Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shoot Daily

This is the eighth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
My favorite pic of the Tetons I have taken. Shot from the south in the Snake River Range.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  That seems like an understatement to me.  Images are powerful.  They evoke emotion.  While it is true that you can paint a picture in a reader’s mind with well crafted words, the reader’s ultimate interpretation will still be unique.  Not true of an image.  What you see is what you get with a photograph.  It will be filtered through the lens of the viewer’s personal perspective and emotional/mental state at the time.  Now combine heartfelt words with an amazing image and one can really stir someone’s soul.
Up high in Cascade Canyon on a stormy summer afternoon. Teton NP.
 I really wish I had discovered photography before the digital age enveloped gear, software, etc.  I believe I would be a better technician when it comes to manipulating, arranging, and combining the variables that impact the final image of a photograph.  If I had learned this craft in a darkroom I believe I would have a better understanding and command of all the aspects of light.  The essence of a photo comes down to light and the context in which it is captured.
Moose Family at Marion Lake on Crest Trail in Teton National Park
 It is easier now than ever to capture your view of the world through the viewfinder.  Every electronic device it seems has a camera incorporated into it.  No more film to develop.  Take and store 5,000+ images on your iPhone.  Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media outlets are exploding with images.  It seems everyone is capturing and sharing more images now than ever in human history.  There is also powerful software to fuel the endless creativity of the modern-day photographer.
Bison in Yellowstone National Park
 This is the area I am a bit weak in.  I have no formal training as a photographer.  Mostly I just shoot lots of images and adjust the direction I go through trial and error.  Since I moved to the Tetons 18 months ago I have shot almost 15,000 images.  I believe that if I beef up my technical skills I can really take my pictures to another level.  The one area I feel I am strong in is composition.  I have a pretty good eye for capturing an image from an interesting perspective.  I believe you can learn this skill, but I also think it is an artistic instinct that really great photographers possess as a part of their gift as an artist.
Sunrise on Flat Creek near the National Elk Wildlife Refuge
One of my goals over the coming months is to take a course in advanced photography techniques.  I will also pair that with a course and some study in Photoshop.  I am very fortunate to be in a place where Mother Nature provides a spectacular back-drop for me to use my abilities to capture some truly breathtaking scenery.  With some beefing up of my technical skills and some updated editing software ability I can get closer to reach my full potential as a professional photographer.
Sunsets over the Big hole Mountains never disappoint.
I do have one other hurdle to overcome before I move any of this forward.  Not too long ago I dropped my camera on the concrete while climbed off a jetty while shooting pics of the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog and Alcatraz Island!  It bounced.  Hard.  Ouch!  I can no longer look through the viewfinder and see what I am shooting and when I shake the camera something small inside rattles like a broken child’s toy.  I was going to upgrade the body sometime soon anyway, but was not anticipating having to do it right away.  I fear that the cost of repair is probably more than the body is worth.  It would probably more prudent to take those funds and invest in an upgraded, used body right now.  I am on a serious budget at the moment.  If anyone has a gently used Canon for sale please let me know!
One of my favorite shots of Teton Canyon and the magical full moon.
Writing, photography, and an intense connection to the natural wonders of our amazing planet:  These are my three passions that I am working to create fusion among to share my view of life and the world around me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Create your Ideal Scene

This is the seventh in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

What if I told you that you could create exactly the life that you have always dreamed about?  Possible or Impossible?  Whichever answer you chose you are correct either way.  If you think that it is impossible or not “practical” then you fall into the category of people who have given up on your dreams for your life.  Please read on if this is you because it is never too late to go for your dreams!

Ali.  Need I say more?

We grow up as kids with our parents, family, and educators telling us that we can be anything that we want to when we grow up.  Dream big!  Somewhere along the way between high school, college, and the first few jobs in the “real world” things change.  Society expects us to “grow up” and “be responsible” and “get a real job”.  It is now time to leave those childish fantasies behind and conform to the norms that friends, family, and society in general foist upon us.

I am telling you right now to not listen to any of these people!  Who says that the pursuit of one’s dreams has a time limit or an expiration date?  What is it the age? 18, 21, 25, 30?  Pick a number.  The higher the number the more pressure to conform by those who have already given up on their dream!  Is that who you want to listen too?

The PIXAR movie Up.  A great tale of life and dreams.

I am a parent.  I have three amazing kids aged 16, 13, and 9.  I have always told my kids that they can do anything that they want with their life.  It is theirs to live.  My expectations for what they “should” be doing do not matter.  As long as they are happy, healthy and fulfilled by their daring pursuits of their dreams in this life I will always support them and be happy.  Many people feel that once you have kids that you should put your own dreams on the back burner and make it all about your kids.  Personally, I think that is a horrible example and message to send to your kids.  I do not want them to ever stop pursuing their dreams in this life.  Not when they have kids or when they become a grandparent. 

Everyone should dare to dream big all the days of their life and have the courage to pursue those dreams.  What would you do if you know you could not fail?  What is the worst thing that could happen if your plans in pursuit of your dream do not initially work out?  The key to success in life is to fall seven times and get up eight!  I am 42 years old.  Those of you who follow my posts on a regular basis or know me have seen the journey I have been on the past 3-4 years.  After 15 years of slowly surrendering my dreams I finally reconnected with my true self and found the fortitude, courage, and sense of adventure to go for it!  There were many people in my life that criticized me or discouraged me from my new direction.  These were the ones who had too long ago surrendered their dreams.  I did not listen.  Instead I surrounded myself with like-minded spirits and other positive messages to buoy me along way of my new fantastic voyage.  My journey continues.

I stood on this exact spot after running 2,448 miles across Route 66 in 18 days.

So, for the last 3-4 years I have been working to create my ideal scene.  How did I get started?  First I dared to dream and threw out every limitation as to what was possible that I had gathered along my journey up to this point.  If I was considering something that seemed unrealistic I would ask myself:  “Why not?  Who says I cannot pursue this.  What is the worst thing that can happen?”  There was a book that I came across that was very timely to this renaissance I was experiencing at that time a few years ago:  The Type-Z Guide to Success- A Lazy Person’s Manifesto for Wealth and Fulfillment by Marc Allen.  This is a great read.  I go back to it again and again.  His viewpoints obviously run counter to the Type-A mentality that permeates much of our consumer-driven society and the pursuit of what I call “stuff”.

One of the first exercises that he has the reader do is to stop and take out a blank sheet of paper and write “Ideal Scene” on the top of the page.  He then encourages the reader to describe in great detail EXACTLY what their ideal life looks like.  A day in the life so to speak.  What does your life look like from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed that day in your ideal life?  Where do you live?  What do you do?  How do you spend the different parts of your day? Relationships?  Car?  House?  Describe it all exactly the way you want it to look.  I am not going to tell you about my ideal scene here because this is not about what I consider to be ideal.  This is all about you and the world you seek to create for yourself.

He follows it up with several other exercises that keep you moving this idea of your ideal scene forward by breaking it down into some specific goal with specific action steps.  All of this is done in a very relaxed, but proactive way supported with lots of positive affirmations of your goals.  I like this approach because it employs time-tested methods of goal setting along with a Zen-like approach to being in harmony with one’s true self.  I could elaborate for a couple of thousand words on this, but instead I will just encourage you to read the book.  It is a quick easy read that is powerful, and poignant.  My copy is beautifully dog-eared, tattered, and full of notes and highlights.  Its sits on my kitchen table as I speak.

Part of my ideal scene involves lots of travel!

Has your life become something completely unrecognizable from what you had hoped for it to become?  Do you feel like you have lost control or direction of your life and are helpless to change the course as you are swept along by the fast moving current?  This is one of my favorite quotes by Paulo Coelho:

“What's the world's greatest lie?... It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”

I do believe life is a wonderful combination of destiny and free will.  We ultimately have a destination we are bound for, but we have choices to make along the path.  We can move ourselves from one current of life and change our direction 180 degrees at any moment of our choosing.  Do it now.  Take out a blank piece of paper and dream big!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Treasure and Grow Relationships

This is the sixth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

I believe people come into our lives at a particular time for a particular reason.  There are no coincidences in life.  Some people are just better at slowing down and appreciating and being present for what is happening right now.  Sometimes people come into our lives because they are supposed to teach us something we need to learn or experience as we move forward in our journey.  Other times they appear so that we can give them a gift of some knowledge, experience, or perspective that they need in their journey. 

Sometimes that interaction is very brief.  That person may pass you like a ship in the night if you are not paying attention.  It could be a two minute conversation in the check-out line at a store or a cross-country flight sitting next to them on a plane for four hours.  One never knows where inspiration might come from.  The key is to be present enough to appreciate these opportunities when they present themselves.

Where the river of our lives merged back in 2010 in Denton, TX.

Here is a great example.  In 2010 I was driving to the airport to crew a friend at the Badwater 135 across Death Valley.  As my car moved 70 miles per hour down the freeway I whiz past a guy on a touring bike that is loaded down with a sign on the back that said “Coast to Coast”.  I was on my way to a sweet little adventure, but I thought to myself that this guy is really deep into one right now here in the middle of North Texas.  I could have continued on my way, but something told me to stop and find out more about this guy’s story.  I pull over a few hundred yards in front of him and greet him with a smile.  Almost an hour later I am back on the road.  Turns out this guy was one of the most interesting people I had ever met.  Frosty Wooldridge.  He was placed alongside that road at that moment in time because I was supposed to learn some things from him relevant to my journey in life and the transformation I was going through in my life at that time.

Frosty’s Walden Pond of the Rockies.

Frosty and I remain friends to this day.  A month ago my brother and his family moved to Golden, Colorado.  Guess who lives 300 yards away in the next neighborhood?  Frosty!  Coincidence?  I think not!  Serendipity.  I was there to see my family and reconnect with my friend Frosty just 2 weeks ago.  We went on some bike rides, shared a meal and great conversation in his home with his amazing wife Sandy, and did an overnight hiking/camping trip with him and a friend to his favorite place in the Holy Cross Wilderness.  The place was Whitney Lake at 11,000 feet elevation.  This place is Frosty’s Walden Pond of the Rockies.  It was pure magic with the fiery quilt of color Mother Nature had spread out for us to traverse during our journey.

Was it coincidence or fate that hot summer day in Texas a few years back when our paths crossed?  I think not.  I have learned many things from this amazing man who has truly lived a remarkable life.  He continues to inspire me and encourage me to live my life in that same robust manner.  I also feel I have given him some gifts in our friendship as well.  I look forward to many years of inspiration and additional shared adventures with my friend.  The point being this:  What if I had just whizzed right on by and not taken the time to follow my gut and instinct and take the opportunity to meet this person? 

It is all happening Here and Now!

I want to make one other point about building and nurturing relationships.  One has to be fully present and engaged when we are interacting with all the people in our lives.  Sometimes we are too busy multi-tasking or thinking about work or other things in our cluttered minds.  We also allow technology to get in the way.  In some ways technology like cell phones, Skype, FaceTime, etc. can bring us together with people that are important to us that may not be in the same place at a particular moment.  I also believe that it has led us to become insulated and isolated from many of the people right in our immediate presence.  Texting or playing a silly game on an electronic device while at a table in a restaurant is more common than meaningful conversation.  Next time you are in a line waiting anywhere notice how many people are head-down lost in their device(s).  Here are a few reminders about how to be more present and engaged:

  •  Turn off devices and all electronics
  • Take a 30-minute walk with someone (No devices!)
  •  Share a meal or a cup of coffee outside in a sunny spot (No devices!)
  • No multi-tasking physically or mentally.  Focus on the one thing you are doing with the person right in front of you at that moment.

One of my favorite places to Be Present….Pendl’s in Teton Valley

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nourish My Body

This is the fifth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
 Everyone has heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  This is a statement that people should take literally.  By the nutritionally void food most people eat and the pandemic obesity in this country it is apparent most people either do not understand this or they no longer care.  Both are sad stories.  You only get one vessel to carry through this amazing adventure called life.
Stand in front of the mirror naked.  There you will see the harsh truth about the kind of care  that you have given you body over your time on the planet.  I know the media blitzes us with unrealistic body-type images all the time.  I am not saying that you need to look like a waif runway model or a chiseled athlete.
I spend a lot of time in airports.  I see more people who are obese or morbidly obese than those who have a relative level of fitness.  Some of these people can barely walk anymore.  Most have given up hope.  I am here to tell you that it is NEVER too late.  I am generally around a lot of very fit, hardcore athletes, but THE most inspirational people are the ones who were sick and tired of being sick and tired and decide to take charge of their body and their health again.
Percentage of the population with a BMI above 25
Measuring Body Mass Index (BMI) is a general approach that compares the ratio of height-to-weight.  It is not the perfect means of determining if someone is at risk for a myriad of health problems associated with being overweight.  A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight, while the range of 30-35 is considered obese, and 35+ classified as morbidly obese.  A BMI over 32 can DOUBLE your mortality rates as you age and the accumulated stress on your body’s systems is compounded.
As more data gets collected the trend becomes even more disturbing!
I also spent significant time with elementary-aged kids in schools across 9 different states in our country this past summer.  The rate of childhood obesity in this country is scary!  In general these kids are eating thousands of empty calories every day and getting little if any significant physical exercise.  The psychological baggage some of these kids are already carrying can be debilitating and cause them to have a very poor self-image that permeates every aspect of their life and what they perceive as their own potential for their life as an adult.
Kids should be active outside playing and not stuck in front of the TV
What can we do about this?  I believe each person has to take responsibility for the food that they choose to put in their body.  I know that children cannot control this.  They are counting on their parents to make the right choices and show them the way to a lifetime of healthy eating habits.  We know that big corporation food manufacturers do not care.  They only care about the bottom line.  Do not rely on the government to tell you how to eat either.  Ex:  The government recommends you drink four 8-oz glasses of milk a day.  The dairy industry is one of the most heavily subsidized segments in our food supply.  Humans should not be drinking mass quantities of cow’s milk daily!  Especially the kind with all the hormones in it and affected by the genetically-modified feed the cows are given to boost milk production.  Cow’s milk is design to grow baby cows not baby humans or adult humans!  No wonder our playgrounds and airports are starting to look like feedlots!
This is not healthy for anyone including the cows!
I digress.  I am very passionate about this subject.  The solution is very simple:
DO NOT eat processed foods.  This means everything in the middle of the store that comes in a box or is pre-prepared.
DO eat lots of fresh, organic, local produce.  Know your food grower.  Seek out and support your local organic farm or grow your own!
DO NOT eat any food product that comes from CHINA.  Especially fish, any meats, or frozen fruits and vegetables.  Read the label to know the country of origin.  There are virtually no standards for cleanliness and sanitation in China and some other countries.
DO buy all your food from sources that are 100-150 miles from where you live.  It might take a little effort in the beginning and the geography of where you live could offer some challenges, but you should know the methods of production for everything you eat.  Otherwise, you are rolling the dice.
In general your diet should consist primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Limit red meat consumption and work in a few healthy, clean servings of wild-caught fish instead.  Look for healthy nuts and seeds for snacks.  Drink lots of water.  In all things moderation.  Do not skip meals and gorge at the end of the day.  Instead, graze throughout the day with smaller more frequent meals and healthy snacks.
So many amazing tastes and textures out there to enjoy!
And lastly…..Move your body!  Let your muscles and joints and bones know every day that they are needed and will be used.  Motion is lotion.  The more you move and keep moving the better everything feels.   Regular exercise will also help you stay on track with better eating habits, better sleep patterns, etc.
The longest journey starts with a single step.  Commit to one change today, this week.  Next week take another step.  Build new habits and replace old unhealthy ones.  The length of your life and the quality of your life are directly dependent how you choose to fuel and use your body.  Choose wisely. It is never too late!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breathe Deeply

Breathe Deeply
“Smile, breath and go slowly.” Thich Naht Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk
This is the fourth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

Back a few years ago when I was in a very transformational mood I came across a blog that has had a profound impact on me these past few years.  It inspired me to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, and to be present in every sweet moment that life offers.  The blog I speak of is Zen Habits by Leo Babuata.  Here is a link to his blog.  The page I pointed it to lists his 20 most popular posts.  There are thousands of additional post full of golden nuggets of wisdom.
The first one I read was simply titled: Breathe.  It is simply perfect.  It is a wonderful reminder you can read every day in less than a minute that will impact your every minute if you embrace it.  Here it is below in its entirety.  Take a moment.  Breathe.  Relax.  Read the words.  Breathe.  Let them wash over your every thought and concern at this very moment.  No matter what you are dealing with in your life it will make things better.
Post written by Leo Babauta.
Breathing can transform your life.
If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.
If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.
If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.
If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.
If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.
If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.
If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.
So breathe. And enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.
Tip: Put the word “Breathe” as a screensaver or desktop pic, or put it up as a note on your wall or fridge or on your desk. Then do it every time you see the word.
 Thanks for this Leo.  This post needs no further elaboration.  Smile, breathe, and go slowly my friends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Follow Your Heart

This is the third in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

There is a long-standing battle waged between one's heart and head.  People who filter important life decisions through what the logic their head tells them tend to be seen as lacking in passion.  Conversely those who follow their heart in the face of logic are seen as hopeless romantics who throw all caution to the wind without a care for future consequences.  Which end of this spectrum do you fit?  One of the extremes or somewhere in the middle?
For me it is all about the heart.  I have not met too many people who have said "If only I had followed logic and what my head told me at the time."  For the most part I tend to hear people express regret that they took the logical or "safe" route and later regretted not going for what their heart really wanted for their life.  This could be in the context of a relationship, a career, or other important area of their life.
I guess it is easy for me because I am a hopeless romantic.  It is the primary filter that I pass everything through.  I am definitely wired this way when it comes to relationships, but I am also this way with everything I choose to put my time and energy into.  I cannot  do a job or any kind of work that my heart is not into and that I do not believe in.  Logically, I could have made some other decisions and my bank account would be the better for it, but my heart would suffer.
Me.  Completely fulfilled doing what I love following my heart.
I have to be true to myself.  That is a huge part of following your heart.  You must know your true self and embrace who you are.  Too many people surrender their true selves to the expectations friends, family, and society place on them.  Go to college.  Get a steady paying job.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Start a family.  Deviate from the societal norms or think outside the box and get labeled a hopeless dreamer out of touch with reality by those who gave up on their dreams.
So what is the reality of losing touch with your heart and being too logical?  It means surrendering your hopes and dreams for what you hoped your life could be for yourself.   Much of my path back to embracing and following my heart has been influenced by Paulo Coelho, the author of the Alchemist and many other impactful works.  This particular quote captures the essence of what I am trying to say:
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream."
So many people are paralyzed by fear.  In the context of relationships it is a fear of making themselves vulnerable and potentially getting hurt.  In other areas of life it could be a fear of failure or judgement by others.  Allow me to quickly make a few points about Vulnerability, Failure, and Judgement.
Vulnerability:  The quote above really speaks to this.  Your heart will suffer much more alone than it will having made itself vulnerable and potentially be disappointed or hurt.  It is better to have love and lost, than to never have loved at all.
Failure:  What is the worst thing that can happen if you choose a particular path following your heart?  No matter what the outcome you will have the ability to re-start yourself and continue along a path that fulfills your true self in any area of your life.  Fail gloriously!
Judgement:  Those who judge are the bitter ones who have already long surrendered the dreams of their heart.  They cast aspersions upon those of us who still have the courage to follow the dreams of our heart.  RUN, do not walk away from these kinds of people!
I am not saying that there is no place for logic in one's thinking.  Ex. If in your heart you aspire to be a mountain climber please use lots of logic as you plan an ascent.  We need all of our wits to help us navigate along our path.  You can want with all your heart to stand on that mountaintop, but without the right logic employed at the right place you may never get there.
Middle Teton Summit this summer.
Follow your heart.  You will not regret it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Be Present

This is the second in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
Be Present
People have three choices as to what state of time they can be focused on at any given moment:  Past, Present, and Future.  Each has its appropriate place for thought and contemplation.  I contend that most of our time should be focused on the Present.  Let’s examine each state of mind and I will offer my thoughts on what I feel is a healthy mix in each.
The Past:  Obviously if you are stuck in the past how can you appreciate what is going on right in front of you at this very moment?  I am not saying that contemplating one’s life experiences is a bad thing.  All these things give our present a unique perspective.  We will always see things through the lens of our experiences.  They say those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.  This can be the consideration of good experiences and victories as well as the GLORIOUS FAILURES!  There is a time and place for this as we seek to grow as individuals.  Do not allow yourself to get stuck in a pattern of looking back and saying “What if…” or holding onto regret from past mistakes or situations where you wished you would have made different choices.  Generally what is done is done.  Take the nugget of wisdom gleaned and get back to what you can affect here and now in the Present!
At the finish of a 50k where I laid it all on the line...
The Future:  We become what we think about.  Our thoughts become actions and those in turn become results and outcomes that create our future state.  I firmly believe in having a healthy, positive expectation for all my future endeavors, wants, and desires.  One should expect to get the result they want when putting effort and energy into something.  What would be the point if someone had an expectation of failure?  Odds are in their mind they would have already given up before they even started and will subconsciously sabotage your own best effort.  It is very useful to dream and plan for what one wants out of life.  Build your sand castles up in the air!  Dream big, but act now.
Part of my future involves an off-the-grid cabin in the mountains...
The Present:    This is the here and now.  As you read these words are you truly present or are you trying to do three different things at one time?  One of my favorite expressions is:  “None of us are promised tomorrow.”  This is not a doom and gloom the world will end tomorrow mentality.  For me this is a simple reminder that each day in this life is a gift that should not be taken for granted.  Your whole world can change in 5 seconds.  How long does it take for a car crash to take place for a driver who is texting while driving?  Do not take the gift of a single day in your life for granted.
How not to be present: Our world is filled with conveniences that are designed to save us time and to keep us connected to people and make the world a smaller place.  I was in a restaurant on Saturday night and I saw a table of 10 ladies all having dinner together.  This was a great place in a historic, downtown area.  The room had great ambiance and energy in this eating establishment.  How great those 10 friends had come together and had this moment in time to share with each other.  What I saw though at one point as I stood at the front door waiting to leave was not such great fellowship. No less than 6 of them were holding their cell phones in their hands, with their heads bowed down, and fixated on the screen as they texted, checked email, or some other social media outlet.
This is obviously not being present and being distracted by a cell phone is an easy and obvious target for this conversation.   I am guilty of this as well.  I am trying to be more cognizant of this transgression.  Do not let technology that connects you to people thousands of miles away keep you from connecting and appreciating the person standing right in front of you NOW.  This could be the clerk at the store.  Do not be the obliviot who yammers away on the phone without making eye contact or saying a word to the person who just rang up your groceries.  Smile and engage.  Some of the best conversations of my day have come at the most unexpected moments.
How to Be Present:  For me the essence of being present is this:  Slow down, smile, breathe deeply, and soak it all in.  Nature seems to offer us the most poignant reminders and rewards for slowing down and taking it all in and fully appreciating the wonder before our eyes in that moment.  Funny how when we are in our everyday world of modern conveniences and time savers our schedule takes over and we find ourselves always in a time crunch hustling off to check the next item off the to-do list.
My campsite in the Rockies last week. Thankfully no cell service!
Have you ever felt that way on a camping trip?  Maybe at first as you hustle to separate yourself from the frenetic pace of your life, but once you have left all that behind time magically slows down.  Even when you have to gather wood and make a fire to prepare a meal out in the wilderness, it seems you have so much time to enjoy it all.  Gathering wood and making the fire in this scenario is not a task you quickly hurry through to quickly get to the next event.  Maybe while you are wandering the surround woods for deadfall you stop to admire the way the late afternoon light shines across the forest floor and illuminates a long-fallen tree covered with soft, spongy, green moss.  Looking closer you notice a clan of ants feverishly shuttling leaf-litter along their path.  Since you have now been standing still for a moment you realize how quiet and still things are all around you.  Out of the corner of your eye you see flit of a curious chip monk’s tail as he scampers from one point of cover to another.   All this and more happens in just a few short moments as you pause on a casual stick-gathering trip 20 feet from your camp site.
There are wonderful moments like this to appreciate in our everyday lives as well.  Make sure to give the people you come in contact with the kind of undivided attention you hope to receive.  You never know what conversation you might be missing otherwise.  Some of the most interesting and amazing people I have met have come at the most unexpected moments.  Slow down.  Look around.  Breathe deeply.  Smile.  The world around you is a beautiful place and today is a precious gift if you will just take the time to notice.
Here is a picture of me "Present" as I type these words.
HERE is another post I wrote back in 2010 on being present as it relates to running and headphones.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trust Your Journey

This is the first in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE
Trust your journey.  To me that means have an inner peace about the path you are on in life.  That does not mean that  you will not have moments that confound you or make you scratch your head and think "How can this be my path and how is THIS going to get me where I ultimately want to be?!"
Is there a true destination anyway?  Are these "destinations" or places or states that we seek, merely just way-points along the continuing path? Does your path have an end? A finish line?  Not for me.  I have found that life seems to be a wonderful combination of fate/destiny and free will/choice.
Let's start with Fate/Destiny:  To me this means that you are being true to yourself, your true nature of who you are as person.  One who follows their heart into the world being present in all the sweet moments of life by being fully present in the moment, but also having a forward looking perspective that expects great things for tomorrow and the continued journey along your path.
Horseshoe Bend- Colorado River
Free Will:  We have been endowed with this ability to make choices.  Choices that in any given moment can move us from one rushing current of life into another moving in the complete opposite direction.  These different choices may cause our path to meander quite a bit along our journey.
So once we recognize our ability to make these choices and we are fully present we can begin to recognize mileposts along the way that serve to encourage us to stay the course and to continue to trust our journey.  Sometimes these are very subtle and you might miss it!  Even if we miss our exit and seem to be off course, ultimately the flow of life will continue to carry us towards our destinies.  There is not always a big blinking sign that screams "Turn here!"  That is all part of embracing the journey along the way.  Celebrating the sweet victories and embracing the challenges and growth that comes from failing gloriously.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
This quote from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorites.  It encapsulates much of this idea of trusting your journey.  I highly encourage anyone wanting to further explore these ideas to read this amazing, allegorical novel.  I have read my copy dozens of times.  Each time it reminds me to stay true to myself, lead with my heart, be present for all the sweetness life offers, and most of all to trust my journey.
Peace!  Dave

Monday, September 10, 2012

Use the Force...

View this post in it's entirety HERE.
Back in February I decided to start flexing my writing muscles again.  I actually made a semi-public statement about it to create some accountability for myself.  I did not do a very good job of following through on that!  So… I am again on September 6th seven months later making the same affirmation.  The good news is that we all have a choice each day.  We can begin anew at any moment of our choosing.  I choose now!

I found this amazing rock on my way to summit the Middle Teton this past weeekend....More about this very special rock later.
Here is a link to that post from back in February.  It is a pretty good read if I do say so myself and it has a sampling of some pretty good pics I have taken since moving to the Tetons.  Check it out HERE.
Here is my thought from the end of that post:
“I sat down tonight with a firm commitment to begin exercising my writing muscle again. At the top of the page I really had no idea what I might have to say tonight. Just start writing and let it flow. Pure, honest thoughts that are bouncing around in my head. Sitting down and pushing these thoughts onto this page have strengthened my resolve to follow through on the fusion of my running adventures/experiences with my writing and the pictures of the amazing places in this world this will take me.”

Top of the Middle Teton in the Shadow of the Grand
So as an update to my post from back on that very cold, snowy, beautiful winter day here are a few new thoughts and affirmations:
I still am resolved to bring my love for adventure in this life together with my writing and photography.  Now 7 months later I have even more clarity about what that might look like.  I know it will be a twisting and turning path to get to my destination, but that is where most of the adventure lies.  All those wonderful curve balls life throws at you, all the small beautiful moments, to only be noticed if you are present enough and slow down enough to realize that the place you seek to reach is not going any where.
So as I move forward I am going to:
1.  Trust my journey.
2.  Be present.
3.  Follow my heart.
4.  Breathe deeply.
5.  Nourish my body.
6.  Treasure and grow relationships.
7.  Create my ideal scene.
8.  Shoot every day.  My camera that is….;)
9.  Write every day.
10.  Walk the Earth and be happy.
Each day for the next 10 days I am going to elaborate on each of the above.  Make your today great and drink in your life deeply today.  None of us are promised tomorrow.