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The Last Bastion of Freedom January 1, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, fitness, Health, running.
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5 comments

Today was my first official day of my training for the Boston Marathon. I will be running my dream race on April 19th of this year. I had a good run to start off – a 10 mile slip-slide along snow covered roads dodging cars and snow plows. It was splendid! I crank up the long run mileage this weekend. I start cross training (Swimming) on Monday.

I was talking to a good friend today about control. It seems there is very little that people have personal control over these days: finances, careers, relationships. People are making sacrifices for their children. People are forced into financial compromises because of unemployment. People are postponing relationships because of overwhelming responsibilities. I am no different. I don’t have control over much in my life right now. I have made good choices but with poor timing (deciding on a career change right when the economy tanked.) Because of this, I have made several sacrifices for others. I have had to accept compromises for myself. The only thing I have control over these days is my running. I am in charge of my training plan. I make decisions about where to place my runs during the week. I listen to my body and respond to it’s needs for nutrition and rest. I weigh the consequences of skipping a run or the advantage of adding a run. It is all up to me.

My Only Control

People need to have control of something in their life. Even if it is only one thing, it gives them freedom. To be the master of your own creativity, to be the director of your own narrative, to be the manager of your own career, to be a contributor of your own relationship – just one thing to grab onto and say, “this is mine.”

  • I know someone who lives for writing
  • I know someone who breathes for photography
  • I know someone who determines their children’s future
  • I know someone who is a partner in a passionate love affair
  • I know someone who has a successful business

These people have a purpose. These people have control. These people have something to wake up for. These people have something that keeps them alive. These people have freedom.

The Challenge

Training for a marathon will be a challenge in such a harsh environment here in the northeast. I have only trained for half-marathons during the winter, never a marathon. I have already hit challenges in the past few weeks and now that I am on a strict training schedule, I need to be creative in my re-working of training elements.

Cross training – I will have to switch to swimming as my non-impact cross training. In my usual summer-fall marathon training, I used cycling for this. I am hoping to get the same benefits in the pool.

20+ long runs – Always a challenge even when the weather cooperates, I have never run a 20+ training run in the snow. I have also decided that I need to do at least 4 of these to get myself over the Newton hills and still come in at a sub-four hour finish time.

Speed workouts – I have been very successful with step-ladder interval training on a track in the past. Since I won’t have access to a track (shoveled off anyway) I will have to resort to Fartleks exclusively. It is hard to monitor progress with this training technique and I have never relied on them exclusively.

Treadmill alternative – In severe weather, I will have to use a treadmill. I hate training on a treadmill. These machines do not offer the same training return that road training does because they naturally aid in the push-off. I also will miss the psychological and spiritual benefits of running outside.

Night training – Running in snow is one thing. Running in the dark in the snow is just downright dangerous. Most of my training injuries have happened in the winter mainly as a result of the combination of poor visibility and slippery conditions.

Weight – Winter is when people experience weight gain the most. Not only do I have to focus on my training diet, I also need to lose about 8 pounds before race day. This will all be a challenge in itself especially with the stresses of other variables in my life right now.

The Benefits

Ever since I have been running marathons I have always dreamed of qualifying and running the Boston Marathon. The journey to that end has changed my life. On this road I have found new perspectives in my social life, psychological stability, spiritual awareness, and self esteem. I have discovered elements of myself that I never thought existed. My depth of understanding and awareness has increased. My fear of challenge and change has dissipated. My perception of what is important in life is clear.

When I cross that finish line on April 19th it will be the symbolic culmination of my personal freedom because I am in complete control of this one little part of my life. I will determine my fate. I alone will decide my success.

Sex, the Master’s Division December 29, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Love, Passion, Relationship, Sex, Spirituality.
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8 comments

When I run races, I am placed in the master’s division. The master’s division is the category for men from age 40 and up. Now you would think that this is a derogatory classification for men my age but let me tell you something, the master’s division is consistently the fastest and most competitive division there is. Men my age are wiser than the younger crowd when it comes to training and running strategy. We know that we cannot rely on youth to bang out a personal best or win a race. The younger guys think they can just get up off their couch after a week of binge drinking and chicken wing eating and run successfully. I have to laugh when I see those guys around mile 2.5 on the side of the course throwing up after going out too fast and thinking they can hold that pace.

The same is true when it comes to sex. Yes, the master’s division also has the experience and knowledge to perform better than the younger boys in bed. However right now I would like to explore the attitudinal advantages that the older male lover has.

The Difference

I have several young lady friends dating men between 25 and 35. Being the best man friend a woman could ever have (yes, another blog post will explain that) they all come to me for consolation and advice when things go bad. They continuously find men of this age looking for that ‘hook up’ or the ‘score’ so that they can have one more notch on their bedpost or that locker room chuckle with the buddies. Men of this age are all about the physical dimension of copulation. There seems to be no thought about what it will mean emotionally. It is referred to as “thinking with their penises.” Many times, I find my young lady friends going in thinking the same way, only to see them watch their phone the entire day after, waiting for him to call. Correct me if I am wrong if you are a young female reader, but these women may have a hidden agenda of, maybe-I-can-hook-this-guy-by-my-sexual-prowess. I tend to think that your mothers are more correct when they told you, “why would any man buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.” The bottom line here is that the younger man sees sex as more of a short-term release and less of a relationship builder than women of that age.

For older men, there is more complexity. Again, experience seems to be the variable here. More than likely, men my age have been in several relationships. More than most have been married. There are children, ex’s, careers, friendships – life experiences that they bring to the table (in this case, the bed.)  All of this contributes to ‘cognitive complexity’ and with this brings deeper meaning to intercourse. Don’t get me wrong here. Even though men in the master’s division are less likely to consent to sex purely for sexual pleasure, this pool of participants will still not consider the act as a ritual of immortal promise either. However, it will be part of the equation. Unless you are a hooker, you can at least consider that there is more on a master’s division man’s agenda when he asks you to sleep with him. At the very least, you can bet on him calling you in the morning. More than likely, he will end up in your bed again and most likely he will be combining this form of communication with other signals that will give you a pretty good idea of what his intentions are.

The First Love

A man in the master’s division looks back on his life and reflects. He sees much meaning in what he has done, who he did it with, and why. His first love is very important to him. The woman who brought him through the threshold to manhood is considered a second mother to him. The key here is “first love” that was consummated with his “first act.” He will never forget her and places her in the same category as the Virgin Mary regardless of what transpired after that. I am one of the fortunate men who is still in contact with my first love. She is a complete friend who has helped me get through some difficult times in my recent history. She is usually the first one I come to when there is cause for celebration, need for consoling, or advice about relationship. We have a special bond that will never be broken. Master’s division men project that importance onto every woman he has feelings for. Every relationship is compared to his first love because that is from where he came. When he eventually has sex with a woman, it is considered sharing the same bond with her. This is not unlike the same bond that Robert Heinlein labels “Water Brothers” in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. In this novel, sexual intercourse is the ritualistic act that bonds people together as one – the pinnacle of the act of sharing water together.

This will translate to the bedroom in several ways. In the master’s division category, a man will want to re-create this bond with you. His style in bed will be more of a sharing attitude that will consider the woman’s pleasure before his. He will be conscious and reactive of the signals you display that will steer him toward your needs. He will look you in the eye at the epiphany of your pleasure. He will hold you tightly at your release. He will breathe with you in your calm.

The Mother of his Children

It is more than likely that a man of my age will have had children. Again, like the first love, the mother of his children will also imprint a unique stamp within his soul. Regardless of where the relationship stands today, a man of worth will always understand and respect the bond with this woman (or in some cases women.) This is the woman that impressed in him that the sexual act truly possesses higher purpose. It is the means to carry his seed to the next millennia. Master’s division men find this of great importance at this age of awareness that they are in fact, mortal.

The experience of childbirth gives the master’s division man respect for the female body. He will be aware of the power your body has on him directly and to humanity holistically. This is reflected in the way he will make love to you and in the way he will treat you after. His lovemaking will be slow and with purpose. He will be cognizant of your comfort during and caring in his manner after. He will have thoughts of what it would be like to have children with you. He will entertain the idea of sharing a life with you.

Experience

Be assured, you will not be the first woman a master’s division man will have sex with. You may have some unjustified reason for wanting to know how many partners he has had in the past but what should be more important to you is that this man has experience. He has had his share of bad sex and his share of mind blowing sex and at this age, will have understanding as to what was the cause of each. More importantly, he will have the knowledge that no woman is alike. Every woman has different needs in bed. Most importantly, he will bring a wide variety of techniques with him that he will be able to tap into to satisfy your need. He will not be afraid to ask questions. He will not be hesitant to explore new options nor experiment outside of the box. You are in the hands of a master who will have highly developed communication skills, teamwork skills, and critical thinking skills. Your time with this man will be rich in want, detailed in desire, and in the end totally satisfied in need.

Do’s and Don’t

So how do you go about entertaining the possibility of spending some quality time with a master’s division man? Below is a brief list of “points of entry” to guide you to that end.

  • Don’t ever accuse a master of “just wanting to get into my pants.”  It should be assumed that his agenda is far more complex than that
  • Don’t assume you will sleep with him on the third date. He will not be looking at the quantity of time spent with you as a determinative factor; he will be looking at the quality of time.
  • Forget body image – this man will make love to you because he loves you. At that point, it is about you, not your body.
  • Prepare for the moment – Again, don’t assume it is all about your body. Take care in the clothes you wear, the undergarments he will slowly remove, the scent he will smell, the skin he will taste.
  • Expect him to spend the night – prepare for the entire evening. Some housekeeping may be warranted. Some breakfast items may need to be purchased.
  • Kids are an asset – Maybe not the first night, but consecutive nights and days he will be looking to see if you are willing to bring him into your entire life, including your children’s lives.
  • Speak up – before, during and after. He will listen.
  • It is the entire package not the singular event – He is going to love making love to you when it comes to that point because he has found traits in you that will assure it. This takes more than sexual cues. Show him you are intelligent, fun, caring, respectful, playful, and can hold a conversation. This will all translate in his mind to sexual complexity.
  • Think beyond the bed – He will put meaning to his moment with you. You will become part of his spiritual collective. Are you prepared for that?
  • Say no – If you are just out for a quick release – a one night folly, do him a favor and say no when he asks you to sleep with him. If you feel you are not ready to receive the deepness he is going to share with you, it is best you go find a man in the rookie pool.  After all, you may do your part in bringing the beginner closer to the enlightenment of the master’s division.

The job hunt dating game December 28, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Job Search, Love, Relationship.
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As of November 2009, the unemployment rate is 9.4%. Even with the announcement that the recession has ended, the nation continues to bleed an average of 188 thousand jobs a month.

These hardcore facts translate into extreme competition for those looking for employment. Recently the average amount of job interviews a job hunter went on before landing a job is 17. That is up from 9 interviews before the recession.

There will always be the financial horrors associated with being unemployed. The worries range from house payments to putting food on the table. That alone makes for a stressful job search. However, there is an additional characteristic that compounds job hunting even more – the emotional aspect.

Emotionally, job searching is much like dating. Think about how this all works.  You write letters of ‘interest’ to a prospective employer, much like posting your bio on an Internet dating service.  You then wait to see if there is interest. There isn’t much emotional energy expended at this stage but when you get that call asking you to interview, the anticipation rises. The interview is much like a date. You exchange information, maybe talk about some personal things, you exchange business cards and then say, “Goodbye, I hope to hear from you soon.”  Then the waiting begins – more anticipation, more anxiety. You wonder if she liked you enough to give you a callback for another interview. Maybe she didn’t like you as much as you liked her and thus you may not get a call.  Or, like the dreaded Dear John letter, you may even get the rejection e-mail, or a phone call wishing you luck on your job search, however, “We have hired someone more fitting to our needs at this time.”

If you have been unemployed for a long time, much like being single for a long time, it is hard to resist saying yes to any job. All you want to do is pimp yourself out to the first taker. There are so many things wrong with doing this, much like pimping yourself sexually. The very least being that you will end up with a job you are not interested in. The very most accepting a job you just are not qualified for (under qualified or over qualified.) This will only necessitate an early separation and a continued search. Much like the stigma of a divorced single dater, this doesn’t look very positive on your resume. Even worse, after being told you are over or under qualified for this position, it is, “Too bad you weren’t around 6 months ago, we had a position open that you would have been perfect for.” Just like dating, sometimes you fall in love with someone who is not ready for a relationship. Or worse yet, found someone just before you showed up on the scene. Bad Timing.

There is another related scenario as well. You may go to an interview for an appropriate position and see that you just could not live with the organization. It could be that the position is way too overwhelming. Maybe the people you meet vaguely remind you of the TV show, “The Office.” Possibly, what was discussed in the interview is nothing like the posted job description. Much like a first date that reveals personal inconsistencies from online discussions or dating site postings, you tuck tail out of there and hope you never hear from them again. Of course, just like a Dear John letter, it is ethical to call or send an e-mail withdrawing from the candidate pool. I have been in this situation twice. Both were a case of false advertisement. The job descriptions were not really what the actual job was. I wrote a polite e-mail thanking them for their time, however I just didn’t see, “us moving on with this relationship.”

Who knows? You may just get that call that asks you for another appointment. Yes! – another date!  The relationship moves on. There is more discussion. You get to know the organization a little better. They get to know you deeper. You hit it off. There is another round of “goodbyes’ and “we will be in touches” and then … more waiting. What happens next?  Another call? No call? “They must like me, they called back, right?” At this stage there is some jealousy involved. “Are they romancing other candidates?” “Who are they seeing today?” “Can’t they see I am the right person for them?” You may have a deeper connection to the organization at this time. “I thought they liked me. I really like them.” Then, like dating, there is the anticipation of the third call. We all know that in today’s dating world, the third date is the date when you will quite possibly sleep with him/her. This translates into a job offer in the job hunt dating game. The third call comes. There is another meeting set up. You think, “This is it!”  You wear clean underwear. You get a haircut. You wear your best suit. You may in fact hear those magical words, “We would like to offer you the position.”  However, you must always be aware that it may just be another phase in the job search dating game. Some organizations like to get to know you better before going to bed with you. In this case, more waiting, more anxiety, more emotions.

With today’s economic environment, it is a very difficult time to be playing the job search dating game. The emotional roller coaster of all of this is exactly the same as dating.  With several rejections, self-esteem suffers to the point that it impedes your performance on the next job interview. You may even start thinking about dropping out of the job search dating game all together. You become depressed. You wonder if you will ever be wanted or needed again. Keep in mind that it is not always about you. More than likely, you were more than qualified for the position. More than likely, the person who they chose over you was an internal candidate (costing them less than hiring externally) or someone they had intended to hire all along. It could also be a case of reevaluating the need of the position in respect to the cost. Many positions are closed without filling them. Also keep in mind that the pool of candidates for many positions has tripled in today’s market. The competition is stiff and you have to be creative in finding ways to stand out among the others. Like dating, you will never know what qualities they are looking for. Because of this, it is important to just be yourself and display the qualities that you feel are your best. The worst thing you could do is pretend to be the person you think they want. Remember you are looking for a long-term commitment here. Not a one night stand.

Like dating, you need to remain positive. Stay in the game. More than likely, like finding the perfect love, you will find that perfect position when you least expect it. It will be true love and when you love what you do, the money will follow.

The Hero Journey December 19, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Life.
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2 comments

Change has been depicted metaphorically throughout the ages with the story theme called the hero journey. It commonly takes the shape of the protagonist, or ‘hero,’ thrust into change. The change is depicted as an unwilling departure from home and then the ensuing struggle to return to their original origin. The efforts, mistakes and setbacks are huge and bring our hero to the brink of disaster every time. However, he manages to learn and grow from each experience and with that, he eventually returns to safety. Here is where the hero journey becomes powerful. Almost always, our hero does not return to his original life but instead, finds that there is a new existence waiting for him – one that is more aligned to his purpose and wisdom gained on the journey.

Odysseus

The earliest piece of known literature to follow the hero journey theme is the ancient Greek poem by Homer, the Odyssey. In this epic story, Odysseus, our hero, reluctantly sets out from his home of Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War. On his journey home, he encounters sea monsters, shipwrecks, witch goddesses and sirens to name a few. When he finally returns to Ithaca, not only has he changed but his home has changed as well.

More modern depictions of the hero journey can be seen in movies such as the Wizard of Oz and Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks. Both films depict the hero (Dorothy/Chuck Norland) thrust abruptly away from their homes. There are terrible trials that they encounter in their struggle to return. When they eventually find their way, they encounter a new reality that is cast out of their wisdom and experience during the journey.

In the Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939,) Dorothy is swept up in circumstances beyond her control. When the dust finally settles, she finds herself in a land of witches, munchkins, strange magic and dark forests. On her quest to return to her home, she finds unusual friends with diverse backgrounds (to say the least) that she otherwise may have never befriended within the confines of her normal world. She also gained insight and knowledge by experiencing powerful events that would have never transpired in the comfort of the familiar land she came from. During all of this there was always the red shoes. Metaphorically, the shoes represented a talisman with untapped power that could only be realized from a new perspective born from the growing enlightenment within Dorothy. In the end, Dorothy only had to come to the realization that “there is no place like home.”

In Cast Away (2000, DreamWorks) we see the hero, Chuck Norland, thrust in a much different situation – a journey of silence and solitude that facilitates his progressive self-discovery. His encounters with struggle and pain are his own. He finds his enlightenment mostly by trial and error as he first learns to just survive in a new strange environment and later as he discovers cooperative and productive solutions. In this story, the foreshadowing talisman is the wing logo printed on one of the Fedex packages that washes ashore with him. Here is the representation of his future new world although he cannot see it just yet. Later it all becomes very clear to him. When presented with crossroads at the end of the story, the wings lead him to his new world.

The hero journey can be found in our own personal narratives. We all encounter an unwanted or unexpected turn into change at some point in our lives. With this there are trials that test us, darkness that misleads us, and pain that distracts us. But each event brings us closer to enlightenment. We grow in wisdom and understanding about who we are and what we can accomplish. Eventually, the efforts we make are more focused and effective as we work toward solution. In this path there can even be a talisman full of unrealized power or prediction that will come clearer as we reenter a new world more aligned to who we are.

In the movie Cast Away, there is a poignant scene where Chuck Norland tells a friend about his darkest moment. That moment when in the deepest of despair, there is still light. There is still hope. It is a powerful scene;

The only thing I could control was my own death so I made a rope and went up the summit to hang myself. I had to test it, of course, you know me. The weight of the log snapped the limb of the tree. I couldn’t even kill myself. I had power over nothing. And that’s when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow I had to stay alive. Somehow, I had to keep breathing even though there was no reason to hope and all my logic said that I would never see [home] again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive, I kept breathing. And one day that logic was proven wrong because one day the tide came in and gave me a sail. And here I am, I’m back…

  • Do you have a hero’s journey in your own personal narrative?
  • Are you still on your journey today?
  • What was/is the darkest moment in your journey?
  • How did you find your way home?
  • What is the enlightenment that you brought back with you?
  • Did you have a talisman that stirred hope in you on your path?
  • Was your talisman’s power revealed at the end?

We are all going to make it December 18, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Life, Love, Relationship.
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1 comment so far

We just need to stay together in the dark.

A letter to my father December 15, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Job Search, Life, Love, Relationship.
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Dear Dad,

My Father

I know it has been a while. You died 11 years ago – May 10, 1988 – Mother’s Day. I remember it clearly. I held your hand. I told you it was ok. You can let go now. You took your last breath as I said goodbye.

I think of you often in these times – my time of change. I often wonder what you think of all of this. I know what you would have said when I left a secure career to accept a graduate assistantship. I am sure you would have told me it was folly on my part to even think I could change careers at my age. We would have argued I am sure. But Dad, I was dying. I was beating my head against the wall trying to maintain an engaging and effective program with no financial or administrative backing. More and more I found myself alone in a worthy cause within an unworthy institution. It became damaging to my soul and body and it was killing me.

I know it hasn’t worked out for me yet Dad. You would probably tell me, “I told you so” at this point. But look what I am doing. I am in a functional institution working with people equally committed to the vision and mission. I am challenged and engaged. I feel like I am making a difference in the outcome. Ok, yes I am not making any money and I am in serious financial stress, living in a back room, watching my pennies, worried about my children’s happiness and welfare. But Dad, I can’t wait to get up in the mornings! I love to go to work. I can’t wait to engage with intelligent, professional people. I now feel like I make a difference.

The best part is that I have learned so much about myself and my new field by going back to school, earning a new degree and working in a new environment. It will carry me dad. I am not done but only starting. I have tremendous potential and all I have to do is wait until someone gives me a chance to prove myself. I know I can do this and I know I can do this well. You watch, you will be proud of me Dad. Just give me some time.

My new career path is one thing Dad. I really feel I am making headway on that. Personally, I don’t know. I am a mess Dad. Here is where I need your help the most. I have been burned. I have been used. I have been lied to. I have been cheated on. It seems almost like I am being punished. Oh I know I am not lily white in all of this either. You had your problems with relationships too. It must be the curse of our line. What is it with us? Why can’t we get it right? I do think that your problems and my problems are different in this matter. Regardless, it would be helpful to me to be able to compare notes with you. It seems so easy for people. What is it with me? Is it a trust issue? Is it an issue of not being able to open my heart to anyone after having it ripped to pieces so many times? I am scared Dad. Maybe I am someone who is just meant to be alone. Maybe this suits me.

I am now on the edge Dad. There is a major opportunity before me. It is right in front of me Dad. I am scared, excited, horrified and thrilled all at the same time. Change, whether good or bad, is always scary. However, if there is one thing I have learned in the past five years it is to embrace change and let it take you. Only in this can new worlds appear. I am going for this Dad. I am heading straight into it with full steam. It will give me extreme challenges that will test me and allow me to grow.

I hope you are watching. I hope you are paying attention Dad. I am going to make you proud. You will see me for who I am, not for what other people think I should be. I am slowly breaking free of chains.

I am gradually becoming…. Me

Your Son

Keep swimming, you never know where the tide will bring you December 6, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Job Search, Life, Love, Relationship.
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15 comments

Proceed with cautionWhen a person gets caught in a riptide, the natural reaction is to try to swim directly against it to get back to shore. At first it seems like the easiest, most logical way to save himself. Fear is a powerful force and in the face of death, the mind reacts instinctively to find what it thinks is the easiest solution to get to safety. Unfortunately, swimming against the current it is the worst thing a person can do. Eventually the swimmer becomes exhausted and drowning is inevitable.

The ending of a marriage or long-term relationship, the death of a loved one, job loss, diagnosis of a disease, mid-life crisis – good or bad, change is scary and people tend to react instinctively. When people are thrust into change, whether it by external circumstances or self inflicted, there is fear, anxiety, depression, and aggression. A person instinctively makes quick reactions to deal with the struggle. They fight the tide and thrash about to the point of exhaustion. It can take the form of hiding in drugs or alcohol. It can be quick fix tactics such as shady business deals or gambling. It can be short-term ego boosters like a one-night stand or a quick marriage. The tactics are as endless as they are destructive. At this point they see no other way. They just keep trying to swim against the current.

All a person needs to do to survive a riptide is to let it carry him out until it no longer has a grip on him. At that point the maneuver is to swim parallel to the shore to gain distance from the original danger and find another avenue to return to safety.

To be able to let change carry you away from comfort and familiarity is numbing and difficult to do. It takes courage. Letting go of what we know to enter a world of uncertainty takes strength. However, this is the best way to see new opportunities. Only then can change be assessed and evaluated to plan for its management and eventual solution. When the waters clear, fresh viewpoints can be seen.

Once the swimmer is away from the danger, they can then turn in toward shore and begin their trek back to the beach. This may not be a direct course since other riptides can be encountered and a return to the open sea will be necessary before another attempt can be made. However, the swimmer now sees that this is the right course of action and it is only a matter of timing and placement before he is successful in his return.

With new viewpoints and pro-active ventures, change can now facilitate a gentle move back to normalcy. This can take the form of further education to learn a new skill, a move to a new community, a new relationship based on trust, friendship, and love, a fresh commitment to health and fitness, a new and challenging career. Other strategies may involve timing. Sometimes the best solution is to wait it out and find the right moment to begin the swim back. Moving too early may throw you right back out to sea. Moving too late can be a missed opportunity. There will still be false starts and abrupt stops. There will be missed opportunities and there will be distractions that lead down the wrong path. Regardless, the strategies and attempts are now proactive and each failure can be learned from. Failures are a way of testing the waters.

Once the swimmer discovers the right path back to shore, the successful swim is made. They find themselves standing safely on shore. However, by swimming parallel to the shore to find the best path back, they have landed on a completely different section of the beach. A much better place from where they started.

With persistence, strength, patience, and growth, a person in change will find solution. However, in most cases, they land in a completely different world from where they came from. Their experience has brought them to new surroundings and new possibilities. They have come to a land better suited to the person they have become for in the time of challenge and struggle comes growth and wisdom. Not only will they have substance to carry them through the next darkness but they will have the gift of deeper understanding to share with others who cross their paths on the way to their own new world.

I know and love so many people in change today. I know they are struggling and are dealing with pain.  I want them to always, always remember…

Keep swimming, you never know where the tide will bring you.

“In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – anonymous

On the outside looking in December 3, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Health, Holiday, Job Search, Life, Love.
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2 comments

He was faced with death at an impressionable age.   His sister committed suicide last year. He found her body covered in blood as it drained out of her wrists. It became difficult to follow the mainstream after that. With no guidance or grounding to morn in a healthy way, drugs and alcohol are used to temper the agony.  Rehab and counseling can only do so much.

She is on her own now. Her husband of 20 years died last year. His pension died with him and now it is only social security. The mortgage is due. The heat is off. The electricity is next. She misses him terribly.

She is a single mom with three beautiful children. Between caring for her children and working two jobs back to back (overlapping three days with two shifts,) she is lucky to have one Friday night every two weeks to call her own.  She worries endlessly about having the resources to keep her family fed, clothed, dry and warm. She calls it a good day when her car is still in the driveway and has not been repossessed. She is dealing with a relentless ex-husband who is constantly dragging her into court to shirk his responsibilities to his children and to generally make her life miserable because he can afford to and she can’t.  She has dealt with two bouts of cancer and fears every upcoming appointment and what it may find. She is tired, stressed, overworked and living day to day, dollar to dollar.

He is dependent on drugs to be able to cope with life. His fears and anxieties are about life in general. He can no longer work. He lives on social security alone. His loving parents are long gone, the rest of his family has abandoned him. He lives in an upstairs apartment but incapable of caring for his immediate space. He sleeps most of the time. He has lost faith in love, connection, and life. He is trapped in an internal struggle with his own soul.

She is in a loveless marriage. With three young children there is nowhere else to be. She has no means to support herself and her children without him. He has her trapped and he knows it. There is verbal and sexual abuse. There is an allowance issued. The odometer is checked every week. The phone bill is monitored. She is a prisoner only for her children.

She has lost family and friends. It seems like everything she loves dies. She lives in the pain that it may be her fault. She is afraid to love again. She is lonely. She is alone.

He was laid off last year. Unemployment is ending soon and there are no opportunities in sight. He is too old and too broke to go back to school to learn new skills. His children have families of their own and are having problems themselves. The bills are piling up. He no longer owns a car. He is about to lose his home.

Merry Christmas

The Finish November 27, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Job Search, running.
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2 comments
Finish Strong

Wineglass Finish/Boston Qualifier 2008

The most difficult part of any race for me is when I see the finish line in the distance. For some reason, knowing I am that close after such a punishing pace only raises the anxiety. What if I come short? What if I don’t have what it takes to make my goal? Has the training been good enough to bring me there? Do I have enough experience?

I turn the corner and see it. Through the haze, through the masses of people screaming at me, “You are almost there!  You can do it! Don’t give up now!” I see it… and it scares the hell out of me.

I have been here several times before – very close to my goal. I can see it. I can taste it. It is invigorating to think I have come this far and all of a sudden the finish line is just in front of me. But I have been here before, and I have come up short.

I have done everything correctly. I trained hard and long. I planned and ran the race perfectly. I endured the pain through all the miles. Now I see it and I know I just have to hang on for a few more minutes and I will have my PR. All I have to do now is cross the finish line. Do I have enough? Will this be the finish that I have been waiting for?

Years and years of preparation, pain, study, more pain, miscues. Yes, I have been this close before only to come short of my goal. In this kind of race they only give out a first place ribbon. Finishing second or third only postpones the pain until the next opportunity, if there even is another opportunity.

My anxiety rises, my focus waivers. Seeing the finish line does this to me. To be this close yet so far away crushes me when I know this is where I need to be the strongest. “Push through the pain! You can do this asshole,” I scream at myself. “Don’t fuck this up, it is right there in front of you. Take it!”

I am again very close to my end. I have done everything right despite the pain involved. I went back to school. I finished top of my class with a 4.0 GPA. I took every opportunity afforded me. I have prepared for just this moment. I have been at this point before and faltered. Now I have another chance – another opportunity to cross that finish line. I must finish strong this time. There is no room for error. This one has to end perfectly.

I am almost there. The finish banner comes into focus. My chest is about to burst. My legs are numb. Every ounce of energy I carried is now gone. I am running solely on adrenalin. Time slows down. I see the crowds screaming but I no longer hear them. I am gasping for anything that will enter my mouth and nose. I am seconds away. I am so close now… so close…

Happy Holidays November 26, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Friendship, Life, Love, Spirituality.
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5 comments

To all my WordPress friends,

Have a wonderful season. Enjoy connection with your friends and family.

Love and Peace,

Steve