Total Pageviews

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stay In Control!

Who's In Control?

Hey All -- One more week till the Super Bowl, and the NHL All Star Game was apparently a high-scoring good time.

Recently, a friend of mine found herself in a rough patch.  A few unfortunate circumstances were happening to her, but she found that her own reactions to them were hurting her more than the circumstances themselves.  She began to feel that she was not in control of her thoughts or feelings, and that she was spiraling out of control.

However, she was able to what Neil Simon called, "unscrew the top of your head and take your brains out."  She knew what was happening, and she knew it had to stop.  Eventually, she figured out how to talk those thoughts out of her head, and stay focused on the here and now.

Many of us have had the same thing happen -- we get so worried, so stressed, so angry, so hate-filled, so sad, so grieving, etc., that we don't know where the thoughts end and we begin.  That's when our minds race, we neglect everyday activities, and start to lose interest in things that should be fun.

So how to regain control over stressful, worrisome, scary thoughts?

(1)  Pretend it's someone else complaining to you about their problems.  If it were someone else, you'd feel comfortable telling them how they should fix their issues.  Then remember that you are the someone else, and solve the problems as you suggested.

(2)  If there's nothing you can do that minute to fix the problem, think about something else.  I mean give yourself a "Hey look, that was J-Lo" kind of moment.  Doesn't have to be J-Lo, of course (there are other behinds in this world, after all), but if it gets you to "snap out of it," even for a little while, then do it.  Your psyche will thank you for it later!

(3)  Planning is better than worrying.  Even if the problem is tangible, real, and causing an impact, worrying about it will keep it there, and possibly make it worse.  So if it's bugging you at 3am, GET out of bed, TURN ON the computer, and WRITE SOMETHING DOWN!  Not only will you be taking positive steps towards solving the problem, you'll also be GETTING IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD and STOPPING THE SELF-TORTURE!!!!!!!

(4)  Meditate.  Chill.  Center yourself.  Find your chi.  Seek still waters.  Talk to G-D.  To Jesus.  To Vishnu.  To Buddha.  Stop thinking and just be.  Whatever you want to call it, just change your gear into neutral for a shot time each day and RELAX.

As another blogger, Hans Hallanger, recently posted, we control our own thoughts, and we should drive out self-critical and self-punishing thoughts and replace them with positive reinforcements.  As another friend recently posted on Facebook, the thoughts you feed continue to thrive, and the ones you don't feed disappear.

So to answer the question, YOU control YOUR thoughts.

Don't forget to comment!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Congratulations, Giants -- but this post is still more serious.

When Regrets Matter.

Good Evening, All.

This post is going up a little late, since I got swept up in the big playoff games.  All things being equal, I would have rather seen my Jets paying at this level, as they did last year, but I was still happy to see the Giants win IN OVERTIME to win the NFC Championship.  As I was telling a friend of mine, when football is played at this level, I want to see a CLOSE game, with both teams getting ahead and falling behind, with no clear winner until the very end.  Otherwise, if it's a one-sided blowout, I'll just change the channel.

What we'll all remember about both championship games is that the kickers made the difference.  In the AFC game, a kicker could have put the Ravens into overtime with a field goal, but poor guy, he missed.  In the NFC game, a kicker won it once overtime already happened. 

Strange thing about football -- most of the game is won or lost on tough defense, accurate passing, and fast running, which most of the players must be well-versed in, but sometimes the winning score is made by one guy on the team who only specializes in that one skill.  While everyone else is taking the hits, rehabbing the injuries, hitting the weights, and talking the trash, this one guy just hones his accuracy in that one skill that nobody else practices but him.  If he wins the game for the team, people shake his hand and then pass him by to give more accolades to the quarterback, running backs, and linebackers.  If he loses the game for the team, then he gets all the criticism and blame.  Not such an easy position to play, by any means.  Success is always a team effort, but failure is his alone.

It goes without saying that I'm always looking out for the little guy.  Since most of those kickers are much leaner than your typical behemoth-like player, kickers would certainly qualify as the little guy in more ways than one.  I'm glad that today's championship games reminded us all to remember the little guys, because they truly can make the biggest difference in this game.  For those of you reading this in the DC/Baltimore area, try to go easy on your little guy -- he had a lot riding on him.  And even if nobody said anything about it, he'd still know it and remember it.  Everything I've posted about not attacking people for making mistakes definitely applies to him, and everything I've posted about not flagellating yourselves when you make mistakes applies even more.

That being said, since these kickers have an advantage of longevity.  Since they are exempt from absorbing the impact that most quarterbacks and halfbacks are expected to risk, their careers can last significantly longer.  I'm sure that Baltimore's kicker will be back next year -- maybe not with the Ravens, from the chatter I hear, but certainly with another team.  He'll have another chance to be a winner before his career ends, and his peers will hopefully stop thinking of him as "the guy who choked."

A friend of mine recently shared a link on Facebook that highlighted real regrets:  In this link, a nurse who cared for the terminally ill on their deathbeds recalled the regrets people had as they neared the end.  People faced with the end of their lives regretted forfeiting their goals, not being true to themselves, and not being happy more often.  This nurse, however, did not recall patients regretting any specific mistakes, slip-ups, or choke-ups.  That's because the deathbed is the time when we're all faced with our own evaluations, and not those of others.  That Baltimore kicker will probably live a long and fulfilling life.  Even if Ravens fans forever tar and feather his reputation, he will probably be more interested in doing more with his life than questioning whether the geometry and physics of that one play should have been realigned differently.  I sincerely doubt he'll regret the end of a 2012 playoff game on his deathbed -- and he shouldn't!

For those of you on Facebook who know her, I encourage you to visit her Wall and click on that link -- it'll make you put everything in proper perspective.

Not to make this a double portion, but the topics of football and deathbed regrets are converging on the memory of one venerated college football coach -- Mr. Joe Paterno, who passed away today.  Sadly, he may very well have had some deathbed regrets that had nothing to do with his storied coaching career.  Unfortunately, these regrets led to the end of his career.  However, that should not have been his regret.  He already paid the appropriate price for what he did wrong, or did not do right, with regard to his assistant coaches, by having his career taken from him.  He was still a winner who set high standards for his players, his staff, and for Pennsylvania State University itself.  Once he paid the price, his misfeasance or nonfeasance was purged from his system.  I can only hope that he left this earth with memories of national championships and undefeated seasons, and not of talk shows and tabloid journalism.

Have a good week all -- and don't be afraid to comment!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

SOPA got shelved. Nice to see democracy in action but what about those hackers and charlatans who infringe others' property?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have A Dream -- Dr. Martin Luther King!

The Dream Continues!

Today is Martin Luther King Day.  Accordingly, I'm reposting what I put up on the New Day blog last year:

Although we've been moving a bit away from the tactics used by adversaries, and towards self-fulfillment, it's only proper to acknowledge Dr. King's method, and to incorporate it into our own habits.

Feel free to comment!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

You Deserve A Break!

You Deserve A Break!

Hi all -- now that all four football playoff games are done, and the Golden Globes are on, now's a good time to update the old blog!

It takes a certain amount of work to elevate yourself to new levels.  Accepting the Four Pillars, eliminating the parasites, saboteurs, and gangsters from your lives, and increasing your self-esteem are not as easy as our friends in the "I don't care" crowd would have us believe.  So what do we do when we're swamped?  Take a BREAK.

Last week, I had a break of sorts.  It was one I'd planned months before in order to run the Disney Marathon.  Away from my normal routine, I visited my parents down in Florida, went to Orlando for all three of us to enjoy the marathon, and was treated to a little extra rest and relaxation.  Once again, I thank my mom & dad for all their support! Not only did I use that weekend to compete in that marathon, I also used it for a little extra peace and introspection.

And this past weekend, I took another break.  I had a week off from running, and treated myself to a mini-junk food binge!  I'm not sure if the editors of Runner's World would agree, but most coaches will tell you that your body definitely needs to rest before you start running regularly again.  And so I have!  Of course, something tells me that by next week, that'll change.

The best thing about my breaks -- reconnecting with family.  Our past can only be our past, we can't live in it, and we can't go home again.  Even so, maintaining long-term relationships, especially with blood relatives, can still give us greater insight into who we are at present, and where we're going.  Your immediate family still knows you better than anyone else, and has the best perspective into the path you're taking, and can always advise you in the most supportive way.  You can still trust them more than anyone else.  So long as you remain true to them, they'll always stay true to you.

So I'd like to thank my folks for inviting me into your home recently.  I can assure you that those visits won't be the last.  The time I've spent with you has been rejuvenating, and I recommend the same to all my readers, to the extent it's possible to do so, no matter how young or how old you may be.  Through reunification and reflection with the family you grew up with, you're able to gain strength from the original source of life.  In doing so, you're able to rejoin the world stronger, more mature, and significantly wiser.

And it doesn't hurt to remind them, and yourselves, that:


Feel free to comment!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Latest Conquest!

The Walt Disney World Marathon

This morning, I ran my most recent marathon one of the happiest of places -- Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

This being Florida, and this being run through a theme park that usually opens at 9am, the marathon was scheduled to begin at 5:30 am under cover of darkness.  So at 3:15 am, there I was, in the Epcot parking lot, with several thousand other runners, and several porto-johnnies, attempting to stay warm in the 50-degree chill that Florida was stuck with until dawn.

I was armed with my bib, which had a B-Tag securely attached (every race should have them, and not those lame-o D-Tags that nobody knows how to use), and a fuel belt containing one flask of Gatorade and one flask of Powerade, as well as three Gu's just in case Popeye needed his spinach.  I was sporting the pair of black-and-orange Gel Nimbus 12 sneakers I'd bought six weeks earlier to "break in" for this event, since it was designed for my pronation.

As we approached the starting line, I assembled in Corral B, and got myself ready as Mickey, Goofy, and Donald took the stage next to the starting line, addressed us with a few jokes through animatronic masks, and gave the ready-set-go start to each wave of runners.  My Garmin was on, I was receiving perfect GPS signals (for a change), and I depressed the start/stop button as I proceeded over the starting line.

I was on my way!  I had shed the old long-sleeve tee from the 2005 Long Beach Snowflake Run and the old sweatpants that I'd worn prior to the start, and saw the fireworks and pyrotechnics overhead as I began my run.  I enjoyed the brief moment of warmth the flames provided, and then proceeded to warm myself up.

I had sworn that I would not commit the ultimate runner faux pas, and "go out too fast."  My sole intention was to take it nice, easy, slow, and comfortable for at least the first half of this race, and then turn on the juice for the second half.  A glance at my Garmin, however, confirmed that my slow and comfortable pace was ranging anywhere between 8:54 and 9:14, when I intended to run a 9:30 or slower.  I would later discover that the reason for this unexpected display may have been my consumption of Powerade instead of Gatorade.  Apparently, it really does have more carbohydrates and electrolytes, etc.  Next time, better switch flasks, ha ha!

Still, it felt good sticking to this pace.  We would run through some of the back roads of the park, encountered by Disney characters near almost every mile marker.  We saw Peter Pan and Wendy, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Jungle Book characters, and many others!  I especially got a kick out of two characters who were meant to be vacationers who had gotten hopelessly lost, and were consulting an old fashioned map.  One of them warned us that we were all running the wrong way!

Also for nearly the entire course were speakers blaring songs designed to keep people moving -- "Every Day I'm Shuffelin'," "Hey-Yo, Baby Let's Go," and "Don't Stop Believin'!"  There were also tons of volunteers handing out Powerade (figures) and water, but I saw that as an opportunity to run with a little elbow room, since I'd brought my hydration with me.

As dawn broke, we journeyed through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.  I marveled to myself how Spaceship Earth and Cinderella's Castle seemed much smaller than expected -- the fact that I was no longer a child may have also had something to do with that.  We also journeyed through the Disney's Animal Kingdom and Beach Resorts -- it was not unlike crossing bridges between boroughs at the NYC Marathon.

On I pressed through the highways, back roads, and sometimes narrow trails.  Between miles 12 and 18, I listened to a few war stories from the 4-hour pace-keeper, designated to run even splits so that everyone near him could go at the same pace.  I got a chuckle at Mile 21 when one of the green toy soldiers from Toy Story exhorted us runners to "mooooove it, mooooove it, take that hill!"  He wasn't kidding, since he was placed right before a really steep one!  Good thing I'd taken that Gu first!

Somewhere between Mile 23 and 24, I felt myself slipping a little.  Ran out of both Gatorade and Powerade, and my legs began to question whether just running this far was "good enough."  I swore that I'd force them to go all 26.2 miles whether they wanted to make it or not, and that I would not permit them to walk under any circumstances, no matter what Jeff Galloway said!

The question was, exactly when did I reach 26.2 miles?  Towards the end of the race, the mile markers detected by my Garmin were exactly halfway between the mile markers on the course.  Another runner asked me if I though the course was somehow longer than it was really supposed to be.  I disregarded that remark, since everyone thinks the finish line is too far away at this point in the race.  Still, it was not clear why my Garmin's mile markers did not match.

So as a compromise, I stopped the clock once my Garmin showed 26.2 miles, and just kept plowing away until I reached the finish line.  Although my Garmin would indicate a hard-earned time of 3:56:36, my official chip time for the race would be a slightly frustrating 4:00:38.  I've got no reason to complain to Disney and demand that those four unsightly minutes be reduced from my chip time, but I am now considering an upgrade in my own personal timekeeping equipment.

Obviously, making it under the 4-hour mark would have been a real win.  But even though that didn't happen, it was a real treat running through Disney World.  In fact, I will most likely do this race again in the near future -- or several options that Disney provides.  I might try the Goofy Challenge, and do the Half Marathon on Saturday and the full Marathon on Sunday, like many people did this weekend.  Or if I have a willing partner, do the Chip & Dale Marathon Relay!

Either way, I had a great time at this race, and I'd recommend it to anyone else who wants to run a unique out-of-town marathon.  It's even better if you make a whole Disney vacation out of it, since the resort hotels have shuttles taking everyone to the race and back!  Not to mention, after the race, you have the whole day to go on rides, etc.

So now to treat myself to a week of cheat meals, and to attempt to avoid running for the next several weeks.  And to attempt the feat of walking up and down stairs tomorrow!  :)

A good night all -- don't forget to comment!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Pre-Marathon Post!

Getting Ready

Nothing big tonight -- I'm getting ready to run in the Disney Marathon bright (more like dark) and early tomorrow morning.  No problem with getting up in the wee small hours, this is what people do for the NYC marathon also.  However, this one actually BEGINS in those wee small hours, so I gotta be ready to rock!

Wish me luck, all -- I'll give you a recap tomorrow as usual!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Resolve Yourself!

Yes, it is a new year -- Day One of the year 2012!

Last year, I posted about New Year's Resolutions.  This year I'm posting about New Year's Voluntary Self-Initiated Choices.  Takes up a little more gray matter and blog-space, but this description makes it a little more difficult to shirk on these goals!

This New Year's Eve at my godson's family's house, one of his brothers announced a new resolution for himself -- to be "less annoying."  I love this young man as if he were my own son, but he, and I, both know that he broke this resolution (OK, not yet . . . not yet . . . not yet . . .) already.  Certainly not his fault, of course.  That's because these lame, weak, half-assed pseudo-oaths are designed to fail -- they're just words used to describe an action that the "resolver" knows that he or she has absolutely no intention of performing.

So rather than make another annual inside joke of "there's no way I'm ever gonna do that," let's promise ourselves things that we actually can, and will, accomplish.  Suggestions:

(1)  Be true and honest to yourself.

(2)  Be willing to say "no."

(3)  Take authority and responsibility for your own life and choices.

(4)  Sever ties with those who cannot or will not accept you for who you are.

(5)  Stop respecting those who don't respect you.

(6)  Seek relationships that benefit you, and don't leave you empty and exhausted.

(7)  Increase your self-respect and decrease your self-effacement; reduce your self-criticism, and eliminate your self-loathing.

(8) Admit your mistakes, make good on them, learn from them, and then stop the self-flagellation that arises from every screw-up.

(9)  Find the hidden advantage and loophole in every negative -- they do exist, just find them!

(10)  If you're not happy with your circumstances, look for and find ways to change them.

Also, repeat to yourself daily a mantra like the one below:


Happy New Year, my readers.  Make good choices for 2012!