32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years

First of all, I should have written this post yesterday (on my birthday), but the fact that I didn’t takes me right into one of the most important things I’ve learned in 32 years…

(1) don’t procrastinate

It’s easy to put things off, start something difficult after the weekend, or wait to really dive in until you’ve solidified a plan of action, but the truth is, it’s best to start something now and figure it out along the way. Speaking of starting now and not waiting,

(2) eat healthy NOW, (3) make exercise a priority, (4) find a hobby that keeps you fit, (5) go to bed early and get good sleep

I think this is something I figured out closer to my 30’s and I wish I would have put more effort toward it in my teens and 20’s. I put a lot of stock into the present when I was younger, but as I got older I began to see the value in banking good habits for my future.

(6) money is important, (7) money is not as important as happiness

I have friends that place very little value on money, which I can’t fully get behind. However, they do seem very happy, which is more important than money. While money sets a floor for what you can do and where you can go in life, don’t let it be the driver for what it is you do in life.

(8) dogs are awesome

They just are. You get to give them voices and nick names and personalities and watch them chase birds and steal your girl’s heart and steal your heart.

(9) dogs are ass holes

You also get to see them lick their butt, let your girl tell you, “you’d do it too if you could,” have a discussion about how you wouldn’t even if you could, secretly question if you believe that or not, and have to see your bathroom trash get eaten every time you forget to shut the door.

(10) babies are scary

Get back with me in a year and I’ll confirm this, but between money and caring for a human life, which rumor has it is more difficult that caring for a dog’s life, it can be scary.

(11) Sports fandom is weird

The Lions will never win the Super Bowl… and I question if they will win another playoff game in my lifetime. It’s so stupid that a sports team can upset me so much or make me so happy, but it does.

(12) find your person

I think I’ve maybe said this before on this blog, but before I met Kelly, I thought that I had to be the absolute best version of myself before I could find my person. I had to have the job and be in 10/10 shape and then I would be able to find my person. The truth is, when I accepted that I was OK with myself and allowed myself to find my person, I stated becoming the person I wanted to be. Finding your person has a profound way of improving you and bringing out the best version of yourself.

(13) do what you love

And I don’t mean for a living, although that is a great bonus if you can do that. But, do things you enjoy and that make you smile. For me, I love writing, running, this crazy sport called obstacle course racing… I think there is a fear associated with all those things that when you start, you won’t be good enough or no one cares what you have to say. But, I don’t do those things because I want to impress anyone other than myself (and my wife just a little).

(14) care a little more (15) care a little less

Appearance, health, body odor, showing up on time, replying to texts/emails … care a little more.

Whether or not people like you, whether you look funny trying something new, impressing others, being perfect, looking cool… care a little less.

(16) go places

Literally. Spend a little money and go somewhere new. It will be worth it. Move to Minnesota if you feel like it. Travel to Ireland if you’ve always wanted to go. In 32 years, there has never been a dollar I’ve regretted spending traveling.

(17) go places

Figuratively. Read if that takes your mind off of something stressful. Smoke pot if that relaxes you (as long as you don’t make that the focus…. kids, stay in school). Watch movies, play music, dance, do what you have to do to make the most out of the places you spend the most time.

(18) be nice to people

Being nice is better than being cool, and the sooner you start practicing that, the better off you’ll be.

(19) love your family

There’s a Kacey Musgraves song about family is family whether in church or in prison… it’s the truth. Those people are where you came from and shaped who you are. A big part of loving yourself is loving, or at least accepting, your family (FYI since half of everyone who reads this blog, and 90% of the people who have read this far on this post ARE my family, I love all of you).

(20) enjoy others’ hobbies

This one might sound strange, but take part in your friends’ and family’s hobbies. Let someone else be the expert and feel like they’re teaching you something and they will appreciate you that much more.

(21) audiobooks, man. Audiobooks

You can still say you read the book if you listened to it in the car on the way to vaca.

(22) get a real email

It’s 2017, if you still have an AOL or WOWway email address, you’re not doing it right.

(23) have good shoes

It all starts in your feet people. Bad shoes lead to bad posture, sore knees and ankles, a bad back. It also leads to sloppy appearance. Invest in a good pair of everyday shoes, athletic shoes, work shoes, and going out shoes.

(24) take a look around

Don’t be so focused on your phone. It’s OK to be bored sometimes and not refresh Instagram 26x an hour.

(25) pay attention

I’m kind of listing things as I go, so these aren’t in any sort of order, but this one is important. Pay attention. Pay attention to people, to your body… listen to the wind blowing or some distant train engine and remember how incredible this world is. Batman paid attention, and he turned out pretty good.

(26) be a good example

Someone looks up to you, whether you know it or not. It’s not just your family either. Be the person someone else points to and says, “now that is someone who has it figured out (event if you really don’t).

(27) experiment

I think this word has a negative connotation because if there was a top four list on Family Feud, and Steve said “tell me something you’ve experimented with,” chances are they’d be drug or sex related. That’s not what I mean. Experiment with things to see what you like. Experiment with foods, sports, games, places to live, places to travel, etc.

(28) learn

Learn by reading, listening, watching, feeling, doing, using logic, failing, trying, falling, succeeding.

(29) take things seriously (30) but not too seriously

There is a time and a place for everything. Take the things you care about seriously, but make sure you don’t have just one perspective on anything. Joke with your wife, but follow through on the things she wants.

(31) remember where you came from

Hold on to your memories. Remember your wedding, your grandma’s funeral, your dad’s heart attack. Remember the home run you hit when you were nine years old and watched your dad flying down the left foul line going after it. Remember as much as you can and tell the people you love about it when they need to hear it. Memories make for the best stories and the best ways to make a point.

(32) look ahead

Bringing it full circle, now. Everything kind of leads to this, right? The reason we eat right and exercise, the reason we listen and learn, and the reason we put effort toward the important things is because we need to always be looking ahead. After 32 years, it’s easy to get caught up in being “old as shit (ah-hem…),” but the truth is there is always so much to look ahead and prepare yourself.

I wish I had some big “lesson learned” message to pass on, but the truth is that I have just as much to learn going forward. I guess the best thing I can say is to not get caught up in numbers, and just take every day as it comes and be present.

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Dropping action bombs on my writers block

Do you know those people who won’t do anything until it’s been critiqued, analyzed, thought through and figured out twice over, broken down into bite sized pieces and baked up again in a giant idea-casserole?

Hint: who has two thumbs resting on the space bar right now? ME!

My sixth grade band never launched to super stardom because we couldn’t decide the right name that was equally catchy and applicable to a worldwide audience. In fact, we never learned instruments because we ALSO couldn’t settle on who the lead singer should be, or which one of three non-drummers had to play base (they thought I was going to play base? get real Jordan and James).

The point is, I am one of those people that is too afraid to start anything because I always fear the road ahead. I fear wasting time because it’s not done right. I fear that I will get bored and give up, or that I am not good enough for whatever it is that I want to accomplish.

Luckily, I have the greatest wife in the world (you should see her marital trophy case — impressive hardware people). She is the polar opposite of me in this regard and, sometimes to a fault (love you, b) will dive into something head first on a passing whim. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I love it because 9 times out of 10, she accomplishes whatever it was she wanted to do.

Side note for fun, notable 1/10 failures of hers include:

  • cauliflower-crust pizza
  • indoor plants
  • Running career

I should stop now while I’m not too far behind.

What I’ve learned from her, though, is that in order to accomplish anything, you have to start something. Before I met her, I didn’t have ambition to write anything. I figured I never had a job as a writer so who would hire me? Why would anyone want to read what I had to say? But since she taught me to just start (I think it actually started with this blog), I have written for online publishing companies, a respected fantasy football site, numerous websites, and it’s even led me to what I hope will be more lucrative opportunities in the future.

So, circling the wagon back to now. Sometimes I notice I haven’t written for awhile on this blog, and I try to force myself to come up with something really clever because, well, I’m just certain that everyone remembers the last time I posted and they’re all patiently waiting for something grand from me now. Of course, this isn’t the case.

So, what I want to say in all of this is to just get out and start doing, whatever that means to you. If you aren’t happy with your job, start doing something along the lines of what it is you like doing (assuming you like more than eating, drinking, smoking pot, etc.). It’s more important to get on the path rather than trying to define the path. Once you’re moving, it’s a lot easier to determine the right direction to go.

Let us catch up (#lettuceketchup) – Dealing with Disappointment

This past weekend was my first OCR race of the season. My goal was to qualify for the OCRWC (Obstacle Course Racing World Championships) at the Ohio Spartan Race. The course was muddy, but otherwise a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I did not qualify despite having a pretty good overall race (I failed four obstacles because my grip strength needs improvement and I fell on mostly grip-intensive obstacles).

So after realizing that my time wasn’t good enough for OCRWC, I got a little down on myself. I keep going over what I could have done differently with my training — had I spent more time working on my grip strength would I have completed those obstacles? Could I have run harder in some spots and improved my time? The answer is probably “yes” to both of those things if I am honest.

Dealing with disappointment is a difficult thing. Sometimes you do your best and are told that it’s still not good enough. I want to be angry at OCRWC for making it more difficult to qualify this year. I want to blame the rain or my starting time and use those as excuses for why my time suffered. Part of me wants to blame Spartan Race for not policing their obstacles because someone could have cheated and that cost me a place in my goal race.

I think that times like this it’s important to look inward and not outward, and instead of assigning blame to why you didn’t accomplish your goal, come to terms with it and decide how you will find a new path. Instead of me looking at everything that went wrong, I should instead look at everything I gained from not qualifying this past weekend.

  • This was the first race of the year — I’ll have more races to qualify
  • I understand my weaknesses better, and know what I need to work on for upcoming races
  • My nutrition plan worked really well and I had plenty of energy throughout the whole race, so that is one less thing to worry about for future events.
  • I didn’t get injured and I had a ton of fun racing!

There are really more things that could have gone wrong that didn’t, and I am happy that I was able to compete and see how hard everyone worked out there when the weather was “less than ideal.” Kelly raced along with me and she did really well too and felt great.

In the end, dealing with disappointment is all a matter of perspective. Especially in OCR, sometimes you run a good race and still come out on the short side of where you want to be. I might not have accomplished my goal this past weekend, but I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot about how I can improve. And, I get another chance in two weeks to put what I learned to the test.

 

5,000 feet, 48 ounces, 9.5 minutes and the destiny that awaits on the other side

Close your eyes. No wait, that isn’t going to work…

Imagine looking out over the ocean at sunrise. You’re the only person on the beach, and in front of you, the darkness begins to shift from black to grey, slowly morphing into deep shades of purple and orange. The waves roll slowly toward you, but are as quiet as the absence of sea gulls that are still sleeping off last night’s storm. The air is cool but comfortable, and you squint your eyes ever so slightly as the first hint of sun peaks above the horizon and bleeds out over the sky.

Are you there?

I am standing 5,000 feet away from that moment and a year’s worth of sweat and grit say that I will have it again…soon.

#BeerMile2017

Of course, I am talking about running a mile, drinking four beers, and doing it in less than nine minutes and twenty-six seconds. #BeerMile2017

Completing the beer mile is one of those moments in life that take your breath away and remind you what it is to feel. It is to be both everywhere and nowhere and I can only imagine it being equaled by climbing Everest or stepping foot on the moon.

Last year, in Destin, FL, I successfully ran my first beer mile (#BeerMile2016). But, like most dreams realized, my desire for bigger, better, faster consumed me and I could hardly eat that next year, my mind racing at the thought of chasing that dragon again.

As it was then will be again. I did not discover this dream alone. My cousin, Chris, also ran the inaugural beer mile with me, and my brother Tyler was there to document the action. Expect the documentary to debut at Sundance in the next year or two.

To recap — to successfully complete the beer mile, you begin by drinking one 12 oz. beer, and then run a 1/4 mile. You repeat this activity three more times. The goal is to complete all required “activity” in the least amount of time possible, all the while doing your best to keep all that goes in you…in you (if you catch my drift).

On a crisp Spring morning, we found ourselves on the battlefield that was the jogging path that ran past Pompano Joe’s, parallel to the Gulf. It was a field fit for kings. Nine and a half minutes is what I posted last year. Chris, despite a few “reversals of fortune” along the way, finished somewhere in the 20+ minute range.

I do believe that Chris and I both will be more ready for this year’s quest, which will take place in Siesta Key, FL, in just over a week. I can close my eyes and picture the sun rising, but until I am staring down that mile, I can’t feel the stillness or hear the vacuum of that moment.

Tyler will again be there and will again document the activity. Due to the overwhelming curiosity and commotion around last year’s beer mile, I do expect a 200-400% increase in spectators this year.

OK, pretend to close your eyes again…

Find that beach again. Now the sun has risen and people are beginning to crowd around you on the beach. The seagulls are prattling above and the waves cascade and recoil back from the busy beach.

Deep breath.

As the memory of the ocean settles into the sands of your mind, remember how it felt to own a moment all to yourself before the world stepped in. That is where I’ll be, running the wake of a dream, 5,000 feet and 9.5 minutes from eternity.

#BeerMile2017

 

Why I’ll be more Mindful in 2017

First of all, hi! How are you? It’s been almost two months since we’ve last spoke and we should catch up! Is that thing you were working on last year still going OK? Is your pet/sibling still sick/crazy/asking you for money? How’s that rash you couldn’t get rid of?

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Anyway, feel free to stop reading if this becomes too “New Years Resolution-y.” It’s only been five days since the new year, but I am already over it so if this comes across like I am making fake promises, feel free to refresh your newsfeed or see if anyone has posted something new on Instagram (they have).

Last night, my wife and I watched a Netflix documentary about minimizing the amount of stuff you have in order to get the most out of relationships and the things you choose to keep. It was one of those documentaries where you might decide it’s time to up and move to a tiny home, whereas I might think I should turn my phone off sometimes — I’m not sure if this was the filmmakers intention but it was thought provoking.

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There was one scene where some secondary interviewee character was talking about how us being so connected to our phones keeps us from every being able to go on thought-tangents (not sure if that was his phrase or if I just made that up, but I like it). He said even when our phones are on silent or vibrate, we could be thinking and as soon as our phones buzz or screens light up, it breaks our concentration, if only for a split second, but that break in thought keeps us from really being able to have deep thoughts on things. The same way CNN has to flash 147 graphics on the screen at one time, our brains have been conditioned to check email, Instagram, Facebook, refresh 7x, check email again, Snapchat, etc. etc. etc. I’m guilty of it too, but it makes me want to be more mindful of my thoughts, my actions, and my ambitions.

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I have to credit my wife because she kind of began this discussion. We were right in the middle of the documentary and kind of had this passing discussion before getting back to the show (she kind of phrased it funny, which I’ll spare her because the idea she had inspired this post). I do really think it’s true though. I think people are far less mindful today than ever before. The things we consume on a daily basis is cheap and doesn’t add any value to our lives. We should be better intentioned about the things we want to do and how we will go about doing them. Too often, we are content with just refreshing our newsfeeds every week and running in place while we dream about moving forward.

So, my goal (not resolution) is to do things with purpose this year (and every year thereafter). I want to read with the intention of learning something. I want to write with the intention of improving. I want to think without distraction and act with purpose. I want to work toward goals instead of adjust expectations as another month goes by and nothing has changed.

I think we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, and to be more mindful of the things we’re after in life is the only way to turn dreams into goals and goals into expectations.

 

Eat Better, Move More, Live Longer

I get it, self-sabotage, talking yourself into a bad habit or out of a good decision, having one more piece, not feeling it today, starting on Monday because you want to enjoy this weekend or in January after the holidays. You’re stressed, upset, tired, too this-or-that to take the time to make the right choice. I get it. I’ve said all of these things to someone at some point and I’ve told myself all of these things when I am accountable only to myself. I used to smoke cigarettes, dip, literally lock the door to my bedroom and eat entire large pizzas, after which I’d wait until the middle of the night to take the pizza box out to the garbage so no one would see that it was gone.

I used to buy pants that were way too tight at the waist because I didn’t want to accept that my waist was bigger than 36″. I used to buy all my jeans from American Eagle because their sizes ran big, and I convinced myself that I wasn’t getting any bigger so long as the number on the inside of my pants didn’t go up.

I tried Adkins diets, fat burning pills, any kind of supplement that promised to build muscle and get rid of unwanted belly fat; I would tell people that I didn’t want to workout because I wanted to slim down first before I worked out because I was afraid of looking too bulky. I was my own biggest cheerleader while at the same being my own biggest road block to transition toward a healthy and active life.

I don’t remember having any kind of “a-ha” moment where I threw away all the junk food from my cabinet or wrote a goal weight number on my wall. I do remember being fed up with flirting with being this close (thumb-index fingers nearly touching) to 5’10” and this close to 200 pounds when I graduated college. I recently read that males peak physically at 25 years old, and I laugh at the thought of me when I graduated college being at my athletic apex. Soon after I graduated, I did sign up for a half-marathon and gave a mediocre effort at “training” and changing my diet. I finished the race, but hardly made any real changes to better myself afterward.

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Then something changed. Instead of wanting to lose weight to be more attractive or date attractive people, or even to get away from all of the negative things I saw when I looked at myself in the mirror, I decided I wanted to be able to do things when I got older. I decided that I wanted to be able to play basketball with a son, daughter, or grandchild. I didn’t want to be the 50 year old guy who sits at a desk, then goes home and sits in a chair waiting for a weekend that was full of more TV. I wanted to experience everything I could in this world and not through a lens or a screen.

I think the biggest issue with weight loss is that people want to do it for the wrong reasons. People want to lose weight only when a doctor says it’s killing them or when they can’t afford blood pressure medication. There is NOTHING more important than your health, period. Your family, friends, loved ones, anyone close to you is impacted directly by the choices you make in (or more often out of) the kitchen.

I think it’s critical for anyone who is trying to lose weight or change unhealthy habits to make a decision. Either you are going to accept yourself the way you are and be OK with increased risks of heart disease, bone and joint problems, cancer, and even little things like body odor, bad breath, general fatigue, poor range of motion and lack of motor skills, OR you can decide to make changes to improve each and every single one of those things.

Being healthy is about so much more than looking good naked, but because we are so obsessed with how we look, we often times think that’s what matters and tell ourselves that life is about more than what is on the outside that counts. While that’s true, what’s on the inside is also directly effected by those choices you make regarding your body. Tell me that you can’t be equally happy, or charitable, or kind, or good natured if you felt better physically. Tell me you wouldn’t have more energy to get out and do the things that already make you a good person if you could breathe easier, stand up or sit down without any pain, or know that you’re doing everything you can to make whatever time you have left in this world better.

If you truly want to become healthier, the only things you need to do are eat better and move more. That’s it. Cut out any excuses you have. You don’t have to go from couch to marathon in 12 weeks, just move more and eat better. You’re not going to lose 20 pounds in a week like Biggest Loser contestants do when they start working out (and if you do lose that much weight, great!). Be realistic and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to lose X pounds or fit into a size whatever by a certain date. Lose weight because you want to be healthy and you will lose the weight. The biggest change you need to make is your outlook on life, and I promise with just a little bit of effort, you will meet and exceed your goals.

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One Month Fitness Challenge: Day 22

Sorry to those of you who are hoping for anything different than last week’s progress report (progrep for short….not really I just made that up). Let’s just get into it, shall we?

It’s been three weeks and to recap, these were my goals for September:

  1. Run 75 miles in month of September
  2. Do 30 burpees each day (or do 900 in month in case of missed day or two)
  3. Attend no less than 2 Crossfit classes each week (exception Ireland week)
  4. Lose 5-7 pounds (though, I’d be OK if I didn’t reach this goal until race day 10/15)

So, progress check.

Running:

So I’m not exactly jumping over the moon about my progress, but I’m not super down on myself either. I’ve logged 15.5 miles since last Thursday. I’m finding it’s difficult to get in two days of crossfit and really get a lot of miles in without exercising every day of the week. I did run a 9.5 mile this past Sunday (pace around 8:00 or 8:15 per mile, which is about where I want to be for longer runs). My biggest challenge is getting up in the mornings to run. I wish I had better will power to just force myself to get up and get out there, but I am really good about waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and deciding THEN that I am going to sleep in, so I change my alarm to my normal wake up time. Wuddaya gonna do, ya’know?

I’ll say this: I don’t think I will achieve 75 by the end of this month, but I think it’s possible to get 75 miles before Canada on 10/15.

Burpees

Hey look over there! See that thing? Focus on that and let’s move on to the next section!

Crossfit

Crossfit going well.Have been solid about going twice per week and I’ve noticed some gains in my overall strength. I’m nowhere near where I want to be strength-wise, but I believe I’m getting there. There are little things thought that excite me for my two races next month.

My grip strength has improved. I’ve probably mentioned my biggest takeaway from my first Spartan Race was that I needed to work on my grip strength. I feel much more confident now than I did a month ago thanks to crossfit and some at home exercises Kelly and I do that my grip strength is close to where I’d like it to be.

I also like to play around and climb on the rig after we do crossfit. I feel when my energy is low, I like to get a sense of how well I am pull myself up and around, and I feel very confident that I’ll be able to pass the monkey bar obstacles that I might face. It’s kind of funny, but when Kelly and I were in Cork, Ireland a few weeks ago, we were sitting outside of this bar, and I was looking at this wall and thinking how, if I needed to (b/c you know, sooner or later I might need to), I could scale the wall by hanging from and pulling myself up and over by using pipes, AC units, signage, and whatever else was between me and the roof. Just saying, might need to do that one day…

Lose 5-7 lbs.

So, I am down 2.5 pounds as of this morning from where I was three weeks ago. I’ll make a bigger push the week before the OCRWC to really cut weight, so I think I am on a good path. My focus as far as losing weight has been upping my cardio and just eating a little cleaner (little less drinking, little more discipline when it comes to diet). No major changes planned until race week, where I’ll probably cut way back on bread and cut out alcohol and focus 75% of my diet on vegetables, fruit, and protein.

Current Weight: 170.0 lbs.

Self-Assessed Fitness Level: 8/10

Days run this month: 8 (out of 21)

Miles run this month: 36

Crossfit classes attended past week: 2

Biggest Challenge Past Week: Motivation to get my ass out of bed and run!