Life 7: Celebrate Your Passion to Make a Difference

My hotel is about to complete the first phase of a multi-million dollar renovation. The amenities and the rooms will be brand new. My guests will receive a product with the functionality and cleanliness that they deserve. This unique product will be supported by the impeccable personalized service that we provide to each and every guest that enters our home. This is what we do because these are our guests; they are not only our profits, but also our pleasure. We treat our guests as we would want to be treated because we know hospitality. Our personalized service is the luxury you prefer in the style that you deserve. And don’t ever forget that we do this because we strive to ball out of control all the time!

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I pride myself on balling out of control at work. Generally, I run the show with sound judgment, prodigious guest satisfaction, and total control. By making the right decisions, in regards to the guests and my staff, I earn a level of respect from those around me, which is shown by positive guest comments and a smooth, efficient operation.

Unfortunately, the last few days have brought me back to the reality; despite striving to ball out of control, there are times where our service, product, and management are far from balling and definitely not out of control. My General Manager received two very explicit complaints that specifically singled out the level of service provided by my department. The first guest faults our communication skills while dealing with her issues, namely noise relating to our renovation, the power not working in her room, and ultimately the way we handled these problems. The second guest faults the basic functions of our job from top to bottom; a secret shopper caught us at a less than stellar moment where we failed from check-in to check-out with a variety of poor service moments, inclusive of a drop-and-go with luggage delivery, poor telephone etiquette, and lack of basic service standards.

Is this an aberration? Do we generally provide service that is superior with genuine guest satisfaction? Or in reality do the inmates run the asylum with whatever level of service they see fit while management is blind to what is taking place?

For myself, when I am well-rested, well informed, and working long hours, I have the fortitude of an ox, the mindfulness of a guru, the awareness of a scared cat. I know all the guest names and I am fully in control of all the interactions in my lobby, blips in my property management system, and acutely aware of every action or incident on property. I am asking the right questions of my staff, anticipating guest issues before they happen, preparing every other department to assist as necessary, and ready for any unexpected occurrences. When I am prepared to do what it takes to make every single guest happy, my staff is a well-oiled machine with my building in perfect alignment.

Balling out of control in my job requires careful attention to detail with view of the big picture; very deferential judgment operating under the assumption that the guest is always right and always telling the truth; and a management style that toes the line between being overly nice, yet stern with the staff, all the while, leading by example. The fact is I get myself into trouble because I am too nice. It frequently prevents me from balling out of control. For some reason, I assume that others can’t do their job, can’t be on time, or can’t make the right decisions, because they are sleep deprived, lazy, or careless. I assume that they know better. I assume that they are capable of completing certain tasks without supervision and constant attention. I assume that they love their job as much as I do and have the same desire to ball out of control all the time. I assume that they know what it means to ball out of control and know exactly what should be happening at every single moment. I assume that they are passionate about making a difference.

The fact is that if everyone was able to celebrate their passion to make a difference we would all be balling out of control in the hospitality industry. Unfortunately, the performance of the staff, me included, is plagued by burn-out, poor management, sloppy judgment, and general lack of care. Ironically, mostly due to sleep deprivation and overall lack of motivation. When I get stressed out it’s because I am not aware of the essence of every moment, and generally it’s because I am tired. It’s easy to fall in the routine of work when you work long hours driven by hotel occupancy and daily cycles rather than your own pace. Sometimes I forget that I can just move at the pace of work and take my personal time when it’s slow. Unfortunately, my passion to make sure that everything is running smoothly, leads me to dive right into the next task with no regard for my physical well being or life outside of the concrete building I call home.

Now, you can analyze my job and even read below “A Night Among Nights,” and try to learn what it means to ball out control in the hospitality industry. But the fact of the matter is that hospitality is only the example that I know best. Balling out of control is possible in every single industry. Simply celebrating your passion to make a difference in the workplace will allow you to ball out of control! What are the criteria that will allow you to stop just doing a good job, or getting the job done, but actually ball out of control? How can you expand your box of possibilities at work and really make every single moment count? Where are the inefficiencies that are points of frustration, stress, and burn-out? Where are the communication breakdowns? Why does the staff lack motivation and seem to not care? What does it take for you to ball out of control in your job?


Life 6: Metal - One Love

Tonight, I am grieving the loss of something very dear to my heart. I feel that a small part of what has defined my soul and character has been removed. Part of me is able to understand the gravity of what has happened, but part of me is in shock and disbelief. Cognitively, I am able to comprehend the need for change and growth, but spiritually and emotionally, I am feeling a tremendous sense of loss and sorrow. Metal is no more; Boston will have one combined team with open tryouts to all comers.

The Metal Ultimate experience was amazing! Metal Ultimate was the definition of what Ultimate Frisbee is all about. Cambridge Ultimate was a group of ballers imbued with a spirit for the game that was unsurpassed. This spirit translated into a positive camaraderie on the field and a genuine honest friendship off the field. The love and compassion that each player felt for each other is something rare and unique. It defines what Ultimate Frisbee should be, but more importantly, it has defined every person that has ever been a part of the Metal experience. We could hang out together and play ultimate with the best of them!

For me the loss is most difficult because I feel genuine empathy for those that played on Metal simply because it was Metal. These are the players, myself included, who do not have the inclination to play for one Boston team or who could not make the cut to play for a team of this caliber. Clearly, it is the latter part of that statement that is the reason why this new team will be created, but it is the former part of the statement that makes my heart ache, my stomach burn, and tears well in my eyes. For some, this is the beginning of something new and a new iteration in their ultimate journey. For others, this is an opportunity to be a part of the best team in Boston. And for all of us, this is the end of a very special chapter in our lives. Metal Ultimate has been a defining part of our lives, and now we must realize that our lives have been positively transformed forever. Ultimate is life and Metal was life.

After I heard the news, I had long conversations with Jason Adams, Tim O'Leary, Will Neff and Misha Horowitz. We were all on the same page, but somehow very distant in that same moment. All five of us are now on different paths that will most likely not cross in our continuing Ultimate careers while for the past few years our paths have been so intimately intertwined. Jason will start a new co-ed team, Will will play for the new Boston team, Tim will most likely be finished with his illustrious career, I am not sure what Misha's future will hold and I will not continue to play at the elite club level for the time being.

The betrayal, sadness, and frustration run deep. I have been a member of Twisted Metal for the past five years, and I was not even privy to the discussion that ended this part of my Ultimate career. I was informed that it was over without any opportunity for candor and discussion. I do feel betrayed, but mostly sad and frustrated because I am grieving the loss of something so dear to my heart and a group of men that I truly love and respect. The hurt is palpable and it will take some time to truly get over this loss.

Metal has helped me learn so much about myself and my character over the past five years that I am a proud to have been a part of such an amazing experience. This is a truly unique program that has redefined why many play the game. Ultimate is an organic experience that is a window to the soul with equal parts of spirit of the game and competitiveness. Metal was hopefully a beacon of light that reflects what the sport should be in a world of fierce competition and fiery sportsmanship. Perhaps what is missing from Metal will be reforged on this new team in Boston; perhaps the glory days of Boston Ultimate will return with renewed vigor. I hope that just as Metal can take a page out of the playbook of DoG, this new team will take out a few pages from each of these playbooks to realize that both have something very important to give to the sport and this Ultimate community.

I love Metal. I love the Men of Metal. I love being a part of Metal. But more importantly, no matter what happens, I will always have this love. I support everyone who has been involved in this experience and would like to thank them all for being such an integral parts of my life. We will forever be Metal, gentlemen, and we will forever be ballers!

We are collection of brothers with one goal: Balling Out of Control!


What is Balling Out of Control?

My last post was aggressively edgy though humorous at times. Many people I have talked to did not have much to say because the post made them somewhat uncomfortable. Let’s get back to trying to figure out how to live life to the fullest by balling out of control all the time! Let’s ask the question: “What is balling out of control?”

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I will begin by briefly examining the conventional definition of baller from wikipedia:

Baller is a slang term, of American origin, for someone who has "made it to the big time", or a person who lives a flashy luxurious lifestyle. It may have originated from the analogy of inner city amateur athletes successfully reaching the professional leagues of baseball, basketball, or football. It also could have originated from the drug trade, often dubbed "the dope game." Drug dealers who sold large amounts and made lots of money would sell one-eighth of an ounce of dope, also known as an eightball to lesser dealers. Baller is now commonly used to refer to a posh thug, pimp, or gangster, or one who imitates this lifestyle. Ballers spend vast amounts of money on such things as champagne, fine dining, poolside cabanas, clubbing, jewelry, expensive cars, clothing, high-stakes poker and other forms of gambling. It is usually used to refer to men; they are portrayed as sharply-dressed, with beautiful women and rich taste.

Yes, this one definition of baller: materialistic baller. Rappers, professional athletes, professional gamblers, and drug dealers can certainly be considered materialistic ballers. They are ballers because their material wealth and luxurious possessions create an enviable lifestyle. It appears that they are “living life to the fullest,” and in terms of monetary wealth, they are in fact balling out of control. This, however, is not my definition of balling out of control.

For me, balling out of control has a much more holistic definition that involves a positive impact on yourself, society, and the world. Balling out of control is living your personal vision so fully that you are constantly challenging your beliefs. Balling out of control involves a constant awareness of what you are doing, why you are doing what you are doing, and the effects of what you are doing on those around you. You are living in the moment, but more importantly, living life to the fullest in every single moment. You are conscious of your vision and your destiny, conscious of your identity and personal foundation, conscious of your service to others and building relationships with others, and conscious of the actions you can take in your community and the world at large. This awareness and consciousness about your vision allows you to be balling out of control!

Now, it is very important to realize that balling out of control all the time is no easy task. Balling out of control involves toeing the line between balling in control and balling too far out of control. When you are balling in control, you are still a baller, but you are not challenging yourself and your vision as fully as you could be, whereas when you are balling too far out of control, you have exceeded your personal capacity and have lost sight of your vision.

The key is to understand the relationship between your actions and your vision. When you are balling out of control, your vision is constantly in flux, but you are innately aware of every minute change. You must be your vision as you always remain aware of maximizing your capabilities in pursuit of your destiny. In essence, your vision becomes who you are and you are inevitably balling out of control all the time. It is your destiny to be a baller!

What does balling out of control mean to you?


Life 5: My Girlfriend, The Black Cat

After returning home the past few days, there has been a small black cat waiting eagerly at my back door. On Friday, I came home from work at 7:00pm and she popped up from behind the trash cans. On Saturday, I came home from Ashley’s Birthday Party at 12:30am and she popped out from under Josh’s Car. And on Sunday, I came home from work at 4:30pm and she was once again waiting at the back door. Was it synchronicity?

Originally, I invited the cat inside because we have a mouse that lives under the stove. The mouse occasionally eats the chocolate on my desk and has been copulating profusely in my closet. Or at least that’s what I assume he does inside my closet after eating the chocolate. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and mice do love to make babies! Therefore, having a cat at my doorstep was exactly what I needed: an efficient, costless solution to my mouse problem. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that she only came by for some love and affection; she could care less about the mouse.

After all, I think she just came by to hang out. She simply sat on the couch and watched television with me. I didn’t feed her anything. I didn’t force her to lie next to me. I let her drink out of the toilet when she felt the need, and then she tried to get into the shower with me! To be honest, I think it’s because she’s into me. The first time she came over we hit it off. Lots of heavy petting, quiet purring, and gentle nipping. Then, on the second night, she slept over. The next morning, she came and played with me in bed before I had to leave for work. Who was it that told me pussy doesn’t just come knocking at the back door? Boy, were they wrong! This is the best girlfriend that I’ve ever had! As long as the pussy is purring, why stop petting it?

And did I mention that I like cats too? The problem is when you tell most people that you like cats more than dogs they make several assumptions about you, most of which are an affront to your heterosexuality. After all, dogs are a Man’s Best Friend. Dogs love football, beer and women. Cats, however, are a Gay Man’s Best Friend. Ironically, they love to lie in the sun and let you watch them lick pussy, so to speak, which ranks very high on the list of 100 things that a straight man must see before he dies. Personally, however, I’d rather be dipped in deep dark chocolate and fed to the lesbians!

The fact of the matter is that I am big fan of cats not because I am gay, but because of the low maintenance costs of owning a cat. Cats don’t require walks in the bitter cold nor do they need to do their business outside. Cats don’t yip and bark, unless of course you have a violent bipolar cat that hates human contact. Now admittedly, cats won’t protect you from an intruder or fetch a ball, but who cares, isn’t that what bats and friends are for? Leave Lassie at home, Timmy, we’re trying to have a good time without chasing your barking bitch around all day!

So what does all this mean? To be honest, I learned two things: I need to get out more and I need a girlfriend! If I am excited to have an alley cat that lives at 310 Summit Ave hanging out with me at night, then I need to find myself a hobby other than watching television in my fleece pants. I had that pussy humming all night long, but unfortunately it was only the sound of a happy feline sound asleep. I think perhaps I need to attend a few weekly activities to meet real people, like bingo or trivia night. Or maybe I can try Jewish speed dating or meet people playing dodge ball. Or at the very least, if I am going to stay in the house, I can post on my blog on a regular basis! (And I hope that when I do, I can give people inspiration rather than just edgy humor...)

Maybe I was wrong when I said synchronicity killed the cat. She was no where to be found today, and I finally had some inspiration. I guess it was actually inspiration that killed that cat, but don’t let it out of the bag or else she’ll come back the very next day…

No, no, I was wrong, miserable forced humorless dual puns killed the cat. My apologies.


Life 4: My Mother’s Gift of Love

My mother has always been a very big supporter of holiday cheer. She gets tremendous satisfaction from giving gifts to my father, my sister, and me. Of all the holidays, Valentine’s Day has always been an especially important holiday for her because it gives her the opportunity to give me both chocolate and a mystery Valentine’s Day surprise. For the past four years, I have received boxer shorts with patterned hearts and a bag of chocolates.

Now, for most early post-college grads, this is a godsend: You get an extra pair of clean underwear and a fix for your sweet tooth! I like chocolate as much as the next guy, but I am not really a dessert person. In fact, I was raised on brown rice, beans, vegetables, and tofu; I only ate fast food a few times before I was peer-pressured in middle school; and, as a kid, my dessert was a banana without the peel. I used to keep my Halloween candy until it went bad or until the next Halloween when I got a new batch. I always eat the chocolates that she gives me, but only because other people ask if they can have a piece and I don’t want to make them feel fat. But I digress…

On this Valentine’s Day, despite all of her gift giving glory, my dearest mother forgot to send the care package before February 14th. She let this fabled holiday sneak past without sending chocolates and the mystery Valentine’s Day surprise. Fortunately, while visiting me in Boston the following week to meet with Doctor Epstein, my father was able to bring me this year's treat. And this turned out to be one of the most powerful and touching Valentine’s Day surprises I have ever received. Rather than another pair of ridiculous boxers, my mother gave me a piece of Polychrome Jasper from Madagascar.

Now, for those of you that don’t know my mother, she is a healing arts practitioner. She sells crystals and gemstones for both their aesthetic and spiritual value. Polychrome Jasper, nicknamed the Heavenly Stone, has three special spiritual incarnations:

  1. It holds the truth about the potential of Heaven on Earth
  2. It teaches about time by releasing the ties of the past and embracing the now
  3. It helps create the light structure for living divine purpose

For those of you who have read my previous posts, you will realize that the power of this crystal is exactly what I need in my life right now.I am currently seeking to have more divine purpose, a release from the past and embrace of the now, and the realization that every moment is heavenly.Obviously, my mother is in touch with my intentions to some extent, but to present me with a tangible object carrying the same purpose was truly synchronistic.

This crystal has been a truly special gift to me. On the one hand, it serves as a tangible embodiment for my vision that I can see every day. And on the other hand, it serves as a reminder of my mother Selena’s love. And at the end of the day, even though I can’t eat it or wear it, it’s the best gift a mother can give!


Life 3: The Puppet, The Puppet Master, and The Players

This past May, I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. I picked up with a team from Brooklyn, New York that had many players that I did not know. This gave me the opportunity to meet many new and interesting people, including the ladies of Ambush, a women's team from Brooklyn. On May 14, my birthday, I traveled to Christiana with Tim O’Leary and Brian Stout, also picking up with the team. Throughout the day, we had several very enlightening experiences that led me to want to know more about my own birth as well as helped me realize my need to build relationships with those around me.

The Puppet: He thinks he's one of The Players!

Without going into specific details of the conversations that I had with many different people, I will try to encapsulate the essence of these interactions that was truly powerful. As I took a step back from my own reality and absorbed the world around me, I began to see the dysfunction in which we all constantly live. Our actions are not necessarily motivated by positive symbiotic behavior, but, in fact, by very parasitic or spiteful behavior. We act out of unconscious habits constructed in the past rather than live our purposed existences in harmony with the community and the universe. Not knowing that we are on the dysfunctional path, and instead believing that we are on the true path, we conform to habits that do not help us achieve our desired goal. The result of which is disharmony and dysfunction in our lives.

The Puppet Master: He thinks he controls the Puppet.

This realization was a powerful one for me as well as the people with whom I shared this. I was able to give very matter of fact advice on life simply by making observations about their actions. By opening their eyes to the motivations and traumas that causing this dysfunctional behavior, they were able to understand the possibility of changing their behavior. The ultimate goal being to live in a constant flux of self renewal through an analysis of one’s own actions as they occur. It is as if you are the puppet, the puppet master, and the players; the players being the other ballers, balling out of control! And in this tripartite reality, you seek the ultimate goal of discovering your destined path.

The Players: These Guys are Balling Out of Control!

(Please note: The above men may or may not have any strings attaching the Puppet Master to the Puppet, but as I said above, these are The Players.)

This process of moving seamlessly between these perspectives will help you live a purposeful life with an understanding of your conscious self, your unconscious self, and your connection to others. You are the Puppet, the Puppet Master, and the Players. And hopefully, balling out of control!

Big Baller Woolf: The Puppet, The Puppet Master and The Players

Life 2: Shed Some Light on Positive Energy

Last night, I found myself sitting in a small shed with eight people organically generating positive energy. Now, before you jump to any conclusions about what that statement could possibly mean, let me shed some light on it.

Jon and Michael both have huts in their backyards. Jon is a lawyer and Michael is a school teacher, but in their huts they are magicians, visionaries, comedians, songwriters, and most importantly compassionate individuals. For them this is a place where they go to relax and embrace a lifestyle that is truly distinct from the other facets of their life. They play guitar, play drinking games, make jokes, and invite friends to share in the positive energy.

Now, as this was my first visit to the shed, I too was skeptical of what to expect. When Tim told me that he was going to a shed, I pictured a dark, cold, uninviting place with mice, tools, a six-foot bong in the corner and too much Budweiser. What I found was a warm, energetic, haven where these gentlemen, their friends, and their wives can go to escape the everyday crises of the real world. This hut was fully loaded with all the necessary accoutrements of self-discovery and spontaneous unbiased enjoyment. The shed was roughly 6x12 with comfortable seating for 4 (though last night we were able to tightly fit 8). There was a fridge in the corner; a space heater in the back; a phone on the wall; a keg of Sierra Nevada inside the house; a few bottles of Scotch and Tequila on a shelf; a collection of rocks, shells, drift wood, and small trinkets; a centrally located table that tied the room together; and the walls were carefully laden with pictures, phrases, signs, and candle holders.

With the kids asleep, the candles burning and the music blasting, we sat and played several dice games amidst jokes and bouts of laughter. We sang Dylan songs to the guitar and listened to an eclectic mix of Jon’s music. We talked about life, liberty, rock-n-roll, the pursuit of happiness, and interesting, sometimes nonsensical, subjects. And most importantly, we enjoyed carefree fun on a Wednesday night in a setting free from television and the outside world.

These gentlemen have discovered how to create a fully functional haven for relaxation and recreation right in their backyards. By creating this liminal space for exploration, they have created a communal outlet for creative positive energy. These are men with a vision, living the dream in the backyard of an American suburb!

Life 1: The World in a Grain of Sand

Last week, my father and I met with the neo-natal doctor that assisted with my birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This was the first time that I had met Doctor Michael Epstein since he held me after I was born. We spoke with Doctor Epstein for about an hour as my father and I recounted the story of our lives over the past 25 years. It was an extremely powerful conversation for all of us as we brought a sense of closure to a 25 year old story.

One of the most intriguing comments made by Doctor Epstein was the significance of birth to the family members versus the significance of birth to the doctor. For the family members, this is a life cycle event and one of the most memorable days of their lives. For the doctor, however, this is just one of the many births during a given shift at the hospital. These differing viewpoints reveal a very important lesson about how we view our lives. For the doctor, the birth of a child is a mundane, everyday activity, while for the family it is an extraordinary, life altering moment. By realizing that this same juxtaposition can be made every single moment of every single day, we can understand that the world can be encapsulated in a grain of sand. The mundane is extraordinary if we view it that way!

Synchronicity: Killed the Cat

Since my last entry, I have spent the past week truly living my vision. By embracing this new context for my life, my performance at work, the events and activities in my life, and my relationships with others, have manifested in a very positive way. My eyes are open to a new way of being that is more fulfilling because I am enjoying each and every interaction and living in the moment all the time.

It is very important to understand that the quality of life improvement in my life is not due to the fact that my vision is to build more compassionate relationships. That is my own personal vision. The key is simply having a vision because it gives you a context in which to live. For example, if my vision were to be a mentor to children in a classroom or to get in better shape to run the Boston Marathon, I would still experience the same positive changes and quality of life improvements. Having a vision generates a context in which to live and within this context your actions are all purposefully aligned with your vision.

Over the past week, I have had several very powerful experiences that I would like to share because I think that they build upon my most recent post on destiny and vision.

These experiences will be recounted in 9 parts over the next few days.