My name is Darin Bullivant and here is what I’m up to. After participating in a Landmark Education curriculum on how to live a life you love, I wrote several books with my daughter Hunter and became impassioned about living. Through Hunter’s books, Landmark education, the teaching of Eckhart Tolle and a mediation coach named Jason Ederington, I began to formulate a plan or map of how I wanted to live my life. That’s Hunter and our illustrator from the color club in the picture. I began to share my ideas with others and that map is now coming true. My idea was to take on things I have always wanted to do but have never done and in process, share the ideas I have learned about living an amazing life. I had, after 40 years, become aware of what stops me from getting all I wanted out of life and I want the same awareness for all people so they can live their dreams as well. This portion of the dream is a book about racing the 24 hours of Adrenaline solo, twice! It’s a story about friendship, impact, sprinkled with a bit of drama. I hope you enjoy it. Give some thought about how you might be able to help in the journey and you may even find yourself inspired to make your dreams come true. We are also still looking for a sponsor for our book/books so if your interested…e-mail me at email@example.com Enjoy!
Not Just Another 24 Hours
You never know who you are inspiring with how you live your own life, but I assure you, you have an impact that you can’t see. The ripples of you being, fan out into life, lifting people up with your rising above your own struggles. People have unique background experiences that contribute to who they are and I am inspired by the characters in my life, which have overcome all sorts of things. Our inner and outer struggles create, for us, our blueprint that others can look at, model, gain strength from, aspire to, and indeed live from. Each lesson we learn, or struggle we overcome, creates a stepping ladder to becoming something different, and in that growth, we can share a common thread, and dance with others in the climb.
The following people are diverse in their history but they all share a common thread with me. The blanket of my growth, the sweater of my inspiration, the toque of my enlightenment, is woven by these people that I call friends, family, and mentors. Each of following stories is about a character, who I have witnessed climbing the ladder of living an extraordinary life; it’s about their impact on me directly. It is a brief look into their experience, through my eyes, and how I gained momentum, inspiration, or just plain joy from having watched how they live. I will devote an hour of reflection to each of them, on my journey to race 24 hours consecutively ( 25 actually) in the effort to create some ripples for humanity. It is through these people that I have learned what is possible and sharing that message in honor of your own empowerment, is my Opus. Reflecting on them, will keep my mind focused and inspired, and in that, the ripples will be theirs, as much as they are mine. Amongst the people you will also get a glimpse of what it’s like to race the 24 Hours Of Adrenaline twice! It’s truly a unique experience that takes a village to ride, even if your riding solo. Enjoy the rides.
24 hours, 24 inspirational people, one rider…listening to the playlists they created to get through the event. Like anything in life, learning to cope with the suffering is the most difficult part, but once one comes to grips with it, suffering leads us to ourselves. Our brain soon recognizes the suffering is optional and it can cease to be. Life happens and unfolds as it may, how it occurs to us, is up to us, and like magic, we are born. The 24 hours of adrenaline is no different…although it all unfolds in a day! It’s my turn to choose.
Greetings my 24. Here is the story about how it went. It was an adventure for sure and I couldn’t have done it without you. When you read to the part where I had to get out of the trailer at hour 21 you’ll understand why. Thanks for your support always and for those who sent playlists, I loved every minute and so did those around me. I played your music on my loud speaker non-stop on a loud speaker in my pack and everyone around me laughed and enjoyed as well. There is nothing like rolling through the woods at 3 am listening to Dora, I’m the map and Akuna Matata. It made the Erie moments quite funny actually:) A 24 hour race can be like living a lifetime in one day. The emotions, the defeats, the triumphs, the aches and pains, and the getting through them, is truly unique, yet very reflective of a life journey.
The 24 Hours of Adrenaline is a challenge I have been thinking about since I tried the Trans Rockies Mountain bike race back in 2010. In 2010 I was looking for the hardest mountain bike race I could find and it turned out to be just that, but the thought of trying to go an amazing distance in a single day was even more daunting. I ended up rupturing my ACL and my MCL on the other knee in a motorcycle mishap in August of 2013 and was discouraged about competing for the season, as knee surgery takes so long to recover from. (I knew this first hand, as I had a complete ACL reconstruction in the past). I wanted to try and strengthen my knees to avoid surgery and the only way I thought I would have the integrity to train everyday was to sign up for something scary and huge, hence the 24 hours of Adrenaline…solo! Here is my story, the inspiration behind it, and a laugh or two along the way. But first, I’d like to introduce Chris.
Chris Chetcuti Imagination
When we have the awareness to imagine, to see the other side and be empathetic to how they must feel, our world changes and is less confrontational.
Imagination is invaluable on many levels and I think it gets overlooked as a virtue that is hugely important to society. Imagination allows for visualization, compassion, innovation and so much more. Chris founded a company called Landform with his friend Ben and then envisioned and imagined a company making a difference while using their skills. Starting something from scratch takes vision and imagining how things will go, what they will look like, and what could go right as well as wrong. Any good company will have a vision and implementation strategy to account for what may happen in the workplace. Having the ability to adapt to each situation and still remain true to the vision makes for a successful career that keeps you inspired, as well as, well fed. Chris has received many awards for his work because he does it with passion and integrity and because he really cares about the people he is helping.
What is unique about Chris is his ability to imagine. He can see what things can be, how they may look, and adapt his vision to the needs of a client. This ability transfers to relationships, which is where I gain inspiration from Chris. There was a situation where Chris was faced with a life-changing event and while he struggled with the sudden change, his ability to imagine, be empathetic, and take ownership of his part in the situation, is what I found to be most astounding. Chris spent more time trying to imagine what his responsibility was in the situation, than he did stuck in blaming the outside world for his troubles. He examined the event from many angles, trying to imagine the thoughts and feelings of the others involved and then spent his time trying to see if there was a solution he could come to by improving himself. When relationships get rocky, as they often do, it is easy to point the finger and blame the other person for the problem. Our innate dualistic humanness is trained to look for the problem that exists out there in the world. For example, if the problem isn’t with me, it must be with them. Black or white! It was refreshing for me to see Chris handle his situation with such Grace and humility, examining his role in the issue, and trying to help the situation by first changing himself. It takes both imagination and awareness to BE that kind of person.
Our point of view is reality for us and we are often trapped in that view. When speaking with children, I often use a coloured paper metaphor where each student is looking at a piece of paper from a different side. One side is red for example, while the other is green. I ask the students to debate what colour the paper is and it leads to a heated discussion in no time, as each person can only see their own side. When we turn the paper around, it demonstrates that there can be more than one way to view things and if we are aware of that, then it allows for harmony in relating rather than confrontation in defending what is right. This simple demonstration is effective in illustrating our tendency to judge the world from our perceptions but it doesn’t speak to the effects of our behavior on the situation at hand. When things happen in life that challenge our virtues or what we value as important, we can be so firmly rooted in our beliefs, that we forget this simple lesson. We get stuck defending the green side and we forget the other side. That is where the shift can occur for the other person. Our behavior around defending our side, leads to a state of mind in the other person that begins a game of ping-pong defensiveness. The more firmly you are rooted in your rightness, the more firmly the other person will be in theirs. You actually create the conflict in the other person. This is the secret behind the Secret! You end up attracting conflict because you lack the imagination to see the other side. As soon as we give up this dualistic, right or wrong mentality our world opens up to many possibilities. Blame turns into responsibility. We can ask ourselves, how was I responsible in that situation? What could I have done? When we have the awareness to imagine, to see the other side and be empathetic to how they must feel, our world changes and is less confrontational. We are free and those around us are free as well. Freedom is contagious and it comes from the imagination. Chris has become a close friend and our discussions have changed how I see the world, and for that I am grateful.
It was 1 AM, pitch black and raining. I had come in from a lap of the 18km course to find my friend Chris, who had taken over from my wife as my pit manager for a few hours so she could sleep. In the 24, when you ride solo, you are required to have someone who looks after your needs for the full 24 hours. It is for your safety and sanity, as you tend to lose it a little after 8 hours or so of solid riding. My cramping had subsided and my h2o/magnesium/potassium ratio was finally on track again, as I had spent many laps fighting cramps that sent me vaulting from my bike into the trees, stiff legged and in pain, not being able to move for several minutes. I had fallen for one of the many no-no’s in this race early on, proof that knowing makes no difference in some circumstances. I had been told to come out of the gate and pace myself so that I didn’t overdue it on the first lap and pay for it later. Well, when your in the front of the pack for a LeMons Start ( a 700 meter sprint to your bikes), and you get on the bike mid pack, with fast runners/riders ahead of you, and over half the field behind you, your kind of stuck in the middle as it were. I was indeed stuck. As I began the first hill climb which started about 100 meters into the race I was set on keeping my heart rate below 165 which would allow me to stay aerobic and allow for prolonged endurance. A good plan! Once I realized, however, that my trusty Garmin heart rate monitor had malfunctioned and was out of commission, I just decided to ride the first lap until things spread out a bit and then settle in. Unfortunately for me, the first climb is about 4 km long, which means anaerobic time for my body. Too long at 170-185 beats per minute started a chain reaction that would come to haunt me later. I was redlining my heart just to stay on the bike during the climbs and keep my spot in line. If I pulled off to let others pass me, it would be an hour before the line of bikes allowed me back in, so I just kept peddling, knowing full well( but secretly hoping otherwise), that I was in for a crash( not a literal one but a physiological one where my body says ” hold the phone, you’ve got to pay for the checks your mind is writing”)…and pay I did.
Chris sleepily welcomed me back to my 10 by 10 spot on pit row (solo riders get to pit right on the course so they don’t waste any time getting to and from their tents). He had been napping under a sleeping bag in the relative quiet of the chilly night, and was half asleep when the lights I had borrowed from him, woke him from his doze. “Hey man, how’s it going out there?”
One might think I would be almost as groggy as him at this hour, having been up for over 17 hours already and riding for 13 of them. I was, however, jacked up on Perpetuem and my mind was racing. (my Perpetuem mixture has 50mg of caffeine in it, per hour and I had been racing for 13 hours…hmmm, what’s the math on that?) I began to tell him stories of fellow racers in trouble on the course, then I jumped to a book I am writing, then to the amazing roller section where you reach speeds of about 60 km/hr in the dark, and then we were discussing relationships and character development…hey wait a minute, I am supposed to be racing here. I had better get going. Oh I needed a tube as well, as I lent my spare to a racer who had a flat tire and his spare tube had a huge hole in it. I also needed warmer clothes as the temps had dropped and I was also, now, walking the 2 big hill sections, as my heart and body just couldn’t keep up the climbing at an E5 heart rate any longer. My crash had hit me on lap 3 and I was fearful of having to quit before I had even done 4 laps it was so bad. It is hard to describe not being able to move for fear of cramping. If I tried to move my leg just to remain balanced, it would cramp. Then I would transfer my weight to my other leg, and guess what? It would cramp! So I would try sitting. Big Mistake!…Hello Hamstrings…both cramping at the same time! I rode right off the course into a patch of moss and promptly fell over, still clipped into my peddles. If I didn’t move, I was ok. As soon as I even thought about getting more comfortable, my quads would cramp, straighten the legs, hamstrings would cramp, try to get out of the clips, toes would cramp, then calves, then back to hams….argggg, this is torture. Many riders passed me asking of I was, Ok? I answered Just fine( I was lying…why do we do that when we’re in trouble? I think it is so ingrained in me to be independent and show no signs of weakness that I could be having a heart attack and I would reply, just fine thanks, just taking a break) and there I remained until I had drank enough H20 from my back pack, and had about 4 electro-lite pills from my pocket. I was hoping the cramping would go away but I wasn’t really sure. as I never encountered this in training. I had to pee like crazy and forced myself to get detangled from the bike and stand up. My body had started to recover but the flood-gates were open and I had to stop to pee every 30 minutes or so, as I was drinking a tone, but not getting the electro-lights I needed. This was turning into a race of science rather than a race of strength, and I was in trouble with my science teacher early( many of my past classmates will not be surprised by this. I was always the first to break a beaker, or cut my finger with the dissection scalpel).
After a long conversation, (way longer than I had planned…)
Chris had me restocked with a fresh smoothy, a full camelback of water, a fresh bottle of Perpetuem, and a recharged brain stimulated by something other than the peddles going round and round and round and round. I was off again into the night. I should mention, I had on 2 Chamois shorts ( freshly lubricated with chamois butter…oh my aching sphincter), two jerseys( also lubricated…oh my aching nipples), my riding jacket, a bini under my helmet, a rain slicker, and windproof snowmobile gloves. I was cold! He had even charged up my helmet light for a 30 minute quick charge just in case, and I was feeling good. My bike lights were long lasting and bullet proof so what happened later that hour came as quite a surprise.
True Love isn’t possible without someone willing to share your experience with. To have and to hold forever is pretty daunting because, as we face this world, the good and the bad, the hand that holds yours, is attached to the eyes through which you get to see yourself. This may sound confusing but as you experience life, you can do so from your own senses alone and you can’t see yourself. You can only really exist for yourself in the eyes of another as they watch you and you them. It is my honor to experience myself through the eyes of my loving wife in a way that I could never do by myself. I have trouble seeing my strengths, my virtues, my love, because when I look at myself through my eyes, I only focus on what’s missing or how I should be different. I see my shortcomings plain as day and quickly dismiss the things that make me great. Our own blind spots ironically hide what is best about us. True love is a blessing bestowed upon me having Kelly in my life. She sees me, and I her.
Where do I begin? Here is what I see. I see a compassion for people in their glory and in their suffering. I see her mother in her, a caring that places everyone else’s needs ahead of her own, a first-to-offer-up-her-comfy-chair-kind of gal. Her happiness is directly related to how others are feeling and if someone is not feeling 100%, then neither is Kelly. Her mind chews on the troubles of the world and she is constantly trying to contribute to the peace and happiness of others. She has spent a great deal of time with me, and while I can say the time has been amazing, I know it hasn’t always been easy for Kelly. My humanity and specifically my thoughts, dictate that there will always be times when I am not at 100%. Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m cranky. Sometimes, I am down on myself or disgruntled with the world, wishing things could be different. In that, I am no different than most of humanity. Unfortunately, I know that this can be hard on my wife, because that means, all is not well with her either.
As the age old Adage states, “As a man Thinketh, so in his heart he shall be”. I have studied this in the arena of my life and have seen it proven time and time again in relation to my effectiveness. If there is suffering or peacefulness in my life, I can find it rooted in my thoughts. When I am thinking thoughts of unworthiness, I tend to look for behaviors and reasons, that support my view and when I do, I blame the other person or the world, and get defensive of my worthiness…it is an awesome spectacle, but one in which leaves me feeling not enough in some way. Of course you can see how this can create a dynamic with Kelly knowing what you now know of her character ( or at least how I perceive her character ). I feel not worthy, and walk around grumpy which leads her to wonder what’s wrong, blame herself, and then feel uncomfortable because I’m not happy….hahahahahaha. Seriously, I laugh at my foolishness but revel in the suffering when it is there.
Kelly, you keep me sane, keep me believing in myself, keep loving me despite how I make you feel sometimes, and we grow, and grow, and grow. My dreams have all become real with you and sometimes I’m not sure where to look next because I can’t imagine it getting any better. Forgive me when I fall prey to the voices that say life isn’t amazing…for even these voices are part of the joy when I look deeper and claim my victory over my conditioning and penchant for suffering. You have made me a warrior and with your love, how can I not succeed?
Rewinding to the start of the race, where my wife Kelly and my Daughters Hunter and Piper, had worked hard to set up camp and have all the items that I would need over the course of the race laid out and accessible. The race takes an incredible amount of thought and preparation, as well as time away from the family for long rides to get your body prepared for the workload of being up and working for 24 hours. Signing up was the easy part! My girls had an Eazy-UP tent set up with tarp walls on 3 sides. I didn’t want a regular tent siting there tempting me to have a short nap that I would wake from 8 hours later, so we had everything set up like a living room with 2 drawer systems but no bed. Each drawer was assigned to some special contents for easy accessibility. Parts, lights and electronics, race food, (bars, gels, protein, Nuun tabs, electrolytes from Hammer Nutrition, Perpetuem from Hammer as well), a cook stove and blender for smoothies ( my saving grace as I couldn’t stomach any food after hour 8 and only drank smoothies after that), and lastly a real food drawer ( bananas, stoked oats, apples. Chilli I had prepared and burned the night before). Besides the drawers, we had a recliner chair and 3 other camp chairs, a propane fire-pit for warmth for the pit crew, blankets, a bike stand, a gear bag but most importantly the people. Kelly was super organized and supportive and the kids’ energy was infectious and positive. They believed in me and that was all I needed. I was committed to doing my best, but not attached to the result.
Many were asking me how many laps I was going to do? My answer was, “ I have no idea, I’ve never done this before”. I just wanted to keep going if at all possible, and not get taken out by the voices in my head telling me to quit. I had done enough prep work to know it was possible to keep going for the 24 hours, but I didn’t know what it was going to feel like physically, or more importantly mentally. Your mind knows you very well and will pull every trick in the book to try and get in the way of your goal. This is true in the race and in everyday life. There were times when I lost that battle and took too long at breaks, got off the bike on long hills, and visited with friends and supporters on the course. It was a balancing act as I wanted to fully enjoy the experience, but I also wanted to do what I had set out to do, and that was my best effort. In retrospect I didn’t give it my best effort but we often belittle our own experiences soon after we have completed something so I don’t know whether to trust this feeling or not. It really doesn’t matter either way. I did how I did, and I know what I have to do to be better next time.
While I did give in to that voice in my head at times, there was one victory for me, that stands out as one that will be with me forever. I will try and describe it but it truly is something you have to feel. It was 8:30 AM and I had been awake for over 24 hours. I had gone to the trailer at 6:30, shortly after sunrise and my light fiasco,
(more on that later) and I was spent. My mental state was good but I was cold, tired, ill from not eating, and I thought a little lay down might be nice. Kelly had warned me that other riders had tried this and had a very hard time getting back out of bed. Many had failed to do so. The rider across from our tent, for example, had suffered this fate at about 3 am when he had lost feeling in his hands and laid down to see if that would help. He would never return to the race.
My thoughts were that I was not like the others and I would be fine to get up after 2 hours of rest, (sleep was impossible after so much activity and caffeine). Oh how our minds are devious and cunning…haha. I set my alarm and laid down to listen to my mind chatter. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was back riding the course, dodging rocks, slogging up hills, bouncing along the descents, I had to keep opening my eyes to break the thought pattern. It was frustrating. I didn’t want to keep riding in my head, I wanted it to stop so I could sleep. Then my mind started to assess how depleted and beat I was. I started feeling like I could never get out of this bed even though I wasn’t sleeping. I began to think of how much work my family was doing and of how I wouldn’t be of much use to them if I continued. Who was going to pack up my trailer and the camp-site? Who was going to drive the truck and trailer home? They needed me so I should just say enough is enough and get some rest. Then I started thinking about the load on my heart. I was worried about the stories I had heard about long endurance athletes and the damage they do to their hearts over long periods of exertion and I started to have doubts as to whether I had trained enough for the event. I should quit before I robbed my daughters of their Dad, and what would Kelly do without me around. Life would be so hard for her and the kids.
My alarm went off and I shut it off and gave up! I was done, I would not return to the race. It just wasn’t worth it. It was a stupid goal, and I am not even competitive so who cares. No one would blame me. Kelly came in the trailer bright eyed and cheery telling me how beautiful the sunrise was and how the energy outside was awesome. It was 8:30, time to finish that lap and get another one in as I had planned earlier. Our pit was located about 1 km from the finish line along solo pit row, and I had not crossed the finish line for my 7th lap yet. It was then I told her that I would likely not continue. I was spent! Wake me at 11 and I will complete the 7th lap and go home. She shook me a little, told me she was proud of me either way, but she believed I could do it, if I just got vertical. I was like…no way, I feel like hell warmed over in a microwave. She came in 3 more times every 5 minutes or so like a mosquito who refuses to give up dinner. I wanted to swat her and her positive attitude flat and go back to dozing in my personal hell.
Then something overwhelmed me that I find difficult to describe. I welled up with emotions and realized I WANTED to continue. The rollercoaster in my head had stopped on a precipice, and I knew in my heart that I could and would find a way to continue. I let the people in my life wash over me like a warm shower of inspiration, the people who I chose to think about over the past 24 hours. In that moment I truly grasped the brilliance of the for-thought I had put into this race. Somehow I knew this moment would come and I knew I would fail in the face of it. I knew I didn’t have it in me! I had thrown in the towel in situations in the past and I knew I would do it again. Something inside of me knew this and had a contingency plan. I couldn’t do it alone and Kelly was the catalyst for the fuse inside me needed to relight the flame. The flame started with her and got bigger with each spark of inspiration from all the believers in my life that knew I could continue. They were with me in that moment because I called them into being. I can’t express how it feels to have all that support come flowing in in your direst moment, but suffice it to say, it was overwhelming! I started to cry and knew I was going to get up and complete the race to the best of my abilities.
Integrity, Rick Richard
Rick’s favourite songs to keep him going…
I gotta feeling by Black Eyed Peas
Try by Pink
Are You Gonna go my way by Lenny Kravitz
Brighter than the sun by Colbie Caillet
Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder
Like a rolling stone by Bob Dylan
Read my mind by the Killers
Roar by Katy Perry
Suspicious minds by Dwight Yoakum
Use Somebody by Kings of Leon
We found love by Rihanna
Ghetto gospel by Tupac
Lose yourself by Eminem
Lessons he wants to share with the world…
Be clear in your communication.
Be consistent, people will be able to bank on you for something when you show consistency.
Have integrity, nothing more powerful than someone who says they are going to do something and then they go out and do it. (Mohammed Ali would predict the round he would knock someone out in, Babe Ruth would point at the home run fence and then hit it over, Mark Messier guaranteed a win in Game 6 and went out and scored a hat trick along with the win, Martin Luther Kings I have a dream speech, Gandhi declared he would change India, Mandela declared he would free South Africa).
Be present with others, the greatest compliment you can give someone is to do everything you can to be in their shoes.
Remember there’s a bigger picture that we have no control over, we think we do but it’s an illusion.
Be committed, do what you said you were gonna do long after the mood you had said it in has left you.
Lend a hand to someone, there’s nothing more gratifying and fulfilling then making a difference with another.
Funny thing is, that is just what Rick did for me in 2009 when we first met. Rick did something selfless and agreed to train a running group and I am blessed to have been part of that group. My friend Jan Bieber had inspired us with his story, losing 200 lbs and becoming an ultra athlete, running marathons, triathlons, ultra-marathons, and for this project, running from Victoria to Calgary. He had asked us to join him for the last marathon into Calgary. I couldn’t say no as I was so inspired, but I knew nothing about running or training, and I was 25lbs overweight myself. We started running that next week at 5:30 am until 6:30am. We were a group of about 30 people, many of which had never run before, and most were not in any shape to run a 10 km race, never mind a 42km one.
Rick changed my life in a conversation one morning while we were running but this is not the reason he is on my most inspiring people list. I asked him what I should eat, as I felt this was an area where I needed some help. Rick is a holistic nutritionist, and in a very non-judgmental way, he shared his beliefs with me. My life and diet and health were changed forever. He shared the truth about food with me and I have been able to accomplish incredible things, including losing 25 pounds and becoming an extreme athlete of sorts. Thank you for giving me my health back, Rick.
What inspires me most about you, however, has nothing to do with diet. For me, you are the epitome of integrity! The 30 people who signed up to run with us 3 times a week, at 5:30 am were for the most part, unknown to you. It was the first time I had met you and you signed up to help us because you were inspired by Jan, just like we were. The thing is, for the next 6 months or so, you never missed a run. While the group flowed in and out of integrity, not showing up in the morning for various reasons, you were always there, waiting for people you hardly knew. We ran in 40 below Celsius, in 2 feet of fresh snow, every 2nd morning, until we could run a marathon. Easy right? Not without integrity!
When I asked you to share your greatest lessons, you said, “be committed, do what you said you were gonna do long after the mood you had said it in has left you”, as well as highlighting Integrity as something that was important to you. The icons of integrity you mentioned all had a passion for something and they followed it to greatness. In my eyes, you’re right up there with those Icons of integrity and commitment. You created that same integrity around a day-to-day running group so they could survive a marathon. Everyday people, getting all of you, inside of integrity, and rebuilding their bodies and making their dreams come true. I learned a great deal about training, diet, and life on those morning runs, but no greater lessons than commitment and integrity. Thanks, doesn’t begin to describe my gratitude, but thank anyways and I appreciate the music…from your ears to mine.
I struggled out of bed( It took me about 10 minutes to get vertical…even longer to stand up) and I posted a picture on face book stating that I had given up, until this very moment, and I was going to continue if my body would allow it. I posted it because I wanted those people to know they were with me and they were the reason for my success in that moment. I wanted them to know I could feel them in the world and that they help and inspire me, even when they are not with me. I wanted them to know I loved them, helk I wanted the world to know I loved them! I was drunk with I don’t know what, because I had never felt this way before but I was that, “ I love you man” drunk at the party that everybody rolls their eyes at. It was a feeling of absolute WONDER.
I have a friend who I can count on for being honest. I can count on him sharing what is there for him even if it is contrary to what I want to hear. Some view it as a character flaw because there are times when his honesty hurts but his honesty is always out of his integrity. There are those of us who won’t tell a person that they have something in their teeth, bad breath, or a booger on their nose, for fear of embarrassing the person and themselves. There are times when we think someone is using poor judgment and we keep it hidden because we want to avoid conflict, or avoid sharing what is really there for us.
For Corey, this would seem ridiculous and he would be correct, but it is how many of us live. We hide behind “not wanting to hurt some ones feelings” and act as if our dishonesty is a virtue. Certainly our intention might feel right, but is it really? Many of us operate in one of two realms, wanting to look good, or not wanting to look bad. There is a subtle difference if you think about it and we make our decisions based on one of the two. Whether it’s taking a job that might impress our fathers, or stifling our true feelings about someone or something, we need to look at the cost of this type of behavior. Our loved ones do not get the true value of our insight or love. Friendship doesn’t mean always saying what the person wants to hear. It may start that way, but true, meaningful, friendship must have an honesty that surpasses being liked, or looking good. Getting the truth from a friend is much more valuable than getting agreement, which is how many define a friend. It is often our friends who hide the very flaws in our character that hold us back from living amazing lives.
I was once seeking justification for a perceived injustice and I shared with Corey, as I knew I could count on him for the truth. It helped save my marriage because my eyes were opened to the truth and for that I am grateful. I am truly blessed to have someone so frank and honest that I can call a friend. We have been friends for years and I can attest that we will be for many more. I strive to the level of his honesty and admire his commitment to it, for I see in myself, a withholding of the truth in many situations, out of fear of looking bad in another person’s eyes. I could have a much greater impact on people if I could just learn to let go of the fact that I want them to like me. It is more important that they like me, than for me to give them my truth. White lies may seem kind, but they can rob the people in your lives of the very lessons they need to learn. In a world of illusion, I deeply respect honesty and I respect the way my friend Corey, deals it out with such humor and sarcasm. It is a truly unique and kind way to have the truth, and keep it light.
Cool, now on with the race…Kelly had gone to Ashley Myers tent to get some advice on how to get me to, rise and shine, as it were, and when she returned, she was surprised to see me up and changing into dry gear. I said I was back in the game and off she ran to prep my bike for another lap, more water in the camel back, another bottle of Perpetuem, more chamois butter. She had turned into a pro support team overnight. I was off and racing again by about 9:30, plenty of time to complete my 7th lap and do the required lap between 11 and 1. To complete the race, each team and solo rider must complete at least one lap from 11 until 1pm, making the race a 25 hour race rather than a measly 24 hour one. Great!
I had saved Kelly’s playlist for this lap as I knew I would need something special to complete on and with each song she had chosen, new tears would arise out of love and admiration for my loving wife of 14 years. Today was our anniversary which made life all the more special and her music, and my state of mind, made for what might appear to be a messy finish, but was in truth, the sweetest victory shared by her and the most influential and inspirational people of my life.
I’ve had many father figures in my life, the most influential being my own father and my uncle Gordon.
My father was a kind generous soul who everyone loved and was always the life of the party, even when he became incapacitated to the point of just sitting there. His humor and wit never left him and I will never forget his smile. He was, however, lost from as far back as I can remember. I didn’t realize it at the time because as children we are very present. We are very focused on the now, what’s real, and we lack the ability or curse as it were, of time travelling in our minds to the stressful past and future. Society quickly teaches us out of this way of being though and we are told to learn from the past, plan for and focus on the future. We look at each new moment and compare it to what we have already experienced or quickly judge it against what we think it should be. We take ourselves out of the present. This is the Hell my father lived in. Most times he was everywhere but the present moment. His smile was there on those rare moments when he was really present in the here and now. That is the Dad I choose to remember.
The demons that haunted him the rest of the time are the illusions that created his Hell. Our minds are deeply plugged into and attached to our fears, and when left to run free, they can take over our hearts and souls. My father was an amazing man that was overcome with fear, and he died sitting in his favourite chair, with one last Lucky Beer sitting on the table. He ran as fast as he could from the voices in his head, but it’s like running in your dreams…slow and impossible. So he chose to drink to quiet the voices. It was the strategy of the working class in his generation and I don’t blame him for his choices, but I do wish he knew that there was another way to silence those voices without drugs or alcohol or for that matter, the many other ways in which we hide or distract ourselves from them.
The biggest hurdle I had in learning this was giving up that I was right. There is a slight distinction that I have to point out before you can understand this in yourself. The “I” I am speaking about is the thinking mind. Just as every other muscle, bone, and organ does, it has a function, and that function is to MAKE meaning. That is it’s sole function. It takes what happens in the real world and applies it’s own editing process, and then creates the meaning that seems to fit the best for what is happening out there. The key is knowing that this process is not what is actually happening, it is only your post edited thoughts, translated by a brain plagued with self doubt, fear, and whatever else taints you from your past experience. You view and edit life through eyes shaped by your past experience. My father couldn’t make this distinction. He thought the voices that were his conscious mind, were telling him the truth, but it was only the truth as it could view it. He was unable to distinguish the difference between the voices in his head and what was really happening and therefore he was lost in his own mind.
In stark contrast enters my Uncle Gordon. My parents had split up early as my father’s voices spoke such dark thoughts around love and my mom, that he was unable to function in the world. He ended up on disability and later Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. His mind was that powerful, and the drinking didn’t help. My mother moved on, married, and moved to another province. I moved in with my uncle Gordon and my education on being a father began.
Uncle Gordon is an incredibly dedicated educator and advocate for students who are learning disabled and has devoted his life to helping kids adapt and function in the world. He created a school for the Learning disabled called Foothills Academy with his partner Tom Ahlesworth and it is his Opus to the world. It stands as the model for other schools and is considered the best in the country and perhaps the world. He has travelled the world to speak on the principles of educating students and adults with learning disabilities and his list of accolades is too long for this book so I’ll get to the point. Being with him, in his home, and watching him raise my younger cousin Spencer, gave me another way to view family. He was gentle, kind, and vibrant. The house was filled with love and humor, and it was so wonderful to watch a family interact without the drama and chaos that was present in my own home. He never yelled, never hit, never lost his cool or patience with Spencer. He created a space where Spencer could experience the world, explores, make mistakes, and took incredible pleasure watching him grow. What my uncle was able to do that my father couldn’t, was create the world as he wanted it to be, rather than listen to the constant editing conversation in his head, and have it create the world. He was the creator! I think that comes from understanding that the mind is a tool for creating rather than the creator itself. If you are aware of this you can use your mind to YOUR advantage. I highlight YOUR to help you understand that your mind is not you!
Uncle Gordon specifically chose to view things from a loving perspective. When we do this, our need to be right in any situation falls away as it is not important. That then allows us to BE however we want in any given situation. Learning this and applying it to my own family has made a wonderful difference. I also apply this on a daily basis in my teaching and I am a better father, educator and husband because I learned these lessons. I am inspired by his commitment to being kind, understanding, and the best father he can be. In that, he is like a father to me because the way he was with Spencer, was the way he was with me and that was a profound shift in my life. Thank you for opening up your home and showing me a better way to be. Those ripples will be felt around the world.
Vaughan, Faith and Friendship
Our faith resides in our intent and in our word. That is to say that using our awareness, we choose a way to be in the world (intent) and then we use our words and actions to live out that dream.
I can’t say what brought us together, but I think it was out of kindness that Vaughan and I became friends. We met in Jr. High and I was awkward in who I was, small, out of place, and nervous about being in a new school. I was still immersed in the turmoil at home and my self-esteem was low. I remember being up at all hours of the night crying but not sure why. I was depressed, out of place, and trying to fit in. Those teen years are awkward times and I had a couple of friends that were cruel to me but I hung out with them anyways. We are suckers when our self-esteem is low and we feel worthless. If we are hungry for attention, we will take what we can get. It is almost like we attract that which we feel inside. My recollection is that Vaughan saw that and made an effort to include me. Vaughan and Mike, were two guys I looked up to; they had regular families, loving parents, they were cool and good at sports. They were kind to me and included me in their group. They had gone to a different elementary school and had come to school with a large group of friends. It’s blurry how that time was for me and I only remember that being with them was the time I enjoyed. Vaughan and I could not have been more different in our up bringing to that point. Stability didn’t exist for me and for Vaughan it was second nature. His parents, Tom and Velma, had a family of 5 kids, went to church every Sunday, and led lives of devotion. They had a way about them that made me welcome in their home and I’ll never forget the taste of Mrs. Mealey’s Brownies sprinkled with icing sugar. She made them in batches of four pans because they disappeared before they even cooled from the oven.
Vaughan was gregarious, fun loving and kind. We played as boys do, exploring the river valleys, daring each other to leap from high things, talking about life, and sharing our love for bikes and all things with motors. It was a time in life where I got a taste of what life could be like with a regular family. Vaughan was a brother to me and his family looked after me like a lost puppy. They learned a bit about my past and did what they could to support me but what I remember most about that family and Vaughan especially, was his faith in God. It’s what guided his decisions, thoughts and actions, and it might have been his faith that brought us together.
Our faith resides in our intent and in our word. That is to say that using our awareness, we choose a way to be in the world (intent) and then we use our words and actions to live out that dream.
In those days when I had no faith, I was doing my best just to survive and believing in something was not even on my radar. I was bouncing from thought to thought with no direction or guiding belief, and my outer life reflected my inner way of being. I was whoever and whatever the situation demanded of me. If I was around the druggies of my school, I swore and stole and behaved like what I believed they expected. When I was around the jocks it was the same. I was a shape shifter and I was very good at it and I was accepted for it. I had nothing to put my faith in and as a result, I didn’t know who or what I wanted to be. I was living a life of wanting to look good ( to whoever I was with at the time) and avoiding looking bad ( I would go out of my way to avoid conflict of any kind and would often blame others or not take responsibility for my actions.)
I believe when we are not committed to being a certain way, we are at the mercy of our emotional state. If we are angry, we lash out; if we are sad, we withdraw; if we are jealous we act like jerks; ect. When we are guided by our emotions we often miss the point of what is really happening and we act according to that misguided belief.
The true meaning of the word Sin comes from an Archery term, meaning to miss the mark. I noticed when my children were angry, they would often misinterpret information and I couldn’t trust them to act rationally. Later, I saw the same in myself and realized I needed something to guide my actions; a code of conduct or behavior that I could fall back on when my emotions and mind chatter started to cloud my vision. I was missing the mark with regularity when I met Vaughan and I noticed how his actions were always consistent with his beliefs, even when his emotions were telling him otherwise. Time and time again, I saw him choose a path that was consistent with how he wanted to live his life, rather than choose the path of instant gratification or emotional venting or even what was considered acceptable in society.
I would later recognize this as Faith. Faith is the knowing that you have a code of conduct/beliefs that can help guide you when your emotions and mind are leading you from your mark. Faith is, knowing there is a way of being that is ALWAYS our choice and often in spite of what our rational mind may tell us. Faith is choosing a guiding set of principles to follow when our minds get bogged down with the meaning attached to being human. Invest your faith in something that inspires you to live a life YOU LOVE. That may be the principles of Christianity, like my friend Vaughan, or it might be Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism or any other of the great traditions we use to escape the traps that our minds create. It might be something that you create yourself as you awaken to a world free of your mind and the fear that marbles it.
I have learned Faith from an old friend and I see him struggle like we all do in applying it. But that struggle, in my opinion, is what keeps it honest. Our minds and emotions will constantly be testing our commitment to the Faith we have chosen. It will be constantly be trying to shift our arrows from hitting their mark. ( A mark of our choosing). Our society, by design, is ruled by emotions, gratification, and our innate humanness. It is in the victory over ourselves and society, that we celebrate our Faith; our choice or say in the matter! I choose!…It’s my new Mantra! “I AM” is too riddled with emotion and meaning…haha
Thanks for the lessons in life Vaughan. I have a rich and vibrant life and it has everything to do with you! For a rich forum on the topic of Faith, I suggest reading The Voice Of Knowledge by Miguel Ruiz. He says it so much more eloquently.
The lights! On lap 7, which would be my longest lap, I headed out into the dreary, rainy night with 3 lights and two batteries. I started up the first climb and came across a rider who had broken his chain. I stopped to help and then it occurred to me that I had no idea how to fix a broken chain. I had signed up for this race and didn’t even know some of the basics of bike maintenance. Haha, so typical of me, flying by the seat of my pants. With my extra pair of hands he was able to get it repaired the second time( although I only really held the chain while he did all the work). We fixed it once and realized we forgot to put the chain through the derailer…haha. I carried on feeling good about helping and feasting on the positive energy I get from helping others when 2 of my three lights went out. I stopped to investigate and it quickly became apparent that the battery was dead. So much for long life Lithuim I tried to descend this tricky downhill section with nasty rocks and roots with my last remaining light and it worked but I had to go very slowly as it was super dangerous. It was then I realized I had left my glasses back at the top of the hill where I was working with the chain guy…arg! I wasn’t going to leave my 120$ glasses on the trail to be trampled so I found a spot to stash my bike and was turning around to run the 2 km back up when my friend/mentor/trainer arrived on his bike and asked what the helk I was doing. Ashley is an elite cyclist with years of experience, and he had helped me prepare for the race in many capacities. He was looking at me funny and at first I was worried that he was in trouble. I asked how his race was going, and he replied he had had some trouble with illness and was struggling. I asked if he needed any food or gels or anything and he replied no, so I waved goodbye and headed the wrong way, back up the course, to find my glasses. I encountered many riders coming the other way, but found my glasses intact, right where I had left them. As I was making my way back down to my bike which was still stashed in the trees hopefully, I noticed my last light begin to flicker…oh dear. It was then I realized I had given my emergency headlamp I always carry in my pack to Chris at the last pit stop so he could set up my lights. I managed to find my bike, but after that, the light was practically useless to ride with, only functioning as a weak flashlight. I was at Km 3, which meant I would have to walk out to KM 7 where the course came with 500 meters of my tent, where my spare lights were. That 4 km took me forever, and believe me when I say, the woods are very dark at 4 am. It was lonely, cold and slow, but I got to the pits and swapped lights. I didn’t want a repeat, so I packed 2 spare batteries and my spare lights. My pack was over 25lbs now, with the 3 liters of water, stereo speaker, spare tube, CO2 cartridges, and lights. I will pack much lighter next time!!! I finished the lap after an exhausting 4 hours, which set me up for the whole “gotta have a nap conversation,” which, in turn, lead to one of the greatest victories of my life. Which is the lesson in life that I will leave you with today. Life and circumstances have a way of happening, things come up and we label them as good or bad, slot them into experiences we liked or didn’t like, and we carry on. We often dwell on experiences, wish they wouldn’t have happened, wishing things could be different, wondering how they might have been if they didn’t happen. The truth is when life happens, it could be good luck or it could be bad luck. Some of our seemingly worst events, lead to our greatest triumphs. If that light didn’t fail, could I have got 2 or 3 more laps in? Maybe? Maybe I could have finished 11th instead of 13th. But then I would have been robbed of that getting out of bed experience. Which is more important? See what I mean?
Piper, Courage and Strength
Everyday, I gather strength and inspiration from the ones I choose to learn and teach with. I gather it and then give it away like Halloween candy. Strength and inspiration are what I focus on. I spend some time figuring out how best to deliver and discover the Alberta Curriculum as an elementary school teacher and these little people are so eager to learn the new things. The curriculum, however, is not my big WHY. I don’t do what I do at school to deliver knowledge. Knowledge is found everywhere and is ripe for the picking for those who are willing, especially with Google, the burning bush of the new millennium, around. I teach because I love kids and I love helping and passing along the things I have learned and Piper sees that passion in me and connects with it somehow. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up but what she doesn’t realize is that she is one already. Her strength and courage in the face of life is something I am in awe of on a regular basis and it is the foundation from which I spring into living. I gather that strength and am inspired by her courage!
When I say I gather it, I mean the strength and inspiration springs forth from Piper’s way of being. Each and every moment she is overcoming self doubt, trying new things, taking risks, struggling with friendships, misbehaving, behaving, helping, hurting, and so much more. She does it with vigor, passion and reckless abandon. She reaches out when she is sad, hugs when she is happy, and ask questions when she is not certain. Piper is authentic, real, completely present with you in the moment while at the same time she is facing and conquering monumental fears, each and every day.
What if I fail? What if I look stupid? Will I succeed? Will Mom and Dad be disappointed? Why doesn’t she want to play with me? OMG, I have to present this to the class. Why does she get to stay up late and I don’t?
While these questions arise, her world is rocked by separation, divorce, violence, death, bad news, good news, puberty, zits and hair is strange places, yet still she wakes up each day, springs out of bed and is ready to learn something new.
My life has been filled with its share of fear and hardship. My trials and tribulations as an adult seem so much more significant but in truth they are not, for I remember how tough it was dealing with the experiences of growing up. A child’s concerns, which we often disregard as trivial, are huge for them and we can’t forget that when helping them overcome their fears.
Our circumstances that we are dealing with are monumental as we are constantly learning our limits, but as a child you don’t know them yet. Imagine not knowing if things are going to turn out and then being constantly expected to act anyways. Your kids do it everyday. Now imagine the fear they are experiencing from this. I remember a time when I was younger when I was dared to ride down this massive hill ( not just massive in the minds eye of a child…I have visited it since and can’t believe I survived) and hit a jump we had constructed out of the boards left out from the outdoor hockey rink that is built each winter ( it was four feet high). My hands were sweating, my heart beating so fast, my reputation on the line, and I had no idea how this was going to turn out. To me it looked like certain death. My parents had bought me the best in bike technology, complete with front and rear shocks just like a real motorcycle. I looked fear in the face and started peddling. That moment of courage is what we ask our kids to do every day but we, as adults, rarely place ourselves in those situations because they are stressful. I need to remember what I am asking of Piper on a daily basis and be in touch with that strength and courage that she exhibits in each moment. She is constantly on the top of that same hill and it is stressful growing up.
As we experience this life we are in a constant state of change like an ocean, which never stops moving. It recedes and retreats, flows and is still. But when we are children, we attach much less meaning to that flow, that change. We go with that flow… Piper gets it…life is to be lived right now! She looks fear and the unknown in the face every day and takes action, despite the stress and the fear. Adults tend to resist the flow, the changes, the hardships, the fear, and they are stopped in the living. We, as adults, actually stop living when we dwell in the past or worry about the future. It’s like we hit the pause button on the remote for a bit while we watch a rerun or try and plan a new episode. Kids don’t use their pause button quite as much, they are on the cusp of adulthood with all its considerations and concerns, but that doesn’t stop them either. It’s just another fear to face and they do!
I gather that strength, I am inspired by it, I soak it up like a sea sponge and it steels me to my own self-doubt, it is the mortar with which I build the foundation of my own strength. If I could tackle each day like Piper does, with courage and strength, I could be the prime minister, Gandhi or the Next Martin Luther King. Thank you Piper for modeling your courageous spirit for me everyday. You are an inspiration and you teach me how to live. You are my greatest teacher! I did that jump by the way…and my bike broke in two…true story!
I later found out that Ashley had reported that he had come across me in the woods during the night, delirious and lost. He indicated I didn’t have a bike and was running the wrong way on the course. Now I know why he was looking at me so funny. What a race!
Huge thanks go out to My pit Crew Kelly, Hunter, Piper, Chris and Ashley’s family and pit crew who shared their knowledge, supplies and spirit, the Jarrett and Mealey families for coming out to cheer me on, the 24 inspirational people who kept me going throughout the race, many of whom supplied me with the music which I blared from my stereo in my back pack. Huge thanks as well to the race organizers and volunteers, you were awesome!
I was also delighted to find out the race was actually 25 hours long as I could then add one more inspirational person to my book who was there from the beginning, and has supported and believed in me for many years. You will be reading about him in the news when he wins the Men’s Solo 24 hour World Championship, and you’ll be reading about him in my new book 24 when it’s on the best seller list at your local bookstore. Thanks Ash!
Laura-Lee Hrabok Mentorship
Out of integrity to what we declare as important in our life, our purpose in life arises and we are whole, complete and perfect.
Our way of living today has a way of touching the future, which many of us don’t consider. Each decision or choice we make and how we act and be, has a distinct impact on the world and the people around us. The ripple effect as it is sometimes called, flows from us like a boat wake, and the world is forever changed behind us and ahead of us, by each and every action, no matter how small.
I went for a bike ride yesterday and came across a turtle who had climbed a 50-foot bank to hang out on the warm road. He was destined for flatness so I stopped and observed him before I took him back down the bank to his marshy neighborhood. In some respect I felt that it might have been why I was supposed to go on that bike ride that I resisted going on so strongly. I really didn’t want to leave my family and friends to go on a training ride for this 24 hour race but I forced myself and saving the turtle gave it some meaning other than the “ME” that has been taking me on so many rides lately. Acting out of integrity to the declaration that I am going to do a 24-hour bike race, definitely triggers feelings of selfishness and that little turtle was just what I needed to justify the time away from my family and friends.
When we declare something in life, we create it, we bring it into existence and with integrity, and it flowers into something great. It is that greatness that people can sense, see, feel, and become inspired by. We attach meaning to the things that touch us on a daily basis. A good practice is to focus on attaching meaning that is positive instead of dwelling on what is wrong in life.
I first began teaching in Ross Ford Elementary in the little town of Didsbury, Alberta. I was a starving first year teacher with two other bartender jobs to pay the rent and I was hired on at Christmas to teach drama to the grade 2’s and free up some time for the other teachers to have some much needed prep time. I didn’t know it at the time but my real education on how to be a teacher and mentor began at that moment. The staff at Ross Ford was welcoming and warm, providing me with what I needed to be prepared for the little ones. My favorite at the time was kindergarten PE. They were so excited to just be there with me and they did anything I asked with such enthusiasm. They were the epitome of “attitude is everything” and they really made a difference to how that first year went for me. I was later hired on to teach in the grade 4 classroom with the vice principal, Al Johnson. His calm and confidant demeanor, and wealth of experience was more valuable than gold to me. My teaching style was directly influenced by him and I really get that we touch the future with who we are and what we do, because Al’s style lives on in me. In fact each staff member at that school had a direct impact on my teaching and I attribute much of my successes to their influence.
One teacher in particular though, declared right at the outset, that she would be my guide, look after me, and be there for me to ensure my success. She referred to me as the pup in the school and Laura-Lee was a grade 2 teacher and later took over Al’s role as the vice Principal. Her declaration at the time was touching and I felt special to have her attention. She has a way about her that makes you feel as if you have someone looking out for you, someone advocating for you even when your not in the room. It was her mission to make sure I was the best I could be and I enjoyed many years at Ross Ford, even though it was over an hour drive from my hometown in Calgary.
Teaching is a passionate profession on many levels, which is a great thing at times, but that passion can also create its challenging moments. Balancing the investments of the parents, students, staff and community can be tricky. In my career I have faced many challenges finding that balance and I distinctly remember many challenging situations that Lee helped me with, that have forever changed me.
Lee taught me that the classroom is a microcosm for life and the things that come up in the classroom are invariably, what comes up in life for everyone. Students are forever dealing with their circumstances and those circumstances are created largely, through family, so when dealing with a student, you need to address and consider their family and their circumstances. We see this as teachers all the time and I really understood it when I had my own family and got to operate as a father and as a teacher. Lee helped me understand this on many occasions and I can remember Lee heading to family homes with me after school to chat with parents about their child and how things were going for them. We learned about how the child was living, what they were going through, and how their circumstances were directly affecting their performance at school. I learned to make that time a priority, as the ripples from the consideration of family and the child’s circumstances, will forever change the world. When Lee declared me the PUP, and took the time to help me prepare for the microcosm of the classroom, she chose a way of being that would forever change the world. It wasn’t her job, it wasn’t a requirement, it was just who she was. She was that way with me because she saw my potential and she cared about me. The same applies to the students we helped together. Lee stepped in and had a direct and profound influence for the child, the family, and me, because she saw potential and she cared. She filled the needs without question because it was important to her. It was her meaning…she did it because it meant something to her and guess who created it as important? Yep, she did. We can all learn from this, in that, if your pursuing what YOU say is important, then you are fulfilling your personal mission and this leads to personal fulfillment. In being of service to others, you can actually serve yourself. Lee has declared to the world that she is there to help, and her wealth of experience, and her integrity to that mission, know matter how hard it may be, are what make her an inspiration to me. We had some very frank and difficult conversations with parents about their children and these conversations are what made the difference for all that were involved. Out of integrity to what we declare as important in our life, our purpose in life arises and we are whole, complete and perfect. When we are in that moment, a moment that we apply the meaning to, we can choose how we want to be and what we want to have as important. I love what Lee makes important and I love the integrity with which she fulfills that role. It makes her stand out for me, I can sense it, see it, feel it and I am inspired to be it as well. Thanks Lee, you made such a difference to me.
2016 24 hours of Adrenaline
by Darin Bullivant, number 26.
It’s only been two weeks but I already forget the cold, the suffering, the mud, and all the drama. The 24 is so much more than just a loop. The race was going as planned and things were looking good right up until the mud turned to peanut butter. I’d been riding 12 hours straight, only stopping to wash out my derailleur and chain as it became too clogged up to pedal about every 2km.
My nutrition this year was spot on and I had had no cramping to this point and was able to ride most sections of the course. Hammer nutrition makes great products and also has tried and tested their nutritional programs thoroughly. Their long-distance program involved eating very little, to no, food and sustaining your energy only by drinking perpetuerm, a protein/carbohydrate blend that is the perfect 30/70% fuel for long-distance races. I was expending between 1500 to 1800 cal per hour on the bike, and I would be unable to put in and utilize that same amount of calories, because my body was still working. On long endurance races you’re only able to put in about 250 to 280 cal that are usable, anything extra just sits in your stomach and turns sour. I wanted to avoid this because I had felt the drastic results the last time I had attempted this race, when I tried to eat on every lap.
I got a fresh bottle of Perpetuem from Kelly, Hunter and Piper at the pit each lap which took about one hour 40 minutes after my bike wash per lap. I always took enough Perpetuem for two hours’ worth of riding, just in case I got into trouble somewhere. Such was the case when the lights went out at around 10:30 pm. With the drop in temperature, the varying amounts of rain, and all the riders traipsing across the course, the conditions had changed dramatically for the worst. Many sections were now un-rideable, forcing riders to dismount and push their bikes through the mud, and sometimes the mud was so thick it clogged up the tires, the chain, the derailleur, any shock linkage and just made the bikes immobile. One would think it would be easy enough to push your bike off the trail and walk in the trees, but there was no way to do this at the Canmore Nordic Center on the long 2 to 3 km switchbacks that rise up the mountain. During the earlier laps I was able to stay seated for the entire course, keeping my heart rate between 145 to 165 bpm, but since the conditions had changed, frequently my heart rate was 170 and above, which wouldn’t bode well for future laps.
When Hunter was born and I held that little being in my trembling hands for the first time, I knew I was in for a ride. It was a hot summer day and our family and friends were all in attendance at the hospital holding our collective breath, waiting for Hunter to take her first breath of life. She kept us in suspense for a minute or two and for the second time in my life, my breath was taken from me momentarily. Joy, fear, wonder, and love overcame me and the world stood still. Then a fury of activity began and it hasn’t seemed to stop since.
The celebration of life had begun and the party just never stopped for us. Every day since that moment has been exhilarating, fresh and filled with wonder. When your young you pay very little attention to how your growing up, things like your first laugh, first steps, first time riding a bike are just milestones you hurdle and keep going to the next lesson. When you become a parent, however, you get to relive each and every one of these milestones and celebrate it with the true joy it deserves. Little miracles deserve recognition and thousands of hours of video footage and photographs. Witnessing the miracles your little one encounters, rejuvenates your souls and puts you in touch with the true miracle of life and we spend hours trying to capture it, revel in it, and hold on to it before the miracle subsides and we move on the next one. No one should be cheated from this experience, reliving how life really is, through a child’s eyes. It seems to really crank up the magnitude on your “being present to miracles” dial. Mine has been cranked to ten ever since Hunter came into my life.
We had signed up Hunter for Community soccer, as it was the thing to do. Parenting in the new millennium means providing your child with every opportunity for joy, fun, and self-improvement. There is even the Olympics in the background of every decision as we think, “ maybe this will be the sport that she is passionate about and never stops playing, maybe she could go all the way”. Parents seem to think that every decision is a monumental one, which will affect the child’s future, and to an extent I guess they are right, but certainly not to the extent to which we think.
Hunter loved to run and play and it seemed a natural fit for her to be ripping around the field, kicking a ball and scoring goals. She was a natural athlete, stronger and faster than most kids her age, and she was engaged in learning a new game. Her favourite was working on skills, kicking a ball while weaving through the pylons, balancing a ball on her foot, passing to a team mate brought smile after smile to her young innocent face.
Then came the first big game. Soccer at four is a unique game all unto itself. It isn’t played like regular soccer, much to the consternation of adults and coaches on the sidelines. These little athletes scramble around
( or don’t), focused on the ball( or not), and seem to move as a collective jumbled mass, orbiting the ball with the pretty black and white pattern. The “or don’t and or not” are for the kids who are on the field picking the flowers, picking their noses or looking at clouds in the sky. They are an integral part of the game at this age and although they fit right in, I can’t quite put my finger on how and why these players are important to the outcome of the game, but they are. When the game is done, we celebrated collectively each victory, whether it was a goal or a moment in time when a child actually focused on the game for a nano-second.
What we celebrated with Hunter was something extraordinary but it was not what you might associate with a competitive soccer league. As previously stated, Hunter was a natural athlete who was faster and stronger than most of the kids and could have easily dominated the game. I know what your thinking and that’s not just a proud parent, my kid is the best, type of statement. She really was, really, trust me…haha. What we witnessed was a phenomenon we were not expecting. Hunter would spring to the ball, get there first but she wouldn’t touch the ball, she would wait for the group to catch up. This happened time and time again and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. The coach spoke to her, we spoke to her, and still she would not take possession of the ball. The biggest play she would make would be to pass it to a smaller player and then follow along.
When Hunter came off the field for her substitution break I figured here was my chance to offer some real coaching advice and give my child the edge. When she looked up at me with tears in her eyes, however, it was me who was going to get a lesson. Hunter explained that it was unfair that some kids on the field were not letting the other kids have a try and she was really sad for them. She wanted everyone to have fun and it was really bothering her that she couldn’t manipulate the game so it could be so. My heart melted. I wanted to explain about the joy of competing, trying your best, and that the lessons from triumphing as well as failing, will serve you in life, but I just couldn’t. Hunter wasn’t enjoying the game because it was leaving some kids out. To her games shouldn’t work that way and showing you were better and faster than someone else didn’t seem like a kind thing for her to do, so she didn’t! She deliberately held back, didn’t try her best and I couldn’t have been more overwhelmed. It was not what I was expecting, but it was just what I needed. I have spent my life doing the exact opposite. I always gave 100% and reveled in my victories, and suffered greatly when I failed. I hated losing and I loved showing off my skills. It was part of my identity to be the best at things.
Here was a little soul putting kindness ahead of anything else and I felt sheepish for how I had lived for so many years. What a great lesson. I didn’t have any other conversation with Hunter in that moment other than I understood how she felt and would she like to try another position? Goalie, brilliant! I should have thought of that sooner. She could still excel and allow the other kids to have their fun and perhaps she would learn the game by watching( I still wasn’t giving up that she could learn something about competition). She agreed that goalie might be a good fit and we sent her out for the second half to guard the net for her team. A little boy who had not touched the ball much during the first half miraculously got a break away and clumsily approached Hunter in net. Can you guess what happened next?
You guessed it, with all the theatrical skills of a four year old, she managed to somehow let that goal in without making it too obvious that she had done so and congratulated that little boy on a good goal.
Kindness is in her nature; it is who she is. I watch it operate everyday and it is a virtue that I have to remind myself of often. Hunter has taught me so much by who she is and how she operates and kindness is just one of the many that stands out. We have a Tibetan prayer flag in our house that asks the question, “Is it better to be right or be Kind?” What do you think? I know what Hunter thinks.
One lesson I learned last time was to curb my desire to run out hard at the start. It wasn’t necessarily the fast run that messed with me last time, but the mid pack line of riders that was too hard to hang with for my first lap. I had red lined too early last time so this time was going to be different. Hence, the cow outfit! Yes, I dressed up as a cow for the stampede theme, complete with udders and a cowboy hat. By the time I finished the run (cows don’t run much) and changed into my riding gear, I was pretty far back in the pack. At least I didn’t have anyone pushing me! I was riding my own pace and the rain was intermittent, nice! My laps were right where I wanted them to be and the course was holding up well. I was on track to ride 12-13 laps and feeling strong. No crashes, no walking, no bike issues…. right up until it started to pour! 24 hours is a long time both meteorologically and psychologically, and the poop was bound to hit the fan eventually.
Brent Blackshaw Carpe diem!
Go get, that which your heart longs for, go get that thing that makes your palms sweat with anticipation, reach out and grab that life you love.
Horace, a Latin poet, coined the term in 23 BC and the loose translation is seize (or pluck) the day. Robin Williams monologue in The Dead Poets Society, is a great summation, “we’re food for worms boys, so gather ye rosebuds while ye may”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wjpRQ__lsI
It’s 9am and minus 15. There is 60 cm of fresh snow on the ground and we are changing on the side of the road shivering. We have been planning this for months, invested thousands of dollars, and the planets have aligned to provide this glorious day for us. We’ve loaded and unloaded our machines and equipment countless times, we’ve fueled up, booked rooms, got online to check conditions, notified our friends and family and paid our trail pass. Our hands are cold, you can see our breath as we joke with one another about our rituals, our personal shortcomings, or the kind of underwear we do or don’t have in common. It takes 30 minutes to get geared up and we are gone, we leave the world for a day. We have punched out!
It’s a pretty typical scene. Some people are at home in bed on such a chilly morning, others are scared off by the Avalanche danger, still others have no idea what we see in racing a 200 horse power snow mobile( sled) around in dangerous alpine terrain. Why on earth would you risk your life and put yourself in harms way for the sake of a not-so-cheap-thrill, a surge of adrenaline, and a day in the mountains?
Change of setting, this time it’s 22, a warm September day, dirt bike season! We’ve suited up once again in gear that guards our bodies against human error or the harsh environment that we encounter travelling at 50mph through the forest on a trail 2 feet wide. We slice through the coloured landscape like Luke Skywalker on a supped up speeder, and we are completely present to the task at hand. Our minds are quiet, our bodies reacting to the environment instantaneously. There is no time for thinking, just being.
There are a few activities in life that provide us with this type of feeling, this lack of mind chatter; speed, meditation, being with a small child or pet, that moment just before you wake up, that moment where you have just jumped off the cliff, they’re the moments where your reasoning, thinking, constantly chattering mind is quiet. A cheetah might experience this in the pursuit of his prey but only in the moment after he begins his charge, and then it disappears after he succeeds or fails. It’s that moment of pure engagement where we are present, fully, to the life we are living. Our group rides alone, but together, and we stop and share these moments every 10 minutes or so to let the group gather again. We are euphoric, high on life and jovial, knowing the ride isn’t over and the next section is just around the corner, waiting for us to experience it. We are seekers of life, we ARE Carpe diem!
The scene repeats itself, temperature dependent on the season and the sport, snowmobiling, disc golf, street bikes, dirt bikes, hiking kayaking, firing range, whatever, the ritual starts each event with the feeling and passion of carpe diem. A passion for living, a seeking of the day, a sucking-the-marrow-out-of-life experience. If not in the experience, then prepping for it, or editing the film from doing it, or just dreaming about the next great adventure. Seizing the day doesn’t mean living a hedonistic life of never ending pleasures; it means living a life of passion, seeking the most out of every experience, sucking every last drop of an experience, just for the pure joy of doing it, making your life extraordinary. Living, taking the reins of today and driving it where you want to go, takes passion, heart, and conscious effort. It’s what people who succeed do, it’s what I strive to do, it’s what Brent does and it’s why I admire him. Every time I find myself with Brent, we are on some mission for joy and fulfillment, rarely with any prize or competitive pride involved, we are there to experience and each new moment is just that, new! Keeping life new, wonderful, and passionate is the essence of Carpe diem…and it’s the essence of Brent. Go get, that which your heart longs for, go get that thing that makes your palms sweat with anticipation, reach out and grab that life you love. Do it with passion, joy and vision. Create a life you love, map it out, plan it, seek it, do it, and tell the story to relive it. Share the way you live so others will ask you your secret…and of course you’ll tell them…Carpe diem! Gather ye rosebuds…(or collector cars) while ye may!
The added resistance of the mud and all the pushing added up and my ACL injury and incredibly tight IT Bands were starting to complain. My knee felt like I had something stuck in the back of it and I had lost the ability to straighten it on the pedal stroke. My other leg was compensating and it was getting sore as well. The pain added to the mud in the world of distractions and I ended up going over the bars. Luckily, my feet released out of the clogged pedals and I was able to run down the rocky section of the race without breaking anything. It was incredibly challenging, fighting the foggy safety glasses, the rain, the complete blackness, and the course itself. It made the race a 10/10 on the pay attention scale and I was beginning to wonder if I should continue.
I was only 7 km in on the 6th lap and I decided to stop at km 9 where the course came close to the wash station and my pit. I ducked off the course and when I dismounted I realized I couldn’t even walk at this point. Decision time. I found Kelly, who was surprised to see me, and discussed the options. The more I tried to move, the more it became evident that I wouldn’t be able to continue with my leg in the shape it was. Kelly went to check on Physio or massage as options, while I stripped off the sopping gear and got into a warm down jacket. I opted for a visit to the physio tent, where my physio angel from Pivotal Physiotherapy hooked me up to this crazy compression machine that squished all the nastiness and blood right out of my legs. NormaTec is a wearable massage technology that wraps around a riders’ limb, sending pulsations through the limbs removing built up lactic acid. I was hoping to jump right up and head back out (well, truth be told I was cold, wet, tired and it was miserable still raining hard and you could see your breath…hmmm, it as pretty cozy under the electric blanket with the leg squishers on). When my treatment was completed I got up and limped away. It was time to take some Naproxen and wait out the pain (breaking yet another rule of mine), bad weather, crappy light and dangerous conditions. I was bummed but It would have taken me hours to complete the lap and I would have been a mess after.
Fluffy Commitment and Choice
In that moment when you decide to do something, to jump that 100 footer, and your at a speed where there is no turning back…that moment doesn’t just happen. It’s a creation of commitment and choice. Choose and commit!
I know a man named Fluffy! He is the assigner of nicknames, the jovial one, the self proclaimed “ I’m not Fat, I’m Fluffy”, character that keeps you smiling and on your toes. What he says about someone always seems to stick. He has a way of gleaning the deep, down character definitives of a person, and is then able to sum that up in a neat, not necessarily flattering name, which you wear like a badge of honor. Like John Belushi in Animal house, your not a part of the group until you have your Delta frat name. I was glad I wasn’t a red head because trying to explain Fire Crotch to my mom would have been awkward and I wasn’t sure where Farley the Big Red Chew came from, but it worked. Part of life is learning to deal with the cards you are dealt with and this was no different.
I am Bill Nye. A decent fit, I suppose, as I teach elementary school, I’m tall, kinda goofy, and we share the same hairline. It morphed over time to Billy Goat when I was on my dirt bike, Billy, the goofy game player , just plain Bill, but the root remains and it is how I am known. I am part of the group, I have a spot. I am proud, at times, of my name and I have even developed a bit of a flair for science, but the best part is I am in the circle. Everyone secretly yearns to be in the circle, to be accepted, to share that common bond and know and be known in your group. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name!
People look up to Fluffy, they come to him for advice, they ask what his suspension settings are, what jetting he’s running in his bike, or what kind of flywheel weight he runs. Fluffy is fast! A fast rider, a fast learner, quick with his wit and his math. But mostly, he is quick to like. The moment we met, we were laughing and joking like old friends who had ridden together for years.
Fluffy is comfortable just like his name. he’s a slip on shoe that you can put on without bending over. I hate bending over to tie laces, or to dig my heel into my own thumb in an effort to put on those pesky Wal-Mart knockoffs. I like my shoes like I like my people, easy to get into, with no hidden pinch points or agendas that will ruin my run. Fluffy is my Merrill, my shoe that fits for many reasons.
1. I don’t have to bend over to stay friends with him. Let me rephrase that Being friends is easy, we don’t need to call once a week, we don’t have to touch base on birthdays, we can just drift in and out of each others life like the tide…like no time has passed and we can catch up on important things or questions in a 30 minute call. We’re living two parts of the same dream and we’re never too far apart on where we’re at. Then its back out to sea with fresh new insights, new ways of seeing things, and usually great book recommendations.
2. I want to learn guitar he said to me after a rather horribly, rabble –rousing, rendition of Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash. We were camping at Wiaporous and at 3 am, with only the birds and a couple disgruntled climbers camped nearby. We talked and sang with reckless abandon. His declaration wasn’t empty as I found out later that week when I received an e-mail that he had bought a guitar, signed up for lessons, and had tracked down a copy of the coolest, how to play book ever. He had read it cover to cover and had a better understanding of the guitar than I did. He seemed to have gleaned the secret to music in one sitting and I have to admit, I was a tad jealous. I had been playing for years and was marginal at best. What did he have that I didn’t? When I focused on this question, it became clear ( which is ironic because focus is part of the clarity).
First it was the complicated world of suspension, then golf, then writing, but behind it all was a conviction to whatever was in front of him at the moment. It was like Tablu rasa, a blank slate that he just kept drawing something onto and focused whole-heartedly on, until he had attained a level of mastery. I lived in a similarly, seemingly ADD world ( wordy but I love the way it made me think so I’m leaving it in), but what I lacked was the follow through or conviction to a level of competence or understanding that left me satisfied. No matter what I am trying to do or learn, one of two things always stops me from being satisfied. The first is my deep-seated belief that I just need to know enough to get by. I’ve always been that way. I can get by at virtually anything. I’ll bet that if I needed to perform brain surgery or rocket science, that I could learn just enough to pass the test. My results, however, cannot be relied upon with confidence, which leads me to point number two.
No matter how much I know on a subject, I am always left with the feeling that I should know more, do more, be more. I’m never enough. It’s a way of thinking that perpetuates itself and leaves one feeling like
life is missing something. It’s that lack of confidence and conviction that sucks the joy out of life. I commit halfheartedly to something and then suffer because I don’t feel good enough. It’s my own special brand of crazy.
In my opinion Fluffy doesn’t do that. When he decides to do something, it gets done! Most times with flare and ingenuity. I look up to Fluffy, I listen carefully when he speaks, and I am left inspired after all our conversations. He may not be a master at what he is pursuing, but he is satisfied and at peace as the conviction, matches the effort, matches the result. Can I learn to BE with that? I wonder? I’ll have to ask him the next time I see him. Someday I will learn to Choose and Commit…maybe tomorrow:)
I had a bowl of soup breaking my no food rule but I was hoping it wouldn’t hurt me as I was taking a prolonged break. Best bowl of soup ever at 2 am!!! I crawled into a cold trailer as the heater had crapped out, into a down sleeping bag and fell into an uncomfortable slumber. The last time I had raced this race, I had settled in for a quick nap and returning to the race was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I was worried it was going to be a repeat performance.
As it turned out, it wasn’t! I awoke feeling refreshed and ready to go again but as I stood up, that dang pain was still there with a vengeance. Back to Mohammad who was incredibly bright and cheery for having had zero sleep. (It wasn’t just the racers pulling an all nighter). He put on the leg squishers again and I visited with Craig in the next bed. They were providing all the physio services as well as racing the event. Troopers, angels and athletes! Triple threat, nice! Mohammad tried to stretch out my legs and my hamstrings and IT bands made him laugh, as did the expression on my face. It was excruciating! Craig offered to try needling and he got off the physio table next to me where he was receiving a treatment, to give me IMS. He stuck me a few times and I wish I could say I felt like I could race again but it still hurt. I decided to give it a go and headed to the tent to suit up. As I headed out to complete lap 6 I was worried that the course was going to get the better of me and my bum leg. I lowered my seat about 2 inches so I wouldn’t have to straighten my leg, and compensated with my right leg. I wasn’t fast at first, but as I got spinning, the pain became bearable and I started to pick up speed. I crashed hard at the top of one of the climbs and broke both the front and rear fenders off. So much for that valuable amount of mud protection. It was going to get nasty! I was trying to calculate how much time I would need to complete this lap and if I would have time to complete some more.
Visions of Simon Whitfield throwing his hat down and giving it his all were coming to mind and I decided to throw down and see what I could do. I picked up the pace and started to take a few chances. The mud was really bad but at least I could see now. I was letting the bike run down the long 60km per hour hills, hoping the bike would stay under me through the muddy ruts. The left hand turn at the bottom was so sketchy and I had to push my right foot hard into the peddle to keep the tires from washing out. That leg was taking a beating and it was only going to get worse. I flew through the tough rocky downhill with reckless abandon and it was then that I started to believe and really started to have fun. Despite it all, I was now in a race with myself to complete as many laps as I could before the time cut off.
Dave Chapman, Wonder
Some have the unique gift of shutting the “already know that” mentality off. Experiencing a tree or a loved one, as unique, new, wonderful, and worthy of attention, is what makes life rich and worthy of living.
When asked what I think is the thing that adults miss most about their childhood, it’s facing each new moment with Wonder. Wonder at how things are, wonder at what it must be like for people, wondering how something works. If we can recover this wonder we can live like a child, present, worry free, and completely free of all the considerations and concerns which plague our busy minds. It is a continuous exercise with me to view things with Wonder, or a beginner’s mind as it is sometimes called. When I’m successful, It will allow me to be present more often, it will allow me the freedom to be here right now, rather than living a rerun in my head, it will allow me the freedom to BE. When I’m struggling, I think of Dave.
I’ve known Dave since grade 7 and over the past 36 years I have seen him grow and somehow remain exactly the same. Dave has always had this gift of wonder that has captivated me and looking back, I can see what drew me to him. He has a charisma that stems from how he operates and it is no surprise that he is such a successful businessman, father, and husband. Dave is Wonderful! That is to say that he is filled with wonder. This might seem ubiquitious, but if we understand Wonder and what it can do for us, then we can begin to realize our responsibility in the world of our life.
For example, headed to the park with the kids might look like another day at the slide and under ducks at the swing. Knowing how it is going to go can actually stop you from even wanting to go. Oh that experience again, I think I’ll just stay here thanks. But no, wait! If you can view this common scene through the eyes of Wonder, then anything becomes possible and not just the outcome you have experienced in the past. Dave lives this way! I’ll bet there were times with his kids where they were headed to the park and got fascinated by a tree. Most adults have seen many trees and don’t even give them a second look. Some have the unique gift of shutting the “already know that” mentality off. Experiencing a tree as unique, new, wonderful, and worthy of attention, is what makes life rich and worthy of living. In a world without Wonder the tree might as well not even exist. Or what if it was a puddle? The world of puddles can be completely different from the view of someone who knows where or how things are going to end up. Ask any teacher or mom about their view of puddles.
The things in life that we experience, the concept of family for example, can also become common place for us. They are “known” and in that knowing comes a lack of flexibility or a rigidity in how they are viewed. My child is this way or my wife is that way. In that moment we “know” them and there is no possibility for them to be anything different. We see the same tree everyday and after a while, it loses it’s wonder. It is a danger we all face, and one that can sap the very joy of life from our grasp. When Wonder disappears, so does our joy for living. Been there, bought the t-shirt! It doesn’t have to be that way, and we have trees and puddles to prove it.
I learned a lot about how to be a father, a friend, and a husband from Dave. Back in High school Dave would wonder if he could get a bouncy ball into the fountain across the hall. We spent the rest of the year trying to do just that. If we got good at that feat, we would try and do it off a bounce…and then two bounces. Even the smallest of things became giant feats of accomplishments. It all starts with the question, I wonder? You can apply it to anything really. Try it sometime. It has been truly wonderful sharing the planet with someone so dynamic and childlike. When we get together, I still see it in how he is with his family, and it reminds me to see each day, each person, each moment, with wonder! I can’t wait for the next Chappy reunion where we’ll…
I came into the pit in under an hour and headed right back out without a wash. The bike was so dang heavy and shifting like a double clutching semi, but I didn’t have time to wash it off. I had 3 hours left and 2 laps to cover. I had been doing 1:40 laps before the course had turned muddy and before my leg had turned sour, so it was going to be close (and rough) to pull off 2 back to back laps in under 1:30. It was my own Personal Podium to try and get in 2 laps and my hat was off. I ran up the muddy hills that I couldn’t climb, I pushed way past my training zone 5 heart rate, and I was working that right leg double time to make the time cut. I watched two riders go down hard on the muddy downhills and I was grateful for my motocross training and bike handling skills. I didn’t crash again, even though I was taking many chances on the messy terrain. I came in at 11:30 and Kelly thought I was done when I rolled up and asked for another bottle and some electrolytes.
Dinean, Voices and the battle!
Dinean understands! She’s been there! It’s why she wants to help and serve other people so much. She’s been helping people understand this concept her entire life. From a very young age she has had to acknowledge the inner voice(s), keep them at bay and fight to be someone who is positive, fun, and a source of inspiration. Like an episode of the Voice, we are constantly auditioning for our next experience and the three ( or more ) judges who live in our head constantly spin around to dash our dreams and poison our experience of life. They are hard not to listen to for they know us very well. Every weakness, every flaw is microscopically enlarged until it is all we can see. The perfect performance with the one off note…From “pretty good but a little pitchy” to “ you have no business being a singer, you have no talent and you should not quit that day job”, our inner judges keep us small and subdued. They keep us doing the status quo, they keep us from reaching out both in life and in our relating to others. This particular human condition cripples us and stops us from living a life we love. Sure those judges keep us safe and familiar, dredging through our days, doing what is easy, but they stop us from reaching out and taking that chance that would have us grinning our way through life. In this, we are essentially standing in our own way because we believe this voice that is speaking, is us talking to ourselves. We feel that what is being said comes from some inner truth, and we listen as if it is. But it is not!
Those voices focus on what is wrong with us( or others). An example is when we look at the one ceiling tile out of place in a gymnasium. Our attention is drawn to that one tile that is out of place and we criticize and suffer because everything is not in place or perfect. We fail to see the beauty of how the rest of the ceiling is perfect because we are focused on the one tile that is out of place, the things that are wrong in our character or our lives. Our inner voices stop us from enjoying the beauty of our lives and also from striving for our goals.
I refer to them like they are separate from us because they are. These inner judges who cripple us so effectively, have access to all our inner files, and they contrive together to create and validate all our thoughts about everything. In a constant battle to be right and to prove it with past experience, our inner judges are the Ouija boards which seemingly guide us in every moment with seemingly no input or effort on our part. It’s like we are being moved in life by hands that we cannot see, to a life we would choose not to live if we had the choice. In reality though, it is our inner judges who are running the show, not us. It is them doing the choosing.
Herein lies the truth, we can choose, we can be our own captain, if we can acknowledge that the voices are there, that they are not us, and then choose not to listen to them when they are being nasty. We have to stare them in the face and choose. Listen and give in to all the reasons why not, or listen and carry on with whatever dream we are chasing at the time. Our dreams are our fire, our lifeblood, our spark. Without them we are only our voices inside, sludging through life using the same old measuring stick to get the same old measurement. In essence, we are hamsters on a wheel, great at what we do, but not getting what we want.
Dinean is an example of someone who wins on a daily basis. She gets up, says hello to all those familiar voices, and then carries on with who she wants to be. Sometimes that is in direct opposition to what her voices are saying and sometimes it is not. Case in point. If you were a 50 year old Canadian female living in Tacoma Washington, would you try out for the fire department? Lets examine the inner voices on that one. “Ya right” is the first one, then “ I’m too old to change my career now”, or “ I’m not smart enough to learn all the medical stuff required”, or even “ I’m not in good enough shape”, or, holy crap your 50 it’s time to start thinking about retiring. It would take too much effort….Blah, Blah, Blah…..
Then you have all the other voices in society; all the other people with their inner judges, making the same judgments and more from the sidelines. Who does she think she is? She can’t learn how run a chain saw, girls can’t do that. Women should be looking after the house and kids. No women has ever made the fire department at 50 years old, it just isn’t done. Why would she even try? Women shouldn’t even be in the fire department, they are not strong enough. If they had to rescue a fallen comrade, they wouldn’t be able to lift him. Blah, Blah, Blah…
You can see that listening to our voices can be counter productive in attaining our goals. All those inner voices and beliefs about yourself are not the truth about you, they are just thoughts. Can you cast them aside and go get what you want despite them? I believe you can. I believe you have an example of a time you did just that somewhere in your past. Maybe it was learning to ride that bike, or passing that test, or losing that weight. Whatever your victory was, learn from it. You had to overcome your inner voices and believe you could do something…and then it was done. We have all heard the adage made famous by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right”. The key is knowing this but also being aware of who the real YOU is. ( it’s not those pesky voices so don’t listen to them…go do what your inspired to do dummy.:)
My sister learned this lesson and comes face to face with it daily. She gets just as much practice with it as we all do but in my opinion, her example of mastery over her inner voice is poignant. It’s one that everyone can see and connect with. We all have an inner battle every day with something and every day we get to choose. Some days we’ll succeed and some days we won’t but if you can have more of the former then you’ll find yourself grinning more often. Proving your inner voices wrong is my favourite pastime now…but it still isn’t easy!
If your ever in Tacoma and you call 911, you’ll be in good hands…Top of her class, strong as an ox and one of the best firefighters in Washington. One because she’s awesome, and two, because she understands the inner battle.
Kelly and the kids scrambled to get me what I needed while I sprayed half a can of WD40 into the chain and I was off again to beat the clock. The roar of approval at the timing tent spurred me into a run (you had to dismount in the tent which was about 50 meters long) and I was off on the last lap with less than 1:25 to complete. It would have to be my fastest lap! I wish I could explain the feeling, I wish I could express the anger, the glory, the frustration, the surrender, the refusal to surrender, the euphoria, the inner battle that has you race for the finish. It was 81 minutes of emotional tidal waves and physical tornadoes. I was running on reserves I didn’t know I had and I found myself screaming and yelling at myself not to give up when I felt like giving in. No one else was on the course. It was me and my voices doing battle and I wanted to win. I pushed and pushed, gave up, yelled again and pushed some more. It hurt! A lot! But it felt amazing because I was doing it. I was Whitfield and even though I was the only one watching, I was all that mattered. I had done this for me. To keep me in integrity, to keep me healthy and strong, to keep me enjoying life. Then all the people that mattered to me, that I had committed too, that I was dedicating this journey too, came to me as well. I thought of them and of all the lessons I have learned, of all the love I have for the people in my life and even though it was hard, the suffering disappeared. I was smiling and exhausted as I crossed the finish line with no fan fare, no timing crew, no clock running. My family was my fan fare, cheering me on despite being 4 minutes too late. I had turned my fastest lap but it wasn’t enough. The last lap didn’t count. It only counted for me, and it was my best. Another 24, I had done it! It wasn’t pretty but in a way it was. When you wash away all the mud, sweat and tears, there is nothing left but the experience and the euphoria. I’ll never forget to immense love for life I held in my heart at that moment. Love for everyone and everything. Maybe it was serotonin, dopamine, or some other concoction my body was responding to, but I was in love with life. I was truly alive!
…Doesn’t mean directing people in their daily endeavors, it means empowering and inspiring people to create greatness towards a common goal. The goals at River Valley School are all about creating, through leadership, an environment of trust and caring for students, while providing the best possible space for students and teachers to learn and grow together as part of a community. Behind these goals, stands an accomplished lady with a passion for people, and a vision for sustaining such a community. Her name is Erin and her credentials speak volumes. (Insert awesomeness credentials here)These credentials, however, fall short in describing her character and strengths.
Colin Powel write’s “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
I can attest that Colin’s rule on leadership applies to both soldiers as well as teachers striving to be “the best that they can be”. The heart behind leading teachers is the drive and the passion with which a leader is able to empower and enlighten their staff. Not solve their problems, but be the ear for them, and through the listening, enlighten the teacher to a solution from the dialogue. While putting out fires and solving the problems of the world is a valuable endeavor, it will only develop more leadership within the leader, rarely passing that skill on to the people immersed in the problem. It’s the classic “Catch a fish or Teach a man to fish “ analogy.
Erin can be an effective problem solver and has been so for the River Valley community for many years. This past year brought the flood of a century and the devastation of the school, which appeared to be beyond hope. Erin’s determination and fortitude had the school up and running in under 4 months. From completely gutted to a fully functional school in 4 months! That was pure problem solving of epic proportions. She’ll deny that it was she behind it all, but that is part of her charm.
That is not, however, why Erin inspired this chapter of 24. I have learned many things in my life, but none so poignant as the gifts of perspective that fatherhood brings. With those little lives comes a paradigm shift that defies words even as I struggle to suggest them. The worlds of concerns that arise as a result of being completely and utterly responsible for a little human are hard to explain. It’s frightening! As my daughters grew and their little feet started taking them places I wasn’t ready for them to go alone, I struggled to frantically control and remove every perceived dangerous thing in their path, so as to avoid pain and suffering on their part. To quote another over protective Dad, “go play on the sponge beds, that’s where I would play” ( Marlin, Finding Nemo). It’s innate to protect ones’ young and I am now, fully aware of the lengths I would go to for another human being. To be frank, I scare myself a little as I go through the “what if’s” and imagine what I would do faced with certain paths. If you’re a father with daughters I know you will attest to the voices that rule the “what if” world. It’s what you do for love!
Consider multiplying that by about 250, add another 500 parents to the mix, and then another 50 teachers. I cannot fathom the world of concerns that Erin has to deal with on a daily basis. That’s a lot of fish to lead!
When the moment of realization comes that you can’t always be there, that they will fall and hurt themselves, that solving their problems for them, will actually be cheating them of the experience, cheating them of the lessons, they indeed, need to learn. When that moment comes, that is when you stop becoming a loving, but controlling, dictator and start becoming a leader. You become the model. In that moment you start prepping them to be leaders. That doesn’t mean you let them go off into the world unprepared and defenseless, it means they go off knowing you have their back and that you will have them prepared for what is come! It means you trust in the skills and values you’ve modeled and taught, and you trust them to lead their own paths. That path, however, must always have an off ramp directly back to you for when the going gets tough.
With that release of control comes a great responsibility. A leader will willing share what they have learned and guide a person to overcome whatever is in their path. Experience is easy to share. That is not however, the greatest responsibility role of leadership.
That role is the creation of the path to sharing and making sure it is always open in the first place. The off ramp has to be clear and unconditional. It is a clearing where people feel comfortable and open to the prospect of vulnerability and allow someone to affect them through their experience or just, perhaps, by being an ear.
It means listening in a different way. Instead of listening with ears of already knowing how to solve an issue or listening from a space of judgment, it is rather a listening from where you are at and how can we get you to where you want to be. Erin with her vast experience knows what it takes to succeed, but her telling you how to do it will teach you nothing. She would be catching the fish for you. Instilling leadership means creating the moments of opportunity where you can lead yourself to your own answers. We usually have the answers within us but it can take someone special to guide us to that answer. Erin is that someone special for me. I am a better man for having known her, I feel that openness, that off ramp to her experience, and I feel I can draw on that experience to guide me in many things. I will strive to provide that same pathway for the people in my life and I owe that inspiration to her. Thank you Erin!
You have shown me the signature of a great leader.
The memorable moments of that final lap: the pro rider who passed me and went down at high speed 6 minutes before the finish, the Italian family who came to compete ( he had done over 30, 24 hour races and said this was the toughest), the soup, the mud, the community who never let me forget I was a solo rider…every human being I passed cheered me on, the woman who obviously had never ridden the course and stuck with her 4 hour lap that she completed for her team, my physio angels, and my 24 and my Kelly, Hunter and Piper. It was quite a ride and even after a month of recovery, I’m still walking right footed….haha Thanks to all who helped and supported me, donated to Place of Rescue, and thanks for reading this and sharing in my journey. A big shout out to Ashley Myers of Personal Podium for the training advice and support and the good people of Pivotal Physiotherapy for keeping me going. Your expertise and enthusiasm got me back out there and I’ll never forget it.
Michael Aasen, Honor Thy Word (The Merlin Principle)
It’s a simple thing, one of the ten commandments, a key player in the art of living for the Toltec tribe in Mexico, and the foundation for almost every religion or movement ever started aimed at helping people remain virtuous and true. Every major writer from Shelly to Shakespeare, from Poe to Chaucer, knows that the power of creation exists in words and to break thy trust with words was the deepest sin. (Sin is often referred to in a religious sense and has a connotation of guilt and shame attached to it, but if we look at it subjectively, you will see the beauty of the word. “To sin” is an archery term used for when an archer misses his mark or shot). When we use (or misuse) words to create meaning, which is how we interpret the world, we become the Deity of our own souls. We create our experience, we assign feeling and emotions, we judge ourselves and others, all through language, a complicated assigning of letters combined in patterns to thoughts or ideas, that are sometimes pleasing to the ear and sometimes not. Syphilis for example is a beautiful word but not so cool a concept.
Words have become so powerful in our world, that we can be driven to despair, or ecstasy, war or bliss, just by making some noise with our vocal chords, by passing some air through the balloon in the back of our throat. The noise of words is how we relate to the world and our mothers taught us at a very early age that to use noise for anything other than truth was indeed a sin, and was to be avoided at all cost. (Unless it was to tell her she looked a bit chubby in those jeans, which is one of those sometimes not-so-pleasing-to-the-ear phrases…but something she needed to hear, …see the honesty chapter with Corey).
Meaning is created in language, and meaning is what human beings are all about. We develop a thirst for meaning at an early age. We start out just expressing what we are feeling through how we are being, but it isn’t long before mom or dad makes some noise at us and we are forced to try and figure out what that noise means. That particular sound is interesting and our puzzle becomes figuring out what they are trying to get across to us. With great delight we make the connection, solve the puzzle, and we are hooked at the game of language.
We then proceed to learn every aspect we can about language, so we can solve whatever puzzle we come across. This seeking to understand or figure out the puzzle, is what people then obsess about for the rest of their lives. Finding the meaning, or creating it in their mind, becomes priority number one and it is no wonder we slip up as human beings with such regularity. It’s baffling to me that as I sit here and try to find the words to describe this to you in a way that you might understand the puzzle, that I am limited by how these written words sound out loud or in your head. If I can pull the balloon hole just right, the annoying squeak might be something you recognize, and it will help you understand what I am trying to say. It’s ridiculous but it is the world we are born into and we are boxed in by language itself.
Because language is so powerful it can seem as if our very existence or reason for living relies upon it, and it in fact does! Words are how we create and in that we are God. Ironically, if you can understand this, if I have explained it in a way you can relate to it, then you will see how honoring your word is the most important thing you can do in life. (if you can’t then I suck at using language and you should just read the race recap so you can get through this book…haha…more on this in a moment). Declaring things in language is what makes them real, and then we live into what we have created. I don’t know how many students I have taught who say things like, “I am bad at math” and then they are! They declare it and then follow the declaration. It’s not the other way around as we often think.
When I think of a teacher and coach growing up who modelled this to me, without even knowing he was doing it, I think of Michael. Michael became my teacher in University. Not as a professor, but as a friend. I was drawn to his charisma, his friendly way of putting people at ease. He had a way of lifting you up with his words that made you want to be around him. Sometimes he would do this at his own expense, cutting himself down in order to lift you up. He noticed the good things about people and would make it known that he had noticed. He was easy to be around and we played with language constantly, citing Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers from So I married an Axe Murderer, Monty Python, David Letterman, and so many more. We laughed with these masters of language who could manipulate words into humor and we created a language all our own, (sometimes we were the only people laughing…haha). We became masters ourselves and I think my six pack abs in those days were as much from laughing with Michael, as they were from us working out in the gym together. Most of my university education was spent with Michael and he was a big part of my survival at the time.
When University rushed up to greet me at age 17, I was enamored by the independence and freedom. I could do what I want, say what I want and be who I wanted to be. I was free!…or was I? I carried on with reckless abandon, skipping class, staying out all night drinking and getting into trouble of all sorts. Michael was able to ground me sometimes and get me back on track, but I imagine it was like taming a wild horse for him at times, sometimes super fun to be along for the ride and other times, too painful to watch. I was out of control more often than not, and it eventually almost ended in tragedy for me. Out of all the people who came to visit me in the hospital room, I will remember Michael the most.
Even though I was free and independent, I was still trapped by the language I had been using my entire life. Self talk still exists in language and I found myself not measuring up in so many ways back in those days. I saw other people succeeding, getting great marks, having wonderful relationships, being great at volleyball etc., and when comparing myself to other people’s highlight reels, I couldn’t ever be enough. This was because my ideals or perceptions of perfection, existed in language and the words I would use to describe myself at the time were I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH. My successes at school and athletics were mediocre in my eyes, and the only thing I felt I was really good at was being the life of the party. I was very good at this, partly because of the language Michael and I created to entertain and make people laugh. I became known for my reckless abandon, my crazy drinking capabilities, and my insane ability to entertain people and recreate the Movie, The Hangover, again and again. Every weekend was a new adventure in lunacy and eventually I ended up driving off a cliff with 3 friends in my jeep style SUV. Miraculously fate had other plans for us and we survived and when Michael came into that hospital room and saw my face after it had travelled through a windshield, and down a rocky, 200-foot cliff, he broke down and cried. Sometimes there are no words!
The words I said to myself in those days created a world for me where I did not matter. It was a lonely time for me. I had sinned a lot, in that I had misunderstood the most important fact about language. It is ours to use, for us, or against us and I constantly used words in a way that put me down. When Michael came in that day, I saw that I mattered and ironically, he didn’t have to say a thing.
Mike taught me many things while we continued through school and after we graduated he became a lawyer, a master of language and he is the very best at what he does because he knows to honor his word. It is at the very core of his profession. He is a champion for when we use words against others and I would like to thank him for teaching me about using words against myself. Even today when writing this, I find my old way of thinking trickling through in comments like I suck at writing (look 3 pages back), and I have to remind myself to honor my own word, to declare and think words that that I can live into. In other words, watch what you say, because what you say is what becomes real for you. Remember I’m bad a math? Honor your word with yourself, with others. Your cliff is one word away…
The Merlin Principal
Try this simple exercise to deal with any problem you are facing in your life to demonstrate the power of a word. Eliminate the word BUT from your vocabulary and your mind will no longer see things as problems but rather things that just are. For example:
I need to get to the store BUT I don’t have a car. = problem
I need to get to the store and I don’t have a car. =statement
I love my wife but she drives me crazy sometimes= you don’t really love that part
I love my wife and she drives me crazy sometimes = I love my wife
I want to live a full life but I have cancer= I can’t live a full life.
I want to live a full life and I have cancer = A full life is still available to me.
All problems exist in language!
Gerald Paetz, Drive and Passion!
Gerald is a fisherman, a friend and a stuntman! He drives and coordinates stunts for the movies and you’ve seen him in many. He’s a banshee behind the wheel and a character to boot. When the cars in the commercials that are supposed to park themselves amidst a pyramid of wine glasses, fail to do so, it’s Gerald thy trust behind the wheel. If a car is flipping down the road, and coming to rest in a ball of flames, it’s likely Gerald doing the crashing. If he’s not driving, he’s in a barroom brawl or being lit on fire and hurling himself off some skyscraper. You don’t fall ( I know right…it was too easy) into this kind of profession lightly, you need drive and passion and a desire to do something that others won’t even consider.
When passion is driving, the next steps in how to go about something appear like magic. Passion is the clay bear on a chia seed pet, without it there is no place for something to grow. Behind every great deed, incredible invention, life altering ideology, there is a passion rooted behind the scenes, doing the driving. What ignited it arises out of what you say is important to you. As our identity emerges from our life experience and our circumstance, we begin to sub-consciously choose our paths. At age 4 when we do something amazing that our parents hoot and holler about, we make a connection; if I do this, I am loved and revered. I like to be loved and revered, that felt good. Then we grow a bit and try something at school, and little Billy, our best friend, says “wow, that was something, how’d you do that?”
“That was nothing”, you reply, “watch this!” Viola, an adrenaline seeking, fear conquering, stuntman is born!
In contrast, however, there are moments when we face an event in our childhood that creates something altogether different. It might be the first time your mom or dad yells at you. It might be the time you fell in the river and nobody was around and you had to save yourself. It might be the first time you get grounded because of something you’ve done. It might even be the preschool teacher who makes you sit in the corner with the proverbial dunce cap on for doing something she didn’t agree with like looking up her dress at reading time. (all true stories by the way of a guy I know…) Whatever the story, at that moment, something else is born. It is the poor me, I am not good enough, not loved enough, not important enough, or maybe it’s the just plain old “I suck”.
Life unfolds in this way and the two sides battle back and forth until at some point, one out weighs the other and then we’re doing well, then the other identity, kicks us in the ass and we swing the other way into despair. …see/saw, success/ failure, back/ forth, ebb/ flow….how we deal with this wave, upon wave of success and failure is what rules us. It’s what it means to be human…but it’s our choices in the face of it, that define us and make us great. Can the passion outweigh the despair?
This ping pong game of living can overcome and rule your life, sentencing you to an ocean of unpredictability, fear and a feeling of a total lack of control or responsibility. Your life becomes a searching for that looking good conversation and a total avoiding of that looking bad conversation.
How do we break out of this pattern that we created for ourselves at the age of 4? The endless avoidance and seeking see saw, has us by the short hairs so to speak. We are trapped doing one or the other and living life from something that happened in the past. Can avoiding looking bad and striving to look good be overridden by plain old “I love what I’m doing right now.” You bet it can!
They Key I’ve found is PASSION. Maybe it’s a response to the joy you felt when you were little, maybe it is an injustice that you felt strongly against. Whatever it is, it gets your blood moving AND YOU BEGIN TO MOVE! Gerald loves to move, he’s flexible like a dancer, invests more time, money and research into his body than anyone I know, and he’s who I call when something is broken with my body. ( more often than I’d like…haha). Whatever he’s into, whether it’s mind, body, fishing, or coordinating the stunts for the next Jackie Chan movie, he goes about it with Passion and commitment. I imagine it’s why movie directors keep calling him back. When you have the passion, the care and attention to detail naturally follow and the end result is not just a product, but an art. I’m sure there were thoughts in the background that got in the way for Gerald, but lucky for us, those thoughts didn’t outweigh the Passion and we get the best of him, crash after crash, drift after drift ( and fish after fish…haha). I envy Gerald. His line of work is something I dreamed of doing and I was always drawn to his charisma and confidence like a moth to the flame. He’s the coolest guy I know, with the coolest job and he’s either making me laugh hysterically, or making me poop my pants in the passenger seat. What I admire most, though…is his Drive and his Passion.
Ironically, when I asked Gerald for a playlist to listen to, for his dedicated hour on the course, he suggested any album by the Cars and the first one that came up was, yep, you guessed it, DRIVE. Coincidence…I think not!
8 more to go…just keep swimming, just keep swimming:)