dare to be different, mental health

The Distant Shore

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A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.

The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.

“Come on!” they called.  “Do it!”

I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.

They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.

Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?

Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom.  Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device.  Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side).  Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)

And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?

Then I started psyching myself up.

I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.

So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement.  Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water.  Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.

Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks.  I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.

Eventually, the shore got closer.  My group noticed I was nearly there.  And I finally, eventually made it.  Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.

Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6.  100 yards each way.

Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”

And yes, it was worth it.

What have you dared to do lately?

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Sore vs. Soar

Oh how I love a twist on words or one word vs. another. A simple competition for me to challenge myself to think. Is it word wizardry?

Who knows! For me I used this word wizardry to unmask my current challenge relating to fitness.

In order to soar in my personal fitness goals I must first be willing to be sore. That’s easier said than done on most days.

I went back to the gym after a long 69 days away from the box. Yes I counted to be sure. It’s been about 5 years since I missed even 5 days in a year. That makes this a big break. I worked out during isolation however I never pushed myself to new limits. I never held myself to the same standard I would in a competition or even a metcon.

No real reason other than I just didn’t do it. I had other priorities at the time. I had background noise pulling at me and a bit of stubbornness. Not really excuses just choices. So here I am in the now. What’s happening now.

I’m recommitting to my fitness at a high achiever level. A competition level. I have more time. The pandemic regulations are diminishing in my area. It’s a good time to shift priorities and mindset.

First obstacle to overcome or being generally accepting about is soreness. The kind of soreness that makes it hard to walk/sit on some days while it’s hard to just giggle on others due to ab tightness. No matter what the pain, it’s progress.

After the soreness becomes tolerable then the frequency adjusts. The number of days I can endure the constantly varied workouts.

Once both of these areas are buttoned up, a routine is established. A healthy manageable routine of fitness. That’s where the beauty lies. The beautification process to some or the achievement gratification to others. Either way transformation is visible.

As I wrote this fitness update I was outside or more like near a window. As I wrote in flew a butterfly. Not the most attractive butterfly but one that sat patiently with me as I wrote. Flapping the wing span like it winking at me. Just hanging around like my faithful dog Teddie does.

A sign for me to soar. To spread my wings and soar to new heights. Let go of the achy sore in search of the ability to soar as an individual. A healthy fit individual.

Recently I’ve used photos to aid in my story telling. This may appeal to some while annoy others. Whichever category you fall into let it be known that I am ever so in tune with my surroundings and environment. I choose to listen, feel, smell and touch the world with my uniqueness.

May the coincidence of this butterfly cause you to take in your surrounding a bit more and see if any signs give you clarity for obstacles you are facing in your life.

Perspective is a valuable tool to use in life. Words are also equally valuable. Words can hurt or words can make you smile.  That is just the case with the two words I selected today.

Enjoy today.

working women

Business Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Holy smokes are you buckled in for the ride of your life? That’s pretty much what every business owner is doing each day they wake up in the insane life we live today. They buckle up for the crazy ride just like a healthcare worker. Ready to face the unknown. Ready to deal with defeat.

Don’t get me wrong business isn’t easy on normal days but these uncharted waters are not for the weak, inexperienced or underfunded CEO’s. A business owner during this tough economic climate has got to lead with confidence, control and commitment.

They must make sound decisions, fast. They have to think about their passion, their purpose, their drive, their team, their community and they have to take action in what seems like an instant. Profit is out the door for the most part.

Lives are on the line no matter what business you are in. There is something essential in everything we do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Life may get paused but it can’t halt forever. Leaders need to face fears. Leaders need to help people around them. Leaders must rally the troops. Selfless acts in uncertain times show character in CEOs who step up when it counts. Troubled times will also highlight those CEOs who hide or make selfish decisions when the road gets bumpy.

Many good leaders will fail during this challenging time. And if they do fail, it’s temporary. A good leader will find their way to higher ground. It may take time, but one will build resilience and emerge stronger.

To all my fellow business partners, leaders, and colleagues, I applaud you. Those tough decisions had impacts, we know that. I also know you made the decisions that caused the least impact possible to your surroundings. If failure is lurking, embrace it. Failure is just an opportunity to rebuild, rebrand, rejuvenate your passion. Your power. Your footprint.

Business owners don’t get unemployment but they help file for their employees in this challenging time. Businesses may have shut down but still paid employees for as long as they could. Restaurants stayed open to feed people when they may have lost 90% of their revenue and not know how they will make their rent next month. Landlords offered shelter to those who didn’t have funds to pay when rent was due. So many selfless acts go on each day. Many nobody will ever see.

True leaders do without glory. They do what needs to be done and worry about what ifs later. That’s what they do even if it may just be the crumbling of their lifelong work.

I also caution you to be aware of those making decisions to financially benefit themselves at another’s expense during this pandemic. In troubled times this happens when a CEO may not see the big picture. Their short term decision may have long term consequences. Price gouging and hoarding may be two prime examples that come to mind.

Many may never see the crazy shit from the CEOs eyes. I write this note for those to catch a glimpse of the insanity. The burden placed on entrepreneurs who have heavy stakes in the business game. Many think entrepreneurs have it all. In reality they risk it all including the shirt on their back. Personal savings, home equity used as personal guarantees, and so on.

It’s a tough world for everyone right now. Be a nice human. Support your communities where you can. We will all survive this mess. Some of us may have battle scars while others may have bad hair. Either way the vast majority will survive. That is enough to be thankful for.

Enjoy the shit show of today.

fitness and nutrition, hustle

Watching My Language

 

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Like Chick 1 and several others, I am doing the 2,020 in 2020 miles challenge.  We are each putting our own spin on the distance.

I have a little history with this kind of goal.

In 2016, I aimed to walk / run 1,000 miles in a calendar year.  My Big Rule: I had to have my exercise shoes on for those miles to count.  (All the steps I took at work or for daily tasks did not count toward the total.)  Looking back at my mileage tracker, there were many miles that took me 18 minutes, some even longer than 20.  Still, through regular almost-daily efforts, I logged well over 1,100 miles that year.

That was many years and pounds ago. Taking on this new goal…what would be a step forward for me now? Was just doing more miles enough?

When I was thinking about this goal and how I wanted to approach it, I decided to add an extra layer. I wanted a different challenge, so I made a new Big Rule.

That Big Rule has meant a *lot* of time on the Ski Erg and the rowing machine at our box. Sometimes I row five miles at a stretch, which is pretty unusual in our community. After all, CrossFit is based around constantly varied movements.  It’s sort of odd to stay on one thing for thirty minutes or more. After walking past me several times, people will ask me what I’m doing.

I’d tell them about the mile challenge, then say:

“I have to do 10% on the ski erg (202 miles), 10% on the hiking trail, 10% running, 10% biking, and 10% rowing.”

At least that’s what I told people when they asked me why I was spending 20 straight minutes on the ski erg or 45 on the rower.  I’m doing it because I have to.

But after saying it this way several times I stood back and thought, no one is forcing me to do it this way.  I chose this.  And I chose it purposefully. I set a big, hairy, audacious, I’m-not-entirely-sure-I-will-accomplish-it goal.  I thought of something that made me nervous and DARED myself to do it.

So now, if people ask, I say I CHOSE to do 10% on the ski erg (202 miles), 10% on the hiking trail, 10% running, 10% biking, and 10% rowing.

Or I GET to do it.  Maybe I should say I DARED myself to do it.  Through my words I need to EMBRACE it – the grand, ridiculous, audacious (im)possibility of all those crazy miles and the long journey they represent.

These little words matter.  I am trying to pay more attention to how I use my words.  As a word person, you’d think I would be more careful, but I know my negativity and woe-is-me creeps in often when I am lazy or just inattentive. It’s sloppy old thinking and serves no one.  These miles aren’t part of some sort of penalty or sentence.  They are a challenge I set before myself to stretch my limits.  A good thing.

My first month went pretty well. I’ve discovered that in addition to the pages logging each variety of miles, I like a page of stars for every 10 miles I complete. Not gonna lie, though, it’s a long road. I am working on my patience muscles, which will undoubtedly get a workout in the face of a goal that I can’t just speed through.  I’m finding my footing and my balance.  And if you notice, there’s still 50% of my miles that I can choose to do with as I wish.  Don’t be surprised if dancing and cartwheels show up on my log.

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health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.