Dress Rehearsal to 50 with only six months more to practice before my debut!

Don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t speak it…it is what you know…just be.

Time to stop the guesswork

Run don’t run, eat don’t eat, work don’t work, sit don’t sit…it’s insanity! Everything we are supposed to do, we aren’t. Everyone we are supposed to be, we shouldn’t. Where is the line and who decides when you cross over? What I know is that when I run I am a better version of me. What I know is when I don’t obsess over what I eat, I eat less and better. What I know is when I put boundaries around work, I have more expertise. What I know is that I can’t sit…I just don’t know how.

Six months before my 50th birthday and I am finally realizing that the first 49.5 years were the dress rehearsal for what will be the best days of my life. I have spent 49.5 years learning how other people do “it” and then trying “it” on for size. Well I finally know what works for me and now I need to do “it” and move on to the greatest performance of my life, my 50’s.

I know what styles fit my body best and it is not likely that after 50 years this will change. I know what foods work in my system best, as no one has a system like mine. I know how to do my job best for the company that is the perfect fit for me. I know what I know and for those things there should be no more decisions. Let knowing be the decision allowing more time for those mysteries that remain.

Figuring out the last act

What I believe lies in front of me, in the next six months is to figure out the rest. Those things that I have not found the fit. The monkey brain that cannot slow down, cannot stop thinking, cannot relent that is what is left to figure out. Even for that I know the course to take yet continue to stumble as it takes over. The noise, the never ending cacophony of what I should be doing all the time is the next frontier. Do I meditate, do I use oils, do I listen to spa music all day, do I watch tv, read, walk, sleep…RIGHT down the RABBIT HOLE I go!!!

I know what I know. We all do. It is just a matter of putting it all in its place. I control the mind, it does not control me. I control the reaction regardless of what plays out in front of me. Just like the brands I choose to buy, the people I surround myself with, the life I have created…I ultimately have control of this monkey mind and that is the mantra, the final act I will rehearse for the sake of sanity.

Putting it in place is the easy part. Playing it out is where the rubber meets the road. Easy to do when the day is yours to decide. Hard-as-heck when the pressures of life have their way with you.

Life as I live it – L.

Where have you been? Drowning in overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed without a plan to decide everything! Here is how I am overcoming “overwhelmed”.

Wow, I pulled up this my treasured blog and realizing that it has been two months since I wrote anything and then realized that the final blog post was on my mom’s anniversary of her passing, more than two months ago. Isn’t that profound. Yet again another ending. But it is not. Here I am back writing. Back to making the time to explore the creative outlet that I embrace as a passion, secretly and yet through my medium publicly here for the world to read or disregard.

As I start writing today I asked myself “Where have you been?” Busy? Distracted? Overwhelmed? Yes, that last word…overwhelmed! I have used this word more times in the last week than I have ever. I have literally buried myself in To Do’s, deadlines, pressures, and commitments that have all but taken over my life. And before the assumption can be made I am reminded that it is not all from my work/career. There are as many personal To Do’s, deadlines, and pressures in my “personal life” than in my “work-life”. What I am realizing in hindsight is that those routines, those things that I was doing to keep it all in check got abandoned in the last two months because I was “too busy” not realizing that the sheer abandonment of those things would be my undoing. Overwhelmed is a state of being when my life has taken me, prisoner, because I have relinquished control. I allow all of the outside pressures to creep in so far that they determine my sleep schedule, take away my time to write or read, and ultimately take over. I fool myself into believing that I don’t have time…when in reality I have the same time I had two months ago, I am just spending it differently.

Realization is key here because it was the moment that I was realizing that I gave up this control that everything became overwhelming. And it was in that realization that I got up and decided to take control back. How? Through deciding. Deciding what I will do when I will do it and with who and how. Boom. I have preached so many times in my life to others the power to decide and that ultimately YOU DECIDE always what is yours. Regardless of how it manifests or plays out in front of you; that you are “there” is your decision. These are lessons I have always known and yet forget to deploy when the going gets tough.

Time Blocking — Schedule in the non-negotiables to see what time is left in your day

The first place to take it back was in first divvying up my time. Time is the factor, time is where I am losing the fight. I took the time to sit down and look at a blank calendar, of one 7-day week. I then started dividing it up into those non-negotiables and crossed out the time allotted for work and the time allotted for sleep. Okay, now what is left. WHOA!!! The big realization here is why I feel overwhelmed! On any given weekday I only have four hours that are unidentified; two before work and two after work. Those four hours are the same four I need to get ready to start and end my day. That became the first real perspective in the exercise I was taking on. It is no wonder I am overwhelmed because what I am trying to accomplish in four hours cannot be done in eight! It is unrealistic. So I continued to fill-in my calendar with time to read, write, get ready, make dinner, workout, etc. Perspective was key here as I could feel a weight lifting in realizing that I was not overwhelmed I was overcommitted. I then moved into the weekend where time is more forgiving and made sure to play out those things that are key to my quality of life (aka sanity) so that the lack of routine on a weekend did not derail me. Voila, here I am back reading, writing, and enjoying a peaceful morning…two months later.

Routines — Create Auto-Pilot Decisions to allow room for the “real” decisions to be made

The second place I had to go to shake the “overwhelm” off was in my decisions. Ironically after working to “right-side” this world of mine, I read an article on Medium that summed it all up, “These Micro-Habits Gave me 1 Hour per Day Back” by Tim Denning. It was a reiteration of everything I had done that day and this next piece which was “auto-deciding”. Tim calls it “Create Auto-Pilot Decisions” in the article. There have to be things that you can put on auto-pilot in your life so everything does not require a decision because decisions take effort and energy. For me, I have put my schedule on auto-pilot after writing it out and it now directs me on where I need to be and when without me having to give the energy of thought or decision. I also put my meal plan on auto-pilot, because like most humans, I eat the same thing daily. Not having to come up with a new meal plan every day or at the moment leaves one less decision. I recall hearing that Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell, and Mark Zuckerberg also put on auto-pilot their wardrobes. They found a look that works for them and that is what they wore every single day. Not having to make that decision every morning left energy to be used in a place that could be more productive and likely in their cases more defining.

Be flexible and realistic — Nothing ever goes as planned

Now that the structure has been laid out it is time to simply follow it, or is it really that simple. I love the quote “We plan and God laughs” because nothing is more true. A plan is a great way to architect your life however as our days unfold and priorities shift so must our “plan”. Don’t allow your plan to be yet another stressor and don’t abandon the plan because of unforeseen stressors. Simply following the plan when things are “on track” will give you the “room” or energy needed when things go off-plan. Being flexible and realistic is what makes it work not to be able to stay on the plan stringently. This week I stayed close to the plan but not tied to it. The fact that I had a plan gave me the structure and forgiveness in those things that took me off course to remember that they are one-offs and not the norm. Sometimes just realizing that one-offs are just that…one-off…is all the resolve we need as we are more forgiving of the distraction.

Last and most important now is just doing it. You can set the greatest plan in motion however if you never execute it is simply a plan. Plans don’t define us, they don’t amount to anything more than an intention or a great idea. When you put a plan in motion, well now you are moving in a direction. Right, wrong, or indifferent is irrelevant! The fact that you are “in motion” is enough.

Life as I live it — L.

Seeking Normal – Day 26

Day 26 prompt:

How do you change your normal? Experiences? Role Models? Do you want to change it? Do you need to?

How can you know these will change your normal for the better?

Was there a time you sought or made a change that you realized was NOT for the better?

My answer:

I change my normal by researching or observing a normal that I admire and want to replicate. I search out those experiences that I can immerse myself in to go as deep as I choose to dive-in. I attempt to replicate those role models that I identify in my life as inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration is something I choose to hold high and admire rather than replicate and knowing the difference is only mine to decide.

Asking if I want to change and if I need to is about exploring if it makes a change for the better that is worth the effort. I have struggled with this most with my diet and exercise programs where I am always likely to go too deep. When I am longing for results and discipline I set rules and expectations of myself that are stringent however when I have to live by those rules I realize that that this is not the normal that I envisioned.

I think we have proven through this pandemic that enforcing a new normal is a much greater effort mentally than physically. We have been forced to change our ways physically; do not touch, stay away from each other, stay home, don’t go to work…all physical limitations however the effect of the physical has been a mental toll that is challenging.

While we will not change for the future those things that did not offer value we will be challenged to embrace those that did. I am reminded of the times during the hurricanes when without electricity our family came together to play games and read together. While we appreciated the togetherness when the lights came back on, we went back to our individual corners of life.

What will you change? Why will you change it? More importantly what part of “normal” that was will you be happy to return to in the future??

Life as I know it – L.

I don’t want to…

This is the latest statement that I hear myself saying more often than not. Let’s explore my laundry list of all of the things “I don’t want to…” lately:

  • Get up at 5:00 am; this is the golden hour as no one else is up so it is the perfect time to exercise, write, catch-up on shows or reading.
  • Exercise; yep I don’t want to run, bike, Orangetheory or anything at all.
  • Eat the same foods again and again; I just told my friend yesterday that I cannot eat another “fill in the blank”. I am over my diet!
  • Write; yes, this is the latest as this is a passion of mine but sometimes it feels “hard” and that creates resistance so yes even writing has an “I don’t want to…” somewhere along the way.
  • Do anything; many a weekend I find myself just wanting to do nothing despite a laundry list of items that are “To do” I find myself “Not To Do-ing” for the sake of being still.
  • Be where I am at that moment; yes this may be a tougher one to explain but I find myself at times not wanting to be where I am at that moment. It’s an awkward feeling especially when I am somewhere that I chose to be initially. Might be a bit of “fight or flight” spurred by anxiety but most of the time it is a daunting feeling.

You get the idea, the love of being an adult and being responsible for myself is that I decide what I want to do and what I do not want to do! The discipline is forcing the things you should do despite want and that is where at times I would like to throw myself on the floor like a 2 yr old and have a full-scale tantrum. Ha!

I do agree with the statement that you have to “meet yourself where you are” however that is not a permanent solution to the “I don’t want to…” argument. Meeting yourself where you are is more of a strategy for the moment and not for the long-term. If you don’t want to run today, then don’t, but if you don’t want to run ever again you have to consider the implications of that decision. If I don’t run it affects my weight, my mental health and my social circles. Am I willing to give-up these benefits of running because “I don’t want to…” or do I instead push on?

At some point you have to push beyond the “I don’t want to…” because that is what discipline is all about and where habits are formed. No one wants to do anything all the time. Of course some things are more pleasant than others and don’t require as much effort to get to a point of “wanting to” but in the example of running, it is hard and so you are not going to “want to” all the time but having the discipline to stay the course it what makes a great runner. The benefits of being a great runner have exponential benefits to physical and mental health and that is what makes it worth pushing beyond your want. The same can be said about a healthy diet. No one starts out wanting to eat healthy. Let’s face it macaroni and cheese is always going to taste better than broccoli however the long-term decision to stay the course of a healthy diet will extend your life and for that reason the decision to push on is easily made.

One of the greatest ways to get beyond your “I don’t want to…” moments are to find an “Accountability Partner”. Find someone else that is not wanting to do the same thing and partner! My son said to me yesterday, “I have been setting my alarm clock for 4:45 am to get up and workout before school, but once the alarm goes off I don’t want to get up.” I can totally understand because I also do not want to get up at 4:45 am BUT if we partner we can make it more tolerable. What if we both get up at 4:45 am and do it together? It will make it easier to get up as we won’t want to let each other down and we both benefit from the long-term effects of getting that workout in before school! Accountability! Voila!

I am not sure what is easier being an adult that can decide what you want or do not want to do or being a child and being told what to do. Ultimately I will choose “adulting” every time but the point being that having the ability to decide can be a sticky wicket. If you do not possess the discipline to push yourself beyond your immediate “wants” you may find yourself “paying the price” for that decision. When I think back in my life to all of those moments I pushed past the “I don’t want to…” moments I have ZERO regrets. I cannot think of a time that I would look back and say, “Man, I wish I had not pushed myself to do ________” because the reality is that that resistance that shows itself in those moments are typically the hard work that needs to be done to create our best life.

I leave you with a challenge; do ONE thing today that you do not want to do and then considering how it makes you feel when complete. Were you better off for having pushed through or….well let’s stay optimistic in our approach as I think we both know the discipline to do will always beat the lack of discipline to don’t.

Doing as I do – L.

How bad do you want it?

I just had the pleasure of finishing David Goggins book, Can’t Hurt Me. This mans journey is one I won’t ever forget and will likely follow from this day forward. David’s journey while unconventional will make you question your own intentions and the efforts behind them. There were so many quotable quotes throughout this book that personally appealed to me but the two I am going to offer you are really the most important to me.

You have to go to war with yourself before you can find peace” – David Goggins

That quote says it all! I have often told my kids that “nothing worth having comes easy” but Goggins’ quote so perfectly states it in the raw. What is it that you want? A career, a fit body, a fat bank account, spirituality, athleticism…??? What DO you want? Once you figure that out now ask yourself how far you are willing to go to get to that “want”. To get to the FINISH LINE we have to set the intention, lay out the plan and EXECUTE. We have to do what we say we are going to do. This my friends, makes all the difference. Easy enough, right?

Then why don’t we do it??? Once we know what to do it is just a matter of doing it, right? But no, it isn’t because we don’t. The easiest example of this is diet and exercise. We know what we have to do to be healthy; eat right and move our bodies. Simple. Yet the diet industry is making BILLIONS on us as we continue to reach for that magic bullet, pill, patch, shake…you name it we will try it until it causes discomfort. Ahhh…what do we have here? We are game until we are uncomfortable, feeling deprived and battling that war within, that wants that pint of ice cream more than we want that healthy body in that moment. I know this first-hand as I have had many starts and stops in my life and many of the stops have purely been because in that moment of weakness I forgot the intention, the reason…that moment of self-indulgence proved more valuable than the intention to begin with thwarting my efforts and sending me into the failure funnel yet again.

if you want the reward you have to be willing to do the work, sacrifice and be uncomfortable. This applies to everything and everyone that has ever set an intention, made a plan and executed. What I know about going to war to get what you want is that sometimes it downright sucks! Long nights studying for that test, early mornings to get a walk or run in, feeling hungry after eating your measured portion…it all can suck, but if it wasn’t for the process there would be no reward. We learn the most from these journey’s and we become our own hero in the process and ultimately in the end the one you are looking up to is yourself because YOU did the work!

This next quote was too powerful to let go and boy do I know a thing about this both good and bad. When we are preparing to go to war or find ourselves at peace it is how we treat ourselves that can make all the difference. So often we are affected more by what other people say about us rather than what we say about ourselves. I was most famous for this when I was overweight. I have always been quite the comedian or so I thought, and so I was quick to make fun of myself. Some would call this self-degrading however I didn’t see it that way. I chose to believe that I was just making fun of myself because I was comfortable with myself however what I would come to learn was that it was a defensive mechanism. I was actually saying what I thought other people were thinking before they could say it. In the meantime, I was tearing away my self-esteem little by little. Here is my advice:

  • Be careful what you say because you might just believe it.
  • Don’t say “I can’t…” but instead turn it around and note what you can do.
  • Don’t tell on yourself, maybe no one is actually thinking those things you are trying to deflect.
  • Don’t let your mind “think” you into failure. Thoughts are going to come but it is our responsibility to ourselves to decide if we react to those thoughts or move them on.
  • Turn those thoughts around…I told you recently about what I do when I am running and my mind wants me to stop. I take an inventory from the soles of my feat to the tip of my head to see if everything is feeling okay and then decide if I will stop or keep running. Most of the time I keep running and the thought passes and with it the sensation that it was directing.

I used to believe in the theory that “you can do anything you put your mind to” but have learned otherwise throughout my life. What you can do is create intentions, make a plan and execute that plan. If you fail, stop and evaluate the lessons learned and then adjust the intention, make a new plan and execute. I am not afraid to fail but I do believe in failing fast. I don’t wait for the writing to be on the wall before changing the plan; not in my personal or professional life.

Last but not least, David Goggins wrote an entire chapter on being “uncommon among uncommon”. I relate to this as I have had one of the most unconventional journey’s of those that are crossing the same FINISH LINES as myself. There was a time that I was embarrassed by those uncommon approaches taken however I realize more every single day that I am at peace because I went through so many wars and in those wars got battle scars that truly make me who I am today. What I tell myself today is that I am strong, I am successful and I am always going to win because I am not afraid to fail. I leave you with another favorite quote of mine…

It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you FINISH