Blogpost, self-reliance

Two for the Price of One: UROK

My uncle served in the military. Our last name is Huryk (pronounced Yer-Ick). Due to the unusual spelling of our name, there were always mispronunciations. At one point, the best mispronunciation ever emerged: UROK. It stuck within his group of military friends and as a young kid, my brothers and I used it as well. This was the best moniker that could have been created at the time. I idolized my uncle and it just sounded cool! For a while, the name got forgotten because my uncle was no longer in the military and we didn’t see him as much either. My intent is to resurrect the word but not for my own purposes. It has more possibility in the hands of others. With the widespread use of “text speech”, the cool version of my last name has a dual meaning.

If each letter is said individually, then it reads “You are okay.” This is a most important message in our present circumstances and HELL, we’ve got a lot of circumstances at the moment. Since I principally work with young people, that’s where my mind goes automatically. Unfortunately a lot of the underlying message of what kids perceive now is the opposite of this message. They are bombarded by images and videos of other people and comparing themselves incessantly. It’s a losing battle but one that they feel like they are trapped within. My hope would be that each and every person has someone in their life that is regularly telling them “You are okay.” Each person has inherent value that cannot be determined by the number of likes or follows that they get. Despite all of the turmoil in the world, if you are reading this, there is a pretty good chance that “You are okay.” There may be a lot on your plate and it could be overwhelming at times but if you’re reading this blog, you’re not in immediate peril. The problems that you have can most likely be worked out.

The other version of the name brings it back to how we used to say it in my childhood: “You Rock!” In the era of hair metal bands, this was a compliment and I still mean it as one. This might take a little longer depending on how much or little that one person believes that “You are okay.” That has to come first. But once you believe that you are okay, it serves as a foundation. Eventually it is possible to construct self-confidence, self-esteem and self-reliance on top of that very basic belief. However most of us, regardless of whether we believe it or not have someone that would say, “You rock!” Because in some special area basically everyone does. This doesn’t mean that you have to be the best in the world at something. It merely means that you pour yourself into a part of your life that makes you unique. Unfortunately many people are so caught up in the noise of the world around them that they have trouble hearing their own song. Nothing could be sadder! Each of us is special in our own way but if we let the world turn up its volume too loud inside of our own heads, it makes it impossible to play our own tune.

So here is your homework. Yes, I said homework!

If you feel that you are more in the “You are okay” headspace, then take a few minutes each day for the next week and write down 3 good things in your life. By the end of the week, you should have over 21 (no repeats) things. Before writing the next 3, take time to read the others.

If you are more of a “You rock” person, then put your talent on display in the best way that you can think of. If you’re a great dad, then double down on all of the things that you do to be great at that job this week. Act like it is your concert at Wembley Stadium and everyone is watching at you rock at being a dad. Or perhaps you’re an artist, this week draw, paint, sculpt or sing like your hair is on fire. Don’t hold back and self-edit. Rock was never about being perfect. So make some noise within your space.

As is almost always true, I say things in my blog that I need to hear. So if you want to start a conversation about where you’re at, drop me a line. None of needs to be alone in this world but it can often feel like we are. Just remember, no matter what!

You are okay and you rock!

Pete

self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer Life Balance – The Defensive Half

This video explains the “boundaries” of the defensive half as they relate to life. The dimensions of a soccer field matter. While there are parameters for the boundaries in soccer, the parameters in which most of us live are determined by us. Showing up to a field that was too short or too wide or too narrow would cause an uproar by players and coaches. We all set up the field that we are playing on. Many of us do so in a way that guarantees that we will struggle and/or lose. If you want to understand completely what I’m talking about, check out the video below. Or read the description. Both have their value but the video has the visual representations of the content.

The life that each of us leads has boundaries. A standard life does not exist. We all have advantages or disadvantages based upon our organization or lack in our life. There are places that some people can reach that others cannot. With that in mind, each of us can do things to make our playing area to our advantage. This particular set of boundaries deal with the “Defensive Half.” These are adjustments that can be made to your personal “field” that will help protect your goal.

The Sidelines

Breathing – It’s a concept that I cover with individuals quite often. The question “What is the most important thing that you’re going to do today?” get s a variety of answers but it is the same for all of us. Breathing is the most important part of our survival. Yet we overlook it regularly. This is not a call for people to start paying more attention to their individual breaths. It is a call for a breath practice. Most of our maintenance oriented activities are done, once, twice or thrice per day. The same should be happening for a breath practice. My personal preference is the Wim Hof technique. It’s not for everyone and NEVER DO IT AROUND WATER! But it gives you a place to start. Once or twice per day for about ten minutes is all that it takes. The benefits of a breath practice are multiple but the main component deals with your ability to bring yourself from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. Getting from your “fight/flight/freeze” response to “rest/digest” is a skill that needs to be developed rather than hoped for.

Hydration – YES! I am aware that these first few are simply survival necessities. Unfortunately (or fortunately) due to our overwhelming success as a species, we rarely have to consider our survival. Therefore we need to consider these for their optimization. Getting more out of your body and mind is completely dependent upon the ingredients and predispositions that you give your body to work with. In the realm of hydration, you are looking to consume half your body weight in ounces. The math is not overly difficult. It is simply about finding the right container to use for measurement. The 8 glasses per day rule is a bit too arbitrary. A 12oz glass x 8 glasses would be 96 total ounces. This is fine for someone around 190 lbs but might be a bit much for a 140 lbs kid. Finding the right container in order to track your hydration is really almost half the battle.

Diet/Fuel – The word diet has been mangled for decades now. It does not mean a weight loss program. More than anything else it is the food that you habitually eat. There are so many possibilities out there that could work for you. The only suggestion that I will make on this subject is to see what actually works for you, not what you want to work. I’d love for an ice cream and pizza diet to get me into optimal shape but it’s just not going to happen. So find something that balances both your nutritional needs and the reality of your life. Choosing to be a vegetarian could be the answer but if it is only going to make you miserable, don’t do it. Fuel your body with food, don’t feed your cravings at all times. The food industry has spent decades making things delicious with barely a scrap of nutritional value. Craving those foods is not an indication that you are a bad person. Give yourself a break and take time to figure out what truly works for you.

Shelter (Mental Safety) – The list of basic human needs continues with a slight twist. Very few of us are likely to succumb to the environment because of a lack of shelter/housing. However in a modern context we live an increasingly large part of our existence in the mental space. Therefore the ability to have mental shelter from “elements” is a crucial part of our boundaries. Much like food, water and oxygen, having a daily practice within this space that sets us up for success is important. Unlike the other survival needs, this is less apparent. Many people live in an unsafe mental space due to their focus or lack of control of that focus. Journaling is just one of the many techniques that can be used in order to get the mind to focus on things that are advantageous to the individual rather than the outside world. My suggestion would be to have a practice of not using any electronics for at least 30 minutes in the morning. That time can be used to establish a focus on the things that are important to you rather than others.

Sleep – This is another area that is of supreme importance but the needs of each individual vary greatly. So I am not going to give many suggestions here other than to say that your sleep should be regular. Length may vary based on the individual but having a regular bedtime and wakeup time can be a game changer. Also try as best as you can to avoid electronics for at least 30 minutes prior to falling asleep. It can help with falling asleep and also gives you time to set your intentions for the next day.

If you didn’t watch the video first, you might be wondering, “what is the goal that I’m protecting?” You’re protecting against drops in self-esteem. Having all of these boundaries set up correctly can create a space where it is unlikely or even impossible for the world to make you feel bad about yourself. The most important relationship that you have is with yourself. All of these daily practices help to keep others away from your goal – the way you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself.

Hopefully this discussion has been helpful. Leave a comment below with any thoughts or additions. This concept is not done. There is another half of the field to go but let me know if I missed anything on this side.

Thanks!

Pete

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

POSH Need a New Drug

I wrote this before the announcement of the postponements but figured I’d post anyway.

With Peterborough being reclassified as a tier 3 area before this weekend’s fixture, it takes away the fans as an influence on the match. Although POSH were able to go on a long unbeaten streak without fans earlier this season, some performances lacked the energy and commitment that will be required to continue their climb up the table. There is definitely not a lack of talent within the squad. It basically comes down to the emotional/mental state of the players at game time. Ferguson and the players have proven that they can play with energy from the first whistle. Unfortunately the government has sucker punched the POSH (and all clubs) by taking away the fans that just got back to the ground. This undesired circumstance forces the POSH to find a “new drug.”

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I’m not talking about any illegal substances. Everything that human beings do, we do in order to produce or reduce some form of feeling. These feelings are caused by chemicals (drugs) inside of our brains/bodies. The good feelings that are produced during a football match by players and fans are generally from four chemicals: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. My post “Soccer is not a zero sum game” outlines these in greater detail.

Regarding the POSH situation, it has been suggested that the team and some players in particular thrive off of the crowd. This is most likely due to a rush of serotonin. It is the chemical that causes several feelings but in particular it is responsible for the feelings of pride and status. In normal seasons, this is a perfectly appropriate feeling to chase as a footballer. Even at away fixtures, there would normally be handful of fans who would cheer on the players giving them a quasi-hero status. In COVID times, that pursuit has been taken away and it is difficult to say when it will be back. While I recognize that this is an opportunity to get angry at an outside entity that has taken something away from the boys in blue (or pink depending on the day), it may not be the best answer on its own. A healthy dose of oxytocin is the drug that I’m suggesting.

My son and I at London Road. Oxytocin creating moment.

Oxytocin is the chemical that we would normally associate with “love.” A large amount of oxytocin is released during childbirth in order to create a connection between mother and child. This is probably a little more “touchy feely” than footballers would probably prefer to be. So the recognition that similar types of oxytocin filled bonds can be made between soldiers at war or friends with a close relationship. Due to the fact that thousands of fans will not be there to cheer on the successes of the players, they need to double or triple down on each other. The Sammie and Frankie show was born out of friendship. Those feelings need to transfer to the field and spread throughout the squad. Each member of the squad needs to celebrate the success of his teammate as a success that he takes part in. This shared feeling of accomplishment and desire for the good of everyone needs to become an “addiction.”

While I am a huge proponent of the positive, there is a power to the dark side of our emotions. The problem is that anger and other emotions like it become corrosive if they are overused. So my major suggestion is to triple down on connecting with each other but leveraging the power of the negative situation could be useful in spirts. Even though it is not fully true, taking the view that the government and EFL are both against POSH and their fans gives extra juice and unites the group even more. El Presidente named this the “Revenge” tour which goes in line with this perspective although it may lean a bit too much toward a victim’s mentality. My slant would be that this is the “Confirmation Tour.” Confirming the idea that POSH were truly on the promotion trajectory when the season was ended. Other teams are on their own journey confirming the reverse.

So if fans continue to be kept away, it is vital that the players leverage the unity within the group to confirm who they are: the best squad in the division. The obstacles that are thrown in front of all of us need to become the path that we trend. Lamenting and complaining only create an emotion barrier to overcome. Embrace the obstacles and help each other climb over them. They are not impediments to be feared. They are the staircase that leads to the top!

Up the POSH!

Pete

P.S. Had to link this at the bottom. “I want a new drug!”

Blogpost, self-reliance

Kill the Deer or Plow the Field

No one can deny that we’re a long way from our ancestors. A caveman would be completely baffled by our world. Even our relatives from 100 years ago would find our confusing. Things that they would have considered challenges have been completely conquered. While things that we consider relevant would be laughably inconsequential to them. At the tip of the spear of time, survival is much less of a concern than it has ever been even in a pandemic. Despite the huge difference between our worlds, we exist with basically the same hardware as our ancestors inside of our heads.

Mother nature was smart when she set up the human animal. We are wired to get pleasure out of the things that are going to keep us alive. It’s almost comical that now that we don’t have to “survive” as much, many of those joyous things are the ones that are killing us. But I digress. Historically speaking, humans have been largely hunters or farmers/gatherers. Keeping the simplicity of this in mind, recognize that these are two different skill sets. Both require a form of patience but one is more active. Tracking and hunting often took days. Planting and harvesting took months. Both take skills. Some that were innate and others that were learned. Despite never having experienced our modern perception of a computer, our ancestors had both an operating system and “apps.”

By looking at it in a similar fashion, you need to realize that you have a similar operating system. However the applications that you’re running, don’t always work well with the system. Things tend to develop glitches when your apps don’t align with your basic programming (no computer language pun intended).

Your body/mind want to survive: physically, mentally and socially. Keeping this in mind is important. Even though you’re unlikely to perish in your day to day existence, your basic programming is still trying to avoid it. So whatever problem it is that you’re having, it is probably a disconnect between your modern life and your body/mind’s prehistoric programming.

That assignment or paper that you’re avoiding. It’s not a bear or a lion or even chipmunk but it still causes fear. Not because it is going to kill you. It’s a disconnect between your modern view of school and your prehistoric brain’s need to live in a tribe. If you do something that offends the chief or hurts the tribe, you might be banished and you’ll never make it alone. It’s the possibility of planting seeds that you need for the winter and a drought coming.

The extra pounds that you’ve put on are a disconnect between your modern sense of “attractive” and your prehistoric mind’s need to take on calories whenever they’re available. Set up a system for getting food after a successful “hunt.” Remember that chasing down a deer might have taken days. So our ancestors were probably working on light food until they hit the big score.

Regardless of what you’re struggling with, there is most likely a portion of it that can be traced to a mismatch of your operating system with the world that we live in. On the one hand, this is slightly annoying. On the other, it is liberating. Freedom can be found in the fact that you’re almost never in as much danger as your brain is interpreting. So you’re starting from a place major advantage. Knowing what signals to ignore and how to leverage the helpful ones is your job as a modern day human. Set your mind up so that you can win the ancient game of survival that you’re playing.

Good hunting!

Pete

Blogpost

Room Temperature Butter

There was always a butter dish at my house when I was growing up. It was on the kitchen counter most of the time. A stick of butter on a glass plate intended to hold it with a metal cover. It wasn’t something that you paid much attention to until it was empty. The discovery of the empty butter dish usually happened at the exact moment when there was a piece of toast or a bagel that needed buttering. Refrigerated butter is almost useless at that point. It does more damage than it does to enhance the taste of the chosen item. It spreads unevenly, if at all. Microwaving the stick to soften it was an exercise that always ended in disappointment. That’s why the butter dish being empty was such a crime because room temperature butter is ready for action.

If yo’ve read my blog before, then you know that I’m not talking about butter. I’m talking about you! Not your ability to melt evenly on a waffle but rather you ability to be ready for action. The room temperature butter is exactly that. It exists in that sweet spot where it can be anything for anyone at a moment’s notice. While we’d like to believe that we are room temperature butter, most of us are in the refrigerator or even worse we’ve already melted. In most instances we’ve grown cold to the possibility of anything other than what we had planned for our day. We need to be coerced, convinced and prepared for the things that are coming our way. Otherwise it spikes our anxiety, takes us out of our comfort zone or just plain freaks us out. What would the butter say? Nothing!!! It’s butter! But what do you have to say for yourself?

Each of us has to take responsibility for at least one person in this world. Recognize that the ability to respond to the world around you is important: not the way that you wish it was, not the way that it used to be but the way that it is! Plan, yes! Schedule, yes! Dream, yes! But do not expect that life is going to lob you underhand pitches for you to knock out of the park. It is going to go high and inside on you to put your but in the dirt. So be ready! Be nimble! Be flexible! Be room temperature butter! The events of today are going to happen with or without your consent. Be ready to take whatever it gives you!

Have a great day!

Pete

Just for fun! “I Melt with You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls

Blogpost

I’m Broken (The Only Mechanic Is Me)

meaningMy first car was a 1977 Chevy Nova!  I inherited it from my great aunt and it was the perfect first car.  It had holes in the floor boards where you could actually see the road below you.  It had an 8 Track tape player in it that never really worked.  It was pale blue and covered with rust spots, as you can tell from the description, I loved it!  There were plenty of reasons to love it that had nothing to do with how looked or how it ran.  And now looking back on it, I understand even better that it was the perfect first car exactly because it was a piece of junk.  At no point did I ever have to worry about messing it up.  I learned how to change the oil, replace the bulbs and change tires on that car.  At no point did I think, “If I mess this up, I’m screwed!”

Fast forward to the present day and I don’t even change my own oil anymore.  Cars have become computers and more complicated, therefore the idea of doing my own maintenance while possible is much easier to outsource.  There are so many things like that today.  Complexity of many systems within our world have changed us from capable amateur mechanics to people in the waiting room in anticipation of someone else fixing our problem.

While this may be helpful or even necessary with many of our possessions, it seems to have become pervasive to the point of a cultural norm.  Day care, personal trainers, landscapers, etc. are all examples of outsourcing things that used to be done by the amateur ‘owner’.  While these services can be helpful and possibly ‘necessary’ in a modern context, there is one thing that we can never turn the complete management over to someone else: your mind.

The best therapist in the land can be employed for multiple hours each day and still, it is on the individual to get their hands dirty and do the work.  No one can change you without your conscious or unconscious consent.  Recognizing this fact, I am amazed at how many brain owners keep waiting for the world or their life to make them happy.  That is like expecting your neighborhood to take care of your lawn without ever communicating with them about it.  And even if you did make that request, I’m sure that you’d get some raised eyebrows or questions like “why is that my responsibility?”  So in this area, we need to realize that that amateur mechanic ethos is absolutely necessary.  Help is not only desirable in most cases, it is necessary but it is on each and every one of us to maintain, diagnose or even overhaul our mind at times.  With the amount of anxiety, depression and other mental concerns that seem to affect most of the population, it is time for all of us to recognize that we are all broken in at least a small way but we are also the mechanic.  Learning about yourself, your habits, fears, triggers and so many other components of your mindset is no longer an option.  Developing the tools to navigate this complex world is not only your job, it’s integral to your survival.  So remember, you’re broken (but so is everyone else) and you’re the mechanic.

Get your hands dirty!

Pete