All Full Up

It won’t be long and we’ll be sitting around a table, looking at the mounds of food in front of us and trying to decide the right way to sample a little of everything.  If you are anything like me, you try a lot of everything, go back for seconds of your favorite, get stuffed to the gills and repeat the process with the pie and whipped cream.

Miserable, we loosen our belts, recline in our seats and hit the snore button.  Only to wake up in the middle of a meaninless football game with indigestion and a pit in our stomach, too full to even think about leftovers.  Why are we so gluttonous?

We won’t go down the path of gluttony, but I do wonder if there is a relationship to what ails us.  Regardless, the reason I’m here today is because my love of learning is a lot like my Thanksgiving apetite…bigger than my capabilites.

At this moment in time, I have at least twenty books which are on a book shelf, unread and begging for attention.  Add to that the numerous books on my Kindle and Audible apps, the umpteen Youtube videos I have bookmarked, dozens of podcasts and how many DIY projects I want to try.  Did I mention I dream of building a house from the ground up and I want to run another marathon?

Yep, my capabilities are overwhelmed by my percieved abilities.  Granted, it doesn’t help that I am ADD, but on the bright side I am well medicated.  My biggest struggle is even when my meds kick in and I decide to start, I feel like I’m all full up.  Then all I want to do is hit the snore button and lay back in my recliner.

So what’s the solution?  Believe it or not I do have a solution… PRIORITIZE.  Easier said than done, I know, but at least I know what to do.  It’s just so difficult.  Just like the first time through the line on Thanksgiving, I struggle with saying no.

But this year it’s going to be different.  Bye-bye mashed potatoes.  So long green bean casserole.  No more salad with the mini-marshmallows.  It’s turkey, stuffing, candied yams and gravey for me.

That is after I take the advice of an old friend who told be years ago how to beat the bloated belly of Thanksgiving.  It’s really the ultimate in prioritzation. So ridiculously simple I am stunned it’s not a tradition everywhere.

What is this secret of all secrets?  Eat your desert first.

Now, pass the whipped cream while I decide exactly which of my dreams is the pumpkin pie of my learning deserts!

Create something today. Even if it sucks.

One of my favorite quotes or sayings is “Create something today.  Even if it sucks.”  Not sure where I first saw it or even who it’s attributed to, but I love the clarity and direct nature of the communication.

Recently I listened to Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Da Vinci was a person who exemplified the statement. In my opinion he drove The Renaissance with the volume and breadth of material he created.

In my role as a teacher I stress the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication). I feel strongly that these four soft skills are essential to future success regardless of what career path a person takes.

Of the four, creativity is the most elusive for me on a personal level. It is also something which I look for ways to attempt to develop in my students.

While creativity is technically different from creation, they are linked. To create, for me, is the essence of creativity and possibly the most difficult thing for a majority of my balls of clay to do.

Why is it so difficult to create? I think it’s because we all fear sucking! Simple enough. And as simple as this problem is, my solution matches its simplicity.

So, later today, when you are sweating bullets over the looming deadline and your inability to be creative…

Create something today. Even if it sucks.

Yes, I am a runner!

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor, Michelle Hamilton, narrated by Deena Kastor.  Try Audible and get it here: https://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B07CCZFF7L&source_code=ASSORAP0511160006

As I took my place inside of the circle, the woman next to me asked, “Are you a runner? My dad is and he has gear like yours.” I stumbled with my reply, mumbling something about wanting to be, used to be, hope to be again. Thankfully the tone of the meditation bowl sounded and I was off the hook.

It’s not that I’m adverse to the idea of being called a runner. Or even against claiming the mantle. I just have this notion that being a runner is more than putting on some colorful ASIC shoes and cool running clothes.

In my mind, being a runner is logging the miles, embracing the suck, living healthy AND the cool swag. Or as legendary running Coach Joe Vigil described it, “Living the athlete’s life.” Unfortunately at this time the only thing I can check off that list is the swag.

The last time I laced up my shoes to “compete” was June of 2016 when I ran the Grandma’s Marathon for the third time.  I finished in a personal record of 6+ hours (record as in the longest it has taken me to run 26.2 miles).  It was agonizing and exilerating and fulfilling and humbling all at the same time.  Even after finishing I couldn’t find it in me to say I was a runner.

Since that time, I have continued the struggle.  Prior to running the marathon, I had struggled to get in any of my scheduled training runs, struggled to find a happy place, struggled to do anything resembling that of the life of an athlete, let alone a runner.

Trust me, I intend to be a runner again someday.  I just need that little shove that gets me over the starting line.  That little impetunce that motivates me to give me permission to be selfish and spend the time I crave, alone, on the road with my thoughts and the suck.

I am constantly looking for the sign that tells me I am ready to join the most positive people on the planet.  The legions of men and women who take to the streets and trials and roads of their neighborhoods to live the life of an athlete.

New gear?  That often helps.  New goals?  They often help.  New gratitude?  That often inspires.  None of it ever seems to last longer than a three day binge of getting out the door, running two miles, feeling great about my ability to clock twenty eight minutes of activity and then finding an excuse to miss the next two miler.

To say I am helpless/hopeless would be an understatement.  I am both in spades.  I feel as if I am beyond help, unreachable by the longest life line.  Beyond hope, it seems not even the grace of God himself can save me from this black hole of a lost soul.

That is until I listened to Deena Kastor and her amazing story of the power of positive.  Her retelling of the events of her running life and how, in those moments of doubt, she used positive affirmations and belief in herself to overcome obstacles that I, on my daily runs, have and do experience.

Possibly the most important thing Deena did was give me permission as well as a way to say I am a runner.  Quite simply, just claim it.  I AM A RUNNER!

Thank you Deena Kastor, your book is my new favorite.  I look forward to taking you with me on many runs, being inspired by your words of encouragement and coached on the ways to over come the small obstacles using positivity.

What does it mean?

I know we have all experienced it. An event in our lives when we ask, “What does it mean?”

More often than not it’s when a loved one dies unexpectedly. Other times we don’t get the job or promotion we were certain we would get or maybe “deserve”. Then there are those times when something unusual happens, like you forget your wallet, go back to get it, then on your usual route to wherever it is you were going you hit every green light.

Some of us are more aware of these events. We acutely sense that there are higher powers in charge. We are naturally curious. Or a combination of both. There may even be some other reason we are in tune with these happenings.

Yet others of us are only jolted to attention by the most extreme cases. Content with going along with the flow until the unusual or life altering occurs.

Regardless of which camp we reside in, we all have reactions. Again, the depth of these responses varies by individual and event. But we all make decisions based on what happens, even if it’s just that passing moment when you decide to smile at the grumpy clerk at the convenience store who always looks unhappy and never seems to be in as big of a hurry as you are.

If you ask me, the answer to the question lies in our response and not in the event. Do you change the world around you? Or do you allow the world to continue as normal?

Do you decide to make a difference in others lives? Allow them to make a difference in yours? Or continue down the same path, happy with the direction you are headed?

Do you make a drastic change like quitting the bottle? Or a small one like saying please and thank you in response to others kindness and generosity?

Do you search for understanding in the small and large events that follow? Do you put your head down and forge onward not wanting to or maybe afraid to find the answers? Or do you know the answers, but refuse to believe because that would mean you may have to admit that you are flawed just like everyone else?

Well, this has been one of those calendar years. From getting the news friends and loved ones have passed both thankfully and unexpectedly. To being told your monetary value is less than it was before, but your personal and professional value is sky high.

From the disappointment of not landing a job then the elation of finding out you are in the running after all. To the utter despair in finding out you still didn’t make the cut.

The ebb and flow of life can be trying. The search for clues can be exhausting. The loneliness can at times be chilling.

In spite of all of the heartache that seems to follow many of us, I have to believe the constant renewal of the awareness of our existence is a blessing not a curse. I have to believe we are fortunate to be on this wonderful ride called life. I have to believe things will get better and they all have a meaning.

I have to believe, because not believing is, in my opinion, admitting you have given up.

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. – Jim Valvano

Hang in there world, the glass is only half full. Decide to keep pouring. Knowing that when that moment arrives and your cup overflows, it is not only because of you and the decision you made. But also because you were given the ability to decide by a power that is greater than we are, Who has a plan for us that only He knows and yet He still trusts us enough with the power of choice.

Embrace the suck

Believe it or not, I have run a marathon or two. No, I didn’t run them non-stop (I’m awesome, but not world class), but I did finish each one I entered.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with marathons, they are 26.2 miles in length and are named after the town in Greece which is named Marathon. There is more to the story and if you are interested I suggest you search Pheidippides and begin your own quest for knowledge/information on the history of marathons. Back to the reason I’m writing today, ‘The Suck’.

You see, during every marathon I’ve run (except the first one) there was that moment (and often extended periods of them) when I questioned the reason I was intentionally putting myself through sheer agony. I now call this ‘The Suck’ and it is, as I have discovered, the real reason I do it.

The fact is, without ‘The Suck’, you can’t enjoy the jubilation of the end of the race, the joy of accomplishment or the satisfaction of eating a plain turkey sandwich on a dry tea bun. It’s the low periods of life that make the high times seem truly high. And as hard to believe as it is to believe, the highs are higher when the lows are lower.

Through our struggles we learn. We learn new ways to do things. We learn new ways not to do things. We learn what we can and presently can’t do (I say presently because can’t just isn’t part of the equation). We learn that life is worth living. We learn how to live. We learn and that is what I love to do.

So I say to you today and everyday:

EMBRACE THE SUCK

Now what?

I finally got around to doing it. What is ‘it’?

  • Getting my own website
  • Writing my first blog post on my website
  • Admitting I’m a procrastinator
  • Putting together a list of things I want to get around to (in my ADD world that list is never ending)

So, now what?

To be honest, I’m not sure but I hope to add to the list above. If not, it won’t be due to a lack of ideas but instead to an inability to focus or a lack of passion or a continued pursuit for that spark that makes me explode long enough to put something into action.

My employment position says I’m a teacher. In fact I often tell people that I’m a teacher. The truth is I’m someone looking for answers to questions I haven’t been asked. I’m someone who loves finding out what’s around the next bend. I’m someone who enjoys the journey of life and have been privileged to be given a chance to share the journey with many people.

Today I was recognized for being one of many who are on the same road, trail, path or whatever you want to call it.

In all honesty I’m not even the best teacher in my family. My wife and daughter run laps around me. But it is because of people like them that I continually push to get better.

So, like I always seem to say…Now what?

img_6831-1