Monthly Archives: July 2014

Concentrate on the goal, enjoy the ride

That day remains very special to me and if I had one day to live over in my lifetime, it would be my first marathon (Dick Traum)



So here we are back again, I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to compete again this year but on the other side of the coin, I didn’t want to be the person whose only done one. Its quite an undertaking, I realise that. It takes away a lot of my social life and leads to some extreme tiredness which I can even feel now as I’m typing this. My body will hurt, and I’ll struggle to drag it from bed some mornings, I’ll question myself plenty of times to ask why I do this and is it actually worth it. But…. There is nothing quite like finishing a marathon.

Last year’s marathon was sweet, I went in completely ignorant to how hard it should be and found the whole process relatively easy. In fact the race itself I can remember getting 20km in and thinking that it went in a blur.

I do need to make some improvements and experience teaches you that, I know I have to cut down the amount of exercise I do outside of running. That really seemed to wear me down last year and I seemed to just recover from over use injuries before my next run. I also need to realise its only 10 weeks worth of training and its not that much of a dedication of time, even at its peak, the training should be taking me just over 4 hours a week, that isn’t a huge commitment really for the prize involved.

I love to run that much is true, but I will find this training pretty arduous if truth be told. Going for a nice 10km run is absolutely nothing like going for a 30km run and the concentration, energy and determination you need to knock it off. Maybe I’ll get to two marathons and finish this marathon quest, but I do have the thought in the back of my mind that I’d like to do 10 and become a Spartan, now that is an achievement and there aren’t too many guys who have done that.

What’s ahead for me, random grumpiness when training runs don’t go as planned, tiredness, euphoria after finishing a ran, extreme eating, keeping Gatorade in business for the next few months, limping every day after a run and generally not being pain free for nearly 3 months. Even after my first run last night, already my hips were so painful they began to keep me awake last night. I’m sure once I’m consistently doing a level of running it won’t be as bad but for now I’ll just have to endure it and everything it brings with it.

Concentrate on the goal, enjoy the ride. That will have to be the mantra for the next couple of months.

IJS 29/07/2014

Out of the darkness and into the light

“Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you’re going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you” (Thisuri Wanniarachchi)

We all have our moments don’t we. Those times when we think the world is against when everything around us seems dark when we can’t see the wood for the trees. In a way though I believe our lives need these times, because they provide us with a perspective on how happy our other moments are.

In my experience people to a degree hide the way they feel to the outside world, I know there have been times when I’ve felt like an actor going through my normal day life, painting the smile on, saying the right things while everything inside me is crumbling.

What really provides us with character is not how we deal with the good times, those times when everything is sunny and beautiful around us but rather how we deal the bad times, how we lift ourselves when regardless of how much help and support our friends and family provide us, we just need to do it for ourselves.

My personal strategy in times like this has always been to do things I really enjoy (or at least used to enjoy before I got there). Secondly, to do things I think I’m relatively good at, running in this case is a great example. On top of the natural endorphins that are released from doing exercise, for me the sense of achievement and the clarity of thought I get from running has carried through some difficult times.

Everyone’s solution is different though, some people shout and scream because to them getting those feelings out and verbalising how they feel give them the relief they need. Its all about understanding your own personal strategy.

We need to take care of ourselves at times and for some people that can be very difficult when their natural position in life is to care for others. Then you must remember the first rule of first aid (that I was taught anyway) first aiders should look after themselves first. Primarily because without them there is no first aid! I suppose the larger point is, I’m sure all our friends and families would understand if for a few times in our life we are a little selfish, with the trade off being we’d be much better people to be around in the long term.

In a way this blog moves onto a theme I’ve carried through a few here. That is to understand ourselves, the more self aware we are the quicker we recover from our darker moments because we understand what we need at these times. Understanding and actions aren’t necessarily the same things though. In my case I’m a bad communicator at these times, I need to chat to the people who love me and let them know what is going on but I struggle with that very basic thing. I turn in on myself and reflect, because I realise the only person who is able to solve my situation is me. Once my head is around it, I float back to the surface again.

Understanding is the key.

Are we capable of change? Do we need to?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself” (Leo Tolstoy)

A few years ago, I felt I’d got to a point in my life I was unhappy with. I felt I was being overly negative about people and world in general because I felt my society or friend group demanded that of me, or rather I needed to act that way to fit in.

After a few comments from close friends, I came to realise what I was actually thinking and saying were two completely different things. My nature has never been one to see the negativeness in my life, in fact it is quite to opposite I tend to be the crazy optimist, the it’ll all be all right kind of character and I tend to see the best in people until they give me a reason not to.

Realigning those thoughts and my voice wasn’t as easy a solution as it sounds though and it is not an easy road to follow. Whilst I had been carrying out this behaviour, I drew into my life all these people who fed off it and came to expect it from me. Changing meant losing those friends because I no longer offered what they needed from me.

I tend to think we have people in our lives that we need. They draw off us and we draw off them and were stronger for having those people around. Obviously all relationships involve give and take and we tend to clump together with people who inspire us, provide us with honesty and provide the support we need in hard times.

Anyway, back to the story, I’d always felt uncomfortable about the negativeness and began to challenge that negativeness first in the people around me and hence as part of this process in myself. Along the way I lost a lot of friends who didn’t like what I was becoming but I felt much happier that my inner and outer voice were singing from the same hymn sheet. In fact new friends flocked to me, those people who valued the positiveness and my crazy optimism in their lives.

There is though I feel a bigger question here about change, how much can we actually change ourselves? I believe in some of the old adages, a leopard can’t change its spots and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There seems to me to be only so much of us we are able to change. Some of our actions and words are hardwired. For me what I was able to change was those things where my inner and outer voice were not in harmony and not aligned. For any change I think we must ask ourselves various questions such as, I am at ease with myself? can I live with my actions once I go home and I’m alone? what aftermath am I causing?

I believe in treading through this world gently, leaving my own footprint, making my mark and letting other people make theirs.

IJS 12/07/2014

Are we seeking familiarity and not happiness?

I read an article the other day that a friend sent me. It was about relationships and why we choose the people we do. Fairly standard piece but out of the 7 factors one blew my mind a little bit. That one being, we aren’t used to being happy. We believe that we seek happiness but what in fact we seek is familiarity.

The article goes on to say many of our lessons we learn are learnt in childhood and aren’t quite as straightforward as we think. We go on to reject perfectly good candidates because they are too well balanced (too reliable, too understanding) because these things feel alien to us and almost oppressive. We choose people not because they please us but because they frustrate us in familiar ways.

What an incredibly powerful point! I wonder how many people I have in my life, not because they bring me happiness necessarily but because they are people who only challenge me in a way I know how to deal with and alternatively how many people do I have that challenge me in ways I don’t know how to deal with.  Maybe I should start a list. My thinking is over the years I’ve probably got a variety of both types.

Hence through our searches we pick people who we are comfortable with, who don’t challenge our beliefs, who don’t treat us in ways we find unusual and maybe we are poorer people for this. I’d think the people who treat us differently would require us to put in some extra effort, to understand and adapt to and maybe its just a comment on the laziness of society as such. It is however quite incredible to think that there are people who don’t choose people because they are too giving, too generous because it is such an alien concept to them and they don’t really know or understand how to deal with this.

One to ponder I reckon.

IJS 10/07/2014

Time to take a little time out?

As the world opens up to us with the travel opportunities our grandparents or parents could never even dream of, we still neglect what is possibly the greatest journey of our lives. That journey of self discovery and self awareness.

That terrifying journey to look into our souls, to understand what drives us, what makes us who we are, to understand our needs and wants and explore those dark places where all our fears and insecurities lie.

Reflection seems something we do not dedicate enough time to, we live in a world so full of instant distractions that we are easily able to avoid looking into us. I sit and look around the apartment I live in, I can see a thousand things I’d rather be doing than even typing this blog now. There is a TV, a games console, a book, a laptop. All very modern day distractions but what joy do they in fact bring us.

I can remember for many years I always felt the need to be the alpha male at any table I sat at and would compete for attention with anyone there. I had an epiphany a few years later, that I really didn’t enjoy that at all and I was much more comfortable sitting back and letting others fulfil this role. Did I enjoy the attention at the time, probably, but you then start to question why? Everyone likes to be loved in life that much seems true but the realisation came to me that, that wasn’t the only way.

It seems to me the more we look into ourselves the more we understand what makes us truly happy, what we truly need in our lives and although the road there can be an arduous and horrendous there seems to be a bright light at the other side. A light that guides us into our future, but a brighter future than we could ever have experienced before.

So the question becomes what do I enjoy it life? What truly makes me happy? Why do I act the way I do in certain situations? They are not easy questions and I could easily give very superficial answers to all of them and I probably do day in and day out to people who ask me.

Let’s just deal with one of those here, what truly makes me happy?

The answer is living in the moment, enjoying the moments when they arise, the times that you smile at someone and see their face light up and smile back that connection even if its just for 5 seconds, that feeling of achievement when there has been a struggle involved to get there, my cycle to work along the Yarra as the morning sun glints off the water, that amazing feeling of togetherness in a crowded stadium as your team edges out a close game and them moments when i’m alone and I feel completely content with everything in the world around me.

Life is one big collection of these moments, our memories don’t play back our whole lives, they just catch snippets of our memorable times, whether these be good or bad.

Maybe we should take a little time out to reflect on ourselves?

IJS 04/07/2014