Flying? FLYING? FLYING!!!

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So…when I first started running, people would tell me they saw me…out…walking.

But the other day, at the cookout of a neighbor-friend, I was asked how much I run and how fast, “because every time I see you, you’re flying.”

And I’ve been flying ever since!

An awesome reminder of how much we can progress, and how sometimes we see it and others don’t…but more importantly others sometimes might see what we don’t. Feel good about what you’re doing, keep doing it for you, worry about no one else, and bask in the glory, however it comes.

Me, I know I’m still training with 9:45 minute miles. But she thinks I’m fast. Maybe she’s right!

Gotta be brief, again…consulting job continues at least through this week, and life continues to get in the way. I’m keeping my head up and down at the same time, and I’m trying…I’m doing…and I’m not beating myself up for doing too much or too little.

But, before I go, I’ll tell you this: if you live in an area where you enjoy full-service gas stations, tip the attendant a dollar when you fill up. It feels amazing.

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Fill the rooms in the house of your life with love, and pile regrets in the trash heap. That’s all. And that’s everything.

Need Another Reason To Start? 5 Magic Minutes, All It Takes.

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I’m a huge advocate for doing.  Doing what?  Something.  Anything.  There’s so much pressure to do things right or do them a certain way or look a certain way while you’re doing them that we shy away from the pressure and use our uncertainty about the particulars as an excuse not to do something.

If there’s something you want to accomplish, don’t sweat the details.  Focus on the goal, and take steps–size irrelevant–towards the goal.  The end.  Stumbles and missteps are ok, because they are learning experiences, and learning experiences get you closer to your goal.

One frequent excuse we use for not doing things is time.  I can’t possibly find the time to blank to get me to my goal of blank.

Or, more specifically, but for example: “I don’t have a half hour to run and even if I did I couldn’t run for a half hour anyway.”

This article debunks that thinking entirely.  Running for as few as five minutes a day has health benefits.  Can;t run for five minutes?  Run for 30 seconds and walk for 4.5 minutes.  I don’t care what you do or how you do it.  Just get out there and do something.  30 seconds will lead to 45 seconds which will, if you are both patient and persistent, lead to whatever duration you set as your goal.  

The thing is, running isn’t the point. The five minutes is the point. Spend five minutes a day focusing on what matters to you. Educate yourself. Read. Write. Run. Call a friend. Whatever your goal is, spend five minutes a day doing something—anything—to get yourself closer to that goal. Make those five minutes magic.

Generate and benefit from your own positive momentum.  Forget what others say or do, forget your inner negative self.  Just start.  Now.  Go.  Do.  Be.

The Bleach Stain On The Bathmat (And Other Things That Completely Don’t Matter)

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This is a story about a bleach stain on a bathmat.

I know, right?

Who the hell wants to hear about a bleach stain on a bathmat?

Worse yet, who the hell wants to tell a story about one?

Well, I want to tell it…and you don’t know it, but you probably need to hear it.

The other day, I discovered a small bleach stain on my new-ish, “expensive” bathmat ($20, Target). I was pissed, and I let the offender know it.

And as soon as I unloaded, I wanted to hit the “rewind” button.

Seriously, who the hell cares? What does it matter? And what was my point in lashing out?

The more I thought about it, the more ashamed I was. The bleach stain was caused in the process of giving the bathroom a more thorough cleaning than I’ve given it in years. And yeah, so what if I cleaned the tub and the grout and the tile and the shower curtain in the past without causing any collateral damage to the bath linens? What does it matter?

I should have been grateful for the help, the help that was generously offered, was executed with a smile…the helper who reassured me patiently during the entire cleaning exercise…and here I was being a giant a-hole about a bleach stain that no one else will ever see and has no negative functional implication on the bathmat.

It’s a friggin’ bathmat.

I know. It’s a lot to say about a small bleach stain on a bathmat (in a shitty old bathroom, I might add).

But it’s a large life lesson for me. About how and why I behave, and what does and doesn’t matter. It was a massive wake-up call about treating what is important (the person cleaning the bathroom) with the compassion and respect deserved, and about letting the things that don’t matter (a bleach stain on the bathmat) pass by without mention. What’s the point of being a jerk and making the people you care about feel crappy for doing something awesome?

Sad to say that we (or at least I) can get caught up in the crappy minutiae of life and co-mingle feelings and reactions and experiences to a needlessly negative end…so we (or at least I) should take a step back if needed, take an extra breath if needed, to channel our feelings and reactions and experiences in a positive way, to deliver results that are supportive, and affirming, and useful.

So start shaping your thinking using the power of perspective. Ask yourself if something matters and respond accordingly. And if you respond poorly, learn the lesson, ask for forgiveness, and endeavor not to make the same mistake again.

Overlook the bleach stains in life, and look the person who matters in the eye and say, “Thank you for all you do for me; I love you so much.” Isn’t that a much better way to spend a minute than carrying on like an idiot, about a bathmat?

In other news, need a good meat-free sandwich besides tuna? Try this gem:
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Mash a can of chickpeas (drain them first). Add an avocado and mash that in with the chickpeas. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in a little mayo if you like. I like a little Hellman’s Light, to give it a more spreadable consistency. I’m big into the Trader Joe’s sprouted bread now, just for fun. Use whatever you like. I like a thin layer of mayo, about 1/4 of the chickado mash, some tomato slices, and voila! A delicious meat-free lunch!

Google Maps: Order From and Within Chaos

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(Note: Because I don’t have location services turned on on my iPad, Google Maps puts my location at what, to me, looks like the middle of nowhere. So, for the purposes of this post, I thought it would be fun to illustrate the drive from Boston to the middle of no place.)

The other day I was driving to an interview (!) at a company 27 miles from my house, with a meeting time of 9am. I left at 7:30, choosing my start time after consulting with my trusted Google maps app over the course of a few days. Based on the data points it had provided, and after tracking a few additional data points that morning, I determined that 90 minutes would ensure an on-time arrival.

Over time, I have learned to rely on the ETAs provided by Google maps—I have found them to be accurate and that their route suggestions are the most effective. (The latter I learned the hard way, ignoring what I viewed as a cockamamie re-routing suggestion…only to sit in dead-stopped traffic on “my” route for over an hour while Storrow Drive was completely closed for the annual AIDS Walk.)

In any case, the traffic was horrendous. I kept checking the ETA provided by the app…8:43…8:45…8:42…8:50…as I kept checking, somewhat obsessively and neurotically, I found myself both calmed and soothed by what I found. It used to be, in traffic, that there was no way to know how it was going to turn out. Stress. Worry. Angst. “Oh my God, am I ever going to get there? What if I’m late? Oh my God.” And so on. Even though the ETA was changing slightly, up and down and up again, I knew I was going to make it on time, a knowledge that almost completely eliminated all of my logistical worries. When I realized that the minute the app informed me that I might be late I could simply call ahead with apologies, I relaxed altogether. A previously unsolvable problem of guessing when I might end up where I needed to be was solved. There was tremendous relief in that, which freed up my mind to consider how knowing something (when I’ll arrive), even if it’s bad (I’ll be late), is—at least for me—soothing and comforting, on both the macro and micro levels.

It’s long been said that knowledge is power–that’s kind of understood as an unbound concept, one of limitless possibility. The power of knowledge is equally valuable even when it’s a bounded thing. When you know something in a moment, or a situation…any small space, really, you have power…the power of choice, the power in choosing how you respond to that situation. When you’re in the black hole of uncertainty, you feel powerless, because you don’t know how to respond, because you don’t know what you’re responding to. But even in those moments, you need to find some absolute truth and find power in that moment…for example, you may find yourself waiting for results of a test of some sort, and your life could go in many different directions as a result…you could worry, you could wonder…you could plan for the worst…you could focus on the best…when really the only thing you know is that you don’t know…and that is when you need to choose…to breathe, just breathe…or to choose to go for a run or do something else, just because you can…and it’s really hard to wait, to wonder, not to know…but it is, really, easy to choose.

And that’s what Google Maps taught me.

(Oh…I got the job. A two-week consulting gig—you’d think Donald Trump named me as the newest Apprentice the way I’m acting! It’s a small step in the right direction—I’m choosing to celebrate the small victory!)

Life: A Gift of a Mental Game

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Life is funny. It’s also “funny.” And it also can be decidedly un-funny. Sometimes all in the exact same moment, sometimes in a chain-reaction triggered by the Universe, and sometimes we go on streaks, both good and bad.

Life’s a series of moments that are uniquely and distinctly isolated, yet wildly and complicatedly connected. Sometimes we feel in control, comfortable, happy. Sometimes we feel out of control, drifting, floating happily along, enjoying the view.

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Other times we feel a different kind of loss of control…pulled under, churning, swirling, disoriented…

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What does it all mean, why does it happen, and how do we fight through and stay accountable?

It helps me to remember this great quote by Rob Bell: “That breath that you just took…that’s a gift.” It should be so obvious, but it’s often overlooked and under appreciated.

So what’s my point, given the complicated simplicity of the interconnected isolation of life?

–Try to appreciate the gift in every moment, especially when the breath is the only gift.

–Realize that in every moment you have a choice, sometimes more than one choice, and appreciate that your choices impact your future and/or other people in some way.

–Draw on the experiences of your past to build yourself a better future.

–Allow yourself to be open to the influence of other people, but do not allow yourself to be defined by them.

–Don’t forget the extent to which you have control, and exert control in the places you do.

–Try to resist the urge to place blame on others or on yourself; learn the lesson and move on!

–Let go of pain in your past. You can’t change anything that you did. But you can change everything you do.

So, go. Do. Be the you that you want to be. Just start trying. Now. Go.