author moments

What I Know for Sure, 2021 Edition

A group of friends recently shared their thoughts on “What I Know for Sure.” This task, based on Oprah’s essays and so on, was a pleasant challenge.

I jotted mine down in quick scribbles. Nothing really took too much thought. I just did 20 in no particular order. Most of them are pretty basic. There was some head-nodding as we shared at the dinner table. Here’s the list I shared:

1.) The most important approval in my life is my own.

2.) I feel better when I move first thing in the morning.

3.) I can do without way more than I imagined (e.g., cheese)

4.) The main thing I can control is my own choices.

5.) Focusing on what I can control eases my anxiety.

6.) Bring food, a book, and something to do with you.

7.) I can provide guidance, but walking the walk and being an example is the most powerful, grounding thing I can do for others and myself.

8.) I can’t expect anyone else to prioritize my physical, mental, and emotional health – that’s my job. They also may not understand what prioritizing those things look like. That’s also not my problem.

9.) Garbage in, garbage out – reading, media, food, all of it.

10.) Most people are doing the best they can based on what they know and are capable of at a given time.

11.) Play is important at every age. Laughter is, too.

12.) Local places beat chains.

13.) If it’s worth it, go for it.

14.) Nature heals, redeems, centers and grounds.

15.) Writing matters.

16.) Dogs are amazing and make most of the people in my life happier than other people do.

17.) Most things that seem like a big deal really aren’t that serious.

18.) To be on time, leave at least 15 minutes before you think you should. Always leave a buffer.

19.) Time and attention are the most precious gifts we can give other people.

20.) Thank people often for things big and small.

Most of this stuff is not groundbreaking. What I marvel at is how my list would have changed from even 5 years ago. I didn’t work out in the morning. I was beset with anxiety most of the time. I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I didn’t write for myself. I didn’t like dogs. Life is changing. I am changing. If my list stays the same, have I really learned or grown? What will the next 5 years bring?

I have a number of friends who are on the cusp of this time of great change with me. It’s wonderful to share such an exciting and transformational time with people. Instead of a stumbling, fumbling block it can be a launch pad.

What do you know for sure, right now?

challenges

Fries With That?

Pulled up to the speaker. Ordered a burger. Sat for a minute. Then it appeared sort of by magic, sometimes even on roller skates. It used to be simple.

Then came the combo meal. Would you like fries and a drink with that? You’ll save 10 cents. Then it was super size. Sweet potato fries. All kinds of extras. A brilliant invention for marketing and calories. Who can resist? Save a dime, get a whole big bag of food and a soda. Combos are brilliant! Seems like a great deal, right?

But…

What if the combo isn’t what I want? If I don’t really like fries? What if they’re not good for me? What if it keeps me from reaching my goals?

When is a combo deal not so great?

Maybe it’s the big packages of yogurts or energy drinks at Costco or Sam’s club. A 12-pack of Chobani costs less than a buck a piece, but I know good and well no one is going to eat the blueberry. The lemon-lime gatorade will collect dust in the bottom of my pantry long after the red and blue are gone.

I have grown more comfortable with passing up things I don’t need just because they come as a part of a combo. I will pay more for just the nuggets because the waffle fries aren’t worth it. I’ll pass on the coke unless it’s a special occasion. Yes, I know I can save money. Yes, I am sure. By the same token, I will also pay more to get the super premium salad as a side if it is best for me. Maybe it’s a luxury I can afford, but goals are goals. I try to stick to what works for me.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. For example, what happens when people are the package deal? If you’re having a party and want to invite a friend, but you know that friend probably won’t come without their obnoxious or otherwise unsavory partner. Do you ask them to leave the person at home? If so, how? Do you risk missing out on the parts you like by refusing the pieces you don’t?

Family ties may make this even more complicated. If you want to visit family, spend time with them, or connect with them, but they come as a package deal with someone else you don’t like, what do you do? Can you just order the nuggets and be done with it, or are you stuck with the fries and just try to ignore them? Do you just skip that restaurant and not eat there anymore? Does knowing that choices involve a side of junk make you avoid the things you love, too?

A few thoughts about food, friends and family to start this day. Are there things in life that come as a combo that you’d rather have some of than all of?

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Six Miles of Smiles

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it this year. The Peachtree Road Race. An Atlanta tradition on the Fourth of July. It would be my seventh in a row. I do like streaks but I still wasn’t sure.

It would be different, of course, just like most of life these days. They spread the event over two days. Much smaller crowds. Vaccination checks or virus screenings. I did it last year solo (virtual) and it was not so fun. But I had a friend ask me to join her so I jumped in. I chose July 3 since I figured it would be different anyways, and it worked better with my travel schedule.

The day-before number pickup event was a disappointment. The usual convention hall of shoe and running pouch vendors, waffle samples, music, and ebullience was just a handful of folks with official merch and the public transportation folks to ease race day travels. I left feeling sort of glum.

Waking on race morning is always hard. It often follows a night of broken sleep, anticipating the event and challenge to come. I made it to parking and on to the train. It was so much easier to park and ride, but I did miss the usual crowd of runners we participate with. I made it to the start line and saw my friend, a ray of light! I took my traditional start line pics and we were off and running.

I hadn’t trained in running much so I had no expectations for my performance. The energy was totally different in the race with dramatically fewer people on the course. But it didn’t take long for me to start feeling lifted. The people on the side of the course seemed especially excited. I made eye contact with many of them and smiled. It was more personal this time around.

And then I smiled for the next six miles. My friend was often ahead of me but we still connected a few times. It was surprisingly cool out. With fewer runners there was far less of the usual bobbing and weaving around the different paces. Smooth sailing throughout, really.

It actually felt a little emotional to be there, running and smiling after the grueling mental marathon of Covid-19. I nearly cried at times, but I still never stopped smiling. I thanked the police, the volunteers, the people who came out to hand us water, even all the trash collectors who line their trucks up across the cross streets to keep the runners from being plowed down by anyone who would wish harm on the runners of the World’s Largest 10K.

I watched the miles and milestones tick by. My legs ached. I thought to myself, I am creating the future. I am putting my steps in and my votes in for hope. For health. For persistence. For triumph.

I crossed the line just under 4 minutes faster of my time two years ago. I felt so great for having done it. The one Coke I allow myself each year tasted as sweet as it ever has. It is wonderful to be out challenging myself and participating again. May the miles we still have to go be as joyful.

perspective

Half Way

50% Of the year is gone! Just like that. I feel like I blinked. Good thing I have a ton of pictures, journals and memories to recount my shenanigans from a-z.

I’m feeling pretty accomplished at the half way point. How about you?

I’m feeling thankful for my experiences this far. After living through a pandemic, I value each and every experience. How about you?

I am learning new things in 2021. I’m even joining a book club that isn’t really about books. How about you?

I’m taking risks this year. Some may yield results while others may be about the journey. How about you?

I’ve had my fair share of struggles. I’ve learned to dust myself off and get back on the saddle even when my pride is bruised. How about you?

I’ve had my learning moments. Owning them all. How about you?

I have enjoyed traveling a bit. This may be my favorite part of the year so far. Exploring new places while meeting new faces.

I look forward to many things each day but one fun part of my day is flipping my daily calendar. Not my work calendar. Not my carpool calendar. My special flip-the-unexpected calendar page. My gag gift from a dear friend. Who would have known this gem would make my year so fun. I even exchange daily posts with friend who has a unicorn calendar. While hers is all lollipops, gummy bears and happy motivational moments, mine is full of shits, giggles, swearing and many other not so polished or perfect sayings. That’s probably what I love the most about it. Maybe it’s the swearing will help note that gets me through the bad day. Maybe it’s the you are magical as fuck signage that gives me some extra pep in my step. It could be the PSA needed for people around stating this is an Asshole FREE zone! Or it could just be a reminder of where we are in the year. 

Half way to somewhere hopefully. Half way past the bullshit of yesterday. Half way to 2022 and my next birthday. Whether half full or half empty at this point in time, I’m reflecting on what is. What was. What can be. 

Who am I. Who was I. Who will I become.

Who’s with me. Who’s yesterday’s news. Who’s ready to meet me.

As I wrap up this post full of questions, I offer you a dare. Dare to be different. Dare to make the second half better than the first. Dare to dream. Dreams can become reality. Enjoy what’s on the horizon.

business, change

Play it Safe?

Do you like to play it safe in life?

Do you like to play it safe In business?

I recently read a short brief on playing it safe and it made me think a bit. In sports, coaches often times (especially in football) choose not to play it safe in games by attempting a 2-point conversion vs. opting for the easy field goal. A stretch of sorts. A chance. The unknown. Said chance could pay off big or make you fall short.

I never really thought about how sports is a form of gambling for the coaches. Choosing the players. Choosing the plays. The key decisions. The crucial thinking required. The dynamics of it all.

I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen at sporting events. Sometimes fanatical sports fans will go crazy if said coach has too many failed 2-point conversion attempts while others may go crazy at even the thought of going for it when you could just play it safe.

Again just that one example made me think. As a coach for competitive sports I play with my business mind. I play with strategy and I play to win. If it’s the last 2 minutes of the game I’m going for it. I have my best players on the field. I’m playing out my strategy. Boy do I get annoyed when other coaches play it safe.

Keeping this in mind many choose to play it safe in life. Maybe it’s taking the safe job. The fixed salary with two weeks fixed vacation every July. For me, I’d opt for the commission-only gig that pays out big dividends as I am confident betting on myself. Vacation time is good but not requirement if you are writing your own check so to speak.

Then there is the play-it-safe home choice. The planned neighborhood in suburbia with strict can-dos and can’t-dos. The flip side would be the plot of land where you make your own rules. 
A short article I read today had me thinking. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Take a risk here and there. Without risk there is no reward. Worst that can happen is you fail. If you fail you should learn something. That something you learn can be avoided next time you take a chance.
Life is a gamble. Don’t play it safe every day. You will miss those golden opportunities hidden in plain sight. Push the envelope. See what happens around you.

As I wrote this post a friend celebrated her six-month job anniversary. A change of careers took place six months ago. A scary change outside her comfort zone. She is thriving and growing each day. She is thankful to herself for embracing the unknown. She took the gamble. It’s paying off. There is a growing trend amongst the workforce post-pandemic where many are embracing change. Some due to a required change while others choosing to spread their wings. Either way it is a risk. A risk worth taking.

As I write this today, I’m taking a chance. Risk of course. Reward, unknown. Time will tell. Off to live my choices wherever they lead me.