Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sometimes It's More Than Just a Road Trip

I’ve always thought if I could go somewhere exotic, I’d have a chance to sit in a little cafĂ© somewhere and think up the next great American novel…or more likely the next (better) 50 Shades. Either way, I’d be doing what I love: traveling and writing. Then I found out I was scheduled to go to Barcelona for business! What better way to test my theory. And you know what? It worked. I realized one reason I’ve been in the “donut tire” lane for my blog lately is that I haven’t really done anything worth discussing, writing or road tripping. I’d become so monotonous, that I’d lost my inspiration and why I started this journey. The reason for writing was to remind myself why I was trekking the first place. For a while, I felt like I’d said everything that needed to be said or did everything that needed to be done, and I was having trouble connecting with the part of me that was enjoying the stops along the way. Life interrupted my train of thought. Hell, life derailed my train.

Getting outside my everyday routine, and the borders of the country, helped me realize that there really is more than just getting up and doing the same thing every day. I enjoy what I do for a living, I’m lucky that it’s not something I dread doing every day when I get up in the morning. However, I still have to take time to do what I love. And I love to write. I’ve been trying to write a novel for a few years now and keep getting sidetracked. I think it’s because my heart knows it’s not the right story. The blogs, while I’ve been told are enjoyable, sometimes feel forced and I’m letting myself and others down with what I end up posting. It’s possible that with the life-changing news our family recently received about Bonnie that I’ve come to understand I am supposed to tell her story.

Life is a journey. I get it. That’s about the most clichĂ© thing that anyone can say. But how else would you describe it? When you start, you have no idea what lies ahead, you have to make last minute decisions that may, or may not, send you off in the wrong direction. When you get lost, you have to figure out how to find your way back to the main drag. Face it, life is a whole lot like going someplace you’ve never been. When you keep doing the same thing over and over again and you’re looking for a new experience, well, that is what they (and by “they”, I mean Albert Einstein [allegedly]) refer to as “insanity”. We all have limitations (money being the #1 limitation), but a lot of times it’s fear that keeps us going in circles. Tomorrow is never promised, of that I am more certain more than ever. Just get out there and start driving. You never know what adventure is awaiting.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

When a Detour Becomes the New Route

Oh, hi. I know, you all feel like I've been neglecting you lately. Well, I actually feel the same about myself. For the longest time, I was solely focused on me...and then somewhere along the way, it changed. I'm working on that refocusing stuff, but in the meantime, I've been put on a major detour. And I'm not talking about going down a side road, when you want to go through a major intersection, I'm talking about being rerouted to Hwy 41 when you know you're supposed to be on Interstate 75! 

While I will always struggle to keep my vehicle on course, sometimes what's going on outside the car is a little more important. Recently my Aunt Bonnie (one of my biggest Cheerleaders in my weight loss journey) has been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. Basically, it sucks. And it has given me the opportunity to reevaluate everything that is important in life. She is only 12 years older than I am and she is the youngest of her sisters. What is happening to her absolutely sucks, but what I've learned over the last several years is that once we put our minds to something, there is no road block that can keep us from our destination. Things won't be easy and, as her husband, my Mom and Aunt April can attest, they are already challenging, but it's amazing what the support of family, friends and total strangers can do. Life is the most uncertain of things that we wander through and at a second's notice, the life we once expected can be turned on its head. Never get comfortable in the driver's seat, you never know what hazards lie ahead.

While I usually make this blog about my experiences, I thought it was a good time to get Bonnie's story out to the world. There is a lot of shit going on right now and we could all use some good news. Bonnie is the queen of spreading happiness and good news and anytime you can help share her story, we are grateful. Now, if only we could hear good news of acceptance from Duke's Brain Tumor program. But if that's not written in the directions we are currently following, we are just going to have to re-write the directions.

If you are interested in hearing more about Bonnie's GBM battle, can donate or would like to spread the word, please click HERE.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Distracted Driving

I'm sorry. That's really all I can offer at this point. It has been far too long for me to have been away, and I am paying the price! 

Have you ever gotten in your car to go somewhere familiar, like to work or home or to drop the kids off at school? Somewhere you travel every day, only to get there and go "wait, how did I get here? I remember getting in the car, but I don't remember actually driving!" That's pretty much auto-pilot. And it's not a good thing. When you switch to auto-pilot, you may be reaching your destination, but you may have missed some things along the way, maybe you ran a stop sign. If you're lucky, there were no major repercussions for the mental lapse, if you aren't, maybe your zone out caused an accident. The fact is, you may not suffer immediate consequences for not paying attention, but it is likely to catch up, if you don't do something to snap out of it.

Only recently, did I realize that's what I've been doing for these last several months. I put my car in "drive" and am blindly following the same path, doing the same things and making the same mistakes along the way. Getting caught by the same Red Lights, hitting the same traffic spots and just not really enjoying the trip. What I've got to do now is mix things up a little and catch the fire that I had in 2011 when I got in the car to start this trip. I've said all along that it's about the journey, not the destination, but what I've come to realize is there is no finish line. The up side is, I think I've found my focus again. I don't want to get where I'm going, only to realize I missed the whole drive because I was dazed and confused. I realize that I think I've been searching for something for the last year, but I don't know what that something is (I've never felt like Bono so much in my life, since I still haven't found what I'm looking for!), but I wasn't going in the right direction.

So, now, with renewed interest in my surroundings, and a promise to take alternate routes to help keep my interest behind the wheel, I plan to put my energy back to where it belongs and finally get back on the road and get back to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Surviving a Fender Bender

On September 9th, I will celebrate my fourth anniversary with Weight Watchers. Has it always been easy? No. Has it always been tough? No. Like all aspects in life, I had, and continue to have, ups and downs. To be honest, I am actually in one of the “downs” right now. What I decided to do to in order to combat the down was do what I do best- write a blog post. As I was formulating this blog post in my mind, I headed to my weekly meeting on Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it, the topic of conversation was “It’s a slip, not a slide.” With that in mind, I present to you “Surviving a Fender Bender.”

We’ve all been driving down the road and seen one, two or maybe even three cars in the median slightly banged up. There’s probably even a squad car there to assess the situation and hand out a ticket or two. As we drive by – in our damage-free cars – we say a little prayer of thanks that it’s not us standing there looking at the bumper hanging off our car. But what if it was? Would it be the end of the road for you? Would you proceed to drive your car completely off the road and into a tree then throw your hands up and say “that’s it, I’m through now. I’ll never be able to drive anywhere, ever again”? No, you’d get on the phone with your insurance company, explain the situation, deal with the consequences (a little higher premiums) and get your car repaired. Then you resume your life.

Why, then, do we punish ourselves so extensively when we have a little slip up and gain a few pounds? It’s a blip on the radar, it’s not the end of the world. Realizing that it’s happening and correcting the problem is key. After losing 150 pounds, gaining 5 of it back sucks. I’m not gonna lie. But that means that I’m still down 145 pounds. Why would I take a fender bender and turn it into a situation where I have to total my car? I won’t. I’ll call the insurance company (in this case, all my Road Trip buddies and WW crew) and I’ll face the consequences (a little higher numbers on the scale), but then, I’ll get my car repaired and I’m gonna get my butt back on the road. I’ve come too far and put in too much blood, sweat and tears to ram my car into a tree now.

So, the next time you find yourself up a little, don’t throw in the towel, use it to wipe some sweat off your face and get back on the road. There will always be peaks and valleys, and the measure of success isn’t how you handle the peaks, it’s how you navigate the valleys.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take Your Own Journey

I’ve realized something over the last (almost) four years…no matter how well you succeed in striving to hit a goal, you are always comparing yourself to others who have “done better.”  But what does “done better” really mean? Does it mean that someone lost more weight than you? Does it mean someone lost it quicker than you? Does it mean that someone makes more money than you? Well, since we are all human and all in the habit of comparing ourselves to friends, family and co-workers who surround us (and in some cases, we find ourselves making comparisons with people whom we’ve never even met).

There are some good things that can come from these types of comparisons, but for the most part, comparing any accomplishments we make with those of other people is downright useless. I was talking with a neighbor at the grocery store the other day. I noticed that he has lost quite a bit of weight. I know he’s been working on it, as he was attending Weight Watchers meetings periodically and I’ve also seen him walking up and down the main road outside my neighborhood. But I hadn’t seen him in a while, so his weight loss was dramatic and noticeable. Now, I know it can be tricky to mention weight loss to someone, but given the fact that I knew he’d been working on it, I would be remiss not to say something. He thanked me and told me he’d lost about 50 pounds. I congratulated him. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave it there. He went on to compare his accomplishment to mine. I could tell he felt bad that he hasn’t lost as much as I have. He needs to take his own journey, and I told him as much. What he did is a huge accomplishment! He should be shouting it from the rooftops, he should be encouraging others – who are interested – to come along for the ride. He should not be bummed that he hasn’t done what I’ve done.

Now, I have a confession to make. I have to work on this problem with myself! I do look at others who have done more, done it quicker or done it better and I wonder what I could have done differently to change my path. But then, I get random Facebook messages out of the blue from a nationally known magazine and I realize that it doesn’t matter the road that others have taken, because I took the road that I was supposed to take and I am where I’m supposed to be. Sometimes that road was less traveled, but other times it was a full-on traffic jam, but the entirety of that road was mine to travel as I saw fit.

So, I will work on making sure that I don’t try to hitchhike onto someone else’s Road Trip, but I will make sure that I support and encourage everyone along the way. And I hope that you will do the same, because when we all get to where we’re going, it should be one helluva party!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Xtreme Road Trip, Part 2

Many of you were interested in the story I posted the other day about my friend and co-worker, Amaury Dehez. Well, as luck would have it, I had the honor of writing a follow up piece for our company on Amaury's amazing journey to Swissman status. So, without further adieu, I present "An Xtreme Finish":

So, as you read last week, Amaury competed in the Swissman Xtreme Triathlon this past weekend. Well, I don’t know if “competed” is the right word…more like dominated! In a field of 352, he came in 7th, finishing in about 14 hours. He was the first in his age group and the first French competitor to cross the line. C’est magnifique! Il est incroyable! He had a strong support group all over the world cheering him on, many of whom were following along with the Live Tracking offered on the Swissman website (yes, I was one of them!!).

For the swim, he felt he could have been stronger, but he also knew that it would be possible to make up time during the bike and run. When it came time to get on the bike, he realized that he couldn’t push too hard right out of the gate and he would need to get in a good rhythm in order to gain position. The realization that this section is exceedingly difficult could have had an adverse effect on Amaury, but he was not only prepared physically, he was prepared mentally as well. The only wild card was the weather. The wind and rain (and sometimes snow) created additional challenges that can make this race so extreme, but rather than lament the conditions, he just decided that the weather is part of what made this race so special and epic. Early on – and during some of the most extreme conditions – he lost feeling in his hands and still had two summits to climb. The ups and downs of the mountains surely mirror the range of emotions that he experienced while he was out on the course. Just before the final summit, he grabbed an energizing snack which helped him pick up time and positions, as some of the others fell victim to the elements. By the time he got to the final portion, the marathon, he was in “Robocop” mode. He was able to overtake additional competitors during this phase. But as the end is nearing, his mental fatigue is kicking in, his coach/mentor picks up on this and pushes him to keep going. He does and finally, the end and he is a Swissman.  This brief recap does not come close to doing justice to his experience. Reading about his experience in his own words was amazing. I felt as if I was in the middle of the Alps right along with him. 

One would think that after completing this feat, that the next thing on the list would be to relax, but not Amaury! He will be competing in the Mallorca Ironman, which will help with World Championship Qualifications. He knows that, while he couldn’t take unnecessary risks in the Swissman, he will take some risks in Mallorca to help him learn, and push, his limits. His goal is to continue to improve and be an inspiration to others. After hearing him talk about this experience first-hand, I can say that he is truly an inspiration to me. He is not only a world-class athlete, but he is world-class person and I look forward seeing what his future holds!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Most Xtreme Road Trip

OK, so it's been a while and I truly apologize. I have been bogged down in traffic and just haven't been able to get out on the open road to enjoy my Road Trip. That being said, I was given the opportunity to speak with one of my friends and co-workers who is participating in, what I consider, the ultimate Road Trip! Below is something I wrote to share his story with our company. After thinking about it, I figured it was actually a perfect fit for my personal blog. While this is most certainly not my story, it is the story of perseverance, finding a goal, taking the steps necessary to achieve that goal and then getting your ass out there and doing it! His story is a literal representation of "no mountain too tall to climb and no river too wide to swim." So, sit back, relax and enjoy the story of a most extreme road trip. And, Amaury, bonne chance mon ami!

S-One’s very own Amaury Dehez will be participating in the SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon starting June 20th. It is a grueling, 12-hour swim/bike/run that covers some of the planet’s most treacherous terrain. Not only does he have the support of S-One behind him, but he will be wearing a jersey with the HP logo to raise brand awareness in the European market.

In case you want to know what his day will look like, he will get up at about 3 AM to head out for a 4 AM check-in. Then at 5 AM starting at the Isle of Brissago on to Ascona, is the 3.8 km (2.4 mile) swim. He expects to finish the swim with about 20-30 competitors ahead of him, but he knows that he will be able to make up time with the bike ride and run.

The next leg of the race is a mountainous bike ride through three of the tallest summits in Europe. With varying altitudes from 303 meters (909 ft) at Biasca to the tallest peak of Furkapass (2436 meters, 7969 ft), the bicycle portion will end 180 km (112 miles) away in the town of Brienz. At this point, Amaury says his strategy is to be smart and think like a fox, outsmarting his closest competitors. He knows that he will be able to make up some time on the bike that he may possibly lose in the water.

As if completing those two challenges weren’t enough, the final stage of the SWISSMAN Xtreme is the marathon (42 km, 26 mile run) from Brienz to Kleine Scheidegg. The completion of this competition will be a testament to the dedication of mind, body and soul that Amaury puts into everything he does.

The one thing he has learned during the extensive training is to not push his body too hard in the beginning. Then, with the start just a few weeks out, that’s when he goes hard and gives everything he’s got. The biggest reason for this training strategy is so as not to get hurt and then not be able to train at all. With months of rigid diet, exercise and mental preparedness behind him – not to mention the loss of about 9 kg (20 lbs) – it is these last few weeks that are the key to his plan of attack, as he is currently at the peak of his strength and conditioning.
If you want to check out the course and the different altitudes that he will encounter along the way, you can click HERE.