2020 has been a series of wrenching changes. How you handle that sets the tone for who you want to be going forward.
Words to think on
2020 has been a series of wrenching changes. How you handle that sets the tone for who you want to be going forward.
Colonscopy. Boy, that word is a conversation starter – or stopper! Drop mention and you will either be regaled with prep stories – or people will give you funny looks and walk away. Basically, be prepared for poop conversation or avoidance.
Men have a reputation for dodging preventive care, and some studies back that up. The truth is, men AND women don’t do what they should to take care of themselves. Whether it’s diet, exercise, doctor visits, dental care (hello, that’s me!) – we don’t do what we can or should to take care of ourselves.
Sometimes, though, something kicks us in the head and makes us realize we need to step up. For me, that was the news about Cappy Katz. My good friend (and amazing human being) Scott wound up in the urgent care, which became a trip to the hospital for intestinal blockage. A scope revealed the big C.
Scott is battling this thing, and the 1DOS Foundation is behind him 100%. Every time we talk I’m impressed with the way he is handling the process, and not sure that I could be that strong. I don’t mind telling you, I was scared by this. See, colonoscopy checks starting at 50 always gave me an excuse when doc brought it up. Truth is, I didn’t want to do it. Oh sure, the American Cancer Association changed their recommendation to 45, but no, I’ll wait. Only here’s the thing – I turn 49 in April. Scott turned 49 last summer. In a lot of ways, he is me.
So I stopped stalling and my doc wrote a letter to insurance – that’s all it took for full coverage. I made an appointment, and two days after Christmas got it done. Yes, I did all the prep. No, it wasn’t fun. But truthfully, a little discomfort and a long day in exchange for the peace of mind my clean bill of health gave me was more than worth it.
As I waited, there was a young man behind the curtains next to me. He was telling the staff about all his children and his public safety job. His doctor had given him a full checkup after another procedure and handed him the card for the home test. That led to a scope, which discovered a precancerous polyp so large it had to be surgically removed. This was his one year follow up.
Listening to the story, the doc might not have given him the card due to his age. He might not have completed the test and turned it in because, let’s face it, it’s something we avoid discussing or even thinking about. (Anyone else who’s taken the test home and never did it? No? I’m the only one? Yeah, I don’t buy that…) He did follow through, though, and realistically it saved his life.
So here’s the thing – when we KNOW what we should do and we KNOW how to get it done, why do we not just do it? Why have I taken the test home and not done it? It’s the same thing that keeps us from trying new things, from putting ourselves out there – fear. What if we find out something is wrong? Well, what if? Then we treat it sooner.
What if I fail?
What if I can’t do it?
I like to say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Usually I’m being a smartass; the point is real though. When faced with a challenge, you can try or not. What IS the worst outcome?
Go get it done. If someone laughs – screw them, they don’t matter. If you fall, get back up. If you need a boost, take my hand and walk with me.
If you are on the correct side of the grass, you can make excuses or you can fight, scratch, claw, and battle until you get what you want, what you desire. I say it all the time, and I’ll keep saying it. Set a goal, then work your ass off until you get there.
Don’t. Ever. Quit.
All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz – and I’m fine!Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
It seems like life used to be a lot simpler. I vividly remember grabbing my ID, my car keys, and a $20 and walking out the door in college; even after. What more did I need? Now it’s cellphone, wallet, did The Boy grab his hat, what about this and that… Things are much more complex these days – but are they, really?
All those things we “need” – is that really the case? I run (or any other workout) with a hat, because I tend to sweat a lot – but I’ve run with no hat. I wear headphones because I “need” music – but I could actually be hurting my pace by running with music instead of focusing on my stride, foot strike, etc. (Side note: I’m not going to stop running with my playlist.)
We have convinced ourselves of all the things we need – but if we really break it down, the line between wants and needs goes pretty far up the list. We need oxygen, water, basic sustenance, simple clothing and shelter – and you could probably argue the clothing one if you wanted. Note that list doesn’t include coffee, a phone, cigarettes, CBD oil, your Brooks Ghosts size 15E… I could go on, of course. Eventually I’d hit something that makes you say “Hey, that’s different – I really do need that!” If you’re honest with yourself, though…
An old running proverb goes, “You run the first half with your legs, the second half with your mind.” Believe it or not, you can make it eight days beyond the moment when you think, “I can’t take another step.” I like to tell people to take no money and run in one direction as far as they can, so that they have to run back home.Joe DeSena, Spartan Up!
Mind over matter: you can do so much more than you think. In general, actual physical limits are so far beyond where your mind will let you go that you’ll never approach them. That’s not to say you should get up off the couch and immediately go run 100 miles; that would be dangerous and stupid. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t limit yourself and your life. We talk about big hairy goals; I say the bigger the better. If your dream is to move to Tahiti, for example, why not go for it?
In that sense, I might add one need to the short list: purpose. Without an overarching purpose, a goal, something that drives you forward, you can live, but I’m not sure you can be truly alive. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined being where I am now. Two years ago, I was just starting to find my way, my purpose. Five years from now there will have been continued evolution, I’m sure – but that purpose will be guiding me forward.
I’m leading a Couch to 5k (C25K) accountability group; one of the members was talking about intervals and stretching out runs. Nearing the end of her run interval, her lungs were burning, legs tired. She said:
I’m just trying to keep going til the timer goes off.Tai Smith
I realized that’s a great metaphor for all of us. Whether it’s a single crazy day in our hectic existence, or our actual life cycle – it’s one step at a time. We keep moving until time runs out and we move on to something else. None of us know when that timer will beep, so go as far as you can.
As adults, we love to dump on dreams. From an early age, The Boy would say he’s going to be a professional athlete. We would smile and think, “Sure, kid.” We know the odds, after all. We would never tell him flat out it isn’t going to happen – but, really, why the hell not let him go for it? What’s so bad about having that dream, that purpose? Sure, it’s long odds. History is full of people who’ve beaten long odds.
Do we, as adults, put down dreams because we’ve stopped chasing our own? Living for a purpose means finding that one thing every day that carries us forward, and makes us truly happy. Then we do it again tomorrow, and the day after. Little happys become long-term joy.
I think we do need that dream, that purpose, to keep us living full lives. Where you find that purpose will be unique to you, but don’t ever stop looking for it – and keep going til the timer goes off!
Cover Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash
Everyone, I’d like you to meet my spirit animal – Carl the Cat.
First off, if you don’t like cats, we may not be able to be friends. Cats carry that independent “screw you” spirit while simultaneously knowing that they need help sometimes (damn this lack of opposable thumbs!).
I understand that attitude and appreciate it. This is my journey; I am the only one who is going to get it accomplished, so I have to make it happen. Some days, though, I need accountability buddies and someone to lean on. I need someone to talk to, yowl, and paw at (apologies to my beautiful, sainted wife).
So, yeah, I get cats and where they are coming from. Carl, in particular, is my kind of guy; this picture always makes me smile. The pose, the way he’s looking in the mirror with his chin up a little – he totally looks like he’s giving himself a pep talk. It’s pretty perfect, really. (Purr-fect? Sorry…)
We all need that some days; to look ourselves in the eye and say, hey, you can do this shit. You’re not going to quit. You’re not going to let the tired or the stress or the whatever beat you – not today.
Inspiration comes from different places. Recently we had a new shark post a video, saying she wasn’t sure if this was OK to put in our FB group. Miles, who has cerebral palsy, dead lifts 200 pounds in the video. It’s an inspiring story of someone persevering against seemingly impossible odds.
That, of course, is EXACTLY the kind of thing we are looking for. Some days are harder than others; some days that mountain seems too big. We all have those days. When you are stuck, when you can’t go another step, remember Miles overcoming his obstacles. For me, that makes my struggles seem small and lets me refocus.
Carl has been chasing that red dot forever with no luck – but he doesn’t give up. Yes, it’s instinct – but that’s not a bad thing. When you are changing and rearranging your life, there is no single finish line. There are benchmarks and goals along the way, but you’re never “done”.
The finish line, the red dot, keeps moving on you. Sometimes it gets pushed farther down because you’ve changed your goals as you gained strength. Occasionally it moves laterally (or all around in circles) as life throws twists and turns your way. When that happens, you can take a pause, take a breath, regroup – but DO NOT GIVE UP.
Take some time, look yourself in the mirror, and remind yourself that today is the day. You will go out there, and you will catch that red dot – or at least the next goal along your path to the red dot. Then you get up tomorrow and go after that damn red dot again. Keep challenging yourself, and you’ll be surprised how far you can chase it!
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
“We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.”
The point of these statements is not to give up after a slow start or stumble. Keep fighting, keep working, and continue to make progress. There is something to that – it is important to finish strong.
When your favorite team wins or loses in the last minute, invariably the focus goes to the last possession, the last at bat. But what happened earlier had just as much effect on the outcome. When sprinters and hurdlers run, they don’t look at distance as much as strides. Usain Bolt, for example, took 41 strides in Berlin, 2009 – and every one was critical to the world record he set. One missed step, one stride off, and he doesn’t set the record. Heck, he might not even have won the race!
I ran a PR this week. As the Alberta Clipper (or Polar Vortex or whatever they are calling it now) swept across the country and wind chills dropped, friends of mine were still out running in the nasty stuff. I, however, was in a 68 degree cave doing a 5k. This was the Groundhog Run, which holds a place in my heart. My first 10k was here in 2017; I missed it last year due to unavoidable circumstances. Not this year; I was there with The Boy and 3 close friends, ready to run.
I didn’t warm up much at all, but felt good out of the gate. The stride was working, I felt comfortable, and all was working well. I ran the last mile neck and neck with a guy around my age, and we both sprinted the last tenth to the line. I crossed first, we congratulated each other, and I waited for the rest of my group. I saw the time when I crossed and knew I had a PR, but wasn’t sure exactly what the final was. After we got everyone gathered I went over and got my results. There was the number: 22:00.01.
Now, running is largely a race against yourself and your previous runs. I didn’t know the guy next to me at the finish line, and I wouldn’t recognize him if he walked up to me today. We pushed each other, but I was racing against my own history. That time was 13 seconds better than my previous best, and if you had told me in 2016 or 2017 that I would run a 22, I would have laughed at you.
So how the hell was I feeling disappointed??
Let’s be real; I was not really disappointed. I’m proud as hell, in fact. I worked hard, set a personal record, and finished 79th out of 2331 – but the number does nag at me a little. I remember running my first sub-30 minute 5k. My first sub-25 was a big deal. We can get obsessed with those big round numbers; this could have easily been a sub-22.
When I realized what my time was, I of course started running through the finish to figure where I could have shaved a click. Now, it’s certainly possible that I might have saved some time there – but why do we review the end so intensely and not think about earlier on? The middle is pretty important too, you know? I stumbled at one point around the 2 mile mark. I could have pushed my pace earlier. There were multiple places where I could have shaved a second or two. That’s true of any race.
Our successes (and failures) don’t come from the last point on the journey. When you climb a wall, it’s because of all the work you did to that point. It’s the pullups and the core work for the last few months that get you over that wall, not just your run up.
The ability to persevere, to keep fighting and working, is critical to your success. At some point you will hit obstacles; that’s how life works. When you review your path and reset goals, you need to look at the whole path – not just the last drive.
If you finished, but aren’t happy with your outcome, take a look at how you got there. Did you do every challenge, complete every task down the line? If the answer is yes, you did what you could and you should stand proud. Set your new goal, keep pushing and working, and you will continue to improve.
However, if you took shortcuts here and there, decided that it was “good enough” or “far enough”, and didn’t put in the work? Listen, you should still be proud that you finished. There is absolutely value in that! Any disappointment you have for not reaching a goal time or outcome, though, isn’t because of the weather or what someone else did or didn’t do. You have to own the good and the bad!
Progress, not perfection, is our goal every day. You can’t always control what happens – but you can control how you respond to it. Your willingness to own your total journey – the beginning, middle, and end – gives you the power to change it, put in ALL the work, and raise your bar.
Featured Image credit: Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash