An inadvertent hiatus.

I have been on an inadvertent hiatus. It has been apparent over the last few months that my posting frequency has slowed way down. Some of this was on purpose. The first week or so anyway. I intended to take a break from the keyboard to catch up on some other stuff. I had no intentions of letting 2 months go by with very little time at the keyboard, but alas here we are.

I have attempted to sit down many times of late to start a new post. I have some things that I am going to write about in the near future, but every time I sit down to get at them they elude me. Has this ever happened to you? I park it right here in front of my screen and this heavy feeling hits me square in the face. I look at my list of topics. I pick one to start. I stare at the screen for several minutes. Frustrated I pick another topic. I sit for several minutes more. Frustrated, I get up from the computer vowing to do better tomorrow. Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance. Over the past couple of months I have really discovered why he calls it that.

Have you ever faced The Resistance? That voice in your head telling you everything you do sucks so you shouldn’t even try? It is there. It is annoying. How do you get through this resistance though? Mr. Pressfield wrote a whole book about it called The War of Art. (Check it out if you haven’t. I don’t agree with every word of it, but it is a good read none the less.) One of the ways that I have discovered to break through The Resistance is this: I have to be willing to write some really awful stuff and keep writing anyway. This is extremely hard for me. I am the worlds worst at writing a few paragraphs and then rewriting and then deleting them all together.

I have discovered that I have to write through my whole idea first, even if I know what I am writing sucks. After I get the whole idea out, then I am allowed to edit. I catch myself going back on this a lot. I am still learning, but it seems to help.

What do you do to break through The Resistance?

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If I did this in 8 weeks, what can I do in 80?

I have a workout program that I have been saving for 9 years. I did the workout routine in 2002 and have kept it ever since vowing that I would pull it back out one day. (Secretly knowing that I probably never would.) It is an 8 week program that is meant for guys younger than me, but I pulled it back out 8 weeks ago and am proud to say I finished it this morning.

I had one of those moments two months ago where I decided enough was enough. It was time to either get moving or get moving. There was no other choice. So, after much digging through old files I found the workout program and dusted it off. I had to reteach myself what many of the exercises were and how to do them properly, but in the end I am very satisfied with the progress I have made. Satisfied enough, that I am going to start the 8 week program over on Monday and see where I get in another 8 weeks.

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This brings me to this thought: If eight weeks could make me feel this good, what would 80 do? I have done my best to give this workout program my best effort. I have been sore many times, but it hasn’t stopped me from going back for the next round. What would this approach lead to if worked over a larger scale of time?

That thought leads me to the next one: in what other areas of my life can I apply this principle? If I am setting goals for the areas of my life that I want to improve and give it my best, why wouldn’t positive things happen? Answer is: they would.

I am angry with myself for my lack of motivation over these past nine years. I have done several workout plans, but have never stuck to one like this. I have no excuse for that. What has been the difference this time? I have tracked my progress. I have made notes so I won’t forget what has happened. I have done all of this with intention. No random acts. It has had purpose. It has been good.

So, I sit here at my keyboard 10+ pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of May and super excited to see what the next 8 weeks (and 80 weeks) holds. There will be other areas of my life that will be worked on in the next 8 weeks as well. More to follow!

Posted in Fitness, Lessons Learned, Life | 1 Comment

Nike said it best. Just do it.

Today was a first. I have never worked out on the 4th of July. If I am being truthful, I don’t think there are many major holidays that I have. I have taken the opportunity to be lazy and over eat. That is what holidays are for right? No. Not really.

For the past 7 weeks I have been working out on a plan. This morning was supposed to be the start of week eight, but today is a holiday and I took vacation time from work this week, so my normal gym routine is going to be missed. I could either take the week off and rest, or improvise and workout with what I have here at home. As you saw above, I chose the latter.

The first couple weeks of the workout routine I spent training myself to get out of bed in the morning. I knew I needed to workout, but the voice in the back of my head kept telling me how comfortable my pillow was, how nice it was there in the dark, and how much better I would feel with another hour of sleep. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Around week three the voice finally shut up because it knew I wasn’t listening anymore. Until this morning.

I got out of bed about 5:15. It is my normal time for the week and I came in here to the office. The voice knew it couldn’t keep me in bed, but it kicked into full gear when I sat down at the computer. It was a fight. A few months ago I would have given in and played Angry Birds in Google Chrome. Not this time. I took my workout plan and modified it on the fly and I am sitting here now tired and happy.

The moral of the story is this: I knew what I needed to do and I had to make the choice to just do it. No, it wasn’t perfect, but I keep moving forward. It is Independence Day. I celebrate the freedoms we have in our country, including my freedom to choose a better way for myself.

Posted in Fitness, Life | 3 Comments

It is a small small world…

I grew up in a little town in southeast Oklahoma. I moved there when I was in the seventh grade and I stayed through my first year of college. By then, like most teenagers in a small town, I had the bug to go to college away from home. So, I won a scholarship for voice and I packed up and moved to the Oklahoma City area. That was 14 years ago.

When I got to school I was given the opportunity to be a part of a semi-professional choir. There were a bunch of people far more talented than me, so I did my best to blend in and help make good music. I sang with the choir for a semester. I remember the first practice well. I got very lost in the big city and almost didn’t find the practice site.

I had been to the rehearsal hall (a church in northwest Oklahoma City) only once before. It was about 15 miles from the school, but I figured I had been there and I could get back. I didn’t plan for the sun going down. I remember feeling panicked. I was the new guy. I was going to be late. It was going to be embarassing. Fortunately, after overshooting the church by a few miles, I doubled back and by chance found it just in time. There are still parts of town that I drive through and get flashbacks of being lost. It makes me laugh.

Fast forward 14 years. I just moved office buildings at work. Where is my new office building? Right across from the old church. It hit me walking across the parking lot today. (I had one of those “its a small world” moments.) For a second I remembered being a 19 year old kid. I felt far from home. Unsure of myself. Even a bit scared. Thankfully that is not who I am today.

It is not often that I can compare then and now so clearly. I saw it today though. The course I was on at 19 would not be my lifelong choice. Thankfully, it didn’t have to be. Many people assume they are stuck with the career path they chose for their major in college. It doesn’t. I thought I was going to be a music teacher and/or a performer. My life is very different now.

I am glad that one chapter of your life doesn’t have to dictate how all of the others go. The story can change. Different decisions can be made. The course can be altered. It starts with one decision.

I stood and stared at the little church for a while today. I never would have imagined I would be here 14 years later working across the street. It was good to remember all that went on then. It is even better to know that I am right where I need to be now.

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Time is passing faster now…

It seems the older I get the faster time passes. You know what I mean don’t you? We get through the weekend and it is Monday again, and then before you know it the week is gone and so is the next weekend. There have been times of late it seems like every time I take a breath a few months have gone by. Has it always been this way? Or am I just noticing it more now? I think I am just noticing it more. The reason? My boy is growing up in front of my eyes.

It seems like just yesterday I held him just minutes after he was born. The nurse passed a little ball of blankets through the door and I was in love. In no time at all that little ball of blankets was crawling around the house pulling himself up on whatever he could reach. Then he was saying a few words and walking a few steps. Now, his is almost 41 inches tall and he speaks in sentences.

I think time drags by when we are young because we have no point of reference to base it on. We are eager to get older so we can drive, date, vote, move out of the house, go to college, etc, etc. We only think about the things that we get to do as we age and we don’t really take a lot of time to enjoy the age we are. I didn’t anyway. I just wanted to be older. That wish keeps getting granted. I have the grey hair to prove it.

So, time keeps passing. My son gets a little older and a lot smarter with every day that goes by. I feel the tug to slow down and enjoy the moments. I try to do just that on every occasion that I can. I know how important it is. I feel a sense of wonder as I watch him grow. He is precious to me. The time I spend with him can not be replaced.

Just like you, I am bombarded with things to take care of every day and I sometimes miss the invitations that he gives me to play. I justify my excuses. I miss opportunities. If I do this too much days go by. I choose not to let this happen. For as much as I am able, I  choose to be with him. I choose to play silly games. I choose to read Dr. Suess. I choose to wrestle and run and tickle. I choose him and his mama. Time with the two of them is time well spent.

 

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A walk down memory lane…

I have a big black box. For as long as I can remember I have put all of the stuff I want to keep safe in it. It is a rough old box, but it has done the job well. (I have had it over 25 years. It was an army footlocker in a previous life.) This past week I went and dug it out of the storage shed for a reminder of what it contained. There were many things I had forgotten.

I have over 25 years of memories in that box. Starting from awards I won in 1983 all the way up through notes I have kept from my wife. It was very interesting to pull it all out and examine it. I spread the contents out all over my desk and began to remember. Here are a few things I discovered:

1. At one point in my life I was a straight A student. Even made the Junior Honor Society. You would never be able to tell by my grades in high school. As soon as I hit the 8th grade that high GPA was out the window. Still working on figuring out what happened there.

2.  When I got married back in 1999 I still stored some of my stuff at my parents house. Part of the storage room many of my boxes were got flooded. I remember losing a lot of keep sakes. (Should have had them in the black box!) I ran across something I was able to salvage: my high school diploma. It got messed up pretty bad. I remember being upset that it was nearly ruined. Looking back, I was upset over nearly nothing. It is a fine piece of paper, but it doesn’t tell me who I am or what I can do. It was just my parole paperwork that let me out into the real world. Who I am has been defined since then. And is still being defined.

3. There are many people I wish I hadn’t lost contact with. Many people that had a lasting impact on my life that have drifted away. At the least, I am going to contact many of them to express thanks for what they meant to me at that time in my life. I have been blessed with good friends in my life. I am thankful for that.

4. Creativity has been in my blood for a long time. I won my first talent show (for lip syncing…shhh) back in 1984. I was in the special music class in 5th grade. In the dance club in 6th grade. In Show Choir in the 8th grade, 10th – 12th grades, and for my first year of college. I was a music major for the first two years of college. A music minister for 2 years. I have played the guitar for 14 years now. The piano for 17. I am not as good as I should be at all of it after all this time, but I have never been able to shake it. It is a part of who I am. Now, the question is what do I do with it? I am still working on that one.

5. I have been writing stuff for almost 20 years. I have looked back through much of what I wrote back thing. In a word? Yuk. A lot of it was really bad, but some of it was not as bad as the rest. Progressively it has gotten better over the years. Nice to know that the work in progress really is progressing.

There are other stops I made on the memory journey. I will save those for another time. I have walked away with a snapshot of myself. I see myself in the shadows of that big black box. I see who I was. I see who I am. I catch glimpses of what is to be. It is good to remember. It can help us move forward. I know it is helping me.

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If you want to act like a star you have to give me a star effort.

You remember that scene from Remember the Titans don’t you? It is the semi final game. Petey is making excuses about why he can’t cover his man like he should. For the whole movie Coach Yoast has gone easy on him, but no more. He confronts Petey in front of the team. He says, “If you want to act like a star you have to give me a star effort.” Petey whimps out and another player is brought in to play in his place. A less talented player named Allen who gets the job done because he gives the effort required.

Petey comes back to the coach before the next game and tells him he is ready to play for the championship. Coach Yoast tells him he is going to sit on the bench and cheer for the team and he will have a chance to play the next year. It is only after the less talented player give Petey his spot that Petey has a chance to get back in the game and finally give a star effort. The Titans win the championship. They wouldn’t have if Petey hadn’t learned his lesson and been given another chance.

I see a lot of Petey in myself. I know there are things that I am talented at. I know that I have the potential to be really good in some arenas. I even act like it sometimes, but I have rarely given a star effort to go along with the star act. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked hard on many things and been successful, but there are areas of my life that I have been slacking. One of the glaring spots? My health and fitness.

One of the qualities that I have liked about myself over the years is I am a fairly strong guy. I am not Samson by any means, but fairly stout nonetheless. For some reason I have prided myself on it, like picking up heavy stuff makes me special. It does not. (It has made me a good jungle gym for my son. I love that aspect of it.)

Being fit and being strong are not the same thing. You can be strong and not be fit. (You can be fat and be strong for that fact.) You can not be physically fit and not have strength though. I have been approaching it from the wrong direction. Because of natural strength, I have ignored my overall fitness. What good is being able to pick up heavy things if you can’t carry them very far without wearing out?

I took a stab at trying to undo this 2 years ago. I was more motivated than I had been in my life. I worked out 2 and 3 times a day for several months. I lost around 40 pounds. It felt good. I felt good. I saw a little bit of that star effort and the results of it shining through. Then, I went and gained more than half the weight back. What went wrong?

I did a good thing in losing the weight, but I did it in a way that wasn’t sustainable.  I never set a solid routine. I was a wild man doing all he could. A sustainable routine over a longer period of time would have been a better approach. I also realized that there is no stop date on a physical fitness plan. I got where I wanted 2 years ago and more or less quit. Yeah, bad idea.

So, it has taken me two years to find my motivation again. I am approaching this time with a different outlook. I want a solid routine. I want steady progress. I want accountability in what I am doing, but I don’t intend to talk about it much. It is time to put in the effort before anyone else knows about it. I waited 3 weeks into my new routine to write this post.

I once read that John Mayer played his guitar for more than eight years by himself before he would let anyone hear him play. Talk about putting in a star effort before becoming a star. I also read that the Beatles played together more than 10,000 hours on stage before America ever heard of them. They definitely put the effort into their career before they became the band that changed Rock and Roll.

So, it is time to do the work. Only time and my mirror will tell if I have put in the effort to act like I have done anything great. But, if all goes like I have planned, the results will speak for themselves.

 

 

 

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