Saturday, October 12, 2013

How do you like your trajectory?

One of the truest, but most overused, cliches is that "it is not the destination, but the journey". It has been expressed myriad ways by writers much more skilled than I, and exhaustively explored by countless bloggers even more syrupy and sanctimonious. But, this morning, I had a conversation with a friend, and he closed with a brilliant observation that I feel bears sharing.

BACKGROUND... this past week I have been eagerly following two remarkable races.

October 4th, many of my friends were participating in "Hunter Gatherer Survival Run" in Rocksprings, Texas. If you've been following this blog at all, you know that I have participated in some truly brutal races. When I read THIS RACE REPORT, though, I realized that Hunter Gatherer has taken it to another level again. It was dreamed up, then brilliantly executed, by Josue Stephens, a mad genius who is race director for two legendary ultramarathons (Copper Canyon and Caballo Blanco) and creator/RD of Fuego Y Agua Survival Run.

One of the competitors was my good friend, Paul Kavanagh. Less than a year ago, Paul called me to invite me for a coffee. There he told me that he was looking for some new challenges in his life and was interested in the racing I had been doing. He had been running some 5 and 10k road races, but thought he may like to try something more interesting. A few months later he was in Nicaragua, signed up for the 25km run (that climbed a volcano) but was quickly captivated by the spectacle of the ultradistances and the Survival Run in which I took part. Jump forward just 8 months and Paul finished THIRD overall in Hunter Gatherer - well ahead of scores of incredibly experienced and accomplished runners. With that under his belt (literally, actually, as the trophy was an engraved survival knife), Paul has registered for February's "Fuego Y Agua Deadly Devil's Double Challenge" - returning to Nicaragua to complete the 75km survival race (open water swims, volcano climbs, jungle crossings, insanely difficult challenges) AND 100km ultramarathon (ridiculously steep, technical terrain) IN THE SAME WEEK!!!

thumbnail imageAlong the way, Paul has met many of my other friends, including Olof Dallner and Andy Weinberg. So, like me and hundreds of others, he has been refreshing THIS WEB PAGE obsessively for the past several days - checking the live updates from the Virginia QUINTUPLE Anvil Ultratriathlon. To put this race in perspective, the Ironman was long considered the "standard" for a long, brutal triathlon - with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and full marathon (26.2 mile) run. Over time, some people began challenging themselves with double the distance (wow) and triples (c'mon, is that really possible?). But the QUINTUPLE looks like this ... swim 12 miles, jump on your bike and ride 560 miles, then simply run FIVE STRAIGHT MARATHONS to the finish. And this is STRAIGHT THROUGH (pitting only for food, poops, medical help and quick naps)!! And this is the race that four of my good friends - Andy Weinberg, Olof Dallner, Rebecca Daniels Hansen and Josh Zitomer began on Tuesday. The race is still going on at the time of this writing, but Olof (3x Death Race champion) just finished, taking FIRST place in just under 96 hours. Andy is only about 10 miles behind, with a lock on SECOND despite severe ankle pain and stress fractures in his feet. Josh and Rebecca are also well into the run and look solid to finish. This truly is nothing short of SUPERHUMAN.

So, with a great sense of humour and greater sense of humilty, Paul just sent me this photo of Olof (posted mid-race, then photoshopped by Paul) ...

Anyone who knows Olof gets why this is funny on multiple levels. First, Olof is an extremely nice guy who is humble about his own achievements and excited about others'. Second, he is a fucking cyborg for whom there truly may be no limits. He does things that seem impossible to most everyone else - smiling and laughing and dancing (literally) the whole way. I once pointed out that "Olof races like he's at a rave!", an observation with which everyone gleefully agreed.

I replied to Paul, commenting that being around these extraordinary people (I think I used the term "freaks") is so good for us, as it just keeps stretching our imaginations and ideas as to what is achievable. I also pointed out that, while a "nice ego stroke", every time someone tells us that we are crazy/amazing/impressive for what we accomplish they are actually pulling us back into the center a little bit.

And here is Paul's answer to that ...
Yup! Was thinking recently it's awesome. Feeling more confident, but much less ego based. Whatever I do, there are people capable of far more, and are much more humble about it. I still have a ways to go, but I like the trajectory.

And, in that last sentence there is some true magic. Some wisdom that I intend to apply to the rest of my life. I hope I DO still have a ways to go ... and the key is that I am happy with the trajectory. That is what will determine everything, and I can always change it - as slightly or drastically as need be.

So, ask yourself - "Do I like the trajectory of my life?". 

NOT "Am I happy with where I am at right now?" because you are always still moving - and where you are at is ssimpy the result of the trajectory you WERE on. In this very moment, you can alter your trajectory and (as small a change as it may seem - maybe just a coffee conversation and signing up for a seemingly minor adventure)... THAT will change where you are going. SO SIMPLE!!!

Changing your life does not have to be difficult!! You do not have to have all of the answers or even make wholesale changes. It is all about the trajectory!



So, this Thanksgiving weekend, I am feeling special gratitude for friends like Paul, Olof, Andy, Josh, Rebecca, Joe D and Josue, who have been hugely influential in helping me shift my trajectory, allowing my life to expand, seemingly miraculously, in a magnitude I had not even previously imagined.

***** BONUS ****

Here is one of my favourite pictures of all time. Andy (L) and Olof (R) during a quick nap toward the end of the QUINT (taken last night and shared by Olof's girlfriend, Caitlan Alexander). I have included her comment below ...

And to set the record straight, most of the posts about this "competition" between Olof and Andy were BS. Around mile 70, they were both pushing each other so hard that they shook and decided they would finish the rest together. Around mile 95, Andy starting developing symptoms of a stress fracture among many other things and urged Olof to go ahead. Olof wouldn't leave him but Andy was persistent. So the two split but were still cheering each other on.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How my ego got my skull smashed in last month!

Every now and then life hands you (ok, me) a perfectly poetic lesson.

Such was the case this past month. I was preparing to go to Hawaii for a few weeks of Spartan Race work, and received a phone call from Joe Distefano, the head of Spartan's SGX Group Training certification program. He'd heard that he and I were going to be in Honolulu at the same time and asked if I would be attending the Saturday workout, at which we expected 300+ eager new Hawaiian  Spartan Racers to attend.

"I sure will Joe! Looking forward to it!!"

All packed and heading out the door the Thursday morning I was departing, I saw my three Death Race Finisher skulls sitting on the shelf in my foyer. "I had better bring these!" I thought to myself. "Joe may want to introduce me as a Death Race Finisher [and I can flash these to show just how truly fucking awesome I really am - bracketed because I don't think I actually formulated this latter part of the thought, but am now acknowledging it was very much behind my motivation]"

These are just the Summer skull (middle) and Winter skull (right).
The Team one is not in this pic. On the left is a vodka bottle that
seemed to 
complement the others nicely.

Now that I am being honest with myself, even my keeping my skulls prominently displayed in my foyer, such that one cannot possibly enter my home without having to ask about them, is ridiculous in itself. How many times have I told the story??? Stories, actually, as they must hear about all of the races!!! Let's not even mention my countless Facebook entries. And here is yet another blog post about my Death Race skulls...

But bear with me - this one is about to go sideways FAST!

When I landed in Honolulu I was wiped from a long travel day. After a quick dinner, I went straight to sleep. Waking early - still on Eastern Standard Time - I jogged down to the beach to watch the sunrise. Then, when I got back to the house where I was staying, I started to unpack my duffel bag.

What. The. Fuck???
The very first thing I saw was my Summer 2011 skull, that I had stuffed into the bag at home. And it was broken in half! Actually, after pulling out the biggest piece, I realized the next half was broken in half again. In fact, the pieces got smaller and smaller until it became obvious that this was never going completely back together again. And, as I gathered the bits, assessing the odds of salvaging my prize to some degree of recognizability, I noticed that several of them were much lighter in colour. 

"Oh no, you have to be joking!" 

Yes, my Winter 2012 trophy had sustained significant damage of its own! While the skull portion was intact, half of the face was missing, with the jaw bone shattered and scattered. 

"Ok, self," I said to (of course) myself, "There is clearly a lesson in this somewhere!"

"Learn how to pack better?? ... Um, obviously! But there is something more important here for you. And here is a clue. It is about your SELF, not your skulls."

For now, though, I had other things to do, so I set these crumbled crania aside, making a mental note to buy some Crazy Glue as soon as possible.

Days passed without my giving my splintered swag another thought. Later in the week, when it came time to move from the house to a hotel, I gathered up all the pieces and tossed them in a plastic bag, stuffing that back into the duffel again.

That night the kids joined me for the next 11 days (a sublime experience all around) and on the way in from the airport I told them about my mutilated momentos. We were all three laughing heartily, none of us seeing the situation as particularly tragic.

And, I started wondering how it could be that these symbols of some of my "greatest" successes could suddenly seem so unimportant to me.

I think I finally have it all figured out. That first skull was earned at a time when I was really struggling to regain my footing in my life. It was an enormous turning point - and served as a psychological lifeline. Thus, I inflated its significance to myself rather, well, significantly. Several months later, adding its winter sibling to the shelf poured fresh fuel on this engorging ego trip. Understandable, yes, and I'm not beating myself up over it - but an ego trip nonetheless. Then, when I failed to earn the coveted award in Summer 2012, I (out of emotional necessity) started convincing myself that "the skull really isn't what is important". And, at first, this was just lip-service, but now I know that is actually absolutely true. 

Let's be clear ... we are talking about here are some very inexpensive, novelty skulls, Made in China, and written on with a Sharpie marker. This is the precious cargo that arrived annihilated. What were not destroyed are the myriad memories of my arduous adventures in the mountains, rivers, forests, ponds of Pittsfield, VT. What remain entirely unscathed are the robust friendships I have forged along the way. Undiminished are the invaluable lessons I learned about myself, and about life, through the highs and the lows of this insane and arbitrary Death Race experience. 

Those smashed-in skulls are part of my past, which is already established, but they have no bearing whatsoever on my future. In fact, I can travel lighter without them! And, when needing a quick ego stroke, it's not like I don't have pictures aplenty ;) 

So, having still not bothered to buy any Crazy Glue, I think I may just leave them sitting in smithereens, in a bag... in a drawer... in my shed.

P.S. You may remember that I packed THREE skulls. My 2012 Team Death Race skull survived the trip almost entirely intact. Which is quite wonderful actually, as it is the one that should, and does, mean the most to me. Having won that race alongside three phenomenal friends, it is not nearly as much about me and way more about a great group of "Old Dudes" somehow finding a second wind an an extra gear at just the right time :)

"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
~ Tennyson (Ulysses)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How I Am Failing To Be a Great Dad

When I was a child I loved reading The Berenstain Bears books. Apparently I am not alone in this, as I just observed that there are "over 300 titles, which have sold approximately 260 million copies in 23 languages.

Even as a father, I have often referred to these classics, suggesting that I have a "Berenstain Bears" style of parenting. To explain that idea, here are some Washington Post reviews I have clipped from Wikipedia ...

  • "Papa sets out to instruct Small Bear in some aspect of the art of living and ends up badly the worse for wear, with Small Bear expressing his appreciation for the fine lesson Papa has taught him." 
  • "The action usually starts when the kids face a problem. They turn to Papa, who offers a "solution" that only makes the problem—or the kids' fears about it—even worse. Enter Mama, who eventually sets everyone straight."

Before I go any further, I will let you off the hook. I believe that I AM a great Dad. Still, I stand behind the title of this post. My children know that I am as fallible as anyone else, and it is often through my "failing" that I teach them the most important lessons. (Sometimes my "Small Bears" are even so wonderful as to express their appreciation for the fine lesson I have taught them.)

We (and I guess I can really only speak for myself) love to share our successes - there is a reason some people refer to Facebook as "Bragbook" - and those stories are important too. Through some of my triumphs I have shown Katy and Jack that it pays to dream big and to go after your goals with everything you've got. I have given them some great tales to share with their friends, about their "crazy Dad". I have made sure their last name serves them well (actually, I was handed an impeccable family reputation and have simply tried to pass it on in equally good "condition").

But I have also failed in rather spectacular fashion in their 14 and 16 years on this planet. Using a term that I love, "I have shit the bed" on several occasions. Still, looking at it all objectively, I am actually fairly certain that the best life lessons I can pass on have come from these apparent disasters.

Borrowing from the parlance of the fine blog of my wonderful erstwhile-wife (Mama Bear)...

"A (Non)Comprehensive List of Important Lessons I Have Taught My Children While Failing"
  1. My failed political career - in 2007 I ran as the Liberal candidate for Member of Parliament. As Canada had a minority Conservative government at the time, there could have been an election at any moment - but there wasn't. For the whole year! For all 4 seasons, I zigzagged across our riding, campaigning, spending, promising. And it was all for naught, as I was broke and exhausted and out of steam by Christmas. I had to resign - front page news - and never even actually had my chance to "save the world".

    LESSON: Sometimes you are going to take a big chance that does not work out - and it may even be a rather public affair - but you still have to get up to greet the sun the next morning (in truth, it was quite a few mornings before I leapt out of bed again at the crack of dawn - there was a bit of a regrouping "low" in the early months of 2008).  I owned my decision to run and also my decision to resign. And the world did carry on. In fact, I have enjoyed far more rewarding success since that debacle than before.

  1. The end of my marriage to their mom - in 2008 I left my wife (the aforementioned brilliant bloggess). I still love and respect her as much as ever, but decided (realized) we were on divergent life paths, with conflicting, albeit equally valid, core values. We knew our relationship was in trouble in the Spring and went for marriage counselling. By the Summer it was obvious we'd be parting, and we finally "pulled the trigger" on our separation in the Fall.

    LESSON: You can always choose kindness and civility over bitterness and anger. A breakup does not have to be acrimonious. We split very amicably, as neither of us had wronged the other, and have continued to support one another on our respective paths. If Katy and Jack's eventual relationship "Plan A" lasts forever, awesome. And if not, they have seen very clearly that Plan B does not have to be a shit-show. They have two parents who love them and one another and are as committed as ever to everyone having great lives.

  2. Being really, really broke - a couple years of an aborted (and expensive) campaign, marital dissolution and funding the setup of a second household, and a weak real estate market (yes, that was my career before my big reset) exacerbated by my rebranding as a politician, had all left me quite literally penniless. I took a job bartending to be able to cover even basic support for Karen to maintain her home for our kids and moved myself into my truck. For over a year I bounced back and forth between my truck, my siblings and my office floor. When I had Katy and Jack for weekends we would camp or go on "adventures" or stay at my folks. Beyond just living arrangements, I was unable to provide many luxuries that we had previously taken for granted - dinners out, ski trips, expensive clothing.

    LESSON: You don't need much to be happy. Despite this being a humbling experience, we always had a lot of fun, and I don't think any of us will reflect on it being miserable or even a particular struggle. We simply made do and focused on gratitude for what we did have. Even now that I have "bounced back" I have kept my life very simple - I live in a rented apartment, buy almost all of my clothes at thrift shops, and have as few extra belongings as possible. This keeps me free to enjoy adventures and travel and able to give significant financial support to Karen to help her provide a more traditional home (she has a beautiful log cabin on 6+ acres on the edge of town). My kids don't want for much, but they also now have an appreciation for what they have and get.
  3. DNF'ing The Death Race on National TV - In 2011 I finished the Spartan Death Race. With this success came small-town fame, pride and a new reputation as an athlete and a badass. I began speaking, coaching, and blogging, all as "that guy" who finishes Death Races (reinforced with my 5th place Winter Death Race result in early 2012). Then, in June 2012, with a film crew in tow (shooting a documentary feature for national broadcast on Global TV's 16x9), I dropped out of the race after 35 hours. In hindsight, I was not particularly injured (though my banged up feet were my "reason", they had been much worse a year prior) - I was just "done". At the time I was really very embarrassed. I felt like I had let many people down.

    LESSON: It's not all about succeeding - it is about who you are being, win or lose. Ultimately I received every bit as much support and encouragement from friends and peers after my DNF as my finish. Because I did not make any excuses, or look for anyone to blame, people had nothing but praise for my effort. I simply acknowledged that I was not as tough as that year's race and gave enormous respect to those who carried on to finish (in upwards of 70 hours!). And seeing them finish, I was reminded of what is possible. With this, I returned to more serious training and came back to Vermont 3 months later to outright WIN the first ever Team Death Race with my good friends Don Devaney, Ray Morvan and Dave French. Hopefully we were as humble and gracious then too!
I think the biggest thing I have going for me in my relationship with my kids is that I don't pretend to be perfect. I actually understand that their opinions and perspectives about their lives are usually even more valid than mine. A while back I wrote that "My Kids Are People Not Projects", and I mean it. I will help them any way that I can, including by knowing when to back off and let them learn for themselves.

And by FAILING - repeatedly, joyfully, humbly and graciously - I am demonstrating that they can approach life fearlessly and, thus, enjoy uncommon success.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: 
it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

Winston Churchill

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tonight's 75 minute speech compressed to 75 seconds.

"YES is almost always better than NO.

No can only get you no-thing. Yes can get you anything. Even if it does not get you what you thought you wanted, it will get you something. And that will lead to more. The awesome stuff may be hidden around a few bends, but Yes keeps you in the flow of possibility.

It may end up that yes leads you to something hard. I hope it does! Hard is not bad. We've been fooled into thinking that easy is good, and are becoming weak, lazy and bored. There is a reason we love Rocky. Respect comes with working for something. They do not build statues for lottery winners.

Besides, what do "good" and "bad" even mean?? The fact is that WE get to DECIDE! In truth, we are making ALL of this up as we go. All of it. Always. So think up a story that interests - no, that FASCINATES - you.

And don't shy away from adventure - no matter what form it shows up in. It's not all about climbing mountains. A cancer diagnosis is still an adventure, and you choose how you are going to respond. Whatever is, IS. And it's 100% up to you what you do with it. There is opportunity in anything to inspire others and make the world a better place.

So where to begin? Somewhere. Anywhere! Start exactly where you are, and begin by finding something for which to be grateful. That will be the spark that lights a fire. Then, the fuel for that fire is whatever excites you. Not just what you are good at, but what stirs your soul. Whatever that awesomeness is, commit to generating more of it in the world.

Then do something. Anything! Show up for your life with energy and commitment, and invite others to join you on this path. You do not need to convince anyone of anything. Just share your light and you will soon be doing incredible things with amazing people.

You are in the perfect place to start your life adventure, and now is the perfect time. It germinates with YES, is fertilized by gratitude, sprouts with joyful work and blossoms in love."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Midnight Rainbow That Fell From The Sky

In the summer of 2009 I was living in my truck.

A year earlier I had been a successful businessman with a big estate home and a picture-perfect family. Then it all unraveled.

As I was losing everything, I took what little was salvageable, selling off everything that I could, and set up my soon-to-be-separated-wife and our two young children with a furnished country home and a reliable Volvo station wagon. Then, I gave away everything but the absolute essentials and blew up a mattress for the covered back of my rusty old Ford Ranger (that was replacing my recently repossessed, leather-seated, German sedan).

With my business shuttered (ironic, perhaps, having only months before received my second consecutive nomination as business leader of the year), I found a job bartending and dropped off my tips every few days in Karen's mailbox. I was doing what I could, but felt terrible as she deserved so much more.

One evening, I finished my shift just before midnight and walked out of the air conditioned pub into a sweltering heatwave. I was grimy and sweaty and wanted a shower so badly. The YMCA was long closed and it was too late to drop in on anyone. Feeling a bit sorry for myself, I decided to drive to the lake and have a cooling dip before finding a backroad on which to park and sleep.

All alone, I waded into the shallow water, stopping a few hundred feet out from the sandy beach to lay back with only my eyes and nose above the surface. Unable to hear anything but my heartbeat, I gazed up at the shimmering stars and let my thoughts wander.

At first, I found myself focusing on all that I was missing. A soft bed. The incredible amounts of "stuff" I had worked so hard to accumulate over the years. The prestige and respect that came with being a community leader.

This list of woes continued to grow, but, before my mood could go into complete freefall, I caught myself and very consciously decided that I needed to take inventory of what I still had in the "plus" column.

Well, I was healthy. I still possessed every talent and skill with which I had earned my way to "the top" in the first place. I had magnificent children, and a loving, respectful friendship with their mother. I had a handful of close friends and family. In short, I realized that I had everything that mattered.

At that very instant, there was a colourful explosion directly above me. It was so spectacular that I recognized it right away as fireworks. But fireworks as seen from the inside of a 360 degree mirrored bubble, as my eyes were perfectly positioned to take in the reflection simultaneously.

I would later discover that a family had brought their leftover Canada Day pyrotechnics to the beach for a midsummer treat, but for now I didn't worry about where this show came from. Instead, I remained acutely aware of what a unique and magical opportunity I was experiencing, as burst after cascading burst enveloped me in a kaleidoscope of colour.

By being absolutely present, the few minutes felt like a lifetime - a lifetime during which I renewed my gratitude for everything I'd ever had and would ever have again. And for this miraculous moment that could never have happened had my life not unfolded exactly as it did.

Once the last rocket had burst in the midnight sky, I stood up in the waist deep water and walked in to shore. The family, gathering their blankets to head home, was startled to see me, as they had no idea I had been directly beneath the falling embers. As they started to apologize, I cut them off with a heartfelt "thank you" and explained how it had been an incomparably beautiful show, the likes of which would almost certainly never be repeated.

Today, four years later, my life is completely different again, filled with opportunity and travel and adventure and love. I am closer than ever with my children, and still best of friends with my erst-while wife (who has built a magnificent world of her own with a beautiful log home, a dream job, a small business, and a fantastic boyfriend).

With a blossoming (and perfectly portable) new career, I have replaced very little of my material possessions, choosing instead to travel light and remain ever available for whatever serendipitous satisfactions life brings my way. 

Because there is always a miracle hovering, whatever the circumstances. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way to see it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How do I want to spend my last 45 seconds?

I received a Facebook message a few minutes ago, thanking me for some advice I had shared a couple of months back. It closed with the question...
  • By the way, I remember you once posted that you never have a bad day. You might have a bad moment but you never let it ruin your day or even your hour. What is your secret?!
My reply was simply,

  • Johnny Waite

    You are most welcome brother.
    My "secret" is pretty simple. I try to take nothing for granted. If I can be grateful for every little thing, then when the occasional "bad" thing happens I am well aware that it is the exception. And when I have a bad minute, it is a bad minute and I let it go. Not very many actual events last all day, so THEY are not what makes our day bad - WE do, by rehashing them again and again. Car accident - split second. If you are alive, then you can start being grateful. Bad news in the mail - momentary. Etc. Even if something does actually ruin a day or a week or a month, it is still entirely our choice as to when we are going to shift our focus to all of the things we can still choose to be happy about. Even "the big stuff" is not exempt. Cancer - 90% of your time is NOT consumed by chemo and radiation, etc. So enjoy it. And it is likely even more valuable as you suddenly do not have "infinite" time left (you never did, but fooled yourself). I have said to my kids that if I am ever going down during one of my many flights they should know that I had a huge smile on my face because "why the fuck would I choose to spend my last 45 seconds sad and scared when I know full well they are probably my last 45 seconds??!!"
    Hmmm, that may just be a cut and paste blog post 

I do realize that I am fortunate to operate this way, and I have come to see where this sort of advice can actually come off as very glib. But all I can do is share my experience and what works for me. If you are not in a place where you feel it is applicable, then I still send you love and good energy in dealing with whatever is on your plate. And if someday it resonates better, then I hope it is still wedged in the back of your mind somewhere.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

a small silver circle

So, I got my nose pierced on Friday.

Why? Because I have always wanted to. I really like the look of a small silver hoop, and decided to get one.

I had always resisted this impulse before, because I saw where it could be an impediment for me - as a Realtor, during my brief foray into politics, etc. But now my life is set up in a way that I can't imagine it really mattering at all - coaching (I don't see any of my current clients caring, and actually view it as a good filter to make sure I am working with people with more to worry about than that), race management (non-issue), speaking (the audiences I am addressing would not mind, and I can always take it out for events where it could have a negative impact). Even officiating weddings - most of the couples who use me do so because I am different. And, again, it can always come out.

Back to Friday - I was driving home to Orillia from watching Katy's soccer tournament in Alliston, and I just decided to head right past town and continue up to Gravenhurst. There, a small piercing shop called Triple Sick Skin advertises "any piercing $20". I had been there with Katy and her cousins when they got their noses and belly-buttons pierced. I walked in, was taken straight to the back, pierced, paid and was back on the road in 10 minutes.

And I loved it. It looked exactly as I expected.

My next stop was meeting in person with a coaching client. We had a great conversation and the nose ring never came up. After that, it was to Kahuna Surf Shop to watch a skateboard movie with Jack. As soon as Jack arrived he said, "Did you get your nose pierced?" When I answered, "Yep", he added "Seriously??!". And then he shrugged.

Much to my surprise, my daughter was a different story altogether. She joined us after her dinner with a friend at Brewery Bay. Noticing right away, she immediately expressed her displeasure. Quickly, she worked herself into a bit of a fit, finally asking me for the car keys so she could wait for us there (taking her tattoo and multiple piercings with her). This caught me rather off guard. I expected my parents to be marginally upset, but I have lots of practice in dealing with that over the years. Katy's reaction, though, left me unsure of what to do next. When I dropped her at her Mum's we agreed to discuss it later and I promised to remove the nose ring if it still bothered her.

Saturday was a busy day - I was in Toronto for a morning funeral. I sat beside a prominent city lawyer and we had a great conversation about the deceased, about the church, and about my godfather who, it turned out, had been recruited many years ago by this very lawyer to work in his firm. Nose ring = non-issue. Then went for a trail run with my friend Paul. Nose ring not even mentioned. Then two Hot Docs screenings, where I fit right in, and a dinner conversation with the publicist for the films. Again, it never came up.

Jump forward to Sunday. I picked up Katy and Jack to take them to Canada's Wonderland for the day. Katy was over the initial meltdown, but immediately commented, "I see you still have the nose ring." I replied that we hadn't had our discussion about it yet, and reiterated that I would remove it if she still wanted me to. We had a fun day, and I dropped the kids back to their Mum's for dinner. I then went to a friend's to lead a guided visualization. She asked "Have you always had a nose ring?" I answered that it was new, and she commented that it looked good.

Monday, I picked Katy up from school and took her to Mariposa Market for a conversation. We talked about the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl. I noticed how very much she was no longer a kid. She is almost 5'8" tall, very poised, and speaks very well. We talked about existential things - "what IT all means". We talked about her goals for university after next year (despite my urging her to drop out and be a surf bum, her 90+ average will likely lead to scholarships and a bright future in higher education). I was reminded, yet again, why Karen and I are both so proud of our kids.

I asked what it was that upset her so much about my nose ring. She said that it was ridiculous. That it is not something that a 45 year old man should do. That she will be embarrassed in front of her friends.

I was about to launch into my justification that we should not let other people's prejudices and "hang-ups" impact what we do. That you should do what makes you happy as long as it does not hurt anyone else. That this is just a small silver circle that doesn't mean anything. That this is a great opportunity to demonstrate to her what it means to really just be yourself.

Then, in a blink, I realized that there was a far bigger opportunity for me here. The opportunity to demonstrate to my daughter that her opinion does matter to me. That if this small silver circle really doesn't mean anything, honouring her feelings and concerns does.

So, as soon as I got home, it came out. And, when I woke up this morning, the hole had already healed over.

I am very glad that I got my nose pierced on Friday. Just not for the reasons I had expected to be.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why not just forget that you can't?

(This is a note to myself that I just found. I wrote it on a plane from Denver to Durango last October, en route to run across the Grand Canyon and back - an incredible experience about which I still have not really written. Anyway, here is what I had jotted down to share - better late than never...)

I was reflecting today on some of the things that I "knew" a few years ago that I wasn't "good at".

I knew I was not a runner.
I knew I was not a photographer.
I knew I was not a blogger.

I guess that how I "knew" these things is that I didn't do them, and that was proof enough for me that I "couldn't".

Fortunately, somewhere along the way I forgot that, and started to run anyway, and post pictures to Instagram anyway and write a blog anyway.

And it turns out I CAN run, not particularly fast but really, really far.

And I love so many of the pictures I snap. Not with any fancy equipment, but often I see something that grabs my eye and pull out my phone to capture it.

And my blog posts have been read 42,000 times and counting (and I really enjoy writing them).

So, apparently, the only thing stopping me from doing all of these things was my belief that I could not do them, which came solely from my not having done them.

Do you see that same insane loop anywhere in your life?

Is there something you wish you could do but "know" you can't?

Maybe you even tried ONCE and weren't "good" at it. Surprise, surprise!

Maybe (actually, definitely!) the secret is to do it anyway.

Don't take it all so seriously.

Have fun being "bad" at it and keep on keepin' on.

Do it for the sheer love of doing it, and you will find that, inevitably, you will start getting better at it too.

Hopefully, you STILL won't take it all too seriously, because I believe THAT is where the real magic lies - in becoming good at something that you would do even if you were bad at it :)

What are the things I still "know" I am bad at?
Playing musical instruments.
Maintaining a website.
Managing my money wisely.

Maybe it is time I give up those "beliefs", and simply start doing them as well.

This is just me rambling as I fly from Dallas to Durango (well, the pilot is flying - I am just passenging).

Hopefully, if you've bothered to read this far (and I forgive you if you haven't, though, of course, you won't know that - haha), you will have looked at places in your life where you can let go of some "can'ts" and get doing it anyway.


*** Just for fun, here is a great 4 minute video that a friend put together for me, without even being asked, from pics and clips I had posted on Facebook.

Thanks again Mark Beers! (His email is included at the end of the video, if you'd like him to create something for you.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thank You, Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult

Last month, while in Australia, I received a message from my great friend Kevin Lowe.

It simply said...
Johnny, I think you will love Cloud Cult. I've been listening for only 24 hours and I'm hooked. I think you will agree with this view. He has his own take on the first law of thermodynamics.
"Basically, what it says is that energy cannot be destroyed; it can only be transformed....So any kind of energy that you put out there never goes away."
Then he tagged me in a post that included a link to this astonishing NPR interview with Cloud Cult's frontman, Craig Minowa. Please take the 4 minutes to listen to the interview, but here is something that took my breath away...
The songs Minowa writes for his band can have the feel and hushed tones of a lullaby, and the emotion comes from a tragedy that's all too real. One night back in 2002, Minowa and his wife put their 2-year-old son, Kaidin, to bed. Their beloved boy did not wake up. Doctors could not explain why Kaidin died in his sleep, leaving Minowa to channel all that sadness and uncertainty into his work.
Gulp. Trust me, click >here<, listen to the interview and read the article. You will be moved and inspired.

Further down there was a link to preview the new album, LOVE, in its entirety, along with this description...
"This album really looks at all the different aspects of the self that need to be healed up in order to facilitate the process of stepping aside and allowing love to speak for our life rather than our wounds," lead singer Craig Minowa says.
Well, I downloaded LOVE. And I, too, am completely hooked. I listen to a TON of music, across all genres, and never before has a band "spoken to me" like Cloud Cult. Song after song after song REALLY MATTERS. LOVE is full of powerful lyrics, challenging you the listener, very personally to step up and truly live. Titles like "You're The Only Thing In Your Way' and "The Show Starts Now" are undisguised calls to action, but "It's Your Decision", "1x1x1" and "The Calling" pack just as powerful a motivational punch. And there are still reminders of Minowa's own challenges, like "Catharsis".

After listening to LOVE, all the way through, every day for a few weeks, I decided I had better download the rest of their catalog. It is less consistent, but there are myriad gems and I am still discovering ones I had missed earlier. On my 15 hr drive this week from Orillia, Ontario to Avon, NC, I just hit "Shuffle All" and was treated to a marathon of simultaneous entertainment and enlightenment, including; "You'll Be Bright", "Blessings" and "A Good God". But, truthfully, I could pretty much just list every single song on every album.

So, instead, after a HUGE THANK YOU TO KEVIN LOWE (I really love you, brother. You are an awesome force for good in this world and make a difference in lives a'plenty!), I am going to include a handful of YouTube videos for the rest of you to enjoy (with a link for lyrics beside each title).


And LOVE :)

And, click HERE to buy their music <3

(and if you really want to geek out like me, here is a link to the trailer for the upcoming Cloud Cult documentary, "No One Said It Would Be Easy"! Soooo great!!)

You're The Only Thing In Your Way (LYRICS)

Good Friend (LYRICS)

My Little Sunshine - Warning: Major Tearjerker!!

The Show Starts Now (LYRICS)

It's Your Decision (LYRICS)

There's So Much Energy In Us - Live (LYRICS)

When Water Comes To Life (LYRICS) - Keep the Kleenex out for this one!

1x1x1 (LYRICS)

It Takes A Lot (LYRICS)

You'll Be Bright (LYRICS)

The Calling (LYRICS)

And, if you are still here, I am sure you will be surfing your way to all the rest :)

The Usual Measurements

“If we are going to do anything significant with life, we sometimes have to move away from it - beyond the usual measurements. We must occasionally follow visions and dreams.”

     ~Bede Jarrett (1881-1937)

This morning, I posted that quotation to my Facebook page. I had received it in an email from Foundation For A Better Life, one of several sources I have set up to automatically "fill my bucket" every day. (You can subscribe >here< for their "Today's Quote" email - some will resonate more than others but I find they are usually spot on for me)

When sharing ideas like that, I always enjoy seeing the "likes" from people, letting me know that they appreciate, and will perhaps apply, the energy for which I have been a conduit.

About an hour after I posted the quotation, I received this message from a friend...
"Hey johnny..just read your second latest quotes on" usual measurements".. what exactly defines usual measurements? Is that the conformity of what society expects you do? The reason why I ask is cuz through my 20s, and into my early 30s I tried to what the quote is suggested by following a vision and dream. But know I find myself losing that vision for sense of following the idea of usual measurements. So is the quote suggesting not to follow some type of social conformity or is a sense of usual measurements whatever you want it to be? Or can "usual measurements" overlap with dreams and vision? Sorry I know I'm looking to deep into it, it is only cuz I'm trying to relate it to myself..."
And I know that he is actually voicing the challenge faced by many people ... "I tried to follow my dreams, but that didn't work out! Now what??"

I replied...
"You are understanding it exactly. Sometimes you have to step out of the usual societal norms and listen to your intuition. The trick is that you will still get whatever you get. I feel that you are always comparing how things are to how you wish they were. That is a trap. Find the best in how things are. Always. Then strive for whatever you want, but don't attach your happiness to a specific outcome. Be happy anyways. Always."
People often argue with that last part - Be happy anyways. Always. - saying, "Sounds great, but that is so hard to do!" And they are 100% correct, as long as they choose to continue believing that. Or, they could just "dive in" and honestly try being happy. Anyways. Always.

When I was living in my pickup truck through much of 2009 and bits of 2010, a friend said...
"Johnny, you cannot honestly tell me you are happy right now. You lost all of your money, your house, your marriage. You are living in your truck, bartending for a tiny fraction of the income you are used to. I appreciate the brave face, but you must be terribly unhappy about everything!" 
Without thinking, I answered... 
"See, that is just it! I am already broke, homeless and alone. Why the fuck would I want to add "unhappy" to that list???"
And I meant it! I WAS happy. I had a roof over my head - albeit a fiberglass one covering an air mattress in the bed of my truck. I had a job - working with good, fun, kind people who were also getting by just fine on a fraction of what I was used to making. And I still had a great relationship with my erstwhile-wife, Karen, thanks to extraordinary efforts by both of us, and a refusal to buy into the societally-prescribed marital-combatants role.

I often reflected (and still do) on this wonderful thought, from Anthony De Mello, that I read many years ago, and have always kept top of mind...
"There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because you're thinking or focusing on what you don't have. Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss. You're focusing on what you don't have. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss."
Every single day you wake up with much more right with you than wrong. You can breathe. You can probably see, and even if you can't that is only one thing you have lost, not everything. Any time I forget this, I read the spectacular essay "Glory In The Highest" by Rob Brezsny (in fact, I read it regularly anyway, so I tend to not forget!). I highly recommend you click >Glory In The Highest< and read the whole thing, but here is his conclusion ...
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. 
The funny thing is that, as straightforward an idea as that is, so many people have trouble accepting and embracing it. We are taught from birth to focus on what we don't have. To make our happiness conditional on having or doing something. To constantly pine and strive and wish. As poisonous as anything are our lottery ads. Canada' national 6-49 lottery tells us to "imagine the freedom".

If only I won the lottery, then I could be that happy and experience freedom. Bullshit! Your happiness and freedom would last for about a day, until a whole new set of problems set in. 

Do you want freedom? Then take responsibility for your life. Literally, practice your ABILITY to choose your RESPONSE. In Victor Frankl's incredible book "Man's Search For Meaning" (read this book!!), he explains where true freedom lies. And  he wasn't dealing with burnt toast or lottery jackpots missed by a few numbers. He was a holocaust survivor. An accomplished psychiatrist who went from a comfortable life to a concentration camp where he witnessed death and horrors every day. While in Auschwitz, his wife, mother and brother were all murdered. Still, he concluded...
"Between the stimulus and response, there is a space, and in that space is your power and your freedom."
You can choose your response to absolutely anything that happens in your life. And here is the crucial bit - once it has happened, it has happened. Period. You cannot change it. So, why CHOOSE to be miserable? Why choose to waste your energy wishing it were different? All of your power and all of your freedom comes from choosing to respond powerfully and positively to every thing that happens.

Why does this seem impossible to most people? Because we have been taught to believe wholeheartedly in things that simply are not true.

Literally while typing this post, I received and read an email from the beautiful blog "Mark and Angel Hack Life". In today's offering they described "Ten Lies You Were Tricked into Believing". These include; Happiness comes when you have everything you want. Life is supposed to be a certain way. You are supposed to be a certain way. Dreaming is a waste of time. I could chalk it up as a coincidence that this was what they had for me today, but it fits way to perfectly with my message. Thank you Marc and Angel and THANK YOU UNIVERSE.

So, back to the top ... 
“If we are going to do anything significant with life, we sometimes have to move away from it- beyond the usual measurements. We must occasionally follow visions and dreams.”
What is significant? WHAT YOU DECIDE IS SIGNIFICANT!! And, if it falls within the "usual measurements", well, then carry on. And if it does not (and I am guessing that, if you've read this far, this means you), or the path to get there is not obvious in the traditional channels, grab on to those dreams and visions, YOUR dreams and visions, stop believing the lies you've been told and START LIVING on YOUR terms. 

Which is easy to do, once you embrace that you already have everything that you need. Soak in that realization. Be blissful. Then, and only then, anything becomes possible.

Friday, April 5, 2013


What is wrong with you?

Why would you click on that?

And yet we do. We constantly get sucked into voluntarily consuming bad news, horrible images.

I told you it was GUARANTEED to RUIN YOUR DAY and you CLICKED on it!!!

Stop doing that. Seriously.

As long as you are here, though, here is the exact opposite of what you were looking for...

You are welcome.

And I love you :)

Alan What???


Watch this ...

Then, once a day, listen to a different one of his lectures (or excerpts thereof). YouTube is a bottomless barrel of Alan Watts wisdom. You can find 1 minute or 3 hours. And they are ALL worthwhile.

I believe he actually has it all figured out - and is able to explain it in a way that makes sense to the rest of us.

I am very grateful for that.

Monday, April 1, 2013

An Unnerving Stranger

I often find, in my coaching and in my conversations, that a common thread will establish itself for a day or two (or week or two). Recently, it has been a discussion of our unhealthy dependence on external validation. In that vein, this passage from Sogyal Rinpoche's "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" has struck a chord with me tonight.

“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?

Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?” 

He has also been quoted as saying,

“...when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.” 

I actually really get that, and like to think that I am moving closer to that state every day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I guess I am NOT "that guy" ...

When I first started blogging, I thought "I hope I don't turn into 'that guy' who posts every little thing I do as though the world will find me as fascinating as I find myself!" (Besides, that is what FACEBOOK is for, right? Haha!)

There have been times when my posts have been more frequent than others, but I have found, especially recently, that making time to write has been the biggest challenge.

Yesterday, as I stood at the top of a volcano in Nicaragua, I thought "I really need to blog about this". There was the 4:45am start (in the dark, of course). My awesome guide who spoke as much English as I speak Spanish (meaning zero). The ridiculous climb. The thick cloud and 30mph winds at the top. The random livestock roaming all over the lower half of the steep pitch. The howler monkeys as we came back through the jungle.

I've had the same "gotta blog" thought about so many other things here on Ometepe. The beautiful people. The extraordinarily simple way of life - truly like going back in time (but with WiFi). The magic that is The Cornerhouse B&B Restaurant and Coffee Shop.

But there is a bit of a backlog right now. Here is an incomplete, but indicative, list of some things about which I have NOT blogged "yet".

  • Failing to Complete the 2012 Spartan Death Race
  • WINNING the inaugural Team Death Race with Ray Morvan, Don Devaney and Dave French
  • Running across the Grand Canyon and back (Rim To Rim To Rim)
  • Speaking as the kickoff for Queen's Universities acclaimed annual QLEAD conference
  • Visiting a friend in the hospital in New Hampshire then climbing a mountain in VT to watch a meteor shower (THAT was a pretty great day!!)
  • Being hired by Spartan Race as International Quality Control Manager (meaning I am paid to travel around the world, working with incredible people organizing epic races)
  • Receiving a standing ovation for my 1-hour address at Mike Dooley's Train The Trainer "Infinite Possibilities" workshop (and a lifechanging tangent that opportunity has since taken me on), and being asked to organize an imromptu group workshop in self-hypnosis the following morning.
  • My own epic meltdown simply volunteering at Winter Death Race
  • and LOTS of other things along the way..
And it doesn't matter, of course, whether or not I write about these things. Except that it kind of does, because I have great friends who actually care what happens on these adventures. Including the ones there with me (like my teammates in TDR, to whom I have promised a post entitled "Don Is Awesome, Ray Pisses A LOT, and Dave's Ass Must Hurt SO Much") who look forward to hearing our tale recounted.

Frankly, it may be a while still until I get back into a writing groove. I am pecking this out as I wait for my ferry from Moyogalpa to San Jorge (to then take a cab to Rivas and a bus to San Juan Del Sur in time to watch the sun set while I swim in the Pacific Ocean). Tomorrow I fly to Mexico City for 4 days (to help prepare for Mexico's inaugural Spartan Race). Then back to Nicaragua to race in Fuego Y Agua Survival Run on Ometepe. Then 2 days surfing in Costa Rica before a weekend back in Canada with my amazing kids before flying to Australia for 3+ weeks to launch Spartan Race downunder (and catch the Future Music Festival while I am there). Then a few days much-anticipated layover in Los Angeles on my way home (yep, the end of March by then), arriving back in Orillia just in time for my Mum's always awesome Easter dinner!

And then the REAL adventures start :)

(Sincerely, if you DO read this and ARE somehow interested in what I am
up to between my sporadic posts, feel free to add me to Facebook, with a
message letting me know you've come from Living Myself To Death.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hanging Out with The Universe this Weekend!

It has taken huge news to drag me from my blogging slump... 

Somehow I did NOT post after winning the Team Death Race in September, nor after my 4th Toronto Waterfront Marathon finish in October, nor after running across the Grand Canyon and back (R2R2R) in November, nor giving the kickoff keynote at Queen's University's QLEAD conference. All of those events were way beyond "post-worthy" (and will each get proper treatment "soon"), and yet I have never paused to reflect and recount - instead, just putting my head down and pressing merrily along into the next adventure each time.

This, though, is bubbling to the top. Mainly because it is an awesome example of how anything can happen, and how it is always best to say YES to The Universe, and to be open to awesome opportunities and everyday magic.


Seattle, Washington, January 10th–13th, 2013 - 3 DAY CONFERENCE

Mike Dooley is a New York Times Bestselling author, world-renowned speaker, featured teacher in The Secret and the creator of Notes From The Universe, the daily email wisdom-bombs received by half a million people in 185 countries (sign up here NOW). I have been receiving his Notes From The Universe for years, ever since seeing The Secret in 2004.

So, how in the world did I end up being hired as the speaker for HIS conference?? Well, that is a great question and a great story!

Back in the Spring, my good friend Ginny Bogaert saw Mike present his "Playing The Matrix and Getting What You Really Want" seminar in, Pittsburgh, PA. She came back raving about the experience and told me about his "Infinite Possibilities Train The Trainer Conference" coming up in June in Orlando. I remember thinking "That is definitely something I should do!" Then life got busy, I was preparing for my return to Pittsfield, VT for my third Spartan Death Race (having finished Summer 2011 and Winter 2012), and I forgot all about Train The Trainer. I cannot remember what put it back on my radar - probably an email reminder from Mike's organization - but suddenly it was front and center again.

I really, really wanted to go, but did not see how it was possible. I had already taken a lot of time away from work to coach youth wrestling (including Nationals in Prince Edward Island), had no money (I mean none - if I posted a screenshot of my bank account from then the predominant colour would be red), and had the most difficult race of my life coming up less than a week later. So, I made the decision to not attend.

And somehow I still felt compelled to go ...

So, I wrote THIS BLOG POST (Please read it - it is critical to this story!)

And then THIS happened (Yes, please read it too!!)

So, after that miracle, I attended the event and it was amazing! Three days of awesomeness.

I met Mike and told him the story of how I ended up attending (if you are wondering "What story??", then you did not read the linked posts above. So here they are again ... #1 and #2). Mike is everything I expected and more. Dynamic, motivating and absolutely exuding infinite possibility!

I met Frank Frerrante, last year's dinner speaker and star of "May I Be Frank" (the very movie that launched Elevate Orillia Uplifting Film Series!!). Frank is an incredible human being, so full of love and joy and energy and passion. It would have been worth the whole trip just to see Frank speak, and I did not even know he was going to be there when I booked! I strongly encourage you to buy his movie, watch it share it with friends and family. You will be healthier for it, happier, and simply an all around better human being.

And I met Regena Schwarz Garrepy, the event co-ordinator and founder of The Bye Bye Good Girl Movement. Regena is an absolute force of nature, and we became good friends, staying in touch through Facebook and coaching one another via Skype. Eventually, Regena was instrumental in my selection as speaker.

I came away from the weekend a Certified Infinite Possibilities Trainer, and have since taken many people through the program, including; several of the wonderful friends who made June's trip possible, and teens and twenty-somethings at the Orillia Youth Center. Further, the work has significantly impacted my personal coaching, my hypnosis practice, my presentation style and even my own day to day way of being. While it was already very much in line with who I am in the world, it crystallized many things that I did not previously have the words to describe.

Since June, I have stayed in touch with Mike, Regena, Frank (as well as Ginny - who got this whole ball rolling - and Debb, another wonderful friend I made in the Buffalo airport on our way to Orlando)., keeping them apprised of my work with the program. Along the way, Regena also noticed my posts about speaking engagements - at schools, universities, the Ontario Provincial Police, Tim Horton's HQ, etc - as well as my unique racing experiences.

So, a couple of months ago, I received a call from Regena asking me if I would be interested in flying to Seattle "in the New Year" to speak at Mike's next Train The Trainer conference - "on the topic of embodying Infinite Possibility in your day to day life".

I said that I would, and she said "Leave that with me. I will see how things shape up and get back to you." Then, on December 17th, I received my official invitation, which I gladly accepted.

And here I am in Seattle. Hanging out with "The Universe" himself (ok, the man who generates the Notes From The Universe), and his remarkable team - an extraordinarily engaged, inspiring bunch. Pretty cool, considering I didn't think I could attend back in June (not to mention that I was sleeping in my truck just two Junes before that).

So, I am just about to head down for the Opening Evening social. There are some brief comments from Mike and a lot of mingling, ice-breaker conversations. Then tomorrow morning is curriculum, with my speech slotted Saturday afternoon. It will be one hour, sharing personal insights from my riches-to-rags-to-adventures life of the past several years, and I hope to be able to upload that video for you to see soon :)

Alright, here we go!!!!!