The following story is told by Mark Nepo in his “the Book of Awakening”

“Before fixing what you’re looking at, check what you’re looking through.


It was a beautiful sun filled day. I had driven 300 miles to see her. She was ninety- and had been in one room for close to eight months. I was her first-born grandson and she was so happy to see me. But after catching up, we sat in silence on the edge of her bed, and finally, she complained how gray a day it was.


I realized then that her one window hadn’t been cleaned in almost a year. When I said this, she chuckled, as only someone of ninety-four can, and uttered with her Russian accent, “Got a dirty eye, see a dirty world.”


It is the same with our minds and hearts. For our very self is the one window we have into this life. And so often we suffer the mood of a dirty window, believing the brilliant world gray.


Perhaps the purpose of an authentic relationship is to help each other keep our minds and hearts clear. Perhaps inner work is the ordinary art of window washing, so that the day is fully the day.”


This story and so many more in the world of philosophy challenge us to see the world through new eyes.


As we departed 2019, I read so much on social media of people talking about how bad 2019 was only to usher in the covid era in 2020. After nearly a year of social distancing, civil unrest, and seemingly eternal fires, the social media posts read good riddens to 2020 hoping for a better 2021. And now, here we are in 2021 with attacks on the US capitol, new covid strains, record low temperatures and accompanied power outages. The hits keep rolling. If we are looking through a dirty eye, that may be all that we can see.


This world has seen and endured worse. From the black death and multiple flu pandemics to civil and world wars struggle is nothing new to this planet and its human inhabitants. And while these disasters are all consuming when they occur, they are not the totality of the human experience even at their height. The sun rises again seemingly more brilliant than the last and there is more color and life to live if we choose to see it. Can you see it?


Even when we are isolated, there is irrepressible love of friends, family, and even pets that cannot be denied. When we look more closely we can see the union of people joining to oppose injustice and disease and we see random acts of kindness, random acts of humanity on the rise to battle against violence and fear. Can you see it?


Clean your windows. Look today for what is right rather than what is wrong. In this moment, can you name three things you are grateful for? Seriously, stop reading and take a pause to be grateful.


How does your head and your heart feel when you pause for gratitude? Step in and look a little closer to see the truly amazing little things that are right now. Or step back and look at the big picture. At any given moment there is likely more right than wrong with the world. Keep that perspective in mind.



Be Well,


Garrett Stangel, MA

Health and Performance Coach


For more help managing the stress of the day, check out some of our other blogs or reach out to a health coach to learn how to cultivate your own sunshine.



2022 is a rebuilding year!


2022 is a rebuilding year. The past many years I’ve struggled quietly trying to find my place in this world. A graduate school advisor a few years back asked me if I was still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.


She wasn’t wrong in asking. By the age of 47 that’s all but figured out, right? Not so fast! You all know I can still be redirected by a stiff breeze and the mere whisper of an adventure. I’ve made numerous career changes, pursued various graduate studies, and started several companies while yearning for exotic travel and heeding the call of service.


Ultimately the hiccup in this whole “grown up”conundrum has been trying to figure out how to be and do me while honoring my responsibilities to the very reasons that I get out of bed in the morning in the first place. Namely my H3 (Heather, Haven, and Hope), my family, friends, and the clients I serve. To this end I have worked hard to self improve in search of growth and peace and to be who others needed me to be while trying to balance who I am and who I’m capable of becoming.


Perhaps some of you can relate to desperately trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. My life and career have been co-created to responsibly follow my interests and my hearts longing for service while honoring the promise I made to my children to be present in their lives. I want to be a great husband and father and have made choices to ensure that this priority remained number one. A close number two has been my work as a health and performance coach creating my own brand of fitness and wellness through functional exercise, whole food nutrition, and lifestyle medicine termed Live Balance Fit.


Grinding over the years through journaling, studying the whole self-help section at the library, pursuing advanced degrees and certifications, and remaining curious and reflective about what human potential (mine and yours) really is…. I’ve known now for years that what I want to be when I grow up is a better version of myself. Today, simply put…that version is to be healthy and happy while helping others be healthy and happy. Is that too much to ask? The past two years has definitely not seen this want exemplified. When asked… “How are you?”… I used to reply “Living the dream!”. It may have sounded sarcastic but I meant it. More recently I’ve replied “I’m okay” or “life is good” to avoid answering the question all together. Life is good but probably not where I or any of us want it to be at this moment.


2022 is a rebuilding year. This year I will be returning to my dream path and challenging my potential in my many roles. I’ll be working my way back to the “dream” and I invite you to come along with me. I’ll be stepping out of my comfort zone in 2022 to blog and post social media content at Live Balance Fit. I’ll be sharing tools, tips, stories, strategies, and research to help us all live the dream and to live balance fit. Join me.


Be well,

Garrett Stangel, MA, ACSM EP-C/EIM-2, ACE CMES/HC/CPT Health and Performance Coach





What’s your Vision?

Are you 100% satisfied with how you look and feel? I’m not! Nearly 80% of us would say no.


On the week between Christmas and New Years, I often clear my schedule to review the year past and to look ahead to intentions for the new year. This isn’t your traditional New Years resolution but rather a dedication to a continual process of growth that I have enjoyed for decades. Have you paused to check in?


It is easy to get swept away in the current of obligations but as Jim Rohn said “5 years from now you will arrive.” Will it be where you want it to be?


I ask again… are you 100% satisfied with how you look and feel? You have 3 options. Ignore it, accept it, or improve it.


Ignore it and its reminders will materialize in family photos, annual doctor visits, or a recurring ache in your head, heart, or gut. Though each time it does you’ll be a little farther from being able to do anything about it.


Accept it and you may come to peace with your dissatisfaction robbing it of its power. That’s more than half the battle. But if what you’re accepting has underlying issues and contributes to chronic disease you won’t escape its consequences with acceptance.

Improve it and you may not beat it entirely but even small wins in energy, weight management, and healthy lifestyle habits can add significant value to the quality of your life. Accept the choices you’ve made to bring you to this dissatisfaction and work gracefully to improve it and you’ll earn the greatest biological and psychological rewards.


Are you 100% satisfied with the way you look and feel? Are you ready, willing, and able to do something about it? If you are already doing something about it then perhaps you’re ready for yet another step toward the result you feel you deserve (and need to be satisfied).


If you’re satisfied with your dissatisfaction then read no further. However, if you ARE ready, willing and able to invest a little attention then we need to get clear about what satisfaction looks like and why it is so important to you.


Over the next several weeks in an effort to help you move forward from the holidays I’ll be sending and posting health coaching tips and tools to get and keep your mind in the right place. Play along with me from home or in the gym.


Start here:

Paint a picture…. Close your eyes and imagine you at your best. What do you look like and feel like? Describe it in vivid detail. Who are you with? What are you doing (that you might now be doing now)?


What are the most important elements of that picture? These may very well be your “why”. All action revolves around them.


Write it down somewhere! Feel free to share as much or as little as you’d like with me.