Unconditional Confidence

One of the things I love most about reading is there’s always a chance I will have an epiphany or maybe even a more run-of-the-mill moment of clarity. It’s part of the adventure of reading a book, magazine, blog,cereal box or one of those uber-cool ancient scrolls from ages long past. Not that I stumble across many scrolls… or any. Point still stands.

One of my current reads is the book "Zen Golf" by Dr. Joseph Parent.  Dr. Parent is a PGA instructor who is also a Ph.D.in psychology and a student of Buddhism to boot. That’s a pretty full resume for anyone you can name.  The book, as its title so aptly suggests, is about using the fundamental teachings of Shambhala warriorship (a spiritual companion to Buddhism) to become a better golfer and also improve your own life in the process.

Zen Golf

I’m digging this book. No, seriously…

One section in particular has piqued my interest – it’s entitled "unconditional confidence"… and yes, it is in all lower-case ’cause that’s how those who are one with the Zen roll. Or e.e. cummings. Either, or.  Anyhoo, Dr. Parent writes:

Unconditional confidence arises from connecting with our basic goodness.  We believe in ourselves as decent people and in our golfing skills for our level of play.  This doesn’t mean we expect to hit every shot perfectly.  It does mean we can handle whatever the result is.  With unconditional confidence, our self-worth as a human being doesn’t depend on how well or poorly we strike a golf ball.  We see our nature and our abilities as basically good and the difficulties we encounter as temporary experiences.

As soon as I read that, I couldn’t help but expand it well beyond the boundaries of the game of golf.  How can you not expand it? It’s so apparent to hundreds of activities we undertake each day.

It’s all-too-often the case if we doing something wrong, mess something up, miss our exit on the highway, or hit a truly poor golf shoot, it becomes so much more than just a moment of error that should slide gently by without much thought.  Instead, we often lapse into something like “Oh my God… I’m such a moron… how could I be so freaking STUPID?!?!?”  We go beyond it being a simple event and it instead becomes a referendum on our worth as a person.

What’s so troubling about this is how easily it happens.  Right there… blink of an eye… BOOM!  Event happens and our instantaneous reaction (or at least mine, more often than I care to think about sometimes) is to judge ourselves on a far more serious and permanent basis than could possibly be merited.

This is, of course, utterly ridiculous and Dr. Parent nails it.  If we molded ourselves more into the form of a person exercising unconditional confidence, we recognize that we are good at our core, momentary errors are just that and we always can move beyond them to a better state.  Notice that unconditional confidence DOES NOT equal irrational confidence.  The former is how you bounce back because you believe in yourself… the latter is an artificial construct where we are only looking to kid ourselves into belief.  That’s sort of like the prizefighter who talks a gigantic amount prior to a huge fight to psyche himself into belief.  I think that’s a fool’s errand, at best.

So perhaps we can all take a lesson from a book on golf to be a little bit more about life.  We are good at our base core and the less we become clouded with temporary passing moments and believe in a larger sense of our intrinsic value as a person, the better we will be… and we might even end up as better golfers in the process.  Or so I am hoping for me.

Thoughts, Musings and Ponderings – January 21, 2012

As the snow falls here in Connecticut and renders most activities for the day moot/cancelled, it gives a gentleman like myself a few moments to sit back and think about… well… just a lot of completely random things.  None of these seemed of sufficient weight to merit a full post on their own, so I decided to mash them all together into a beautiful pastiche of fun.  Oh yes my friends… pastiche.  You will only find such quality vocabulary right here at Fierce and Mighty.  Let’s begin.

If you don’t understand that text messages and e-mail lack context and tone, you are hereby banned from using them going forward.

I really don’t get this when it happens and I never had.  If I were to go back in time to when instant messaging was all the rage and AOL dominated the Interwebz (let’s say around 1995-1997), this would be the first time I noticed this trend.  When it’s just words on a page, it’s incredibly easy for the tone of the message to get lost.  This is why smiley faces, LOL and its ilk became so prevalent… it was some kind of attempt to include the subtle textures of tone that were missing.  Seriously.

Fast forward to 2012.  When I see people have a rift driven between them in their friendship based solely on text message exchanges or by the fact someone didn’t respond to their text message, I want to grow hair just so I can rip it out.

I will keep it simple: Until it becomes a trend and proven otherwise (beyond a reasonable doubt and all those good lawyer-ly standards), give your friends the benefit of the doubt, for the love of God.

There is a fine line between valuing your own time and being a complete slug.

I am beginning to seriously wonder whether I need to reassess my life when I have a cleaning service and I have now begun ordering on-line refill cleaning supplies for them to use.  I think that says something about me and while I’m not sure exactly what that is… it can’t be good.

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Smart efficiency? Or abject slothdom?

Everyone is (seemingly) having a better life than you… at least on Facebook.

I read someplace recently that social media can have a negative impact on self esteem because you are often inundated with all of the status updates and photos of people having fun/doing great things/traveling to amazing places. Despite the fact that it is a collection of different people, there seems to be an easy slip into thinking that EVERYONE is having AMAZING experiences every single day… and you are just sitting on the couch like a lump, wondering why your DVR failed to record the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother.

I’ve fallen into this trap myself.  I might be spending a bit of time tooling around on Facebook and I see a slew of posts on cool things people are doing and it’s as if I subconsciously roll them into the event of a single person.  Except it’s not a single person.  I am likely looking at a slice in time of 25 different people who are posting something cool they did and it might be their shining highlight of their year, not something that happens to them daily.

While none of us should settle in our lives to some drab, gray existence… there’s also no need to fall into the trap of thinking you are the only one not invited to the party.

The amount you have left to pay on your car loan is inversely proportional to how irrational you will be about getting a new car.

My car is almost paid off.  I don’t need a new car.  My car (2005 Nissan Pathfinder) is great in the snow, lets me crate stuff around (like my Prowler) and while it sucks on gas… did I mention it is almost paid off?

So despite the fact that I am looking forward to having zero car payments, I can barely contain the fanciful thoughts dancing in my head of something like… ohh… you know… this:

BMW 335 in the Fall-10

Completely pointless.  Overpriced.  Unnecessary.  Another vestige of a consumer culture, brand obsession and keeping up with the Joneses.  And completely beautiful.  Damn it.  I wants it.

And yes, these are the random points of nonsense flowing through my head on a snowy winter day in New England.  I know you are now a richer person for having read this.  You’re welcome.

Kia Kaha and the Art of Connection

A few weeks back I was pondering what would be needed to get this humble blog of mine in front of a few more eyeballs.  As someone who checks the data on his blog fairly regularly, I can get a decent sense as to whether folks (like you, good reader) are roaming over to my cozy section of the Internet to feast their eyes on my written offerings.  I get some spikes here and there, but not the consistent increase over time I am really hoping for… at least not yet.

As I pondered what I needed to do differently and feeling just the slightest bit sorry for myself (cut me some slack… it happens), an e-mail rolled in that clearly changed around my day.  The e-mail was from a woman in New Zealand who happened to find my blog while Googling “acerbus et ingens”.  And get this… she likes the blog.  No… seriously, she does.  I am 99% sure she wasn’t just screwing with me.  The Kiwis are a fabulous people, so I think this is straight-up legit.

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New Zealand… as shown on my snazzy floaty globe.  Well, sorta shown.  Right there beneath “OCEANIA”.

Her e-mail was pretty incredible in terms of the chaos in her own life and that of her neighbors over the span of the last year with the earthquakes in New Zealand.  If anything can put life into quick, sharp perspective, it’s massive natural events that are beyond human control.  It’s hard to feel all-powerful when Nature decides to get rambunctious, to say the least.

But two things jumped out at me most about her e-mail that I knew I would need to share:

1) That everyone can connect with others in the world… and sometimes at great distances.  I don’t mean this as some kind of pat-on-the-back statement at all – my new Kiwi friend found my blog enjoyable and rather amusing, so I am not saying that she found each carefully crafted sentence of my blog to be a life-affirming event for her… umm, but if she wants to write me another e-mail to that effect, I really wouldn’t mind all that much.  But somehow, some way, I wrote something that at least connected with a person I’ve never met in a country I’ve never been to.  Think about the impact you can make even more easily with the people you come in contact with every day.

2) Kia kaha!  Umm… come again, Kuzia?  Kia what-a?  The close out to her e-mail to me was “Kia kaha!” which she explained is Maori for “stay strong”.  Now, besides the fact that it is a double-K phrase (which matches beautifully with having a double-K name, hence my fandom is fully established), it’s also such a short, punchy and beautiful way to say something so incredible powerful.  Stay strong.  A bit amazing to get a message from a complete stranger with a message in Maori to stay strong, no?  Especially during a moment of sneaking self-doubt?

And speaking of strength and Maori culture… this is still the coolest thing any sports team can do pre-game.  The Ray Lewis pre-game chant has utterly zero on this badassery:

Boom.  Get some.

So to my friend down in New Zealand… you probably never realized how well-timed your note was, but for that note, I thank you for getting me turned around in the proper direction on a day when I felt the sticky resistance of frustration snagging at my feet and preventing forward momentum.  Truly and deeply appreciate it.

And to everyone else?  Connection… something we all need in our lives as the inherently social creatures we are… is sometimes just an extra bit of effort away.  Make the effort and reap the rewards,

Stay strong.

Kia kaha.

Driven by Fear

logo_tough-mudderMotivation can come from a lot of different places, some internal and some external.  I hear people debate over which is really the most powerful, but I tend to find the debate odd in that I think it’s impossible to separate the two.  I think they effect each other in many ways.

My motivation right now is pretty powerful and it’s really not one that is a typical driving force for me to do good things… but it is at the moment.  What, pray tell, could this mysterious catalyst be?

Fear.  Pure and straight-up.  Not on the rocks.  No chaser.  Straight out the bottle and into my gut fear.

This isn’t some kind of fear borne of what I would call real world worry – losing a job, a loved one, serious medical issues, etc.  Nonetheless, it is a fear for me as sure as can be.

The fear in question?  The logo above will say it all.  I’m signed up to compete in the May 6, 2012 Tough Mudder race at Mt. Snow in Vermont.  Why?  Because despite my many years of education and belief that I am a productive, semi-respectable and contributing member of society, I am also a complete idiot.  Obviously.  Why else would anyone opt to do a race of a shade over 10 miles with 30 increasingly bizarre obstacles… especially when the farthest I’ve ever run was 5 miles for the last obstacle course race I did.

Now, the obstacles themselves actually don’t really worry me in the slightest.  Hell, they actually look kind of fun.  The thing that concerns is… well… IT’S 10 MILES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

Anyone who follows my adventures on this blog can see I’m a weightlifter.  We Kuzia’s are built a bit more for strength or explosive moments of fury over short distances… not quite so much for slogging along over reaaaaalllllly loooonnnnnng stretches.  I’m 5’7” and 192 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal.  That’s not really Boston Marathon winning proportions, ya know?

But I’m signed up, on a team and committed. And I know how hard it was for me to do the 5 mile race (which I can see I was WOEFULLY prepared for from an endurance standpoint).  That knowledge has begotten fear… a fear of what I will feel like at mile 5 when I am only halfway done and with 15 obstacles and 5 more miles to go. A fear of feeling like I just want to drop to my knees, roll to the side of the course and just lay there, staring at the sky for… ohh… several hours.

And all of that, my friends, drives me and drives me hard.  My conditioning sessions are not skipped these days.  They are never shortened.  While I am not perfect with my eating (I believe in the rule of 90% on that kind of thing), I am eating better than I have in a while.  The countdown clock on my desktop which is ticking away the time I have left until this event (112 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 22 seconds as of this moment) is my reminder that the amount of time I have to work with is very finite.  Not being prepared is just not an option.

The fear is a simple one: I don’t want to let my teammates down and I don’t want to let myself down… especially when I have the time and ability to be completely prepared.

I wouldn’t ever recommend fear as a primary motivator for much of anything.  It can easily cloud your otherwise clear vision cause you to make some utterly horrible decisions.  But on something like this?  With a clear path and a clear end goal?  Fear can cut away all clutter… all extraneous nonsense… and be a completely beautiful thing.

Quick side note: The Tough Mudder races do some excellent work raising money for a great cause – The Wounded Warrior Project.  If you are interested in helping me with my fundraising, please click HERE to donate.  I can think of few things better than giving back to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for us to enjoy our freedoms.

Review Without Influence: PaleoKits vs. Primal Pacs

I thought I would try something a little different here and do a comparison review of 2 products that I’ve come across of late. Why would I do such a thing? Simple – if I have a chance to grace the heathens of this world with my beautiful and borderline lyrical prose AND give a little guidance at the same time, then why the hell wouldn’t I?  Yeah… got no smarty comebacks for me now, do ya chief?  Wait… where the hell was I?  Oh yes… a review.

I call this a “Review Without Influence” because I have no outside vested interest in the outcome of this product comparison. No one is paying me to do this and I wasn’t sent anything for free. Given that my day job involves ethics in the corporate setting, I am a pretty huge believer in full disclosure. If I ever get to the point where someone does send me something free and I write about it, y’all will know it.  Ahh, for the chance to live in such heady times!

So today’s Review Without Influence is a comparison of two products that are intended to bring some convenience to the increasingly popular Paleo Diet.  While I could spend an inordinate amount of time describing the diet, I will break it down to its barest fundamentals: If cavemen ate it, get on it. If not, let it pass.The poor cavemen never had the convenience of Internet shopping and shrink-wrapped snack deliciousness, though… so I feel kind of bad for them.  Fortunately for us, that’s not an issue. Please note I find it amusing that while typing up this post, I was eating buffalo (Paleo!), but with black beans, cheese and a beer (none of which are Paleo in the slightest).

Primal deliciousness

The two products are Primal Pacs and PaleoKits by Steve’s Original.  In making this comparison, I tried to find the most comparable sizes of products, which if you look at the photo above may make it seem like I did a lousy job in accomplishing this task. I can see why you would think that, but the funny thing was that the Primal Pac small and the PaleoKit large were actually the closest in terms of content/nutritional breakdown.

Enough dawdling. Let the prehistoric comparison commence!

Steve’s Original PaleoKit

I tried the PaleoKits first because they shipped a bit quicker. The packaging is of sturdy construction such that you aren’t going to worry about the plastic tearing or puncturing if you have it in your bag while on-the-go. I ordered the grass-fed beef jerky, nuts and berries combo which is comprised of grass-fed beef jerky, cranberries, strawberries, almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts (although I must confess, not enough of the mac nuts for my liking).

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All of the nutritional info you can find above. If you skip ahead to look at the same info for the Primal Pacs, it makes for an interesting comparison. While the large PaleoKit has slightly more protein and slightly less fat, it has a much larger overall size for the package (122g vs. 56g in the Primal Pac). There are more carbohydrates in the PaleoKit, but given that I am not a low-carb zealot, it doesn’t bother me at all… but it does look like the carbs make up the bulk of the difference in the total content of the two products.

And speaking of that, let’s get to taste. PaleoKits are… in a word… tasty. They do a nice job of giving you both sweet and salty (a combination I’ve long enjoyed). Of the two products, this is the saltier without a doubt (just check the sodium content if you don’t believe me). The beef jerky is flavorful and not overly tough/chewy. I think this is due, at least in part, to the amount of liquid/juices in the packaging. It’s not moist like a filet mignon or juicy burger, but it’s actually nice to have something to chew on that isn’t akin to rawhide leather.

I would definitely advise that if you want to eat these on-the-go (which is probably why you would buy them in the first place), pack napkins. You will definitely have seriously sticky fingers otherwise from the fruit juices in the package. It’s not a major hassle, but it’s something to keep in mind.

On a completely unrelated note, it’s kind of cool to see that 15% of the profits from PaleoKits go to a 501(c)(3) charity for kids. I will leave it up to you to make your own choices on the fact that the charity is to get at-risk kids involved in Crossfit. But giving back to something that matters to the owners? Always a thumbs up from me.

Pricing: The cost for the 5 Grass-fed PaleoKits (size large) was $32.50 plus $9.39 in shipping, at a total of $41.89. Working out to $8.38 per pack, that’s a bit pricey in my mind. You do certainly get the convenience factor for a very healthy snack with grass-fed beef you can eat anytime – 100% agreement. Just need to think over whether that’s worth quite that much.

Primal Pacs

Primal Pacs were the second Paleo snack product I had the chance to try and I snacked on these today. Fairly similar packaging to the PaleoKit and they seemed like they could withstand being knocked around wherever you had to take them (camping, hiking, gym bag, carry-on at the airport, etc.) For the Primal Pac, I looked for the most comparable product and since everything is grass-fed/grass-finished beef, it made it easy. The ingredients here were grass-fed jerky, mango, macadamia nuts, almonds, cranberries and a variety of spices and seasonings.

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In looking at the nutritional info, eating a full package of the small Primal Pac gets you close to the PaleoKit on protein and fats, but is definitely off on the carbohydrate side. You can even just tell looking at the side-by-side shot of the two packages that there is a big volume difference, but in eating them, I did not notice a huge difference in feeling more or less full with one or the other. That’s actually one thing similar between the two: I did not feel all that full in eating them, but truthfully, that was perfect. I feel satisfied and really nicely energize on both – these are not the kind of snacks you knock back, get an energy rush and then want to take a nap from 60 minutes later. They both seemed to do a nice job of keeping me going through my work day (which is likely when I would be using them in addition to airport snacking). Also, these are definitely the lower carb option of the two products (if that is something you are concerned about).

From a taste perspective, the Primal Pacs are also way tasty. The mango is a really nice twist to the overall flavoring and these are much less salty overall. Truth be told, I think I like the flavor of the Primal Pacs just a slight bit better than the PaleoKits. The taste and texture of the meat on both is very good, but the overall flavor combination of the beef, mangoes, cranberries and nuts with less juice and less salt made for an overall more pleasant taste experience. The ingredients get a chance to shine on their own without the salt winning out. Again, this is a subtle edge here to the Primal Pacs since I did enjoy both brands.

Finally, the pricing on the small Primal Pacs was $17.50 for 5 and $5.00 for shipping for a total of $22.50. That works out to $4.50 per pack which is quite a bit less than the PaleoKits. It’s important to note that Primal Pacs and Steve’s Original do become cheaper on a per-pack basis when you purchase in greater quantities (which I will no doubt do going forward).

Final Verdict

I’m giving the edge to the Primal Pacs in this particular match-up of grass-fed beef/fruit/nut products. Their overall flavoring is a little better in my mind and the pricing difference is notable. I am curious to try some of the other Steve’s Original products since they have a very wide product line (which you can find here), so there may be other varieties which will grab my palate with a vengeance. But from a pure taste and value standpoint? I take my hat off to the fine Primal Pac folks – a nice product that I will be ordering some more of soon. I am hoping they will at least follow the lead of Steve’s Original in developing a wider range of product offerings as well.

Either way, I think both of these would be great choices for any kind of traveling you may do. The kind of utter gahr-baaage you find in airports is not something a health-oriented person is going to lean towards, so these can be a real saving grace. I mean… unless that airport has some Chik-Fil-A. That stuff is flat-out magical… not healthy, but sweet mother of God is it tasty.

But if you want tasty AND healthy, your friends at Steve’s Original or Primal Pacs can hook you up with a means to eat like a caveman wherever you travel… even if cavemen never flew coach from Boston to LA. At least that we know of. Those pterodactyls never looked very roomy if you ask me.

If you enjoyed this, let me know or if you have ideas from some more product comparisons, I would be happy to do this again sometime (especially if it involves a lot of eating).

The Lesson of Three Fouls

In the event you didn’t know it already, my 3 nephews are one of the greatest joys of my entire existence. As a bachelor guy with no kids of my own, they put life into a kind of perspective that comes from no other place. I know my relationship with them isn’t ever going to be akin to what their parents have with them, I do feel a connection, love and a strong level of protectiveness for them that is just… well… incredible to me.

When they do well or are happy, my heart soars. When they are sad or down or frustrated, it hits me hard. It’s part of that whole thing of being the “sensitive one” in Team Kuzia, I suppose. I like myself just fine that way, hence I take the downs that will always go along with the really great ups.

Today was my oldest nephew’s first basketball game of the year and Berry Insurance (that’s his team) pulled out a 30-28 victory over Finman Windows. It was really kind of nerve-wracking towards the end… you know, as much as one would wrack their nerves over 10-13 year olds playing hoops. Which can be a lot. Why? Because parents and relatives are bat-guano crazy when it comes to their kids, that’s why.

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My nephew (#4) getting his instructions and his game face on… umm, not that you can see the game face. But I assure you… fierce.

Now, my nephew has some pretty good athletic ability and is actually really fast. Seriously… kid’s got jets. The thing is… when he gets into game situations, he gets a little bit tentative and never really seems to get after it. It actually goes to something I’ve seen from coaching kids for a little while now: until MAYBE high school, the thing that separate kids in sports is not pure talent, but aggressiveness. Hands down. It’s not even close. You will occasionally have a kid who is sublimely talented, but they are a truly serious outlier.

I wish I could help my nephew be more aggressive out there… not because I am obsessed with winning (I’m not… certainly not for kids) or anything in that realm. I just think he would have more fun if he was just letting loose and rolling with the game instead of feeling pressure to do well. I know this feeling more than I care to admit: it’s pretty much how I was as a kid. It’s hard at that age to sometimes step back and realize it’s just Little League, Pop Warner or rec basketball. It really was for me and if I had been a little more relaxed, I would have played better and had a ton more fun in the process.

So if I could give my oldest nephew and my godson a bit of advice, it would be this: Every game, commit at least 3 fouls. Every. Single. Game.

If you’re currently having a moment of, “Kuzia… you may be the worst kids coach to ever curse this planet”, I don’t blame you. OK, I might… a little bit. Seriously… curse? That’s unduly harsh, you jerk. Umm… where was I?  Oh yeah…

In basketball, committing a foul is something “wrong” or “bad” or “against the rules”, hence a lot of kids avoid it like the plague. They want to be good kids, do the right thing, say their prayers, eat their vegetables and so on. The huge majority of kids just want to do the right thing to make Mom and Dad proud.

But here’s the thing: committing a few fouls per game means you are actually going after it on defense. You are playing a little more aggressively and worrying a hell of a lot less about making a mistake. And quite frankly, in basketball at this age, the last thing you want are kids wringing their hands over messing up, for the love of God. Where’s the fun in that?

Plus, it give the kid a chance to break that cycle of fearing to fail or messing up or looking bad in front of their families. If they know committing some fouls isn’t that bad of a thing, then they can loosen up enough to play hard. This isn’t teaching them to mess things up… it’s teaching them to get past the small nonsense that matters little at all.

Granted, we’re not talking about drilling a kid into a wall on a fast break. Let’s not get completely kooky, kids.

But I think it’s a powerful lesson for kids everywhere and something important to learn as early in life as possible: it’s far better to give your all and mess things up a bit than to never dare mightily at all and wonder “Could I have done more?” But come to think of it… it’s not just kids who need to learn that, now is it?

In The Grind

I’ve known a few different people in my life who have been stuck in health situations you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Situations that would make even the most stouthearted people you’ve known droop their heads in despair.  There is nothing pretty, glamorous or glitzy to be found for someone pushing through those kinds of life moments – not surprising, of course.  They don’t do jazzy MTV reality shows about people battling leukemia.

But when I’ve looked at the way they’ve braved their way through those situations, I’ve always come away with a mixed bag of feelings that take me some time to sort out.  There is the inevitable sadness and questioning of why something so awful could possibly happen to someone so good.  There is the fleeting feelings of “Will they get better? Will they pull through?”  I feel really thankful that any of these notions (at least for me) were, in fact, fleeting and quickly replaced with a determined answer of “Damn straight they’ll get better.”

The most profound feeling I tend to have is a blended sense of pride in the dignity with which they carried themselves, admiration for their bravery and a very dedicated notion that I have absolutely nothing to complain about in my own life.  I mean, how could I?  Even the worst moments of my day are so thin and pale compared to even some of the best parts of their day.  The worst day you could possibly have in the office will simply melt in the face of the best day of someone with chemo.  It makes you get your mind right… and quickly.

Now here is what I find amazing about those in that fight: the people outside of the fight will see their courage, bravery and utter determination to fight through someone awful.  There is incredible heroism in it all.  But you know what?  Anyone going through that fight never sees it that way until maybe much, much later, when they have pulled through and the dust has settled… and probably not even then.

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When they are in the grind, there is nothing heroic to feel in that moment.  Just a push to get better.  A push to not feel like everything is crashing down.  A push for the next moment to feel better than the last one.  How heroic would you feel if you were stuck in a moment like that?  Not very.

It is only to those who stand outside and watch with terror and awe that it can be that way.

But this is why it’s so important to understand this feeling of pushing through those dark moments: When we have our own difficult journeys or life challenges, most of us will never feel as if there is some noble purpose to it all.  We are hyper-fixated on the fact that the moments sucks, we hate it and we just want to be through with it as fast as possible.  However, if we can have just a flash of inspiration in those dark times, a point of self-realization that our moment is actually an opportunity for us to show our mettle… then we have something good and real, even when stuck in the muck.

It reminds me of something I read recently where we shouldn’t pray for help, but should pray for challenges with which to prove ourselves.  Clearly no one is going to pray for a grave disease or the loss of a job or something like that.  Let’s not turn this into some kind of insane gauntlet of masochistic self-discovery.  But the perseverance of those who have gone through REAL hardships and have come through with grace and class have shown me that as bad as I may feel in the grind, there is always, always, always potential meaning to it for me.

The part that requires strength is accepting that fact, even when I am on my knees, broken and wishing it would all end.  That’s why the inspiration of those I’ve seen push through it before drive me.  And fight on, I will.

Dear 2012…

Dear 2012,

Hi – I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Kevin. Since we are going to be spending 366 days together (you sneaky leap year, you!), I thought it was best if we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. But I guess that’s actually the first lesson of the year isn’t it? The fact that our relationship is completely one-sided in every way, shape and form.

I will tell you everything about me. You will tell me nothing about you until the moment it happens.

I will give you my heart, commitment and best effort every day. You will give me absolutely nothing.

I will expect nothing from you. You will expect and demand everything I’ve got… and then some.

Anyone who would look at our relationship from the outside would immediately classify it as hopelessly dysfunctional. In some ways, they’re certainly going to be right.

But mostly? I disagree and do so vehemently.

See, despite the fact that you may be great or indifferent or just a flat-out raging SOB, you are the only option I have… but more than that, you are what will challenge me, inspire me and knock me down, thus giving me a chance to pick myself up, dust myself off and be better than I was before lying flat on my back.

2012-01-02 10.31.08

I have plans for us, 2012. I really do. Oh I know you find that amusing. It’s funny in the vein of the quote attributed to Woody Allen of “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I get it, but plan I shall and will bob and weave to take on the wrinkles you will throw my way.

I know a lot of people in their Facebook posts or blog articles are talking quite a bit about how they will dominate 2012. That’s not as much my style, but not because I don’t want to do that.  Rather, I will give it my best every single day and test my limits as often as I can. I don’t look to dominate you, 2012… I look to dominate me.

So here’s to the next 365 days of our relationship. You will not willingly give me anything and I will willingly give the best of me. And that’s just fine in my world.

Love, hugs and kisses,

Kevin

P.S. Don’t get cocky, 2012. I might be humble, but I’ll be damned if you think I am just rolling over for you…