Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Surprise!


"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
-Ferris Bueller

Live does move pretty fast. If you think of a second of your day, each one represents a larger chunk of your life remaining, every second become literally more important. The picture above has no really deep meaning, but when I cracked that double open, I thought, "hmm, I didn't expect that." I then waxed philosophical about my 2-3 egg meal for a moment, then went back to prepping my breakfast. No big deal. It did make me think about how surprising life can be.

This week our family lost a member who was a daughter, sister, cousin, mom & grandma. My heart breaks for those closest to her, and those that are left behind. Eight years ago we lost our first boy JDM. I cannot believe eight years has passed. The speed of time is mainly due to the blessing of a couple kiddos since then. These two kids have given us a fresh look at life, and really been a joy. Even when they won't get out of bed for school, and complain about getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.

So how do you get over a loss? You don't. I will never forget holding my son, never. Eight years later and I still have moments of deep sorrow, albeit less often. We are part of a club, one no one wants to belong to, but plenty of folks do. In the last year I have been able to talk with a few people dealing with similar situations. I never know what to say, but I am just open and honest about how hard it was. All you can attempt to do is own the feelings, talk to those closest to you, and not bottle up what you are going through. JDM's birthday has forever tainted Valentine's day, his birthday. But we have been abe to have dates on VDay again, have fun prepping VDay stuff for the kids classes, and recognize JDM's bday a little.

So life has come at us fast, and we have done our best to keep up. We are not perfect, but we work on it every day. We each other, and a little Grace from God, we'll maximize every second we have. Happy Birthday JDM, I love you, we wish we could have known you, you would have loved your sister and brother. They would have loved you.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gratitude


Lately I have spent a good deal of time focusing on gratitude. In a world full of schedules, instant access, unhappiness, politics, deadlines and challenges one can never stop and take time to be in gratitude. Gratitude is not simply being positive, or happy, but being truly in the moment and thankful for the just that moment. Like the pull tab sign in the picture above, do you need gratitude?

Recently I was at a brief talk given by Steve from the Life Is Good company. He spoke about the age old, and fairly tired, "is the glass half full, or empty?" question. He said the optimistic person is thankful that there is water in the glass at all, and thinking about how they could fill it for more people. This is a very gratitude focused mentality. Do not worry about the state of the water, be glad you have some, and work to fill the glass for more people.


If you are working toward being the best version of yourself, you need to practice optimism and gratitude. Also from Life Is Good Steve, "Optimism and Abs are both improved with exercise." This is a poignant phrase, being in gratitude does not mean you are happy every moment of every day, or never upset at things. But when exercising optimism and gratitude often, you can realign to the path quicker to become the best version of yourself.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Connect


How do you communicate?

Communication often comes up when organizations perform analysis of weakness within their group. I have seems this over and over at work, in volunteer groups, with friends and within families. Human communicate to others every second of every day they are near other folks. Whether by verbal or body language you are talking loud and clear. While I do not claim to have the answer to great communication, I do know you will be more successful if you connect.

"Go beyond merely communicating, to connecting with people." Jerry Bruckner 

This is a pretty solid point. Are you just talking, or are you connecting with your audience? Often I have to work on listening, really listening. Sometimes I have the direction I want to head in a conversation in mind, and that blocks me from listening to what my audience is trying to get a cross. When you listen, you open a two way door, that allows both parties to participate in the discussion.

Focus on the person, focus on listening, think before you speak, think about what you say. Get your point across, but make sure you know and believe the other person is requires for connection. Without connecting, you are really not communicating.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Sanguine


Make me sanguine.

The Avett Brothers have a song called Sanguine. I must admit I had to look the word up the first time I heard the song. There is a poignant excerpt from the beginning of the tune, that resonates with change in your life, and deciding to be the best version of yourself.


Make me sanguine

Help me genuinely
Kill the doubt that strangles myself worth
Paint the picture that I swore I heard

Spiritless and mean
Ghost that comes between
I will keep my wits about myself
Disregard directions sent from hell

When you make changes to yourself, and all that entails, you will have a fight. A fight against doubt, a fight against past experiences, a fight against time, a fight against outside influences, a fight against the unknown. I have had several major changes to myself over the last five years, some of which are documented in this very blog. Recently I have struggled to have the same fire and motivation I mined to chisel out a new self. The daily grind can overwhelm you if you are not looking out for signs of stagnation. I was in one of these river eddies. I hadn't realized that I wasn't looking at the flow of The River, but looking only down in the eddy.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is a big part of keeping fresh and sharp. I really enjoy running, I love the solitude, and thinking time. Running is a time when I can space out, or think through challenges. Over the last several months, I logged a lot of junk miles. Not taking the mental space I needed during the runs, not focusing on pace, tempo, breathing, thinking or anything really, just logging mile for the sake of logging miles. My pace degraded, and I began to have old injuries nag here and there. I knew I needed to shake things up. I just needed the fortitude to pick something new, and move forward. I needed to Go Big, stop worrying about my running, and do something that would re-engage me, put me over the top, fast track my brain and body to improvements and better wellness. After all the mind and body are meant to work together, even if one can fight the other. I made my change this weekend, and am excited about my new experience. 

If you are struggling with yourself on wellness, make a change, challenge yourself, take a first step in a new direction. Take a hike in a new park, ride your bike again, go to a climbing wall, do some yoga, learn orienteering, sign up for martial arts...just do something that you think isn't you. You may not like it, but you may love it. Either way, you will learn a little more about yourself, and a little more about being sanguine.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Susannah


Song of Susannah
Dark Tower Book VI by Stephen King

"In the land of memory the time is always Now.
In the Kingdom of Ago, the clocks tick...but their hands never move.
There is an Unfound Door (oh lost) and memory is the key which opens it."


Reading this book, and loved this quote, just wanted to share it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Change


I have watched a bunch of interesting documentaries lately. Some were discussed in my last blog post. Two docs on health that really made an impact on me were Fed Up and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (FSND). I have made very big health improvements over the last four years, but the work is ongoing. In 2016 I ran more miles than I have run in any year of my entire life, but I experienced the least amount of healthy change in the last 4 years. I knew the whole year that my diet was the issue. People often commented that since I was now working so hard to be healthy, that eating well must be easy. No so.

The first FSND doc had a really inspiring tale of a guy named Phil. He really was inspirational in the changes he made in his life. Recently, I watched the FSND part 2, and I saw that Phil did well for a few years, but really fell back into old ways. This was hard to see. He worked to determine the reasons he fell back into bad habits. He determined that he had no support network, to help him along the way. I tend to agree.

With running and working out, I have a bunch of folks that I talk with, look up to and challenge me. Not so much on the food side. I would be even worse off if my wife were not working so hard for the family to eat well. If you are looking to make any change, cleaning the house, eating better, walking more, drinking less coffee...find a partner or a source of support. Change can be great, just do not try to do it alone. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wealth



What is wealth?

Recently I have read (listened) to a book about tidying up; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The book was a free offering on Audible, and I need to get rid of some stuff, so I gave it a listen. Oddly enough, my wife bought this book a year ago, and I apparently dismissed the notion of a book on cleaning up. I have also been on a Netflix documentary binge, with docs varying from health, religion, wire walking, internet freedom, addiction, the 13th amendment, disappearing glaciers, and...a random selection called Minimalism: .

The documentary Minimalism paired quite well with some of the concepts of the tidying up book. These two experiences have really pushed the question of what is wealth? Is it my income, the things I own, the things I want, great kids, a solid fun marriage, or all these things. What is an identity? The things you own or the achievements in life. What is enough?

I do not have these answers, and won't be moving into a "tiny house" in the near future, but I will take a look about what the important things are to me. I can also make certain that I am being a bit more deliberate in how I spend my resources, financial, spacial, spiritual, human and temporal on the important things. Making an impact on people, being genuine, investing in our society and being a great loving family should be where I make an impact. I don't need hundreds of books I will never re-read, 100 t-shirts, nick-knacks from my life or and other superfluous stuff to be wealthy. This will take some time, but I am on a path.

Take a few minutes to look around your space today, how much of what you see brings you joy and makes you wealthy?