some money and taking one step closer to paying off a $25,000 legal bill after being arrested for a crime I did not commit. 

I found the courage to do the hard thing that night. The impossible thing, really. That was the hardest doorway I've ever walked through in my life. And even though I would continue to suffer from PTSD for the rest of my life, that doorway in the basement of that building has made every doorway since so much easier to step through. 

I wanted the audience to understand the value of doing the hard thing. I wanted them to put aside any fears that they might have. I wanted their dreams of someday to be dreams of today. I wanted them to understand that every hard, frightening, seemingly impossible thing that I have done in my life has always yielded the greatest results. 

I was terrified about taking the stage for the first time at a Moth StorySLAM in July of 2011 and telling my first story. But doing so changed my life. 

So I asked Elysha to perform for the first time that night to show people what the hard, frightening thing looks like. She's only been playing ukulele since February, and she's never sung in public or taken singing lessons. It was hard for her. Frightening. Yet she stepped through that door and was brilliant. 

Elysha performed Elvis's "Can't Help Falling in Love," and during the final chorus, the audience joined her in singing. When the song was over, everyone leapt to their feet in the loudest applause of the evening.  

I was so proud of her. I still am. 

It was a wonderful night for everyone involved. I can't thank everyone enough for the support.

We recorded the evening and will release the audio in two parts as episodes for upcoming Speak Up Storytelling podcasts so that you can hear the stories and the lessons and Elysha and everything else.

What would Jesus do?

Attorney General and all-around bigot Jeff Sessions attempted to defend the parent-child separations that are taking place on the southern border this week by citing a passage from the Bible:

"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes," Sessions said. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families are not unusual or unjustified."

I'm not a religious person, but I've read The Bible from beginning to end three times, and this is not so hard to understand. Christians simply need to ask themselves one question:

What would Jesus do?

Whether you believe that Jesus was the son of God, a prophet, or simply a smart and righteous guy, his teaching, as presented in The Bible, is unwavering and unambiguous.

Would Jesus separate a child from their parents?

Would Jesus refuse to bake a cake for two men who loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together? 

Would Jesus, a refugee himself, send asylum-seekers back their home country and an almost certain death?

Would Jesus cut permanently cut taxes on the wealthy while offering fractional, temporary tax cuts to middle class?

Would Jesus have voted for a man who brags about sexual assault? Defrauds Americans with a fake university? Lies constantly? Commits adultery with porn stars and then pays them off with hush money? Stands accused of sexual assault but almost two dozen women? Insults Gold Star families, war veterans, the disabled, and women? Refused to rent apartments to black families? Demands costly military parades? Befriends brutal dictators who have locked up hundreds of thousands of his citizens in gulags?

If Christians simply applied the "What would Jesus do?" question (and perhaps in some cases actually read The Bible instead of trusting the teaching of politically motivated religious leaders) to these policy decisions, the choices would be clear.

No, Jeff Sessions. The Bible does not support your barbaric policy of separating children from their parents on the border. Jesus would never do such a thing, and "What would Jesus do?" is is the only Biblical standard that should apply to Christians and/or bigots who attempt to use The Bible to defend their barbarity.  

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Dunk your teacher

For 19 years, I have been sitting in a dunk tank at my school's annual spring fair, allowing children to dunk me if their aim is true and they are willing to risk the future consequences of such an action. 

If you have ever wondered how much joy can be derived from dunking one's teacher, look no further than this image, drawn by one of my students who managed to dunk me on the first try. 

"Lockdown Lockdown" should not need to be a song.

I was student-teaching when the Columbine massacre occurred in April of 1999. I remember sitting with fourth graders on the morning after the shooting, listening to them talk about everything they had seen on television. 

It was unimaginable. 

Then, seemingly overnight, it became all too imaginable as school shootings, especially those involving mass casualties, became all too common in this country, and educators were forced to grapple with the notion that someday, we might be forced to make life-and-death decisions to protect our students. 

I saw this photograph on the internet yesterday and wondered how many future educators are deciding on other professions because posters like this are now necessary in elementary school classrooms. 

I wondered how safe our children really feel when they are forced to sing-song the steps to a lockdown drill. 

I wondered when lawmakers will finally place the safety of students ahead of politics, elections, and campaign donations. 

I wondered if there will ever be a day when a poster like this is no longer necessary in an American classroom.  

I really hope so. 

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Change. Now.

I saw this fortune the other day and thought, "Someone gets it."

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I believe in change.

I am a man who has held the same teaching job for two decades, in the same school and in the same classroom for almost the entire time. I've watched so many of my friends come and go over the years. Some have left teaching altogether. Others have retired. Quite a few have moved into new positions at other schools. 

Good friends. The best of friends. My wife, even. 

Yet I remain, unmoved and unchanged. Even my classroom has changed very little. Students come back to visit years later and can't believe how much the classroom looks like the one they remember.

It may not seem like I embrace change, but that is not true. I believe in change. I seek change wherever possible. If you're doing the same thing, day after day, year after year, absent any change, you're getting old. You're dying a slow death.  

I'm in constant search for change, both planned and unexpected. Sometimes self-selected and sometimes prompted by others. 

Twenty years ago, almost on a whim, I became a wedding DJ.
Eventually a minister, too, I started marrying couples. Conducted baby naming ceremonies, too. 
Then I took up golf thanks to the prodding of friends. 
For a few years, I performed in community theater. Even sang a solo once, and I can't sing.
About the same time, I started playing poker, too. Pretty seriously for a while.  
After years of trying and failing, I finally published my first novel and became an author.
Still later, I started writing columns for magazines and newspapers. 
Then I became an author again. Eventually again and again and again. 
One day, a friend asked me to write musicals, so I started doing that.
A year later, I started writing screenplays, too. Film and television. 
Seven years ago I took a stage in NYC and told a story, and I became a storyteller.
Someone saw me telling stories and asked me to write comic books, so I tried my hand at that.
After a while, I became a teacher of storytelling. Then a communications consultant.  
Upon request, I started delivering inspirational and keynote speeches, too.  
Half a dozen years ago, I started studying finance. I began investing. Pretty seriously, too. 
Five years ago Elysha and I launched Speak Up. 
Four years ago, I started writing non-fiction. Storyworthy was the first to publish.
Three years ago I started writing middle grade fiction. My first will publish next year.
Two years ago, my cohost, Rachel, and I launched Boy vs. Girl, a podcast about gender. 
Last year I tried stand up comedy for the first time.
This year I was paid to perform comedy for the first time.
Last summer I started delivering sermons for churches. 
Along the way, I also became a husband. A homeowner. A father. The owner of two new cats. 

I'm constantly looking for the next thing. The new thing. The thing I'd always wanted to do and the thing I never imagined I'd do. 

Elysha and I launched a podcast on storytelling, Speak Up Storytelling, just this month.
I'm currently completing the paperwork to become a notary.
I'm recording a possible future podcast with my children. We call it "What the Heck?"
I working on new books in a variety of genres.  
In August, I'll perform my one-person show for the first time at a festival in New York. 

Find something new.

If it's hard or frightening or seemingly impossible, even better.

Then find something else new. And then something else.

The fortune cookie is right.

If you want to stay young, you must change. 

The most unlikely of pars

I play golf because I love the game, even though I play it poorly.

I play golf because it allows me to spend time with friends. 

I also play golf because sometimes, the moments are unforgettable, ridiculous, and hilarious.

On Sunday morning, I played golf with two friends at Rockledge country club, a public golf course in West Hartford, CT. After playing poorly for seven holes, I came upon the 17th hole, a downhill par four that curved slightly to the left. 

My tee shot went low and left, hitting a tree and landing amidst the trees on the left side. 

My second shot - an attempt to punch the ball out of the tree line - hit the tree in front of me dead on. The ball ricocheted backward, flying across the fairway about 15 yards behind me.

I was now farther away from the hole than when I started. 

My third shot sailed down the fairway but hooked left, hitting another tree - my third in three shots. This time the ball dropped like a stone at the base of the tree, inches from the trunk. 

Trapped against the tree, now about 50 yards from the green, my only choice on this fourth shot was to punch the ball toward the green as best I could. I took a 7-iron and treated it like a putter, smacking the ball toward the pin.

The ball flew over the grass, landed softly on the green, and rolled into the cup.

I had just managed a par, despite the fact that I had hit three separate trees on my first three shots, including one shot that yielded negative yardage.

The most unlikely par ever. 

My friends thought it ridiculous and hilarious and unforgettable, as did I. On the previous hole, I had hit another tree while teeing off, this one just 20 feet from the tee box. The ball ricocheted directly back at me, about six feet from where I was standing. 

That had sent us into hysterics, too. Little did we know that there were greater things to come.

I have so many clear and brilliant memories from my dozen years on the golf course. Moments spent with friends, hitting spectacular and spectacularly bad shots, laughing at our own inanity, and sharing moments of genuine warmth and friendship. 

There was also the time a squirrel stole the bag of nuts from Plato's golf bag. The time Phil hit a woman with a ball and tried to blame it on us. The time I hit a duck on a hill. The time the head of Plato's six iron detached from his club mid-swing, sending it helicoptering between mine and Jeff's heads. The time Andrew and I unintentionally played in the snow. The time Jeff accidentally divulged the sex of his future child to me without realizing it, and then the time we did it again with the next child.  

Both of those moments also happened on the 17th hole at Rockledge. 

Those moments, and hundreds more. Maybe thousands. 

I was lucky when my friend, Tom, introduced me to golf by purchasing a set of irons for me for $10 at a yard sale and throwing them into the back of my truck with a ribbon wrapped around the shafts. Little did I know what I was getting that December afternoon more than a decade ago.

A lifetime of unforgettable, ridiculous, and sometimes hilarious moments, including the chance to one day score par on a hole despite squarely hitting three trees along the way.

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Speak Up Storytelling #4

Episode #4 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." 

I share an important moment in from my life that Elysha had never heard before (and I had forgotten until just recently). 

Next, we listen to the story by Sam Carley about a hilarious and uncomfortable bus ride across an Indian desert with his new love while desperately needing to pee. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener questions about storytelling and dating, and we each make a recommendation.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 25 people to rate the podcast and 11 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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Walk fast. Now science is standing behind me.

Four years ago, I wrote a post on productivity that suggested that you walk faster in order to save time. 

I wrote (in part):

I know it sounds simple and stupid, but if you want to be more productive, walk fast.

I am often teased by colleagues because I walk down the halls at breakneck speeds. It’s assumed by many that I am incredibly busy, and while this may be true, my decision to walk fast is a conscious one that I make in order to recapture time.

Not only does the increased speed provide me with an elevated heart rate and a tiny bit of exercise, but I simply get places sooner than everyone else. Almost every day, I park my car and walk past people who are sauntering through the parking lot as if it were adorned with fine art. As if it were a place they wanted to be.

Do I save much time in the process?

Over the course of a day, a week, a month or a lifetime, the answer is yes. Absolutely. The amount of time I save in each parking lot, hallway, and grocery store is minimal, but it adds up quickly. 

It gets me back to the places where I want to be.

It gets me back to the people who I want to be with.

Readers scoffed at this notion at the time. They argued that I needed to stop and smell the roses. They suggested that there was value in the saunter. They insisted that rushing around every day wasn't the best way to live a life. They said that walking quickly through a grocery store was ridiculous. They implied that I was a little crazy. 

Their opposition didn't bother me at the time. I know what it's like to be at the tip of the spear. Leading the charge for change can be difficult, but the tip of the spear is where I have been for much of my life.

I'm accustomed to occupying the minority, albeit correct, position on matters such as these.  

Four years later, science finally supports my claim. 

Walking at an average pace was linked to a 20% reduction in the risk of mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24%, according to a new study. A similar result was found for risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

I was, as you can imagine, not surprised. 

The study was a collaboration between the Universities of Sydney, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Limerick and Ulster. The researchers linked mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 in which participants reported their walking pace. The findings appear in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine dedicated to walking and health.

I'll add that in addition to the possible longevity that results from a quicker walking pace, I stand by my original argument:

You'll also get more out of life by walking faster. Fewer minutes spent crossing through parking lots, walking down halls, and strolling through the aisles of a grocery store means more minutes spent doing the things you love and spending time with people you love. 

Even if these studies prove to be flawed and life expectancy does not improve with a quicker walking pace, walking faster means that the time that you do have will be better spent. Precious minutes will be saved. Do this every day, and those minutes quickly add up. 

Once you understand the value of time (by far the world's most undervalued commodity), you'll want to preserve every single minute possible.

And if you can gain an extra decade of life in the process, even better.  

The importance of an editor

Remember Brandi Chastain from the 1999 World Cup?

She's the soccer player who kicked the winning goal against China to win the gold medal for the Americans. After scoring the goal, she pulled off her jersey, exposing her sports bra and sending a sizable number of conservatives into amusing, ridiculous hysterics.  

Chastain was recently inducted into the San Francisco Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Her induction included a plaque that featured her image.

Here is a side by side comparison of the statue and Chastain. No joke. 

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This makes no sense to me. 

How does anyone in charge of this award or Hall of Fame allow this ridiculous, hideous plaque to see the light of day?

This is why I love my editors. I'm blessed to work with at least half a dozen of them at the moment. I have an editor for my fiction, an editor for my nonfiction, and an editor my upcoming middle grade novel, as well as four different magazine editors at three different publications who I work with regularly.

On top of that, Elysha serves as an editor for my storytelling performances, and when I'm working with The Moth, I am blessed to work with producers who essentially work as editors while you are crafting your story.

On top of all of that, I have about a dozen friends who read my material before it even makes it to an editor, and these people are invaluable to me. Discerning, honest, and skilled, these friends make everything I write better. 

Creative people need editors. We need someone to say:

"That is not good."
"Those words stink."
"That story is boring."
"That ain't funny." 
"That idea is interesting but not right for this moment."
"This part makes you sound like a creep."
"No one cares that much about hermit crabs, so stop it." 

Someone needed to tell the artist who made that image of Brandi Chastain that he or she was clearly looking at a photograph of the wrong person. Or was drunk at the time of creation. Or needs to see an optometrist immediately. Or must secretly hate Brandi Chastain.

To Chastain's credit, her response to this atrocity was, "It's not the most flattering, but it’s nice.”

I would not have been so kind. 

Don't be embarrassed

About a month ago I had a health scare. After waking up with chest pains in the left side of my chest and finding it hard to breathe, Elysha called an ambulance, fearing I was having a heart attack.

A day-long stay in the cardiac care unit, a nuclear stress tests, and a follow up visit to the cardiologist have all determined that my heart is in excellent shape.

Just a pulled muscle in my chest.

Here's something important:

I didn't initially call the ambulance or even tell Elysha that I was struggling to breathe. I sat downstairs in the early morning hours alone, in pain, and in fear that I was being silly. I worried that I might be overreacting. I didn't want to make a big deal out of nothing.

I was afraid to be embarrassed. 

I'm not sure how long I would've stayed downstairs alone, wondering what to do, had a woodpecker not started pounding on the house just before 6:00 AM, causing Elysha to awaken and ask me to come upstairs.

That was when I told her about my pain. That was when she called the ambulance. 

Later, in the cardiac care unit, as the tests began indicating that I wasn't having a heart attack, I started to feel a little ridiculous. I had made a mountain out of a mole hill. I had wasted a lot of people's valuable time on what amounted to be a simple, pulled muscle.

I started to feel embarrassed.

As a nurse shaved my chest in preparation for my stress test, I apologized to her. I said that I was sorry to waste all this time and effort when it looked like I was fine. I told her how I didn't want to call the ambulance for this very reason. 

She stopped shaving.  She looked into my eyes. She said, "People die because they don't call 911 in fear of embarrassment. They sit at home, trying to decide if what they are feeling is real, and then it's too late. That happens more than you know. You have kids. Right?"

"Yes," I said. "Two."

"Then you don't have time to worry about being embarrassed. You need to keep yourself alive. Forget embarrassment. You did the right thing. I wish more people would."

I didn't tell her that Elysha was the one to call the ambulance, and that she actually called without my knowledge. I was still debating if my pain warranted a trip to the hospital when Elysha appeared and said the ambulance was already on its way.  

That nurse was right. When it comes to our health, "Better safe than sorry" seems especially applicable. How sad and foolish of people - myself included - for worrying about being too healthy to seek medical treatment, especially when it's related to the heart.  

There is no room for embarrassment when your life may or may not be on the line. 

My friend, Steve, recently told a story at Speak Up about experiencing chest pains and deciding to seek medical treatment. Steve was still in his twenties at the time. He was the former starting tight end at the University of Connecticut with a real chance at the NFL before an injury and bad luck derailed his football dreams. 

Steve was a world class athlete. If anyone had a reason to dismiss some chest pain as nothing, it was Steve. Instead, he went to the hospital, and doctors discovered an almost complete blockage of an artery affectionately known as the widow maker. He underwent surgery immediately and is alive and healthy today. 

Steve has two kids, too. Thank goodness for them and his wife that he wasn't too embarrassed to seek help.

Thank goodness my chest pain turned out to be nothing. 

Don't ever be embarrassed to seek medical attention when in doubt. The only embarrassment I feel about that day now is the embarrassment over being worried about being embarrassed.