Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Everything we do can either be seen in a positive manner or negative manner. There are obvious things that happen that people see as positive. Spending time with friends. Getting a big raise or kudos at work. Having fun doing a hobby you like. These are all totally obvious positive experiences. It’s easy to see the “cup as being half full” in these situations. In other situations, it is easy to see things as negative – that is to say – as the “cup being half empty.” Losing a job, losing a relationship, getting injured, etc.
What is striking to me is that seeing the cup as half full is a conscious choice regardless of the situation, and relative to each person. One person might be elated to get kudos for a job well-done at work in front of their employees, whereas another person might actually greatly dislike the public recognition and not feel comfortable with it (I’ve seen this happen before).
I was in yoga class yesterday and we spent a lot of time upside-down, doing handstands and other inversions. These poses can be terrifying for some people, but can also be incredibly fun and rewarding for those that are willing to give it a try (we were working with partners, so there was little risk of falling!). This was a recent example of how the same exact situation could be seen as a total bummer for some people and a totally uplifting and fun experience for others.
The trick is to realize that every situation is like this, and that we have a choice to interpret the situation as a great opportunity to learn, try something new, grow and maybe have some fun….or as an excuse to retreat into some story about how the world is out to get us or how things aren’t working out the way they should. The choice is ours every time. What choice do you tend to make?
I just finished reading a short book, The Invasion That Never Was, by Michel Danino and Sujata Nahar.
The book calls into question (OK, outright refutes!) the invasionist history that most of us were taught in school. That is, that an “Aryan” people invaded India from the Northwest corridor (through present day Pakistan and Afghanistan) and conquered native tribes in the Indian Subcontinent.
That whole theory never made sense to me anyway. If this was really the case, why is the culture of South India (a seat of Hindu culture) so unique from that of other parts of central Asia and even North India?
The makes the case that this invasion theory was concocted by philologists with a weak understanding of Indian culture (and Sanskrit) but a strong desire to device India people so as to make it easier to profit through trade and spread alternative religious beliefs.
Any Indian who is curious as to the real history of the region should take a look at this book.
On May 3rd I put myself up to a little challenge. Forget about my TV. My beautiful TV…..a 42-inch Pioneer Plasma.
I covered it up with a shawl and decided I wouldn’t turn it on for 30 days.
On June 13th, it struck me that I hadn’t even thought about turning the thing one….and that my 30 days had long since past.
Shortly after moving to a new home a few later, it still sat unused in the middle of my living room floor. It was time to give it the boot.
I have nothing against TV as a technology. I think there are a lot of great things you can watch on TV. Unforuntately, I also have a ton of great things I can do, learn and experience in the real world.
I still might watch a few programs on iTunes or rent a DVD (though I haven’t done so in months). I’ll rely on my laptop for those things.
I really haven’t missed my TV. At first the urge to pop in a DVD was there, but after a week I totally forgot about it.
I put it on Craigslist and a few days later, someone paid cash for it.
During my TV-free weeks, I’ve spent more time reading, cleaning up (and downsizing my condo), taking care of lose ends around the house and more importantly…..sleeping more.
I think like anything we think we really need….if you distance yourself from the object (both in practice and state of mind)…its hold on you weakens and eventually disolves completely.
A little longer than I planned. I really like exploring new areas, and now that I’ve moved to Downtown Bellevue, there are plenty of new areas to explore. Today I ran through Clyde Hill and Medina, past Bill Gates house and back along Lake Washington Blvd to Bellevue.
Details about the route here.
So I’ve not been posting as much lately in part because I’ve held this idea in my mind that every post on this blog needs to be fairly well thought through, with images and stuff where possible.
The process of it all has kept me from taking action.
So now….I am writing this post in the time it takes my vegan pad thai to heat up in the microwave….I know I know….I should just be eating a raw salad, but it is 11pm, I just finished yoga and I am not in the mood for much more than just pushing a few buttons.
OK, microwave just beeped…..gotta go eat!
So today I came out of retirement!
I stopped racing for a long time. My last real event being Ironman Coeur D Alene (I know I probably butchered the spelling but oh well). After I imploded during that race I decided to take a step back and stop all my competitive stuff. After over 10 years of racing and over a hundred events…it was time for a break.
Since then I have done a few half-marathons, a few shorter road races and swam across Puget Sound with my friend Kris, but in all cases I really did not race against the clock. I also didn’t train crazy hard either. I didn’t have a training plan, and just did things day by day. I ditched my heart rate monitor and my watch. I took the opportunity to travel more and deepen my yoga and mediation practice.
Lately, Yoga has been (and is) my passion. However, yesterday I really got this feeling, actually more like a compelling urge, to go running. I hopped in my car late in the afternoon and went to the trails at Cougar Mountain, a wooded area filled with challenging trails about 30 minutes drive from my home. When I was serious about training I would do most of my long runs down here.
This time, I parked at my usual trail head and made it about 200 meters (really) before I was slowed to a walk (hey, the trail starts on a steep hill!). I did about 30 minutes in total, a mixture of slow running and fast walking. This was literally the third run I’ve done this year and I realized how despite my diligent yoga practice, my cardiovascular system was not use to dealing with stress at this level!
In yoga, you get an outstanding total body workout with a mildly elevated heart-rate. However you do not get the same prolonged intensity that you would get from a hard bike ride, swim or run.
I decided then and there that is was time to start running again. I got home and saw that a 5K was going on the following morning (today) through Seward Park on Lake Washington in Seattle, WA, so I went on down there today to see where I was at. As added motivation, the Furry 5K supports the Seattle Animal Shelter, and I love animals so if nothing else I would be supporting an outstanding cause by doing the event.
The race itself was a total blast. Having all the animals around was a huge stress reliever for everyone. It was really hard to take anything seriously when you see all these critters running and playing, their owners trying to get them to go in a straight line and sniff each other! There had to be about 1000 runners and walkers….and at least as many dogs.
Walking over to the starting line, I was pretty late and most all the runners were gathered….waiting for the gun to go off in about 5 minutes. I decided to saunter up to the front of the line, like I always do, but then remembered that I haven’t done any training and would definitely get run over! I still stayed about 10 feet from the front, off to the side (which was a good thing since some of the dogs took of in a mad dash from the start pulling their owners for the ride!!!).
Right before the gun went off there was pandemonium. I am not sure what was going on, I think it was the timing system emitting some sort of high-pitched frequency, because for the final minute before the race start, all the dogs were going nuts and barking all over the place…at each other, their owners, the air, the trees! It was absolutely hysterical.
Anyway, the gun went off and within the first 400 meters I definitely felt that I went out way to hard….and decided to back off and just have fun. I even stopped to use a porta potty, something I’ve never ever done in a 5k!
At different points during the race I was getting passed by all sorts of dogs. A Marmaduke dog, a Wiener dog (very humbling to have this happen I might add), a few Labs…no Poodles though!
In the end, I crossed the three mile point and sprinted like crazy and passed about 10 people in the last 100 meters. I finished in 23min 20sec or so.The course was pretty flat so I can’t blame that on the hills!
I think this is the slowest 5K time for me in 13 years, and well off my personal best of 18:10. Despite that, it was definitely one of the more fun races I’ve done in a long time. I had no expectations going in and the dogs made it a ton of fun.
I am going to start running regularly now, and will see how my body progresses. Would be great to set a new 5K personal best this year. We’ll see how fast my running form returns. If you know of any good 5K or 10K runs around the Seattle area, let me know!
Giving does bring joy. Giving can also bring some pain. As I’ve been giving some things away, I’ve become aware of emotions that crop up in the process of purging my life of things that are not supporting me. Right now, I’m focused on giving up some material things. You can read about my venture into The Simple Life here and and update here.
Just today, I gave away a few more things. I hadn’t touched these things in ages, little ornamental items hanging around my home, and was fully prepared to give them to someone who would put them to good use. As several friends were leaving my home this afternoon, I asked if any of them wanted these items.
At first, one said no, then another said sure. At that moment, I felt some remorse. I immediately conjured up some potential use for this previously useless object. This particular one was a decorative metal bowl (looked like an ornate pot) with rivets all over it. It was the sort of thing you could use to put umbrellas in, or as a glorified waste bin. In that moment, where I was giving it up, I realized that I could use it to put a large potted plant in it!
I didn’t own a potted plant that size, but it was a possibility. I immediately felt a bit of regret for giving the thing away. It’s a silly example, but something I have experienced several times over the past weeks as I have been simplifying my life. Giving brings joy, but you might have to go through a bit of pain to get there.
Now, sitting here typing this post about 1 hour after giving that metal thingamabob away, I feel absolutely no regret about doing that. I’m glad I did. It’s the same thing I felt giving away all those books, shirts and other items that were crowding space in my head and in my brain.
btw….I am doing a little experiment. As of May 3rd, I haven’t turned on my TV once. I never had cable or even any TV stations before, but I did watch plenty of DVDs and downloaded content on iTunes. My rule is simply not to turn on my TV. I might watch YouTube on my computer or something, but the TV is shut down for the entire month! Feels very refreshing. In fact, I’ve draped a big cloth over it so it is literally out of sight and practically out of mind.
As I wrote in my last post, The Simple Life is going very well. The original enjoyment I got from giving things away to those in need has not drifted away. I still feel the same joy. The momentum is only building.
Let me be clear, this is real joy, not pleasure. There is a difference. Joy is something lasting. It is innate and not based on contrast between you and anyone else, any thing or any situation. That would be pleasure. Joy is happiness and doesn’t cost a darn thing. There is no withdrawal symptoms. It’s the best drug money can’t buy. Anyway….let me get back to the points of this post….
I’ve now gotten rid of 80% of the “loose” things that I am willing to give away. This includes clothes I don’t use, books I don’t read, kitchen stuff I never touch and non-perishable food stuff (unopened) I haven’t looked at in a while. Boxes full of random doo-dads that been dropped off at Goodwill. I’ve got two paper bags full of Tupperware to give to my sister.
For the past month I’ve also not touched my credit card once (I used to have several, canceled them all but one for emergency use). I have a debit card and use that for all my purchases. In fact, since I don’t need to carry around all those cards, I’ve ditched my wallet and started using a very simple money clip.
Life is good.
The act of getting rid of “things” is not the true object of what I am doing. It is all about changing my relationship to things. I appreciate things I get much more. I also am not as attached to them.
This Simple Life mentality has also helped me keep a keen eye out for opportunities to give. I’d rather give things I don’t need directly to someone who would benefit from them. Books that I can give to someone. Clothes that could better serve someone else. It’s about giving not accumulating. Getting rid of things creates space in your life for other great stuff to flow in.
Life is great.
The Simple Life is also not about getting rid of everything to feel significant. It is not about being ultra-contemporary-minimalist just to be unique. It is about redefining what you are about. That is, not identifying your own self-image based on your things.
Once you stop hiding behind all the things you think you need, you are are able to look at yourself with greater objectivity. It’s in this observation that real change can take place.
Life is awesome.
My friend visited from Portland, OR a few weeks and inspired me to take a massive step toward living a much simpler lifestyle. He has spend the past year or so as a “vagabonding,” most recently returning from a 4 month visit to Fiji, where he lived on about $10/day….and felt that he was living a fantastic life. Surfing, eating awesome fresh vegan food, and meeting great people every day.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to retreat from the world or make such a radical shift to my lifestyle, but I have been adopting some of the concepts he has been using to simplify his life over the past few years.
It all started when he walked into my apartment, and threw down a modestly filled backpack on the floor. He strolled about my place and made an observation that I have a lot of “stuff.” That was the first time someone has really said that about me. Most people have the opposite reaction! My apartment is very new, and pretty sparse by most standards.
He then pointed out that his entire worldly possessions fit in the that single bag that was laying on the floor. It made me think about all the things that I had, and whether I really needed all of them. Over the past two weeks, I’ve found an incredible amount of enthusiasm, energy and happiness around the process of getting rid of things I no longer need to have in my possession.
After getting rid of this baggage, I feel an incredible “lightness” and much less encumbered. Just walking into my home feels much better. Things are better organized (since there is less stuff to clutter up) so I can find what I need and not bear the psychological burden of looking at a bunch of stuff sitting around.
So what have I down-sized in the past few weeks? Here’s a run-down:
- My ward-drobe has been cut in half. I have dropped off at least 6 large garbage bags of clothing to Goodwill. This was tough to do, since many of the clothes were in great shape and fit me, but most of it has not been worn in over a year (and probably won’t be worn anytime soon). My closet now has plenty of empty space on the hangar rack, and my shelves have just a few stacks of clothes.
- My library has ben cut in half. I love my books, but I had far too many. My bookshelf was tilting to one side from the weight, and they were stacked in piles on the floor and in laundry baskets next to my bed. Many of the books would never be ready (by me) again. They needed a better home, so I’ve given them away to friends or Goodwill. The books I keep are the ones that really matter a lot to me, or ones that I plan on giving away to friends as gifts over the next year.
- My Visa credit card has been canceled. I already have a Visa Debit Card and have decided to use that for all my “card” purchases. I have an Amex card that I will not use, but keep active in case of emergencies.
- My extra checking/savings accounts have been closed. I consolidated all my finances with a single company that is currently my brokerage firm. They have a checking feature to their brokerage, so I closed my separate checking and savings accounts. This way I only need to go to one account to manage my checking/cash balances.
- My extra brokerage account has been closed. I had an additional brokerage account that I used for Roth IRA and special investment vehicles that I have been using for the past few years. These investments have done well (better than S&P consistently), but were a headache to manage (I’ll go into the details of this in another post….maybe). The funds from this account will be consolidated into my single active brokerage account.
- My XBOX and 30 games that I haven’t played in years have been given to Goodwill.
- A box of triathlon and tri-related gear has been given to a friend who is actually racing….since I am not
- A whole bunch (3 large boxes worth) or miscellaneous goos have been given to goodwill.
- Two paper bags worth of non-perishable foods have been given away (non-vegan stuff I won’t eat).
- My iMac now has a new home! I have a MacBook laptop, and decided that I no longer needed two computers at home, so I posted the iMac on Craigs List. 12 hours later, someone stopped by my place and paid cash for it.
So there you have it. Hopefully this post has inspired you to think about where you can down-size. As for me, I am far from done with my own efforts, looking forward to giving away some more clothes, books and some nonsense furniture I have sitting around this week!
The Dalai Lama is visiting Seattle for a few days, as part of the Seeds of Compassion talks. Just now, they closed down several intersections outside my home (a very busy city road) to make way for his motorcade!
I was able to catch a glance of his ochre colored robe as his car sped by.
You can catch the talks on demand at the Seeds of Compassion website.