Monday, March 28, 2011

One of those days...

I received a text message from a friend the other day that said, "Sorry - running late. Been one of those days!!". The first sentence was strictly functional - notifying me of the delay and apologizing. The second half, though - "Been one of those days!!" - is the part that stuck with me. It was clearly assumed that I would know what "those days" are. And they aren't good! I think it was also intended as an excuse to some degree - because when you are having "one of those days" what can you do? Of course you'd be late on "one of those days".

When I Googled "one of those days", I actually found a dictionary definition for the phrase - "a day when everything goes wrong". There was generic advice for how to deal with one. I also found several songs, from pop, to rock to reggae to Weird Al, all bemoaning such a day. Then, a cartoon ...


There was also a movie and pile of books. "One of those days" is one of those phrases that we all nod knowingly to. "I know what you mean, man. I know what you mean."

For the record, I had one of those days yesterday. That statement may catch some friends and  readers off guard, as I am oft accused of being too positive, too cheerful in the face of a reality that can't always be "that awesome". But make no mistake. Sunday was an absolute gong show for me.

After 5 hours of round trip driving and a long day of coaching youth wrestling in a noisy, crowded gymnasium Saturday, I had spent the night at my cousin's in Toronto. And slept, unwittingly, with my cousin's cat, who curled up around my face whilst I slept - triggering my brutal allergies (intentionally?). So, that is how the day started: puffy and wheezy. 

In this congested condition, I also had to deal with truck difficulties that had me stranded in the city, forcing me to postpone two afternoon appointments in Orillia. Cue my phone ringing unexpectedly (as I had not noticed the time), with a potential coaching client calling for her initial consultation: change gears, focus, listen, process. I ignored several text messages during the call, which turned out to be from a close friend whose teenage son had just been arrested following a string of terrible decisions. As I began to reply, my battery died. Then I made the trip to the bus terminal, on a delayed-by-track-construction subway - only to find out I had just missed an Orillia-bound coach and had almost three hours to wait for the next one. 

So, at mid-afternoon, I found myself sitting, tired, sneezing, with a dead BlackBerry, waiting for a Greyhound. It definitely qualified as "one of those days".

If we all know what "one of those days" is, I am curious as to what the opposite is. A day when everything goes right. What is the counterpart of "those". Is it "these"? "One of these days"?

Interestingly, "one of these days" is already taken in the dictionary - defined as "at a future time". Which is how I think a lot of people approach life ... always waiting for better days ahead.

But what if you could have one of these days - a day when everything goes right - right now? Come to think of it, I had one of "these" days very recently. Everything was clicking. Life was firing on all cylinders. I asked and I received. One good thing just rolled into another.

I woke up Tuesday morning before my alarm and read for a while before heading to the gym. After a great workout, I sat in the sauna reflecting on my day's schedule and what I wanted to accomplish.  I would spend the morning writing and working to attract great new coaching clients. In the afternoon I had a hypnosis appointment booked with one of my clients who is reclaiming his health and his life by working off over 100 pounds. And in the evening I was attending a concert at the local youth center, featuring a fantastic reggae/ska band from St. John's, Nfld - The Idlers.

In terms of setting my intentions for my own life, I turned my attention to three things...
  1. Generating a fun plan for a special summer trip with my son, Jack.
  2. Refocusing my diet on healthy, local, organic, primarily vegetarian food.
  3. Finding people with whom to do mud-obstacle runs on a regular basis.
So, with that energy emanating, I went out into the world.

While writing, with a delicious, organic, fair trade coffee in hand, I took a break to watch a video sent to me by a friend ...

I had seen the original many times - one of my favourite examples of unbridled self-expression serving to free others as well. This reworked version, incorporating a great leadership lesson, was an even bigger treat. And it got me looking forward to a music festival on my calendar for the summer, Camp Bisco. "Hmm, I wonder if JackyBoy would enjoy coming along on that?" When I threw the idea out to Jack he was over the moon, especially with MSTRKRFT on the bill.

Just as I was turning my attention back to my writing, the doorbell rang. There stood my mom, dropping off a dozen farm fresh eggs she had just picked up at Fairdale Farm, a local, all-natural, free-range operation started by my friend, Tim Leatherdale. My mom is pretty "old-school" in her approach to food - the four food groups, all things in moderation, everything is better with butter - and sometimes shakes her head at my taste for green shakes and fasts, but she always inspires me with her ability and willingness to whip up phenomenal dishes from scratch tailored to whomever she is with. Even on roast beef nights, she will make several extra vegetables when she knows I am coming. 

After posting "Life Lessons from a Stone Sculptor" to my blog, I checked my email and found a request for coaching from a stranger who had happened upon my writing and felt compelled to "reach out" for help. There were also three messages of thanks from people for whom I had recently  made a positive difference, and some sage advice from an important mentor whose commitment to my success means so much to me.

With all that positive energy in the morning, my day sailed by, and my afternoon hypnosis appointment was fantastic - one of those great exchanges of energy where both parties come away with more, reminding me that life, lived right, is not a zero-sum game.

Just before heading to The Idlers' concert, I received the coolest email - from a new friend, Carrie Adams, who had posted a special vegetarian recipe for me to her Clean Eating blog, naming it "Johnny Waite's Black Bean Death Race Dinner". How cool is that? I also noticed her other blog "Mud Mafia", dedicated to running, which reminded me of my commitment to finding more running partners (check out Carrie's awesome post re: "Clock-Blocking").

The Idlers rocked! This fun, energetic band entertained an enthusiastic, appreciative crowd at the Youth Center, as part of Deb Brown's amazing Stellula Music in Schools program. At the show I ran into several friends. Beth McKean, who helps people express themselves through body movement at Free Spirit Dance, was twirling to the music. Michael Martyn, Orillia's Manager of Cultural Development and amazing musician, was there with his young son. So was Amy Mangan, from Mariposa Folk Festival, whose boy Liam cut the rug with astonishing abandon. As we discussed Liam's beautiful spirit, I told them of my decision to bring Jack to Camp Bisco, also confessing a small concern that he may not entirely "get" the ecstatic, liberating vibe of such an event and that it was a lot of money to spend just hoping he enjoyed it. Out of that honest exchange came two offers. Beth invited Jack and me to attend her upcoming Friday evening class, to help us free our inner dancers. And Michael reminded me that I had loaned him ski gear that he'd like to buy from me - on which we agreed that he would pay for Jack's Camp Bisco ticket and we'd call it even. Wow!

After the concert, I headed to the grocery store to shop for my namesake recipe. While there, I ran into Mark Buckland, who'd lent me my axes for my Death Race training - both of which happened to be in the back of my truck. As I handed them over to him (saving a 1hr round trip drive) I told him about Mud Mafia and my desire to gather like-minded friends to run locally, and Mark signed on immediately. So home I went, to cook, write and plan a run.

Reflecting on the day, I realized that I had nailed all three of my objectives. 
  1. I had conceived, confirmed and financed my summer trip with Jack AND found a resource to set a solid foundation of groovability before heading south in July.
  2. I had received farm fresh eggs AND shopped for a fantastic recipe that had been generated on my behalf.
  3. I had made strides towards my trail-running crew, both in the macro with Mud Mafia and the micro with Mark (for any fans of "alliteration", that is a LOT of M's in a row)
All of this happened with no extraordinary effort on my part. I just stayed in motion, maintained my positive energy and interacted honestly with people. 

Did anything "bad" happen Tuesday? Probably. I don't recall anything in particular, but that is likely because I was so focused on all of the "good stuff". Which brings us back to Sunday. Did anything "good" happen Sunday?

Come to think of it, yes. I had breakfast with some wonderful friends. My clients were very understanding and both rescheduled easily. I took advantage of my time in the bus terminal (and the lack of distraction from an otherwise ever-present BlackBerry) to meditate for a solid hour.  I serendipitously ran into a friend heading north who offered me a ride, giving me an 11th hour reprieve from the bus ride, saving me the fare and adding a great visit. And I arrived home to an unscheduled evening, which I used to catch up on the weekend's emails, write a coaching proposal and watch the classic surf movie "Endless Summer" with my great friend Amanda (who flew this morning to Witch's Rock Surf Camp in Costa Rica). All of which I would have taken for granted, were I not to consciously stop and consider what went "right" in the midst of "one of those days".

What I am now very clear on is this: good and bad happens every day. As The Dude says, "Life is full of strikes and gutters". Except in extraordinary circumstances, it is entirely up to me where I decide to put my focus. When a few things go sideways and you say "that's just my luck", you are definitely going to have one of those days. Alternatively, a much more empowering sentence starter is "oh well, at least I still have my ..." : and insert something to be grateful for even as the shit hits the fan. You'll be amazed how powerful that little habit can be.

If you have somehow missed my many links to Rob Brezsny's magnificent essay "Glory in the Highest", I will recommend again that you read it. Or, if you have already succumbed to my earlier suggestions I will recommend you read it again. But if you really are too lazy to click on the link, here is the final paragraph.

"Let's say it's 9:30 a.m. You've been awake for two hours, and a hundred things have already gone right for you. If three of those hundred things had not gone right — your toaster was broken, the hot water wasn't hot enough, there was a stain on the pants you wanted to wear — you might feel that today the universe is against you, that your luck is bad, that nothing's going right. And yet the fact is that the vast majority of everything is working with breathtaking efficiency and consistency. You would clearly be deluded to imagine that life is primarily an ordeal."

So, to help you have one of these days, I am including one last video. This is something I would have never have stumbled upon had I not Googled "one of those days", and it comes from a world very different than mine. But Lil Rob gets it, and I will be listening to this song again and again!!


  1. Your words are extremely moving- I always finish reading them with a big smile!! I'd be happy to join the trail running/mud mafia crew. Maybe we could make it national? Or international I guess it would have to be!

  2. You are such a positive upbeat person! Love it!

  3. John I would seriously love to join the Mud Crew. Let me know if you're up for a girl from the BTA...