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Returning to where I left off

While recuperating I am trying to return to reading more and getting back to learning.
I am finding that reading is a discipline akin to working out. It requires a concerted effort to guide my mind back into “reading mode.” Much like returning to running after years of non-running where my body had forgotten “how to” run, I find my mind has grown fat and lazy.  It prefers the junk food found in social media rather than the solid nutrition found in literature, art, and story.  So then, my “exercise” regime is to ease my mind back into reading.
I find my mind is hungry for substance, for ideas, for things that will cause me to grow rather than waste away on the junk food found in our technological cornucopia of social media and instant infotainment.  I find myself wondering if I have waited too long to get back to learning?  Am I too old?  Is it too late?  No!
No.  It is a matter of discipline.  It will take work, and it will not be easy.  There are many distractions in this day of instant internet and entertainment access.  It was an epiphany to realize that I had allowed myself to become seduced by easy technology, to be ensnared by the entertainment at my fingertips in the device I now carry with me everywhere I go.  My mind has become addicted to soundbite, to bumper sticker snippets and click-bait headlines.  All fluff and no substance.
  I have therefore decided to impose some self discipline and require myself to read for at least one hour each day.   In practicing that today, my mind realized the shallowness  of what I have been consuming for far too long and it realized the emptiness of time wasted in cheap entertainment pursuits with which I have intoxicated myself. Cheap entertainment pursuits that require no thought have left my mind numb and in desperate need of more nourishing substance.  
I hope to incorporate more classical literature in my routine as well as my mind training progresses.  I just know that at this moment my mind is starving for something more that the mind numbing dribble that I’ve been feeding it for the past several years.  It’s not too late to begin again and learn.  It’s not too late to feed my mind and soul.

In the words of one of my favorite movies I offer this quote:
“…while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”
So, I begin… again.

On tap for now:

“On Writing Well”  William Zinsser
“Wabi Sabi for Writers”   Richard R Powell
“The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense”   Suzette Haden Elgin
“Finding your Perfect Work”    Paul and Sarah Edwards
“Pierre or, The Ambiguities”  Herman Melville
“Brain Power: practical ways to boost your memory, creativity and thinking capacity”   Laureli Blyth
“30 Steps to Becoming a Writer and Getting Published”   Scott Edelstein
“The Bible”   ESV study translation

Hope

The morning air was a nearly perfect sixty-five degrees with only a slight breeze.  Ideal conditions to be out on the road. A day worth remembering. I hate I have lost so much of my sense of smell as I would love to capture the aroma of this early fall day in my memory bank as well.

I’m asking things of my body that it doesn’t like especially since it still has too much weight to be carrying around.   The body is fighting against itself and the mind, while the soul is just weary of it all.

Yet even amidst the turmoil within me I am struck by a moment of grand beauty.  In the middle of a pain concert raging in my feet, legs, back and lungs I stop for a moment to watch a squadron of maple leaves launch from their branch and be carried along on a gentle current.  Watching as they spiral down in the morning sunlight. Twirling and twisting in a death dance celebration of their short life.  The sun spotlighting them, highlighting their performance.

For that brief moment time seemed to stop and allow me to take it in.  The sound of the leaves rustling on the trees, the feel of sun on my skin,  the breeze gently caressing my face.  A moment of pure beauty in the midst of an internal storm.  A reminder that no matter how out of control things seem to get, there is hope because there is beauty.  Because there is beauty I know there is love.
Because there is love… I have hope.

I Stand at the Gate

My story would begin in darkness though not total darkness but not romantic moonlit darkness either.   It would be more the darkness that accompanies a storm.   The kind that diffuses the the light and casts strange shadows across the land.  The kind that causes the street lamps to come on at mid-day.
I stand at the gate looking out at the road that lies before me, uncertain which direction to go from here.  Do I open the gate and step through?   Or do I run back  to the porch and ride out the storm in the relative comfort of  the crumbling structure I am  seeking to escape?   Do I stay until the bitter end?
I stand at the gate and look back.  Indecision has me paralyzed and the storm is increasing in intensity.   I feel the  wind at my back and it causes me to shiver.  I adjust my collar and huddle down to make myself a smaller target for the chill breeze and once again turn to look at the road before me just a step beyond the gate.
I stand at the gate and my eyes search for any sign of direction.   Off in the distance I see rays of sunlight that quickly retreat into shadow as I watch, teasing me with hope that is transient and elusive.    I’m too old to go chasing after “maybes” and “what-ifs.”  I need a sure thing.  Yet I realize how unreasonable and unrealistic that standard is.  There are no “sure things” and to make that a requirement will only keep me paralyzed with indecision.
I stand at the gate…

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Life is Simple

Gym’s Wisdom

Every so often I have an epiphany that is so simple, so obvious, so elementary that I get angry at myself for not seeing it sooner. Or at least not acknowledging that it is something that I know already… but I’m not practicing as I should.

Here’s an example:

“IF you want to get better at something (doesn’t matter what it is), the way to improve your performance is…

*ready for this?

… do whatever it is that you want to improve in.”

Well, duh!

Yet how much time do we spend looking for a magic pill, a shortcut, some hocus-pocus that will make us better without putting in the hard work it takes to actually get better?

You say you want to be a better runner. Guess what, if you continue to run you will get better.

Want to get better at pull-ups? Do them
Want to get better at singing? then sing
Want to get better at playing an instrument? Then play

Intuitively we know this. Why are some people great at playing video games? Because they play them all the time. Why are athletes so good at the sport they do… because they do it all the time.

In order to get good at anything you have to invest time and hard work in doing it.

Let’s bring this home to everyone and make it real.
You say you want to lose weight? Guess what… it’s going to require time and effort. Period. The “gurus” out there are making a fortune selling illusions of quick fixes and shortcuts… but if you want to make it real, make it last and see real results then you have to invest time and effort in the process.

Yet in this culture of instant gratification we want results NOW, right now. We also quickly become bored with the effort and move on to something more shiny, more new and easier. We want the sculpted, supermodel body but we want it with only the couch potato effort. We will spend thousands of $$$ dollars buying meal plans, pills, shakes, gadgets and fads in order to lose weight and slim down… but we won’t spend that amount of time and hard work doing the same.

It is a journey, a lifelong journey. It requires your time and your hard work. It will not happen over night (so you can get that fantasy out of your head right now.). It is a game of inches. Results are in direct proportion to the time and effort you invest in doing whatever it is you want to improve in. (R = time+effort)

See, its so simple, so easy to say, so easy to gloss over… but sometimes it is the simple things that we trip over along the way.

Now, begin… do what you can do today… and increase that by a little bit more tomorrow… and don’t quit. The results will come I promise you. Just keep on and don’t stop.

*we now return you to your regularly scheduled life already in progress*

Al-righty then,
Tonight’s workout was a milestone for me.
Now to preface what I am about to say let me define some terms and set the stage.
1) When I say Swimming I use the term in the loosest possible way imaginable. In fact, think wounded whale on drugs. Yeah… it’s not pretty.
2) Any other reference I make to swimming just refer to #1.

 

So I had found a sleeveless StayDry style shirt at Goodwill that covers most of my awesome Chris Farley wanna-be upper- body. It does help keep other patrons from being unbearably nauseated and keeps them from going blind due to my neon-whiteness.

I began slowly and stayed at that that speed all night.
The strokes that I know are…
and…
so I used both of them.

Down and back, down and back, down and… you get the picture. I made 35 round trips.

So why is that significant? Well it is kinda a big deal for a non-swimming middle-aged wounded neon bright white whale like me.
See, that’s a mile.
Yep a M-I-L-E.
It took me two hours in the water but I swam a mile this evening.

It was some kinda ugly but I did it!
Of course now I can’t comb my hair… or brush my teeth. In fact, the keyboard is as high as I can get my hands at the moment. I may have to put the tooth brush on the counter and bend over to it to brush my teeth tonight.

It may not be what anyone who was watching would call “swimming” but I did it!

Now let’s go get that last batch of Spartan Challenge sit-ups knocked out.

We are the entity known as Persifler and we have been “Quitter” quit free for 689 days now

Cheating on Mistress Sadie

Update (read: bragging)
Here we are 14 days into the New Year and yes, I am still at it.
For the new year I have decided to learn how to swim. (yes, I’m AARP eligible and just now learning to swim.)
I have had a couple of swim lessons and I haven’t drown yet. I’ve inhaled my share of highly chlorinated water… but not drowned yet. (I will probably die of chlorine poisoning… but not by drowning.)

This past week we found out at work that our per-ordered uniform allowances from 2013 were processed wrong so we had 15 days to re order. I did (and for the first time in 8 years I used every single penny of the allowance)… but there is a catch.

As of this moment I’m in 42 pants. Now the smart thing to do would be order 42’s right? Well… no one has accused me of being smart so what did I do? I ordered 40s and 38s. So… now I have to keep at it in order to fit in my new clothing allowance.

So here is the real reason for the update.
**Now let me preface this with some disclaimers:
I know that to the purists, machine mileage is not the same as “real” or “on the road” mileage. I further concede that my times are s-l-o-w compared to real runners and people who are in a shape other than round.

Having said that:
Tonight I was on Mistress Sadie’s cousin the Elliptical (name yet to be determined) and I did 95 minutes of the “Rolling Hills” program for a total of 7.31 miles. Again, that’s 7.31 miles. That’s averaging sub 13 minute miles. (12.99589603283174… but who’s counting, right?) which was 11770 strides on the elliptical.
Now the interesting part is, that is more than a 10k. (and again I realize that’s not “real” running… but still, it’s pretty darn impressive if you ask me! )

I’m going to have to get a shirt or a hat that says, “I’m Getting There”

Anyway… that’s the update, we now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing and lurking.