Thursday, April 26, 2012

10 Step to a Life Fulfilled...

                It is easy to get caught up in this thing called life and end up missing out on all the little things.  We can get so lost in the ‘bigger picture’ that we’ll lose site of the little things that make this life fun and exciting.  Keeping our families going requires us to keep the bigger picture in mind but does it at the same time keep us from seeing the tiny moments each moment of the day?  We strive so hard to get to that next level at work that we forget to sit back and enjoy what we have right at that moment. 

                It can be said that who we were yesterday is no longer the person we are today.  The person we were an hour ago is not who we are right now.  We haven’t changed physically but as each moment passes we learn things, make decisions, take a right instead of a left and we change.  The person we were is dead.  Gone.  Dust.  We are left with the person we are right this moment…and then he/she is gone in the blink of an eye.  We cannot go back and change what that dead Us did, we can only deal with the consequences of the actions that person took.  This means that we must live in the here and the now and make correct decisions regarding our actions and our thoughts every single moment of the day.  Goals and tomorrow are not unimportant but they will take care of themselves as we get to them.  Long range goals are not bad as a guide but as I’ve said before we get too caught up in them and lose what we should be experiencing and enjoying right now.  Anything else is a waste of time.

                How do we get there?  There probably isn’t any one right answer.  Each of us are different and each of us see the world differently but I think there are a few ideas that will aid all of us in seizing the moment and living life to its fullest on a more regular basis.  The below ten steps are ten steps that I try to follow as often as I can.  They’ve worked more often than not for me, try a few out and see if they’ll work for you.

1.)    Find something you love or think you would love to do, learn about it and then do it, NOW.

2.)    Be better today than you were yesterday.

3.)    Decide how your life should be, the type of person you want to be and then BE IT.  Make no compromises when it comes to who you think you should be.

4.)    Recognize the difference between a smart-hustle and a stupid-hustle.

5.)    At least one time a week, leave the multi-tasking to corporate types, and be single minded in your pursuit for an hour.  Embrace the tunnel vision.

6.)    Do what you love and then tell the world about it.

7.)    Love you some you.

8.)    Turn off all of your electronics for an hour once a week. 

9.)    Spend at least five minutes a day meditating.

10.) Remember that expectations are your worst enemy.  Just roll with it.  If something doesn’t work out, it’s okay, enjoy what did work out.

Stop to see the flowers
Today’s world flies by at nearly the speed of light.  One year turns into two and then three and before you know it a decade has passed you by and that thing or that person you wanted to do/be is gone and the time for it is over.  Speed is an awesome thing.  The sensation of the wind in your face, the rush of adrenaline is amazing but sometimes slowing down and enjoying the world as it goes by you is just as awesome.  I’ve ridden some absolutely awesome trails on my mountain bike but it always amazes me that when I hike these trails or run them the things I’ve missed; a flower, a log, an animal watching me.  The list above can be you taking a timeout and hiking a trail you usually speed down on two wheels.  Take that time out.  Enjoy those little quick moments in life and in turn we will experience a better quality of life for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the children...

               Recently it seems that the state of California is determined to shut down seventy-one of our state parks in an effort to stem their hemorrhaging money loss.  I could go into all of the politics behind it but in all honesty I’m not a political guy.  I’m just a guy who grew up going to some of these parks and has found myself working in the industry.   One of the parks closing down was the site of my very first camping trip with my family way back when I was around seven.  I’ve been to a few of these others but really why are we denying our future generations the opportunity to see these parks?  Why are the parks the thing to suffer here? 

                The parks systems of the states, local counties and cities are the backbone of our history and it blows me away that a state can simply close the doors and walk away.  The parks allow the future generations to experience things that are quickly being gobbled up by the fast food mentality, video games, Wikipedia, and apathy.  If we close these opportunities off to a generation that only got to get its collective toes wet by seeing images on their latest Wikipedia search there will come a time when no one in a given generation will ever set foot in a park. 

                The invention of GPS has already made the map reading skills I learned as a child obsolete.  Kids nowadays wouldn’t be able to find their way out of a paper bag without their GPS.  Parks give girls and boys the opportunity to learn about some of these ‘ancient’ ways.  Parks allow them to touch and see and experience history.  Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.  Parks give a family the opportunity to come together and for a few hours, a day or longer be together. 

                “Alice algae and Freddy fungi took a liching to each other and now their relationship is on the rocks”

                Funny right?  I learned this from a park ranger at a park when I was around 10.  I have never forgotten it.  Why would we look to deprive our children on this sort of education?   I’ve used the saying in my Environmental Science class midterm essay.  I’ve used it to teach my own children and at least a few other times while working.  Seriously though how do we expect our kids to keep from paving over the entire continent if we don’t instill in them a love/appreciation of the outdoors?

                This love doesn’t have to be developed through nights out camping or even a hike.  The municipal park is just as important as the big national forests or state parks.  Locally, our municipal parks have been shut down due to funding.  Kids can’t even go to a park to play.  That is simply insane and wrong on so many levels I find myself speechless.   Have the politicians forgotten what it was like to be a child and go to the park with the family to enjoy a picnic, a romp through the playgrounds, or rolling around the grass? 

                In my work world I experience some really baffling behavior towards parks and while at times it can be exasperating I also see it as an opportunity to educate the public on what being a User of the park system entails and the responsibility they have to keep it clean and ready for the next User to come along.  I think that this is probably the most important aspect of my job and the jobs of everyone who works in the Parks, Recreation, or open space field.  Education.  We need to educate those who are to follow us.  Whether this is done through the parents or in our individual interactions with the children as they run through our parks is not the concern, the education is the important part.  I recently spoke to an individual who drove onto the grass at a park.  At first I was angry because I know how much work goes into the maintenance of that grass.  I spoke to driver of the car and treated them with respect while I explained why driving on the grass was not a good idea.  The driver hadn’t realized and was respectful and apologetic when he left.  My cynicism hasn’t quite grown to the point that I think he’ll just ignore me and do it again.  I feel like I got through to him and hopefully he’ll pass his education on to a friend or two and to his kids. 

                If we want to keep the Parks and Open Spaces of our cities, counties, and states open to the public and available to future generations we must make sure that the future generation understand what it means, enjoys it and wants to bring their children to the park.  That means we ALL must work together to keep them open.  Get involved on a local level, pick up bits of trash you might see lying along the path you’re walking on, find out if there are trail building days, participate, participate, participate.  Only by doing this and bringing your kids along will we be able to continue to enjoy the outdoors for generations to come.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where the sidewalk ends...

              She steps into the sunlight, a bath of yellow light engulfing her with warmth and comfort.  Grace holds the door open a moment, a tiny bell shaking out a steady rhythm next to her.  The sidewalk in front of her is worn but clean.  Without knowing why Grace turns to her right and takes a step, then two, her Sunday shoes clicking quietly on cement.  She feels good; better than she’s felt in ages.  A bag bounces against her leg as she walks, she glances down at it.  Yellowed with age and scuffed she doesn’t recognize it or know why she has it.  She stops a moment, looks down again and sees hands that can’t belong to her, can they?  Slender and long but withered with age they are the hands of her mother.  Her gaze looks past the hands that aren’t her hands and sees many little trinkets in the bag. 

                Were these toys of her youth?  She remembers playing with them, her brothers stealing them and then her finding them under the tree in the front yard later in the afternoon.   Grace smiles at the memory of days gone by.  Of course she still has them.  Why wouldn’t she?  She continues her walk.  To her left an old street, a few pieces of trash littered here and there.  A car parallel parked, old and brown, so much like her father’s first car.  She wants to stop, are the seats as worn as she remembers, but something calls her forward.  The street isn’t very crowded.  She finds this odd, isn’t it Saturday?  Shouldn’t it be bustling?  A few people pass her.  One nearly runs into her.  Faces in the crowd, half remembered from places she can’t recall.

                To her right, old store fronts giant glass store fronts dominating.  She smiles and wanders towards them.  Her steps come a little faster now.  She looks at the store front of one, inside the small suite she sees a mother and several children playing.  A girl, in her teens, stands watching the children and mother.  She glances up and Grace meets her eyes, a smile wide on the young woman’s face.  The girl’s eyes give support, a reassurance everything will be alright.  The boys, twins, with light hair, tumble and giggle with each other.  Grace smiles, warmth and comfort calls her but a nagging desire to see more pulls her forward.  Another store front greets Grace, a family at dinner.   The father older, mother serving dinner out of a bowl, eager children waiting and babbling.  Grace wants to stay and watch, the man, grinning, is so familiar to her.  She wants to call out, to have them see her.  She reaches towards them, opens her mouth to speak and finds her voice mute.  She keeps walking instead, the pull even greater to reach where the sidewalk ends.


As she continues her walk she sees a yellow car, engine idling deeply, sleek and swift looking, a woman in uniform smiling and waving.  At her?  Maybe?  The girl looks familiar, older than Grace remembers somehow.  Grace struggles to place the woman but waves back.  She keeps walking.  A last window pane on her right but a crack in the cement catches a heel.  Grace trips and pitches forward.  Her left hand reaching out, skinning her palm, pain shoots through it.  She holds desperately to the bag but it tears and the contents spew onto the concrete.  She looks up once quickly and sees a Christmas vignette framed in the window of another store front, frozen in time, a rock fireplace, a tree, and children babbling, grinning, and giggling around a stack of brightly wrapped presents.  They remind her of people she should know but can’t recall.  So many children watched by adults who all look up at her and smile almost sadly at her.  They are all there, but who are they?  She smiles at the joy she sees.  She can almost remember…what?

                A pain interrupts her viewing.  She looks down and sees a scrapped knee.  The sound of that little hanging bell comes back to her now.  She tries to look behind her, has some one left the store?  Why can she hear the bell?  A shadow falls over her.  The ringing bell slows.  She looks up and sees him and smiles with relief.  It’s been so long and she’s been so lonely.  Their eyes meet, an odd ballcap perched with bill up, showing off his forehead.  She laughs.  He smiles and her heart flutters.  The ringing bell slows even more.  He reaches a hand down to help her to her feet.

                “Hello Grace,” he says, his voice rich.

                “I missed you,” she replies.

                “I’ve missed you too but we have to go now.”

                Something tells her she doesn’t want to but he’s there and she’s missed him.  “I know.”

                She stands, the world swoons a moment but he’s there like she always imagined him to be and he helps her forward.  They walk towards where the sidewalk ends.  They approach the end and slow their walk.  She looks at him, he smiles down at her.  The bell slows, stops and then rings one final long ring.  Grace’s vision blurs, he hugs her.


                Yes.  Very ready.  The bell silences, the world swims and all that’s left is he and her, now and forever.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Get some balance...

                I will bring balance to the Force.

                Well maybe not the Force or the world but I will bring some semblance of balance to my life.  It would seem that at some point during the endless battle against the fates I get sucked into this all or nothing mentality.  I obsess over an item, a hobby, a change and it sucks me in and absorbs every last bit of my attention.  This usually means that for a month or so I am going to change the world!  Then I get stagnant, I get burnt out and my attention is absorbed my some other golden trinket lying around.  I totally Homer Simpson it.

                I’ve done this with riding in the past, I’ve done it with my iPad, I’ve done this with the laptop I’m typing on now.  Yes, I’ve done it with my writing and I truly believe that this inability to ‘Bring Balance to the Force’ is why I have, for the most part, failed at most major under takings in my constant sludge through this knee deep pool of poo I call a life.  I do believe that my Midichlorian count is too low to become a true master at all.  Of course this won’t stop me from banging my head against a wall.  What is that saying Yoda likes to hurl at us padawans?  “Do or do not, there is no try.” Yep that’s the one.  I really hate quitting but I’m pretty good at putting it off.  So I get the ‘do’ part just fine I just may not ‘Do’ things in a time frame the little green Muppet is happy with.

                All kidding aside the other day I realized that I had spent several hours sitting at the desk staring at a computer screen, angered by a change at work and pissed off that I had chosen that same time to try and jump start some half hopeless attempt at a writing career.  I was depressed, mad, and generally just a complete crab-apple.  I needed a change.  I think we all do when we get to that stage in life when our mundane little existence no matter how much fun it is just becomes tedious.   I’ve noticed that a lot of the authors and mtn bikers I follow who started out doing it all as a hobby and then try to push it into something more become somewhat disenfranchised about their chosen hobby/activity the more that activity/hobby becomes job like in nature.  Those who are dedicated trainers know this and do things to break up the monotony.  They run, they plan a huge mtn biking trip to some far away land, they go snowboarding.  Anything to break the crap up. 

                I keep my road bike in my office where I can drool over its sleek carbon fiber lines.  (I have another free wall and the thought of also storing my mtn bike in the office is never far from my mind…it looks so sad out there in the garage.)  I kept staring at it and coming up with one excuse or another to not ride it.  You see a month ago I’d burnt out on the riding thang too.   So there I was burnt out on the two things that keep me motivated and depressed about changes at work that were entirely outside of my control.  I woke up on a Thursday to a whining daughter who wanted to be driven to her friends house so they could walk to school together.  Since I am such a cool Dad I finally agreed and was up earlier than normal.  My road bike was gently calling my name each time I passed her.  She wanted to stretch her legs….and to be honest so did I.  With only minutes to spare I scrambled to get my gear together (thank you Mom for that whole…’a place for everything, and everything in its place’ mantra you drilled into me) and we were out the door only 1 minute late. 

                I won’t bore you with the details of the ride (80 minutes, 19.34 miles, 978 ft of elevation change…ok so I will afterall) but suffice it to say that although I didn’t push myself I had a blast and some of the depression and burn out was lifted.  I rode down a few roads I don’t normally hit and enjoyed a beautiful SoCal spring morning.  (Anyone know where DeLuz road behind Murrieta goes?)   It’s amazing how a little change to a morning routine can alter your perceptions of the world around you.  Change (like at work) can be scary but they can also be good for you.  We should never do that thing we love to the point of burn out.  We can push ourselves to get out of that safe zone but we should also make sure to mix it up.  I know that starting now I will make sure to make time for riding so that I don’t let myself down with my yearly goals but also so that the Muse gets a break from constantly staring at the monitor.  The Muse won’t grow unless it’s taken out and given a walk.  Let it play in the fields and while you may have lost a few hours of writing time you may have gained a whole day of free thinking.  As I said on Facebook that morning after the ride, “It’s amazing how mixing up the daily routine a little can bring balance to the force….er life.”  Now what are you waiting for?  Get out there and Git Sum!!!!  Happy Spring.