I like to go hogging. Ever since my training for last year’s ultra-marathon trail run, I have really gained an appreciation for my hiking/jogging combo…especially when it occurs out in nature. As I consider giving the 35-miler another go, in hopes of experiencing the finish with my friend, I am returning back to the trail, ready to hog. In order to slowly get ready for changes in elevation and given the limited steep hill climbs in Ohio, I will sometimes hog this mountain bike trail at Quail Hollow State Park in Hartville, OH. As you can see there is the sign “Mountain Bike Trail – Hikers Use Caution.” They’re not saying don’t hike it. They’re not saying don’t jog it. They’re simply saying caution. Why? Because there is a chance that a mountain biker might come flying around a corner and knock you on your ass. As a hiker/jogger (hogger), I am well aware of this. Though if I want the challenge, if I want a steeper climb, if I want that privilege of sharing a difficult trail rated more appropriately for bikes than for humans, I have to turn towards the inherit risk involved in this. I might have to move over. I might have to yield. I might have to wait a second for a bike to pass. Being mindful of, avoiding, or acknowledging risk is a part of hogging on a mountain bike trail. It is also a part of living our lives. The steeper and more difficult our climbs, the greater the risk. Certainly we can choose to jump on the treadmill of life, that is totally fine. Much less risk involved there and no doubt there are times I like the easy way out. However, if we choose to go on the steeper path, we have to do so knowing that there will be risks, falls, climbs, and obstacles. If we know this is the case, then we really can’t argue it. You sign up for the climb, you sign up for the risks. Though we might not have grounds for complaining, asking for customer service, or being overly surprised when the risks occur, we can certainly be mindful, as well as appreciative of them, and proceed with caution despite them. They say, life is what you make it and sometimes it is a cautionary trail.
When I decided to move down to part-time at Ohio State to start Mindurance, my online private practice, the goal was to work-less, play a little more, and achieve an overall greater level of autonomy while working towards a location-independent lifestyle. The irony, as is often the case in entrepreneurship, is that you end up doing more to work less. Blogs, paperwork, billing, marketing, website design, software exploration, emails, and other job-related tasks can end up filling my mind as much as my day. As such, I found myself waking up some mornings, anxiously anticipating the tasks that I felt compelled to complete for that day. Sometimes I would get these tasks done, sometimes I wouldn’t. I would oscillate between philosophies of crushing the day to complete these tasks or reminding myself that the point of my decision to work less was to lessen work. Most often I would have the “get that shit done” mindset only to find myself a bit disappointed at the end of the day when I didn’t get the respective tasks completed. It wasn’t until recently that I began to apply what many time management guru’s suggest, which is embracing the “less is more” philosophy when it comes to task completion. Re-branding, exploring software, writing content, and reading a book can’t necessary all happen in one day. Instead, pick a pursuit for the day and go with it. For instance, write my blog and explore software. Or spend the day marketing. Though I’ve discovered that on some days my pursuit might simply be to relax, to connect with friends/family, and to not “work” at all. We’ve all heard the phrase, “work like a dog.” Some days I will choose to relax like one instead. This is my family’s 10-year old Golden Retriever, Wilson. Wilson doesn’t have a ton of tasks that he has to complete each day. He eats, he shits, he watches the neighborhood, he goes for some walks, and he relaxes. He rests. He may have some bursts of excitement. A new guest. An unfamiliar sound. Though for the most part, Wilson is a “less is more” type of guy. He gets done what he needs to get done. No more. More less. He is in the moment and when it is time to rests…he rests. No guilt. No anxiety. No disappointment. Just rest. We might have the tendency to work like a dog or feel like society is expecting us too, maybe, just maybe, we could all benefit from taking some time to relax like one too.
Yesterday I sat on my parents front porch, taking in the beautiful day, with a tasty Octoberfest beer from Great Lakes. All those variables combined created a scene. This scene cultivated, within me, a feeling of contentment, appreciation, and patience. No where else to be, except right there, right then. Admittedly, I achieved this feeling a bit accidentally. It isn’t until I looked around, took it in, and absorbed it’s elements, that I realized, “Hmm, I had a part in creating this and I can create it again if I want.” We all have this capacity. To create scenes that cultivate that which we need, want, or deserve. What promotes good vibes? What makes you feel relaxed? Happy? Content? Energetic? At ease? Physically active? Different people will have different responses for each of these and that is OK. The important part is being diligent and deliberate about cultivating these environments that promote whatever feels you’re wanting to feel. Need some reflection? Hit up a state park. Need to be productive? Take your laptop bag to the coffee shop. Hoping to socialize? Watch the game at a bar. So on and for forth. We don’t have control over everything, but we do have some control over the environments that we create and/or put ourselves into. And it’s those environments that can set in motion that thoughts, feelings, or behaviors required for us to live the lives we want to live. Don’t wait around, set the scene.
Last night I went back to Uniontown, OH to watch my alma mater Lake High School play football and more specifically watch my younger brother rock the snare drum in the marching band. The game was a bit of a bust with Lake losing 42-7. However, you wouldn’t have known it by watching the band or the student section. In the 3rd quarter there is tradition that the drumming crew performs in front of the student section. At this time select students, cheerleaders, and dance team members start to run around the drummers with energetic, adolescent enthusiasm. I loved watching this. Despite having witnessed a loss in front of them, they were still able to cultivate positive energy and enjoy the rest of the evening. What a great lesson to all of us. Losses will happen. In fact, over the course of our lives we will experience many losses. Perhaps a loss of game, a loss of relationship, a loss of job, a loss of possession, a loss of ability, a loss of perspective, or loss of life. No doubt grieving will be a part of this, but so can celebration. So can energy. So can enthusiasm. An opportunity to come together, reflect, support, smile, run around, and find the beat. Just because we experience a loss doesn’t mean we have to lose it all.
For the past week or so, the gym I attend, Lifetime Fitness, has been re-doing their gym floors. I’ve never actually witnessed this process. I just assumed, perhaps ignorantly, that gym floors come in large sections. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I spent the majority of the time on my spinning bike watching in wonder as these floor layers worked their magic, one row at a time. Three full court gym floors and some racquet ball courts. A pretty major project if you ask me. Rather than getting overwhelmed by it’s magnitude or overly consumed by feeling like they had to complete it in a night, they instead just progressed diligently each day. To aid, workers stacked sections of flooring to make installment a bit more streamlined. The gentlemen charged with the task of stamping in the flooring was always present-minded. He couldn’t work on the next row of flooring before he finished this row. The success of the present row was contingent upon the success of the previous row. As such, a level, connected gym floor was created by having a plan of attack, chunking the workload, and staying in the moment. Do you have a major project in front of you? Remember, success happens row by row.
This is a picture of the inside of my van ceiling. Take note that magnetized to the ceiling is insulation. In fact, conforming to the entire side, back, and top of the van are these methodically measured and cut, and strategically placed magnetic pieces of insulation. This insulation was created by @WayfarerVans to fit perfectly on a RAM Promaster City van (my make and model) and was one of the reasons that I decided to purchase Wayfarers full camper conversion kit. Had I attempted to insulate the van, I would have messed up measurements, lost valuable space, and spent way too many hours in the process. Instead, I have a sleek, effective, removable insulation. Why is this important?
As we know, insulation is critical in keeping hot cool and cool hot. When the heat of summer (or fall) shows its fire, the insulation makes sleeping manageable. When old man winter arrives for the year, insulation keeps out the cold and holds in the heat. Without a thermostat to set the ideal van temperature, this insulation will be essential in helping me to maintain temperature and not sweat or freeze my ass off. Essential indeed.
Do we need insulation? Psychological insulation? To keep out harsh elements while holding in that which maintains our ideal human temperature? Perhaps our values, social support, intellect, religious/spiritual philosophies, professions, etc serve as insulation. Do they keep us from getting too hot or too cold? Do they help us maintain the person that we want to be? Do they give us an option to experience extreme elements if we want, then return to a more comfortable or familiar spot? What, who, or where is your insulation? Is there enough? Is it working? Are you fluctuating too often? Need a bit more stability? Inspect your insulation.
Last night I saw School of Rock touring broadway show in Columbus, OH. The story is a feel good one where deadbeat, ex-rocker Dewey Finn becomes a substitute teacher for quick cash to enter a Battle of the Bands. Uninterested in the lessons of math or social studies, Dewey becomes enamored by his students and their talents once he discovers their ability to sing, dance, manage, or play music. From there, school days are spent rehearsing for the upcoming battle of the bands, instead of mastering the curriculum set forth by the prestigious and private school. The musical really resonated with me because it had presented some reoccurring themes that I believe tie in nicely to both my personal and professional lives.
- Follow your passions. Dewey was relentless in his pursuit of rock stardom. Though he wasn’t the most talented, had any fans, and got kicked out of his previous band, he still followed his love for music. What are your passions?
- Let yourself out. There are a few characters that we come to find has a rocker side that has been “forced” to remain dormant because of a relationship or professional role. Once they are able to get back in touch with their inner rocker, they flourished. Can you let the real you out?
- Stick it to the man. One of Dewey’s first lessons was to encourage his class to stick it to the man. Parents, teachers, society, were all representations of “the man.” Though he didn’t encourage anti-social behavior, he did encourage following the path that felt right for the students, even if it toed the line a little bit. Rock N Roll is on that line. Can you benefit from being a little edgy?
- Listen. A touching story line was the students’ desire to be heard, understood, and accepted by their parents or others. The students were just waiting for the opportunity to let themselves out, Dewey allowed that because he listened to them and gave them a chance to “be in the band.” Who might you need to be listening to? And listening for?
Last night, not only did I attend School of Rock, I was enrolled. It’s lessons served as a reminder to follow what I love, be me, embrace an authentic edge, and listen for (and serve) the needs of others. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night. Class was in session.
In addition to providing effective, online counseling/coaching services, the other quest behind Mindurance is to do my part in reducing the stigma associated with seeking psychological help. Often times when people hear the term “psychology” they think crazy, “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” type of stuff. Though certainly severe pathology is a part of what some people do, the majority of psychologists and counselors are devoted to the life’s work of serving the “worried well.” What do I mean by the “worried well?” I mean people like you and I. Us people who are grinding through life. Realizing that stress, pain, sadness, doubt, fear, and anxiety are inevitable byproducts of living. Us people who might also want to get on a path to cultivate a fuller and more enriching life. Realizing that peak performance is possible in all of our life’s endeavors. Us people who just want to chat out a decision with someone. Realizing that an unbiased perspective coupled with the right questions can lead to tremendous insight and clarity. None of these goals indicate crazy. None of these goals indicate weak. None of these goals indicate stupid. All of these goals indicate the complexity and beauty of human life and the ability to utilize resources who can help facilitate growth in them. In Mindurance, this isn’t your grandparents psychotherapy. This isn’t laying on a couch. Talking about mom. Sobbing your eyes out. Though processing the feels is sometimes part of the gig, it’s not necessarily a requirement. Instead, it’s a conservation that occurs that helps assess the situation, gain awareness into it’s development, and then identity tools and strategies to better act. In my practice this process occurs online, from wherever you need to be. Whether bedroom or board room. Behind stage or front porch. Living room or locker room. Today’s online counseling helps you figure shit out and literally meets you wherever you are. No traffic. No waiting rooms. Just you and me…talking it out, with the goal of you better living the life that you want to live. What does counseling mean to you? Is it time to rethink it?
Last Friday I went with my great friends to see Needtobreathe at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. I’ve had the fortune of seeing NTB quite a few times and they never disappoint, so when they booked a date in the ‘Bus, it was going down! Towards the end of the set lead singer Bear Reinhardt emerged in the back of the venue with a sequin-type jacket that emanated reflected light out into the venue. Naturally, everyone’s attention turned to Bear as he captivated with both voice and image. In this moment, he, much like the band did all night, showed up, stood out, and shined. How do we shine? How do we allow our genuine, best, most authentic self to emerge?
Knowing yourself helps. The band has their sound, their music, their style. They’ve connected with who they are as a band and we can too. Who am I when I am my fullest self?
Showing your passion helps. Bear and all of NTB plays every song like it’s the first time. Let your passions show. Let them out, don’t hide them. What makes your brain dance and heart pump?
Having the right audience helps. Bear and the boys can be themselves because they know they already have the audience that likes what they do. Who is your audience? Can you be your best self at work? With your friends and family?
As you start this week can you put on your sequin-jacket? Emerge in the back? Ready to show up, be seen, and shine? It’s time to shine.
I went through a Wendy’s yesterday to get some chicken nuggets and I noticed this sticker on the drive-through window. “Ketchup and Salt upon request.” What’s interesting to me about this note is that ketchup and salt are basic condiments. Every restaurant has ketchup and salt, and typically they are already out on the table and available for use. Yet, for whatever reason, Wendy’s has decided to “make” you ask for these basic condiment needs when on-the-go. Now, we have the choice to get all upset… “But wait a minute!” You might say, “ You should just give me my ketchup and salt without having to ask!” Well, Wendy isn’t rolling that way. Instead, they are putting the ownership on the customer to ask for that what they want, even if it seems like the most basic request. Naturally, this got me thinking about life. Don’t we too get upset when we have to ask for seemingly basic things? To have our basic needs met. Simple chores. Achieve a deadline. Communicate effectively. Give us attention. Why should we have to ask? These things should just always be placed in our life bags and away we go. I suppose life doesn’t always work that way and in fact sometimes we have to ask for the most simplest and basic of necessities. Though we must not lose hope. As is the case in the ketchup and salt scenario, Wendy’s will happily give you these basic condiments should you ask. So, in the end, it is possible that you will get that which you desire…if you request it. Though we often don’t do a great job at requesting. We just assume the ketchup and salt won’t be available and we build resentment or frustration or helplessness. But instead, as long as we ask for or request it, who knows, we just might get it! Whether it’s condiments, a raise, a vacation, a tough conservation, closure, advice, a manager’s special, etc., these too might be available by request! You just have to ask. Don’t assume a “No” or a “we’re all out.” Oftentimes the things we want out of life, whether basic or big, are available…just request.