Blogpost, self-reliance

Pushing Too Hard

Today I’m feeling the pain of pushing too hard. Not sure if anyone ever really means to do it. Getting caught up in the moment is easy to do. Dialing it back should be an easy thing to do but often the easy things are hard. Doing more feels like progress until something snaps. At that point, it’s too late!

Progress is not usually an instantaneous thing and forcing results is not a winning strategy. Knowing it and living it are two different things. If we got results based on what we know, everyone would have six pack abs and perfect relationships. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. We get results based on our consistent actions and as humans, we fuck up a lot! It’s unavoidable but we just need to keep going.

So today begins the process of recovery and learning. Lick the wounds and try to be smarter next time. Slow and steady needs to be my mantra for a while. The turtle gets where he’s going too and probably doesn’t pull any muscles along the way.

Blogpost, self-reliance

Crossing the Double Yellow

Recently my city has been doing curbside brush pickup. A large truck with a mechanical arm lumbers along slowly picking up branches and bushes that people have left in front of their house. Unfortunately I only seem to encounter the truck on blind curves where crossing over into the other lane in perilous. The conundrum is whether to take the chance or play it safe? There’s a possibility that you get past the truck unscathed and move onto the next part of the day. Or you go head to head with a garbage truck who never saw you coming.

This is much of what we must confront in life. There are simple actions with predictable outcomes because we’ve done them before. Although predictability is extremely valuable, it is just that “predictable”. Excitement and bigger rewards do not come from the predictable. They are usually linked with some form of risk. Perhaps it is simply the risk of self-perception or some other mentally contrived model. Or maybe it is true risk of injury or death. Regardless of which it is, they tend to feel semi-similar. We’ve been wounded hundreds of times but never bled. We’ve died a thousand deaths but our heart never stopped beating. Our anguish is created and executed by nothing more than an electrical signal across a tiny synapse.

In the world of traffic and oncoming traffic, I’m a “play it safe” kind of guy. Unfortunately in the internal world, I’ve painted myself into corners at times with double yellow lines. The pain that I protected myself from would most likely have been short-lived. However it would have been “real” to me. So I hedged, balked, squirmed, cowered and ducked away from those opportunities. I can’t say for sure that I won’t again. But I’ve got it in my head right now that most of those lines are meaningless. So I’m going to test them out and hope that I don’t get a garbage truck in the face! More than likely, the worst that will happen is I’ll get some egg on it!

Let go!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Lesser Known Heroes

The “Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman” eventually breaks out of the neighborhood, becomes an Avenger and travels to space. There was a certain point at which only people from a small locality knew about him. If he had stayed small time, would his contributions been less or just less well known? It’s a question of scale but do lesser known heroes, matter less? The likelihood of any of us having a global impact is pretty low. However, we all can have an individual impact at any moment. So perhaps it’s not scale but consistency that matters.

With so many of the things that we do in life, the opportunity for impact comes in almost direct proportion to frequency. Breathing, heart pumping, showing up, exercising, and so many other activities gain traction and get exponential returns based on their consistency. There is the possibility of overdoing it but most people tend to err on the side of never rather than too much.

So taking those two ideas and melding them together gives opportunity. Doing good for the masses is probably not happening and neither is the big ticket item of saving the world from cataclysm. The opportunity does exist for each of us to do our own small bit to help those who are within our reach. Perhaps that may even mean regularly saving yourself from yourself (yep, that’s a thing). Lesser known heroes are not any less important. They help to keep the world from falling into the pervasive chaos that no Avenger could handle. So whether you think of yourself as a hero or not, suit up and get to work. The world needs you! Ok maybe not the entire world, but definitely YOUR world!

Hero up!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

My Lazy Eye

We all have our imperfections. One of mine is my “lazy eye” that’s actually not the medical term for what it is but it’s a functional description. Generally it happens when I’m tired, my one eye will just lose focus and move to the side. It’s something that I’ve had for so long that I don’t give it too much thought. From time to time, I’ll point it out in my classes. Not because I want encourage ridicule but in the hope that other people won’t be so concerned about their own imperfections.

Owning up to all that you are is difficult. We are weird, inconsistent, preoccupied and insecure beings. Some people have the strategy of covering up all of their imperfections or at least trying to do so. Others overcompensate with strengths or outlandishness. I’m not really in a position to judge. None of this easy! Sitting inside of our own skin and feeling comfortable there is a full time job. Meditate, compensate, communicate, love your mate…. (Go INXS!) They are all viable options but finding one that works in all situations is tough.

The world is not always going to celebrate you for exactly who you are. However there are times and places where your imperfections are exactly what’s needed. Recognize and lean into those because your chances of generalized acceptance of your oddities is probably not on the horizon. Don’t be the fish who keeps trying to climb a tree! The world is probably never going to love you, it doesn’t do that for anyone. However there’s a possibility that you could love yourself and a lot of other people would too! Lazy eye and all!

F%&$ing Alexa was playing this song this morning and it was catchy enough to force me to write this post.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

It Won’t Always Be Pretty

This is by far one of my favorite photos of all time! I’m fairly certain that I didn’t love the moment but I love the memory. My daughter was sitting on my chest and bam! Spit up on the nose, maybe up the nose and definitely a bit in the mouth. Luckily the camera crew got a quick shot of it. There’s nothing to do but laugh! She didn’t mean to do it and she was so darn cute, how could I be mad?

It’s not always going to be so simple to find the beauty in life’s “ugly” moments. We’d all (in theory) love to have everything come up roses but it rarely does. Also there is a bit of extra spice that comes with things that go wrong. Since 1998, when I attended the World Cup, my most commonly told stories are about the loss of a passport, filing a police report and getting pushed by a riot cop. I rarely talk about the games and I was watching my favorite sport with my best friend. Our desire for everything to go well and be easy is both unrealistic and inconsistent with our ability to find the good in bad situations.

So if you’re going through one of those moments when you have the “vomit” of life all over your face, rejoice in the fact that you’ve most likely got a good story for the future. Also it is good context for when things are going well. You’ll appreciate them that much more!

“Anything I’ve ever said is not as good as you”

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Water Feels Like Jello

Less than two weeks to my sprint triathlon and training has been ramped up in a lot of ways. Due to the swim being my weakest part of the race, I’m overcompensating by putting more time and distance into the pool, double to be exact. For the moment, I’m swimming 1,500 meters each day with only a short break at the halfway point (the actual race distance). It’s the oddest feeling but directly after my break, the water feels thicker and heavier. The consistency of it reminds me of melted Jello. It’s a feeling that only lasts for a lap or so but it felt worth noting.

Consistency and momentum are two things that have relevance in so many parts of our lives. Often the stopping of an action or habit can lead to that feeling of “starting over” or the slog. It’s a little different than what Seth Godin refers to as “The Dip”. That’s a barrier near the beginning of a new thing when the “fun” and progress have stopped but you need to push through. The Jello experience is starting back up on an endeavor that’s well underway. Just don’t let the Jello stop you! It’s easy to lose momentum. Rainy days, flakey workout partners, a headache, a poor attitude, etc. can all be Jello until you work through them. The problem comes when jello is repeatedly given too much notice and it hardens or worse turns into cement.

Decide what it is that you truly want. Momentum and consistency are strong forces that can carry us through so many obstacles. If you’ve already decided the level of your commitment before the Jello comes, it’s nothing more than an annoyance, not an obstacle. The decision fatigue of rehashing what you truly want makes the Jello stronger than it should be. If you’re not sure, it can drown you! So keep going!

Not as bad as it seems!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Pay Attention!

This morning on my run, I was posting one of my typical Instagram videos. As I was walking, I heard a hissing. At that moment, I looked up from my phone and there was a goose accosting me for being too close to its chicks. By all means, I was in the wrong and should have been more aware of my surroundings. Sad to say, it happened again about a quarter mile down the path. A teenage girl with blue hair was off to the side with her pet lizard but I did not see them until I was about to pass by.

On a normal day, I would not have thought too much of these events. Luckily a friend introduced me to a documentary on Netflix called “My Octopus Teacher”. It’s the story of a man who visits the same site in the ocean for almost a year and “befriends” an octopus. In the beginning, he is less than perfect at reading the clues left behind and how to relate to the creature. Over time he understands what to pay attention to and just how much he had to learn from another life form.

Our world has a tendency to be so very loud and “in your face” that we often lose subtle or even not so subtle details. I know that I’ve bungled this majorly in recent weeks. It’s so easy to become enamored with your own perspective, objectives or desires that all details are lost. Therefore we end up with only a partial version of the world. We are always working with less information than is available but often the loudest signals are not the most important. Filtering that which is coming in becomes the paramount skill.

As I will say to my students from time to time, “it doesn’t take any cash to pay attention.” It looks like I need to heed my own advice. There is a full and beautiful world out there with subtlety that someone could spend a lifetime on. That type of beauty tends to get lost when we’re racing to the next thing. We can’t take it all in but figuring out what matters to us and paying attention to it is crucial!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Butterflies Are Coming Back

Although some species of butterflies have a lifecycle that spans the winter, I tend to link them with spring. This morning I saw the first caterpillar of the season crawling along to find a place to chrysalis or cocoon. In a short amount time, it will turn into a butterfly and flap its wings merrily for the delight of onlookers.

Many of us have gone through a long winter (either literally or figuratively). It’s completely understandable to lose hope that it would ever end. When everything is barren for so long, seeing the next stage can be difficult if not impossible. Bundling up inside of a cocoon might seem like the right kind of idea and perhaps it is. Regardless of how one copes with the darkness of a season, remember that the butterflies are coming back! Those opportunities to see life in all of its beautiful splendor are only a short time away. They may seem to be moving at a caterpillar’s pace and maybe they are. Nature and so many other things cannot be forced to move any faster than their own speed.

So don’t lose heart! The butterflies are coming and it’s more than likely that they’ll be worth the wait. The most precious things in life usually are.

“I think I’m scared, Do I talk too much?”

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Something Out of Nothing

Each moment of our day is not a blank canvas. There’s already a background with component pieces that must be considered. However each moment is a new opportunity to make something great happen out of seemingly nothing. As the line from one of my favorite one hit wonders goes “I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert.” The impossible doesn’t appear on its own and without effort. There needs to be intentional thought put into making something out of nothing. Luckily or unluckily, we’ve become programmed into thinking that only the truly extraordinary matters. I’d say that’s probably where we’ve lost most of our opportunity. Taking the “nothing” moments and turning them into something is a superpower that needs to be developed.

As I was on my run today, the song “In a Big Country” by Big Country came on and reframed the moment and many recent events.

“So take that look out of here it doesn’t fit you
Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered”

Words that I know I’ve heard hundreds or possibly thousands of times before put a pin in my experience. That moment with all of these normal ingredients had truly transformed from nothing into something. A moment of reckoning where the next moment, day, week, month, or year has the possibility to be different. The onus is on me though because that moment could easily be washed away. The reverse is also possible. We turn something into nothing all of the time because we’re too busy, tired, scared or indifferent. Making something out of nothing takes effort.

So if you’ve been knocked down, “pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming, cry out for everything you ever might have wanted!” because “you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered!” It’s on you to make the next moment great but it won’t be if you’re too busy to see the possibilities.

“But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime!”

Pete

Blogpost, posh

Locked Out

In a world where we can communicate with anyone globally in an instant, it’s odd to think that we have trouble reaching ourselves. It is almost as if our freedom of communication with others has locked us out of reaching inside as freely. For years now, I’ve suggested to people that they not sleep near their device nor use it for the first 30 minutes of the day. The reason for this is to allow time to decide your own priorities before the feed from your Insta, Snap, Twitter, Facebook or even your email gets its claws into you. It’s easy to think that you’re just checking on what’s going on but usually you’re giving up the reigns of your focus to people who may not care much about you.

It’s easy to blame social media or greedy companies that want to usurp your attention and dollars. Unfortunately, that situation isn’t bound to change any time soon. Even before the technological upheaval of the past few decades, people were giving away their attention to the unimportant long before the internet or cellphones came along. To be honest, distraction isn’t even fully what I’m worried about. It’s being locked away from the things that you truly want.

Each of us has potential beyond our reckoning but the things that we allow ourselves to believe as possible are often disappointing. The extreme of this is the “I can’t” that is attached to normal things. “I can’t get in shape!” “I can’t find the time!” “I can’t find get a break!” Language and thought processes lock the person out of something that’s more than likely within their reach. It’s not REALITY. It is just their reality formed from a variety of things. Possibly past experience but more than likely, it is just easier to believe that something is impossible than to try.

So don’t lock yourself out! You have what it takes to do whatever you set your mind to. For now, you need to decide what you want. Then break it down into smaller pieces and give yourself enough reasons to go after it. VCR Most of the prisons that people are living in are self-made and invisible. The bars are nothing more than a lack of vision.

“Grab your things I’m going to take you home!”

Pete