The Crossroads

crossroadsDestinationY_O_U

Where will you be in five years?

You will be somewhere.  Alive or dead, in five years you will be somewhere.   Hopefully, you will be alive, and then the question becomes; will your destination be a well-designed destination, or will it have no design at all?

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Today.  You are at a crossroads.   Crossroads are powerful things; they are religious and full of meaning.  They are spiritual and can signify calamity, uncertainty, and risk but they can also signify choice, freedom, and hope.   And today – you are at a crossroads.

You have a choice to make.

Just by showing up today, you have made a choice.   You did something today you’ve never done before and that led you here, to this new place with these new people.  That’s not easy.  It’s not as comfortable as many other things you could probably think of.   I imagine eating ice-cream and watching Netflix might feel more comfortable than this.   I imagine doing some quasi-work to excuse myself from not doing what I said I was going to do might feel better than this in the short-run.  I imagine there are worse places I could have chosen too, but I made a choice – I came to the crossroads and I made a choice to be right here, with you all.

And you made that same choice so here you all are.

You will encounter many crossroads along the way, and this might surprise you but, whatever direction you decide to take when you get to that point, you will always end up at some version of yourself – in five years, no matter which way you turn.   It is inevitable.

The version of yourself that you will encounter in five years will be the result of the direction you went when you made the choices you made today, and the choices you will make tomorrow.   The YOU! that you will discover in five years will be the result of all the excuses and justifications or the sum of all the hard-work and hard-choices you made to get there.

This program really is that important.  You really are that important.   The stakes are high, and you have some hard choices to make if you really want to be the best version of yourself; Destination YOU!

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All the “No’s” that led me here

NO.NO

My life is actually pretty awesome.   I don’t always feel that way, but when I stop and really think about it, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.   I’ve always had a sense that I was going to do great things and, I don’t think I’m alone in this.   As I get older, the idea that I’m going to be remarkable, in any specific and tangible way, grows more and more distant; ever more remote.   It might even be a kind of hubris, but entirely human all the same.

“We all think we’re going to be great. And we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met.” Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

I want to say real quick too, that I actually like myself.   At least, most of the time, even when I mess up, I’m learning to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously.. not all the time, anyway.   What I’m trying to say here is that I can say nice things about myself without thinking too hard about it – and for some people, that’s a big accomplishment.

But..

I’m not perfect.   I haven’t reached some special state that has elevated me above the masses.  I’m not really all that special, after all.   I’m just a guy who has some ‘yes’s’ under his belt.   And, at the same time, I’m just a guy who still hasn’t let go of all the NO’s!

There are a lot of NO’s.

My big think is that I’m afraid.  I’m afraid to interview with ‘important people’ so I say no.   I’m afraid to climb out on that rock with my friends, so I say no.   I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think they’ll take me seriously, so I say no.   I’m afraid to sign up for that race because I’ve never run that far, so I say no.   I’m afraid of working out that hard so I can get to Boston, no.

So I was going to write this blog about all the NO’s, and sure, they exist BUT..  I’m not really feeling the “No’s” right now.  I can think of yes’s for every no, right now.   Right now I know that the road to greatness is mundane, persistent and consistent action; never giving up, letting go of the things that are hurting you, and being your own champion.

If I DID  want to wallow in my miseries, then I’m sure I could look back and see a series of fear-laden “No’s”.  No to myself, no to offers and invitations from others, no to flights of fancy that weren’t so flighty after all.

The Running Shop (Pt 2)

Running with MS

Francisco had ordered a pair of the New Balance Minimus trail shoes; the T10 v4.  We joked a little about how popular this release was because it finally went back to the original design everyone loved.  That shoe created quite a following.

 

Francisco has MS and he’s a runner.  Someday, that won’t be the case, but for now he can still find joy there and he does.  His gait is such, that his left foot swings through a little low and the tread beneath that toe wears out really fast – even with the Vibram outsole. He wondered if there was anything he could do about that and we kicked around some ideas.

After he left, I went to the running subreddit and asked the same question he had asked me, and I wanted to share some of the responses here;

“I like the trail shoe idea. My suggestion is if the shoes are not worn out find a product like Shoe-Goo to build up the tread so it takes longer to wear down. I used to build up my treads with this to get longer life from my shoes.” ~ /u/amh_library

That’s a really great suggestion that I’ll remember.

“This may sound like a stupid idea, but here goes. Occasionally companies will help out people with special needs, perhaps such as needing more left shoes. Maybe you could reach out to the suppliers, explain the situation and see if maybe they can either sell single left shoes for him or even provide them? It’s probably a stretch, but if it makes them look good then they might consider it.” ~ /u/CatLadyTheSecond

This will require some follow up but if the worse they can say is “No”, then it’s totally worth it.  I should have the contact information to actually get this request to the right person.

“Somewhat of a side note, you should look up Kayla Montgomery. MS pt with amazing running story, though I’m not sure about what shoes she used, might be worth looking into” ~ /u/YogiMooseTX

This one got me choked up a bit.  I’ve seen it before, but it really hits hard each time. I was pretty much blown away by Francisco and Kayla’s story broke my heart in a good way.  It’s the spirit that gets this huge setback and doesn’t quit.. that has a certain demise on the horizon, a degenerative disease like MS where people slowly lose functionality going from wheel-chairs, to beds, ventilators, feeding tubes and finally death… all of this staring a person in the face and still they run.  Right up to the edge, each time.

I really loved one phrase that I think sums up a lot of this tenacity;

“As time goes on, I get back up” ~ Kayla

No matter what, get back up and try again to push against the impossible.

It occurs to me..

Do new things, think new thoughts.

Five years ago, it never would have crossed my mind that I would be training for a Boston Marathon qualifying time.  My life then was filled with daily trips to Jack in the Box, a pack a day of American Spirit cigarettes and lots of raiding in World of Warcraft.

However, fairly early in my running, I came up with my three goals, and there it was – my “Super Bowl” goal – to qualify and run the Boston Marathon.

When I made a life-change, the things that ‘occurred’ to me changed as well.

I never thought about it before, because that’s not where I was.   It’s a strong lesson and really exciting, if you think about it.   Imagine!  You don’t know how many fulfilling things will just occur to you, seemingly out of the blue, until you put yourself in that sphere and experience it.  Until I put myself on the path to fitness through running, nothing about achieving such an audacious goal would ever find purchase in my soul.

If you overlap your life into fitness in general, it might occur to you that you could use your fitness to motivate and inspire others in some previously unknown meaningful way.   As you think about nutrition, you might come up with the idea of writing your own cookbook, or blog your daily meals.  You could end up inventing your own line of nutritional bars to fill some previously unknown niche.  Maybe you’ll invent a multi-purpose pack once you realize the one you have doesn’t have a feature you would find really useful – and it doesn’t even exist yet.

But it all starts with putting yourself out there, somewhere, anywhere.. into some previously unappealing endeavor or new activity.   Overcoming fears and discomforts to tackle something to help you reach your new goals can lead to doors you didn’t know existed.

And here’s the thing – the more audacious the goal, the better the odds that you will find something truly amazing about yourself and your capacity for thinking bigger and better.

When it hurts most.. (nsfw)

..is when you gain most.

..is when you get to practice being in pain.

..is when you learn the price of success.

..is when you shatter the illusions of where you want to be.

..is a sure sign you are on the right track.  Be glad.

..proves that you are not lazy.

..is to explore the frontiers of your current boundaries. Now you know!

..keep going.

..be with it.

..forgive.

..imagine the results if you never pushed yourself.   Keep going.

..remember that those you admire the most are learning to hurt too.

..smile at that mother-fucking pain, and make it your bitch.

And for all that..

You can still make a wrong turn, when all the signs are pointing the other way!

Last night, I told a group of new runners that the thing that ended up being my prime motivation was a bulging waist-line.  It’s true, to a degree.  There were a hundred little things going on at the time that pushed the issue to the foreground; I began experiencing gout for the first time in my life, my mother had breast cancer and beat it, my cousin had cancer and beat it, it had always been one of those little things I told myself I would do.. someday, I just wasn’t happy, and all of my activities were geared around either pleasure and comfort or escape from anything challenging, stressful or difficult.   But maybe the waist-line was the final straw – I’m not sure.

But I could have kept kicking even that can down the road.   I could have made the wrong turn, for all that!

When you have some motivating thought to do something good for yourself, or a warning in your life to stop what you’re doing immediately, there’s still no guarantee you still won’t choose to go one way, when everything in your life is telling you to go the other way. We’ve all seen it – Diabetics who begin suffering from degenerative circulation in their feet, so much so that they have to get toes amputated, or the whole foot – and they still persist with the same diet that is literally destroying them.   Drug addicts and alcoholics who continue to double-down on a new high, or the next high, while their lives go down the tubes; each new drug and each new drink a cross-roads; an explicit choice made.

For a lot of reasons, I don’t think everyone is equipped mentally, or perhaps emotionally, to even make good choices and ‘right’ decisions.  I know I’m not – not always – but I’m working on it.

I think it’s the same with fitness.   We get warnings and we get motivations to be healthier, make better life-style choices, take better care of ourselves, quit eating sugar, quit smoking or drinking – and suddenly, we’re at a cross-roads and there will be a decision, one way or the other.

And as you think about this, you might start to become more aware of all the little choices we make and the compounding effect they have on our lives.  Each little ‘cheat’, each little skipped workout – the seductive destruction of our best laid plans, bit by bit, as we keep making those tiny turns on those tiny cross-roads throughout the day; going the wrong way.

The Process 

It is not flashy to those who are in it. Who live with themselves from day to day.  The incremental changes are soul-grindingly slow and imperceptible.

There needs to be a more earnest expression of the word ‘patience’.

Still, the course is charted and the journey may be long, but with consistency, the months and years will see us all through if we remain forever focused on the big picture as we yawn through slow minutes; never failing to take the daily steps that seem so vain and barren.

Committed.

And then someone says, “you look like you’ve lost weight!”, or you notice one day that your clothes aren’t squeezing you anymore.   You hear the chirp of your Garmin mark off a mile, or three, and you get an exhilirating little thrill because that wasn’t so bad or that was the first time you ran that far!

There is joy in the slow quiet crawl to success.