Happiness. Joy. Positivity. Beauty. All these things and everything good are always right there in front of you, it's your state of mind that allows you to see them all or not. Have you ever looked at something and just didn't give it the time of day, just walked on by, or even scoffed at it thinking how insignificant it is? Then, all of a sudden one day you see the same thing and you are blown away at how amazing it makes you feel? The thing itself did not change; it’s you that did.
I knew all along during my time of negative thoughts and extreme lack of motivation that I would find it all again. After all, I have always prided myself as being one who saw the bright side of life, and spent more time seeing the good in things than the bad. And it's just so funny to think that out of the blue you can see the world in a whole new light. I'm not about to say that I am ready to go skipping through the woods, rejoicing and singing songs or anything. All I am saying is that I have remembered what my purpose is in life and have re-focused my attention to what I like and what makes me feel alive and good. There are still bad things there, but I am systematically moving them away from me so that I can be the person I've known I wanted to be for so long.
It's incredibly powerful, and awesomely self-strengthening to realize that it's completely up to you to feel good or bad. If something is happening in your life, you ALWAYS have a choice to keep it, or get rid of it. I know that there are times when that legitimately feels impossible, but the fact of the matter is, you really do have the power to be in control.
When you see your life spiraling in the wrong direction. When you are getting sick, getting overly stressed, acting out, expressing anger, sorrow, fear, and you are becoming generally more angry for any reason at all. It could be your job, your family, your relationship, your living situation, literally anything. You need to take a moment here and there to assess whether or not some of the things in your life, or the choices you make on a daily basis are the right ones for you. Here's a bit of a light-hearted example. Over the past few months I have been watching a crap-ton of TV shows on my computer. No joke, I would probably spend an average of about 4 hours a day watching shows (honestly, it had to have been more than that!). I was doing this to avoid having to face the fact that I was acting like a little bitch and avoiding all the things I should be doing. I was feeling so down, sorry for myself, and so many other things that I overwhelmed my own brain and just decided I would do my best to check out. I didn’t go run around the woods, I didn't go climb a tree by the water. I didn't hit an extra workout, hell, half the time I didn't even hit ONE workout. I could watch an entire episode of Arrested Development without even cracking a smile. Now that is freaking bad! The things that made me happy were right next to me all along though. Sort of hanging out, waiting for me to give them attention because they knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them forever. I guess my happiness is smarter than me.
And all it took was a little change of perspective. A little time where I could rip myself away from the negative things bringing me down, where I didn't have a computer and couldn't escape to my TV shows. When all of a sudden you have a handful of incredibly supportive people next to you, asking you to join them in things you know you love doing, rather than you having to find the motivation to do them yourself, your eyes will just flash open. For me it happened with three major things: running up the crazy sand hills at Baker Beach and looking over the Golden Gate Bridge while gasping for breath and dripping sweat. That was nice. Climbing a tree in Golden Gate Park, somewhere away from the cars and people. And walking a freezing, windy, empty beach at Ocean Beach. Just a couple days and all of a sudden I could not keep fooling myself into being a lazy, negative person. My natural personality reemerged and it was so unbelievably invigorating and exciting.
For me, it was simply putting myself in a situation where people that naturally supported me doing the things that make me feel good could surround me. And where I could not avoid doing things I liked to do. I was able to remove all negativity from my life for a couple days and that was all it took. Maybe all I needed was an hour, or perhaps I would have needed a week or a month. Either way, the simplest way to do it is to step away from things that bring you down, surround yourself with things that lift you up, and boom, you're good to go!
I know it's all way easier said than done, but saying it, or finding out what to do to make your life better is so simple. Age-old quotes and sayings are age-old for a reason; they work. Get rid of all the negative in your life, and surround yourself with the positive. If you choose to make excuses about why your life sucks, that’s on you, it’s your damn choice to make things better. If you know what you want out of life, pursue it with more passion and energy than anything else in the world. And if you don’t know what you want, constantly try new things so you can learn what it is you were built to do best. I am a rare case it seems. Rare in the fact that I have known what I wanted since I was pretty young. I wanted to play professional baseball. I mean, I REALLY wanted it. I never knew anything else besides that desire. And when baseball became a reality, that same passion and drive was found in wanting to inspire others to become healthier. I hope to inspire people, not just through writing and coaching, but through living my life the way I always talk about and share with others; you know, practicing what I preach. And I preach to be honest with yourself, wear your personality on your sleeve for everyone to see, good and bad, and do what makes you feel good and right (as long as you're not hurting others).
I still have plenty of things to work through, and I will always have negatives in my life. It is ridiculous to think or expect that everything will always be wonderful and perfect. But if you spend most of your days completely understanding what it is you are living for, it makes it so much clearer and easier to figure out how best to deal with the negative and the bad.
I am waking up each day now thinking about teaching and coaching. And right next to those exciting thoughts is an eagerness to spend my quality time with the barbell and the outdoors each and every day. And the people in my life that bring me warmth, and respect me for who I am will inspire me today. And the ones that question me, and bring me down with their negativity will not get my attention.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
After a new client came in for some work early Saturday morning, I hopped in the car with JP and we began our drive out to around Massanutten Mountain in the Shenandoah's for a bit of a camping trip. This was a great time with a group of really cool people and, despite a couple potential strange moments at the start, we all had an awesome time, even though it was such a short trip!
We paused at a Safeway in Fairfax, VA to meet up with an additional 10 people and stocked up on some extra food and such for the trip. This is where the strangeness began. For a trip that would turn out to be only about 17 total hours, we were sitting in that parking lot with enough gear for at LEAST a full week! No joke, here is a list of some of the stuff stuffed into the 5 cars:
2 x 8-person tents
4 x 2 person tents
A few other tents
1 full gas grill (yep, an actual gas grill)
3 large coolers filled with food
4-6 full shopping bags filled with food
1 fold-out table
A 2-stove gas stove
Um, a luger (like, the gun. Not only was it strange enough to bring a gun on a 1-night camping trip, but the fact that it was a luger was actually slightly frightening)
This is the short list. But after a bit of passive-aggressive conversation on what and what not to bring, we decided we would just bring it all (yep, 5 cars driving out to the woods...) and just get out there and set up. So, our organizer gathered us together and briefed us on the 2-hour drive ahead of us (Geez! We literally got a pre-written briefing on how we would all drive out to this location!)
So, all that aside, we hit the road, and immediately things started to loosen up. For those of you who have not driven out towards the Shanandoah's in Virginia, it is a breath-taking drive. JP and I talked and gazed at the scenery as we left the bustling city behind and disappeared into the dense forest and mountains. We set up camp about 100 yards of a gravel road in the mountains. The clearing was perfect and while most of the crew moved from another site we were thinking about using to this site, myself and another guy strung up a tarp and began clearing away some areas for our tents (almost forgot to mention, it was raining pretty hard at this point). Once the rest of the crew got there it began to clear up a little and we unpacked the mulitple car-loads of gear we had and set up our site before headed out, now in the wonderfully blazing sun light, for a hike down the path that split our site.
The rest of the trip was your basic camping experience: a long hike, a quick cool down in a near by creek (JP and I ran the 3.5 miles to it, making the cool down that much more rewarding), lots of grilled meat and snacks, and chilling by the camp fire until the wee hours of the night talking, singing songs and just chilling out. Then it was up bright and early for eggs and bacon and JP and I hit the road to get back to civilization in time for our scheduled doings (I had a double header I had to coach!).
A few moments stood out to me while out there this weekend. First, it was our little run down to the creek. Running in an area that is completely void of anything remotely human (besides the trail/path/road you are on), no houses, no cars, no planes, nothing, is an experience everyone should have at some point. When the only things you can hear are your feet, your breath and whatever nature has going on, you get overcome with a sense of security and peacefulness. It's awesome, it's exciting, and it's so calming. Second was a small walk I took, probably around midnight, out to a clearing that overlooked, well, everything it seemed. JP had walked out there and I went out to join him for a bit. While trudging down the thickly covered single-track, I decided to turn my light off for a little and just feel myself completely alone in the woods. The second the light went off I got scared. Not being able to see anything, and knowing there is basically endless mystery completely surrounding you is scary feeling. But after a few seconds that scared feeling dissipates as all your senses heighten. It is a natural high. Endorphins flood your body and you instantly recognize what it must have been like to be primal. For those handful of minutes before you snap your light back on and break the experience, it is just you and the rest of the world. Nothing in between. Just writing it gives me a little burst of energy! And third, it was the people. While it was a group that I generally would not go out of my way to hang out with (they were all from JP's church, and I am in no way an avid church goer) there is still something so wonderful about connecting with people like that. Even though it's in a totally different setting, and for totally different reasons, it feels very similar to when you are with a large group of people for a workout. The extreme aspect of the workout, and the for last night, the extreme aspect of being way out in the woods, adds a desire to connect with your fellow humans for comfort and to share in the experience. And while I do love being in the wilderness alone, AND, I do find it kind of sad that a group of people being out in the wilderness is considered an extreme in this day and age, I can not deny the warmth a group of good people brings you.
I look forward to many, many, yeah, many, many more wilderness excursions in the coming months!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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