I suppose I could use the holidays as an excuse, but I had never planned to take this Friday off. So I apologize. I’m trying to get this thing going here. Hopefully if you enjoyed the first edition of this, you will like this one as well.
I recently had a video call with a friend that I made almost by accident on the internet. I’ll tell you more about the friend later, because I didn’t tell him that I would reference our conversation here. However, our first live conversation across a few miles lead to a very fluid and rewarding conversation. It was something he and I had tried to schedule for months. And it was mostly spontaneous with no agenda. We had a lot in common despite us having very different backgrounds. He gave a lot of tips for what I expressed interest in doing as far as mindfulness work and finding a local teacher. I have a lot of homework to do that will only lead to more rewards in the future.
I also talked a lot with my younger sister lately. She has been my best friend, mentor, coach, accountability partner, and personal search engine all from her own free will. She knows that 2017 has been hard for me, and she knows that I’m stalling on my dream despite some very good reasons. Those are my words–not hers. She never once shamed or guilted me about any of the choices I’ve made. She just made a lot of sense out of what I thought were complicated choices. I do have research to do to follow up (i.e. more homework), but it’s a lot clearer now what I should be doing going forward.
- So here goes: my first thought is… never underestimate the power of conversation and friendship. Also, you never know where you will benefit them or where they will benefit you. I once thought that if I had a romantic relationship, I would feel complete or fulfilled. On paper this seems obviously mistaken, but in my head it was a swirl of spontaneous imagination and unexplainable impressions that this simple statement can’t do justice to. Words and concepts are limited and no experience of reality can be wholly predicted based on our limited thoughts and knowledge. It doesn’t mean we can’t trust our minds; however, they are not to be fully relied on in anticipation of life experience. We have to take our own thoughts and “knowledge” with a grain of salt.
- Next thought: Just because you toughen up, doesn’t mean you can’t be your sensitive self. Being tougher and becoming calloused are two different things. More on this one to come. Being in the “pain cave” is not the end of the world. It is not to be feared, because despite our self-doubt, it can be the source of our greatest work. Working through what seems impossible or unrelenting in its challenge to our pain threshold can be the work of a lifetime. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for it to get smooth, but our opportunities are often merely “dressed in overalls and look like work” (Thomas Edison, I believe).
- Thirdly, take care of yourself and reevaluate constantly if you’re actually doing it. Real sleep is taking care of yourself. 5 hours on your phone is not. Writing down your thoughts is taking care of yourself or even reflecting thoughtfully with specific questions. Ruminating and endless worry is not. Treating yourself to a specific treat at a specific time is taking care of yourself. A mindless spending spree is not. (Who is going to take care of you when the money you so desperately needed for the essentials is gone. How painful is that scenario in the long run?)
- Finally, vacations are temporary. It’s nice to get away. It’s nice to wander aimlessly. It’s nice to just be. But vacations should also be rejuvenating and not just in the “day spa” sense. But catching up on loose ends could leave you a bit less stressed when you head back to school or work. It might seem like added stress to address things during a vacation, but in the long term, resolution of problems can be the biggest stress relief. The primary point I wanted to make however, is to invest some time 30 minutes to an hour (even a day if your life provides for it) getting your mindset right for your return to work. Time off is an opportunity to prepare for when you have to be on again. This prep should not be approached as a grim duty. It is something you get to do, because if you were working or stressed from school, your mind may not be ripe for it. It can be as simple as making a list for the week ahead, writing some affirmations that lay out a more positive outlook on the coming days, laying out an update to your morning routine, making a list of revised priorities, or just reflecting on the things you promised yourself that you would do when you returned. As for the last one, my mind often seems as if its been wiped once I leave work on that last day. One last suggestion: simply choosing to sit and meditate may be all you need as the “lead domino” to get things going in a positive direction. Because believe or not, vacations end. It’s best to find a way to accept it positively rather than fighting (“Sunday Blues” style) with it during your last few moments of respite. Dreading the inevitable is often so much worse than the reality. Plan for the future so that you can return to appreciating the present.
I know I tend to get preachy, but still it’s a style thing. I’m refining it. I mostly scratch my own itch and then share the tools (after cleaning them up for you… lol). So take it or leave it. If nothing else, I hope it’s interesting to you. I’m not going to do a drawn out conclusion, because I am still on vacation. It seems like it could be a full day. ahead of me. So enjoy yourselves and continue to move forward. Thank you for reading this, and I hope that you are well and prosperous. (I mean this not only for the new year, but for all time.) Peace and love!
Four Thought Friday #1
- You should take an inventory of fears. You will quickly see what makes you tick and what holds you back. I’ve often thought to myself that I should do this. I finally did this once I heard Terry Crews on the Tim Ferriss show say this was key for him. It’s hard to overcome fear without identifying it. Even if you meditate or study your mind and heart through other practices, you can only become more enlightened by this activity.
- You should be bored if you want to be creative. I know stimulation helps give ideas. I know that knowledge feeds the mind with possibilities. However, in my experience, provides a canvas for the most creative ideas is space. That space is the wide open mind. Physical activity like washing dishes with little thought to what you’re doing or even just letting things be is where the ideas spring up the most. Plus, boredom provides the reason for the mind to create. The void is the invitation to the mind to fill in the empty space. So my advice is to be grated when your phone doesn’t give you the endless entertainment you want. Put it down and invite the play of the free mind to go to work.
- Try the checklist approach. If routines as failing to get going when you schedule certain practices, think of how many times per week you should do each practice. Make a checklist and track each one. It won’t happen automatically. You still have to decide each morning which one or two practices to do. But it promotes success without the monotony of a single routine. Of course, you are using more mental energy, yet the payoff in feelings of success and inspiration may be worth it.
- Explore your sense of pride and how it can help you. To be too proud can come at a cost in humility that is essential to spiritual and personal growth, yet totally banishing pride is self-sabotage. There are in my experience two types, at least, of pride. One is an ever present sense of self that protects the ego. This pride is what we should avoid. Momentary pride that is earned as a result of doing something challenging is almost necessary to ultimate success. That pride, when experienced or anticipated, can be a potent motivator to do the hard stuff. Sometimes it is the one difference maker when the sense of doubt or cynicism appears telling you that it’s all for nothing. A close cousin to this is self-respect. You should seek to have both but pride seems to have more short term appeal. The caveat for pride always is to let it go before moving on to the next objective or goal. If you swim in it to deeply, you risk drowning your ultimate purpose.
Happy Friday everyone! Count your blessings even if in a secular sense. We’ve all made it this far and likely will live to see another year. The improbability I’d even bring here is mind-blowing. The infinite reality and potentialities we get to experience are more than we can even realize with our human minds. It’s still there for you to tap into. This appreciation has great power to uplift despite the circumstances. So keep your head up, love yourself, others, and the world you live while you have the opportunity. Enjoy this season as even when it returns in the coming year(s), it will never be exactly the same. Even the mundane becomes sacred when we really realize what it is to live.
Seasons greetings and Happy Holidays! Much love.
The oxidation of the vape in my I lungs I could sense quite deeply. Could it have been the ginger and sassafras tea I’d had to get through my last couple of hours at work? That was before tonight’s dinner and special dessert—an apple martini. I needed a feel good tonic to follow up a most satisfying meal of a burger and fries. How could I possess the characteristics of the wise, the worldly and the juvenile within the same soul? In the court of diverse company, all three were charges I remember being asserted sincerely by those I pretended to know.
This tasty pain reliever, however, had done nothing for the sprained ankle I had sustained playing touch football after work with my fellow staff. On a controversial call by the line judge, the boss’s son, it was determined that my leaping catch for a touchdown was not what it was. So I stubbornly ran the same precise route hoping to reclaim the glory that had been stolen and kept a clearly superior team from being the victors in this messy battle that was supposedly a morale building exercise.
I ran the same pattern I had watched my favorite wide receiver perform on fall Sundays. I ran toward the right sideline cutting back suddenly to spring towards the goal line freeing myself of my defender with a cut back to the right when my left foot buckled underneath me. Youthful vigor I had projected until my collapse that reduced me to the middle aged man that I denied being during my time on the field. I was cold and delirious four feet from the resting place of the ball that had apparently been thrown my way. I could only lay there and close my eyes.
As I came back to my senses, the memory thinned replaced by the impression that the mood at the bar had settled. I turned around to see a Beyoncé lookalike twirl her shining golden hair that appeared to be of a natural texture and beyond-shoulder length. Her locks, of course, were originally a much darker color he was sure like the singer she emulated.
As she leaned to speak to the piano man who seemed to be attentive without relenting on his fingering of the keys. She didn’t have a tip for the request bucket, but the fidgety man on the bench didn’t seem to care. Yet in contrast to his seamless weaving of tunes throughout the evening, he abruptly switched to a tune that was reminiscent of a carnival. Quite remarkably, I could picture the booths of games that promised big prizes at a dollar for 3 tries. The exact tune began to register as quite familiar in my mind. I turned again to see her innocent smile as she leaned against the edge of this large, black wooden instrument. It occurred to me in that moment that she worked here at this place of unrest. She had a bag with her that must’ve been a change of clothing from her previous shift. She didn’t look as if she had done much work at all. She appeared ready for a long night of something. Just what might that be?
I began to imagine just who this person was in actual life? What was her name? What plans might she must have for the night? Did she have kids? Was she… attached? Certainly, she would not continue hanging around this hardly upscale, over-priced bar—her place of work no less. Certainly this town had many more offerings for a such a lady on a Friday night. My night may have been nearly over. For her and the other superstars, the night was just beginning.
By Patrick Norris
Reading Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra is my latest challenge. I say challenge for a few reasons. This challenge comes in a few forms such as maintaining my own mindfulness of the story, allowing full concentration and awareness of any gems that are shared based on how relevant they are to me, and not to mention my empathy for and connection to the younger and older Rich whose words are so applicable, fun, heartbreaking and relatable (especially being of similar age) that I can’t help but viscerally feel the life and passion that stirs within these pages. It’s difficult to pay attention with the shifts in setting yet embrace it all to ride along with his agile, dramatic writing style. My ADHD may be able handle it during my better hours, but it’s a practice. My purpose in reading this book is to find my own Ultra in the form of suitable focused physical activity that brings some sort of fulfillment and health improvement at the age of 41. It also lends itself to my ultimate goal to be a writer and actualize myself to the fullest extent possible.
To help you fully appreciate this I would have to go into my own story in greater detail. My health is what it is as a 188 lb. African American type 1 diabetic male (cis-gender/heterosexual) father with 3 children. I have heart challenges and sleep apnea. So I’m trying to lose weight and reverse some of these things. I also labor daily against depression, anxiety and ADHD to name the more mental or psychological afflictions. So in the next installment, I will tap into my own story and how it links to Finding Ultra sharing how I’m doing with this book and the struggles that I am going through to an extent. I intend to keep it genuine and purposeful with gratitude for your time and attention.
If you don’t know about Rich Roll and you have a Smartphone, the best place to start is with his podcast published under his own name; so search for it. He is a triathlete and ultra marathon runner who has overcome many obstacles in middle age and credits much of it to his vegan/plant-based diet. He is truly an excellent example of what could be accomplished despite your past, your age, and even seemingly innate limitations. His podcasts are long form and feature many really valuable interviews with well-know and lesser known but authentically uplifting and value-rich human beings. Hope you find this informative and off course you can purchase or checkout (library/similar service) his book Finding Ultra. Rich does not know me (yet), and no value was exchanged for promotion. This is a sharing from my heart. Thanks for reading as this section was not something I originally intended to do. Thanks. Peace and Grace.
P.S. For more of my musings, conjecture and aberrations, please follow me on Twitter at @patrickwritesct and Instagram at @patrickstillrunsct. @patrickrunsct is my old account. You may message me as a heads up that you found me here, and I will gladly approve your request as it is a private account.
Chapter 1: The Disciple
He looked out at the restless sunrise in the midst of a sleeping home. He wondered who would yell at him for being up too early if he went down to find if his favorite show was on. This was his only chance to watch tv–Saturday morning when he had no lessons, homework or chores. Not that Saturday was all work. After meeting Sensei, he would see Jimmy. What new toy did his little friend have today?
Jimmy was a momma’s that wore name Johnny Joseph brand clothing that from his shirt to his socks. His shoes were always San Lamar casuals or the hottest sneakers. He didn’t wear sneakers much, especially for someone his age. Was that laughter? This early? Who else was up before 7 on a Saturday? Stacy was too young–not to laugh but to turn on the television from which he could now hear the sound of cartoons. Parker walked around the corner feeling eager but not completely revealing himself. He stood just shy of the edge of the hallway. On the brown leather couch tucked underneath a red and blue patchwork quilt was his mother and a little girl. She looked so different laughing. He had never seen her so engaged. She often seemed to be so dependent on Mommy that she never even looked towards the tv. What was this? He knew this feeling. He had become aware of it in practice. The thought he noted to himself: “she never sat up with me when I watched cartoons.” And she certainly never breakfast, or anything else, on their brown leather sofa. Granny certainly would not approve.
She would always be so exhausted on Friday nights. At least she claimed. He caught himself. It was a bit upsetting to see her smiling and relaxed on the couch with Stacey.
“What gives?” he thought.
It was ok. He would just go in his room and pretend to read. He had no idea which book. He would find one. And he would, by golly, really read this time and enjoy it. Maybe a joke book. He was not as self-aware as he had assumed. Who needs the “freaking” TV? Whatever. Parker, you’re 8 years old. She’s 2 1/2. You shouldn’t try to compete with her.
There it is. “Charlotte’s Web”. His older cousin Jill said he would enjoy it as she unloaded a dozen of her old books on him. None of them included any cool characters, but his dad said that these are the books you read if you wanted to be smart. He knew he was smart, but he still needed to read. Whatever.
The sun was shining bright. “How about I open the window just a tad,” he thought. Then he found the perfect position on the bed.
“A little background music.”
“Not so loud.”
“The air is a little too cold.”
The sun appeared much brighter through his small window.
“A little too much sunlight.”
Ok. Now he was settled.
“A lot of big words.”
“Should’ve gone to the bathroom.”
As he returned from the bathroom, his Uncle Nathan grabbed him and pulled him into the guest room. “Can you teach me some of that Karate stuff?”
His dad had said his uncle was strange and unpredictable, but he’d only be there for another 4 months.
Seemed as if that would be a very, very… very, very long time. Nathan was 24 years old and had dropped out of college. He always had a new plan for what to do with his life. Perhaps he should start with a good old fashioned job.
“I want to impress my lady friend. She is fiiiine. You’d like her. Maybe you can show me some of your moves. But I’m serious. I’d pay you.”
Parker liked the sound of that. There is something he had been wanting to buy for himself for a very long time.