Dec 01 – Question of the Day

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This is such a great first question to start my month of QODs. My 45th birthday is next month, and there was a time in the not so distant past where I would say that I was already feeling like a guy in my 60’s. I spent my days sitting around, content to let life pass me by.

These days, though, my life is completely different. If I didn’t know my calendar age, I would say I was a nutty kid in my 20’s having a blast. In the last year alone, I’ve run adventure and obstacle races, traveled with friends to fitness events, and turned my weekends into excuses to be active and participating in life.

If there is such a thing as a fountain of youth, I’ve found it. And now that I have it, I’m never looking back. Whether I’m 45 or 65, I’m approaching each day like a kid. I’m asking, “what fun is waiting for me today?”

So, what about you? How old would YOU be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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If This Shocks You…

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Struggling? As If.

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Earlier this week, I wrote a blog about the problems I’ve been having keeping focused and on track during my last few weeks of marathon training. I described it as struggling, even.

What a schmuck. Struggling? Really? My problem is that I have too much to eat and I can choose to sit around instead of working out. Only in a world of privilege would too much food and too much free time be a problem, right?

Want to know what a real problem looks like? A real struggle? Here’s one. Stacie Crimm was pregnant and found out she had cancer. She had to decide between her own life and that of her child. And she made the ultimate sacrifice to give that child life.

Stacie Crimm, Mom With Cancer, Refuses Chemotherapy And Dies To Save Unborn Daughter

It’s stories like this that remind me that I live an extraordinary life filled with more good things than I can count. And in the moments when I am down, I need to keep perspective. In the big scheme of things, I have nothing to complain about.

On Worrying

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Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you’ve survived,
But what torments of grief you’ve endured,
From evils which never arrived.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I absolutely love this. It’s a great reminder to me that I need only deal with what is right in front of me. Worrying about things that may never happen does nothing to make my life better and, in fact, only increases my stress and anxiety levels.

Focus on the here and now. Concentrate on those things that I can impact and affect. And then get on with the business of living.

 

First World Problems

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A little perspective goes a long way.

This morning, I had another one of my “wow” moments. Those are the times when a thought just pops into my head and stops me in my tracks.

It started like every other morning. I was brushing my teeth, thinking about the day ahead, and I noticed my running shoes on the floor. Out of nowhere, I thought, “those shoes cost more than some people make in a month.” And the more I stared at them, the more I realized, I am a man with First World Problems.

I worry about having too much to eat. I worry about staying up too late playing with tech toys or watching TV. I worry about finding the motivation to get up early for the gym. I worry about my training program, wondering if it will be enough to get me to a sub-two hour half marathon. And I worry that I won’t be in great shape when I go to my reunion in June.

In other words, I’m worrying over little things that pale in comparison to the struggles others are facing.

I’m not saying my life is perfect, but I need to remember that I am perfectly capable of dealing with anything going on in my life right now. I’m not struggling to find food or water. I’m not desperate to find shelter. I’m not alone and abandoned. I’m not facing a life-threatening illness. And my family and friends are equally blessed.

Perspective. This morning, I caught a little glimpse of it. And that’s a good thing, indeed.

10 Truths I Wish I’d Known Sooner

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You know those things you wish you wrote? Well, here’s another one for me to add to my list. These are fantastic lessons that, yes, I wish I had learned earlier in my own life. You can find the original article by Amy Bloom here at Real Simple.

1. Events reveal people’s characters; they don’t determine them. Not everyone with divorced parents has terrible relationships. If two people are hit by a bus and crippled for life, one will become a bitter shut-in; the other, the kind of warm, outgoing person (cheerful despite everything) whom everyone loves to be with. It’s not about the bus, and a dreadful childhood is no excuse. You have the chance to be the person you wish to be, until you die.

2. Lying, by omission or commission, is a bad idea. I cannot shake my dependency on the white lie, because I was brought up to be nice. And I’ve never figured out the nice way to say, “I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than come to your house for dinner.” But the meaningful lie, the kind that involves being untruthful or deceitful about important stuff to those you love, is like poison. Telling the truth hurts, but it doesn’t kill. Lying kills love.

3. Sex always give you an answer, although not necessarily the one you want. It’s possible to have very good sex, a few times, with a person who shouldn’t be in your life at all. Have fun, and hide your wallet and your BlackBerry. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that a grown man, however nice, will become much, much better in bed than he was the first five times you slept with him. And if you sleep with a man who is unkind to you, there will be more of that; long after the sex is humdrum, the cruelty will be vivid.

4. Most talents are transferable. If you can raise toddlers and teenagers with relative calm, you can be a CEO. If you’re a good driver, you can probably steer a cab, fly a plane, captain a boat. My years as a waitress―serving food to demanding people in a high-stress environment without losing my temper―served me equally well as a mother, a wife, and a short-order cook for my family. And if you have the teaching gene, you can teach anything. (I mean it. All you have to do is be one lesson ahead of your students. Sole meunière, Latin and Greek, algebra―you can teach it!)

5. Fashion fades; style is eternal. Not only do you not have to wear torn jeans, a barely-there tank top, and a fedora, but you probably shouldn’t. The point of fashion is to indulge briefly in something fun. The point of style is to have one―whether that’s a sheath and spike heels or slouchy jeans and your husband’s T-shirt―and it should last you a lifetime. All you have to do is think you deserve to look and feel your best and spend some time figuring out how to do it. Don’t know? Find a woman whose style you admire and ask for a little advice.

6. You can’t fake love. Staying in a love relationship when love is not what you feel isn’t likely to end well. If you know that what you crave is security/disposable income/child care and not the person next to you in bed, do the right thing. It’s true that one can learn to love someone over time and often through difficult circumstances. But unless the two of you agree to wait until you’re old and all the storms have passed, in the hope that love will kick in, it’s better to bail sooner rather than later.

7. Mean doesn’t go away. Some people get better looking with age; some don’t. Some people soften; some toughen up. Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.

8. No one’s perfect. I knew that I wasn’t perfect; I just didn’t realize that this also applied to the people I fell in love with. The object of your affection will always turn out to have huge and varied faults. The smart thing is not to look for someone flawless (which is why Elizabeth Taylor married eight times), but to look for someone whose mix of strengths and liabilities appeals to you (which is why she married Richard Burton twice).

9. Ask for help. It’s possible you’ll get turned down. It’s even more likely that you’ll feel vulnerable and exposed. Do it anyway, especially if you are the helpful sort yourself. Those of us who like to offer assistance and hate to take any are depriving other people of the opportunity to be generous and kind; we are also blinding ourselves to the reality of mutual dependence. You wouldn’t wear pink hot pants and pretend they were flattering. Don’t pretend you don’t need help.

10. Keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the plow. It’s easy to lose sight of what you want, especially if you haven’t gotten it. I know it’s less work to put the wish away, to pretend that the wish itself has disappeared. But it’s important to know what your prize is, because that is part of who you are. Whether it’s financial stability, two children, a collection of poetry, or a happy marriage, take Winston Churchill’s advice and never give in. Never give in. Never give in.

Don’t Be Proud of Your Ignorance

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Obama: iPad, Xbox Turn Information Into A ‘Distraction’

HAMPTON, Va. — President Barack Obama, addressing graduates at historically black Hampton University on Sunday, said that it is the responsibility of all Americans to offer every child the type of education that will make them competitive in an economy in which just a high school diploma is no longer enough.

Moreover, Obama said, the era of iPads and Xboxes had turned information into a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter,” he told the students. “And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

(Continues at link)

Obviously, as anyone who has read my recent posts knows, I am a huge fan of the iPad. So yes, I’m a bit biased here. But this sort of celebrated ignorance on the part of the President is disappointing.

His near-boastful admission of ignorance reads to me like the people in the early 90’s who would say, “oh, I don’t even know how to turn a computer on,” and sound somewhat proud of that fact. It’s no crime nor sin to not have complete control of all technology, but to brag about what you do not know seems stupid to me.  And if he really doesn’t know how to use an iPod, why would he give one to the Queen of England?

But to the bigger allegation, that these devices are distractions or, worse still, peddlers of disinformation, I would remind the President that the same has been said of every media format since the beginning of time. Surely the first cave wall drawing depicted one man’s interpretation of an event rather than an unbiased telling of it. Unfortunately, at the time, there were very few choices for alternative media.

The delivery system is not the problem here. And blaming the messenger does nothing to address the real issues. In fact, the President’s clumsy speech should have stressed the need for critical thinking, not been an example of the lack of it. Perhaps the President should have been in my meeting with my IT Manager, who told me that he had read more news in the first week with his iPad than he had in the entire month prior. And maybe the President should utilize the amazing new apps designed exclusively for the iPad that provide more than just text for any news story. They also include links to source material and other related stories, so I can verify data and read it in the context of other relevant data.

I expect better. I certainly expect a President who knows better than to demonize technology.

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