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Lower the Boat

“This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is, and that dream continues.”- Diana Nyad

“This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore no matter what it is, and that dream continues.”- Diana Nyad

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore

How often we remain on the lift, dry and safe. Lower the boat, oars in and start paddling. Each day, a step at a time, our journey unfolds in pursuit and movement. Lower the boat. Better yet, drop it in and get out there. The horizon changes when we move toward it.

Reach

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning

It is in the effort and action of reaching that we are simultaneously pulled and pushed. Motion transforms to momentum. Dreams released to unfold. The effort soon becomes effortless and the action natural.

“But for each of us, isn't life about determining your own finish line?” – Diana Nyad

“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line?” – Diana Nyad

Change is our friend not foe. Growth is our calling. And reaching our potential is not only for oneself but is the gift that the world needs from each one of us. Our purpose is to leave this world with no regrets or doubts that we became our best and most sacred self. And the world is better for it.

Reach, and keep reaching.

Discernment

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – C.G. Jung

The velocity of the last few weeks has been mind-bending, rather mind-numbing. On and off planes, in and out of meetings. Go, go, go. And I know I am not alone. Walking through airports, you see the angst and robot-like looks as people rush to the next thing, going through the motions, tired and worn.

In the midst of the speed and demands that we create in our life, we often convince ourselves that we are stuck and don’t have a choice. But we do have the power to make better decisions. And when we don’t feel like “casting light,” we must seek light to get filled back up again, to be whole.

Slow down for a few moments to gain a new and fresh perspective, allowing discernment to expose the blessings and joy in your life right now that long to be noticed, to be felt, to be shared. Move through the chaos without becoming chaos. Kindle the light, stoke the fire and in the middle of the darkness, seek light and cast it right back out again.

Unleash

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Nhat Hanh

When running with our dogs, there’s a phrase that one of my friend’s Lynn uses if one of her dogs gets her feet wrapped up in the leash – “fix your feet.” Good advice as we start each day so we don’t get caught up in all of the “leashes” we create that trip us up and hold us back.

By setting the course, before we enter “the real world” full of flawed and hurting people, we choose a better and more thoughtful path. When we find the best in ourselves, we find the best in others.

Shift your mind, open your heart and release your spirit. Unleash your potential to be more humane (or more canine) filled with empathy, generosity, kindness and awe.

Fix your feet.

Unlearn

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings

I wish you the wisdom that comes from unlearning;
From letting go of old ideas, assumptions, “givens” and limitations that we too easily accept;
Embracing delight and curiosity each and every day;
Experiencing joy that comes from perked ears, a wide smile and gazing eyes;
Expanding and discovering more and more;
Always open to surprise, inviting growth to the very end.

Unlearn so you can go deeper into wisdom, awe and gratitude.

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Arthur Ward

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Arthur Ward

Encouragement

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” – William Wordsworth

Criticism and cynicism is a wide and well-traveled road. A jam-packed highway in fact. Encouragement and gratitude may be the road less traveled, but it sure makes the journey sweeter. A simple acknowledgment, a compliment, a smile, a “hello”, a kind word can change a moment, a day, a life. It’s that powerful.

Too often we buy into scarcity. There’s more than enough encouragement, recognition and edification to go around that never depletes the well, but rather replenishes it. We are steeped in abundance, the well will not run dry.

Recklessly and with great abandon, turn yourself inside out and embrace those in your world with kindness and encouragement. Win hearts, feed souls, lift spirits, cast light.

Authentic Leadership

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

I asked Jeanne to teach me how to do speed work so I could mix up my running routine, making it a little less routine. It’s easy to get into a rut even in good habits. Tonight, she taught me and made it fun. There are many more lessons I’ve learned from her through the years. She’s magnetic and draws people to her with who she is to the core.

Jeanne will often say she’s a follower not a leader. It could not be farther from the truth. Authentic leadership is unselfish, shining the spotlight on others. Authentic leadership shares knowledge with actions more than words, with genuine enthusiasm more than pontificating. Authentic leadership is ego-free and generous in spirit, actually making us believe that we know more than we do, building our confidence to keep trying.

So when I look for models of leadership, I am certainly not looking at those in politics, entertainment or most businesses. Real leadership is modeled by those in our daily lives who quietly, unassumingly and authentically live it out each day, reaching outward rather than calling attention to self.  Natural and real, building others rather than themselves.

Outstanding lesson in not only speed work, but authentic leadership in so many areas of life – thanks Jeanne, your grateful student.

Be Still

“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” – Joyce Meyer

It seems innocent enough. A little complaining, talking about someone else, thinking everyone has it better than us – they’re “lucky.” Feeling justified, we think that letting it out again and again somehow will make it better. And it doesn’t, it makes it worse. What we focus on is what we become, who we are. These seemingly little things chip away at our capacity for joy. These joy-stealers are contagious if we don’t keep our guard up. Complaining is one of my triggers. I’ve been hearing a lot of it lately and instead of letting others chirp and let it go, I complain about their complaining. I fall into these traps when I’m tired, working too many hours and when I don’t get to run outside due to the “polar vortex” winter with 20 below temps.

We need to be still and look for the good in others without question or delay. Naïve? Maybe, but what and who will we miss by jumping to conclusions, judgments and criticism? Are we willing to risk joy and delight in exchange for “being right” in our own mind, whether we are or not. And we not only need to remove the joy-stealers, we need to replace them with gratitude, appreciation and awe for the many blessings to be found when we take off our blinders and filters. The light shines in replacing the dark. Be still and cast light.

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T. S. Eliot

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T. S. Eliot

Taper

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”- Marcus Aurelius

Saturday was my last long run. This week is taper week to the fullest – a 2 and 3 mile and that’s it until marathon Sunday a week from today. Like many things in life, it took a long time and it came so fast. It’s a shift to dial it back. To accept that I’ve done the work and rest is what’s called of me this week. The only training I need to do is on my mind. Knowing that I put in the time and effort over the past four months and accepting that it’s enough, no matter what happens.

We do that to ourselves. We do the work and think we should do more, one more long run, lift some weights. We let our minds wander. What if I didn’t do enough? Will my ankles and calves loosen up or will they fail me, or me them? Enough – we are enough.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – Thomas Aquinas

It was fitting that on the last long run that it would rain. A few weeks ago, Jeanne and Linda offered to run with me by the river, on part of the path I’ll be on next week. The plan was to run in the afternoon. In the morning, the forecast was rain. I texted them and told them they didn’t need to join me if they didn’t want to – I completely understood. A few minutes later a text back – we’ll be there, and they were. That’s what friends do – they show up, even when it’s not sunny.

So as I prepare my body this week by getting rest, I will work hard on my mind and spirit, focusing on enjoying the journey. And while I may be running it alone, friends and family who have supported me in this endeavor will be in my heart and mind when my body gets weary, carrying me across the finish line.

Going Under

“Wisdom is learning what to overlook.” – William James

Before I left for vacation last week, people asked where I was going, what I was doing. Nowhere and nothing, at least, nothing scheduled. I’m going under. I spend way too much time going over – scheduled, doing, extended. I enjoy traveling for vacation but I really enjoy staying at home with unscheduled time that I fill as I go.

Going under is slowing down, doing what I want to instead of what I have to, single-tasking, meetings-free, no alarm in the morning except Lily, starting and finishing projects that I never quite get to and taking a few naps in between. In the past three days, I’ve organized the basement, filled four bags to give away to the Disabled American Veterans, painted the garage steps and door frame, ran 19 miles, took the dogs for a few extra walks to feed the neighborhood chickens, hung four pictures and spent undivided time with family and friends. A perfect going under trip.

Schedule some unscheduled time, each day not only on vacation. Be quiet long enough to hear what can’t be heard when we are in overdrive. Slow down to see your life as a spectator so you can fully reengage as a passionate participant, relearning what to overlook, and there’s plenty to overlook.

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