Monday, March 31, 2014

Day eighty-nine

THIS MEANS YOU!
What am I committed to?

The one thing that defines me.

That ideal for which I will suffer.

And suffer lots.

Perhaps the scientific process works best when used to eliminate.

We know (I know) that it is not money. I have been 'caring less' since about 1969 and have no current plans to change.

We know it isn't fame. I have no desire to be in the cover of any magazine, except perhaps The International Guide to Stress-Free Travel's annual Holiday Issue.

It isn't status. We talked about that in class this morning, my 'joke-is-on-me' talk of the new Mercedes.

It ain't the big house, yacht, vacation time share or my golf handicap.

Matter of fact, and to keep today's post moving with polite prolix, it is nothing material.

It is my commitment to keep moving along the path of quality. Quality of Life. QoL. That means this fitness thing, the mental component and the element of the spiritual. There is a lifetime of challenge to anyone wanting to take up the call and carry these colors forward.

I volunteer. We nailed the body color this morning pre-dawn. This log is a fractal of my dedication to pushing the art of the word. And sometime today I will be asked to rise to the occasion and walk a mile on the shoes of the spirit. Nature will whisper my name.

I hope I have the presence to hear, and then to listen, and finally to understand.

Once understood I trust I am ready to act upon that knowledge.

To that I am FULLY committed.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day eighty-eight

Another long and painful day. Today was clean out the shed day. Consisted of moving things that have been stored in a leaky and damp home for wayward squirrels since 1986. I had to empty a four drawer file cabinet that has been home to my travel notes. A complete drawer full of three ring notebooks spanning twenty years of journaling, single spaced. My thoughts ranged from, get rid of this junk, to, there's a novel here somewhere.

I morphed into a mindless cleaning machine as the day wore me out. One fan through a file folder and slam dunk into the can. Haul from shed to dumpster and repeat. All the live long day.

Due to the Craig's List add alerting the community to the gaggle of goodies now free, there was early and aggressive traffic. We moved a lot of second tier merchandise and loaded another ton of scrap as we carried out the primary directive of prepping for demo.

The family that was here last night and hauled as much as they could in what I am sure is the oldest running Toyota in America, returned to tow Bluey, my 86 Volvo. I chuckled when Junior said Dad was a mechanic, as I spied his tools in the back of his Toyota and knee-jerked a judgment on his wrenching skills.

They had her ready to go in twenty minutes and all I could do was prepare the paperwork and shake my head in admiration.

We moved two cars, a moto, two scooters and four bikes.

It is starting to look a little deserted out there.

But that was the plan.

Had to laugh when a couple in a red Kia asked if they could have all my DVDs. Knowing they were selling briskly at $2/ea last week I swallowed hard in saying sure. Gone for a song were some great titles, maybe 50 or 60 of them. They left one.

My 2003 self produced and directed classic Northwest Triathlon 2003: Tips.

Some classic

That one hurt a little.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day eighty-seven


Interestingly, but not uncommonly, I went off on a few tangents this morning. At the time, our weekly 90 minute indoor cycling session in a room affectionately hailed as the House of Mirth, it seemed like a good use of the interval phase designed to allow recovery. That phase allows one to catch breath, relax, make necessary adjustments, shoot some electrolytes and swab the deck. It also allows the conductor of this chaotic cacophony to add some noetic spice to the mix.

Which I have been adding for the last ten years with this group. Sure I have raised a few eyebrows with my political commentary, ruffled feathers with endorphin fueled pot-shots, challenged when I could have consoled and even run-off many as a result of one form of bombast, innuendo, inappropriate metaphor or another.

Ya know what? Too bad. Sorry. I cannot be all things to all people. So I be who I am and do what I do. If I offend you along the way, I sincerely apologize. But that is life in this fast lane. If you want challenge and if you can take the heat, there is no better value. Please be advised that there are side effects. I think you know what they are.

I respect your decision to reject my approach. If you want a conservative, non-threatening, vanilla, piece-of-cake, walk-in-the-park session with a set full of modern, winy, teen-crap tunes, there are opportunities galore. Try one. Try ten. I will not be offended if you choose Pink over Pink Floyd, or Miley and Justin over Simon and Garfunkel. Your are a big girl, walk the walk.

So today I picked two topics as themes to illustrate the importance of knowing ourselves. Of knowing how we respond to stress, challenge and hard work. Of practicing the edgy intensity one step outside the comfort zone. I find these two crucial once on that path.

1) Confidence.
2) Attitude.

And we worked our butts off for an hour and a half to a compilation of classic rock in a hot room with twenty people. And it fucking rocked.

Hold me closer Tiny Dancer.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day eighty-six wish

Straight arrow to Normal
Sometimes I wish.

That I was more "normal".

I dream of what used to be the "middle class".

I long to watch TV again without a cynical running commentary, without my obtuse disgust for blatant dishonest commerciality.

I wish I could sleep in a warm, comfortable, safe and relaxing bed in some cozy, well-kept manufactured home that looks like all the others in my cul-de-sac.

I wish I had a nondescript but well-running and reliable car that would start and stop at my digression, maintained and insured, stored in an orderly garage amid my lawn mowing tools and golf clubs.

I wish I had a 9-5 job, toiling in a small downtown office, managing some middle process of whatever commerce paid enough to cover my debt and provide two weeks a year at the beach.

I wish I had a smart, sexy, athletic, funny wife from an affluent family, committed to obeying my every command.

I am still not sure I wish for 2.5 kids.

I wish I had a hobby like stamp collecting or ornithology.

I wish I liked wool sweaters, gray slacks, Prince Albert and Old Spice.

I wish a single martini, stirred OR shaken was my drug of choice.

I wish I had no stress, no issues, no complexities, perfect health, white teeth, and met with a supportive and docile group every Sunday morning to affirm our sameness of belief.

I wish I was like Truman.

I wish I would stop wishing and accept the reality that I never was, currently am not and never will be, anything remotely close to "normal".

That's my wish.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day eighty-five, Mercedes as Mataphor


"Why would you buy a car without a reverse?", he asked hesitantly, fully aware that his Volvo 70XC had the same mechanical deficiency.

"After selling three scooters, my truck and Bluey, I was suddenly without anything but my bikes. So I went to Craig's List on a mission to find the best local and affordable value and pull the trigger."

"And that was a Mercedes with no reverse?".

"Yes."

Smirking a head turn with a feint grin he says 'OK" with little confidence, kinda the way a used car salesman in a plaid sports coat claims everything works and she gets great gas mileage.

So now I have to make it work. To prove to my brother that he is not related by blood to a complete idiot. That there is actually a plan here waiting to be flawlessly executed to return the investment.

I now have to do intel to find a parking place, make sure there is a turnaround at the end of the road or park on a hill to roll backwards. But she purrs on the highway like a leopard in overdrive, smooth, powerful and stylish, hungry for game.

Yes I have buyer's remorse. That new transmission, even rebuilt, is going to cost me a grand. But as I paid 5K less than low bluebook, it is still an investment that could move my finances forward. A direction in which I now navigate.

Because there is no reverse.

She runs great!
Wow. Mercedes as metaphor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day eighty-four demo


We get going for real today. The yard sale was nice. The Craig's List postings successful and the rental unit secured. Today I will make 1,000 executive decisions to determine the fate of 1,000 things. What to toss, what to box, what to keep and what to recycle.

The goal is to find an efficient state of ruthless benevolence. Quickly assign value and act. Don't let memories, emotions, gilt or fear enter into the equation. Be a mindless cleaning machine. If there isn't someone standing in your shadow with cabbage in paw pleading to take possession, toss that thing like a radioactive potato.

I have always had a difficult time dong this. It shows. I have collected stuff that even Fred Sanford would call junk. And a lot of it. This 40 yard demo box may not hold it all. We might need a bigger bin. Or heavy machinery to smash it into a more manageable size. Like sawdust debris. I actually once considered digging a giant hole and burying everything.

But that was yesterday. Today we glove-up and get the heavy lifting done. I have the dumpster for another six days. It will be interesting to see just how much it will hold. Ten years is probably cake, twenty do-able, but thirty?

Half of me wants this to be over. The other half appreciates the challenge. No matter the label I hang on this monumental chore, it must get done.

And I am the one who must do it.

Let's get going. Let's make it real. Be ruthless yet compassionate, happy in your work. A tutta forza!

When is lunch?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day eighty-three, ze Autobahn


Lightning strikes. Everywhere. Nature's drum roll. The once tranquil atmosphere is now crackling with energy. It is impossible to side-step. I trust my faith.

I was re-baptized by an Army Vet with PTSD an hour ago. He told me we were brothers and asked for Jesus to look after me. Maybe I shouldn't have volunteered so many details of my last week, as he said it reminded him of 'Nam.

He's a good guy. Tells great stories. He is helping with the manual demo, tossing my accumulated shit into a dumpster that looks like a beached barge. We work in the rain, laughing at the hypocrisy of our civilization, smoking cigars.

He gave me a ride out to buy a Mercedes. Talk about a reversal. I sell two junk Chinese scooters, a Volvo that was given to me three years ago and my trusty Exploder that I have been steadily driving into the ground since 2003, and trade for a 1989 Mercedes 240SEL.

Movin' on up!

Except that it stalls at low RPM and won't engage to reverse. Oh well, I have finally made the automotive big time and can now cruise up and down 305 like somebody who can actually afford one of these fine German beasts. The irony is enough to choke a VW! Oh and the guy who sold it to me is a stand up comedian! Really. Bada-bing, crash, boom, bang.

What a day. In a series of amazing days. On this path.

Que the thunder.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day eighty-two, BOOM


With not quite the force of a ton of bricks, the hit was similar.

Having spent countless waking hours doing and the remaining hours thinking about the doing, the bricks fell with authority, funneling 60 years into six seconds.

I used to call them the Big Three. That was back int he day when I actually fooled myself into thinking I had it all rendered down to a few bullet points. Can you imagine the audacity? How do you condense the indefiniteness of the universe into less than a handful of conceptual moving parts? The chapter could be titled, A sophomore looks at life.

Anyway I did it. I listed the four points that seemed at the time to fit the requirement. I was teaching an alternative education class and needed an outline on the elements necessary to stay rooted on the path. A twelve steps in Cliff Notes. Just the facts Ma'am. Memorize these and you'll never ask for another road map. They were/are:

1) Think positive thoughts.
2) Be here and now.
3) Help others.
4) Be happy.


A rudimentary list of the basics. In my class I took each one and discussed in detail. It all made sense, kept the attention of the class and challenged me to use colorful anecdotes and graphic examples. I also got to hone my public speaking chops.

Under the Be Happy heading (No.4) I created a sub-category containing the above mentioned Big Three.

1) Mind
2) Body
3) Spirit.


With enough attention to the three, number four could be obtained, went my reasoning.

And up to yesterday, I held that premise as one of my highest truths. Profound in its simplicity, no?

But my health over the last year has headed south faster than swallows to Capistrano. The mysterious and as yet diagnosed malady has also caused memory loss, dizziness and what they call brain fog. There goes one AND two.

Leaving solely number three.

And guess what happened? I found out, perhaps the hard way, that with enough love, empathy, compassion, gratitude and passion for life, that the sound mind and body I once revered, are nothing compared to the power of spirit. No contest.

It was an amazing moment. Enlightening. An epiphany. Right passage. I sat paralyzed by the spontaneity and power with which those bricks hit.

BOOM

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day eighty-one, sold!

Sunday, final day of the weekend yard sale extravaganza. I feel like heading to the med tent. It was non-stop for two days, hauling, cleaning, moving, loading, cajoling, barging on trivial artifacts, some carrying boatloads of emotional charge.

Kinda drains ya.

We finished last night with a bonfire over at Paul & Anne's. Sipping wine and champagne the chat turned to our memories of the past. We have been here a long time. I am off to who knows where and they are off to Kona.  I will say it again, we had a blast.

I am lighter today. There is less stuff. I was hoping to end today with close to an empty lot. Nice try. Despite selling two days worth of collectibles at bargain prices. there remains much more. I will haul it off to Seattle Children's Bargain Boutique starting tomorrow.

The dumpster arrives Tuesday morning.

We close on April 2.

This will all be over soon.

I think I will be happy when it is.

Day eighty


You just keep moving.

Ask a triathlete, distance runner or ultra marathoner and they will tell you the same. When things get tough, and they will, you just keep moving.

The commerce is in the rent. You buy time. Honing the skill of perseverance, our ability to sustain ambulation is as fundamental to endurance as impeccable form is to swimming. Function follows form.

The better your form the better your odds to function at a high rate. Or, for the sake of this example, the better your chances of dealing with the hurt, the agony, the hunger, the lower back pain or the mental anguish that inevitably arises as we add distance and time to the day's demands. At this crucial point in an event speed is a secondary concern. Truly it is a matter of survival. The journey is all about now. There will be no then without this now, no future minus this present. You must do whatever is necessary to continue.

Next practice session, long day at the office, or marathon yard sale, juxtapose the banal reality of your labor, those mundane repetitive tasks performed with brain numbing and seemingly endless regularity, the assembly line of your fitness, by adding these simple, yet complex, progressive elements:

1) Stay present.
2) Experience the sensations.
3) Breathe deep and relax.
4) Commit to the process.


As they two-step in Country music, When you're going through hell, keep on going. Nobody wants to be stuck there. Try these the next time you are asked to go long. Somewhere between point A (the start) and point B (the finish), if you are going strong enough, you will experience the point C. Point C defined as that place where you need something more, something to get you through, some mantra to repeat with every foot strike or pedal rotation as a motivational chant. I have always kidded that I hope point C comes when we can smell the barn. Do what must be done, try the four steps outlined above, and above all,

Just keep moving.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day seventy-nine, gone.



Today was odd. Haven't rented storage space since the first overseas stint in 1991. Lot's more paperwork, insurance, smaller space for the buck. But for $44 I now have a 5x5 space to store the items that came into my possession from Mom, or Mom's Mom. You know the stuff.

Hung a 12x20 tarp in the attempt to fend off whatever precipitation blows in the next 48 hours and then started the load out. Furniture, a generator, lawn mower, more chairs than Ikea stocks and assorted odds and ends that I am sure would stretch from here to Sanford & Sons place if laid tail to tip.

My back hurts already. My knees are weak. I wish this was over.

All my neighbors have been coming over to inquire and offer an ironic combination of congratulatory remorse. Nobody, but me, talks much about the 'what ifs', mostly it's 'the change will do you good.' Please allow me to say once more, there is nothing like good neighbors.

It has been a wild ride. Thirty years. Wow. Gone. We had some fun. I traveled the world with this tiny plot of sod as home base. I have hung many hats here, always eager to return after time away. We almost made it. We almost had it all. I made more mistakes than I care to count. Water, meet bridge.

Today, as I haul accumulated junk out to the farmers market in my yard, I fight the urge to second guess. Did I give up? Was this all an ill-advised and cowardly escape strategy? Am I truly the biggest fool to ever hit the small time?

Or am I one lucky SOB, still able to run to the edge of the cliff and then stop on a dime? With the sole responsibility to keep one dancing step ahead of the shoe shine?

You have heard me say on these pages many times that change is good.

This change is gonna be REAL good.

With a dash of odd.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day seventy-eight



We have discussed this before. Several times in fact. So please bear with me today as I make another attempt to clarify and define.

I do this primarily for myself. I find writing, journaling, recording, keeping a log to be a creative way to examine the day-to-day. Hopefully from this examination will come some improvement, refinement or perhaps even an entirely new view. Good writers will tell you that they have to get into character and see the world through the eyes of their protagonists. Otherwise, unless you live a double life, it's simply a diary in the first person. Nothing wrong with that of course, but not nearly as much fun as creating life, albeit on the page with imaginary animation.

Hence Fleming created Mr Bond
Shelley Frankenstein
Ludlum Bourne
Rowlings young Mr Potter
Carroll Alice
Verne Fogg
Tolkien Frodo Baggins
Doyle Holmes
Melville Starbuck

I have tried on a few occasions to create my own super-hero, superstar. It is hard work. Re-wiring my computer or 86 Volvo might be easier. But chunks are manageable. So instead of the chapter I try to craft the paragraph. Some days even a single sentence, a practice both Stanley Fish and Julia Cameron might approve.

It is also cathartic. Refreshing and, on rare days, even joyful.

But mainly I do it as a practice. The discipline required in the daily performance of this ritual is priceless, assisting in any number of other areas where these skills might come in handy. The right tool in your kit when you need it.

You might be thinking, "How the heck is writing a clean sentence going to help you get to T2 in your next triathlon?" A very good question.

Answer: Because I do this every day, as practice, sharing my hopes, dreams, fears, phobias and doubts with the world, I will endure. I live to write another day. It is the same as doing hill repeats. This is truth, a brutally honest assessment of the reality of the world that I create. Or, at the most banal, my spin on the importance of structure. At any time in any race, as the sun is blistering, your feet sore and your will shot full of more holes than deli-style Swiss cheese, the same ability to stay in the moment of now, the discipline to transform a weak, hungry, hurting and lost soul (you or me) into a strong finishing hero of the marathon, is a fascinating and valuable effort of non-fiction. The ability to stay on target, to reel in your wandering awareness and re-calibrate to laser-like precision, in the heat of battle, is a powerful cross-platform characteristic. It is not solely for exclusive use by those with powers far beyond those of mortal men. It can be yours. Write your story.

You get to script. I create. WE are our own heroes. Author yourself a victory.

Practice that on a daily basis, Superstar.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day seventy-seven, Jack


Attitude. It's black or white.

You know it. I know it. They ALL know it.

When we need to be bold, when we must face our demons, enemies or sometimes best friends, when the time to act is at hand...Blah, blah... You know the set up.

The time is now and the place is here. Whatever your immediate necessity, that thing that you have been avoiding with world class procrastination, can be done with a precision mashing of courage and attitude.

You can be, no, you MUST be a Jack o' Tude.

Throw some charisma at it. Go onstage and kill a stand-up set. Tell your favorite dirty joke. Make the sale. Get the girl. Establish a PR. Go HARD. It is all attitude, dude.

Need some inspiration? Someone to model your potential Jackness?

 The White Jack
 The Black Jack

When I asked this morning, rhetorically, would you rather be Jack White or Jack Black, the implication was "what kind of attitude Jack? Black or white?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day seventy-six



…is a state of indestructible happiness wherein we manifest our limitless potential, boundless wisdom and infinite compassion to create value out of every situation in life.

…is not a supernatural being but rather an ordinary person who is enlightened to the eternal and ultimate truth that is the reality of all things and who leads others to the same enlightenment.

Juxtaposed and extrapolated, the ellipsis indicate some sort of description as a mission statement, I feel. Why are we doing what we are doing? There must be an underlying and all-inclusive goal, one that will keep us on the single track. Especially when that track is muddy, overgrown with nettles and dark.

Because we tent to get lost. We allow distraction and we indulge in the immediate gratification of shallow entertainment. We numb the pain.

Imagine spending the remainder of this day, then all of tomorrow, with just one of the attributes listed above as central focus.

What would happen if we dedicated the next 24 hours to the nobility of creating value in every situation?

We could change the world.

Or ourselves.

And when we change ourselves we lead others towards that same truth, changing the whole in the practice and process.

….is your happiness indestructible?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day seventy-four disclaimer

Upfront disclaimer.

This is one of those "just keep the streak alive" posts. It is officially Day seventy-four. It is Sunday night. It has been a long week. Today I shot an off-road mountain bike race in the rain and mud. I am cold, hungry, tired and feverishly trying to get a short highlight video cut, rendered and uploaded. I feel it is the least I can do to honor those that actually raced.

During the YouTube render I remembered the streak. I suppose seventy-four isn't that big a number and certainly not ready for prime time or the Guinness Book.

But I will never get to seventy-five without this.

And streaks are all about momentum. And hope. And dedication.

So we have that going for us.

Here's to day seventy-five, whose promise of profundity is made possible by the upfront disclaimer of day seventy-four.

We write to right another day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day seventy-three, with clock running



The clock is running. As it always is.

There is a deadline. Things to do. Lots of items on this list.

The biggest obstacle, perhaps is letting go. Losing the attachment.

Assigning value, ruthlessly separating the treasures from the trash, the trophies from the trivial.

This yard sale is metaphor. I seek the uncluttered, the clean, the simple.

In thirty years I have amassed an incredible amount of, well, stuff. Things I still don't understand as precious. What was I thinking when…

Today starts another process. The clean up. I have made a mess. My art project, thirty years in the making, doesn't meet the one criteria from page one, line one, sentence one, of my carpenters manual.

When we build let us think that we build forever.

I think somewhere, and I will find it soon, the Audel's manuals, the study textbooks we used for entry into the united brotherhood of carpenters and joiners way back in the mid seventies, will remind me again how badly I failed.

Today this is OK. Yesterday was hard. I took an earnest money check to escrow, moderating a wild eleventh-hour bidding contest and finally handing the file folder to the agent. Ten minutes later I was out on the street walking very slow. My chest was filled with a strange air and my field of vision was narrow as a key hole. I had to stop mid-step and grab a hand rail.

What is this feeling? Am I heading into another A-Fib episode with brain fog like pea soup? Am I going to pass out here on the street? How embarrassing.

I recognized the feeling as is was coming on. I took a shallow breath and BAM...

It was a cry. Thirty years of emotion erupting like Mt St Helens, OMG, dude, you are supposed to be tough, get a grip. It only lasted a few seconds. Then, amazingly it was over. Reality back and screaming for attention. I was able to let it go. And regain the flow. I looked at my watch.

The clock is running.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day seventy-two

Dear Cosmos:

NEVER HANG AN OH-AND-TWO CURVE TO A HUNGRY BANJO HITTER.

Sincerely,

Me


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day seventy-one


Drama can take some getting used to. It can also be addicting. Perhaps we should coin a new phrase, call it dramatic balance.

A little is certainly good. Keeps the juices flowing. Keeps you on your toes and moving closer to the edge, where all the excitement lives. Too much can overwhelm and induce a paralysis of movement.

We talked a little about it last night. That incredible emotion known in sports circles  as performance anxiety. When your nerves are buzzing with the largesse of the moment, endorphins mixing with adrenalin to form an event cocktail at maximum heart rate. I have some close up footage of Ironman athletes on the beach minutes before the canon blast and their eyes tell more in one frame than a thousand words ever could. I love that moment. Always have. If ever there was a nano-second of time to feel life at its most profound, that is it.

It is as difficult to control as it is to practice. How do you? Go ahead and call 2,000 of your friends, gather them lakeside and all start swimming at once. Then keep it up over 140.6 miles. It would raise you heart rate some.

But I think it is possible to rehearse. In our CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center our bread and butter drill is the 2x20. We know that 85% of FTP is a robust and demanding level of intensity. The last ten minutes of the second set often define us. We either have the mental toughness to endure or don't. We either possess the ability to focus and maintain efficient execution, of we don't. We either accept the challenge or let it pass.

This skill can be learned the same way that our muscles adapt to increases in load. We get stronger. We get tougher. We add confidence to the mix. And before you know it….

What was once drama is now dogma.

We simply do what needs to be done. With great presence and focus. With confidence stopping just short of arrogance.

You have seen this. It is inspiring. It motivates. Those that possess have practiced it  hundreds of times.

You can too. Find your dramatic balance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day seventy of a true champion


It has been said before. In many ways and with myriad spins. It is nothing new.

I think it warrants repeating, perhaps as mantra or maybe simply because I feel the impulse to reaffirm. In saying this aloud, writing it down, sharing it with the universe, it lightens the load. I can say we are all in this together, but those dark times when it feels like we have been left standing on the dock of despair, as all our friends ride first class to a destination resort, this has always helped smooth the painful edges of transition.

"The key is to see times of great challenge as opportunities for great positive change."

Have you heard that one too?

The author continues, "That is the hallmark of true champions and the way of life for people of genuine wisdom."

That last part is the kicker. Let's twist it up a little and see if it holds water.

What is the hallmark of a true champion?

Doing one's best under pressure? Rising to the occasion? Leading by example? Grace under fire? Seeing times of great challenge as opportunities for great positive change?

Define then, great challenge.

This. Now. Today. Here.

Those will all do very nicely until the real challenge shows up, I quote in my best Tommy Lee Jones deadpan.

A true champion sees EVERYTHING as a great opportunity for positive change.

There, I have added my take.

Please add yours.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day sixty-nine

Even a little roll is better than none. One day's success can, and should, prime the pump for the next. We used to say in Ironman training that success is built upon success. That one day of focused, motivated and expertly executed drills, distance or testing sets the stage for tomorrow's.

It is the map pin stuck where endurance is born. Repeating the protocol and progressively overloading. A little further, a little faster. More reps, more miles. Augmenting the focus and diminishing the random.

One of the markers, to me, is the way intensity feels. That rate of perceived exertion when all systems are firing in synch. High intensity. Hard effort. Big value. How does this match up with my sense of power? I do remember it. Well.

The roll is parlayed into the next workout to build stamina, confidence and capability, naturally progressing to include the oft overlooked tangents of fuel choices, rest and recover strategies, structure of schedule and racing. If you don't race all this is proxy for good health and fitness. At its most banal, movement is fun, we are born to it.

All this combined is the big picture, the complete package. At the pointy part of the success pyramid the red zone LED blinks in relentless warning.

One false move, one misstep, a loss of awareness (distraction) for less than the time it takes to lace your running shoes, one bad food choice, one race day decision based on fear, and your roll will stop with the absolute swiftness of a falling boulder finding level ground. BAM.

And you take the lesson, experience will identify it, test an alternative, and get back in the game. You start the roll over.

The good news is that you may repeat this as many times as necessary. More good news is that you will get back to where you were before the work stoppage faster the more fitness you have earned. You know the bad news.

Sometimes we become discouraged and think about how easy it would be to quit. Invent the perfect excuse and head back home for some TV and popcorn with Ben, Jerry and Uncle Bud.

Folks, KEEP IT ROLLING. Take the time to heal, take the time to analyze, ask for professional assistance, find a training partner, sign up for a class, CALL ME FOR OFF THE RECORD FREE ADVICE*.

But keep the roll.

* A limited one-time offer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 68 w/ The Beav



I remember an episode of Leave it to Beaver where The Beav (Jerry Mathers) started a diary. After a week he did a quick review to find that every entry showed the same activities:

Went to school.
Ate lunch.
Came back home.

His take was that he was boring and did the same old stuff every day. I think we all recognize the error in his analysis. Likewise I think we all applaud his additional response in seeking change. This could have been the episode where he got stuck in the steaming cup of soup billboard, I am not sure, but I do give him an A+ for effort. Kid was 12 or so and out looking for adventure and fun. Wally (Tony Dow) even tossed a backdoor compliment his way later that evening after Ward (Hugh Beaumont) read him a chapter from the responsibility guidebook.

I always liked The Beav's innocent wanderlust.

My point in all this black and white retrospect is this: I think it is good to be easily impressed. I know I am.

Maybe it's the mellowing and aging process, maybe it's refinement, appreciation of art, or quite possibly that last gram of compassion. I like seeing passion on parade. I love seeing others get after it. It of course being their dreams and goals. The art of putting perspective into play as one rips the present to, one day, shred the future. Seeing that the quality of this now is fully responsible for the manifestation of that now. I adore that innocent energy.

This morning I read this (James Shapiro): "If your mind is dirty you can run 10,000 miles, but where have your gotten? If you go for a one-mile run and you're passionately engaged with the world, who cares about the other 9,999?"

To call that profound would be understating like an Eddie Haskel (Ken Osmond) excuse.

To lasting impressions and profundities  then, may they all be as bold as the Beav's. And Mr. Shapiro's.

Go to school.
Eat lunch
Come home.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day sixty-seven


Energy, drama and mission.

There is motion, conflict and our inherent need to see justice (or the American way) served.

The classic ingredients for a Hollywood chase scene. And more.

If you are looking to up your training game, if you have ever succumbed to ebbs of motivation, if you have ever been paralyzed by boredom while teaching your body and mind to work as a team, we might take a cue from Spielberg, Coppola, Mann, and Tarantino.

Ride it like you stole it.

Script in a chase scene. Add some high-octane to the mix. Author a dose of drama, create some evil to play off. Hollywood does all three. Elements of the chase.

Let's try one for practice and to illustrate the model.

Interior. Morning. A young man sits in front of a small TV. He is disheveled and listless. Next to him on the couch is a magazine. He opens it to a beautiful full color ad promoting a bike tour in France.

Close up of his face flashing a quick smile.

He drops the magazine and returns to his TV lethargy as a young female cyclist rides her bike along a stretch of highway. He immediately recognizes it as the Pacific Coast.

Close up of his face showing a spark of motivation.

He changes the channel with his remote. An ad for fast food appears.

He stands to look at himself in the mirror.

Close up as he presses lips, squints eyes shut, raises head upward and then opens then to reveal….commitment.

He has made the decision. To act. To chase this simple dream. He now has a goal. He has motivation. The Rocky theme plays somewhere in his head. He looks back in the mirror, sideways, and sucks in his gut.

Cut to indoor training facility. HE is there, among others, trying to get in shape. He is dying on the bike. BUT HE IS NOT GOING TO QUIT. This is the demon as enemy that chases him. The demon wants his soul, wants him to stop at Big Bubba's Burgers on the way home, wants him to sit and watch TV, wants him to quit.

The chase is on. He, his goals, the antagonist and the process of transformation. The hero's quest in a modern day setting. From couch potato to Highway 101 and eventually up the very hills that challenge the best riders in the world in the French Alps.

Will he get the girl? (Her boy friend is the team captain, and a Cat 1 jerk)

Stay tuned for part two. (INSERT COMMERCIAL HERE)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day sixty-six and extra credit


In my ongoing attempt to master the obvious, a noble endeavor I find most challenging, the last few days have provided some rather interesting observations.

Which of course I will share with you.

Because that serves a number of purposes. One being my belief that the way to get better at anything is to do it often. Writing, like cycling, needs to be preformed on a regular basis in order to improve. I do this everyday. One day I hope to craft a piece that contains zero grammatical, syntactical or spelling errors. This is juxtaposed to the same idea in cycling where I long for one perfect ride. Indoors or out. Makes little difference, find the zone, hold it, execute flawlessly, stay present.

Is that obvious or something more esoterically subtle? I don't really know and I can't really tell.

Further, to me it makes no difference. The obvious is that good writing takes practice. The nuance is finding the answer to the 'how much' practice question. A chapter a day? A column per week? Three pages? One haiku? Do it, measure it and then manage it.

Same with cycling. Five hours with the team? A 90 minute spin class? Twice a week 2x20s? One Gran Fondo a year? 400 watts?

We could go on with this ad naseum. Workout your own salvation. Make some mistakes. Overtrain. Scribble notes to self until the cows return home. Challenge yourself to a higher standard. Above all, engage your compete self in the process. Enjoy the ride.

Nobody is holding a loaded revolver to your head demanding you write or ride. It is your decision. Your art. Your one chance at forging a life worth living. That sacred journey contains the effort of today. Make it count.

That is obvious isn't it?

For extra credit give me 300 words on riding a fixed gear bike 300 miles. Due Monday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Day sixty-five


One of the nice things about life is that we get second chances.

Sometimes even thirds.

We all own a built-in edit feature that allows close examination of sentence structure as well as event results. We make qualitative value judgments and correct future action and intent to suit. We can literally change direction in the middle of the race, if we so choose. It is quite a beautiful thing actually.

We all know that an ill-advised adjective can ruin a crisp sentence as fast as a flat note can wreck a ballad.

That edit feature allows us the promise of a cleaner do-over. With practice and diligence we stand a decent chance, Vegas has it at 2-1, to improve our chances of success. Or simply survive. Use another descriptor and rehearse the proper pitch. 

It was comical how many times I whiffed yesterday. It was an oh for five day at the plate. Not only did I K all five trips, I never even made contact. By nightfall my head was spinning faster than a shinny new top on Christmas morning, what's next? I kept thinking.

Then.

The sun rose this morning with a robin's-egg blue backdrop. The rains which had been beating with relentless staccato had finished their pluvial paradiddle. It was a new day.

And I am determined to do better. To practice more. To breathe deeper and relax with greater peace.

Thank you Lord for giving me another day.

I am better than that.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day sixty-four, trigger


Could it be as simple as this? Pulling the trigger?

When I toiled in magazine marketing we had two distribution theories.

One we called the shotgun approach. We spread as many copies to as many retailers as we could.

The second we called the sniper approach, a very selective, but lower volume distribution to only those outlets that met our target demographic.

It came down to efficiency and mathematics. And therefore profit.

Our model, and hence its challenge, was to work hard enough to raise the margin to its greatest volume and achieve our best return.

I was tasked with managing that campaign, and took great joy in seeing increases in sell-through percentage as well as bottom line profits.

The same principal seems to be true today.

We could all use a little more efficiency. We could all tighten up, clean the edges. Quit trying to sell retirement ideas to skateboarders. The big question, especially in fitness, competition and training, is exactly, how.

Fine tuning the sights on the high powered rifle of life, I will suggest that structure plays an important role. Precision and calibration.

What do you want?

If you feel, as we do, that your threshold power on the bike is a thing of importance, do something today that will result in its improvement.

Structure your time. Etch in marble two days a week specifically to enhance your power.

The shotgun approach would be saying "I want to get faster".

The sniper will focus on the target of specific, measured, structured and proven ways to improve.

Could be as easy as pulling the trigger.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day sixty-three art


Salvage what you can. Protect the primary. Take the first watch and the last. In between hone, practice and refine.

What do I reference?

Everything.

Consider your commerce. The ways and means that you provide.

Consider your mind. Intellectual curiosity is a wonderful thing at any level. From a crossword puzzle to the special relativity theory, there awaits the time and space for your input. Or your commentary. Or your questions.

Consider your spirit. Who do your think you are? What do you think you are? Who is really in charge here? What is the meaning? What is fairness, justice, love? Who were Jesus, Buddha and Allah? How important is happiness? How does your heart match up with the state of compassion the size of Montana?

Consider your body. Are we healthy? Do we have adequate speed, strength, flexibility and endurance? Do we rest and recover well? Do we have sufficient energy to do those things that fill our sails with joy? Do we manage our myriad stress' appropriately?

Consider your purpose. Why are we here doing all of this, now? Is this our calling of truth? Is there passion and commitment? IS IT WORKING? As mentioned yesterday, will you suffer some for your art?

Consider that your art could be the sum of all the above. You are your art. You are an artist. You have the power to create.

So when the sky seems to be raining toxic debris with unrelenting ire, salvage what your can, don your hard hat and soldier on.

It's the only way. Keep moving. Snarl a little if you have to, but you will, you must, get through,

And the sun will shine in your backyard someday.

I guarantee it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day Sixty-two



You know I am big on effort. I would much rather lose a game (race, event, competition) knowing that I gave 100% than win (sometimes as my teammates overachieved to compensate for my inadequacies).

You know that right?

Is it the same for you?

Because if it isn't we need to have a little chat.

Or maybe the meeting that will free you to explore the part of the universe that we call, innocently, mysterious.

Here, the mystery is revealed.

Please be advised that the following disclaimer will change everything.

Forever.

Because you will know the truth. Because that truth is more powerful than anything you can imagine. It makes nuclear energy look like fossil fuel. And then you will have the awesome responsibility to put that knowledge into play. To forge that knowledge to wisdom.

I will give it to you straight.

You need to give all you got and assume the risk of failure. Simple, no?

Train smart (smarter), train hard (harder), train with focus (more), dedication (more), camaraderie, grace and determination (more, more and more). And to balance, with LESS fear.

And then do it again. This is so easy. Elementary, I can almost hear Sherlock say.

Keep doing it until one glorious day you awake to find that it has become a part of you. You have trained it so. It has shaped you, cut you, chiseled you and toned you. Maybe not all physical, outward, but perhaps more importantly, internal, emotionally and with the shining grace that comes only from the confidence born of experience and suffering.

AND IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE HOW YOU FINISH, IT'S HOW YOU PROGRESS. Are we fucking clear on that?

One can lose all power, speed, prowess and remain a champion.

Effort.

The energy you take is equal to the energy you make.

I will leave you with this one from a true champion. Not an athlete but an actor. He said, "It's just as painful to do something well as it is to do it not well."

Or as one co-actor said of him, "He went to war for his art."

Will you fight a little for yours?


Monday, March 3, 2014

Day sixty-one

Losing prepares you for the heartbreak, setback, and tragedy that you will encounter in the world more than winning ever can. By licking your wounds you learn how to avoid getting wounded again the next time. The American military learned more by its defeat in South Vietnam than it did in all the victories ever fought for the Stars & Stripes. Loss invites reflection and reformulating and a change of strategies. Loss hurts and bleeds and aches. Loss is always ready to call out your name in the night. Loss follows you home and taunts you at the breakfast table, follows you to work in the morning. You have to make accommodations and broker deals to soften the rabbit punches that that loss brings into your daily life. You take the word "loser" and add it to your resume and walk around with it on your name tags it hand-feeds you your own shit in doses too large for ever the great beasts to swallow. The word "loser" follows you, bird-dogs you, sniffs you out of whatever fields you hide in because you have to face things clearly and you cannot turn away from what is true. My team won eight games and lost seventeen…..losers by any measure.

Epilogue from Pat Conroy's magnificent opus of the 1966-67 basketball season at The Citadel, "My Losing Season".

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day Sixty, hard time


Didn't see THAT one coming!

Such a clever plot twist.

When all seems lost, with no hope, no way out and eminent doom knocking with authoritative intent, something happens.

Something always happens.

The cavalry finally shows up. The person thought for dead returns. The hero finds the reserve tank. Eagles fly in, grab you by the collar and whisk you off just before the lava flow.

Something always happens.

Because the story isn't finished. There is more. Lots more. We aren't done yet.

I am on the phone with Amex reporting my stolen credit card. While speaking, the customer service rep says, huummmm a sale was just disapproved.

I ask where.

She says just a minute I'll pull it up.

I recognize the place.

Thirteen miles up the road.

When did this happen.

Forty minutes ago.

I hang up and call the officer with whom I had filed a report an hour earlier.

I tell him the news.

He says I'll call you back.

When he does they have a positive ID from security cams.

Perps get sloppy, try several more purchases (as the cavalry is en route) finally leaving in a jacked car.

They are pulled over for speeding. Wheel perp hands MY DRIVERS LICENSE to the State Patrol officer.

You shouldn't have given in to greed boys.

I hope you like orange.

That way we'll see you coming. In five to ten.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day Fifty-nine. The Pit


I said fifty-nine days ago that I would write something every day. So far-so good. It hasn't always been brilliant, Hemingway-like or even coherent, but I have, so date, kept my promise.

Today is by far the most difficult. The backstory isn't that unusual. A series of events have led me to the bottom of this pit. I have been trying with my best effort to raise collateral to get out of debt, pay back taxes, continue medical treatment and help my brother, who seems to have fallen into the pit next to mine.

My home of 30 years is on the market as a fire sale. Along with everything else I own.

Yesterday I sold a motorcycle and literally pocketed the cash. When I heard that my brother's son wasn't going to play Little League this year because they could't afford the $150 fee, my plan was to swing over after our 90 minute spin class and offer to get him back in the game.

I was very happy about this timely turn of events and looking forward to watching him play, as I have every year since he fist started T-Ball, maybe six years ago.

I never made it to their beautiful house. He never got the gift.

Somebody broke into my locker while we were working out, stealing all the cash.

It isn't a lot of money. I will make it back. Life will go on.

Some of the guys anted up and gave me a bit cash to get by till Monday morning. God bless you boys.

I'm going over tomorrow to see Junior. It might not be too late.

Here's to a brighter Day Sixty!