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.


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.

Balance Through Imbalance

I seem to have my epiphany moments at odd times and a lot of them seem to come during my morning commute.  While part of it is likely due to the fact that I almost always do that commute with no music or radio on, I think it’s also likely due to the fact that it’s easier to let your mind be open to think about things instead of watching the utter madness of how my fellow humanity drives.  Come on, people… get it together out there!

My latest piece of highway inspiration caught me off guard a little bit, truth be told, because it stood on its head a lot of what I’ve been pondering in terms of creating a better life for myself… because the moment of clarity was all about how I need to possibly get myself out of balance to achieve balance.  A tad bit counterintuitive, to say the least.


Up to this point, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I need to achieve some kind of well-structured harmony of my mind, body and spirit… and that’s still my end goal.  The “A ha!” moment came with the stark realization that my process of achieving that goal was quite likely all out of whack.  I’ve been in a mode of thinking that I needed to treat mind, body and spirit equally in my pursuit of the noble balance, but there’s a pretty significant chance I am not currently balanced equally in those 3 areas anyway.  Maybe I am at 50% body, 35% mind and 15% spirit in terms of where I pay the most attention or where I have achieved the most amount of progress.  Nothing about that would approximate the equally divided personal growth pie of 33.3%, 33.3% and 33.3%.

I can practically sense a few doubters reading this and thinking, “How is it a grand point of epiphany to think that maybe you need to spend more attention on the 15% and less on the 50%?  That ain’t some kind of advanced nuclear physics, dude.”  Too truth, my Doubting Thomas… too true.  That wasn’t my clarity moment.  Here is what I realized:

Maybe I need to throw a ton of time and attention to body… even if it is at a 50% point of progress.  Seems a little odd, right?  How is devoting more time to the area where I am the “farthest along” (whatever in the world that even means) going to bring along the two areas that are not quite where I want to be?

Here’s my thought process… and be forewarned, my friends… stepping into my head for even but a moment is gonna leave a mark… tread softly:

I think that if I put in a full commitment to the area of body and really buckle down, get truly disciplined and decide I am going to completely kick ass on all aspects of my physical developments for the next few months… I think there will be tremendous carry over to mind and spirit.  It all gets back to my core belief that developing one area of mind/body/spirit and go a really long way to developing them all.  The commitment to excellence and dedication to discipline I can put forth through consistent training, top-notch diet and a relentless attitude will allow me to prove to myself I can make progress when I commit.  That proof will strengthen my resolve and, hence, strengthen my spirit.

This kind of single-minded focus I think will spillover into mind as well because this approach will force me to be smart and not just burn myself out like some kind of unfocused maniac.

And… in the end… if my body feels good and I know I am making progress, I already know this is the kind of confidence that improves my life as a whole anyway.  I can hardly put into words how much better my life has been ever since I decided sometime in college and then in law school to really start getting myself into shape.  It’s completely night and day.

But while I am still doing well, I think I’ve lost a little bit of the swagger and a little bit of the fun that goes along with it.  I aim to get that back and in getting that back, prove to myself that just an overall improvement to the other spots in my life is going to be part of the package.

Will I completely give up on devoting time to my mind or my spirit?  Of course not.  That would make me a completely shallow and borderline boneheaded fool to do that… but instead, I am going to let them rise with the tides created through getting myself going on the physical part of my life.  Plus, this is not a forever thing to devote this much more time and attention to one part of this little trinity.  These things must be cycled to really make best use of the shorter bursts of focused effort lest you truly become horribly out of balance and just a very one-dimensional person (one of my worst nightmares).

Time to shake up the yin-yang and see what comes out on the other side… and I’m feel pretty good that the other side is only going to be something better.  And more handsome… if that’s even possible.  Seriously… have you met me?  It’s almost unfair.

Do You Forgive For Someone Else or For Yourself?

As the nice little Catholic boy that I am, the fact that Lent begins on Wednesday has been on my mind.  Lest anyone rolling across this post is not entirely clear on what Lent is all about, it’s essentially the 40 days that lead up to Easter.  It kicks off with Ash Wednesday and although Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is the day before, it’s not an official part of Lent, per se.  It’s more the “Let’s get all that sinning out of the way now! WOO!”

There are usually 2 traditions associated with Lent that most people know:

  1. No meat on Fridays; and
  2. Giving something up.40DaysAnd40Nights

Heck, there was even a movie with Josh Hartnett that was all about a guy  attempting to give up sex for the 40 days of Lent.

Now, my Mom would always point out that you don’t need to necessarily give something up for Lent, but you could do something instead.  Maybe volunteer or make some kind of a positive change.

Well, this year I have been fresh out of ideas so I did the logical thing and turn to the magic of the Interwebz to see what was out there. I did give some thought to giving something up, but anything I thought of was something that would be good for me to give up, like caffeine. So coming across this post caught my eye a little bit and, in particular, 2 suggestions on it’:

  • Create a good habit; and
  • Forgive.

I like them both, but as I give it more and more thought, I cannot help but feel that the truly worthwhile thing to do would be to forgive any grudge or slight I’ve held for too long.  Perhaps it’s the fact that forgiveness… and I mean real forgiveness… is possibly one of the most difficult things in life to do.

In the combination of “forgive and forget”, most of us can do a fair job of putting a hurt caused by another out of mind or jamming it deep within the gray matter of our subconscious… but to really and truly forgive?  To recognize that someone else did something something awful to us?  And what if that person never even said they were sorry?  Is it possible to forgive in that situation too given the fact that forgiving the unrepentant might be giving a gift to someone who simply doesn’t deserve it?

It’s a fascinating notion to consider because one of the potential benefits to the person doing the forgiving is the release of a lot of mental or spiritual weight by letting go of resentment and anger.

So is forgiveness for the person who committed the slight… or for you?

Maybe it’s just the perfect blend of both.

Do you see it?

When you look at this photo… what do you see?  A basement filled with strength training equipment?  Money that could have been better spent on something else?  Someone’s shrine to an obsession?

This is my home gym and to me, it’s an almost sacred place.  Seriously.  For me, weight training has always been a tremendous outlet and the greatest form of therapy I have ever found for keeping me sane in a nutty, nutty world.  It’s a place where I can use a physical tool to test my mind, heart and spirit.  I decided when I would put together this gym, I would go with the best (that being EliteFTS) because it would be such an important place in my life.

So to me, this photo is really showing the place where I test myself… where I prove myself… where I find out more about who I really am than most other areas of my life.  Will I give up when it gets hard or when it begins to hurt?  Will I be scared to throw on my back hundreds of pounds worth of weight?  What happens if I lift poorly?  Will I just get frustrated and quit or will I dig down deep and go at it again?  And am I taking all these lessons to heart and learning from them?

A strong mind and spirit can help you to have a strong body… but the hard work, effort and discipline used to give you a strong body can yield a strong mind and spirit.

So do me a favor… look again and take your time. It’s a sacred place.

Do you see it?

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