Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank Google it's Friday (Volume Something)

Here is another bundle-o-joy. My favourite bits from the past few weeks. As always, watch what interests you and skip whatever doesn't. As the cliche goes, "There is something for everyone." Which also means you won't like it all ;)

As I have mentioned before, I am so fortunate to have most of this sent to me by friends. My favourite messages always start with, "I saw this and immediately thought how much you'd love it!" <3 Thus, I try to give credit where due (and apologize for any for which I cannot track down the source).

Also, I seriously considered culling this crop significantly - there is a LOT in here. But, they are all awesome - each in their own way - so I said, "Screw it!" (I really did) and left them all in. I have done my best to give you a brief overview of the subject matter and your commitment (time). 


This is an amazing mash-up of dozens of movies, creating a new "film" that is all about "what's it all about?"
You will hear and see yourself many times throughout this 13 minute watch. I found this about a year ago and rediscovered it this week.

A Reel Transformation by theschu

This is just a great philosophy, shared by my friend Paula Vollick :)

Found this on Infinity List. 2 minutes with a phenomenal young lady who lost her arm to a shark and came back to fulfill on her dream to become a pro surfer!

Jason Mraz singing a song of outrageous accolade! Shared with me by Amanda Woodman. Enjoy these 6 minutes of fun, music and celebration.

Diana Nyad, a 63 year old who set out to swim from Cuba to Florida, asks "What will you do with your one wild, precious life?" ... 17 minutes (and truly a must watch, whatever your age and stage). Thanks to Joanne Lepicek for a stellar find.

In the past week I discovered Butch Walker (thanks Karen Johnston Waite, Steve LaFraugh and George Strombolopous). Butch is absolutely brilliant. So much so that I have included three of his songs in this colection. The first two for their extraordinary lyrics, and the last one for a joyous cameo by one of my all-time favourite movie characters. This first song is just under 4 minutes long.

Two magical lines ...
"When you live in the past, one thing that will last, is the resentment that time won't stand still"
"One thing that my father said when he was younger, to a boy with a mullet who looked like his son. 'To want and to try, is the difference why some people will walk and some run.'"

Just over 2 minutes ...

This minute and a half video captures the improbable flight of a Lego man launched into space by two Toronto teens. Using a helium ballon, 4 cameras and a GPS locating device, they send their plastic friend 24 km into the sky before the balloon broke, his parachute deployed, and they retrieved him 150km away. They are soon releasing a much longer version that shows the whole journey.

This is awesome. The metal icon playing with an 8 year old prodigy. Shared by Death Race compatriot, Dave French. This video also reminded me of the beautiful lyric "Crazy, but that's how it goes. Millions of people living as foes. Maybe it's not too late, to learn how to love and forget how to hate." ... 5:45

Five minutes with Tim Waggoner, ultra trail runner. Sharing some beautiful life philosophies inspired by running. Accompanied by such great music. Shared by Spartan Race.

A 3:26 song by Animal Liberation Orchestra ... 
"We got to try just a little bit harder and let it shine just a little bit brighter."

Some of the funniest sports commentary ever in this one minute clip ... "Oh monsieur!!"
Thanks Margaret Schlacter.

Wingsuit flying at its best! 3:30

WOODERSON!!! 5 minutes well spent if you are a Dazed and Confused fan :)

Amazing perspective from a freestyle skier now bound to a wheelchair. Thanks Johnny Ellis for this inspiring 7 minute wake up call.

Salomon Freeski TV S5 E05 The Freedom Chair from Salomon Freeski on Vimeo.

Just when I thought I had no use for "autotune" someone makes this entertaining 3:21 video showcasing the beauty of evolution theory. (ALL positive, with no shots at opposing religious beliefs) Thanks Sherry Matson!

Skrillex collaborating with The Doors. Three and a half minutes of MAGIC!

Some magnificent footage of all things climbing (bouldering, slacklining, etc). 2:39

... and, finally, a beautiful blog post by Maston Kip (The Daily Love). The title says it all <3

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jitters Bugs?

What is that strange feeling I've had this week?

I know it is familiar, but it has been a long time. I do believe it is actually nervousness.

Nervousness fueled by ego, to be exact.

I am strangely blessed with an almost total lack of anxiety, particularly performance anxiety. My prevailing attitude is "So what?", "There is no such thing as failure - it's all success or experience.", and, as my inspiring friend Ray Morgan always says, "Show up and suit up. That's what matters most." . And the bigger and crazier the challenge I am facing the more this generally holds true.

So how could I possibly be nervous about having agreed to run an endurance event (marathon, 1/2 marathon, Tough Mudder, etc) training program at Mojo Crossfit, the great new gym in town?

I've completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon the last three years in a row. I finished the 45 hour 2011 Spartan Death Race (out of 255 registrants there were only 35 of us who hung in to the end, and the 220 DNFs included Marines and elite triathletes). This year, on top of the marathons, adventure races and Death Race, I am signed up for several ultramarathons; 160km in Haliburton, 125km in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, and a double crossing of the Grand Canyon - top to bottom to top, twice, non-stop.

I do not win these races, and my preferred metric is clearly "how far" over "how fast". But I am not training Olympians. These are everyday people who want to learn to run farther and faster, and I can help them with both. I understand basic bio-mechanics, and am well versed in Pose running theory. I know how to teach - having been a professional windsurfing instructor for years, and a nationally certified wrestling coach. Plus my experience as a professional hypnotherapist will be particularly valuable in training them to manage the mental and emotional aspects of endurance events.

So, I am certainly qualified. Then why the nerves?

At first blush I assumed it was a bit of "imposter syndrome". This past year I have received much praise for my Death Race result and, while enjoying the applause, I have at times considered that people's impression of my athletic ability may be tough for me to back up. But that is not it. I know that is ridiculous on many levels - people do not spend all that much time thinking about me (or anyone else, for that matter), and I am taking on racing challenges this year by which I am even astonished myself. So, no. It is goes a bit deeper than that.

But I have figured it out.

Since I started running, and racing, two years ago, I have been "the guy who can do it with almost no real training". My results don't have to be particularly stellar, because I can always highlight just how little sustained preparation I put in and we can all marvel at that instead. My good friend Mark Buckland calls it the "J-Dubstep method" (after I stayed up all night at a concert and after-party immediately before my last marathon). It is actually a nifty bit of "self-handicapping" on my part. Saves me from ever having to step up and see what I can really accomplish. If I truly train (as I am setting out to do this year), and train others too, I will be expected to perform on a whole new level - especially by myself! That is what I am afraid of.

This bit of reflection (in real-time, as I typed, by the way) has helped me enormously. By shining a light on my fear, I have also illuminated two other very important thoughts for myself.
First, the whole reason I joined the gym (and re-embraced Crossfit) was to ramp up my training significantly, so I can play these bigger and bigger games. And this opportunity to incorporate a solidly structured running program in that is absolutely invaluable. This is exactly what I want!
More importantly, this isn't really about me anyway. As a coach, it is my role to focus on my athletes' goals and help them to improve. My unique experience, and willingness to dig in and do the work with them, will serve them very well. And that is something I am very excited about.

So bring it on! Faster. Farther. Stronger. Together.

(*** Very inside reference in the title. "Bugs" is a nickname for me used almost exclusively by my Dad. But it fit so well with "jitters" that I had to go with it!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Does Any Of That Help?"

I received this message this morning ...

"John. Can I ask you a question? How do you manage to stay so positive? I have so much greatness in my life and my family but have struggled with depression and negativity for years. Trying to change this pattern of thought for me and my guys. Any. Suggestions? It would be much appreciated."

I started to type a quick reply, which immediately expanded into a mini-manifesto. Whereas she asked for this answer, you did not - so I have no attachment to your reading, enjoying or agreeing with any of this. I am not an expert in anything, and I accept wholly that anyone else's opinions are every bit as worthy of consideration as mine. This is not meant to refute or dismiss anything that you currently believe, as long as it is serving you well. Feel free to stop reading right now, or at any time! But, if you continue and my ideas resonate with you at all, that is a bonus for you and me both :)

Obviously I would not share a private communication like this if I felt it would in any way diminish or negatively impact my fellow correspondent. I have her permission to repost it and have ensured that there is nothing in it that would identify her or that should cause her any woe. So, with only a few very minor edits, my answer below is pretty much verbatim.

"First of all, I totally get that depression is a physical condition that you did nothing to "get". And it definitely creates a paradigm within which happiness requires more work.

And, at the end of the day, I honestly believe that ALL happiness requires work. Actually everything requires work, including being unhappy, and we end up working just as hard to maintain our undesired states and situations as we would our ideal ones. Everyone is always getting a result. It is just so often not the one that people wish they were getting.

So, they need to stop wishing. Wishing is, by definition, starting with a focus on what you don't have. It is an "if only" place to be. "I wish I had more money". "If only I had more energy". Etc.

I have chosen to not ever wish for anything. If I do not have something, so be it. If it is something that would benefit me and others in my life I will work to bring it into existence. And that may or may not work. And I will continue to not wish for it. I will be happy in its absence, and work towards its presence.

Did you read the blog I linked to today on Facebook? It pretty much nails it.

One of the most powerful ideas I have ever read is this one from Anthony De Mello ... "There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because you're thinking about or focusing on what you don't have."

In 2009 there were a lot of things I no longer had. A beautiful wife, a big custom home, a successful business, any money. After working for years to achieve so much, I had taken a huge year-long gamble on politics and came up utterly empty-handed. In the aftermath of that, I hit the reset button on much of my life. Most friends know that I rolled up my sleeves and bartended/waitered that summer. What very few of them know is that I lived in my pickup truck the whole time. When I say I had NO money, I really mean it. I was absolutely broke, and whatever I made I gave most of it straight to Karen (and that was not nearly as much as it should have been) so that she and the kids could pay their rent and eat.

And, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I really truly learned what happiness is about. I got rid of 95% of every "thing" I "owned". I enjoyed the work and made sure I brought good energy to the restaurant with me. I looked at what relationships were truly important to me and nurtured them (including the one with my ex, Karen, who is one of my best friends and favourite people in the world). I recognized the difference I can make for other people just by being myself. And I had some peak experiences that so many people were missing - parking on a hilltop in a crazy thunderstorm watching the lightning sweep back and forth across Lake Simcoe all night, swimming at the beach alone at midnight, learning to meditate and losing myself in appreciation and gratitude. I realized that I actually still had absolutely everything. (And always will. Even in "worst case scenarios". An expanded topic for another time.) And from there, I quickly rebuilt an absolutely amazing life.

But what you really asked was, how do I maintain that perspective. And here is how. I do not let the bad shit in. Period. I no longer read bad news. I no longer let other people decide what goes into my eyes, ears, head. I do not have a TV. I will only speak with negative people about positive things. If I am raising their energy, great. If they are simply committed to lowering mine, neither of us will benefit from our interaction and I will not take the bait. I receive several emails a day with positive perspectives to consider. I have favourite blogs to which I go to refresh and recharge my good energy. I listen to positive music. I watch inspiring movies. I seek out motivating people. I read this essay on a regular basis. I develop healthy habits. I exercise my body and I stretch my mind. It really is that simple.

I know many people who dismiss all of this as "pollyanna" New Age bullshit. Which is fine. That is what I mean when I say that they will work just as hard to protect their worldview as I will mine. They are intent on my seeing life as a mortal struggle, where we are all being fucked over and must toil endlessly fueled by righteous indignation. And, of course, this is exactly how the world shows up for them and they continue to be "right". It is always possible to find something negative to be upset about, and theirs is just as valid as any other perspective. And just as invalid. And, it is definitely NOT how I choose to burn my brief candle.

I do not suggest that we put our heads in the sand, by any means. There is much we can do to improve the world, and there IS lots of "evil to fight". I just choose to do so joyously. I don't grumble anymore taking my recycling bin to the curb while glowering at my neighbours' garbage bags bursting at the seams. I no longer wish ill upon people with political views opposite to mine - as misguided as I believe they are, they somehow honestly believe that what they are promoting is correct and good. We can work as hard as we want to make things better. But if we allow our own energy to be drained and destroyed in the process we are actually becoming part of the problem.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations”. George Bernard Shaw

A last thought. I have no idea if I am right or wrong. I have no idea what this life is supposed to be about, or if it is all there is or if it is part of a grand continuum of energy or if it is even real at all. And that is where ALL of the freedom lies. In NOT knowing!! Anyone who decides they really KNOW any of those answers immediately misses out on everything outside of the ensuing frame. And if we are going to be limited in our experience of Life, the Universe and Everything, we may as well at least choose the parameters for our own spiritual fences, no?

Just adopt or, better yet, make up whatever works for you! Whatever speaks to your Soul. Whatever expands and enlightens your Mind. Whatever empowers and emboldens your Spirit. Whatever enlivens and invigorates your Body. THAT is what you should do.

Does any of that help?"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"men's tights showing balls"

This may just be filler (as I tweak posts-in-progress of a more cerebral nature), or it may turn out to be a nascent masterpiece that needed to be expressed.

"But John", you say, "Didn't you just type "men's tights showing balls"?"

Yes. Yes, I did. And that is what this post is about. Not about men's tights showing balls. But about "men's tights showing balls".

Do you see the subtle difference? If my blog, "Living Myself to Death", were, in fact, about men's tights showing balls, I would understand why "men's tights showing balls" is one of the most common search keyword phrases that land people at my site. But it is not. So, I do not. And yet the fact remains that MULTIPLE PEOPLE have pecked "m.e.n.'.s  t.i.g.h.t.s.  s.h.o.w.i.n.g.  b.a.l.l.s" into Google and arrived at my blog.

Almost as confusing as it is awesome!!!

I first noticed this while ringing the bells for the Salvation Army Kettle just before Christmas. During a slow stretch, I was bored and playing on my Android. Exploring the stats function on Blogger, I discovered that I could see what words and phrases people were Googling to find me.
  • "John Waite" (of course)
  • "Johnny Waite" (my preferred name)
  • "Living Myself To Death" (good, the name is getting out there) 
  • "Spartan Death Race" (cool! proud to represent) 
  • "men's tights showing balls" (um, WTF???

Once I had stopped laughing (well, to be honest, I am still laughing), I set about trying to solve this mystery. How was "men's tights showing balls" in any way connected to "Living Myself To Death"?

First, I typed "men's tights showing balls" into No sign of my blog. But I do, now, know where to buy dance belts.

Maybe I would have better luck at (what with being Canuck and all). Nope. Identical result.

So, then I tried Google Image Search. And BINGO!! PAGE TWO. This picture was there...

It is an image that I clipped from God knows where and included in my May 18, 2011 post "Down and Dirty Death Race Update". I was describing my recent training trip to Pittsfield, Vermont and making fun of myself for forgetting both my spandex underwear and my board shorts. I had a perfect plan for comfort, function and modest fashion - which went entirely awry when I realized I only had my running tights and nothing else. As I said in the blog post, "so I decided to be "THAT" guy - running in tights with no shorts and no underwear. HAHAHA!"

At least now the initial question was answered. But it really begs a number of follow up questions.
  1. How did that photo become directly connected to that search phrase? 
  2. Why does MY site come up in the search as opposed to whatever the source site was? 
  3. And, perhaps most intriguing of all, WHO ACTUALLY SEARCHES "men's tights showing balls"??? 

I have, on occasion, checked back in to see what other bizarre search phrases I am now intimately connected to and, absolutely insanely, the only ones are variations of that same initial shocker...

I'm #1!!! I'm #1!!! I made it Mom. I made it! Barefoot running is so 2011. 2012 will be all about "bareback running". And I will be the obvious messiah of this new movement. (Vanessa and Lou, we should probably cross-reference our blogs to avoid confusion. I will send barefooters to you, and please direct the freeballers my way.)

One last thought on this subject. The blog post at the center of this phenomenon is my most read page by several hundred hits. At first I had assumed this was simply due to the popularity of the Death Race, but any critical analysis of this hypothesis would quickly reveal that none of my many other posts about the same race have anywhere near the traffic. So, this means that HUNDREDS, probably even THOUSANDS of people, (MILLIONS???) are searching specifically for pictures of men running without underwear with their jiggly bits on silhouetted display. Ah, what a wonderful world!

Sing us out, Spongebob!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

The past couple of days snuck up on me. At first I didn't recognize their awesomeness, and actually felt a bit "under the weather". But as I went to bed last night I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy, and woke up still very present to those feelings. 

In the "micro", here are some of the things that have inspired and energized me these past 48 hours. 
  • I have worked out with my sister.
  • I have walked with my mom while watching the sunrise.
  • I have talked with each of my brothers, both of my kids and my wonderful ex-(we prefer the term "erstwhile")-wife, and my dad, and told them all that I love and appreciate them.
  • I have run at least 5km every day, even when I didn't feel like it.
  • I had coffee with a friend who is bravely facing her cancer treatment.
  • I had a serendipitous conversation with a stonemason friend whose first marble sculpture is being exhibited at that very same coffee shop - and he shared with me that it was after reading my 2011 blog post, "Life Lessons From a Stone Sculptor", that he was inspired to finally try his hand at artistic expression after decades of telling himself he couldn't do it.
  • I was able to pass on some "found $" (a restaurant Gift Certificate) to a friend who has been struggling of late. Remembering not long ago being in a similar situation, and how much I enjoyed being able to take my kids out to dinner while utterly broke, it gave me so much joy to know he could do the same.
  • I watched my first half hour of TV in months - my brother-in-law hosting me and a friend to watch the Season Five premiere of Californication (yep, a wonderful "guilty pleasure").
  • I sold one home and listed another.
  • I had an hour long visit with Tyler Burtch, one of the most successful, inspiring, positive people I know.
  • I was keynote speaker at the Lion's Club dinner meeting, recounting my Death Race experience.
  • I met with Sarah, owner of the phenomenal Quaker Oaks store in Orillia, to plan our upcoming Film Series - screening only inspiring, uplifting, consciousness raising movies monthly in Orillia.
  • I met with three new coaching clients, all of whom have exciting and enormous life changes they are embarking on. What an awesome opportunity and privilege I have, helping people take on what is important to them :)
  • Had an amazing conversation with a new friend, on my way out of the gym this morning, that was full of promise of collaborative endeavours to make the world, and Orillia in particular, even "perfecter".
  • I contributed to Theo Simm's successful "Kickstarter" campaign to produce his first CD. More important than my $11 pledge was my being one of his many friends who shared the link on Facebook, helping it go "viral" as he raised more in the last 15 hours than in the first 30 days. I am so excited to hear more of his beautiful music and message.

So, on the heels of all of that, I posted this as my Facebook status update this morning before heading the the gym at 5:50am...

And I absolutely LOVED that comment ... "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" ... which I interpreted to be a beautiful way of asking "Why are you always so happy?". "How can we get some of that?". "Where does one find such miracles?"

That is actually something I am asked a lot. Socially, it leads to so many wonderful conversations. Professionally, much of my "life adventure coaching" revolves around helping people discover what frequency they want to tune into, what will make them happy, and designing their lives around that clear signal.

Because, just like a radio dial, there are many frequencies to choose from in our lives. I could have made a list just as long as the one above, instead cataloging everything that has gone "wrong" so far this week. I have been late for appointments, been up at night sick to my stomach, bounced a pre-authorized payment after putting $ in the wrong account, had my car backed into, spilled a bucket of muddy water on my carpet, and so on. But rather than seeing those as definitive of my day, I choose to accept them as simply part of a full, wonderful life.

More than perhaps anything I have studied or read in the past several years, this essay by Rob Brezsny has had the most profound impact on my thinking. Entitled "Glory In The Highest", it is from his magical book "Pronoia: The Antidote to Paranoia (How The World Is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings)". It is a lengthy read but worth every second. In case you are going to (foolishly) skip it, I will give you the briefest summary ... 
"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."

Life is not good or bad. It just is. Life happens. Lots happens! More than we could ever consciously take in. So, we only experience and internalize a very small fraction of everything that is going on around us. Unfortunately, most people do not choose to take control of process, instead allowing their focus to be dictated by others. Newspapers are overflowing with the "bad" news. Friends and strangers alike want to complain to you about "their awful day". Marketers constantly try to remind you of what you don't have.

Yet, at any time, you can turn your attention to something for which to be grateful. You can find something to smile at. You can take an action that will improve the lives of people around you.

I already know that some of you are saying, "Easier said than done!" How do I know this? Because some of you have said it directly to me before. And from where you are right now, that may be the case. You may be sick. You may be broke. You may be lonely. I have been all of the above, but have never seen the sense in compounding that with being sad or mad too.

So, what's the frequency, Kenneth? How do I tune myself into the signal that allows me to see the positive, to focus on the good, to be happy?

This is where we go to "the macro". The big picture. What is all around you. It has never been easier to customize your own experience of life. As easily as checking your email or your Facebook, you can begin to completely renovate your worldview. There is a great expression "Garbage In Garbage Out" - which means, if you take in crap, that is what you will produce. If you eat shitty food you will have shitty energy. If you are bombarded with negative information your attitude will be negative. Conversely, if you consciously "consume" more good, positive, healthy stuff your life will change for the better. There are all kinds of major life changes you can make regarding diet, exercise, lifestyle, relationships. Those are all too big to tackle in one quick blog post. But there IS one very simple thing you can do that will improve your life in all these areas and more. Overhaul the information coming in, immediately.

Every single day of my life I receive dozens of positive messages, newsletters, videos, songs, quotations, ideas, etc. With zero ongoing effort on my part. And every day I actively filter out more of the useless, disempowering information that tries to sneak through. Want to change your life starting now? Do the same.

Granted, not everyone wants to see the world the way I do. And that is great. If what you are doing is working out for you, press on (and feel free to share some of your "secrets" with me, as I am always open to more of what works!). If you have read this far, though, I am guessing you do have some interest in hearing what it is I have to share. So, here goes ...

1. Subscribe to these blogs, and receive daily and weekly newsletters full of phenomenal, positive, actionable ideas ...

Soul Biographies | Human Portraits in Film

If you need to stay current on some topic, search for stories only about that. There is zero benefit to being informed about every rape, murder, robbery, fire, bombing, scam, virus, outrage that does not directly affect you. This is the worst, most useless mental noise and also the easiest to tune out completely. Here is a great post on how to break your "news addiction" ...

3. Visit this website to see thoughtful, intelligent, transformative ideas presented by gifted speakers...

Ted Logo

One of my very favourite TED Talks ...

4. Subscribe to this daily email

Notes from the Universe

5. Listen to any song by this musician...

Especially this one...

6. Tell someone today that you love him or her, and tell them why.

7. Please please please keep sharing your positivity with me. Having pushed good energy for so long, people now associate me with it and the massive benefit in that to me is that every time I open my email or Facebook page there is a link from someone to something beautiful and inspiring. So, send me your favourite songs, talks, videos, newsletters, blogs, quotations, etc and I will spread the love :)

8. Bonus ... spend just a few minutes a day, everyday, thinking about what you already have to be grateful for. If you don't know where to begin, take less than 3 minutes and watch this ...