Pushing Boundaries

02/11/2015

Pushing Boundaries

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I’ve had occasion to think about scars. As an athlete, I’ve found that I’m pretty proud of mine. So much so that those close to me think it is a charming preoccupation. While others might be focused on Laboutin’s or the latest from Chanel, I think about battle wounds. I’ve been wondering why this is so important. My scars tell a story. Of a tennis career called short by a skiing accident, a shin bash from a fast descent down Boulder canyon with the hockey team, and scraped up elbows and knees from use as brake pads as a kid. When I look back, it’s been a life of adventure – constantly pushing the limit of what’s possible. Living this way does result in injury – the odds are something will happen, and so it does. But to true athletes, injuries, losses, and setbacks cause us to endure, and end up becoming accomplishments. Setbacks make us reevaluate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Through careful introspection and analysis, there’s the promise to come back stronger and better than ever before. Everyday we read stories about athletes that defy the odds and make unbelievable comebacks – stories that warm the heart, and inspire each of us to go beyond what we believe is possible.

Recently, I had to mount a recovery that fell outside the realm of sports. I had just finished the North Face endurance trail run, was working ungodly hours on a design project, and was busy making sure everyone’s holiday was beyond Martha Stewart standards. Not sure how many hours of sleep I logged in December, but wasn’t much. I realize now that I pushed the margin of what’s possible for one human being. The real-life demands created an imbalance that made me ill, and fast. I went from running the North Face to a hospital, and this time, not for an injury. I was a fish out of water in an experience I’d never imagined before. I have been a health nut all my life, hardly ever sick, and this was plain foreign. I am lucky they say to be out with my life.

Down 15 pounds I didn’t have to lose (think endurance runner), I had to come back, and fast. I had to train like a guy for the first time ever. The plan I created for myself included: heavy weight/low repetition strength workouts, hill climbs with high tension/low cadence, and eating like a horse things far from my wildest imagination in content and quantity. The process was amusing to onlookers, and let’s just say I’m glad to have established my equilibrium in about 3 weeks time. This particular recovery has been the fastest and most sensational one of my life; the 8 knee surgery recoveries were arduous at best. I look back with the wisdom I now posses, and know I could have done better with previous injuries and recovery.

Coming to the long point, my direction in college was to work in sports medicine. Life takes strange twists and turns yet what is a lifelong passion never abates. Time and circumstance return us to the start, as is the case with me. Please look for changes as I transition a platform for high performance training and recovery, already underway. I promise you that after 28 years of finding and working with the best in sports medicine, training, and nutrition – there will be something for the athlete within us all.

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The Best Athletes

02/01/2015

The Best Athletes

Sports Collage

Have you ever been in a discussion about which sport yields the best athletes? I was recently. A male dominated group hollered it had to be football because of raw strength, speed, and toughness. I had to wait to compose my thoughts carefully. I said that it was hard to name a specific sport that was the one because I felt the best athlete must be good in as many sports as possible to be deemed the best. They pressed me for a sport and I said tennis was a good example of a comprehensive sport because it demands excellence in all of the core performance categories. I am perhaps biased because from age 11-18, I spent most of my hours outside of school either on a court or traveling to one. Here’s my defense, to play tennis well, you must have: skill, strategy, speed, agility, endurance, eye-hand coordination, rapid response ability, flexibility, and mental toughness. The mental piece in tennis is huge because you are solo out there – there’s no coaching, and no team to help – so everything needs to come from somewhere inside of you. I’m sure there are other sports where all of this is going on simultaneously, but this is the one I’m most familiar with. I trail run, mountain and road bike, and ski. Put to the test above, these sports are not as athletically demanding across all categories as tennis, they could be in a few aspects, but not all.

A friend of mine was fielding a question from a parent on how his son could become the best lacrosse player on the team. Matt, the coach, advised the parent to work on all the things you’d expect on the technical side, but added the boy should play as many sports as possible. Matt is from upstate New York where multisport participation was a must do because of weather and seasonal rosters. He rambled off the regulars: football, soccer, and basketball. Rounding out the package for depth is a great idea that crosses over to areas of specialized focus. I did it as a kid. My father was a competitor, and it was obligatory that his first born, even if a girl, have command and control of as many sports as possible by the age of 10 (including sports more customary for boys). I was playing tennis and skiing by 3, and running miles by 4. I could throw a spiral by 5, and field and hit anything my father would send my way. This wound me up as the lone girl in an all-boys league playing first base and serving as designated hitter. Other sports included swimming, volleyball, fly fishing, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, sailing, and golf. I know that the exposure to a variety of sports helped me be a better tennis player as a youth, and carries over to all the sports I do today. If you’re frustrated with Strava, like me, for offering limited categories to explain your athletic endeavors, you are definitely on the right track! Constantly challenging your mind and body in sports or training manifests superior results. Core competency goes sky high the more you know and can do. And the great part is, all of this transfers directly to the bigger game of life.

One of my first jobs out of college was working for Martha Stewart in New York. I had been planning, designing and executing events in Aspen, and my task was to roll out a national events program for Martha and the magazine. After being in place one week, I was on to learning market research by week two. The magazine was in a high growth stage with a very small team and limited resources. So, I became an expert in a bunch of things quickly, on top of my responsibilities for events: market research, writing, editing, styling, marketing, advertising, sales, public relations, and creative content development. I look back and know exactly what prepared me to handle this kind of demand under pressure, deadlines, and little sleep. It was my career in sports. Martha quickly figured this out, and used it for the benefit of the company – a good idea.

The “best” athlete is good at anything they step into, even for the first time. Oftentimes when it seems that someone is a natural it is because they’ve been trained in a way that prepares them to do anything well. The greater the breadth and overall skill, the better the result, and the positive impact on other components. Knowing you can step into any situation and handle it well is the reward for approaching life this way. The good news for the boy that’s going to go push the boundaries in a number of sports is that he’ll not only be a better lacrosse player, he’ll be better in any sport he does, will have improved overall health, and will be able to transfer all these skills to life, now and forever.

A Heroic Heart Made Strong by Time and Fate

01/26/2015

A Heroic Heart Made Strong by Time and Fate

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Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew though much is taken, much abides; and though 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. - Alfred Lloyd Tennyson from Ulysses

Sometimes you need to lose your life to find it. I’ll write more about it later, but for now, it is sufficient to say I almost lost my life over the holidays. The experience, horribly scary as it was, gave me life back, an invigorated version, with clarity I’ve never quite had before. I am grateful for this experience as it clarified what mattered and why. It has helped me find people close to me, and those I wanted close to me – friends, community, and beyond. It outlined a sort of homecoming to return to what I always wanted to do in life – as an athlete, in sports medicine, and high performance training. Adversity rights a course in dramatic fashion.

They say life works in mysterious ways. I believe that sentiment now more than ever. When you come full circle around, everything makes perfect sense – the ups and downs, wins and losses, happiness and pain. Having clarity on the other side of confusion is bliss. I love winning as an athlete, but the journey might actually be more rewarding and compelling.

What was required of me personally to save my life was the stuff of legend. I ejected myself from a mainstream hospital that seemed to me to be running reckless. I was doing simple math and analytics in the hospital for the benefit of my health. I observed a protocol set in motion by a few misaligned doctors on my treatment team, and one that was in control that that was depleting me physically without restoring in a way my body could handle. Important symptoms I felt needed to be addressed were not. The medical system not working well was something I was bearing witness to directly. The fear this created in me was profound, and was fueled by doctors that operated from a power position and seemed to love the worse case scenario. I don’t do well surrounded by anyone that represents the worse case scenario. My life as I know it has been about positive visioning and thinking what can be done, not what can’t. This is more than an essential outlook when it comes to medicine and healing. It became clear to me that if I wanted to save my life, it was necessary to escape what I saw as a fear monger prison that didn’t care, and was operating without good sense. I did exactly that. Day to day, I have made huge strides in physical recovery far beyond what would have occurred in the hospital, and have exceeded all projections, even my own. I think I would have made a better doctor than I had imagined.

My personal recovery is my plan, and I assembled an A-team to make sure success is guaranteed – the best of traditional and integrative medicine, and a knock-your-socks-off nutrition and hydration plan. The story is jaw dropping and true. Many felt I was the reckless one for leaving the hospital.

Personal power combined with divine guidance hinges on knowing yourself, listening to your intuition (gut), and acting with complete confidence and composure. Tennyson brilliantly illumines this combination of life skill in Ulysses, part of which I’ve excerpted above. To be brave, courageous, strong beyond measure, wise, and to skillfully fight with intuition and intention for the right thing makes all the difference. It saved my life. The world needs heroic hearts, minds, and bodies now more than ever. One glance at the news and it is apparent how much we need every force working for good to do so. Sometimes saying what needs to be said is hard, often unpopular, and can sometimes mean going against a system in place. History has burned people at the stake for standing up. My experience is one of standing up in a hard situation. I did the right thing however unpopular and unconventional it might have been.

If I can share one thing in this post, it would be that we need everyone working for good that we have on Earth to do so. Moving towards light and love and holding strong to your personal truth is what matters. Find it in yourself and in others – band together. One by one we do change the world by each agreeing to show up in this way. It is more powerful than any medicine or political movement.

Life takes a heroic heart. History loves heroes that have acted this way – Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, George Washington, Nelson Mandela and the list goes on. It’s been said, and perhaps it is cliché, but you can be a hero every single day just by showing up the way you know you should. I hope you do, and that goes for me as well as it is a lifelong intention for top performance always.

In the name of love,

Time Has Come A Day

12/23/2014

Time Has Come A Day

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The path back to life manifests in crazy twists and turns. Like many, I was born to a father that wanted a son first. As such, I became the boy that my father wanted in girl’s clothing (sort of). I played on his all-boys’ baseball team and league – first base and designated hitter – to the chagrin of my brother and all his friends. When the fervor of such atrocity hit a chord, as would naturally follow, due discourse with my father ensued. “Dad, I’m not a boy, and I think it best I do something girls do.” Such a comment is stronger now than ever if you sneak a peak at Emma Watson’s UN speech as our newly minted ambassador for women.

My guess is that something she said, plus something I’ve experienced would have me share this with you now. Personal power and strength belongs to each of us. Where we find it is of course unique because we’re all gifted with special talents. For me personally, it’s been both athletic and academic. Later in life, it involved society. I’ve written that I’ve lost far more than I won, and that is true. I didn’t win Wimbledon as I hoped, nor a gold medal in downhill at the Olympic Games. My fairy tale dreams never came close to happening. Yet, with all the fairy tales that came crashing to the ground came an understanding of what is uniquely feminine personal power. Something that can’t be bought or sold, and is only found in one place – heart center. Yeah, you can do a downward dog.

For me, it’s been a reckoning to understand at least for now that it doesn’t involve anyone other than me – that’s right, a knight in shining armor isn’t coming around. It doesn’t matter how talented, how beautiful, how special, how anything – our course as women has come to be that we must endeavor to be heroic on our own without an obligatory attachment to men. It is really hard as women when we’ve been sold tales for generations to believe time has come a day – but it has. Is it the feminist movement that I’ve so much opposed for reasons that I felt didn’t give women an option to choose a more “traditional way” a choice? Can’t say. But what I do understand is that times have changed, for better or for worse. Our daughters, ourselves. Understand one thing – nobody should give up personal power to anyone, for any reason – male or female.

And the path back to life – I had no idea it would go back to basics the way it has. To have me return to days of true personal power, found on a tennis court or a ski hill, where yes you can smile as a girl or a woman, but grunt and bear it in a way that no man would ever mess with you. There’s a really fine line between feminity, grace, and survival. I concur with Ms. Watson that we have nothing to excuse for being brilliant, strong, athletic, stunning, creative and every other aspect that could define a woman. We don’t need to make a point, but can and must hold strong. So whatever your medium, I implore you to find it, reclaim it if necessary, and make it your own. No apologies needed for being a man or a woman with all due respect.

With the very best of intentions as always,

When Life Circles Full Round

12/11/2014

When Life Circles Full Round

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I am way too young to speak of age. Not that it matters except to inform that after a certain number, some become wise. The process to achieve the status of wise is sporadic, non-sensical at best. Generally, or at least in my case, it’s involved more pain than anyone would endeavor to experience. Yet, it is in the process of pain and growth, things become clear.

To be honest, I’ve lost far more than I’ve won. And no, it hasn’t been fair. Delusions – what my parents said about fairy tales and a magical knight that viewed the same bright moon with a vision for good – ah no, none of that strident dedication and belief has ever been shared in practical application. What is true is that we are born to live, to survive, and to fight for the purpose that brought us here. If we consistently turn away from that light, it is for certain we’ll be served up pain.

Pain is there to tell us to go back. To go back to why we are here. In my years of being and adventuring, I am absolutely certain of one thing – we are here for a reason. Have you heard it said that playing small doesn’t serve anyone, most of all, yourself? When people say step into your greatness, it isn’t a line. It’s real. What you wrestle with, what I wrestle with, the common cause of all humanity lives right here. No matter how dark it seems, and I know all about dark and light, don’t abandon humanity and why you’re here despite every dismal report, and perhaps real-life account.

For those of us that survive some of the most amazing things, we come out the other side to tell you to hold on with a sure grip to the things that brought you here. There are so many instances in life that I could have told you would have made sense to let go completely, aka to quit, to abuse, to diffuse – I never did. People ask me personally what it has taken to survive, and I can only say it is divine for lack of a better explanation – or ok, maybe some solid intuitive guidance! When you are called to light, life will never allow you to live another way. You will see what can’t be seen, and feel what can’t be felt – and the reason for this not-so-special distinction is that it is to help at its’ root. It’s holiday time, and with all the lights, gifts, and celebrations – don’t abandon your light. This is the first year I’ve not had a Christmas tree, decorations – none of it, but somehow, in the absence of commercialism is the real thing – understanding the light that’s always been so compelling is the one to be shown and lived, this time for real.

Skol,

December Races, Chases & Dazzles

12/05/2014

December Races, Chases & Dazzles

what if i fly

If for a moment, can you imagine what a fuel injected foot might look and feel like? Well, here to tell you that nearly a year of foot demise has led to nearly 10 top specialists opining on the matter, only to come to one today that got it. You know your day of deliverance when it arrives. I trained on the infamous Double Dipsea trail the day before Thanksgiving and wound my right foot it a place of certain misgivings, truth be told were not fully revealed until a later day upon dawn’s arrival.

Some say the case with athletes is a mad one, and as one, I might consent. Ice, heat, new shoes, active release, rest – common folk modalities to arrive at some amount of healing only to be yourself forlorn.

December 4 was a marker for reasons of true importance – good and bad. I picked up my North Face trail run kit in Marin County knowing that once finally in hand, there was no going back per usual. This race has been the race – the one for my life, the one for those I loved. By 4:30 pm it came time to tell a seasoned doctor why it was compelling yet again. One glance from me and he knew he’d be wise to not have that discussion. 4 ballistic injections to the foot, madman-taping befitting only of a concubine, and honest words – tape, rest, suck it up, untape Saturday evening, and run like the wind. My God finally someone gets it. Back in my office on Monday, you need surgery soon.

That brings me to the evening’s proceedings of why run this race? One that’s been of such importance for so many years. True to form, I listed the reasons I normally made a practice to keep in my pocket race day:

  • to transcend pain
  • for nobody but myself – how selfish for once! (thinking that’s a good thing!)

That’s pretty mundane, so let’s go further, shall we? If finishing this race accomplishes something in the greater scheme, let’s say it had magic powers, then what?

  • it would heal the earth
  • it would heal wounds
  • it would help those that live in pain
  • it would demonstrate that worth is not a monetary endeavor
  • it would be a sign of solidarity for all that hurt or suffer in any way
  • it would give hope that by faith in what we hold dear, we’ll get there together

This December, I can’t think of a better holiday wish that this one for all of you and for the planet. It is simply amazing, dazzling really how nature and sport can bring us to our knees in a way that we can understand what is of the upmost importance, and will always ring true. If my running wishes come true, what a world it would be.

Cheers all,

Divine Love

11/15/2014

Divine Love

 

lisadurant_aug2014-99 What if you were encircled with a golden glow for reasons you couldn’t comprehend – and you realized that your purpose was to shine a glorious light no matter the circumstance? If I told you that this was my life, and one that very wise people have told me is my life you could easily shoot back that it’s because I’m a golden girl from the great state of California, and southern to be more specific.

What is divine love? Is it some very heady concept or is it real? When I was first told that I represented this in the world I remember thinking the people who told me this were just nuts. However, as years roll on and I observe how I truly act in the world, I realize experts might be right. What I want to share though is that the concept of divine love, warmth and light is not just on others, or me it is in all of us. I grew up in a very strict Episcopalian family. I was not allowed my point of view, opinion, anything. What I was allowed was to work my derriere to the bare – top academics, top sports performance, best etiquette and protocol – more than your golden girl next door. I delivered this and after college even more by landing positions and opportunities of my dreams and beyond. Constantly pushing beyond what any normal limits might suggest.

The last 14 years have brought some hard knocks, but I can tell you that divine love and purpose never leaves once instilled. And it truly is not for me or those that currently possess it, it is for all. We all have not grown up in the easiest of circumstances – you name it likely and it has happened in your own family if you are like most. The point that I’ve had to explain so many times recently is that we have a chance in life to choose our way. Repeat past offenses or change. In our world that is upside down with human tragedy, sorrow, and environmental degradation can’t we collectively say we choose differently? We choose peace. We act with diligence. We can say good-bye to tired patterns that don’t serve us personally or the greater good. We only have one life to walk. In peace, in honor, in respect, and with a golden glow of what can be, and what will be because of us is the only way I can see to go. Please pull up, each and every one of you. Free yourself from things that don’t serve. Be a living testimony to love and light. It is all we have – and it is so very simple.

Cheers,

Principles of Simply Sustainable Living

10/15/2014

Principles of Simply Sustainable Living

Bike blog : The Caferacer commuter bike from Creme Cycles

Would you believe me if I told you that my inspiration for working on the environment came en route to living a beautiful life à la Martha Stewart (my former boss), Julia Child, Emily Post, and Alexandra Stoddard – domestic doyennes? To me, living a beautiful life is actually about respect – for oneself, for others and I maintain, for the environment. Taking the time to notice what’s beautiful and to savor it, and when necessary, to protect it.

The fact is, we all are visitors on this precious Earth – fortunate to wake every single day to the wonder and resources that surround us. Here’s an idea to consider based on personal study of yoga and the environment. “Namaste” loosely translated means, “I bow to you.” I’ve taken this translation one step further to encompass honoring all of life and planet Earth. Consider that you can practice “Namaste” outside of yoga through these simply sustainable steps:

Every little thing you do is magic

Never underestimate the power of one. One little step after another consistently results in big impact. The more we each act this way and pass it along, the more we change the world one person at a time. Don’t give away your power.

Bring your intention and mindfulness to all you do

Imagine your wise action as a gift for your health and the environment and the universe will respond favorably. Here’s an example I love doing – see trash sorting for recycling and compost as mindfulness practice – you can actually calm yourself and focus while helping the environment.

Tread lightly

Only buy and consume what you really need. Invest in quality, not quantity. Hold out for the right thing. Resist marketing messages that don’t serve and result in unnecessary stress and strife.

Create your own health and environmental challenge

See how you can move your body from A to B without fossil fuels – walk, hike, roll, ride, sail, paddle, snowshoe, ski – make it fun!

Realize personal satisfaction

Bring your own shopping bags to all markets, and recycle single use bags for produce. Use glass or tin containers for food storage – avoid plastic containers, bottles, bags and wrap. Put water bottles in places you frequent. Enjoy the contribution you’re making with this simple intention.

Find ways to be an easy environmentalist

We all forget (to sort trash, bring our bags), get lazy (it’s too much trouble), and are usually busy (@$*!) – but we can actively decide to switch this up – one by one. It is worth doing. With a bit of advanced planning, it is easy to switch to a new environmentally friendly practice that quickly becomes a healthy habit.

Namaste,

What did I do Wrong? Win at Life

08/26/2014

What did I do Wrong? Win at Life

claycourts

Here’s how asking this simple question can improve your life, sports endeavors, and even help the world. Don’t limit what’s possible.

Oprah Moment

Over the weekend, I had an ah-ha moment. Was busy being an everyday warrior athlete – like the weekender on drugs. You see sports are my passion, something that started as soon as I decided to enter the world at the one time my father requested I didn’t, right as a crucial meeting was to begin.

An Athlete’s Life for Me

Tahoe is the outdoor athlete’s dream come true. While attempting to cram as many sports into a weekend as possible, I came upon one that had been allusive, and fact is, down right scary. Water skiing. I had dated some boys that grew up on lakes and they would gad about their superior water skiing in a way that’d have me shaking. Looking back, it could have been all about them or a psyche out to crush another. Who knows? Honestly, who cares? The point is, the one time I finally did try the stinking sport was during a break from work at Martha Stewart Living on the Finger Lakes with the One Minute Manager for real. I pounded enough freezing cold water to never think twice about water skiing again.

I stared down at the boat and skis at the rental center, and despite the internal wrangling with stuff that didn’t serve me, I knew it was time. The kids were hopping up and down, “Maman please – need for speed now!” Goddamn kid peer pressure. This means performance on my end. My kids have this messed up notion that I’m some sort of sports Queen that is a pro at every single sport including ones I’ve never tried, or in this case, tried once. My sweet boyfriend is telling me no way because my right knee is bugging again after multiple surgeries from snow skiing. I throw a kid-like fit that if we rent the boat and I can’t ski the day will be a total loss. I know there is something very wrong with that, but stay with me.

Seeking Enlightenment

I decide to behave like an adult, put the stinking snot nosed kids first, and grin and bear it. I was wondering if the Buddhists would think I was enlightened at least. Goddamn Buddhists, what do they know? We go through the motions, and get the motorboat out on the lake and set to ski. My oldest son is up first, and after 5 attempts he quickly shows his athletic prowess at 14. My younger two quickly wimp out, and that leaves the obvious choice – me. Bruised and battered athletic warrior of 45 years (don’t tell). I’m thinking this is going to be fun. Sweet boyfriend acquiesces and says I’m up. Something strange happens. I had the 4 people closest to me in that boat, and I knew it was all good. Internal sense of calm and unshakable confidence sets in. I will not let those closest to me down. I know what they expect – the best.

I’ve got this. Listen to instructions, trust, do not overthink, breathe. I ask for the elevator pitch version on how to water-ski. I find focus that translates directly so the body understands what to do. The water is cold and I’m freezing but I tell myself not to notice, employing sports psychology 101 – mind over matter. Straight arms, plank body like Pilates, suck in core, look ahead, F-O-C-U-S I chant. I was up water skiing on the first try and zipped around the lake like I’d been doing this all my life. I was smiling and cracking up, little did I know how powerful that moment was. They had to cut the engine, forcing me to stop because God knows I wasn’t stopping on my own accord. Kids were cheering and weren’t surprised. Check, superhero status maintained. The next go, I got up for a bit, and then fell backwards. Twist in story you think. Here’s the kicker, my only words when I swam up to the boat, “What did I do wrong?” No more, no less. No chatter, no wimping out, no blame. I lasered in on the directions once more. That’s a lock. I went again straight away, and I was up and around the lake until it was time to return the boat.

Why “What did I do Wrong” is the Best Question Ever

What did I do wrong? There are so many life lessons and implications in this one phrase. I had just read that Vata’s (my Ayurvedic body type) ask what they do wrong as a key personality trait. Wholly shit, I realize, I’ve been doing this all my life. I think back, tennis, this phrase – it’s what I’ve done as far back as I can remember. My childhood dream was to win Wimbledon, a course that had me on courts for most of my youth. In pursuit of being the best, I didn’t focus on accolades; I focused on making things better. An unstoppable pursuit that my coach would honor at nearly any hour of the day. This is the kind of love-story partnership of wisdom passed on from one generation to the next, even when things go wrong. Myron was coach to Sally Ride as well as countless others that were fortunate to be a student. This is exactly where you learn that your best is what counts, and if something goes wrong, a little adjustment and a very steady mind solve it. It is about what’s inside and clear guidance. So often our world is about blame, and what could be if – with more money, connections, or anything you could name. The former approach collectively gets us nowhere fast. As things come full circle for me and maybe for you, I leave you with this favorite:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

My road less traveled by was and is my responsibility. It has been a most phenomenal journey, certainly with more than a fair share of hard knocks. But, I’ll never want for anything because I know deep down the right stuff is always inside. Played out through time, if every one of us acts this way, we change the world, for good. Our personal best is all we need. Our children and our Earth deserve it, and so do we.

Peace,

Step Off The Wheel

07/29/2014

Step Off The Wheel

Place des Lices

Post 1, is there life after France? Not sure, but will try.

I should be telling you what it was to trek through the Pyrenees. Due to no thank-you, climate change, I can’t. Did anyone in the US hear about the torrential rain, flooding and destruction recently in France, notably in the Pays-Basque? If not, here to tell you it was BAD! Reference point, take a look at the clips of probably the most historic weather year on record for the Tour de France, or was that mud wrestling? I posted from France on Facebook that I couldn’t imagine that there were still climate deniers in this world, but if you know one, I’m hoping you’ll douse them with facts and images that are indisputable.

The fact is we need to collectively decide to undo the concept of “pc” and say what we need to say, thank you John Mayer. And that goes direct to the message of importance for this post. To sum up the best lesson learned from my recent travels: we must step off the wheel we’re on. How much has been chronicled about living life in the present where expectations and rules are tossed aside? Consider the work of Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence or Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love – the opportunity to experience life fully despite what society says. I haven’t been able to do such a thing ever before in my life, and I highly encourage anyone to give this a go if not once in life, then often. Throwing caution to the wind is healthy and taps creativity and vitality you have within you. Now back, all I can do is share what I learned to help others, and to try and keep this in practice for myself, a work in progress back in the US against what society demands.

Yesterday, someone reminded me that so many on Earth are sleepwalking. It is nothing to be upset about if you’re in that state. It is a life’s work to wake up; Buddhists say so. So it is, right? Not quite. Practical experience is the best teacher. For me, the process started early with my tennis coach and a philosophy teacher that encouraged me to extend beyond anything I understood – intellectually and physically. I think it is true that ignorance can be bliss, but it isn’t real. Whatever false sense of security denial allows, it never lasts and ends up hurting – you, others and the Earth. Love and beauty are the true blessings of this world and our collective experience.

The biggest gift of this world isn’t one that many of us see, and if we do, one that we’ll accept. I’ve got to say it, please forgive me as I have been influenced by ideology in the past, but religion and politics have rendered societies out of touch with what is. What is? You can’t think yourself through this one. You must experience it, live it, feel it. Imagine, however hard it might be, this basic exercise for living in the present:

1)    Cease with what you “should” do – it doesn’t matter if your parents, significant other, or society said, give yourself permission to stop

2)    Forget about the past and the future, find yourself in present time

3)    Turn off the phones and the computer, disconnect. Put yourself on an extreme technology diet. If you don’t believe me, ask Arianna Huffington, she hits this topic hard in Thrive, and echoes the same life principles of balance and simplicity that are good for the soul, health and the world.

4)    Tune into the present moment: what do you hear, see, taste, smell, feel? Your 5 senses? Use them. Check in.

5)    Open yourself. This is so hard to describe, but best I can explain, drop everything you’ve been doing and actively participate in life in the moment. Don’t critique, live. Smile, carry a sparkle in your eyes, move your body, taste things, feel things like you’ve never experienced before. Imagine that you are seeing everything for the first time, even if you’ve been there before. Take it in. I cannot emphasize enough what it is to be open – to life, to beauty, to what is possible in this world.

6)    You do not need to journal this, you don’t need to let someone know, you don’t “need to do anything,” for once, give yourself permission to live free

7)    In case you or I missed the point, as Robin Williams said from Mork & Mindy, “fly, be free,” aka LIVE. Robin Williams is a wise man. With humor, we find brilliance.

I could go into everything that happened, and didn’t, in France, but that’s my story, not yours. What I can say is how much it helped me understand who I was, what had meaning, and just how far I’d fallen from grace, or rather, living life. You’ve heard these stories many times before, but rest assured, this kind of thing works like a strange sort of magic. On my return flight, I selected Dead Poet’s Society amongst the many movie titles offered, and was reminded when you’re in sync with the world, “carpe diem”– seize the day – matters. Seize the moment. Nothing else. It isn’t complicated.

I’ve written a book about simple living with style done sustainably. If you want to get me going, ask me to talk about consumption and complexity. These two things are killing every living thing and the environment. For a species that prides itself on being so smart, I ask, how can we be so stupid? In the process of supposedly chasing dreams, we’ve crushed them. Instead of changing the world, we’ve destroyed it. Instead of helping people, we’re killing each other. Please, if nothing else, get off this wheel. It is a prayer that transcends every religious, political and social belief. We are one. We have no need to fight one another. We have no need to consume the way we do. Let the footsteps be light. Go gently. Don’t force anything. Breathe and trust that the way life works is absolutely perfect if we allow it to be that way.

I can say that my time in France was the best in my life. In touch with the present, open to everything around me, the beauty and sheer awe of how life works and what is. Sometimes you’ve got to go home to see it. Do. You may not know why and you don’t need to preplan an agenda. Living this way had me step into everything I love. You can really smile inside. When you do, you radiate that energy to the rest of the world and the world responds. I can only imagine what Earth would be like if we could all do that, all the time. The potential is huge. I saw the most beautiful things, tasted the most delicious food, and enjoyed time with some of the most amazing people I’ve been fortunate to meet.

In France, I thought often about my favorite book, The Alchemist. This was a pilgrimage of sorts. What was I searching for? I had no idea. For years Santiago, the protagonist in Coelho’s book of legend, had been my hero. I dreamed I could know as he did. Was this a journey to find the Soul of the World? Perhaps, that is if I could wake up enough to see what eluded me for years. Qu’est-ce qu’il y a? Loosely translated, what’s going on? The world, sorry I was too busy doing what I thought I was supposed to. I can’t hear you. What? The sound of voices from the past, my personal legend, qu’est-ce qu’il y a? It is here. It was here all along. I was too busy to find what I was looking for. Step off the wheel and you’ll find your life right there. I promise. Santiago did. I did. Many before have. Your life is more than the present that you see too, it is your history that you’ll discover, and it isn’t magic.

For everyone on the road less traveled by,