The Process Is Served…

I eat out frequently. When I select a restaurant, I almost always do so with the belief that I’m going to get a quality meal, made from quality ingredients, and served to me by gracious people.

I have trust in that restaurant.

Never, and I mean NEVER, do I go back into the kitchen after I have placed my order, and watch every detail of how my meal is prepared and plated. Nor do I go into the kitchen and take inventory of all the people who touch the dishes, the utensils, and the ingredients which will form my meal.

True, they might be doing a horrible job preparing my meal, it might get screwed up, and there may be great arguments and conflict between those preparing my meal about how to assemble it.  However, there’s a system in place to ensure  that my meal arrives to me in a way that is consistent with me ordering it.  I don’t want to know what nonsense took place between those who prepared it.

I simply sit at my table with an absolute faith that, despite all that can go wrong in the preparation of my meal, that it’s going to come out to me on time, and it’s going to possess the quality I expect.

And it almost always does…

And while I’m waiting for my meal, I’m not  wasting a moment thinking about the preparation of it. I don’t sit at the table, stressed out, worrying – – hoping that everything is going to be okay, and that all involved are doing their job. I don’t await my meal with doubt, anticipate it with fear, and I don’t dissect the process in my head — mulling over all that might possibly go wrong in its preparation. I just enjoy a good conversation with a friend, or a little downtime on my own, but anticipating my meal is never something I pull my hair out over.

And as odd as this sounds, I feel that way about the political process in America. I don’t feel I need to watch every detail of how it is prepared. Nor do I take an active inventory of all the hands that are touching it all day long. I simply await the process, with an absolute faith that the end result is going to be satisfying.

I’m guessing that at least some, if not a majority of people who just read that, think I’m a fool. Perhaps, but I have trust in the process, and faith in the system. Though I have gotten a bad meal from my government on occasion, more often than not I approve, and rarely am I disappointed with the justice it serves.

Besides, I have many things and much to do, all day long, which require my attention, if not my stress and my worries. Life is short, or so I’m told. Today I will let the cooks of justice do their job, as I expect the people who come to me for my cooking, will trust me to do my job — without them digging into the details  of how I make it happen … Jhciacb

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From Out Of The Fog…

I’m feeling a little more fitnessey these days. I had kind of checked out there for a while, despite that fitness is both my passion and my livelihood.

Approaching last year’s presidential election, and certainly in the months afterward, the mood of the nation changed. As our national depressive episode unfolded, I began to identify and to contemplate the things that matter most to me. And as much, I began discarding the things that were a lesser priority in my day-to-day life.

As odd as this may sound, through this self-exploration, I found the ideal of fitness; things like lunges, the best salads, and reaching a certain heart rate a few times per week, were a lower priority in my life than how I should be conducting myself as a citizen. And not just for me either, but for my clients.

As national monuments began being swallowed up or downgraded, as verbiage, finger-pointing, hatred, and ignorance manifest between politicians and constituents in equal portion and on both sides, and as I began to identify as much decay as growth in many of our social structures, the idea of fitness as a priority for anyone took on a tone for me that I can only refer to as petty.

More recently though, I’ve been reconnecting with the ideal of fitness, far beyond the light of beast-mode, PRs, being bad-ass, or doing sinister justice to a pair of jeans. It is an ancient ideal that I have been connected with since childhood, and now maybe the time when I need to be connected with it most:

Fitness, the quest for a greater physicality and increased abilities, is a responsibility. And yes, I genuinely believe that.

That ancient ideal is that families, businesses, communities, and larger societies all operate better and more efficiently when the individuals within them can operate and function at a higher level, with greater independence, and become less susceptible to the illnesses and injuries that might disrupt our contribution to those social structures.

And the basic tenants of that ancient ideal are these…

– Indulge a little less

– Eat a little better

– Move a little bit more

I can’t imagine why this is so hard for so many people, yet it is. And yes, I believe the inability to connect with these three simple bullet points is a part of the problem… Jhciacb

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Road Transitions…

I have written down nearly every workout I’ve taken for 43 years. Every weight lifted, every repetition performed, and every set completed has been documented in handheld spiral notebooks since I was a kid.

A pen to spiral binder is a crude form of data collection, but it’s information nonetheless. Information to be studied. Information to be drawn from. Information to be used to make future decisions in pursuit of ongoing improvement.

After all these years though, I know how much I should be squatting with on a given night, or how much weight I should load on the bar for some skull-crushers. The putting the pen to paper at this point, is about more than gathering information. Above all things, it is about ritual, and for me, it is a sacred ritual at that.

This documenting of my actions with these crude tools, helps connect me to what I’m doing — to my purpose in the gym. It’s a necessary part of the workout, and a necessary part of my spirituality. In one sense, I’m writing down my actions and storing information for later use. In another sense though, I’m taking inventory of my beliefs.

By etching these letters and numbers which have accounted for so much of my life, I am in a sense, taking sacrament at the altar. It is this dogmatic process which transcends the workout itself, taking it to a much more spiritual level. That means much more to me than the gathering of information to be used later.

Another part of that ritual, is to close one spiral binder after several months, and begin another, which I did last night. Another mile-marker along the never ending road that I’ve been on since I was 13-years old, and I will follow so long as I am alive.

I don’t know where this road is taking me, and I don’t know when it will end, but I have enjoyed, and I have found great meaning in documenting the journey…. Jhciacb

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One Billion Friends…

Facebook claims to have over one billion users. Every so often I have this thought:

If I asked each of my 300+ Facebook friends to send and accept friend requests to one-another, and also asked if they would make the same request with all their friends and so-on, and if all users were compliant, eventually one billion people would be interconnected.

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Of course, if this did happen, scrolling through status updates over coffee each morning would take a bit longer.

When I think about this more seriously though, I can’t help but wonder if social media isn’t an evolutionary step toward that universal oneness – a global consciousness in process, which is the direction I believe we are all ultimately headed in anyway.

I don’t mean that in a trite way.

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Of course, I don’t truly expect to have a billion social media friends anytime soon, or to know what one billion people are thinking at any one time. I have a hard enough time coping with 300 opinions, let alone a billion.

I do think on some level though, that a digital imprint — a collection of all our thoughts is manifesting via social media, and is an actual step toward that universal oneness.

Global consciousness, coming to a server near you… Jchiacb

#siliconeternity

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Unfinished Business…

I think that most aging athletes are little balls of unfinished business. I am, anyway. I always feel like there’s a little more to be done — that there is no endpoint. Death, perhaps.

I stepped into the weight room for the first time nearly 43 years ago. Although there have been some workouts skipped, a few weeks taken off here and there to rest, and a couple years missed after s skydiving accident in 1993 when I could not work out at all, I have stepped into the weight room nearly 13,500 times.

Do anything 13,500 times, and you’re bound to struggle with motivation on occasion. I’m going through a very unmotivated phase these days. I’ve been unmotivated before, so I know it will pass, but this one seems to be lingering — to the point where it has me questioning why I am still doing this after 43 years…? It takes less than a minute each evening, as I step into my weight room, for the lyrics of the Eagles song, After The Thrill Is Gone, to start doing gymnastics in my head…

“You don’t like winning, but you don’t want to lose, after the thrill is gone…”

As recently as August, I was enjoying a motivated uptick with my training. I had been training hard, and messing with my diet too. My physique was filling out a little bit, and I had been getting a little leaner. Though I had no aspirations to step on a bodybuilding stage anytime soon, I always feel like I’m six weeks away from being in the best shape of my life. And in the summer of 2017, I felt like I was approaching the best shape of my life, yet again.

Then, on August 2nd, I came off my bike at nearly 25 mph. I suffered one small fracture in my upper left temple, another one on my left jaw, and the third one on my left collarbone. Despite these, I only missed a half-dozen or so workouts, and I was on my bike again within a week. But the workouts were more stressful than meditative, due to the negotiations between any kind of movement at all, and the pain in my collarbone.

The wave of momentum I was riding prior to my accident disappeared beneath my feet. I haven’t seen it since. Though I have stepped into the weight room approximately 120 times since my accident in August, my workouts have been less than inspired. I don’t like winning, but I don’t want to lose…

My eating…? I feel more like the late comedian, John Pinette, than an athlete making a personal comeback. Still, I keep stepping back into the weight room at night, and getting on my bike each morning, for that feeling of unfinished business…

Certain things you retire from, recreational bodybuilding — fitness, whatever you want to call it, has no end point. So long as I am living, it will be a work in progress – – unfinished business.

So I will ride out this wave of unmotivation, in hopes I get my mojo back. Motivation lacks, but I have unfinished business. Same dances in them same old shoes… Jhciacb

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More Quality Time…

It might sound strange to suggest, but I think I need more quality time – – with television.

Let me restate that…

I think I should be watching TV more, and in a better way.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, my father used every bargaining chip he could to curb my obsessive TV watching. He took it away from me at every opportunity — when I screwed up, talked back, or failed to make grades. He tried requiring me to spend one hour out of doors for every hour of television I watched. He even tried using a demerit system to correlate good behavior around the house with increased opportunities to watch my favorite shows. My father was constantly looking for ways to keep “the idiot box” from corroding my mind.

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In some ways, I think he was successful. Despite my relentless addiction to television, I did spend a great deal of the time outdoors in order to earn my TV time. I was also more receptive to household chores, and to saying please and thank you in order to purchase TV time.

Like many baby boomers, television has been both a positive in my life, and a negative. For better or for worse, TV has been an undeniable presence and influence in my life, regardless of which direction that needle was pointing at any one time — positive or negative.

In my post-divorce life, I had fallen more inline with my father’s opinion of television in his post-divorce. That is, I began to see television a legitimate social cancer, slowly dumbing down the human species, one episode of anything at a time. Always a walking contradiction, at the time I came to the conclusion that television was cancer, I owned 4 of them.

One morning in 2005, while getting ready for work and hustling from room to room with all my TVs going at once so I wouldn’t miss a moment of SportsCenter, I saw the ridiculousness of it all. I immediately stopped what I was doing and placed all 4 televisions on the sidewalk in front of my house. They were gone within an hour.

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In the 13 years since that morning, I have not owned a television, though I have lived in places or with people where TV was present. In those situations, I have watched them minimally, including my current situation where my mother has large TV in the living room we share.

I often click the TV on when I’m in the room, just to create some background noise, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. In instances of the occasional mass shooting or natural disaster, I might pay a little more attention, and watch for longer periods to ensure I’m ‘well informed’.

There’s no television program though, nor has there been for years, that I watch with any regularity, other than the Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy. Those, I watch alongside my mother each evening, as I keep her company and make small talk. I wouldn’t trade that TV watching experience for anything. I have no recent memory though, of watching any TV show or movie from beginning to end, without being otherwise interrupted or distracted by something seemingly more important at the time.

Let’s tell the truth: in this era, if you own a phone or laptop, you own a very small and portable TV. In that sense, for last 13 years, what has really changed is the size of my television, not the absence of one. And in the internet era, I have been able to manipulate and select my viewing choices, and have had more ownership with them.

However, the Internet has also provided something else; multiple rapidfire distractions in the form of smartphones and social media. Like many, most days the internet has me bouncing off the walls like a gibbon on crack. What little TV I do watch, on that 40-inch screen in my living room, is frequently interrupted by the 7-inch screen in my hand, or the 17-inch screen on my lap.

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In the pre-Internet days, it would not be unusual for me to spend three hours watching a movie – – One Eyed Jacks, for example, staring Marlon Brando. For all the nonsense and ridiculousness of the downside of television, the upside of TV has always been that it could take me to another place and another time, during which I would sit still and forget all things. TV was the beautiful distraction that kept me from other less beautiful distractions.

Now though, with the different ways we can watch TV due to the internet, and with all the distractions and interruptions that smartphones, laptops, and social media offer, the idea of spending three hours watching Dances With Wolves, uninterrupted seems prohibitive, if not impossible. In hindsight, gazing at a three hour movie almost seems like meditation compared to the chaotic media life I live today…

I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a movie which took me to another place and another time for several hours, where I was not distracted by notifications from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while also watching short video clips via YouTube.

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Yes, I think I should be watching my television more, and in ways that take me to a different place in time. I long to sit still and to be transported, without my attention span being chopped to smithereens by the temptations of technology. In the same way I now look at the George W. Bush White House as ‘the good old days’, I now look at the idiot box and its dumbing down of the America psyche, as a more simple and more wholesome time.

Excuse me now, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes is calling me. I’m going to watch it, and I’m leaving my smartphone behind… Jhciacb

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Winds Of Change…

Straight up, I believe that most people have not used social media for the best possible outcomes. Almost from the beginning, I’ve seen  social media as a variety of platforms with unlimited potential for generating good in the world.  Most often though, I see it used for everything from displaying sophomoric hijinks, to the spewing of negative vitriol without any thought of who it might land on.

Social media has become a playground for the thoughtless, and a breeding ground for the continuation of bad ideas. It’s like we’re using the door handle of Maserati to pry the cap off a bottle of beer, just before we spill half of it down our chin as we guzzle it in an attempt to impress the girl across the room.

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And for all of those who use social media to throw feces against the wall, day in and day out, I wonder how many realize that the walls they’ve been throwing it against are mostly their own…

I’ve thrown my share of feces too, and I admit that, especially early on. For for the last couple of years though, I’ve worked hard to let my social media experience be a positive one more often than not, and one that lends itself toward good will among my friends, if not my species.

One year ago tomorrow, I made the decision to post some form of original thought, usually a positive one, accompanied by an original photograph on Facebook every day for one year. In the year since I made that commitment, I have fallen short just 11 times.

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When I say ‘original thought’, I don’t necessarily mean that I’m the first person to conceive the idea. I’ve just taken whatever’s been on my mind at a given moment, and applied my own twist to it each time I sat down to write. And honestly, I wish more people did that – – I wish more people would work harder to make social media more original, if not more positive.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the idea of sharing music, comedy, in-depth articles that provoke thought, and most forms of art, and intelligent discussions that I would not otherwise come across or participate in. On occasion, I even appreciate some sophomoric hijinks, though I try to keep that minimal. However, posting the same regurgitated thoughts, the same tired news stories from the same worn out and unreliable sources, and the same moronic vitriol day after day after day has grown tiresome.

BREAKING: If it’s breaking news, I’m going to find it on my own. I don’t need to read it on Facebook, accompanied by photoshopped picture of Hitler molesting the Statue of Liberty…!

Now that I have completed my year of original thought, I’m going to (attempt to) change the way that I use social media, at least to some degree. I won’t be deleting my Facebook account, or taking a social media break like so many of my friends seem to be doing these days.

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The reality for me is that social media, in one form or another, is here to stay. I accept that.  Facebook and other platforms may go away, but something will evolve to take their place, and the path of increasingly complex inter-communication between Homo sapiens will continue. It’s an upward and ongoing path.

I still see value, and a tremendous upside to social media if we all use it intelligently, and I guess that’s my point. I’m going to refine how I use it even more, and strive to further improve my use of it, as I have improved other interests in my life. I may use it less, and will likely be more selective with my interactions.

I will also take this opportunity to suggest to anyone reading this, to take a good look at your social media habits and behaviors, and consider what it is you wish to get out of them. Ask yourself, what am I really trying to accomplish, and what good is it going to generate in the world beyond my own head…? And be honest with yourself…

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I really think that should be our goal — to use all social media platforms as small ways each of us can improve our  communities and our species, one connection at a time. I just think that’s a good way to be… Jhciacb

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A Hand For Jian…

So, #GivingTuesday is a thing now.

I’m not much for things. Especially trendy internet things.

However, I’m going to embrace this thing, #GivingTuesday, because it’s a good thing.

Certainly there is no limit to the causes that we can put our money towards that are noble and charitable this #GivingTuesday or this holiday season.

My cause for this #GivingTuesday is both noble and charitable.

My nephew, Jian, was born without arms. And you know what…? He does just fine without ’em.  He’s played football, bicycled, hiked, and lived his whole life negotiating with his feet, virtually everything you and I do with our hands.

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He’s now ready to drive, and is capable of doing that with his feet as well.

However, the state of Colorado seems to think that if they’re going to give him a drivers license, he has to have a car that’s specially equipped to accommodate him.

So, if you have not otherwise selected a noble or charitable causes to give to this #GivingTuesday or this holiday season, please consider following the link below and making a donation to the car in Jian’s future.  On behalf of his family, we will greatly appreciate it.

https://www.gofundme.com/wheelsforjian

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And even if you have given elsewhere, if you’ve got a few bucks to throw towards this cause, it will be appreciated by a young man who I find to be quite remarkable.  And if you’re not able to donate, please share this link.  https://www.gofundme.com/wheelsforjian  Thank you…!

Miss Perception…

…it’s not a beauty queen…

Monday through Friday I ride my bike through 10 miles of mixed Hills every morning just after sunrise.  It’s a full-on sprint. Each outing I ride at roughly 95% of my highest capacity for that course.

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On Sundays though, I ride a flat round-trip of 26 miles from Bonsall to Ocenaside, ending at the water’s edge where I take a moment to honor the sea before I turn back inland. My Sunday ride is not a sprint, just a steady pace in an enjoy the scenery kinda way..

For the 20 months or so since I have been using this protocol, one inconsistency has stood out on my flat, 26-mile Sunday ride, yet I had not figured out the reason for this inconsistency until a few days ago.

Despite that my route to the coats is flat, and that the wind is usually at my back, my return trip from the coast is always, ALWAYS slower than my ride going there.  I average roughly 19MPH headed west, and 17.5MPH on my return.

One might immediately attribute this to tired legs, and that might make some sense.  Also, stopping for a few moments at the halfway point to take in the sight of the ocean does me no favors. And there is the psychology involved with turning back — the dreary trip home mentality.  So, it’s easy to assume that my return trip would be slower and pass it off as the combination of a mental and physical letdown.

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One problem though, I’m an athlete. I train, eat, and prepare like an athlete, especially before my Sunday morning ride.  To my way of thinking, there’s no reason that my 13 miles coming back should be any slower than my 13 miles getting there. In fact, the wind is usually against me headed to the coast, and at my back on my return.  Still, I’m always slower on my coming back.

And equal distance. A flat ride. Proper nutrition prior to riding.  The wind in my favor on the return. So, why am I always slower on the way back…?

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Perception. Or should I say, misperception…?

You see, my flat ride is it really flat. I start at roughly 300 feet above sea level, and I end at sea level. Only now, after 20-months of riding this route, have paid attention to my GPS data.  Now 300-feet of an elevation change over 13 miles is almost invisible. To look at this bike trail at any point along the way, it appears flat.

But it isn’t flat, and 300 feet of climbing, even if it’s over 13 miles, will impact cyclists of any level, and I am only an intermediate cyclist.  This 300-feet climbing costs me about -1.5MPH on my return.

Of course this has nothing to do with cycling, and everything to do with human perception.

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For 20-months I have assumed this ride was flat – – and it is never been flat. And that, THAT makes me wonder what other assumptions I make all day long that are incorrect or that am completely blind to …? Indeed… Jhciacb

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Flow With The Bummers…

Corky’s #7…

In the 1970s, after his career concluded, surfer Corky Carroll, espoused a dozen or so rules for living.  Rules from the perspective of surf culture that he felt, if followed, would help one better survive in a chaotic world.  Though I cannot find a single record of these rules, I remember rule #7 by heart, and it has done more to guide my adult life than the Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule combined…

Corky’s rule #7:  Flow With The Bummers

The absence of a Thou Shalt before it, makes it all the more agreeable.

Stick It To Me…

Life can be a lot like opening a cheese stick – it rarely goes how it should.  Cheese sticks are sealed in plastic, with the two plastic ends at the top loosely separated to be pulled apart.  Most often though, separating the two tear-away pieces of plastic takes more work than it should, and rarely ends well.  However, for those like me who have the tendency to block out past struggles, relying on the built-in method to open a cheese stick is always seen as the best option.

So, with one of the plastic ends pinched between my thumb and index finger, the other hand doing the same thing with opposite plastic end, and with the body of the cheese stick floating in limbo, I’ll pull the plastic ends apart, and it almost always tears before the full cheese stick is exposed.  Crap.

At this point, there ae two options.  One, dig in with my finger nails to release the cheese stick.  Or, take a knife and finish the job like I’m gutting a fish, and risk punching the blade through the plastic and into my supporting finger.  It shouldn’t be so complicated, but most often, I gut the cheese wrapper like a fish and puncture a finger.

On rare occasions, as I pull the 2 layers of plastic apart, the separation is clean and smooth.  The cheese stick in question is easily extracted, and I have just experienced a moment.  I enjoy those moments, because I know they are few, far between, and surely will not last.

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What usually happens…

And for those times which are most times, and when the plastic breaks before it exposes the cheese stick, I just flow with the bummers.

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A moment of pure magic…

A Deep Breath And A Silent Chuckle…

I call it my Sunday Morning Service.  It takes place at sunrise, and it is as holy to me as any hymn, pulpit, message, or messenger.  I ride my bicycle roughly 26 miles to and from the coast, from a starting point that’s a 7-mile drive from my front door.  This morning started like any other.  The weather was perfect – foggy, cool, and no wind.  My soul swelled with the anticipation of my spiritual ride.  My mind was overcome with gratitude as I could already smell the salt air.  I parked my car.  I dawned my riding gear including my helmet, gloves, and my waterproof windbreaker. I took my bike from the back of my car (the front wheel must be removed so I can fit my bike in the back seat), and balanced my bike on the rear wheel and front forks.  I went back to the car for the front wheel.  You know, the front wheel that I left in my driveway – 7-miles behind me…?  Yah, that front wheel.

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Sunday Service…  Today’s Sermon:  Flow With The Bummers…

After a couple rounds of expletives, and a rolling of my eyes into the very back of my head, I remembered Corky’s rule #7…

Flow With The Bummers.

I smiled a secret smile, gently placed my tongue between my teeth, and loaded my bike back in my car for the return trip.  Once home, I chose an out-and-back ride from my driveway into the local hills, and todays’ Sunday Service was inland – and what a service it was.  All the while as my heart raced, my face penetrated the fog, and as my mind chose to laugh at the error of my morning, I kept repeating to myself in a congruent cadence with my feet…

Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers…

And what a flow it was.

I’m So Different Now…

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way.  There was a time when I could go from zero to son of bitch in less than 2.5 seconds – and a time when that bike would have been thrown back into the car, followed by a slammed door, and very loud mother#cker!!!  With age comes wisdom I suppose, born from a trail of bad decisions, busted belongings, and broken relationships during critical times when I did anything but flow with the bummers.

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Nature’s Pulpit…

I’ve never met Corky Carroll, and his rule #7 took decades to really sink in.  All these years later though, I am grateful for what has become my own golden rule.

Flow With The Bummers, people.  Or as Epictetus would have put it, face facts and act accordingly…  Jhciacb

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