Tag Archives: inspiration

#MyMile

19275276_10154444289351784_2410358217710841199_nStrava is the self-described “social network for athletes.” I accepted Brad’s invitation to join anyway. Strava challenged its users to go for a personal record (“PR” in runner lingo) in June in The Strava Mile. For some reason I accepted that invitation, too.

We jogged a warmup mile to the Pepperdine track last Thursday morning for this midlife crisis, er, I mean, historic event only to discover college basketball, soccer, and cross country athletes there in early morning workouts. They must have been entertained to see two middle-aged men take turns laboring at (our) top speed around the track to see how fast we could run a solitary mile. Will Ferrell and David Spade will play us in the movie.

I think we impressed ourselves if no one else. That was true for me since my regular exercise routine never includes speed work and because Michael Dukakis was running for president the last time I ran a competitive mile. It got me to wondering what an old man could really do if he was committed to a solid workout plan?

So I consulted my good friend, Google, and discovered John Trautmann. John was an elite college athlete and a 1992 Olympian who like most young adults gave up exercising, got a job that paid actual money, and started eating a lot of doughnuts. He added sixty-five pounds of Krispy Kreme by the age of forty and then decided that he preferred being in shape. So he went to work and at age forty-six (my age now) established the world record in the mile for the 45-49 age group by running an astonishing 4:12.33. 

Okay, that’s not going to happen for me. But it did happen, and that fact alone is crazy inspirational.

What needs changing in your life? And what are you waiting for?

Decide, Then Do

“Workouts are like brushing my teeth. I don’t think about them. I just do them. The decision has already been made.” – Patti Sue Plumer

I love resolutions and make them at any time of year, so yes, I have a new set for 2016. Three of them involve running:

#1: Set a half-marathon PR (under 1:37:10). I will go for it on Super Bowl Sunday alongside seventeen thousand new friends on a reportedly flat and spectacular course at Surf City in Huntington Beach.

#2: Enter the lottery for a chance to run the New York City Marathon. I have never entered a marathon, and if it is going to happen, it might as well be in the world’s largest marathon (fifty thousand runners!). (Running Resolution 2b: If I actually get in, complete the NYC Marathon without a corresponding hospital stay.)

#3: Run in Kenya with Kenyans. This is so incredibly awesome. My wife and I are part of a team headed to Kenya in June to work alongside a beautiful ministry that rescues children from the slums, and the chance to run with Kenyans in Kenya will be the highlight of the year. And if we are chased by a lion, then my ultimate fantasy of actually outrunning a Kenyan will also come true.

Resolutions are famously easy to make—and even keep for the first three days of the year give or take. Resolutions are famously difficult to keep past January, which is why this essay’s epigraph from Olympic distance runner, Patti Sue Plumer, is so curious in its simplicity. You simply decide and then just do? If it was only that easy . . .

What if it is that easy?

We give ourselves far too little credit. Listen closely: You (yes, you) and I (yes, me, too) possess the power to have true resolve. We really do. That resolutions are standing jokes is scandalous.

Marianne Williamson (often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela, but I know it better from the movie, Coach Carter) famously wrote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Do not miscalculate your strength: You are stronger than you think. Do not be afraid of failure: Your battle is the fear, not the failure.

Decide.

Then, do. Simply because the decision has already been made.

End of discussion.

Take a Look at Yourself

In November, my youngest daughter gave me a little book titled, “Experience Passport: 45 Ways to Broaden Your Horizons” because, in her words, it is my “kind of thing,” which is true. The back cover reads: “Where will today take you? This passport grants you access to life-enriching experiences. Break out of your routine, learn something new, and discover the world of inspiration around you.” Woo hoo! Let’s go!

It was a bumpy start. I asked my daughter to pick a number between one and forty-five to get me going, and she went with thirty-two, which read, “Draw a self-portrait every day for thirty consecutive days. At the end of that time, describe how your portraits evolved.”

Well, I completed that task yesterday, and let’s just say that I discovered the answer to a longstanding question of mine as to whether I could be any uglier. It turns out: Yes.

Most of the self-portraits were tight-lipped because the few times I tried drawing teeth looked like I was conducting electrical experiments inside of my mouth. One night, while watching the local news, an artist rendering of a robbery suspect made me question my whereabouts on December 6, at least according to that day’s self-portrait. My Christmas Day attempt at drawing a Santa hat on my bald head looked a little too much like the Grinch.

So what is so “life-enriching” about drawing terrible pictures of myself for thirty days? Is it that my nose improved (the drawing, that is; the real one remains pretty massive)? Is it that in a mere thirty days my self-portraits are slightly less terrible?

Not too inspiring, eh?

On reflection, however, I think that the exercise is worthwhile simply for the metaphor: Spend thirty days closely scrutinizing yourself, blemishes and all, and if you can handle it, you can more accurately determine how to be a better version of you. You know, Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror, and all that.

The end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one is apparently a great time for self-reflection, so I encourage you to take a long, hard look at yourself, warts and all, and set out to produce the very best rendition of you. I just spent thirty days trying to do it with a #2 pencil and a sketch pad.

IMG_2325My Best Attempt

Introducing: Starting to Look Up

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
– Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Things are really starting to look up.

Check it out: I live with my beautiful wife in Malibu, California. We have two amazing daughters who are making their way in this world, and we are proud of them. We both work at Pepperdine University, where I have the honor of serving as Dean of Students at the School of Law. My job connects me to a phenomenal community of faculty, staff, and students who are already changing the world

There is another way to look at things I guess. Malibu is not cheap. I work too many hours. Law school is a stressful environment. Our daughters are no longer little girls. My parents are no longer alive. My hair is no longer with me, and my body seems to remind me on a daily basis that we aren’t on the upswing anymore.

But I fully believe in the wise counsel of Holocaust survivor and Jewish psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, who taught us that nobody can steal our collective ability to choose an attitude in any set of circumstances. If you are skeptical, imagine trying his circumstances on for size.

The law students I serve have this dilemma in spades. They have the tremendous opportunity to study law in Malibu and pursue a most noble profession that offers power and influence. They also work like crazy with looming fears of failure, bar exams, debt, and difficult job prospects.

This blog is my attempt to help all of us, law students along with anyone else in the neighborhood, to work on the attitude choice in our given sets of circumstances.

“Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up. My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up. If they did, they could fly to freedom.”
– Anne Lamott

Things are really starting to look up, and so am I.