Affirm who you are.

I am not…           

This post was originally going to be called something like, “I am a feminist… just not a very good one” when it dawned on me that I already have 2 previous posts where I write “I am not really a runner” and something to the effect of “I am not really a writer”

It suddenly struck me that I have been defining myself by stating what I am not, not what I am.
It is as if I to say,  I do not dare to be myself.

The question being asked is;
“Will I be accepted for who I really am?”
“May I occupy space?”
In fact, I am asking permission to exist.
Will you allow me to exist, here among you, just as I am?
Pretty sad if you think about it.
Instead of defining yourself as who you are not,

Affirm who you are.

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A Writer Is a Person Who Writes

I have always dreamed of becoming a writer. At the same time, I have been afraid to even start. The problem is that I think that I have to write a best seller right off the bat. Every word needs to be perfect as soon as they appear on the page. So, of course, nothing ever gets written because as soon as a word becomes real, on the page, it is not perfect.

If you wait for the perfect time, you just might wait forever.

If you wait until anything is perfect, you will wait forever. There is no perfect time. There is no perfect book. There is no perfect person. But as long as you keep your thoughts to yourself, in your head, you can fool yourself that they are perfect. Or at least, you won’t be open for criticism.

As soon as you let those thoughts out, you make yourself vulnerable. You open yourself up for critique or ridicule. It is safer to keep those things snuggly stashed away inside of you where no one can see them and have opinions about them. You won’t get hurt.

But, sooner or later, your true self will always shine through, whether you like it or not. You cannot hide who you really are. (why should you? Why do you?) You cannot pretend to be someone you are not. Even if you cannot see it, it is obvious to those who see you.

A writer is a person who writes. A painter is a person who paints. An actor is a person who acts, etc. etc. If that is who you are, then you will probably do it no matter what. You will be it. You are it. The quality of the work is not the main point. It is the expression of who you really are that wants to come out.
To use a cliché; do not try to be something, just be it.

Do not try to write a best seller, just write. Do not try to be a writer just write.
Do not be afraid of doing that which you dream of doing because you are afraid of failure. If you are going to be afraid of something, be afraid of not starting that which you really want to do.
If it is who you are it will come forth anyway. It is just as well to open the flood gates and let it well forth. (did I just say, “well forth”?) Now I really am sounding like a writer.

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I am not really a runner

I started running competitively in junior high school, actually, by mistake. My passion was baseball. I dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player. But we moved during the summer between 6th and 7th grade. The new school did not have a baseball team. In that  town, baseball was something you played in the summer through the park league system.

The only school sport available to me in the spring was track and field. Through an older friend whom I looked up to, I became interested in track. I love all sports and I love competing, track was not baseball but at least it was something to do. My first season, I competed in the 880 yard run (or “880 yard dash” if you have warped sense of humor).

The 880 was the longest distance for 7th graders. I learned, too, that it was the most grueling. The 880 is run basically like a 440 only, after one lap, you still have a lap to go. Maybe it was there I developed an aptitude for punishing myself.

Each year I changed events as my junior high body changed. In the 8th grade I long jumped and was part of the 4X400 relay team. In the 9th grade I found an event I really loved, the 180 yard low hurdles. (What an odd distance). The event fit my body and my stride lengths perfectly, as a result, I was pretty successful at it.

Then came high school. “My” event was changed. There was no longer the 180 yard low hurdles.  Instead there was something called the 330 yard intermediate hurdles and the 110 yard high hurdles. With my short legs I could never stretch enough to get in only 3 steps between those high hurdles. I did not have the stamina to master the 330 intermediates.

Then the coach came with those devastating words, “Bruce, maybe you should try shot putting or discus throwing.”

In my mind he could just as well have said, “Bruce, you are fat and slow. Give up running.”

The picture I had of myself was that of a lean and fast hurdler. My picture of a shot putter was a big, heavyset guy who threw the shot primarily because he could not run.

It is true. I do not have the body of a long distance runner. I am not thin and light. I am built more like (well not a shot putter) but maybe a javelin thrower, if we are going to use examples from track and field. I am stocky and muscular, far from the Haile Gebrselassie body-type.
At first glance I do not look like a marathon runner.
But what does a marathon runner look like? Sure, elite runners tend to be petite, light-weight running machines. But have you ever looked at the starting field of a marathon? There are people of all shapes, sizes, forms, ages, gender and styles. I remember one time, while running in the Stockholm Marathon, I was passed by a large Finish man who looked like my stereotypical picture of a shot putter. That he was Finish only enforced that picture. He was running at a pretty good pace rather early on in the race. I often wonder how he ended up doing in the end.

I am not really a runner…
… but I run a lot,
so I guess I am a runner.
I’m OK, with that.

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Sometimes You Get Lucky or was it meant to be?

 

I was one of the lucky ones. I got my registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon in on time. It could have had an entirely different ending.  Most years the registration for Boston closes in January or February. Last year it closed in a record fast time, nine weeks. But even so, that was in December.

So I did not think that there would be any hurry to get my registration in right away. After all, I was sure that I had at least a month, right? Wrong!  For some odd reason, I for once, did something right away without waiting. I registered the same day that registration opened. Everything went OK. My registration went through and it was confirmed. I did not suspect a thing, until…

The next day when I went into the B. A. A. website, just out of curiosity to see how far they had come with verifying times etc.  I was met with big letters stating, “Registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon is closed.”

I could not believe my eyes. Literally. There must be some mistake. They must mean that the website was closed-down, not registration.  After looking around and reading various runner’s forums I found a website that explained. There was such a rush to register that registration closed in a record, now get this, eight hours and three minutes!  Who could believe that? Why just this year?

Suddenly it struck me, how close to the end did I come? I tried to remember what time I registered, adjusted for time zone differences. It turned out that I had registered at 4:30 p.m. and registration closed at 5:03 p.m.  33 minutes! That was a close shave.

Now, You have to wonder. Was it luck or was it fate? Was there a purpose behind this or am I just reading more into this than I should.

I never register for a race the very first day, especially when it is so far in advance. This time I did. Boston never fills up that quick. NEVER WITHIN THE FIRST DAY. This time it did.

What caused me to register so early? Was there a meaning behind this? Or was it divine intervention?

Some people say that there is no meaning in life, we create our own meaning. That is we choose to find some purpose out of the things that life deals us. Things happen and we choose to find a meaning behind them.

Other people say that nothing happens by accident. Everything has a meaning or a purpose. 

In this case I choose to believe that it was meant to be. I was meant to run the Boston Marathon on April 18th 2011, Patriots Day in Massachusetts. What is the purpose or why? I don’t know. I do know this; since I was a little boy I dreamed of running the Boston Marathon but never thought that I ever could. Just three years ago I thought that a 3:30 qualifying time was impossible. Now I have beaten that time twice.

There are several more “coincidences” that I can not explain other than to say, it was meant to be. I was meant to run Boston next year. Why? I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, you have to believe, there is a God and he loves marathon running.

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You already are who you were meant to be

You already are who you were meant to be

“To want to be what one can be is purpose in life.”  Cynthia Ozick, (see link at the bottom)

                     “You can do whatever you want”, was a popular phrase that I heard when I was younger. The expression is filled with good intentions aimed at encouraging people to set their sights high and follow their hearts desires.  I really believed this when I was kid.

“You can do whatever you want”

“The sky’s the limit”

“You can if you want to.”

 “Where there’s a will, there is a way.”

“If you try hard enough, you will succeed”

These clichés work both ways. They can be encouraging.  But what of those who try very hard and still do not succeed. Is it for lack of effort? Not everyone can be an Olympic gold medallist. Does that mean that those hundreds that did not get the gold medal did not work as hard?

                      Can you truly be exactly whatever you want? If I want to be the world record holder in marathon running at age 48, is it just a matter of will power?  If I try and do not succeed, would that be because I did not want it hard enough?

                      There are many things that you might want or dream about but can we literally become or do whatever we want?

                      This has been a source of disappointment and bad self-esteem for a long time, the thought that I did not realize some dreams because I just did not want it bad enough, or just did not try hard enough.

                      But the answer to that is in the sentence, “… just did not want it enough.” Perhaps a part of not reaching a dream is that you just did not want it bad enough. In other words, somewhere during the process you realized, this is not what I really wanted to do. Or maybe, “I want to, but just not that much.”

                      What I am trying to say is that there is a difference between wanting something as in desiring or wishing for something, and wanting something that is a part of who you are.  I might have a dream of becoming a pro athlete but that might not be what I really, really want. What I really, really want is something that is already within me.  You can be whatever you want – if that’s who you are.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola is believed to have said, “ God’s will for us is our own innermost desire.”

I interpret that as; what we really want is equivalent to God’s will for us. Or in other words, what we really want is already within us.

                      .

But how do you know what you want?

                      You have to know what you want, in order to be what you want, don’t you? You can not be whatever you want if you do not know what you want. Of all the self-help books on the market, it is very difficult to find one that helps you discover how to know what you want. There are many that tell you to know what you want, set up gaols and go for it.  But that first step, knowing what you want, there are not so many who want to help with that. Not having that first step prevents you from even taking any of the other steps.

                      But how about this?  You already are who you were meant to be.

                      You are who you are and you do not need to reinvent yourself. You are best at being you.  There is no one better than you at being you. 

                      Some people seem to know what they want from day one. Others seem to have to learn through trial and error.

                      Life is continually unfolding. We, as human beings, are continually developing.

You are who you are from birth. Whatever you choose to do with the life that you have been given, you can never stop being who you are.

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Cynthia_Ozick/

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Sometimes You Get Lucky or Was it Meant to Be?

I was one of the lucky ones. I got my registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon in on time. It could have had an entirely different ending.  Most years the registration for Boston closes in January or February. Last year it closed in a record fast time, nine weeks. But even so, that was in December.

So I did not think that there would be any hurry to get my registration in right away. After all, I was sure that I had at least a month, right? Wrong!  For some odd reason, I for once, did something right away without waiting. I registered the same day that registration opened. Everything went OK. My registration went through and it was confirmed. I did not suspect a thing, until… 

The next day when I went into the B. A. A. website, just out of curiosity to see how far they had come with verifying times etc.  I was met with big letters stating, “Registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon is closed.”

I could not believe my eyes. Literally. There must be some mistake. They must mean that the website was closed-down, not registration.  After looking around and reading various runner’s forums I found a website that explained. There was such a rush to register that registration closed in a record, now get this, eight hours and three minutes!  Who could believe that? Why just this year?

Suddenly it struck me, how close to the end did I come? I tried to remember what time I registered, adjusted for time zone differences. It turned out that I had registered at 4:30 p.m. and registration closed at 5:03 p.m.  33 minutes! That was a close shave. 

Now, You have to wonder. Was it luck or was it fate? Was there a purpose behind this or am I just reading more into this than I should.

I never register for a race the very first day, especially when it is so far in advance. This time I did. Boston never fills up that quick. NEVER WITHIN THE FIRST DAY. This time it did.

What caused me to register so early? Was there a meaning behind this? Or was it divine intervention?

Some people say that there is no meaning in life, we create our own meaning. That is we choose to find some purpose out of the things that life deals us. Things happen and we choose to find a meaning behind them.

Other people say that nothing happens by accident. Everything has a meaning or a purpose. 

In this case I choose to believe that it was meant to be. I was meant to run the Boston Marathon on April 18th 2011, Patriots Day in Massachusetts. What is the purpose or why? I don’t know. I do know this; since I was a little boy I dreamed of running the Boston Marathon but never thought that I ever could. Just three years ago I thought that a 3:30 qualifying time was impossible. Now I have beaten that time twice.

There are several more “coincidences” that I can not explain other than to say, it was meant to be. I was meant to run Boston next year. Why? I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, you have to believe, there is a God and he loves marathon running.

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All those days that came and went, I had no idea that they were life.

Training has been halting these past few days. I know that I should take it easy. “You should listen to your body” has become a cliché but none the less true. Everyone knows that you should not run when you have a sore throat. Really, I have nothing to lose if I rest. The best thing I can do right now is to rest thoroughly. But why am I chomping at the bit? Why does it seem like I am wasting time, days, and life?

Life is too short to waste even an iota of it.

Yet we do. Or do we? How do you waste life? I suppose taking your life is a waste of life. But as long as you are living you are still living and therefore you are not wasting life.
I understand what  is meant by, “you should not waste life”. I think what is meant is that you should use your time for things that you really want to do. Do not put off things that you want to do etc. Take advantage of life while you can. Live.

Savour life.

This is especially true when it comes to your children.
Spend time with your children. Watch them grow up.  Watch them. Look at them. Appreciate who they are. Enjoy each age period that they go through.
Do not come to the end of your life wishing that you had spent more time with them.
Many of us chase things and experiences because we want to cram as much as possible into our lifetime before we die. Ironically, that can cause stress which can shorten your life.

Getting the most out of life is not the same as accumulating as much as possible before you die.

Savour life,
like a wine connoisseur savours a fine wine.
Savour
every moment,
every second.

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On the road again!

The Road to the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon started officially on Monday October 4.
After having an unusually long-lived cold for about 3 weeks, and not being able to run more than once during that time, I finally got back on the road again. It feels good, although I need to take it easy now in the beginning.

I realize how much I need to run. These last 3 weeks I have been low – depressed, irritated about little things and generally down in the dumps.

Now I have run 4 days in a row and I am starting to perk up. Originally I was planning to just run every other day this week maybe 3 or 4 times, but I can’t help putting on my shoes and running just a little bit each day. Man it really feels good.

Can you be addicted to this stuff? If you can, is that bad? It is not the worst thing to be addicted to, at any rate.

I was wondering the other day how long I can keep up running marathons. After Boston in the spring I do not have any BIG goals in sight. How long can I keep up this amount of mileage? How long can I take so much time for training? I have done a good number of marathons. Maybe it is time to wind down a little bit.

But, God! There is just something incredible about being able to run 50-60 miles a week, being able to run a half marathon on a Saturday morning before breakfast.

You get in touch with your body, mind and soul in a whole other way.
God I love this sport!

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Pondering the reason why I put things off until the last minute.

 Some things you just know, deep down inside, that you can do. It is not really a conscious thought. It is more like an intuitive knowledge. You know how much time you really need and so you don’t really need to start right away.  In essence, you are saying that the task at hand is not challenging enough. Waiting until the last minute adds a little more spice to the task.         

                      The question that begs to be asked is; how do we get ourselves to feel challenged in such a way that we feel motivated to doing our best and love what we do? Not forced to do something but compelled by inner stimuli, a want to achieve. It is a desire that wants to achieve when we feel challenged to our very core; gratified, satisfied when we get the job done. 

                      That is what I am searching for all the time: a task that challenges me mentally, psychologically, intellectually, spiritually, philosophically physically, you name it. I want to feel like everything that I have is being challenged and utilized to their utmost potential, like I am using all of my gifts.  I want to feel alive!

I want to feel alive!  That is why I run marathons. 

It did not have to be running.  It could have been tennis or basketball or golf (nah, maybe not golf) but something else. But running is very easily accessible.

Essentially, running has given me a reason for living.  That sounds rather dramatic.  Considering that I also have a respectable job and a family, it may even sound like I have my priorities messed up.  Running is not more important than my family and not more important than my work. In actuality, I would place running third in that list.  But if you put it this way, it is not merely running, it has to do with my health, then maybe you might say that my health is also high priority.  Indeed I need to be healthy to be able to take care of my family but at times you have to sacrifice yourself and your health for the best of your family. 

Running is very concrete, you can see and measure results.  The goals are very clear and tangible. Marathon running gives me something to look forward to. Running gives me something to live for. As the expression goes:

I do not live to run, I run to live.

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The Road Less Traveled By

Robert Frost wrote;
…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I don’t know if it is the poem itself or the popular interpretation of the poem that disturbs me the most. The popular interpretation is that one should choose the path “less travelled” because then you are a strong individual, a non-conformist.  It is those people who live a more exciting life.  They dared to choose to go their own way on a different path and that has made a bigger difference.
There is a value judgement here. It infers that exciting/daring people choose the road less travelled. Boring people don’t. Boring/less adventurous people choose status quo.  In extent, if you dare to go a different way, if you dare to be different, then you are, in some way, better.
I think those who truly go a “different way” do so because they are naturally inclined to do so. They do not do so because they consciously say, “Hmm, I think I will choose this path just because no one or very few have taken it.”
Those who are really different or exceptional are different because of who they are naturally. They were born that way. They did not choose to be different. They may not even want to be different. It is like a calling. They can’t help the way they are or what they do. They just have to. They are compelled to it. Driven to it.
But this may be getting away from what the poem is all about in the first place. Maybe Frost is talking about how hard it is to choose a path. Choosing one way necessarily excludes the other. The poem may even be regretting a choice that has been made.  In which case, you can go through life wondering what would have or could have happened if I had taken the other way? Of course you never can know.
                    “And that has made all the difference.”
How does he know? Maybe if he had taken the first path he might be standing at the end of that path and thinking the same thing. “And that has made all the difference.” Or maybe he would be thinking “God, I am sure glad that I didn’t take that second path.” Or maybe even, “The second path was good but this first path is fantastic!”
How does he know? He doesn’t. You can only know the outcome of your choices after you have made them, after you have seen the consequences of those choices. It may take a whole life time for you to find out. Then it is too late to go back and do it all over again, differently, even if you could. Even if wanted to.
It is like Martin Luther said, “We understand life by looking back, but we have to live life looking forward.”
We never have the benefit of getting a sneak preview of our life to come. You have to make your choices from the knowledge (or lack of knowledge), feelings and impulses you have at that given moment. You can’t get a sneak peek into the future and you can not rewind the tape and get a “do over”
The only thing you can do is make your choices today and be brave enough to live with the results tomorrow. If you are lucky, maybe you can make some corrections along the way. 

But, hey, you know what? You are unique. We are all unique. Whatever you do, whatever path you take, that is the path less travelled because only you can travel the path that you have to travel. The path is your life and nobody else’s.

link to the whole poem:
http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html

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