138. Wisdom from Grandpa Owl with Philip Lower

In the United States, more than 64 million men identify themselves as fathers.

Yet, 7 million American dads are absent from the lives of their minor children, and 17.4 million children live in fatherless homes!

Philip Lower, technically, grew up as one of these statistics.

His biological father took his own life when Phil was five years old, leaving him with the question: “Why did Daddy have to leave me?”

Five years later his mother met and married a wonderful man who became Phil’s stepfather. But, it wasn’t until until he was 25 that Phil stopped treating his stepdad as a “butthead,”– that was his own term.

As an adult, Phil became dad to two daughters and worked for a Fortune 250 company managing leadership development and training for 2,000 employees.

It seemed like everything was fine – but Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

There was a reorganization and the development team got whacked – and in the meantime, Phil was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Due to his condition, he couldn’t get another job, even as a Walmart greeter, for the same reason.

He and his family ended up homeless for almost three years, with a period of time where they lived apart before he was able to figure out a way to afford to live with them in hotel rooms.

Not only was he physically separated from his daughters, but because of the impact of Guillain–Barré on his nervous system, he couldn’t even feel them when touching them on the cheek.

For Phil and his daughters, as well his career, this experience led to a new beginning. The dad jokes he told to his girls turned into the first published Dad Quote of the Day book. The second book was a collection of recipes they developed in the kitchenette of their Extended Stay hotel room.

Phil is now on an endeavor to translate concepts and principles of leadership and empathy into language kids can easily understand. From the Trees of Leadership sprung the Grandpa Owl series, which features a wise owl who teaches family values in a way that relates to historical events in a unique, holistic approach you’ve not seen before.

Phil’s hype song is “Strength of a Thousand Men” by Two Steps from Hell.

Resources:

Invitation from Lori:

If, like Phil, you find yourself in a place where you either physically or metaphotically lose touch, the 5 Easy Ways to Start Living The Sabbatical Life guide can be the restorative vitamin that brings back the feeling.

Once you read it, you’ll

✅ Discover a counter-intuitive approach to making intentional changes in mindset and lifestyle.

✅ Learn how to own your feelings and your struggles so you can address them.

✅ Find out how to face fears, step out of your comfort zone, and rewire your beliefs.

It’s only 7 pages, so it won’t take you long to get through.

When you’re ready to say F*ck Being Fine, this guide is the place to start. It’s time to reach out and feel the power of your destiny.

Go to https://zenrabbit.com right now to download it for free.

Now let’s meet Phil. Oh geez – he just posted another dad joke and I can hear him laughing from 100 feet away!

Transcript

Lori: Hello and welcome to Fine is a 4-Letter Word. My guest today, Phil Lower. Welcome to the show, Phil.

Phil: Well, how are you doing, Lori? I'm joking.

Lori: I'm doing great people.

Phil: Crazy voices.

Lori: Yeah. What people listening don't know is that we just went through several—

Phil: Tech hell.

Lori: Yeah, right. On both sides. And we finally made it to the recording studio and got everything working. So I'm super excited to get started here. Let's jump right in, Phil. What were the values and beliefs that you were raised with that contributed to you becoming who you became as a young adult and into today?

Phil: Wow. The values and beliefs that contributed to—I'm going to have to—

Lori: I like to hit it really hard—

Phil: Yeah, thanks.

Lori: —right out of the gate.

Phil: Yeah, softballs. You know what? Hard work, courage, dedication, honor, and love of family. Those were the hardest things. And to be quite frank, I failed at all of them until I got older.

Lori: Define what you mean by "failed at all of them."

Phil: Well, all right.

Lori: By "failed."

Phil: Yeah. So I had a really challenging upbringing. My biological father committed suicide when I was five. And when you're that age, you need a male. Especially if you're a young boy, but girls, too. You need a male that's going to help guide you in certain directions, help refine those values, correct or discipline you to go in the right direction. And I didn't have that for five years. My mom remarried an amazing guy, my stepdad. When I was 10, they married, and it wasn't until I was 25 when I stopped treating him like an absolute butthead because that's how I was acting. And so it took all that time and all that discipline from his side, and patience and love, to help turn the ship. I mean, it was a long journey to get to the place where ...

One time we're sitting in the kitchen after I had gone through the year of flying by the seat of my pants. I mean, like, smoke and flames coming out my derrière. Right? And it was just really bad. We had a business that failed horribly. It was two weeks after the Rodney King riots, four miles from Compton. Hablando español para salvar mi vida. I mean, speaking Spanish to save my life. And the Latinos would be like, "Yeah, he's from Chile. He's from Argentina. He's cool," even though I had blue eyes and pale skin. And they were looking at me like, "No, he's good." He doesn't even have an accent at that time.

I get back from LA to Ohio, and I sit down with my stepdad. And we're just kind of talking about stuff. And after about an hour, I'm like, "Wait, hang on a sec, Dad." And I go running into the family room, and I shake my mom who was taking a nap on the sofa. I said, "Mom, dad and I are agreeing on stuff." And she shook herself from sleep. She was like, "Oh, that's good, honey." And then I go back to the kitchen. We spent another hour or two talking about stuff. I mean, it took that long for me to get to the place where everything that he had been trying to instill in me, my grandfather who was an immigrant who had gone back to Europe to fight in World War II had been trying to instill in me—it took that long for it to finally blossom.

Lori: What a testament to the man that he was—

Phil: Oh, yeah.

Lori: —the person that he was to have that much patience to wait for you to come around—

Phil: Whew.

Lori: —and to keep giving to you, it sounds like.

Phil: Oh, yeah.

Lori: He never stepped away and went, "All right, this dude's a lost cause."

Phil: Yeah, he never did.

Lori: Wow.

Phil: And I think, personally, there are a lot of parents who get so frustrated and so fed up with their kids. And there are, I think, two primary contributing factors. We have had such a breakdown of the family nucleus that even current grandparents aren't contributing to their children being able to help raise the kids well. That's number one. And then all of the societal challenges that are messing with the kids. I mean, even just iPads. Steve Jobs wouldn't give his kids an iPad because he knew how addictive and destructive they were.

Lori: Exactly. Most of the people in Silicon Valley don't let their kids have electronics like the rest of the country or world.

Phil: Go figure.

Lori: Yeah, I know. Right? Hey, wait a minute.

Phil: Maybe they know something that they've created that we don't know. Hmm. Yeah.

Lori: Yeah. I've read plenty of books that talk about that.

Phil: Oh, yeah.

Lori: You mentioned courage as being one of the values that you were instilled with.

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: How do you define courage?

Phil: Well, first off, I'm going to say this. You can be afraid of anything, but you've got to feel the fear and recognize that it may or may not be real and do whatever you've got to do anyways.

Lori: Yes.

Phil: I have had plenty of challenges that I've had to overcome. And some threw me down on my knees praying, and others threw me into a corner in a room crying in a pool of tears because I had no friggin' clue how I was going to overcome something. And then it's one step in front of another step. If you've ever been in country dark except for a moon, you know how dark that is.

Lori: I have.

Phil: And yet there's just enough light to maybe see the next 5, 7, 8 feet ahead of you, and that's all you've got. And you're going down a road or a long driveway or someplace, and you're just like, it's one ... You can't see anything ahead of you. There could be, literally, a coyote right in your path. You have no clue because you can't see it.

Lori: Right, yeah. And you have to just keep moving forward in faith that the road is going to still be beneath you as you take that step.

Phil: Literally.

Lori: Yeah, exactly. That's a great analogy, and I appreciate your definition of that because I think a lot of times people think of courage as not being fearful.

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: Like that fear isn't involved in that word. And I talk a lot about courage. And, yes, it's feeling the fear and moving forward anyway.

Phil: Yeah. And then, also, I think—how do I say this—parents have to, especially dads, they've got to be courageous in the face of all of the adversity that's coming up against fathers. I mean, let's not even bring the conversation to family court. Let's just talk about the challenges of society coming against the concept of fatherhood where a man is strong, has an opinion, isn't willing to shake that opinion without good reason. That flies in the face of an awful lot of, let's say, female empowerment or child independence when that dad is trying to instill values that they might live by, whether they're white collar or blue collar. You know?

Lori: Yes.

Phil: Not every attorney is corrupt. Not every plumber is going to overbill their customer. There are a lot of really good dads out there. And I know you use those, too, maybe in a cliché fashion, but the point is there are a lot of dads who are doing everything they can to instill good, wholesome, clean, strong values in their kids—wherever those values come from. I don't care if they're Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian. It doesn't matter.

Lori: Right.

Phil: They've got values that they grew up with, and they want to share those with their kids. And, hopefully, their kids will kind of glom onto them and move forward. And society is like, "Oh, no. We don't need to tell your parents that we gave you a vaccine," like they're now doing in New York.

Lori: Right, okay. There's so much to unpack—

Phil: There is, and it's all fine.

Lori: It's all fine. Yeah, wow. Now you're making me think which direction do I want to take this conversation. But I want to bring it back to your story.

Phil: Sure.

Lori: Because there is a lot that we could go into in regards to values. And we will talk a little bit more about that in a moment.

Phil: Sure.

Lori: But going back to your story, up to that point when you now had this—it's not even a reconciliation because you were never apart, really, from your stepdad. But this realization that he's a good person, that there is some commonality, some common ground with you.

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: Where did it go from there? Where did your life go? Not necessarily your relationship with him, but your life.

Phil: Well, I had 11 more good years with him, and then he died from cancer. And those were probably some of the best years that I could ever have wanted. But I will dovetail that comment with, you know, I'm in my mid-50s, and I miss him frequently, often. There are times when I think about, "Man, I wish I could ask my dad this," or, "I wish that I could have thought about this before he passed." When my mom died a year and a half ago, I took my girls and my wife. We went out to the funeral, and then we spent time with people that knew the two of them, them telling stories about Dad and about Mom. We called mom Nana, but, you know, about that. So they're learning about my dad.

And I make a distinction between my father and my dad, but my father was my dad until he took his life. He absolutely was. I have memories of him. I have images. I have photographs, and those are distinct to me. So I can't do anything to diminish that, but there was this giant gap. And then my stepdad helped fill that gap in.

Lori: Yeah. And that gap came at a time in a child's development that is very crucial.

Phil: 100%.

Lori: We're still forming beliefs, and that subconscious is wide open for whatever beliefs and values get filled into there.

Phil: Whew. Oh, yeah. Well, and then I want you to think about this. So now, what are we doing in society? In many instances, we have pulled dads apart from families. And so now that kid, even though that dad might be not in the picture, they're still alive. And that kid, depending on their age and whatever happened in the marriage, etc., is wondering, "Why did my dad leave?" In many instances, sometimes they're asking, "Why did Mom leave?"

Lori: Right.

Phil: Right? So it's heavy.

Lori: Yeah. And a lot of the conversations I've had on this show with people, their parents did leave and there they were left thinking that it was something that they did or, "Why did they leave me?" It's so complicated, and there are so many reasons. Somebody I was talking to recently was saying that she didn't understand until she was an adult that her dad left because he had some mental health issues. She was like, "I can't imagine as a parent now leaving my child for any reason, any reason at all." And yet he was struggling himself. And so there were many reasons that had nothing to do with her.

Phil: But it took her time to heal, and she had to come to understanding first—

Lori: Right. To be able to see that.

Phil: —before it could manifest in healing.

Lori: Correct.

Phil: And a lot of people don't get that. You know, we—

Lori: Right. But I'm saying it's not always like somebody just doesn't want to live up to their responsibility of being a parent.

Phil: Right.

Lori: There are so many factors that go into how families develop and then, generationally, how things get transferred when you're talking about values—

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: —that they aren't necessarily good values, for lack of a better word. Bad, but—

Phil: Well, there are definitely values that can be destructive—

Lori: Yeah.

Phil: —but people hold on to them even though they're toxic.

Lori: Because they're generational. They don't know anything else.

Phil: Right.

Lori: And so they're teaching what they know, which has a negative impact.

Phil: That's right. November of 2016, I came down with Guillain–Barré syndrome. And Guillain–Barré or GBS—well, technically it's an inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy. Basically, your nerves are like a wire or an electrical cable to your TV. Okay? Burn off all of the insulation and the plastic sheathing, and you've got this exposed copper or other wire. And so that's a simplistic way of explaining it. But, basically, it's autoimmune, and I got it from a flu vaccine.

And when I got it, I was within 36 hours of a ventilator, trach, and a feeding tube, and probable death, because my organs were starting to be affected. I was having trouble walking. I was having trouble feeling things. I couldn't feel the floor. I couldn't feel my girls' faces and their cheeks and the temperature. But if I bumped into something, it was hypersensitive. It was extraordinary pain. So both musculoskeletal and periphery sensory nerves are shutting down. My diaphragm was not working well. I was having trouble swallowing and breathing when I got to the emergency room.

And so now it's been, well, seven and a half years in recovery, and I'm doing significantly better. But every now and then, I still have little issues. And I look at that, and I'm like, "You know, I'm going to fight through this. I'm going to recover because ..."

Look, Lori, I told my doctors and I told my nurses, and I think I was telling myself, but I was not going to quit. I knew what it was to grow up without a dad, and I refused to leave my girls. So my intention was it didn't matter what I had to go through, I would not leave my girls. Period, end of story. And, unfortunately, they were six and nine at the time, and so that's really impacted them. And so I still work with them on that like, "No, Dad's here." But then I tell them, "We all have an expiration date. None of us know what it is, but I'm here," just trying to help them take extra steps to recover because they're still young.

Lori: Yeah.

Phil: There was a time when I went through almost nine months of feeling I was being tasered 24/7. There's a period of time overlapping when I was in a wheelchair, and I was using a Lofstrand or forearm crutches. So that was overlapping. And then a period when I was using crutches and a cane, and that was overlapping with—it was four and a half years where—

Lori: Of recovery from this—

Phil: Well, no. I'm still recovering, technically. But four and a half years before I could walk one mile without collapsing in agony and sheer pain and exhaustion. Go ahead.

Lori: I was going to say what's the treatment?

Phil: The gold standard—

Lori: First of all, how did they diagnose it?

Phil: Yeah. So there's not a sheer diagnosis, unfortunately. They're observational. You can get an EMG, which is a nerve conduction test, and it shoots a bolt of electricity literally through your nerves. And they read it on the other end of the nerve to see how fast it goes. In my instance, the transmission of that signal was delayed, but not significantly. What was happening was ...

That's musculoskeletal. That's not periphery sensory. So that's not the touch, the cold. The ability to feel the spoon, let alone hold the spoon. So then if you're learning how to feed yourself again and you can't feel the spoon that you are looking at in your fingers, then you don't necessarily know how to turn it or put it in your mouth. And I had to relearn all of that—writing, cleaning myself in the most disgusting ways, I mean. And everything in between. It took a very long time.

I was working at a Fortune 250 company doing leadership development and training for the southeast and northeast managers. About 2,000 employees were underneath that management cadre. And they did a reorganization, and here I am barely able to perform all of my functions. And the leadership team that I was working with—I shouldn't say the team, but the development team—got whacked. And some people repositioned, and other people were let go, including my manager. And so then here I am not able to work. I couldn't get a job as a Walmart greeter because I was not technically wheelchair-bound. I couldn't get a job in customer service. I couldn't get a job as a cashier because you had to stand at the desk or at the cash register. And I couldn't. And so I end up I, you know, I was the sole source of income at that time for my family. We ended up being homeless.

Lori: Oh, wow. How long were you homeless?

Phil: Almost three years.

Lori: Oh, my God.

Phil: Now, that being said, it was about six months where we were truly separated as a family. My wife and daughters were staying with her siblings, and I was sleeping on a couch of my girls' godmother, interviewing and looking for work and whatnot. But it took months of that, almost six months before we could get grounded. And then you've got to come up with first month, last month, and a security deposit—or the rent, rather. And then, all of a sudden, it's like, "Well, how do we get that nut?" We didn't have it, but we had enough to move into a hotel.

Lori: Right. How do you get it? If you don't have it and you need it to get it, how do you get it?

Phil: Right, exactly. And so we ended up getting into a situation where I kept a roof over my family's head. It was not ideal. It was the biggest room in the hotel. It was still small.

Lori: I bet.

Phil: And they gave us an amazing, amazing favor and grace. They knew the situation, and they said, "You guys are struggling. We're going to help." And they gave us the absolute bottom-dollar rate that they could give us without getting in trouble, and we just saved our nickels and dimes and kind of got through that period of time. And then from there, it was one job after another job after another, and I slowly made progress as my body healed because I had to learn how to use my brain, not my body. I couldn't swing a hammer.

Lori: All right. I have several questions.

Phil: Sure.

Lori: First of all, did you know the people that were running the hotel—

Phil: No.

Lori: —or did you just come to know them?

Phil: I came to know them.

Lori: Okay.

Phil: For all the traveling that I did—I traveled between 50% and 85% of the time. I had hundreds of thousands of accumulated hotel points and mileage points that I then leveraged into discounts at different hotels to help us stay periods of time. And then we finally landed at an extended stay because they had a kitchenette. We bought a small oven that we could put on the counter. We had their microwave. We had a two-burner stove top. We had a dishwasher. We had some cabinets. We had a refrigerator. They gave us a slightly bigger refrigerator so that we had a little bit more space than the average room. And we just made it work.

We got the girls enrolled in school. Made sure we could do everything we could to give them the most normal life possible. In fact, my youngest daughter, she picked up viola while we were doing all that.

Lori: Wow.

Phil: But we end up, I had been putting these little snippets of conversations—like dad jokes and little funny side comments and whatnot between the girls and I, or the girls and mom, or the four of us. And I would post them on Facebook periodically. And I called it Dad Quote of the Day. And then there would be this little—oh, what's one of them?

Lori: They were, like, pieces of conversations that you would have during the day?

Phil: Yeah, but they were funny. They were meant to be funny, right?

Lori: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Phil: So it wasn't daily. Sometimes it would be two or three in a day, and sometimes there would be nothing. Right? But I'd post them. And the idea was to help keep—I would tell the girls, "Hey, look. That was hysterical." And I'd type it up on my phone and Post-it. Okay? And they'd be laughing or we'd be having fun. So I just tried to make it as normal as I could. But we ended up collecting all of those, and we turned it into a book called Dad Quote of the Day: Wit and Wisdom of a Strong Coffee Drinking Dad, and it's on Amazon. So I self-published it. It was fun. And so that was 2019. That was Father's Day 2019, right around there.

Lori: Okay.

Phil: So then, the lockdowns. Right? Fast-forward to society slamming the brakes on and everybody figuring out, "What the heck are we going to do?" So over time, I had been teaching my girls how to cook because years and years ago when I had hair and my jokes were better, I ran restaurants outside of college.

Lori: Your jokes were better? I would think you would refine them over the years.

Phil: Well, like a fine wine. Hence, the word "fine." But, anyhow. "That wine is gross." Well, it's grape juice, so ...

Lori: Give it 25 years.

Phil: Yeah, it's grape juice, so of course it's "fine" wine. But, anyhow. So I taught the girls how to cook. And I would take over cooking and whatever because I didn't have a problem in my brain since I already knew how to do a lot of things from experience. And I taught the girls different things. So Thanksgiving, one of them is sautéing up some spinach with almonds, and another one is helping with the whole cranberry juice, and another one's helping me roast the turkey. And in a small oven on a countertop, it's a turkey breast. But it's a large one for four people.

Lori: Yeah.

Phil: It's all that stuff. But we learned how to just do all those things. So then the girls helped me write almost half of the recipes in another book we published called Dad Quote of the Day: For the Love of Coffee and Other Food. And it's 44 recipes, and they're breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and sides, drinks, and desserts. And they contributed literally almost half the recipes. They practice them. We took photos. We did all kinds of things. That book got published.

And then things turn around. A significantly better job comes along. And all of a sudden, it's like save up the money, clear off the debts, and move out. And we did, and things have gotten good, but it took years. And I was trying to figure out what could we do? My background is in training and leadership development. And after just literally going through hell, what do we do? Right?

Lori: Yeah.

Phil: And I'm talking to my eldest who is—they're both smart as a whip, just different kids, different personalities. I'm talking to my eldest. I told her I was speaking with a friend of mine named Hermán who I had gone to school with at the University of Toledo, and he's down in Santiago, Chile. And it's like we had this idea about conveying leadership values that I had taught for years to kids. And she said, "Well, that's cool." And I said, "We were thinking about using an animal." And she said, "Hmm, that's a neat idea." So then she throws out an eagle. She throws out a lion. And Hermán and I had talked about owls.

There are a lot of cultures that don't look at owls positively, but in Western culture, because of Athena and the Greek influence from history and mythology in Western society, we came up with the idea of owls. And she said, "I love owls." And then she helped me do research on different owls, and we talked about different trees and leadership values and leadership behaviors.

And so when you talk about, as a behavior, modeling accountability, what's the underlying value? Well, do the right thing. And so we talked about: how do we marry that value up with the behavior? And we thought about the idea of expressing that through what we call the Trees of Leadership. And there are trees from all over the world. There's 15 of them. And every—

Lori: 15 trees.

Phil: 15 trees. And every single time—every single time—a manager or a leader of any kind performs these behaviors—every time—they win. So, for example, it's not possible to set clear expectations for your team and then also to model accountability for yourself for them and not win. That's like if you set clear expectations and people don't follow through with it, well, that's on them because you were clear.

And if you're asking the underlying questions of, "Do you need anything? Can I help you with anything? Are there obstacles in your way"—and you're having what I call a real conversation—and then they're saying, "Well, this is what I need, and this is how I have to overcome this," if you as their leader can step up and help them achieve the very expectations that you have set before them, how do you not win as a team?

Lori: Right.

Phil: So now, how do we translate that into families? So we talked about having these values transition into families through stories for kids. So we've written three—it's called Grandpa Owl.

Lori: Grandpa Owl.

Phil: It's three workbooks that we have for leadership development for kids. So you can have logical skills and you can have creative skills, but you also need empathic skills.

Lori: Yes. That's the piece that gets left out a lot of times. Right?

Phil: Yeah. It's the people part. Go figure.

Lori: Right. Well, in companies and everywhere, it's like, "Let me teach you the skills," but they don't teach—those are the hard skills like how to do the thing but not—

Phil: The soft skills.

Lori: —what they call soft skills. Yeah.

Phil: Exactly. And what happens? You get a technician. I don't care if the technician is technically a CPA. But you get a technician who is technically savvy at or skilled at their job, and they're the one who gets promoted. And they have no clue how to work with people, and then the team gets damaged and/or falls apart. People start quitting. People start leaving to different departments within the company because they no longer want to work with that supervisor or that manager or whatever.

Lori: Right.

Phil: And what happens is all their institutional knowledge goes out the window. All of their experience goes out the window, and you're left having to recruit and train and bring up to speed and convey culture and all of that. Well, now take that to family. You can't fire your kids. You can't fire your husband or your wife. Right?

So if you can sit here and you can say, "Sarah, Tommy, Demetrius, I need you to be the best you can be and work on your personal best in whatever skills you have,” first of all, you're honoring the personality style and the way those kids learn and the way those kids behave and the way those kids thrive because they're all going to thrive differently. Myers–Briggs has 16 different personality types. That's a lot. Okay? Nobody understands them fully. But if you can at least hone in on what's good for your kids—because that's what my stepdad tried to do for me for so many years. He was in the Air Force. He went to Valley Forge Military Academy, and he understood what personal best meant. The man worked on the Apollo projects as a designer/draftsman before computers did CAD/CAM. He understood .001 off is off. Right?

So, here he took all that time to work in me, and now this is all bubbling up out of me. And I talk about, in the activity books, if you've ever done a word search and the word is "car" or "automobile," what happens if the word search is for the values you're trying to instill in kids are bravery, achievement, honor, loyalty? And so we have these workbooks that we've put together, and there's all kinds of different games in them as well as—it's a hysterical fairy tale. They're fun. They're like Mad Libs but with Snow White—

Lori: Oh, okay.

Phil: —or The Three Bears or Puss in Boots. Those are the three we chose. But the girls really contributed into: how do you express these behaviors and these values in kid language? In particular, my youngest, because at the time, the goal was: how does a 9 or a 10-year-old express that? So I would say, "Well, this is what this is. How would you say this?" And she would say what she says, and I'd write it down. And I'd say, "But what about this?" And she'd say, "Oh, well then I would say it like this." And after a period of time, we kind of refined them down to kid speak. You know?

Lori: Yeah, that’s amazing.

Phil: And it makes it easy for parents because now they can talk about it.

Lori: In words that their kids would understand.

Phil: Exactly. And then Grandpa Owl is launching—we're going to probably have this up and running by May 1st. That's the goal. Platform ability for people to have different things for it. The prologue to a series of 15 books has just been written. We're right now at the end of February, and it's in the hands of the illustrator. And the editor has already took a swipe at it once, and then she's going to be looking at it again. Once we have the illustration, she's going to be making sure that the typesetter does all their parts. And we're going to have this thing launched and ready to roll. That will be the prologue.

And that just is this figure of a great horned owl. His name is Grandpa. Owe. And he's got little owls around him, and he's telling stories. But each story talks about strong family values. And we do it in a historical context, but it can be fantasy in a sense that the story is made up, but we try to place them historically. So, for example, there are a type of owl called the brown fish owl. And these are known throughout the Med, if you will—particularly the Eastern Med where we have the cedar of Lebanon as the tree. And we have the brown fish owl. And we have a prince who actually becomes a Phoenician king. So we're weaving that into the story.

Lori: Yeah, the history.

Phil: Right. And we're explaining different things about how the tree gets honored because of its value because it's a cedar of Lebanon because the fish owls do something to help the prince. And we weave all of those stories together in different ways, in different epochs of time throughout history. We talk about Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. We talk about the Buffalo Soldiers and how they worked in Sequoia National Park. It's all kinds of different things throughout the world. We've got Japan and India and Australia. And it's cool.

Lori: That's sounds so cool. Yeah. So you're going to have this whole series of books with different stories in each one—

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: —and with different owls and different—

Phil: And each one has a different value and different behaviors—

Lori: Yes.

Phil: And the goal is to help instill these things and shift culture because it's stuff that I grew up with. You grew up with it. We were seeing these things in cartoons and whatever when we were growing up, but it doesn't exist anymore.

Lori: We were seeing some things in cartoons that maybe—

Phil: Yeah, well—

Lori: I'm thinking, like, Wile E. Coyote. What was that?

Phil: Well, maybe Wile E. Coyote—well, perseverance. Come on. He never gave up.

Lori: Okay.

Phil: He might slink off as he was charred. But the Road Runner always gave him a fair shake, you know. Literally shaking because he might be on a pogo stick that wouldn't stop, but, you know.

Lori: Right, right, right. And Pepé Le Pew.

Phil: Oh, wow.

Lori: I have another question for you, going back to your story.

Phil: Sure.

Lori: You had this life-threatening condition, and you healed yourself. You're still working on healing yourself, but to an average person who looks at you, talks to you now, wouldn't be able to tell.

Phil: 95% of the time.

Lori: Yeah. How did you—I'll use the term "heal yourself"? What were the tools or techniques or methods, or what helped you get to where you are now?

Phil: So I'm going to answer that. Spiritually, the proverbial trailer truck full of prayer. Physically—well, let's say, medicinally, there are no medicines that heal it. Zero. There are some that can possibly mitigate pain. None of them worked for me. And, in fact, I was allergic to one of them. And so, homeopathically, I was taking things like R-Fraction Alpha Lipoic Acid, B12, B1. And B1 in the form of Benfotiamine. Methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin for B12.

And then that just helps to give, let's say, some of the building blocks to rebuild the myelin sheath, that insulation around the nerve.

Lori: Yeah. Giving your body the fuel to rebuild.

Phil: Yeah, some of it. But then also focusing on things that would help reduce inflammation. So more protein, more fat, slow carbs. Tim Ferriss makes a great point about the slow-carb diet. So slow carbs like beans. And very few, if any, refined sugars except on cheat day. A lot of cruciferous vegetables, better quality meat. Just having a decent nutrition.

Then the other part is that nerve follows muscle development. So when I could finally start walking, when I could finally start holding weights in my hands without dropping them on me, then I would do that. Up until that point, I would use things like resistance bands because they're not as dangerous and still give my muscles a workout.

And then, quite frankly, willpower. I refused to quit. And there were times—oh, my God—there were times when the pain was literally excruciating. And I can feel a storm coming 100 miles away, to this day. And when you've got a massive shift in barometer, all of a sudden, your body says, "Yeah, we're going to take a timeout now. Why don't you go rest?" Because you're going to need to.

Lori: Right. So you had to learn how to listen to your body.

Phil: Absolutely.

Lori: Maybe in a way that you hadn't—

Phil: Oh, never had. Never had, until you go through something like this. I know people that have gone through multiple sclerosis and other problems. And until you experience anything like this, there's just no way you'd know.

Lori: Where did you get the knowledge, or where did you uncover this information about what to take and what to do?

Phil: Yeah.

Lori: Because I'm guessing it wasn't from doctors.

Phil: No. That's a pretty shrewd guess. Yeah. So in this instance, I mean, I've had neurologists who have literally looked at me and said, "Well, there's no clinical evidence for that." Okay, that's good.

Lori: But it's working.

Phil: It's working. I'm glad you think there's no clinical evidence. I think I'm the clinical evidence.

Lori: Yeah, exactly.

Phil: I'd have to say a lot of research, and some of it on places they could look. PubMed from the NIH and things like that. And, clearly, as an opportunity, you may not understand everything, but you can start to learn. YouTube, Internet searches. And then never stopping because there's always something new coming out. We didn't know that vitamin D3 deficiency was a key indicator for whether or not a person might die from COVID until, all of a sudden, people were like, "Wait. Every one of these people"—or, let's say, maybe not everyone—"80% or more of these people"—

Lori: A lot.

Phil: —"had some level of deficiency of vitamin D in their body." Well, maybe if we give them vitamin D when they're sick, they might recover much more quickly. And now studies are coming out showing that and talking about that. Well, it's the same thing with me, except I was my own guinea pig. Try something for a month. Oh, I have a little bit of a result. Okay, now try it for six. I have a better result. Keep going.

Lori: Right. And, probably, you had some of the opposite as well like, "Oh, this isn't working. I'll just not"—

Phil: Yeah. Like, they really have no effect whatsoever, positive or negative. It's like, "Well, I don't feel any different whatsoever, so we're just going to stop that and not spend money on that anymore and try something else."

Lori: Interesting, yeah. Because how many people—I don't even know what the term is— contract this? Is it something you contract?

Phil: Develop?

Lori: Develop, yeah. And how many people fully recover or get to a point of being able to live a somewhat normal life?

Phil: I will say that, from my experience and the people who I've known personally and, let's say, as an acquaintance with Guillain–Barré, I would say that the vast majority recover to a functional level, but I do not know how many recover fully.

I had met this one lady. She's older than I am. She was a teacher. She's probably got 10 years on me. She was far worse than I was. She was paralyzed all the way to her scalp, from her feet to her scalp. Eyes were wide open for, I want to say, like, a week.

Lori: Wow.

Phil: She couldn't talk. She could only blink to communicate. And she, the last I knew, had fully recovered. But there was a point in time after her recovery when she kind of plateaued. But the weird thing where she plateaued was one side of part of one of her feet was numb, and everything else was fine. So every person who comes down with Guillain–Barré can recover differently. I don't know that she had the peripheral sensory issues. Obviously, she had tremendous musculoskeletal issues, but those nerves heal differently. And so if you exercise, nerve is going to follow muscle. And so it just takes time to force your body to overcome. And maybe that's part of the key to this, is struggle.

Lori: Yes. And you just said "forcing your body." And the way you force your body is through your mind, right?

Phil: Yeah. In biology, the tree does not grow away from the sun. The tree fights to get to the sun, right?

Lori: Yes.

Phil: Fruit grows on the end of the limb, not on the trunk. So you've got to take steps that involve courage. You have to be brave in the face of adversity. It sucks. It sucks hard. But if you don't, your alternative is death.

Lori: Or living in misery.

Phil: Well, emotional death.

Lori: Yeah.

Phil: And I refused to quit.

Lori: I can tell that. I'm having these conversations with you. I love the energy that you bring. Yeah, just what you're talking about and the energy you come at it all with is really inspiring.

Phil: Thank you.

Lori: So on that note, when you need an extra boost of energy, when you're in the gym pushing yourself to the limit, what's the song you go to? We talked a little bit, and you said that you had a really hard time coming up with a song.

Phil: I did. There are, like, three songs that come to mind. Okay?

Lori: Okay.

Phil: When I was traveling, I would play Boston's "Don't Look Back." And I'd be in my hotel room, and I'd be working out to that. Or maybe "Tom Sawyer" by Rush. Okay? But if I'm just driving and I don't want words or lyrics, there is a group called Two Steps From Hell. And one composer is Thomas Bergersen. Phenomenal, tremendous artist. And his partner is Nick Phoenix. Thomas, I believe, is Swedish. And Nick is a Brit. These guys do movie trailer music or TV show trailer music, and it's orchestral, and it's epic. And there are several songs there. One of my favorite ones is called Magika. It's spelled M-A-G-I-C-K-A, I think. It's just amazing. You'll hear when they are taking parts of one song for another and they're piecing them together to make a movie trailer that we watch on YouTube or on the TV, sometimes one or parts of their songs are put together to make these epic pieces before they've actually finished the real music for the movie, but they're still putting the trailer out there. And it's kind of fun. And they're usually short—2, 3, 4 minutes at most—but they're amazing. And Magika is lovely. So it depends on what you want or what mood I'm in.

Lori: Okay, all right. We'll put links to them in the show notes so people—

Phil: All right, cool.

Lori: Maybe you've just introduced a whole bunch of people to a new genre or a new composer—what do you call it? Musicians.

Phil: Yeah, sure.

Lori: New music. New Music Monday. It's not Monday, but—

Phil: When is this airing?

Lori: I don't know.

Phil: We'll figure it out.

Lori: When it comes out, you'll hear it.

Phil: Hey, there we go.

Lori: Phil, thank you so much for joining me.

Phil: Oh, Lori.

Lori: Before we go, if people want to continue a conversation with you about any of your topics—about Grandpa Owl, about GBS, about whatever cool things you're doing, where is the best place for them to find you?

Phil: If they want to know more about Grandpa, what I would do is e-mail grandpa@grandpaowl.com. I'm not a Grandpa, but we're going to do it that way.

Lori: But I play one on TV.

Phil: Wait. You're talking about the gray in my goatee? What is that? Anyhow.

Lori: Okay. So that's how—

Phil: Yeah, that would probably be the best place.

Lori: That's the best place to reach you?

Phil: Sure.

Lori: Got you. I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well.

Phil: Thank you.

Lori: Again, thank you, Phil, so much for joining me today on Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

Phil: Thank you, Lori. It's been an absolute honor. I appreciate it.

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