Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Begin with Movement

What do you do to start your day? What is your morning ritual? How does this compare with the way the natural world starts it's day?
Maybe you wake up, turn on the coffee or teapot & sit in front of a screen to get the daily news, or read a newspaper or magazine. We are after all thinking beings who crave information, unlike our furry & feathered brethren. Maybe you have morning pages and just start writing. Maybe you begin with a shower, many of natures creatures do this; Birds, Raccoons, & others, but they don't have indoor plumbing, so they often have a longer walk, or flight to get to the water than we do, in fact, their very first move is stretching.
It was in this moment I realized something. In our hectic lives, and whether you run a business, have a family, have a sick or dying relative, are up for a promotion, are afraid you may be out of a job or home soon, or, god forbid, all of these things at once - Aahhh!
When you start your day with movement, you connect with nature, you get a feel for what the day will be like, sunny, cloudy, rainy, muggy...,More importantly,  you put space between you and the most pressing issues facing you. Think of some of the iconic books you may have read, and the thoughts that come out of the characters in them, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, The Outsiders, or one of my favorite's Steven King's "The Talisman", so may of them have had to do with journey's. Within those journey's are little walks, moments of clarity, when it is just the character and his or her thoughts. That is what the walk provides. Walk as long as you can. Find a way to fit it in. Better yet, do it first thing in the morning (whatever morning is for you - Yes, I am talking to you second and third shifters), just step out of bed, put on the closest clothing to you, and head on out the door. Start with 10 minutes every day - without fail. Ideally, the longer the better, say a half hour or so, but for those of you who are not used to the practice, keep it simple, and start with 10 minutes.
If you start your day with a shower, wait 'til after the walk, if you start your day with news, wait 'til after your walk and shower, if you start your day with morning pages, or a journal, walk, shower, Journal. The point is to give your thoughts space, and to prepare your body for the day. Make the walk a priority, begin with movement. If you have a dog, take them along, no human can appreciate a morning walk like a dog, and it will bring a whole other dimension to the walk. If you start your day with some other exercise, you can stop reading, you probably already know where I am going here.
Writing in a journal first thing in the morning, when you have a lot weighing on you can be particularly dangerous. You are writing without a filter, and all of your pent up anxiety from the decision you've made, or have to make, or the financial crunch you are in, or the potential loss of a loved one, the fight you had with a loved one, or classmate/officemate or the impending takeover of your company, or loss of your business, or the ....... it all just pours out of your pen onto that paper, and what goes on paper, stays with you far longer than what passes through the filter of your mind. I'm not saying the anxiety won't still be there, but I challenge you to try walking first, and see how it changes the words you put in that journal. I think you will find them softer and more thoughtful. In moments where anxiety is lower, you may just have a new epiphany to write in your journal. How cool would that be! I challenge you to give it a try, and  see what your results are.
Maybe you start the day with news, or Facebook, or some other thing. Trust me, leave it until after your walk. An amazing thing happens when you walk. Your priorities magically align. You begin thinking differently, you've given your thoughts time to untangle and make sense. If Facebook or The News are what you do first thing in the morning, perhaps after your walk, you may realize something else is much more important to take care of first. You may not, but without the walk you will never know until it bites you later :)
With Facebook, you should definitely have a designated FB time. It helps you connect with the world around you, as does the news, but maybe something else needs to come first, and hey, if someone else is the first one to learn about something, what's the worst that could happen? You could find you are connecting with real people! Having a conversation, asking them for more information about the funny video, or the breaking news story, or the friend's health scare. What's the worst that could happen there? They feel good about being able to share something with you - the know it all ;) and that could just make someone's day. All because you took a walk.
Walking, just walking, with only your thoughts - no music or iphone or friends, or enemies. This is not a social walk, this is not a physical health walk (ie: if you are walking with friends at lunch, it doesn't count), this is a mental health walk.... It costs no money, takes surprisingly little time, and will make the rest of your day like.... maybe not a walk in the park, but undoubtedly, a much easier hike:)
Give it a try, I dare you, and invite you to post your results. I am excited to hear your experiences!
Happy trails! ~Mike

Friday, June 14, 2013

Your outside will match what's inside. Are you prepared?

One of my main goals in life is to become stronger. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually. While checking out my favorite channels on youtube, I came across a video by Elliot Hulse that intrigued me, and I wanted to share it with you. beware, the language is not exactly g rated, but the message is soooo worth it.

I've had an issue since I was very young. I would get pigeon holed, painted with a broad brush, judged to be a certain thing, or a certain way. It happens to everyone in high school. just watch an old John Hughes film. There's the jock, the sporto, the ladies man, the bookworm, the slacker, on and on and on. In movies, it works. The authors job is to create a character, and so it goes.

In life, it shouldn't be that way, everyone should be given the opportunity to try something new, to act out of pattern, to do something no one expected. I think in part because of our movie soaked culture, but also in our most basic need to fit in in a particular way, we have a strong need to label people. for one reason or another. Some people want you to be fodder for their jokes, some want you to help them with their homework, some want to see you succeed, some want to see you fail, some just want a ride to school.

As we grow and change, these labels manifest themselves in the way we dress, the way we walk, the way we talk, the decisions we make, the car we buy, the mate we choose, the food we eat. Everything we do is guided by how others perceive us.

It is not until we attempt to change that we realize how deep this goes. Think about it. Go for a long walk alone sometime, or turn the radio off and drive in silence, or go on long a motorcycle ride. Think about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Begin to see if there is anything in your life you would like to change. Pick one thing. Maybe it's quitting coffee, maybe it's beginning an exercise plan, maybe it's to eat more healthy foods, maybe it's volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Whatever it is, go for it, and stick to it for a month. Mark your calendar, and say I am going to do this one thing once a day/week/... for a month. Then do it for another month. See what changes it brings to your life. See if people look at you differently, see if co-workers react differently, most of all, see if it changes something in you. see if it makes you feel better. If it does, keep it up. If you honestly notice no difference, give it another month.

My point is, and you will see this if you take on my challenge to you, you will change, probably long before anyone notices. Your experience will change you. You may walk a little straighter, you may sleep a little better at night, you may have more energy, or be more engaged when speaking with your mate, your family, or friends. I expect after about a month or 2 you will notice those around you react differently to you. watch for it, it won't be a big change necessarily, but it will be there

Now for the hard part, will you be ready for the consequences? It takes a strong willed person to make a small change and commit to it. Not because the change takes willpower. Not because the change takes discipline, and dedication, not for any other reason than this: You will be treated differently. That is my 100% guarantee, you will be treated differently. You may lose friends, though your best friends will always find a way to make it work. Many will say things like "ha!, you're still trying to suffer through the day without coffee, huh? or taunt you - you know you want some, come on, have a cup... you will face many challenges once you have done this one new wonderful thing for yourself. So while you are doing this new thing that you are excited to do for yourself, be preparing yourself for the other changes in life they will bring.

This is where the change in you occurs. It's gradual, but people will begin to use words to describe you like "snob", "cocky", "self righteous"or even "strange" and phrases like "too good for us", taunt's like "oh, he doesn't eat fried food any more, 'cause it's baaaad, lol". be confident you have made the right choice. Stay strong, believe in yourself, and enjoy the new you. It's not easy, but this is what dad meant when he said "It builds character".

One last thing. There is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow should you decide to take my challenge. You will also likely gain friends who share this new value, and even have other admirable attributes you would like to incorporate, thus taking you on a much easier journey through your next change in becoming stronger Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually.

So I say to you, take the challenge, change one thing. Find that one thing you most want to do differently and go for it. The only journey anyone has ever regretted is the one they've gained nothing from, and I promise you have much to gain from this journey. enjoy the ride!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Checking in

...with ourselves, and with each other. Not signing in, or checking up on, but checking in. It's how I stay on track, with my faith, with my health, with my moral convictions (no, not that kind of conviction, I've never been arrested...)

As a kid, I was as close to a blank slate as possible. We all are. We learn right from wrong, we learn how to succeed, how to fail, how to make friends, how to make enemies, how to treat one another in a civil society. As I've grown older, I've found (or re-found) my religion, and defined what it means for me, I've come to terms with my health and ultimately my mortality, I've learned how to make friends, and how to be a friend, and I've learned that no matter how hard I try, some people just aren't going to like me....and yes, I have learned to be ok with that.

That is a tremendous amount of learning, and that doesn't count the disciplines of academia (one letter away from my favorite nut). Disciplines are important. I have learned, as a self employed business owner, the disciplines necessary to remain successful. One of those disciplines for me is to write down my first actions for the next day every evening before going to bed, or going on to do something enjoyable at the end of the day.

Checking in is a discipline. Without it, I for one may easily loose my way. My business requires me to have a very broad world view, accepting all, living, and letting live, learning what I can from what I like, and letting that which I don't, roll off my shoulder like water off a duck's back. My own personal and family life has a much narrower world view. It's the filter through which I am able to gather valuable information from my public life and apply it to my personal life.

This is where checking in comes in. We all hold our family values a little closer to the vest than our public views to one degree or another. It's why we feel the need to shield our kids from some things - they have not yet developed this filter.

Temptation to move outside our own personal convictions is all around us, bombarding us every day from all sides, Television, the Internet, the grocery store or restaurant, movies, and even large gatherings of people. I am not talking about any specific temptation here. In fact, I consider them all the same. A temptation is simply something that tempts you away from your core beliefs, morals, and values.

Anthony Robbins calls it your "Hour of Power" Buddhists call it Meditation, The western religions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim call it prayer. It's really a universal concept. What isn't so universal is how it's applied. Checking in should apply to every aspect of the way we have learned to live our lives.

I just began the South Beach Diet. I am not endorsing it above any other, but I will say what I have found profoundly valuable is the way it has forced me to check in. I am not fat by most standards, a shade over 150 at 5'6.5", but I have, since my dad passed away 8 years ago considered myself healthy, and put a strong emphasis on eating right and regular exercise. The first phase of this nutritional lifestyle has forced me to take a hard look at what I am eating, and how it affects me. I've been on it for less than a week, but already I have decided I will repeat this 2 week process next year.

We check in with the things that are most important to us, the people and values we hold most dear. I check in with my faith every week, I check in with my fitness level a couple times a week. I am guessing checking in with my diet once a year will be enough for me, but I may find I need to do that more often. we'll see. I am also in a relationship with an exceptional woman, and I am learning we need to check in with each other now and again. In fact I am learning it's more important to check in with your family members (and yes, if you are in a committed, long term relationship with someone, they are part of your family) than anything except checking in with yourself. It is this self check in that allows you to check in with one another. It's how you are able to re-align, and know your thoughts are matching your words, and words matching your actions. When you've checked in with yourself, you can be ready when your family member sees something you already realized is there. What's more, when you check in with your family members, you can be ready when they see something you didn't to accept the new observation, and discuss it rationally.

When is the last time you checked in? If you don't remember, perhaps it's time to make an appointment with yourself. A morning meditation, and evening meditation, both, try them all, when you find one that works for you, stick with it. Then ask yourself where else in your life you need to check in, and find a proper time and place for that. It need not be a long time. 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes. Whatever it turns out to be for you, with each check-in I believe you will find yourself getting more out of every aspect of your life. I know I have. :) Cheers!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

OMG, I'm blogging!

I never thought I'd be doing this. This blogging thing. I'm not a journaler, or an expert. but what I realized over the past few years is that I am learning things. Some of these lessons are simple small daily observations, and others are simple solutions to issues I struggle mightily with.

What is more startling to me is that I may end up with multiple blogs, because the myriad things I have on my mind is extensive, and no where near connected to one another. I've got electronic solutions to things I have struggled with I want to blog about, Relationship things, health & fitness things, and sometimes I'll blog about a question I have been struggling with, to which I have no answer.

All of these things made naming my blog very difficult, so that may even change, but in any case, here I am, ready to start my online journey. Wish me luck!