Wednesday, August 30, 2006
One of the best things about my job is finding ways to create "light bulb" moments for people. I think that far too many folks suffer from the bombardment of incomprehensible information floating around out there. I've never been a fan of boring and complicated ways of learning something. When I was in school I responded to teachers and professors who loved teaching. The good ones were special because they had a style and delivery that kept students interested. If I learned anything in school it was how to deliver a message. Humor has always been one of my dearest allies. A few years back I read this amazing book by Don Migel Ruiz. The book was called "The Four Agreements." I was so inspired by his writings that when I heard he was speaking in LA I had to be there. This sweet and gentle man was one of the worst public speaker I had ever seen. The material was still invaluable but the messenger put me asleep.
Traci Morrow and I are committed to making these camps as fun, inspiring and powerful as possible. This year was our first go around and the ride has been pure joy for both of us. My hope is that when people are heading home on Sunday and Monday after a camp, their hearts and minds are filled with hope and optimism for the future. The future for the camps looks bright, and I'm looking forward to next season. Now that we have a working formula I'd love to have two or three more camps next year. A ski camp and certainly a trip over the border. Maybe even a ski camp over the border. The buzz is on because Traci and I are heading down to Orlando in October to work with a Tony Robbins Master Mind group to spread the word. More and more people (through these camps) are discovering that health and fitness are priority one when it comes to finding joy and happiness. They're learning that six pack abs and shapelier calves got nothing on feeling good and improving the quality of your life through health and fitness.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006:I left for LA on Thursday morning. My flight was due to leave at 9:22 a.m., so between traffic and the notoriously bad security lines at Denver International Airport, I had planned to leave my house by roughly 6:45 a.m. You know how they say "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans"? I was in the shower at 6:00 a.m. with shampoo in my ears when Greg (my DH) comes running in a huge panic telling me I have to get my stuff together and get in the car now because there's been a terrorist threat and they've raised the security level to chartreuse and Oh My God, JUST GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! (OK, he wasn't quite that panicked, that's more how I felt hearing that news. At least he didn't try to talk me out of going!) So I hurriedly jumped out of the shower, shot the hair dryer in the general direction of my head, crammed all that last minute stuff that you never adequately plan for into my suitcase (oh, the size and weight of that suitcase – it was embarrassing!), quickly stuffed down some breakfast, and was on my way. Amazingly, the lines at the airport, although long, moved quite well, and it only took my 45 minutes to get through security, which is not much longer than it normally takes at DIA – I think the fact that they had every line open and so many people helping direct and channel people really made things move right along. My flight took off within half an hour of its scheduled departure and I was California bound (insert appropriate Eagles tune here).My sister met me at LAX and we drove over to the Hyatt Century City and got me checked in. By that time, it was lunch and so we walked over to the CC Mall just across the street and found the food court. I wish we had a food court like this near me. Not a Burger King or Sbarro's in sight, just lots and lots of very healthy choices (OK, so there was plenty of desserts and a few not so healthy things, but the healthy options were there and plentiful). After lunch (spinach salad with chicken and walnuts and the lightest coating of lemon vinaigrette plus a fruit salad that was to die for, I was feeling so virtuous), we strolled around the mall, which was of the California open-air variety. Somewhere in Macy's, I suddenly started to panic, and I mean real panic of the I'm-starting-to-hyperventilate variety. I don't know why it hit me right then, but it did, and I started toying with the idea of just spending the weekend with my sister, lounging at the pool and shopping. I was trying to rationalize to myself how that way the weekend wouldn't be a total wash and I could just have a nice relaxing mini vacation. I'm a mom, I need that kind of time, right? I'm so going to be the odd woman out in this group that probably exchanges Christmas cards and has known each other via the BB boards forever. Then I remembered that I'd gotten my on-line buddy from Video Fitness, Maria, to sign up for this camp, and she knew even less about BB and Tony than me, so I figured I was going to have to suck it up, and headed back over to the hotel. My sister suited up for the pool and I suited up for a beach workout with Tony! I put on my P90X tank so that JD, who lived nearby and was going to be doing a lot of the driving, including that afternoon, could recognize me in the lobby, and headed downstairs. I found her soon after that, and since everyone else who was going was either already at the beach or had arranged rides, we headed out to find the Santa Monica muscle beach (which I understand is the original muscle beach -- Venice is apparently some kind of copy cat beach and they sniff in its general direction in Santa Monica).JD, like me, grew up in New Jersey, and we became fast friends -- it's so odd (in a good way) at this stage in life to meet someone with whom you just click so perfectly (I hope that didn't sound weird or stalkerish!). Between the directions Traci had given us off Mapquest, the directions JD had written down herself, and the GPS system in her car, we managed to find the beach and meet up with the other campers who had come in early. The beach in Santa Monica is very wide, and the place we were waiting had all kinds of sort of uber-playground equipment – rings and bars and ropes, oh my! We watched several guys swinging and twisting and catapulting themselves around like future Cirque de Soleil performers on the rings and I was sincerely hoping at that point that none of these were among the exercises Tony has planned for us (they weren’t, btw).We were sitting on the wall at the edge of the beach watching all this activity and chatting when up walks Tony! He puts out his right hand, puts his left on my shoulder, and says "Hi I'm Tony. Nice shirt" and I feel like a bit of a dork for wearing the P90X shirt until I realize that he's also wearing the P90X shirt and then it's OK (in a dorky sorta way). He tells us that our workout today is going to be push-pull – in other words, Chest and Back Goes To The Beach (OK, I made up that name, but I like it – I think I'm going to copyright it, 'scuze me while I go file my application with the Patent Office. OK, I’m back). We head over to a metal bar that has cross-posts at two different heights for pull-ups. When it was my turn, Tony said "you're looking pretty buff, how many pull-ups can you do on your own?" and I had to truthfully reply "none," because I've never been brave enough to try them without a chair. That little comment would come back to me on Sunday when I had my lightbulb moment, but more about that later. Anyway, I grabbed the bar, said a little prayer that I wouldn't make a complete a$$ out of myself, and managed to crank out three wide grip pull ups all by myself and three more with Tony only pushing my gently in the middle of my back! OMG, I cannot believe I did that – did I just do that? Then Tony had me bend my knees, held my ankles, and I managed another few with the assist. Was I completely pumped? Yes I was. Around this time, Daniel Haas and Scott Fifer showed up, along with a new Sunday workout buddy, Dave. They of course were able to crank out 20+ pullups without hardly breaking a sweat – something to aspire to – but it didn't mess with my good mojo. We headed over to a grassy patch where more contortionists were at work/play, and did as many standard width pushups as we could crank out. I was so pumped from my pullup victory that I set a new PR in pushups – 63! It is amazing how much harder you can work with Tony right there in your ear saying "c'mon work!" Then it was time for the rope. I was really, REALLY dreading the rope. The rope was my personal nemesis. I was getting unpleasant flashbacks to grade school when Alexi Lambros, who could scale all the way to the gym ceiling in about 5 seconds flat, would reduce me to tears because I couldn't even hang on the thing for that long. Tony showed off his cool monkey-boy tricks – sitting on the ground at the bottom and then hoisting himself up all the way to the top while still maintaining a perfect L-position – and we watched Scott Fifer climb the rope upside down (yes, you read that right, it was the coolest thing to see), and then Tony gave us some pointers on getting up the rope. I got maybe half way up the long rope (I didn't mention that there's more than one rope, and one is about 10 feet longer than the other – we were on the long one) and then my mind got in the way (darn mind!) and I just chickened out. Still, I hadn't just hung there like a side of beef on a hook, so I felt pretty good about that as well. More (endless) pushups and pullups ensued, and about halfway through the workout, Traci Morrow showed up. Soon after her arrival, three more campers arrived and joined in. We finished up around 7:00 or so with a round of Ab Ripper X led by Scott, and everyone decided to go back to their respective hotels to freshen up before dinner and meet at Tony's favorite local restaurant, A Votre Sante, around 8:30.After hosing off and changing, we headed back out and found the restaurant. It was a pretty mellow evening – everyone seemed fairly well spent – but the food was delicious and healthy and we got to know each other a bit better. We closed the place down, then stood out in the parking lot talking (Tony did some handstands right there on the asphalt – show off!) for another 20 or 25 minutes before heading back to the hotel.Friday, August 11, 2006:Friday we didn't have anything planned until 2:00 p.m., so I had scheduled a massage at the spa adjacent to the hotel. It was heavenly (Javier, you may not be able to pronounce my name, but you are aces in my book anyway!), and much needed after Thursday's workout. I got done in time to come back to my room, clean up, and get down to the lobby to meet everyone for lunch at the food court. I started to relax a bit more realizing that not all these folks had known each other since nine days before baseball. People had come from all over the country and even from Canada. Then it was time to carpool over to Gladstone's for the Beachbody corporate party. Gladstone's sits right on the beach along the Pacific Coast Highway and yes, it is as gorgeous as that sounds. When we showed up, the DJ was conducting a dance-off, the prize for which was an Ipod. It was kind of a kick to see Carl Daikler and Jon Congdon hanging out in their bermuda shorts. Debbie Siebers came over to say hi and chat, and she was very sweet. She is absolutely the tiniest person I've ever seen -- she has the hips of a 12 year old. We left Gladstone's to return to the hotel for the 5:00 p.m. workout with Tony – the first "official" workout of the weekend. We got our goodie bags and perused the "store" a bit, then it was time for the workout. The schedule called for P90 Fat Burner, i.e., the newest P90 workout that they filmed in Hawaii last year, but Tony wondered if we'd be willing to try something else. He said one of the most frequent questions he gets is about what to do when you're on vacation and want to get a workout in. So we were going to do the impromptu UCML (upper, cardio, middle, lower) workout, roughly a minute a segment, and Tony was going to look to someone in the room to give him a suggestion for each segment. After the warm-up, we started in and got a rockin' workout! My suggestion was for Groucho Walk, and he made me come up to the front to do it with him – how awesome was that?! I love this move and was being silly and teasing "I think I'm lower than you, Tony," so, of course, he had to completely kick my a$$ (to be fair, I totally deserved it – who the heck am I challenging Tony Freakin’ Horton? I am so not worthy) – I can't even remember how long that went on, but I could barely stand back up by the time we finished. We did six or seven rounds (my memory is hazy on that point), with Tony choosing the exercises in the last two rounds. As you might expect, those were the most brutal of all. Loved it.After showering yet again (I think I lost a couple layers of skin with how much I showered this weekend, but I’m sure everyone else appreciated it), it was once again time for the food court (thank God for the food court). After dinner and more conversation, it was back to the hotel for the "Circle of Love" (or the Isosceles Triangle of Confusion, as I believe we were calling it by that point). I was nervous about this part, even though I knew it was coming. Tony had asked each of us to tell our story and to explain what we hoped to get out of the weekend (we were limited to 5 minutes apiece). I got a little panicky thinking "why exactly DID I come to this camp?" so I decided to blame mspina (my P90X check-in buddy at VF). I had planned to just tell a very abbreviated version of my story that focused almost exclusively on how I'd found P90X and the circumstances under which I started with it and the results I'd gotten, but instead when I opened my mouth, I heard myself say "Well, I was fat growing up." Ugh. What the hell is wrong with me anyhow? After the ugly start to my personal story, I finally got around to describing what brought me to P90X, the fact that it sat on my shelf for more than a year before I even cracked open the case, and how, after having three miscarriages in 2005, I started the program just because I felt like I needed a prescheduled routine to help me maintain some semblance of a workout program while I got my head back on straight (and my heart back up out of my shoes). Everyone had a very compelling story about their struggles and triumphs and it was fun to see the before pants that two of the guys had brought with them (when Shane showed us his before trousers, I swear, JD and I said at the exact same moment "Pleated pants? Don't you watch 'What Not To Wear?'"). We ended late, and were due for an early morning of rock climbing, so off to bed.Saturday, August 12, 2006:Saturday morning came much too quickly, and JD and I met at the hotel restaurant for an $8 plate of egg beaters and a $4 bowl of sliced banana (and a waitress with a lot of ‘tude, and not in a good way). We carpooled out to Rockreation, a local rock climbing gym. The schedule had us down for 2 hours and I figured we'd spend at least half an hour on a safety class so that we'd only have to do one or at most two climbs apiece. Wrong, so wrong (whimper). Tony and four or five of the women who worked in the gym took over all belaying duties, so once we were all harnessed up (and don’t you know that harness is the most attractive open-air adult diaper you’ll ever have showcasing your butt high above the earth?), we just went for it. My first two climbs were fairly easy and I was thinking "eh, not really my thing." Then they ran a lead line over an arch in the center of the gym so that you had to climb basically like a bug on a wall upside down. That I had to try, and yes, it was as hard as it sounds. Actually, it was pretty much impossible for me, but awesome too. I only made it far enough to unhook the line from the first carabineer (or is the carabineer the thing on your harness? What was that thing on the wall called anyway? And is that really how you spell carabineer? Damn Spell Check – it only really helps if you already know how to spell the word!) and then couldn't figure out how to get any further. After that I attempted one more difficult climb, but my forearms were toasted (and my fingernails were shot, darn it! At least I hadn’t bothered with a manicure before camp!). Back to the hotel, for yet another shower before the Tony's 11 Laws seminar. I have got to go back and read these again, because to be honest at the time I thought they all seemed pretty intuitive and not like any great revelation, at least to me, but now I'm thinking I might take more away from them in light of the things I learned about myself later in the weekend.There was a break from a little after 2 to 4 and almost everyone headed for the pool. It was my sister's birthday, and I'd given her a key so she could come use the pool if she wanted, so I went down and found her and introduced her around (Traci’s husband and kids had come down as well), including to Tony, who sung "Happy Birthday" to her! I tried later to explain to her there were people in this world who would have done desperate things to have Tony sing to them on their birthdays (not me, I'm not talking about me!) but I don't think she really got it. I sat in the whirlpool even though it was a hot day and the water temp was just shy of boiling – I needed that jet to work out some of the kinks in my back from the rock climbing. Next was the nutrition seminar (I think – my timeline may be a bit out of whack). Tony spoke for a bit, but Traci took over the laboring oar on this one. I really appreciated what she had to say about getting your family to eat more healthfully and later in the weekend, I would come back to some of the things she said and think more deeply about them (still later, after I got back home, I would actually start trying to apply some of them). On to Yoga X. At first, I thought I was the only person in the room who was really looking forward to this workout, but then I realized that it was just the people who disliked yoga who were complaining the loudest (I’m teasing JD! Are you so not speaking to me right now?). I was so glad to have done this one live, because having Tony right there to make those minor little adjustments made a world of difference (my back leg was not entirely straight in the lunge poses – definitely weaker in the back body as compared to the front – and boy howdy, how much harder the poses are once you do them right). It’s also nice to be able to practice yoga without the dulcet tones of Sponge Bob Square Pants blaring from the other room (although I did miss my kids’ giggles – that’s always a nice counterpoint to shavasana).After yet another shower (was this like my third of the day?) we came back down to the conference room for dinner. Tony had invited Daniel Haas, Scott Fifer, Veronica (from P90 Masters), Phil (from P90X), Dan Brown (P90 Masters – there are some pictures of his awesome gymnastics skills over at the camp thread), and, oh be still my heart, Bobby Stevenson (Stephenson? You know, I need to know how to spell that for the wedding invitations – and if my DH is reading this, I am so just kidding). I literally ran into Bobby coming through the door and he said "Oh my God, look at you, you MUST be doing the X?" and I swear I felt like I was 14 and the cute senior quarterback had just paid me a compliment (which never actually happened when I was 14, btw – my life is not a Molly Ringwald movie, for sure). It was probably a good thing that he wasn't seated at my table because I undoubtedly would have made a complete a$$ out of myself with all the drooling and fawning that would have ensued (on my part, obviously, not his – God, I am such a freakin’ geek). Instead, I sat with Scott and Veronica and a woman named Louise who worked in finance at BB and had come to several of the workouts, and we got to hear about Scott's plans for building an orphanage in Tanzania. So inspiring. After dinner, the guys and Veronica took pictures with those who wanted them (why didn't I do this? Geez, I could kick myself – I would have been right up there if I'd bothered to have my lightbulb moment before the end of camp! As it was, I was just too shy to do it. Oh well – next year). Then Tony suggested that we got up to the lobby to hang out and play the bag game. This ended up being much more fun to do with random hotel guests wandering through and staring in amusement at a bunch of grown people in dressy-casual clothes hovering inches above the ground like giant birds of prey to devour . . . a paper sack. There was one woman who worked for the hotel there (she seemed like some sort of manager for the lobby bar, maybe) who was just fascinated by what we were doing, and I heard later that she was downstairs at three in the morning practicing her technique! Tony and Traci managed to get all the way down to the very last fold in the bag, but by that point it was after midnight, so we packed it in.Sunday, August 13, 2006:Sunday morning came much, much too early for my taste, but at least I slept through the entire night for the first time since arriving in California. I had breakfast delivered to my room – fruit, yogurt, wheat toast (geez, did I feel virtuous or what?) – it actually arrived on time too (to my surprise – I had just barely made it out of the shower, and yes, I showered before working out – I was not going to let anyone, much less Tony, Phil, Daniel, etc. see me with bedhead). I usually only eat a half of a bar before my morning workouts, but I figured that since we were scheduled for two workouts that would last from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., I'd do better with something more substantial in my stomach. Luckily, I didn't end up regretting that decision, although with yogurt involved, things could have turned out badly. What that TMI? Think maybe it was.Anyway, we gathered in the lobby and carpooled over to Santa Monica beach (site of Thursday afternoon's workout). There is a square of grass there between the "Strand" and the beach that's maybe, oh, I don't know (I'm bad with spatial stuff) 20 by 20 feet or so that was to the be site of the workout – Plyo Legs. I was stoked because plyo is my "thang" – just love it. Lots of familiar stuff from P90M Plyo Legs and P90X Plyometrics, but so much more fun to do with the sound of the waves in the background and a nice cool California breeze blowing through your hair. To do the "Heisman Plus One," Tony advised us to pick two “targets” a challenging distance apart. I looked down and saw a seagull feather and . . . a band-aid. Ewww. No way was I getting my hand anywhere near that band-aid (doing abs on that patch of grass, by the way, was also an excellent motivator to keep your head and shoulders elevated throughout the exercise!). I just decided to imagine a second target, which worked out fine and carried no risk of contracting any sort of incurable illness. The workout ended all too soon for my taste – we finished with the Egan brothers, moving across that entire huge square of grass and, man, Traci went all the way down and back with her knees way up into her chest the whole time. Studette!We paused for some recovery drink before moving on to the beach workout. First was the rope. Tony had given us each a wrap the night before for our lower legs so we wouldn't get rope burn. Having done the rope on Thursday, I had more problems with the rope burning my inner thigh than my calf, but I wasn't sure they had a wrap big enough for that (and no way in hell was I asking for two!) so I just decided to suck it up. Even though I'd done OK with the rope on Thursday, I was still not looking forward to having to climb it, especially since there were so many more people watching now, so I hung back for quite a while and let some of the other folks have a turn (because that's just the kind of giver I am). Seemed like a lot of other folks on the trip had a "rope demon" like me, and it was great to have everyone there urging the others on and pulling for them to make it to the top. Then it was my turn. Tony had some P90X recovery formula in super-concentrated form in a small GU bottle, and you squirted a little in your hand and let it dry and get tacky to help with traction on the rope. Yes, it is as nasty as you're imagining, but I guess it beats bloody palms. Tony showed me how to wrap the rope around my lower leg (the one with the wrap on it) and then how to pinch the rope with my other foot. You actually use your legs more than your arms to climb, pulling the wrapped leg knee up as high as you can and then pushing up to stand on the rope. Maybe because my upper body was fresher than on Thursday (since this was the first UB of the day) or maybe because my mind was in a better place having seen other people go up or maybe the gods were just smiling on me, but I made it all the way up to the top of the rope! Take that, Alexi Lambros! That was a pretty heady, let me tell you.Next came the parallel bars (OK, to be honest, I've lost track of the order in which we did things, but I'm giving it my best shot – I would make a terrible eyewitness!). Tony did some tricep dips at the end of the bars, then “walked” stiff-armed the length of the bars, more tricep dips, then walked backwards to the starting point. I remember when I first started going to the gym in college (20 years ago next month – yes, I am old(er)), I would watch some of the guys do body-weight dips and think "no way in hell will I ever be able to do that." When my turn came, I admitted to Tony that I'd never been able to do a dip before. He looked me right in the eye and told me he knew I could do it, and right then, I knew he was right. He showed me exactly how to position myself and what it should look like, and I got up there and did three. It sounds like so little, but it was so, so much (geez, I'm getting teary just typing this, but it was so huge for me). Then I started "walking" on my straight arms down the length of the bars. It was ugly and I fell off when my legs got to swinging too much, but by that point, I was so stoked that I just hopped right back up there and made it down to the end. When I got there, Tony said "You ready to go back?" and I immediately said "Heck yeah!" and started backing up. Didn’t make it very far in that direction – I couldn't control the swing of my body enough to go all the way back to the start. It didn't matter in the least. I was absolutely pumped. I had tried something new and it had been hard and I hadn't totally sucked at it. Next was pullups. We each tried our hands (backs and shoulders and arms is more accurate) at it – I did three on my own, and maybe 4 or 5 more with Tony just pushing the middle of my back (how in the world will I ever be able to do another pullup without Tony's hand on my mid-back?). Then Tony showed off his fancy pullups – they are hard to describe and even harder to comprehend doing. He started by pulling himself from a full, vertical hanging position into a horizontal position under the bar (so the bar was just above his chest and this legs were out straight in front of him as if he were lying down). Then he swung himself up to vertical again, this time with his chin over the bar, the way you'd be at the top of a regular pullup. Then he reversed the move, going back to horizontal and then all the way back down to a full vertical hanging position. I am so not worthy, but it was an amazing sight to behold. He then had several of the guys come up and try just swinging over the bar, i.e., doing a pullup, then hoisting themselves over until the bar was at the break of the hips, and then doing a flip over the top. While we were watching this, I noticed that Phil, Daniel, Dom, and Dave were over at the parallel bars doing handstand pushups. One of them was standing on one end of the bars, another was behind holding that person's calves to stabilize him, and a third was off to one side to spot the dismount. Then the person whose turn it was would kick up into a handstand on the parallel bars and do as many inverted pushups as he could. I don't know what came over me, but when I saw them doing that, I knew I just had to try it. So when Tony asked who was next for the pullup-flip thingie I asked "Can we try that?" and of course, he said "Sure!" and over we went to give it a shot.I watched a few other people do it first, and was starting to worry that maybe I'd gotten everyone, but especially me, in over our heads because it looked scary and hard (and my girl JD got a big old nasty bruise coming down out of her handstand – I’m still smarting from that one, and I just watched it). On the other hand, I've got Tony to help me get upright and Phil to hold my ankles steady (and Daniel to catch me if I fall – almost would make it worth falling! And again, Greg, honey, if you are reading this I am only kidding and I love you! Geez, give me a break already – just because I’m full from dinner doesn’t mean I can’t look at the dessert menu, right?) so I think "screw it. I've already done three other things today that I would never in a million years have dreamed I could do, so why not just try?" I get up on the bars (hands chalked up like a gymnast – how cool is that?) in a most unbecoming crouch (think Gollum in Lord of the Rings and you’ll be close) and without even thinking, just kicked up. Tony helped push my legs up to vertical (had I shaved that morning? – geez, I sure hope so – glad I didn’t think of that at the time) and all of a sudden . . . there I was, doing a freakin' handstand! And holding it! I heard Phil say "that is all you!" in a tone that suggested maybe he hadn't really expected me to be able to do it (but then frankly, neither had I). Then he asked me whether I wanted to do a pushup. Well, dummy me, I let me mind get in the way again and said "NO!" almost in a panic, and soon after that I was on the ground. But . . . Oh. My. God. I’m sure everyone was thankful that I had the presence of mind not to pull a Brandy Chastain and whip off my shirt right there in the sand, but that was how I felt. And so there it was – my "lightbulb moment." When I finished P90X the first time this past spring, I knew I was stronger and fitter than I had ever been in my life. But fit and strong for what? Yes, it is nice to be strong and look good, and to fit into a smaller size of clothing, and to have people I didn't even know come up to me and say "wow, you must work out." But what exactly was I doing with my fitness? I had not managed to take even one tiny step outside my little box. Some of it is a control thing (after all, they don’t give you your diploma from law school unless you’ve been certified anal retentive by a qualified psychologist), but most of it is just plain, stupid fear. Fear of not being good at something I haven't tried before, fear of looking stupid, fear of having to deal with unknown situations and circumstances (not an issue when you're doing a video that you’ve done a hundred times before). If you want examples, I could give you dozens. Like this: I got my DH a bike for our anniversary in June and he has been riding all summer long and hinting pretty strongly that I should join him, but the truth is, I was afraid to try. The woman who is the director of my son's preschool asked me a few weeks ago whether I was interested in signing up for a sprint triathalon with her, and I just kind of said "yeah, maybe, we'll see," because I was afraid to try. I have lived in Colorado for two years now and haven't even been skiing (and with the winter we had this year, that is a tragedy). I would tell myself that it was because DS was too little for lessons and I didn't want to leave him in daycare and the crowds and blah, blah, blah, but if I were being truly honest, I hadn't gone because I was afraid to try. Well, truthfully, down to the very, very bottom of my soul, I am not afraid now. I hope that doesn't sound overly corny, because it doesn't feel that way. It feels like a revelation. It is a revelation. It is not about looking good – looking good is the side effect. It is about participating fully in your own life. It is about challenging yourself to be better and stronger and more and loving the process because there isn't really an end point on your journey. One end point is just the beginning point for something else.The rest is going to sound anticlimatic after that, but it wasn't. We went back to the hotel for autographs and goodbyes. I had scheduled a massage for 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, but even though I was past the deadline to cancel and would be charged for it anyway, I knew I couldn't let go of the buzz I had going on and went with a somewhat smaller group to lunch at, guess where? – the food court, ‘natch. I got three plates of food (all of it healthy, but still) and devoured everything – I guess having a life-altering experience burns a lot of calories (kind of like giving birth – they say that burns like 6000 calories or something, right? Right??!). We came back to the hotel, said our goodbyes to Tony and Traci and headed out to the airport for our flights home.Post-script:Two short(er) postscripts to this story. (1) On the way back home in the plane, I started talking to the guy next to me, which I almost never do – way, way too shy most of the time (plus I had a virgin US Weekly burning a hole in my carry-on). But the confidence of the weekend was still with me, so I struck up a conversation and had the most intriguing, delightful conversation that I've shared with anyone in a long time – it was like a college bull session of old and just left me with so much food for thought. (2) Tuesday (two days after I got home) was my DS's 4th birthday, and we took him to Winter Park to ride the alpine slide. They also have a bunch of other summer activities there – mini golf, a human maze, and . . . a rock wall. Guess who got right out there to climb with her kids? When I came back down, there was a line of moms just standing there watching their kids and one of them said to me "I'm glad you just did that so I didn't have to" and I thought "Me too!" Right next to the rock climbing wall was the bungee jump (the one where they hook you up to a harness and you bounce on a trampoline attached to the bungee cords) (Michelle, I think I got this part of the story confused when I told it to you the other day – sorry, but my mind was racing!). I've never liked trampolines much – they make me feel, for lack of a better word, oogie – but there was one little girl there doing flips all over the place and I thought "why not?" And I did it. I got up there and did back flips. Slow, ugly back flips, but hey, I did them. And it was fun, and darn hard work . . . I was breathing like a pack mule by the end (adult diapers, Gollum, pack mule – I make myself sound like a troll!). After I finished, an older woman came up behind me and as I was putting on my shoes and she was getting hooked up, I heard a bunch of people on the other side of the enclosure start chanting "Grandma! Grandma!" and I started laughing because I just knew – that was going to be me in 20 years. Oh, and I picked up all the information on skiing while I was there. Do you think I'll be there taking a lesson as soon as the snow flies? Damn right.
Friday, August 25, 2006
My brain is constantly filled with a mixed bag of silly stuff. I've been spending my whole life trying to rewire the way I think about things. I'm still doing it. I've always been a happy junkie, and can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to spend as many moments as possible feeling good. My journey has taught me that joy comes at a price. A constant state of elation appears to be impossible. Such a bummer! It also seems that periods of bliss only happen by doing other things that aren't so blissful while doing them. On top of that, falling into the short-term-short-cuts-trap is a total disaster. Damn, life is tricky! Do you see what I mean when I say that my brain is filled with silliness?
I hate feeling sad and depressed because it makes me feel so sad and depressed. But today, I feel really good. Kind of freaky good, and I'm not really sure why. My body bashing crazy Sunday workout was a monster this morning, and it should have knocked me for a loop. For some reason I have this hopeful happy feeling (weird but cool) that's causing goose bumps. You know the feeling. The sky is bright blue and the temp is 72, and there's a very light breeze coming in my back door. It appears that ideal atmospherical surroundings seem to help. My energy is up and so is my enthusiasm as I sit here and write. I usually forget to recognize these moments, but not today.
The Two E's (Energy and Enthusiasm) control my brain and rule my life. Some days organizing a sock drawer feels like climbing Mt. Everest. My buddy Ed will say I'm "double-o-g" (out of gas). When I'm runnin on fumes, sometimes it's my fault, (poor food choices and not enough sleep) and other times it's out of my control. Maybe the answer is choosing right over wrong more often, combined with letting go. Why in the world, knowing right from wrong, would I choose behavior that destroys my energy and enthusiasm for life? I'm still working it out, but I think the answer has a lot to do with acceptance and knowing how to ask the right questions in times of need. Poor planning, bad news, poor sleep, stress and heat waves will happen. How do I keep the day to day stuff from affecting my ability to by a happy man?
The equalizer for me has always been fuel and movement. F & M baby! If it weren't for a healthy lifestyle I'd be in a home for sad and depressed guys. My healthy plan for this life has created many more good days than bad. Research shows that we are what we eat and do, not what we think and feel. Eating and doing causes thoughts and feelings...most of the time. The basics are simple - right choices create the E & E to be happy and healthy. The wrong choices (poor diet, no exercise, etc.) cause fatigue, bad moods, stress, illness and a total mind, body, spirit malfunction. Yikes!
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
This thing called life is such a crazy mixed bag of ever shifting moods, weaknesses, strengths, pain, elation, sadness and on and on. A strongly held belief system could easily get crushed beneath all that. Letting go means to loosen up, become flexible and understanding, stop being attached to the outcome and staying curious and open to new things. My first Law of Health & Fitness is Variety. If variety is the spice of fitness, then it should also be the key to combating stress and complacency. I'm a big fan of things that work well over time, and I'm not here to tell you to abandon the things in your life that are working for you. In most cases when we find ourselves in a rut, a tiny shift is all we need to create a new outlook.
One of the biggest road blocks for most people when it comes to their health and well being is understanding what it takes to maintain their health and well being. The answer is letting go, and knowing when to let go of ideas, philosophies, concepts, programs and dogma that are dogging you. If your shoulder hurts while doing push-ups then stop thinking that it's a good idea to do push-ups. Pain in your body and in your heart is telling you that it's time for something else. Try not to hold on too tightly to the things that no longer feed your soul. This won't require advice from other people. You have the answers. And you'll find them when you start letting go.
"We must seek the true causes of happiness and satisfaction." ~ The 14th Dalai Lama