adventure

Taking the Scenic Route

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New (or new-to-me) cars don’t happen often in my life.

We usually drive our cars into the ground.  A car purchase is a big deal that comes along only once in a long while.

In my car history, I’ve graduated from sedans to minivans to sedans again.

Every car says a little bit about where I am in life.  Sedans for the independent girl paying for her first vehicle.  Minivans for the Mom of 3 carting kids and their pals and their stuff here and there.  Then sedans for the Mom looking for fuel efficiency, with some kids who can drive themselves.  And finally, as of this year all my kids can drive themselves. What a life change.  My youngest got my last sedan as her starter car.  Now what?

All the cars did have some things in common: gotta have a sunroof and a top-notch stereo.  My Mom was a convertible girl but I remember she always had problems with leaks and the mechanics of the tops in her LeBaron and Sebring.  So I stay with a sunroof.  And if you’ve ridden with me you know I like to sing loudly in the car, so my backup track needs to be high quality.

Anyway, the time came to choose a car and I lingered over the decision, as is my style.  I researched and figured out the exact car I wanted then sought it out for months.  I finally found it and after much waiting, anguish, car rentals, state line crossings, and other extraordinary measures, I bought my shiny red Jeep Compass Trailhawk this spring.

I’ve had it for a while.  I’ve tried to write about it several times but couldn’t seem to finish a post. I wasn’t sure what the story was or why anyone should care. I almost abandoned the idea to the cutting room floor.

But then last week I took her for her first true off-road ride.  I had my youngest and her friends on a weekend trip a few hours away for a lacrosse tournament. Instead of taking the most direct path via the interstate, I decided to chart a path to a waterfall hike.  It was sort of on the way but kinda not really.  It would take us off the beaten path, to a part of my state I had never visited.

I read the reviews of the hike and most of them said things like: be ready for a long off-road drive to get to the trailhead.  You need a 4×4 to get there.

And lo and behold, I have one! Yippee! Put me in, coach! I’m ready for this.

I was a bit nervous since we’ve had a lot of rain, but the road was mostly rock and gravel. We played with the road settings. I took it slow for the most part. The kids laughed as I splashed through muddy puddles.  Got some Georgia red clay on the tires and my flashy paint job. It was a long drive in and out but the hike and the experience were worth it.

I am at the point in life where I’m taking the scenic route more and more. Instead of just saying “I wish I had more time to…” (hike, chase waterfalls, stop at the sights and shops along the way), I am making the time. And no one can do that but me.   I want to see new things.  A little mud, a little rock, whatever obstacles can’t stop me from getting where I want to go.  A little prepared for anything.  I can tow things and have a few friends and our stuff along.  I can see the sun and play my beats stereo loud.

It’s a different, off-road life for me.  A little more dare, a little more fearless, a little more nothing-can-stand-in-my-way. No limits. No barriers. No exclusions.

They say the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.  I’m embracing that as a challenge and a reward, for the journey and all that comes with it.

 

 

 

 

perspective

Max Mentality

 

I was looking for benchmarks and it seemed a simple enough test.

Do the maximum reps of pullups (or scale) that you can.

Then,

do the maximum reps of pushups (or scale) that you can.

Rest 2 minutes.  Repeat 3 additional times.

I read tips.  How to scale so you get a decent benchmark (choose a scale that lets you get at least 15 reps fresh, etc.)  So set up and pressed start.

It didn’t take long for me to stop. Yeah, I can’t do a ton of these exercises. But what I noticed is that I stopped before I was really “maxed out.”  I could have done one more, maybe two, even three, who knows?

And I didn’t just stop early the first time. I did it every. single. time. Left some in the tank, so to speak.

Why?  I thought to myself. Why stop short? Why not push to failure, really find where my max is? What do I fear?

When I thought about it, I realized that I take this approach all the time in fitness. I tend to run along at 70-80% when I should be maxing out.  In a workout with 5 rounds it is not unusual for me to have my last round be my best round. I don’t usually have the fall-on-the-floor-exhausted at the end, either. That’s fine sometimes. But I can’t kick it into high gear when that is necessary. My legs don’t have sprint in them.  Or, rather, I never test them to see if they do.

I believe I do this in most areas of life where I put forth effort. I’m always hesitant to really see how far I can go.  To see where my abilities can take me, and, maybe more importantly, where they can’t.  What is it about pushing myself to my limit that is something I struggle with?  What do I fear about learning where my edge is, and reaching for it?  Knowing where that is helps me make progress.  Helps move the carrot or the needle or the yardstick.

I even do this with my heart and my enthusiasm.  Even if I am crazy excited about something, if I am asked how excited about it I am, I’ll usually say an 7 or 8 out of 10.  What am I holding back for?

Something to think about as the summer begins and priorities shift.  What does it mean to max out as a writer?  A friend?  A parent?  How often am I cruising with that less-than-best-effort when I should be doing more, crushing it?

How about you? What’s your challenge for giving max effort in life, or maybe what’s your secret?