Remembrance

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I started writing this last year and couldn’t finish it.  Here I go again.

Rememberance

I remember.  I woke up in a house that was shared by 8 other guys.  Yes, a frat house.  Okay, NOT a frat house, but as close as it came at Pacific Lutheran University.  One of my housemates said to me when I walked in, “The Twin Towers have been attacked!”

First thing I thought was….the Twin Towers?  Who would want to attack The Big Bossman and Akeem, the African Dream?

Thank you World Wrestling Federation for muddling my childhood education.  As I had NO IDEA what the Twin Towers were.  Yep, that’s right.  Senior at a Liberal Arts college and I couldn’t tell you about some famous buildings in NYC.  My only consolation is that I know I’m not the only one.

A lot of things went through my head during that day/week/month.  Ironically, the people I cared about most were far away from me.  My girlfriend (now my wife) was in Minnesota.  Both my parents were out of town as well….a plane ride away.  A simple plane ride away, I thought….and now they couldn’t get back to me.  At least at first.  My mom ended up taking jumps here and there and I finally met her and my grandmother in Portland to drive them home.

But mainly, I was in shock.  Who would attack us?  Why New York City?  Was this domestic or international attack?  Are we going to war?  Will I be drafted?  Should I enlist?  Who would I be fighting?  Why would I be fighting?  Should I go back to sleep?  Well, it was early morning after all….early for a college student…..anyway…

As more and more facts came out about the attacks, I saw the amazing perseverance of people and also the amazing intolerance.  I had an Afghan professor who was in fear for his safety because of the mass, almost instant, hatred and acts of violence toward Middle Easterners in our country.

Really?  I couldn’t believe it.  I could, and DID, stand behind all of the flags on the porches and the patriotism that followed the 9/11 attacks, but REALLY?  The Iranian down the street that has lived here longer than you is suddenly the ENEMY?  The Indians and, well, anyone of slightly dark to tan color who wasn’t overtly of Hispanic heritage is now a suspect?

I was saddened.  I’m still saddened.  I’ll never forget the bravery of those in the service both here and abroad who helped bring peace of mind to us during that time.  The Police and Fire units are amazing folk.  Our military soldiers are amazing folk.  But the rest of us?  Okay, that’s too general….but you know what I mean.  The ‘rest’ of us who sat back on our recliners, watched the baseball game and condemned anyone different than ourselves.  They should be ashamed.

So, how do I spin this?  How do I turn this into a lesson in perspective?  It’s hard.  11 years later and I still see people giving other people suspicious glances.  Haven’t we learned?  Not everyone is out to get us.  Yes, we got caught unaware.  I believe we learned from that and it was a much needed lesson.  So, stop glaring at your neighbor.  More than likely, they are great people.  You should be too.

Examine.

 

Hopes and Dreams

Hopes and Dreams

It’s my second favorite 4 year tradition….second only to Leap Day!  The Summer Olympics are HERE!  Growing up, I had two Olympic images in my head.  The first being that I would one day be an Olympic swimmer.  I remember dedicating myself one summer to being the best swimmer possible.  Needless to say, that didn’t quite work out.  The second image I had in my head was a time and place that the world could put aside their differences and just compete in friendly competition.  A naive thought, you say? Maybe…maybe not.

As I grew older, I came to realize the amazing accomplishments that an Olympic athlete is.  Not just what they do, but who they are.  They are the epitome of dedication and drive, hopes and dreams.  They are amazing athletes who show you that anything is possible.  Oh, and if you have this thing called natural talent, that helps too.

There are two cases I want to bring up in these current Olympic Games.  Two gifted athletes, Michael Phelps and Jordyn Wieber.  Two American athletes who have tasted their own flavor of defeat over the past couple of days.  Two of the most amazing and gifted athletes in the world who came up a little short.  What am I doing harping on the negativity when this blog is supposed to be about open perspective?  Well, let’s dive into it.

Mr. Phelps is undoubtedly one of the most natural-born swimmers to walk on two legs.  Tearing through both Athens and Beijing, he was unstoppable.  Coming into this Olympics, he was definitely a major favorite, despite his age and apparent lack of training.  Then all of a sudden, he lost.  Okay, he didn’t lose, but he got 4th place, which means no medal, which to an Olympian means he lost.  Still one of the absolute best in the world, but not THE best.  Why?  He, himself, said he didn’t put the training in.

I bring this up, because it seems like a slap in the face.  What sort of arrogance is going through your head to make you NOT put in the training and still compete?   He also was a part of a relay team for the US and they did not win Gold either.  Did his lack of training effect that performance as well?  I don’t want to speak for Mr. Phelps, but it seemed very self-centered to think he could walk into the Olympics and win without giving 110% to his training.  Oh, and it may have also affected his teammates.

Next, let’s take a look at Jordyn Wieber.  By all accounts Miss Wieber is said to have a very rigorous training schedule and a very dedicated ethic.  Watching her perform only verifies the previous statement.  She is a well oiled machine and one of the best female gymnasts in the world.  So, what happened?  Well, on that particular day, two of her teammates were better.  Sure, she made a couple of mistakes, but unless you’re Nadia or Mary Lou, nobody’s perfect.

Here is where these two athletes differ.  Both tasted defeat, but for very different reasons.  Mr. Phelps did not train as much as he should have and Miss Wieber just wasn’t the best on one particular day.  Later on the same day, Miss Wieber ‘tweeted’ that she was excited about Team USA finals and happy for her teammates.  Who knows what Mr. Phelps will do, but at least for the moment Miss Wieber is 100% a team player and representing her country well.

I don’t take anything away from Mr. Phelps, he is an amazing athlete and should be looked upon as a great role model.  But in this case, fame appears to have gotten the better of him.  He achieved his hopes and dreams, and got used to winning.  More than likely, Miss Wieber will not achieve her dream of an individual Gold Medal, but she still has a chance to be a part of a Gold Medal team and thus far it appears that she is embracing that as she should.

Who would you model yourself after?  The undeniable athlete whose character is slightly in question or the one who gave it her all, came up short, and is still pursing for the benefit of others?

Examine.

What’s the Big Deal?

Over the past few months, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with my son.  He’s going on 18 months now, so we are extremely thorough communicators.  Well, that may not be entirely true.  He’s got some signs down pat and definitely knows what he wants, but getting that point across to mom and dad seems a little tough at times.

Yes, we are smack dab in the middle of the toddler phase now.  He is aware of his surroundings and what he likes and doesn’t like, but lacks the motor skills necessary to enunciate his desires.  Yep, I used a big word like enunciate in reference to my toddler….probably for no other reason than to convince myself I’m of higher intelligence than he….who am I kidding?

Anyway, back to our conversations.  It’s mainly a one-way street.  He babbles and babbles and I do my best to acknowledge that he is saying something and do my best to verbally guess what it is he is getting at.  I fail most of the time, but every now and then I guess right and he lights up like a candle.  It’s one of the greatest achievements in life when your son gives you that “NOW you get it!” look.

This makes me wonder about how and when our perspective changes when children talk to us.  Right now, I hang on his every babble.  Will that change?  Will there come a point when I start to zone out his words when he rattles on endlessly?  I hope not.  If nothing else, these past few months have told me that even though in my mind he is trying to point out another one of his stuffed animals, to HIM he is telling me the most important and intimate detail of his best friend.  So, it may be small stuff to me, but it’s a big deal to him.

So, I hope to remember this as he grows older.  So that when he is old enough to start thinking about BIGGER deals, I want him to be able to talk to me about them because he will have known that I always listened.  Because at the time, everything he says while he is growing up is probably a pretty big deal to him.  That’s perspective at its finest.

Examine.

Words in Action

Words in Action

We’ve all heard the idiom that ‘Actions speak louder than words’ right?  Well, what happens when the words are very loud and your too busy to take action?  Or how about the fact that sometimes people forget just how powerful words can really be?  I mean, take this blog for example, I’m SURE I’ve changed millions of lives so far….and by millions, I mean maybe one or two….and they were probably both Corgis (miss you Ripster!).

But I digress.  How about this for perspective?  Take the strong words you’ve either heard or said and put them into action.  Sure, actions MAY speak louder than words, but you know what’s even better….Actions BACKED UP by words.  Actions ACCOMPANIED by words.  Not sure WHY my caps lock key gets stuck, but whatever.

Remember that we don’t live in a black and white world.  If there is anything you take away from these posts is that the extremes usually never sustain.  It’s the balance, it’s seeing things from both and all sides.  So, actions are great.  Words are great too.  But in order to be fully great, you need to do the right amount of both.

So, what are you waiting for?  Be great!

Examine.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

They say that tomorrow is a new day.  A day to start over.  They say that no matter how bad it is today, tomorrow will be better.  Is that true?  Can we guarantee that tomorrow will be a better day?  That the sun will shine again?

The only guarantee in life is that there are no true guarantees.  Everyone has their own potential.  Every day has its own potential.  So, will tomorrow be better than today?  It CAN be and that is what matters.

Remember that tomorrow is always more important than yesterday.  Tomorrow you can fix what went wrong yesterday or at least head down the road of fixing it.  If there was no tomorrow, there would be no chance at salvation.  No opportunity for greatness.

But what about the flip side?  What about the potential for things to go wrong tomorrow?  Well, that exists too.  But the beauty of it is that you KNOW it exists, so it shouldn’t come as a shock.   You have the ability to make your own fate.  There are things that happen without explainable reason, and those things you cannot change.  However, if you stay fluid enough, you also cannot be broken by those things.

So, embrace tomorrow and whatever it may bring.  Want something to happen, start making it happen, you have a lot of tomorrows ahead of you to realize what you seek.

Examine.

Emotions vs. Education

Emotions vs. Education

First of all, let me say that this post means NO disrespect to anyone.  This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now and it all kind of came to a head in a situation last week.

Sometimes we think things through and sometimes we just plow ahead with our emotions.  Both scenarios can lead to success, but sometimes not.

How many times have you been caught in the moment and said something you didn’t necessarily know was true, but felt so strongly about it that it didn’t matter?  It happens.  NO doubt about it.  However, in order to be truly successful, you must be able to give rational thought and a bit of research in order to make sure you aren’t spreading false information.

Does this mean that you need to research every little detail before you execute your strategy….probably not.  There’s a definite time and place for gut feelings and knee-jerk reactions.  However, dispensing information is not one of them.

In a world of freedom speech, freedom of religion and basically the freedom of opinion, everyone has one.  People will tout off a lot of information….and usually put it up on the Internet somewhere.

It’s very easy to fall into the public perception and forget to check the facts.  No examples are needed here as I’m sure you have already brought one or two up in your mind just reading that.

All I’m saying, is make sure you get the facts before sending on that forwarded e-mail or passing off that “Did you hear…”  If we all get a little better at educating ourselves, we will have more opportunity to have civilized discussions.

Examine.

Rhythm of Life

Rhythm of Life

So, I found myself wondering today, “Where did the day go?”  I mean, I sat down at my desk and started doing my tasks and all of a sudden I was 30 minutes late to leave.  Weird.  We’ve all experienced it, though, so it’s not a new concept.

Then I thought about the month and a half absence I took from this blog, albeit unintentionally, and realized that my life has been at a pretty fast clip for…well…a long time.  Probably the past two years.

If I had to equate my life to a song, I have been following the beat of “The Lone Ranger” when I should have been following “Fur Elise”.  Now there’s a classical reference that I’m sure not everyone will get.

My point is…I need to slow it down.  I’ve already started taking steps towards that end.  I’m taking a sabbatical from Marathon Coaching starting in September.  I’m focusing on spending more time with my family.  I’m going to actually START writing my book.  Basically, I’m going to become Mr. Fur Elise.

So, what’s your life’s theme song?  Are you “Mission Impossible” or Kenny G?  I suppose you can be set to a beat that is too slow also.  Remember, it’s the extremes you want to be careful of.  Do you need to slow down or pick it up?

Take a look….or a listen….

Examine.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk

One of my favorite quotes of all time is “There’s nothing a little chocolate milk can’t help.”  Of course, I’m the one who said it, but that is beside’s the point.

But think about it….it’s chocolate, it’s milk….what can go wrong?  Wait…what?  You’re lactose intolerant?  Chocolate gives you hives?  The Nesquik Bunny gives you nightmares?

Okay…well, I did say it was MY favorite quote and I believe it.  I do love chocolate milk.  And when I feel down or need a pick me up….or just ran a half marathon, there is literally nothing better than a cold swig of chocolate milk.  But that’s just me.

So, what about you?  What picks you up when you’re down?  What is it that ‘a little of can’t help’?  Everyone’s got something, but a lot of people forget about it.  So, go out and find that thing that lifts you up and make sure you have some on hand.  Because there are always bumps in the road of life, it’s how we manage those bumps that makes us greater human beings.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying go on a Skittles binge, though that does sound fun….wait a minute.  I’m saying that reward is a nice finishing touch to be grateful for when you accomplish something you’ve set out for.  OR even if you fall short, but need some motivation, then a little treat is always helpful.  A LITTLE TREAT….I have to put that in there.  I don’t want the American Heart Association to come after me for promoting heavy cake eating contests, though that sounds fun too….wait a minute…

Examine

Latency

Latency

Isn’t amazing how time goes by, sometimes in a flash, sometimes dragging out.  Well, it’s been way too long since my last post and I apologize for that.  Do I make it up with some ultra-witty, super post?  Probably not, but here it goes anyway.

So, what’s happened in the past month and a half since we’ve chatted?  Well, some people graduated, some fathers got celebrated, a certain politician got exonerated and the weather has started to change-iated…

One thing I have come to realize, though, is that amazing little things happen every day.  Okay, I already knew that, but it has been reinforced over the past 45 days or so.

For example, my son is SOOO close to walking on his own, that every incremental ‘step’ he takes towards that goal is a huge accomplishment that is celebrated like Mardi Gras in my household.  He takes so much pride in it too.  It’s like he knows that the longer he draws this out, the more praise he gets when he makes progress.  I swear, there are times when we’re ‘not looking’ and he gets that gleam in his eye and almost takes his first official step, only to start giggling and sit down.

Learning to walk is one thing.  And with the support of us, his parents, he can take his time and do it right.  He’s not stalling, he’s just making sure he has it all figured out and there is nothing wrong with that.

How can we apply this to our lives?  Well, there’s a definite difference between procrastinating and being diligent about a process.  Don’t fall into the former and make sure you do the latter.

Remember, progress is all about incremental changes.  So if there are changes that need to be made, but are scary, then break them down to their smaller parts and implement those.  Don’t become latent.  Don’t wait for the courage or wait for the exact right opportunity.  Sometimes a leap of faith is needed and the rewards are paid in full.

So, look around, make sure no one is looking and take that first step…..or just start giggling and sit down…whatever!  Just make sure you’re not holding yourself back due to fear or uncertainty.  That…you will live to regret.

Examine.

Sunsets

Sunsets

Tonight, at bedtime, I held my son for a little longer than usual.  I kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear that I loved him.

Today, when they woke up, friends of mine found that their little daughter had passed away in the night after a 2+ year battle with Leukemia.  They can’t hold her anymore.  They can’t kiss her cheek.  They can’t whisper in her ear.

When I found out, I ran…..okay, I walked.  I had to get out of the office and walk.  Tonight, after I put my son down, I ran.  I ran hard.  I ran as far as I could before the sun set.  Then I came back home and checked on my son again.

It’s hard to find the optimistic point of view here.  It’s hard to find the half full glass that is life in this sort of situation.  For my friends who are enduring this loss, I have no magic words that will make it better.

This past weekend, my dog passed away.  At 6 1/2 years old, I feel that this was way too soon.  But now, I realize that she just knew someone was going to need her very soon.  In a way, the second death in my life in three days makes the first one a bit easier.  I can imagine.  I can believe a scenario that makes it work out for those involved.

Would I rather have BOTH of them here alive today.  YES.  There’s no question.  But I find that I need to keep it real.  As real as possible.  The reality is that they are both gone, so I choose to believe that they are now together.  Having fun.  Playing.  No longer in pain.  No longer suffering.  Just waiting and making things ready for when the rest of us decide to show up.

That makes it easier.

Until then, I’m going to make sure I hold my son close.  Make sure he’s as spoiled as he can be while remaining grateful for what he and what we have.

Enjoy today.  Enjoy Life.

Examine.