Blogpost, self-reliance

Watching the Movie, Living the Movie

I don’t remember how I got introduced to the Rocky series of movies when I was a kid. However I recall very plainly being a fifth grader who was running a mile or more each day as part of some “training montage”. No one had told me to do it. There was no coach, parent or other person telling me to get up early and put in this work. I’d simply taken something that I saw on the screen and put it into practice in my own life. That formula continued as I grew with movies like the Matrix. I took things from the theater and applied them.

This is not a unique situation. Actually it’s the way that everyone lives their life. The only difference is the input source. Every child takes in what they see on the “screen” whether that is a literal screen or just the movie that is playing out in front of them called life. They watch parents, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, strangers and all manner of other people acting in certain way and mimic some of what they see. It’s how we learn and sometimes it’s how we grow as people. The very public theater of life is filled with a chaotic mess of people acting in such a variety of ways that sometimes the right people to mimic are hard to identify. The big screen of movies and TV often makes things simpler because characters are idealized versions of humans that can be identified as good or evil. While these are both places to get inspiration, the most powerful theater is the private one. The one inside of your own head that no one else can access. Before you can do anything in the outer world, you must first see it on the private screen. Frequently the movies that are played on the private screen are re-runs of past patterns or expectations based on what we’ve always known. That is why people tend not to improve their station in life. They have a set of films that they see inside of their head and introducing a better moving picture of themselves is difficult.

It’s difficult because there is a good possibility that the private movies don’t always make it to the public theater of life. Getting them from the private screen to the reality screen takes work, dedication, patience, etc. and those are tough ingredients to put in when the outcome is uncertain. Spending a few minutes or more, envisioning the outcome that you want each and every day may feel like a fool’s errand. Visualization is something that we tend to do but usually it is reruns of past events. The projection of a future that is disconnected from our present and our past can feel unsettling, like leaping off some sort of cliff. However in order to move forward, we must separate ourselves from the ground and propel ourselves forward. Therein lies the difficulty. Creating a picture of one’s self that is different from the present version can be a challenge but that vision of separation allows the new character of you to emerge.

The world is not going to offer you a starring role, even in your own life. You need to imagine it on the small private screen first before pitching it to everyone else. Fortunately the movies give us the perfect word for bringing your new vision for yourself out into the open. So come up with your vision, see it as clearly as you can. Whether the cameras are rolling or not!

ACTION!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Turning the Page

Children do it with so much fervor that they often tear the pages of their books. The two books that I read the most to my children were The Lorax and The Sneetches and Other Stories. Each had pages that were repaired several times. I had each of those stories memorized because I had read them so often. I didn’t need to see the words or turn the pages because I’d read them so often that I knew every word that was coming.

It’s a very adult disposition to want to know the outcome before it arrives. As we grow older, the wonderment that we had as children is either trained or drained out of us. We get experience and become comfortable with the things that we know well. Turning the page is no longer something to do with fervor because it represents the unknown. The story is perfectly fine as it is! Most of it is predictable sure! But big plot twists and challenges are not something that we’re particularly ready for. The status quo is perfectly fine. So why mess with it by turning the page?

As the author of your own story, it’s completely up to you if you want to keep repeating the same page “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” However, time tends to turn the page on us if we do not turn it on ourselves. So meeting it with childlike anticipation seems a better perspective than fearing every turn of the page. Our stories are largely made up by the way that we show up consistently. So show up today looking forward to the next few chapters because the old ones have passed. Get that fervor back if you can!

“From the far end of town where the grickle grass grows…”

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Motion to Suppress

Most of my understanding of the law comes from TV and movies. Therefore it may not be completely accurate but for the sake of my discussion, it will be sufficient. A lawyer can have a lot of reasons why they might want to suppress evidence. The optimist in me would like to believe that evidence is being suppressed because it is not genuine. The pessimist in me knows that it is often a tactic used to exclude something valid but damaging. Although there is the common quote “the truth will set you free”, it does not apply to all people. Sometimes the truth will prove your guilt. Regardless, each of us has evidence of a myriad of things from our past. Who we are contains it all. However, since no one (even us) will know of or remember every single instant of our lives. The things that are introduced into evidence when we are arguing for who we are or aren’t become extremely important. Suppressing the right things at the right moment might be exactly the right thing to do.

As we go through our lives, there are patterns that develop. A trial is used to determine someone’s guilt or innocence usually for a singular instance of a crime. The truth of that one instance is based on sometimes minuscule pieces of evidence. However as we are determining who we are as people, it is the pattern of consistent behavior that makes us who we are. Getting drunk once does not make someone an alcoholic. Nor does holding the door open for a person make someone a saint. The consistent action tells someone who they are. While some acts carry the weight to supersede a lifetime of poor or good behavior, most of us are dealing in the aggregate. The compounding of results over time in order to determine an overall leaning. This leaning tends to impact our self-esteem, public image and host of other perceptions that are at best incomplete and at worst inaccurate. We are not a sum total of all of our actions, just the ones that we’ve given weight.

So give yourself the ability to “suppress” some of those things that you hold against yourself. The mistake that you made, the wrong thing that you said, the blunder that still bothers you. Please recognize that just because you’re giving yourself a clean slate, doesn’t mean that everyone else will. However, the relationship that you have with yourself is by far the most important. So in the court of public opinion, you may not be exonerated but perhaps you’ll not judge yourself so harshly. It’s both difficult and unwise to go through life without any mistakes or failures. However, they don’t need to be an albatross around your neck. Set yourself free from that weight and see how much faster you move forward without the burden!

This is your story! Dun dun.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Ride the Moment

“Zardes will score in the 86th minute.” Those were the words that I said to the guy next to me as I watched the US Men’s National Team play against Qatar last year. Getting the timing and the player right were a bit of luck. However the momentum of the game was pretty easy to read. It’s often easier for people on the outside to see as it develops. Because momentum requires the person or people to exist in the moment. Most of the blunders and shortfalls in sports or life come from a diverted focus. Rather than staying in the here and now, the performer gets concerned with the outcome or some other factor that distracts from the moment.

There is no doubt that people want results! Rightfully so, they are not expending time, energy, focus and other resources to come up empty. However, one of the easiest ways to insure against results coming is to focus too heavily upon them. They are a part of the equation, no doubt! A form of fuel that keeps the engine running but too much fuel at once creates a grand explosion (or in performance terms implosion). We are prehistoric creatures built for prehistoric times. Our brains are built to help us survive in a tough environment of life and death. Now we live in a world that is often built on success or failure. The consequences that we reap are a form of reality that we’ve created. So are the pressure and the stakes. But they feel overwhelmingly real because that’s what we’ve made them. Since it is all in our heads, maybe it’s possible to control them in the moment. Put them on the back burner in the moment and stay in the moment!

The moment is all we get. Every single living soul gets the exact same amount of time, the moment. Quibbling over how many moments one person gets versus another is irrelevant. Many people have done nothing with a heap of moments while others lived fully with a select few. It’s not the number that counts but rather the focus, attention and stacking of the quality ones. In the end, your life is not measured in years. It’s measured in moments and people will remember them when you’re gone, if you made them count.

Now stop reading and make the next few count!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

You Have to Earn My Keys!

The example is simple and I’ve been using it for years. Think for a moment. Who would you trust with your keys? The list is pretty easy to come up with quickly. Close friends, family members and a few others are the usual suspects. They’ve earned the right to have your keys because you trust them. Most likely there are friends and family members that you wouldn’t trust with them. You’re going to be discerning because of the possible negative impact.

The keys question is so extremely simple because it is tangible. For some reason, we have a much more difficult time with deciding on the people that we’ll allow to influence our thoughts. Especially our thoughts about ourselves. These days there is a constant stream of information coming from the outside world. Much of it is aimed at influencing our thoughts and decisions. From the marketers who are trying to sell us something to the trolls who leave a random comments to make us feel badly, these people have most likely not earned the right but often they get let in anyway. So it’s important to stand guard at the gate of your mind.

This isn’t an easy task. We are bombarded constantly and therefore must be at the ready to deflect or accept. So here are a few things that you might want to consider doing in a quiet moment when you’re not overwhelmed by stimuli.

  • Decide on who and about what: have a list or an idea inside of your head of who you trust and on what topics. I trust my best friend with my secrets but not particularly my diet.
  • Decide on non-negotiables: there are some things about you that aren’t up for debate, regardless of who is talking to you.
  • Consider the intent of the source: people will sometimes act altruistically but often people are self-serving. If their self-serving desires also serve you, WIN-WIN. If not, then beware.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to choose who you’ll trust with your “keys” but it’s necessary to lead a life on your terms. Although the keys analogy is not a perfect one, it’s a helpful starting spot. If you wouldn’t let this person drive your car, why are you going to let them drive your thoughts?

Buckle up! It’s a bumpy ride!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Whatever It Takes

That was the message on the back of a t-shirt that I saw recently. Obviously that’s not meant to be taken 100% literally. There are plenty of things that the t-shirt wearer wouldn’t do to achieve their goals. Most likely murder, theft and a variety of other caveats could be made to the very blanket statement. There are plenty of people who would rather quibble about the exceptions than buy into the spirit of the message. Why? The reason is that it’s easier! Criticizing and picking apart something is a much more comfortable task than getting something done. Much like my favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne, “it is not the critic that counts!”

So let’s ignore the fine print for the moment and only deal in big bold letters that you put on the back of a t-shirt. What are the things that warrant that level of dedication in your life? What goals do you have that could incite that commitment? It’s easier not to ask that question! By far it’s much more simple to not try to discover those limits of your capability! Not because you’re going to get anywhere near to the fine print items that the nit pickers would worry about. Quite the contrary! It’s the comfortable situations that we’ve grown accustomed to. Risking the known for an unknown that comes with some doubt. It’s not about the fine print or sacrificing our code of ethics. More than likely it’s a risk analysis that spikes our fear response.

So figure out what it is that you would put that level of commitment into and then do it! Regardless of the critics! Regardless of the fear that you feel inside! It’s necessary to avoid becoming a “cold and timid soul”. The one fact that you cannot avoid. No matter what your particular goal is. Whatever else it might take, IT’S GOING TO TAKE YOU!

Whatever it takes!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

I’m Not Completely Certain….

About so much!

  • If we’re living in a simulation.
  • If jobs will still be a thing when AI becomes pervasive.
  • If I can maintain a weight of 175 lbs for more than a few weeks without it negatively affecting my mood.
  • If cats are really spies for aliens.
  • If the president really has anywhere near the influence that people think.
  • If beer before liquor will make me sicker (although I’m pretty sure).
  • If the sun will rise tomorrow.

There are so many things out there that I’m not 100% certain about. It could be daunting. So knowing what you’re certain about becomes more important. It is the foundation on which those wobbly bricks can be laid. That stability is priceless.

  • I love my children.
  • Gravity is pretty consistent on this planet.
  • Tough times are going to show up but I can figure them out.
  • Good times don’t last forever but they don’t stay away forever either.
  • I’m not the best at anything except for being me.
  • Soccer is the best sport on the planet.
  • There are people out there who love me and generally I know who they are.
  • Han Solo was right, knowing your odds almost never helps.
  • I can handle more than I realize.
  • Most people are mostly good but mostly act in their own interest the most, MOSTLY.
  • Mike Birbiglia is a great comedian.

This is not an exhaustive list and some of them are mainly there for comic relief. This world is filled with both certainty and uncertainty and we need both. A life of full certainty is boring but total uncertainty would be maddening. Mostly they are choices though. People doubt things all the time that are “self-evident” to others. My metric for this level of belief is whether or not it serves me.

Since my general message is self-empowerment, I implore you to believe in yourself. Not that you can handle anything but that you can handle most things that life brings to you. It’s going to serve you much better than the opposite.

I’m pretty certain about that!

Pete

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance

The Deep Dive and I Might Be an Alien

For some reason that I cannot fully explain, when something catches my interest, I tend to go to extreme lengths to understand and appreciate it. I’ve done a “deep dive” on a lot of things through my life based on passing experiences that could have amounted to almost nothing. But I decided to go far beyond the call of the moment and explore that thing to its depths. Below are a few examples:

  • In first grade, I received a flyer with a picture of Snoopy heading a soccer ball. Forty years later, I have been playing, coaching, watching and studying the game consistently.
  • In seventh grade, I went to a concert where the opening act was the band, Tesla. I’ve not seen them again in concert. However I know quite a bit about their namesake, Nikola Tesla. His feud with Edison and his work with electricity are just the tip of the iceberg on a fascinating man that I know a bit too much about.
  • After playing the FIFA video game for many years and finding it too easy to win the Premier League with teams like Liverpool, I decided to bring a lower league team up to the Premiership. Almost two decades later, I’ve made two trips to England, subscribe to the team’s streaming service to watch games, write blogs about them and have their crest on more of my clothing than I’d like to admit. No tattoos yet!

These are just a few simple examples of deep dives that I’ve made through the years. Teddy Roosevelt, the band Knapsack and so many other could be added to the list. Everyone has their own areas of interest. Often it is based on the influence of peers. Sometimes it is a societal thing that makes someone go “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” (never liked them). The reason that I bring all of this up is that I’m slightly worried that I’m an alien. There are so many cool things in this world! And it seems like we’re skimming the Cliff Notes!

In no way am I telling anyone what they should like. If the Dolly Parton, ornithology or the A-Team are your thing, then go for it! We have so much access and information at our finger tips but the lowest common denominator is where we often end up. It’s not about the deep dive! It’s the new trend of the moment that will be replaced tomorrow by another. Jumping from one puddle to the next, we have less bandwidth or desire to do a “deep dive” into anything. This isn’t bothersome to me because people are not studying the ins and outs of turtles as much as I’d like. My fear is that it’s going to become pervasive.

Perhaps if we’re not willing to take a deep dive into something, we’ll all become shallow copies of similar puddles. Therefore we’ll stop wanting to do deep dives on each other because we’ll know there isn’t much there. It will be easy to dismiss others after cursory interaction because we’ve met people like them before. We all have the potential of depth and maybe even a predisposition toward it. However it takes time, effort and focus. All three of these seem to be in short supply because we’re trying to get to the next thing faster. What if the thing that’s in front of us right now deserves a deep dive? Would ever realize that we missed it?

Dive deep today people!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Opposite Day and Chinese Finger Traps

Since I’ve not taught at the elementary level for a long time, I’m not sure what grade “opposite day” becomes a thing. Not even 100% sure if it still happens where good becomes bad. Hot becomes cold and a multitude of other variations. More than anything, it seems to be a tactic to frustrate someone or create an insider and outsider grouping. It doesn’t usually make it an entire day because the additional thought gets exhausting for those playing the “prank” and they move on. Or as the prank persists, the pranksters realize that they are in the minority in larger world. Either way this tends to be short-lived because the payoff isn’t worth the effort. Contradicting the tried and true is not the best strategy. Unless you’re in a Chinese Finger Trap!

If you’ve never experienced one, a Chinese Finger Trap is a novelty item that holds your fingers tighter the harder that you pull away. The trick is that only by pushing your fingers together can you free yourself from the “trap”. It’s a gag to be sure and not a difficult one to solve. Enough people have seen them to know the trick. Unfortunately in life, we run into Finger Traps from time to time. They are not always so easy to decipher or free ourselves from. Often we persist in the “normal” action that is actually getting the opposite result than we desire. For example: normally to build a connection with a person, you need to spend time together. In theory, more time should equate to more connection. However there comes a saturation point where even a good thing becomes a negative. It’s a finger trap!

So as you go into your day, pay attention to the efforts that you’re putting in and the results that you’re getting back. It’s possible that you’re wasting effort in a finger trap. Freeing yourself from that situation may give you more energy, time or focus to put elsewhere. Or perhaps a smarter application of your efforts might get you exactly what you’re looking for rather than frustration. If life were simple, it would get boring pretty quickly. And isn’t that possible the biggest finger trap of them all? We want things to be easy, so we won’t be stressed. But then when things get too easy, we get bored!

Enjoy the push and the pull of life today!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Your Life Directive – FCO

This may be an extremely short post because it is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech. I am nowhere near as eloquent as Neil nor is my message as lofty. However its repetitious nature puts them in a similar category. Your life directive is simple. Figure crap out! That’s what you’re supposed to do every day from your birth until your death!

All of these large humans are making noises with their mouths that seem to mean something – Figure that crap out!

Laying on the floor and want to get from here to there – Figure crap out!

There’s all of these symbols in these books that other people are able to decipher. – Figure crap out!

Started getting unsettling feelings when this particular person is near. – Figure crap out!

Just got punched in the face figuratively or literally. – Figure crap out!

The plan for the next 20 years just got ruined. – Figure crap out!

The crap is not going to stop coming! Sorry if that word is offensive to someone reading this but that’s another thing for you to figure out. Problems, challenges, opportunities, moments, obstacles, etc. Whatever label works for you does not matter! The thing that does matter is your disposition toward the things that come your way. If you constantly lament everything that comes down the pike, then you are bound to dislike this journey. Plenty of people with all of the reasons in the world to enjoy life have checked out of their existence because they could not see the positives of their directive.

It’s not always going to be easy but now you know what to do every day!

FCO!

Pete