Please be patient as I make some changes and additions to my blog. So far I have added a few extra pages and will be adding more soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.  - Will Rogers

This year has been full of changes for me, many of which I've outlined in previous posts. I can honestly say there is very little of my life now that resembles my life 12 months ago. My mental outlook, my goals, my dreams, my hobbies, my body, pretty much everything has changed and it's been great. Over the past few months I've spent a lot of time letting all of those changes sink in and pondering their meaning in the grand scheme of my own personal universe. Some of the last bits of plans will be falling into place soon and now it's time to do two things: rest and recover emotionally from all of the chaos of the past few years and also to learn who I am now. A few years ago, I could have easily defined myself in a list of attributes, a brief history, and a few sarcastic quips. Presently, I couldn't define myself if I had all day! It is both marvelous and maddening. I am simultaneously reveling in my newfound freedom to create any person I want to be and losing my poor Type A mind due to a lack of 1 week, 1 year, 5 year, to infinity and beyond plans. You see, I have always been a compulsive planner. My friends have had no end of amusement from this particular character trait. Right now, for the very first time in my life, I truly feel like my options are limitless. I can take what I have and create whatever I'd like from it. It's amazing! (Warning: geek alert.)

Select * from OptionsForMyLife

Unfortunately, the query times out every single time and I'm left with this massive list of possibilities the analysis of which would take the rest of my life and then some.

So now what? How does one avoid the trap of analysis paralysis?

No really. I'm asking. This blog isn't about me having found a solution that works for me and sharing my brilliance with the world. This is about me, pondering plentiful possibilities, and trying to decide what to eat for breakfast.

Anybody? Any magic solution to always make the right choice?

Alrighty then. Thanks for trying.

My plan to help me plan for planning my plans:
#1 - Get out of bed.
#2 - Brush teeth.
#3 - Take risks.
#4a - Succeed boldly, publicly, and loudly.
#4b - Fail boldly, publicly, and loudly.
#5 - Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.

One step at a time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Intersection of Pleasure and Joy

After starting this blog I have found myself in many conversations with friends about food and nutrition. Most of them start out wondering about this whole 'paleo thing' and many of them continue on to the discussion about all the things you can't have or give up or any number of terms signifying a great loss of some kind. While I can't answer many of the questions people have and I am not a shining example of the primal lifestyle, this has left me thinking quite a bit about my real motivation and why I do what I do. Over the course of this year, I have made a multitude of changes and many of them can seem downright diametric to my former lifestyle. While I cannot pinpoint the exact moment it happened, somewhere along the line I had a radical paradigm shift. I can finally recognize the relationship between pleasure and joy. They are so similar and yet can be quite contrary. Webster defines them both as such.

plea·sure \ˈple-zhər, ˈplā-\
1 : desire, inclination
2 : a state of gratification
3 a : sensual gratification
b : frivolous amusement
4 : a source of delight or joy

joy \ˈjȯi\
1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3 : a source or cause of delight

As you can see, they are so similar that they even contain the same definition. They are both defined as a source of delight and joy is even used in the definition of pleasure. For the sake of this discussion, I am going to focus on the short term connotation of pleasure with regards to its frivolity and the long term connotation of joy implied by a state of being. What I have come to realize is that while pleasure can be a source of joy, it can also be its detriment. There are pleasures that give short lived gratification and there are others that lead to a long lasting feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in your personal success. These are not mutually exclusive by any means. You can gain a great deal of immediate satisfaction from things that also contribute to your long term joy. And there will always be measures necessary for long term success and happiness that give no immediate gratification by any stretch of the imagination. In my mind, it kind of looks like this:
I am currently pursuing a lifestyle that is solidly in joy and limits the pleasures that don't fall in the middle. This is not to say that they are not pleasurable or satisfying in any way. But I have found that when I choose pleasures from the list that also contribute to my long term joy, my pleasure lasts longer with less of a hangover. It's like a happiness binge with no horrible blood sugar crash afterwards. I mean, who doesn't want to be happy all the time?

This is certainly not a simple quest. It is an interesting challenge to assess the value of every choice and place the result on the spectrum from pleasure to joy. But I am enjoying my life more consistently and thoroughly than I ever have before, so I will call it a win for now.

May you have all the pleasure and joy possible.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Traitorous Doubt

Part of the routine at my CrossFit gym is to record your performance after every workout. Whether the goal is a high number of reps or a speedy time, when it is all said and done there is a large whiteboard waiting for you to record the fruits of your labor. There are days where the march to the whiteboard is triumphant and others when it is merely rote. I have also noticed lately that, for me, there are days when I leave no trace of my WOD on the board. This doesn't occur when I don't use the recommended weight or fail to finish the workout. There are a great many reasons for a less than stellar performance at the gym. Sometimes I am exhausted from a lack of sleep, other days I did not stretch properly and I am very tight from previous exercise, and many of the workouts are simply beyond my current level. None of those reasons leave me with a sense of dry erase dread. That anxiety comes only when I've let myself become frustrated with a movement or challenge and let doubt creep in and leave me frozen. I waste time and energy on the mental process of overcoming those doubts and lose seconds and even minutes of possible victories. I won't say that those doubts defeat me, because defeat seems so final. They do, however, prevent me from reaching my full potential in every moment. And after waging a war in my head against my own lack of faith in myself, my desire to record my results for all to see is gone.

Upon further reflection on this whiteboard fear, I found that this isn't merely a fitness phenomenon. When I allow myself the luxury of dreams I often find enough to doubt that I prevent myself from even speaking about them, much less attempting to reach them. While my doubts can inhibit my progress during a workout, they can completely derail a dream before it even leaves my head. This can manifest itself in small ways, like skipping an opportunity for a new project at work, and large ways, such as ruining a long term dream to travel. I have always examined this emotion and packaged it as a sort of healthy fail-safe to prevent me from investing physically and emotionally in something that runs a large risk of failure. What I had not realized, or at least not accepted, is that everything runs a large risk of failure. As Aristotle said, "It is possible to fail in many ways, while to succeed is possible only in one way." While many arguments could be made about degrees of success and even redefining success, I still believe this statement to be true in many ways. The possibility of failure should not be reason enough to prevent action.

Our doubts are traitors, 
And make us lose the good we oft might win 
By fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

My goal for the next week is to record every result regardless of my mental state at the end of the workout. I hope this will serve both to encourage me to work through the mental roadblocks more quickly and conquer more during each workout and also to force me to celebrate my attempts, even when they are not perfect. Whatever numbers might be recorded, I was capable of trying and that is enough to earn a spot on the whiteboard. I also hope this will inspire me to skip the cynicism and really open myself up to attempting more in my day to day life.

Whatever comes, I have the luxury of dreams and that alone deserves daily celebration and gratitude.

Still livin' the good life,