Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Lost Art of Respect - Lessons from the Samurai - SYNCRO-BLOG

SYNCRO-BLOG - to see many more perspectives & viewpoints on this topic, scroll to the bottom of this post for some more awesome writers' BLOG links.  Comment to share some of YOUR personal experience with "Random Acts of Kindness/Respect" or ideas about how to revitalize common courtesy...


"Chivalry is DEAD..."

Another related statement with slightly different context:

"Common courtesy is uncommon."

You've heard these, you've read these and maybe you've even experienced these concepts over the last 1-2 decades.  While there are many theories on it, I'm not so interested in exploring what happened or even why it happened, but rather, "what can we collectively do about it (that would make a tangible difference) now?"

As is often a theme with some of my life-philosophy, I borrow (see: steal/plagiarize) from ancient Japanese wisdom.  More specifically, I take a few pages from the moral/ethical Code of the Samurai, otherwise known as "the Bushido".

The basic tenants of the Bushido Code are as follows: 

Rectitude - integrity
Courage - bravery, not to be confused with fearlessness
Benevolence - kindness
Politeness - good manners
Veracity - sincerity
Honor - to hold in high respect
Loyalty - faithfulness to commitments
Self-Control - restraint, often of one's feelings

Books have been written to explore the whole lifestyle and code of the samurai, most notably Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe, so if you want to explore the Bushido more, you have some resources. Even one of my favorite films: the Last Samurai (sorry, Chan-Chan, had to include a Tom Cruise reference there) deals with the modernization of society and the dying of old ideals/standards.

Singing, but NOT about respect with strangers.
I'm going to look at our daily person-to-person interactions for a moment, and focus on the points of benevolence, politeness, honor and touch on courage.  The lost art of respect.  Now I'm not talking R-E-S-P-E-C-T as Aretha sang about.  In case you've been singing that song in karaoke (ladies) totally misinterpreting it's meaning, Ms. Franklin was talking about getting laid when her man gets home ("takin' care... TCB" = takin' care of business and I hope I don't need to explain her "sock it to me" reference). But I digress...

I witnessed this last year: I walked out of my favorite coffee shop (Peet's Coffee in Brentwood, yeah, OJ's Brentwood) and there was a car broken down at a stop light.  The driver door was open, hazard-lights on, driver nowhere to be seen.  The signal turned a couple times, as I surveyed both sides of the street looking for some poor individual on their cell phone calling AAA for a tow.  One or two cars got stuck behind this vehicle as others wouldn't let them out/around because they (themselves) were in a hurry to get to where they were going on a busy morning commute.  Within about 5-minutes, a lady walked out of my beloved Peet's, coffee in hand, crossed the street, stepped into the "broken down vehicle" turned the hazards off, shut her door and drove onward to her destination.  Consider me floored.  My levels of expanding shock to the conversely elevated levels of entitlement and indifference.  I wracked my brain for what could have possibly motivated this behavior: "CRAP, NO PARKING, I'm LATE again, I NEED my coffee, ahhhh F#$K it, I'll just throw it in park here, it's only gonna take 90-seconds..."

This type of behavior has become more and more prevalent.  People holding a cell phone conversation while apologizing to the person they are on the phone with as they order coffee at this same spot (it would be easy for you to say, "typical LA problem" but I challenge you to look for examples close to home).  Everybody is super-busy, in a hurry, stressed out and reduced to the lowest level state of being (a coma or 'brain death' where no conscious thought is present) and all one can do is deal with their own, individual, selfish needs/wants in the present moment with no care or concern for how it shall impact so-called strangers.  The domino effect on the day/experience of others is profound.

Sometimes 'Doing the Right Thing' = Respect
Turn this around for a moment and consider the random act of kindness (a form of ultimate respect towards someone you don't know): you are having a pretty horrific day. Who knows, flat tire, you lost a big sale/account at work, got in a fight with your closest loved one and are looking at the world like it's raining adversity on you maliciously and intentionally.  "WHY ME!?" you cry to yourself.  Then, someone in the grocery store lets you in front of them in line, or sees you coming to a door with your hands full and they hold the door open for you.  Something little, so simple, and it can begin to turn a day around (or at least change your doom-and-gloom perspective).  Practicing random acts of kindness: paying it forward, can pay big dividends.  Think of when you've done something like this (I know you ALL have, or you wouldn't have been attracted to THIS post/topic), it made you feel really good.  Maybe the person smiled and gave you the most sincere "thank you" you had heard in a while?  But that wasn't the point.  You eased someone else's journey.  You paid them honor and respect.

There are quite a few levels and layers to this game I am about to invite you to play.  Different challenges with increasing levels of difficulty.  The game is to bring an increased level of respect to your interactions with other human beings, both near-and-dear to you and sometimes even more importantly, to random strangers.  If I haven't lost you yet, read on...

These levels are set in increasing difficulty scales (and are from my own dynamically subjective opinion)...

FIRST LEVEL - treat your significant other (see also: boyfriend/girlfriend) with kindness, generosity and respect (when things are happy/good)

SECOND LEVEL - extend this treatment to your close friends and family

THIRD LEVEL - add co-workers and people you see most days of the week (yeah, the coffee barista who makes your same latte each and every day)

FOURTH LEVEL - add random anonymous strangers

FIFTH LEVEL - add random anonymous strangers who are publicly disrespecting others (the self-important dude having a cell phone conversation in line in front of you)
WWMGD? - Okay, maybe a poor example...
SIXTH LEVEL - add the random anonymous stranger who is being rude to you, quite directly

SEVENTH LEVELadd your significant other when they are having a bad day and are taking it out on you and estranged family members you've had a falling out with

EIGHTH LEVEL - RESPECT YOURSELF: who you are, who you aren't, and who you intend to be

NINTH LEVEL - respect the disrespectful Prius owner (you might have to live in Santa Monica to get this joke)

I take pride in being really good at levels 1-4.  But when others get nasty with me or treat other's poorly, this is when I gotta bring this practice/game into full swing.  There are a few different strategies to try here...

Most people don't want to intrude when someone is on their cell phone and let the person steamroll their interactions through the coffee shop.  But if there were a CULTURE for respect (which has to start somewhere, with someone taking a stand), you could tap them on the shoulder and say, "hey, it would be pretty awesome if you continued that conversation after your order OR stepped outside until you're finished" and smiled (genuinely).  Sometimes the person will do/say something hideous back, but in 90% of these interactions, you'll get the peanut gallery (others in line with you) that will chime in with an "amen" or "yeah, please sir" responses.  This is where COURAGE factors into practicing respect.  Taking a stand for propriety is more than just refraining from being a part of the problem, it is being an active participant in the solution.

Alternatively, when someone swoops in on a parking space you were waiting for, cuts you off in traffic, sneaks in front of you in the line at a deli, these are all opportunities to be polite (and let them know YOU KNOW, and it's okay).  I know, your "but that a-hole took advantage of me" voice is going crazy right now.  This challenge is one of the hardest things in the world to practice.  But it's worth it.  Maybe NOT for the stranger you feel took advantage of the situation, but the people around you who didn't have to experience you flying off the handle with road-rage over having to look for a parking space for 5-more minutes.  Respect, when practiced fully, brings more calm and peace to you and you'll be able to perpetuate and pass on that loving, kind energy to others more freely.

Take the high road.

Don't take my word for it.  I invite you to experience it for yourself.  Then come back to me and say I'm crazy, it didn't work.  I dare you...

"I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being."
-Jackie Robinson

Some of my other favorite bloggers' posts on this same topic:

Katie DeSplinter Muses on Social Media vs Social Respectability

Jennifer Benna Ups Her Level of Motherly Self-Respect
Olga Varlamova-King Values Other's Points of View and Respects Herself
Liza Howard Respects Her Commitment to the Moment

BONUS! - One more (randomly discovered) piece on Chivalry and Good Manners by Lauren Bravo from the Huffington Post (UK).

Comment below and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Communication With Alien-Robots - Fuel for All Healthy Relationships (Humor & Frankness)

"If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."
-Steve Jobs

Here's a little ditty I wrote up a while back about the importance of communication (including humor and frankness) in every relationship (not just romantic relationships, but your important  friendships, workout partners and professional relationships too).

For the many of you who have suggested to Kate & I that you personally believe we have "a perfect relationship" consider this your wake-up call. Kate & I (in our 11+ years together) have had fights about everything: from simple driving directions to who's doing the dishes and even occasionally a dozy over mayonnaise (well, Vegenaise actually... Valentine's Day 2002, seriously). What we always come back to is full communication and personal responsibility. While I won't be wowing any of you with some amazing demonstration of my own personal responsibility in this post (Kate is the one being incredibly generous in the interaction below, I'm just the @$$hole trying to be RIGHT), I thought you might get some joy, amusement & laughter out of our "dishes fight" from over 3-years ago, and how we had our moment of anger & frustration, but we brought back the authentic communication and playful levity to the situation. The net result is that I ended up doing the dishes as a performance art. Kate even videotaped me doing the dishes so she could watch it over and over again (and her "you NEVER do the dishes" argument is out the window).

As always, I have expressed, written consent from Kate that this email chain be published, so please forgive the colorful language and know we're BOTH behind you reading this. For our own amusement & sanity.

BEFORE you read this, understand that we had some other similar nothing fight a couple of weeks prior, and Kate wrote me the opening email apologizing for being mean and nasty. So the email chain starts there (with me being an a-hole trying to be righteous, yuck)...
Sometimes, the aftermath of a fight is downright delicious.

********BEGIN EMAIL CHAIN********
From: Kate
Sent: July 28
To: Jimmy
Subject: I'm a jerk

By acting and thinking from fear, worry, blame, upset and focusing on what's missing/wrong. That is exactly what I create. I do this to put the responsibility on you, to sabotage our connection and to prove that I am 'alone'. It's hogwash. Bullshit. Lame.

Since last night when I treated you poorly, I could not sleep, I had bad dreams, I missed my run, my ear is worse, I had no time for coffee. Basically everything falls apart when I don't take care of you and our relationship.

You have my word that I will treat you with respect, love, care, nurture and come from a creative and inspiring space.

I'm sorry for being an ass.

I hope you have a great day, please know that I love you, I'm here for you.


From: Jimmy
Sent: August 13
To: Kate
Subject: FW: I'm a jerk

Please read this. It's from July 28th. Psssst, that's two weeks ago.


From: Kate
Sent: August 13
To: Jimmy

Seriously, what the hell is my fucking problem?


From: Jimmy
Sent: August 13
To: Kate

You aren't willing to sit in the impact (of your words and actions). You aren't willing to be uncomfortable and communicate everything and be truly vulnerable. You might actually get betrayed and hurt and abused and used that way! 

I'm a bad, mean, angry SCARY PERSON!!!! Maybe I'm the BOOGEY MAN!!!! BOOOOO!!!!


From: Kate
Sent: August 13
To: Jimmy

I fucking love you.


From: Jimmy
Sent: August 13
To: Kate

"Seriously, what the hell is my fucking problem?"

I have another idea. Maybe your fucking problem is you are truly UNWILLING to be human? Maybe you really ARE an alien robot?

It's okay, Kate. You can BE HONEST. If you really ARE an alien robot, I'm willing to accept that now. I'll even go back with you to your planet for experimentation. I give up. I really DO love you no matter what. I'm hopeless.


From: Kate
Sent: August 13
To: Jimmy

I kind of feel bad for you, loving a robot is tough. I guess that explains why you like to run ultras. You thrive on pain, endurance, torture and insanity.

I'll book the flights for us to Zyborg tomorrow. One way is okay right?


From: Jimmy
Sent: August 13
To: Kate

I surrender, Zyborgian robot alien. You are picking an odd specimen, but whatever, better me than someone else I guess... high pain tolerance.

One way is fine. But clearly your planet has a far more advanced internet. Can I still communicate with my family and maintain a BLOG from afar? Or do you replace me with a Jimmy-robot so people won't know I'm gone?

Did you see my post on my plans for this evening? And your plans for the moment you get home?


From: Kate
Sent: August 13
To: Jimmy

You are the perfect specimen. You may maintain your blog and relationships, but there will be a Jimmybot put in place physically.

I did happen to just read your post.

I'm really sorry for losing my cool man. I look forward to seeing you tonight.


From: Jimmy
Sent: August 13
To: Kate

Can I post this ENTIRE email as a BLOG?


From: Kate
Sent: August 13
To: Jimmy

Sure, why the hell not. We won't be on this planet for much longer anyway.



********END OF EMAIL CHAIN********

The MORAL of the story: Even if you are an alien robot, or are about to be kidnapped by an alien robot, COMPLETE COMMUNICATION and willingness to make fun of ourselves is the key to a healthy relationship.

AND yes, I'll FINALLY admit it:

"I should have just done the damn dishes."*

*it would have taken a hell of a lot less energy and time than this email chain, blog post, and fighting against alien robots who will win in the end anyway.

I love my wife. Even if she is an alien robot...

POST UPDATE (1-day later)

Sexy albino me. You can't UN-SEE this.
For those of you who missed the punch-line on this 3-years ago, I ended up doing the dishes as "performance art". My friend Seth told me that there was some survey that reported 3-out-of-4 women were asked if they'd rather watch their man do dishes or dance naked, and 75% of them answered dishes. We have the birth of 'chore-play'.

I did the dishes while Kate watched me, and I only wore some 70's style NIKE dolphin shorts (see: photo to the right, and you're welcome). I also had to sing to her ("Bare Necessities" from the Jungle Book). She filmed part(s) of it. Then we made up, officially... but, alas, I now communicate with you from ZYBORG. I'm not sure if it's really nice here or if I'm in one of those virtual reality machine-thingies...

POST UPDATE (3.5-years later)
Zyborg is amazing.  I hope the Jimmybot they left behind is holding things together well.  I miss seeing ALL of you...
View from a mountain peak outside of Agnapot, on the planet Zyborg...
PS - a simple tip my amazing sister Sarah gave me for relationship harmony:
IF your partner makes a request and it takes less than 10-15 minutes to fulfill, you should always say yes. Just give up the thoughts you have about who did that chore last time, how tired you are, or how mad you might be over something else. This simple act of generosity will take far less time and energy than saying NO or resisting doing something that could alter the day/evening, where yes could make all the difference.

PPS - if YOU (reader) are a single dude and you made it ALL THE WAY through this long-winded post, check out a well written piece by David DeAngelo about the Top 10: Ways To Be The Man Women Want (seriously, it's a great piece) from

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kindness & the Starfish Proverb - Tremendous Impact in Little Steps

Today's blog entry is meant to be elegant and simple (see: short & sweet).  I am aiming for my shortest blog entry, ever.  Oh yeah, it's also a semi-retread (from an old Facebook post), so if it seems familiar, I wanted to revisit the topic.  I hate it when I'm "talking about talking" (Jimmy, shut up & BLOG already!).

I first heard this proverb told by a very bright young graduate of De La Salle High School, Patrick Maguire, a buddy of my brother Dan.  Thought I'd share it with y'all, as I love to be reminded that kind acts, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, can have huge scope and impact.

the STARFISH proverb
While walking the beach, an older man saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the sea.

As he came closer, he saw thousands of starfish the tide had thrown onto the beach.  Unable to return to the ocean during low tide, the starfish were dying.  He observed a young boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.

After watching the seemingly futile effort, the observer said, "There must be thousands of starfish on this beach.  It would be impossible for you to save all of them. There are simply too many. You can't possibly make a difference."

The young boy smiled as he picked up another starfish and tossed it back into the ocean.  "It made a difference to that one" he replied.

Even when we are buried in the "high tide" of our busy/impacted lives (and many, many commitments), or the "low tide" of energy/health, choosing a kind attitude and actions will have a ripple effect with the people close to you, and you could possibly alter someone else's path whom you don't know.  I challenge you to be kind to everyone.

I've had more time (of late) but less energy, yet I've still chosen to be there for people as much as I can.  When I'm really busy (seems like every other week), I have more energy but less time, I'm aiming to be kind to strangers and have impact in every situation (even standing in line at the coffee shop can be an invitation to be kind).
The support, kindness and love of a crew at the Angeles Crest 100 in 2011 (at Mile 75)

I know many small things (from others) have made a big difference in my life.  Simple stuff.  It all starts from a baseline of kindness.

EXTRA CREDIT (ULTRA) CHALLENGE: be kind to those who are not themselves, kind. At least in the moment when you encounter a rude stranger, the way in which you interact with them could provide an alternative perspective/solution. Everyone returning that rudeness to them most certainly keeps them cemented in that place.  Being kind to others also starts with (and ends with) being kind to YOURSELF. That, may be the biggest challenge of all (for some)...

Two "kindness projects" in existence in the world (you should check these both out)!

*started by personal trainer Amy Clover

**started by singer/songwriter Katelyn Benton

I invite you to share your experiences below (tell me about when others have been really kind to you, especially a stranger) and share how it effected you.  Please POST COMMENTS below about your kindness experiences!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One's Truest Freedom - Breaking the Chains of our Past, Creation of the New Story - SYNCRO-BLOG

This post is a part of a "Syncro-Blog" which is one-topic, multiple perspectives on it by a couple/few different bloggers.  You can find links to these other perspectives at the bottom of this post.  I also invite you to post your thoughts, comments and ideas (if you're so inclined) when you're done reading this (if you make it to the end)...
Photo by Gareth Mackay
"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."
-Johnny Cash

My life is the way it is today because I've broken free of the constraints that my past history used to impose on me.  Let me back that out a moment: I am ALIVE today because I broke free of my past.

In another time (now over a decade ago) my life was a life lived in fear of people knowing my past, judging and maybe even condemning me for it. In a world quick to label and categorize (in an attempt to understand something), many are also quick to write off and give up on something (or someone).

Mary (my baby sis), Sarah (my big sis) and yours truly...
I was 11 or 12 when the proverbial $#!^ hit the fan in my happy childhood.  Up to maybe the age of 10 or so, my family unit was not only intact, but I enjoyed the carefree upper-middle-class living of suburbia.  I had (and still have) two amazing sisters book-ending me, and my parents were both physically healthy and emotionally happy people.  We lived in the 5-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood.  We all played sports (which were supported by, coached and attended by both our parents).  We had a couple dogs.  Sandbox and backyard, check.  Beautiful parks to run, play and explore all close and well maintained, check. It was a little too good to be true.  Without going into now unimportant details of the demise of my family, my parents divorced after a couple ugly years of bickering, fighting, and the loss of love/respect for each other.

My parents' divorce hit me like a ton of bricks.  My enthusiasm for school fizzled (I was at one point achieving high marks).  I withdrew.  I became depressed and finally, after one big ugly fight with my baby sis, I was cornered into a "new" family discussion with my mom and her then boyfriend/fiancee. I was stubborn then, too, and I left the discussion by running to a nearby creek to think and blow off steam.  I came home to a squad car in the driveway and a police officer intent on bullying me into 'parental submission.'  I wouldn't cave (this stubbornness has gone on to serve me well racing 100-mile mountain runs), but I had no respite to escape to this time, so I locked myself in the bathroom.  The situation escalated quickly.  I made one threat to get the cop to leave and they deemed it "suicidal tendencies" and the next thing I knew I was in a hospital, facing two of the most condescending psychologists/therapists I've ever had experience with. Again, too stubborn for my own good, I wouldn't cooperate with their attempts to manipulate me into conversation. After a cryptic exchange with my mom, I had the intuitive realization that I was in lock-down and made a break for it.  The 40-meter hall seemed longer than a mile.  My mom walked out the double doors as they closed (and latched) at the very moment I got to them.  I was shattered. LOCKED IN and abandoned. My world went from the perfect little childhood to unimaginable emotional pain. This event sealed the deal. I could tell you more about the therapy, the group sessions, watching the failed escape attempts of others, but you've all seen enough reality TV and good psychological thriller films to have a fair idea of what happens in these places. I have come to firmly believe that they aren't places for people to "get well" but rather, a place to house, catalog and care for those who are beyond sick. The quicker you can adapt and get out, the better chance you have to make it (statistically speaking). I got out in about 3-weeks.  I was only 12. The next youngest patients were 16 and 17. From that point forward, I possessed a heightened consciousness. Something developed to protect me from that type of hurt and betrayal. I was connected and detached at the same time. I became an old soul (as some have gone on to describe it). Time moved forward...

Oh boy... this is awkward.
Junior High is a tough place. You have all these girls going from awkward children to the middle phase. They suddenly have boobs and hips, they've shot up generally as tall as they're going to get (prior to boys doing the same) and they're chalk full of hormones.  Adolescent boys have it NO easier. Most are short and gawky, half of us had braces and we suddenly want to have a girlfriend (for acceptance/love and other things our bodies are chemically driving us towards).  It's hard enough to go from childhood to adulthood in that middle cocoon phase.  I was now different. Yeah, Margaret Mead said it best, "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."  But middle school and high school become more about fitting in and learning to be likable based on our deep-seated fear of rejection and being alone/abandoned.  I had two things pulling me apart now: the fear of (repeated) rejection/abandonment and the need to protect myself from even being at risk of that.  This is where I believe my over-the-top personality blossomed.

Friends from elementary school gave me the ever so charming nickname of "psycho-friend" and they even had a song they sang to go along with it. I was the only person I knew (aside from the people I was in the institution with) that had been labeled depressed and/or mentally ill. I knew I would be looked at as different from there forward. So a part of me (as a 12-13 year old) literally made up this idea, "fine, if I'm gonna be different, then I'll be really, intentionally different!"  They called me crazy! So I became the crazy kid who'd accept ANY dare. You name it.  I was a prime cut Fear Factor participant and Jackass daredevil before those shows had even been a pitched idea (I was in middle school in 1989-1990, Jackass started in 2000 & Fear Factor in 2001). I'd eat weird stuff on dares (apparently I haven't grown out of this, yet), jump off of cliffs/houses/boats into water far below, even go streaking in various places (again, haven't matured beyond these behaviors, yet).  But as I moved from middle to high school, went to summer camps, and would meet new people I'd be terrified that they'd "find me out" and not want to be around me anymore. It was a constant and all consuming fear.

Facing one of my biggest fears: the BADWATER 135
Fear will always be a part of our lives. In many ways, it can actually be positive and healthy. But there are times and areas that fear crosses over the line and becomes something counter-productive to living the lives we dream of living.  For some of you kids old enough to remember the film Dune (or the amazing book that preceded it), the Bene Gesserit (an exclusive sisterhood who trained their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning) had a mantra:

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

I lost a bet. OR did I???
Now, I'm not a part of this sisterhood. I do, however, happen to have a pretty powerful relationship to my fear.  I am still afraid of so much (people mistake me for being fearless, whereas I know myself to be full of fear but I act in the face of that fear).  Freedom from fear (in one's life) doesn't mean fear-FREE, but rather, developing an acute inner dialog around fear and choosing which fear to hold on to and which fear to permit to "pass over [you] and through [you]."  This, my friends, is called being courageous.  Courage is roughly defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear (defining what you do / act upon).  Courage is a practice, not a genetic predisposition. Many times we relate to people as they either are (born) courageous beings or they are (always) cowards. Think of courage like you do fitness. If you work the muscles consistently and patiently, you become stronger. If you face some small fears and over-come them, you'll consistently be able to face bigger and more deep-seated fears. Eventually, you'll tackle the doozy in your life.  The biggest skeleton in your closet. Then you will be fully experiencing (think of Braveheart screaming here)... FREEDOM!!!!

Somewhere in my adult life, early to mid-20's, I realized I was living someone else's life.  I wasn't happy.  I was afraid to live, afraid to step out into the unknown and chase down my dreams.  I realized I didn't share with many who I truly wanted to be, I hid from my past (institutionalization) and had things I had wanted to do for 5 or more years that I had taken NO actions towards.  Here's an interesting list for you:

*I wanted to move to Los Angeles from Northern California (the San Francisco Bay Area), and had talked about it for over 5 years.
*I wanted to run a marathon (my first, as my longest race distance prior had been the 12k SF Bay to Breakers).
*I wanted to be in a relationship with the girl of my dreams (I had been in 3 or 4 relationships longer than 1 year, and one was 4+ years in two different pieces).

1st hundo - "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
In hindsight, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I had purchased many self-help books. I reached out to many friends who had taken bold steps towards their dreams.  My then ex-girlfriend's ex-boyfriend Mike was a key turning point.  He was enrolled in a course called... wait for it... "the Wisdom Course" put on by Landmark Education.  Mike was one of the wisest dudes I had met (especially considering we were both in our 20's at the time), and he's since gone on to become a very successful, sought after motivational and keynote speaker, as well as a successful author.  After a chat over a beer with Mike, I enrolled in a course called the Landmark Forum and discovered a lot about my fear.

Now you know why I love ZOOLANDER so much?
In my early-to-mid-20's transition, I challenged myself to face my fear on every possible level. It started with owning my past. I can't EVER change that I've been in lock-down psychiatric care (nor can I change that I was a "male-model" *doing best BLUE STEEL impression now*). But I hide from it no longer.  I still have tendencies that at times throw me into a depressive funk.  I now know how (and when) to reach out for help (although even now it's still HARD to reach out for that help).  It's been 24-years (two-thirds of my lifetime) since I was in lock-down.  It's been nearly 5 years since my last therapy session (I've gone to individual and couple's therapy on-and-off for some 20-years).  I talk openly and honestly about my past mistakes, the things I used to be ashamed of.  An interesting thing has opened up too... the things I used to fear judgment on, I now INVITE judgment.  Sharing my history has become a way to weed out people I don't see as "high quality" individuals who will push and challenge me to be better.  Those that are quick to judge/condemn remove themselves rather swiftly from my life. They're doing me a favor!  The people that have stuck around are the most forgiving, open, kind and compassionate people I've ever known.  I can learn from their love, friendship and generosity.

Trusting the universe (and this elephant) fully.
I have become who I am today (and I continue to work to evolve towards being a little bit better every day) based on those whom I have surrounded myself with.  We are, ultimately, a product of our immediate environment and YOU get to choose who to spend time with, who you invest love/attention in, and who's ideas and philosophies you'll embrace and perpetuate.  YOU get to choose.  In communicating my story (yes, many of you have been the victim's of me over-talking and over-communicating my stories), I have been freed of fear's shackled existence. I'm running free now and I am able to extend my hand to invite those I love to be free with me. Experience the joy on the other side of fear. It starts with jumping off the cliff, while the water may be cold at first, the time in the air and rush of cold water (and adrenaline) is exhilarating and liberating.  It starts with the simple act of loving and owning your own unique story...
"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult."

Post a COMMENT if you enjoyed this blog (and I also invite you to post your thoughts if you offer any alternative viewpoints too)!

Found below are some other people I adore and their unique perspectives on this topic:
*Katie DeSplinter's Brain Used To Hate Her
*Nathan Coury's Heart On His Sleeve
*Ashley Walsh's Why You Front'n?