Day 167: Starting to See Results

The last few weeks have been extremely busy around our house.  We are now T-minus 6 days from the grand opening of my wife’s shop, my son’s first birthday is this week, and summer rugby is kicking into gear.  Posts have been sporadic from me because of the time it has taken to get the shop into shape.  I’ve been putting in a lot of late nights there, painting, building, cutting, moving, etc… All the grunt work that goes into opening a place of your own has been my flavor of the month lately.

However, I have been trying very hard to keep up with the rest of my commitments, and this past weekend I saw some tangible evidence that my working out is paying off.  My Father’s Day gift from my wife was a day to myself, and I chose to drive to Rockford, IL for a rugby tournament.  This particular tournament is not a team tournament; all players enter their names into a hat, and teams are chosen at random.  A full day of rugby is played with your new teammates in a double elimination tournament.  Close to 150 ruggers were present this year.

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My team won the whole tournament, and I could tell a big difference in my fitness and strength on the field.  It would have been difficult to make a judgement on my progress in just one or two games but over the course of 6 matches, while playing in both my usual position and out of position, I could tell that my stamina is greatly increased and my confidence is up.  My tackles are stronger and I was able to break out of a few attempted tackles easier than I could have before.

I long ago resigned myself to the fact that it is very difficult for me to put on weight (muscle), especially without having much time to be able to dedicate to lifting heavy.  But even doing the pushups, ab work and stretching every day has been good.  At the beginning of the year, I was having to do 3-4 sets of 10-15 pushups to meet my goal of 50.  Now, I am able to do sets of 50 and I’ve upped my daily goal to 100.  I can see a difference when I look at myself in the mirror, but it’s never enough.  However, I’m ok with that, at this point.  My goal this year wasn’t to pack on weight, it was to get in better shape, and I am well on my way there.

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It’s important to not lose sight of your main objective.  As I said, my goal isn’t to get jacked and ripped, it’s to be in shape.  I would be down on myself right now had my desire been the muscle mass.  But I knew I couldn’t devote the time and energy necessary to achieve that, so I chose a different target.  If, somewhere along the way, I put that size on, then it’s a bonus bit of icing for me.

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I’ll be posting some pictures of some woodwork that I did for the shop.  I’m quite proud of how it turned out, and every project has gotten better.  The desk that I built is functional and helpful, but a little ugly.  I’ve learned from those mistakes, however, and the new projects look great!

Other news?  It’s summer.  Fully, hotly, humidly summer.  I’m considering breaking out the A/C tonight to help us sleep.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 157: My Time With My Kids

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Last week, I had the privilege of caring for my kids entirely on my own for a week.

OK, in all honesty, I can’t call the entire time a privilege.  I’m being perfectly frank when I say that it was seriously hard work, and there were times where I banged my head against a wall.  I am used to waking early, hitting the road to try to drum up sales, interacting with adults of all personalities and moods, and being go-go-go in general.

This was nothing like that.  There were exactly two conversations that even bordered on adult-like, and one of them was about bike parts.  While there was no true downtime, there were many moments where I found my foot tapping and my patience wearing thin as nothing got done that was supposed to be done.  Diapers, pullups and accidents were my fear, food was the bane of my existence, and sleep was a chore in-and-of itself.

At least the interaction with mood variances and waking early didn’t change!

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I wish I could provide a timeline of what transpired last week, but every day has bled into one.  I don’t know which days I went to Target (it may have been all of them), nor which nights we had grilled cheese.  I can’t tell you who wore what on which day.  I don’t even know what I wore, or when I worked out.  It’s like one giant daddy-kiddo fest in my head.  There were a few highlights and memories that stand out, which I wouldn’t trade the world for:

  • Getting my oldest daughter her first bike, and seeing the sheer joy on her face as we put it together and readied it to ride.
  • Teaching my younger daughter that she can ride the tricycle all by herself.  No one needs to push her.  The look on her face when she realized she could provide her own locomotion was ecstasy.
  • Watching my son light up with happiness when I walked into his room in the morning.  If you have kids, you know the look:  “OH MY GOSH! IT’S YOU!  I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE YOU!  THIS IS THE GREATEST THING…EVER!”
  • Stirring eggs with my girls as we made scrambled eggs.
  • Playing tag on the big fort at the park.
  • Hugs and kisses every night.

Seeing a pattern here?  Every one of those is what parenthood is about.  Those are what make the diapers and fighting and worry and crying all worth the effort.  I’ve known that, but I just reaffirmed it this past week.  Chances are, I will forget it again and be reminded again and forget again and be reminded again until the day comes that I realize they’re not coming back home.  Then I will likely sit down and try to remember those moments, both good and bad.  I hope I can.

I know I have it easy.  My kids are all healthy, I have a loving wife who can stay home with them, and I have “steady” employment.  There are a lot of people out there who don’t have all of those.  I realize how blessed I am.  I try very hard not to take that for granted.  I don’t always succeed, but I do always try.

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Sometimes, it takes the negative to accentuate the positive.  My week last week was the negative.  Negative not in the sense of “bad”, but in definition as the opposite of the usual.  I got a good sense of what my wife goes through on a daily basis when I’m gone at work.  I understand how hard my mother had it in caring for three kids when my dad was on business trips.  I have a great appreciation for working single mothers who have to line up everything ahead of time.  Most importantly, I have a deeper love for my time with my kids.

They are my blessing.  I can survive without my phone.  I can survive without being able to post to my blog or check facebook.  I can survive without a set workout schedule.  I can not survive without their love.  There is something about the unfettered, unbounded, unsullied love that a child has for his/her parent that is infectious.  I’ve always carried it, but it took the week alone with them for the symptoms to reemerge.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 132: Quote of the Day

Tomorrow I’m helping host the 6th Annual Jachin Jordan Golf Outing to Benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation and Make-A-Wish.  I have been very busy preparing these last few days, so I apologize for my lack of posts.  I’m up and at the course very early tomorrow, so here’s one quick quote to dwell on tonight.

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
-Gary Player


 As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 121: White Belt No Longer

WhiteBlackStripeBeltSee that?  That’s a white belt with a black stripe!   Yeah, boy, that means I passed my first promotion test tonight!

Do you know what else it means?  It means I am still the least skilled participant in my dojo, by several belts.  We had two new classmates join this session, a pair of 13-year olds.  Once again, however, they could kick my butt if it came down to a sparring match.  I’ve learned that the hard way.

I’ve also learned something else: a black belt is a white belt who never gave up.

Yes, it’s cheesy, but it applies to so much more than just karate.  To master any skill or trade, one has to be willing to put in the time and effort.  One must have dedication.  Most importantly, one must have the desire to get back up after every failure.  As the old adage goes:

Success is simply getting back up one more time than you’ve fallen.

I’ve taken quite a few shots the last few weeks when it comes to sparring.  I’m fine with my “katas” – a group of pre-determined moves you have to memorize – but when it comes to sparring, I’m heavy on my toes and awkward with my counter-attacks.  As such, I’ve been bested by two guys with brown belts (expected), got smoked by a woman with a green belt who weighs maybe half as much as I do, made to look silly by a 15-year old boy, and taken far too many kicks and punches from a 12-year old and 13-year old girl.  I’m 32.  I’m a tall, very athletic man in pretty good shape, and I’m the lowest on the totem pole.

One word: Humbling.

But I’ve stuck with it.  And now I am no longer a beginner.  I no longer get the funny looks from the kids in the “Little Dragons” class before mine.  I’m someone who belongs.  I may not be good, yet, but I’m trying.  And I’m not giving up.

That’s the secret.  Jimmy Valvano said it eloquently.

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We all get there.  Whether it’s a bad day, bad hour, bad year or bad minute, rest assured that everyone has the moment of despair where we feel like throwing in the towel.  But we can’t.  The only way you lose is to give up.  If you always give it another shot, you’ve never lost…you’ve only taken a step towards succeeding.  Take enough steps, and soon you’ll find everything getting out of your way.  Success will be yours.  You’ll feel alive.  You will have fulfilled your promises to yourself.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to beat me up.  🙂

Day 111: Laughing In The Face

So I received this comment the other day via email regarding this blog.

“One mans journey into discovering that having no sustainabel roll in ilfe can be masked a narsissistic blog.   Step away from the computer and get a life….and stop thinking the world might have any interest in your banelity.”

Unsurprisingly, the comment was anonymously signed “Trixie”.  Saying nothing of the poor grammar and spelling, I couldn’t help but laugh at the comment.  It’s the first negative comment I’ve received on this blog since I began.  And frankly, I couldn’t care less.

To Trixie, allow me to reiterate what I end most of my posts with:

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.

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I can’t blame her for her anger.  The internet provides a wonderful venue for venting frustrations on others because you can do so with little chance of interaction or reprisal.  Very likely, she has an honest-to-goodness reason to be angry about something, and for some reason, my blog set her off.  I don’t know her story.  I don’t know what happened to her yesterday.  I don’t know if there is something that I said that offended her.  There are a lot of things I don’t know.  One thing that I do know, however, is this:  I don’t care about your negative comments.

Aside from the fact that you have provided me with an opportunity to write a post about sloughing off criticism, I don’t care about what you said, Trixie.  If someone wants to read my blog, they can.  If they don’t, they are not forced to.  In fact, I haven’t asked any of my friends on FB to Like my page in the hopes of increasing numbers.  I haven’t advertises this blog.  I rarely mention it in my day-to-day life amongst my friends.  It’s simply my carthartic outlet.  I don’t pretend it to be anything else.

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Criticism, when offered constructively, is not a bad thing.  We should cherish those friends who care enough to point out flaws in the hopes of helping us become better.  In a workplace, constructive criticism given in a positive fashion leads to progress.  On the athletic fields, it creates results.  Criticism, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

It is also important to note the way criticism is given.  When given with care and passion, it shows a desire to change something for the better – we can call this positive-oriented criticism.  When given with anger and venom, it shows a lack of faith or unhappiness in the giver – we can call this negative-action criticism.  How we choose to respond to criticism says the most about ourselves.  We can shrug it off, listen to it, or dwell on it.  If we dwell on negative criticism, we expend energy to something that truly doesn’t even involve us; it involves the giver.  If we shrug off positive criticism, we risk not ever progressing.  The best advice is to listen to the critic and consider their intentions.  If they have your interest at heart, pay attention.  If not, let it go.

My favorite quote of all time about criticism:
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 As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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