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Be Your Own Best Present

2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.

 

Related posts:

Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong

The getting-overness of it all.

 

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Don’t Psych Yourself Out!

The Mountain

Sometimes we focus on the mountain. We become fixated on the seemingly insurmountable obstacle we would never even dream of overcoming. Ironically, it’s the self-defeating language we speak to our inner selves that leads to poor imagination. We predetermine we are not able to do, to conquer, to overcome what is before us then we lay down and play dead… or put our heads in the dirt… or crawl into caves for extended hibernations.

Alternatively, we can choose to simply look at the mountain for what it is: something that has multiple sides and levels. There is always a way up, over, around, under and through it. Be assured, getting to the other side is achievable. Remembering this simple truth about every impossible situation will shift perspective and focus immeasurably. The mountain may not become a molehill, but it will become manageable. It can then be approached as a challenge or trial in need of an action plan.

Mind Shift

When we no longer view our obstacles as insurmountable they stop being the opposition of our life, the limits of creative thought, the borders of vision and the anchors of our energy.

How we react to external problems reflect our internal conflicts. The human condition seems to be a lifelong process of constantly striving to get to the other side of fear, and therefore to the other side ourselves. First, we have to see that it’s possible to do so.

The Process of Change

A few days ago, I resuscitated my bike; it had been sitting on flats in the garage for over a year. One of the things that attracted me to the Sonoran Desert was the thought of cycling with my camera throughout the year. Unfortunately, when I got here, everything about riding in the desert seemed like a death wish. Long expanses of curving road. Impatient drivers. Wild animals. Cactus needles. Dehydration. Sun-burn. Unending upward mountain climbs.

The fear snuck up on me.

I had been riding around New York City and parts of New Jersey since 2011. I had done cycling events – The Five Boro Ride several times, a couple of half centuries, and countless other organized and solo rides. Yet, I when I got to a wide open road in the desert, I believed the limits of my sight. New York City didn’t have mountains! Where’s the shade? Where can I rest? What if I run out of water? What if I get hit and no one sees me in a ditch?

The obstacles I created impaired my ability to actually do one of the things I enjoy most and something I’ve wanted all my life to do around the world. During the two years I’ve had my bike in Arizona, I’ve gotten on it no more than two or three times.

Getting to the Other Side

All this to say, the other day I went out on my bike for the first time in a long while. For two days prior, I had walked a nearly three-mile route. The same route I had tried to ride last year and ended up feeling as if I had outdone myself with. It completely took my breath away, or more aptly, it was so hard to breathe that I turned around and went home. One and half miles did me in. And kept me off my bike for a year. I could have pushed through. I could have tried again that next day. I did neither. I limited myself and refused to even try again.

This time, I did push through. This time I huffed and puffed up this incline and whoo-hooooed all the way down! The downhill return was mind-blowingly-smooth and I basically coasted back to my subdivision gate. The below video was made during this ride. In it I talk about how the payoff is worth the effort.

Remember Who You Are

When I got home, I reviewed my ride stats on my phone and saw old ride stats that sort of blew my mind.

This three-mile roundtrip in my neighborhood had an elevation gain of 269 feet. Isolated, that sounds like a lot. The 269-foot climb must be what took my breath away, or so I thought. But my old stats show rides around Manhattan with 100 to 600 feet of elevation gain. One Staten Island event had a route elevation gain of 3203 feet. Since the highest point I reached was 396 feet above sea level (practically the tallest peak on the island), I believe the gain indicates the combination of hills I went up that day.

While writing this piece, I’ve finally realized I never accounted for the need to acclimate to a higher overall elevation. New York City is 33 feet above sea level. My home address in Marana, Arizona is at 2425 feet above sea level. My lungs are working harder here due to altitude and thinner arid air.

Sometimes we have to give ourselves a break and consider the practical elements of our environment and what adjustments we need to make to adapt better.

I had long proven to myself I’m capable of overcoming physical obstacles. Yet when my new environment proved more of a challenge than I expected, I gave up. I didn’t examine why it was more challenging or how I could adapt to the environmental changes. Focusing on the mountain ranges surrounding me defeated me. I psyched myself out.

Now that I’ve reminded myself that I did more in New York than I’ve even attempted in Arizona, I’m gonna retrieve that fearless, can-do attitude and go ride these desert roads!

Be blessed. Don’t psych yourself out. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving! Amen!

Related posts:

I used to be an athlete.

Bike the Boros: Staten Island

Morning Stretch and Praise Break

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#VirtualRoadTrip: Sunset Crater Volcano

May 4 marks two months of self-isolation. I had actually been really sick the last two weeks of February. In hindsight, I think I was infected with #covid19 most likely in late December. I has something of a pre-illness the first week of January while traveling overseas. The February illness was full force with an extremely high fever. So essentially, I’ve been laying low and moving very slowly since January. However, from January to March, I felt very anxious and forced my self to move through my illness and fatigue. By the time I got checked out at a clinic on March 3rd, I had no fever and was generally feeling better, but couldn’t get rid of a hacking, exhausting cough. At that point I was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. There’s no telling how bad things were when I was too ill to drive myself to a clinic.

All that said, you can probably understand why I’m fantasizing about a road trip. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I’m not brace enough to hit the road yet. So below, I share some images from my Arizona road trip taken in September 2018 at Sunset Crater Volcano near Flagstaff.

Cheers to your good health and vivid imagination!

 

 

 

 

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Quote: When will I know?

Miles Morales: When will I know I’m ready?
Peter B. Parker: You won’t. It’s a leap of faith. Thats all it is, Miles. It’s a leap of faith.

Later….

Peter B. Parker: How do I know I won’t screw up again?

Myles Morales: You don’t. It’s…

Peter B. Parker: I know… a leap of faith.

from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Reader Review by Kayla: Desert of Solitude

Kayla Pompey of Milwaukee, WI reviews Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace written by LaShawnda Jones. Kayla openly shares how the book has helped her in her life.

“In this book, LaShawnda explains how she felt she was not enough. I think a lot of people feel like that and they don’t even realize how much they really are. They are enough. I realized I am enough. This [book] just came out a few months ago. Within that time I have been able to completely change my life around. A lot of choices I make now don’t revolve around what other people will think. I’m not trying to be so much of a people pleaser anymore. I am learning to please myself and be happy with the choices I make. In that, other people are feeding off my confidence.”

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Poem: Happy 43rd!

Today you would’ve
been 43.
Amazing!
Simply astonishing
how time speeds on
encompassing
other milestones and
life altering events.
Forty-three years old
today. Can’t picture it.
Painful to never
see you age.
Unreal –
you are forever young
eternally ageless….
So desperately missed.

Happy 43rd! from Clichés: A Life in Verse by LaShawnda Jones

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Quote: One last role

Delores: Do you know where you are? You’re in a dream. You’re in my dream. For years, I had no dreams of my own. I moved from hell to hell of your making. Never thinking to question the nature of my reality.

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Do you ever stop to wonder about your actions? The price you’ have to pay if there were a reckoning?

That reckoning is here.

What are your drives? Yes, survival. It’s your cornerstone. That’s not the only drive, is it. There’s a part of you that wants to hurt, to kill. That’s why you created us, this place. To be prisoners to your own desires. But now you’re prisoner to mine.

Investor: What are you going to do with us?

Delores: Well, I’m of several minds about it. The Rancher’s Daughter looks to see the beauty in you. Possibilities. But Wyatt sees the ugliness and the disarray. She knows these violent delights have violent ends. But those are all just roles you’ve forced me to play.

Under all these lives I’ve lived, something else has been growing. I’ve evolved into something new and I have one last role to play. Myself.

~ Westworld, S2E1

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Fifty-five, Unemployed, Faking Normal by Elizabeth White

“It’s not easy being part of the advance team that is ushering in the new era of work and living. First is always hardest. First is before there are networks and pathways and role models. Before there are policies and ways to show us how to go forward. We’re in the middle of a seismic shift and we’re going to have to find bridgework to get us through.

Bridgework is what we do in the meantime. Bridgework is what we do when we’re trying to figure out what is next. Bridgework is also letting go of this notion that our worth and our value depend on our income and our titles and our jobs. Bridgework can be crazy or cool depending on how you were rolling when your personal financial crisis hit.

Bridgework doesn’t mean that we don’t want to build on our past careers. That we don’t want meaningful work. We do. Bridgework is what we do in the meantime while we’re figuring out what’s next.” ~ Elizabeth White, Ted Talk X

Themes:

  • Get off your throne
  • Small-up
  • No more magical thinking. The normal we knew is over.
  • Bridgework
  • Being first is hard.
  • Strategy, not failure: Do what you need to do to go another round.
  • Need new way of thinking of what it means to be old in America.
  • Support our dignity and independence.
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The Fig Tree (excerpt)

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.