awareness, mental health, perspective

Paths, Loss, and Lessons

How do people lose sight of what they have right in front of them? People, possessions, relationships, amongst others.

Life is full of choices and paths. Sometime we take the right path while other times we don’t. Some paths are smooth while others are bumpy. No two paths are ever the same.

Bumpy roads lead to some of the best life lessons. The important part of life lessons is when one actually learns from said lesson. Unfortunately, many miss the bigger message when it’s right in front of them.

I am at a loss sometimes when people can’t see what’s right in front of them. They don’t see the indirect messages or clues. They don’t hear the direct communication. They just see themselves.

Then I hit pause. Is it that they don’t hear or they choose not to listen? Is there a difference? Why yes there is a difference and it is a choice.

Listening is a form of art. Listening means sharing in the pain or glory of others. Listening means giving of yourself. If somebody close to you isn’t listening to you, they are making a choice. They are choosing themselves over you.

To me they chose the wrong path. The path that ends in loss. The loss could be big or it could be small. No matter the size it’s loss. For those who suffer a loss or get lost in themselves and forget about what’s in front of you, I hope you realize the lesson that you should learn.

Never take life or people for granted. They may be here today and gone tomorrow. Don’t miss your opportunity.

This post was written in honor of Suicide Prevention Month (September 2021).

fitness and nutrition

Keeping Pace

When I was growing up, July was all about the Tour de France. It was on TV for hours a day at my house. Before TiVO, my Dad would get up in what seemed like the middle of the night to watch. For the most part, I found it completely boring. Hours and hours of rolling along. The scenery was nice…French towns and the occasional sunflower field. I was mainly irritated that the TV was occupied for so many hours a day.

Inevitably, my Dad would try to explain some of the strategy to me. How the teams worked, drafting, and so on. After many years of boredom, I became sort of fascinated with the many roles on these teams. Most of the athletes were not there to win for themselves. No, most of the guys had specific jobs that served to ensure the team’s leading rider came out wearing the maillot jaune.

Imagine it: you’ve been chugging over kilometers by the hundreds, even the thousands. You’ve summited mountains, taken treacherous downhill curves at high speeds. You’ve churned your legs day after day, through training and trials, and it all comes down to the final mile of the day. It’s a sprint finish. Your team sets up, a few of you lurking toward the front of the pack, staying out of trouble and in good position. Watching…watching…as so many other teams are doing the exact same thing….then….

BOOM. Almost imperceptibly, there’s a nod and someone flies off the front of the pack, his trailing teammates sprinting to stay in a cluster. Over a few hundred yards the tip of the spear, then his right hand man eventually peel off, their work done, their legs spent. If all goes as it should, the team leader comes out the winner of the day. Wears the yellow. The leadout men, who did the heavy sprint lifting, are left to come in 18th, 20th, 40th, who cares. Wherever their spent legs will coast them in.

After years and years of watching, I came to appreciate the pacers and their role. The dedication to a leader. The special craft in that support. All the teams working and split second strategy did make it an exciting few seconds of sports.

Sometimes pacing isn’t so hectic. We ran a half marathon a little over a year ago. One of the surprises at the pre-race expo was learning about the pacers. There would be people in the race running while holding up signs with times. Fifteen minute increments…2:00, 2:15, 2:30 and so on. If you were trying to meet one of those finish times for your race, you could hang with that pacer. In my case, I found a pacer and kept them in my sight. She had a flock of people running with her. Interestingly, she would stop and walk every once in a while, I guess to be sure she was hitting her goal on the nose. I passed the pacer a few miles in and in my mind I knew if she was behind me I was doing ok. I later wondered, was she a professional pacer? Her whole job was to make sure people made that goal?

I’ve noticed this in other contexts. Hearing my daughter tell stories of running alongside her teammates to help them make their benchmarks. People in health and fitness challenges jumping in to pace others over their personal finish line. And then there are people I pace off of, in the gym and in other areas of life, who may not even know they’re playing that role for me. People who just work hard naturally and I use their example as a model to keep in my sights.

It’s not really keeping up with the Joneses. There will be people who have habits and lifestyles I admire but pacing off them doesn’t make sense. It’s more about knowing the path I am on…sometimes the path I want to or need to be on, and finding partners or examples to pace off of. They’re moving along that path, ideally a little bit faster than me. Hopefully they’re willing to let me draft off of them for a while to make the path easier. At some point, like in the Tour, it may be my turn to take the headwinds at the front.

I am a helper. Maybe that’s why the idea of pacing people to their goals fascinates and resonates with me. Being a part of them moving along. Helping on the way. I’m not often the leader but I like being on the team that helps a leader succeed.

Who is pacing you out in life? Who is on your team, explicitly or implicitly? Who is on your path, smoothing the way or lighting the direction? Lifting your cadence?

On the flip side, are you pacing someone else out? Maybe without even knowing it? What does that mean for the choices you make? What direction are you leading in?

Another little something to think about.

perspective

Reflections

What do reflections tell us or teach us? If you look at your reflection in the water, the image may be distorted. If you look at your reflection in a mirror it may also be distorted. However if we reflect upon a picture, not much is hidden. A still moment of you. Marked in time.

Photos are often snapped by others. Said photos may show you a side, an angle, or a view of yourself you are not used to seeing. Or maybe it’s a version or portion of yourself you ignore purposely. It may even be a rude awakening of how you really look to others.

When you look at a picture you see you. The good. The bad. The ugly. How you reflect upon the visual image is completely up to you. 

You can focus on the negative or find the positives in any photo of yourself. For me, I have my moments where I look at the aesthetic piece and say ugh… but then I shift to what I can control. My attitude. My desire to improve. My ability to create change.

Can you look at your reflection and do the same? It’s a challenge of sorts. Take the blurred self-image and create the you that you want to see all the time. The look you want others to see of you. 

Maybe you want to smile brighter. Maybe you want to dress sharper. Maybe you want a new hair color. Maybe it’s a fresh haircut. Whatever you reflect on, you can change if you so desire.

My reflection inspired me recently. I won’t bore you with the details as the point of the post is I reflect on myself to improve. I mapped a plan in my mind to execute the improvement.

I did that! I invoked the desire to change. I charted the path. I put the work in. I valued me. I valued my time to change what I wanted to change in my reflection.

My change could be physical but it doesn’t need to be. It could be a spiritual change. A mindset change. It could even be an emotional change.

I noted in a previous post about how others are watching. They may watch whether you strut or walk timidly. That’s right your gait can tell a lot about you. It used to be the handshake in business that defined you but now thanks to corona and the digital arena we live in today we must adapt. Adapt our reflection to meet today’s demands.

I did just that. I asked myself or my reflection how I can up my game. What can I modify within to recreate, repurpose, reposition or redirect to suit my forward-thinking self.

I’m a work in progress. An artist piece that is moldable and remoldable. Never boring. Never stale. Dynamic. A modifiable masterpiece.

My reflection is shifting. Just like life.

adventure, inspire

Inspiration Project

I was inspired by a table. A table at an outside seating area of a small-town gastropub. Shiny red barrel legs. Barn wood type table top. It looked homemade but I knew it was commercially produced. See below for a visual.

I decided in that moment that I was going to use this inspiration to spark my own home project. And off my mind went to what the finished product would look like!

I didn’t think about where to find the components or how much work was involved to get my end result. I just knew what I wanted and said I’m gonna do it. Why not?

I started with the cool base. The red barrels. But why stop at two when you can have three? Then I needed a topper. Not just any topper. I wanted a 12 foot topper that was straight from the woods. Off I went on a hunt.

First I secured the base. Boy that was an adventure to get one night. Then it was the search and negotiations for the topper. And they had to be big which meant I needed bookend pieces. Into the woods with a big truck to get the pieces that were hand selected.

Now the hard work has begun. The sanding. The endless dusty sanding. It’s mindless work but therapeutic at the same time. I’m creating something. A one-of-a-kind piece that will be showcased in my new outdoor space. I will take great pride in knowing the hard work that was put into this table.

From creating the perfect edging to preserving the bark. All intricate details making it special to me. I could have bought a table but that would have been easy. I chose difficult or the path requiring hard work. May this table be a staple piece in my space where people can gather and share good times and make memories. Oh the adventures my table will have. I can’t wait to unveil the finished product.

Moving on to staining and some finish work. Full assembly won’t happen until it reaches its destination so for now you have to ignore the messy warehouse background that I have morphed into a mini-workshop of sorts. You will see a final photo when the table lands in its new home but for now you can see it close to the end result below.

I didn’t track the hours I invested in this project but it was an experience. One of many I will embark on in the second half of 2020.

perspective

Is Life Fair?

Life isn’t fair on most days to many. If you took a poll of 100 people, I feel confident that the majority would share some stories of how life is unfair to them.

Is there even a fairness card somebody could get when they are born? I guess this is funny to mention.

Life is full of many ups and downs and twists and turns. On any given day one person could be celebrating a victory while another person is crying over a loss. Is this fair? I doubt it.

A woman may get a government contract over her male counterparts due to a government set-aside stipulation. Is this fair? Probably not if you ask the male.

A boy gets a better rate on health insurance compared to a girl the same age because she is in her child-bearing years. Is this fair? Not if you ask the female.

Life is what you make of it. You can’t compare yourself to others and you can only try to do your best with whatever options are available to you at that moment in time. If you get a flat tire your car you need to change it if you want to keep moving. On the flip side if you want to keep moving in life you need to change your attitude to I can vs. oh woe is me.

I referenced a moment in time above as time can change things for many. As you get older you may be wiser and have more financial wellness today in comparison to 5 years before. Is this fair? Not to the 18-year-old applying for their first loan.

Sometimes I think my kids think they should get the latest cell phone because their bestie has one or they should be paid the same wage per hour to do the same job as a coworker with years of experience. I’m not sure where they got this train of thought as I never taught that.

In life, fair doesn’t mean equal. Everyone can hope for equality but that doesn’t happen in all scenarios. Life is full of variables. Take the old saying is this glass half full or half empty: your perspective may differ from mine. That’s the beauty of life.

Life’s uncertainty leads to lessons learned. Lessons foster growth. Having a growth mindset allows you to change your surroundings, your future, your present and many benefits I can’t list.

This post is about the word no. Sometimes you need to hear no many times before you hear yes. It may not be fair but if you are consistent you may see more yes in your life.

Today I said no to somebody. Yesterday I said no to another. I don’t always like hearing bad news but sometimes the truth is what one needs to hear to grow. To step outside their box. To find another way. To enable them to shift their mindset into how to do vs. who can do for me.

If we always found yes answers we would have a weirder society than we have now. I had this little yellow book on a table in my house for years. I think many could read it and grow from it.