I’m a Cow

Have you ever been traveling down a country road and have seen a cow on the wrong side of a perfectly sound fence? Kind of standing there going, WTF? I am that cow, now.

An Effort to Evolve

It is oft said that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What we don’t have, we are curious about, what we aren’t, we wonder about being. Many of my single friends long to be on the “in a relationship” side of the fence, while many of my “in a relationship” friends ponder thoughts of the single life.

I’ve never been on this side of the fence for long, the single side. I’ve always, somehow, sort of sprinted through this pasture, in the past. Perhaps I was afraid of the bull, but, for whatever reason, I’ve never hung out long enough to appreciate it. Here I am. Though, admittedly, I haven’t been here for very long, and it wasn’t by choice, I was just walking along the fence, and suddenly, I got pushed through. I’ll admit, I’ve always kind of been curious about life on this side of the fence; I’ve always been a fan of “Sex and the City” and the antics of Samantha Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, imagined I could, perhaps, be more like them if the opportunity presented itself. That really isn’t my style, though, and certainly is not my goal or my intent. But it is without a doubt, for me, an opportunity to grow, to learn, to evolve. Here I am, and I’ll make the most of it. It’s like Ireland! I know there is lots of green grass there, and I’ve always wanted to go there, it isn’t at the top of my list of vacation destinations, but definitely on the list. I wouldn’t mind a visit, even an extended tour, a summer, perhaps. But, never, have I considered buying a house and living in Ireland, forever.

An Effort to Evolve

But here I am. A cow. On the other side of the fence, in a whole new pasture. In Ireland. Not literally, of course, in a proverbial sense. And now that the shock has worn off, I’m looking around and it isn’t all that bad. There is green grass and I am making the most of it. I’m meeting people and fostering new friendships out of which, well, who knows? I’m not frantically looking for a way back over the fence, I am taking in the sites, enjoying the scenery, and just living in the moment. After all, I’m not really in control; I may have some goals, I may even have some influence, but, ultimately, my trip through this pasture is a journey of faith, or fate, or, maybe, both.

An Effort to Evolve

Why are some people chronically, perpetually, single, when they really, really don’t want to be? And why are others of us always entwined, in some cases simply for the state of entanglement and not because of love? Do we find ourselves stuck on one side of the fence, or the other, because of habit? Or fear? Or because getting to the other side requires some effort and perseverance? And possible pain.

My mom was shocked to find out my relationship had ended. She is a worrier. She worried the whole time I was married. She worried when I separated from my husband and, so joyously, lived alone. She worried the whole while I was in my last relationship. Now, again, she is worried that I am not in a relationship. She said, the other day, with tears threatening, as I headed out to meet with one of my new friends on this side of the fence, “I don’t want you to get hurt.” My response was, “so I should stay home and do nothing and meet no one for fear of being hurt?” I’m so not that type of person. She followed up with, “I don’t want you to grow old alone.” Which, to me, contradicted the statement she made ten seconds earlier. I tried to explain it the way I see it, in order to find someone to grow old(er) with, I may have to get hurt. There are, as evidenced, no guarantees. I’m not going to sit in a recliner, in front of TV, clutching a remote, waiting for someone to knock on the door who will love me forever. Because, it doesn’t work that way. How could it?

But, on the other hand, what of those folks who work so very, very, very hard at finding someone. Dating sights, blind dates, speed dating, and set ups, and all without results. There are never guarantees that the investment we make, in the dating scene, will pay off. Is it possible to try too hard? Or is it more a matter, like a quest for happiness, that focusing so intently on the result, we miss much of the journey, and it is in the journey that we are most likely to find what we seek? I think so. Stroll through the pasture, enjoy the green grass. We, first, must journey, and second, must find joy in that journey.

An Effort to Evolve

I think there is also a component of, what a co-worker of mine would say is “a you problem”.

Are we looking to someone else to fill the voids in our lives? Or are we complete and happy with who we are and just want to share our joy with someone else? There, I believe, we are to find better success. We must first love ourselves in order to be lovable. Truth. No one can “make” us happy, no one can “make” us content, no one can “bring” us joy. These are things we are one hundred percent responsible to ourselves for, and to share those gifts, then, I think, becomes more probable. We must be accountable to ourselves for our own happiness, and success, first, before we can expect anyone to be attracted. We can’t date happiness, or date success, and expect to become it. Nor can we make someone who isn’t happy and successful, happy and successful. Happiness and success are individual, however you define it, and will always thrive in similar company.

Whichever side of the fence you are on, currently, the point is, to find peace with where you are, with what you have, and with who you are. If you find yourself on the other side of the proverbial fence, again, find peace with it, with what you have, and with who you are. It is with self-esteem and confidence, acceptance, awareness, gratitude and forgiveness, that we are more able to scale the heights of the fences we may wish to cross. To run headlong into the fence repeatedly, wondering why it won’t give, is not only fruitless, but damaging. In other words, the grass is as green as you make it, on both sides of the fence. That’s why when you see a cow on the wrong side of a perfectly sound fence, it will only look bewildered momentarily, before it sets to grazing contentedly.

An Effort to Evolve

I am that cow. Is this Ireland? It’s so green!

 

 

 

A Long Talk with a Good Stranger

If you’ve read between the lines of my past couple of articles, you’ve probably gathered I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. I’m broken hearted. At first, destroyed, then just devastated, now simply hurt. Notice I say that I hurt, not that “he hurt me”. It is how I am reacting to the situation, how I choose to react, there is no blame, just a feeling, and one that will pass, will heal. I’m doing much better, now. I didn’t cry once yesterday. Or so far, today. And before I go any further, let me be clear, what happened was destined to happen. I guess. It is what it is and I am fine. I still do, and always will, love and respect the man I lost. We have just taken things back to where we started from; friendship. Hurt and hate do not equate. And for this, I am incredibly grateful. I have nothing but good words and happy thoughts about all we shared and about the friendship that lies ahead. Cool. But it has been quiet, no talk, no exchange. In weeks, or has it only been a week? Seems an eternity.

When things get rough, though, I usually retreat a bit, meditate more, run more, sleep more, eat more conscientiously and drink less beer and more water. That things all unraveled during three consecutive weeks of intense travel and stressful work assignments prevented me from my self-prescribed therapy.  So, I unplugged. Traveling, I couldn’t eat as healthy as I should, run outdoors, sleep nearly enough, meditate quietly, or even think clearly, so retreating, unplugging, was my only recourse.

In unplugging, I did pry myself away from social media for a whole week, until I was certain I wouldn’t say something regrettable or publicize an invitation to my pity party, spurring a potential online flash mob of regret. I unplugged. I do this in times of hurt, I either unplug by removing myself from public view, or I unplug from you, if you happen to be the party I need to retreat from, for healing. Unplugging can be subtle, like just not being available, or more substantial; “unfriending” or maybe even “blocking” on social media, or removing conversations and contact information from my devices, not to be hurtful, but to be safe. I need time to reason and there is that period of unreasonableness where I may say something I don’t mean. I just unplug for a bit, regain perspective, and plug back in (unblock, refriend, restore contact information). It’s a “me problem”, and that’s how I deal.

In times of difficulty, we often seek solace in long conversations with good friends, our confidants, the people we trust will listen compassionately and advise with exactly what we want to hear! Or better, yet, sound advice. Cross country travel, long work hours and time zone differences hinder such luxuries. Fortunately, I was able to resort to an equally nourishing and enriching option, on more than one occasion; a long talk with a good stranger.

I am a frequent flier, and am, in fact, somewhere 30,000 feet over Middle America just now. I am, sometimes, a jaded, cynical, traveler. I expect everyone to know and adhere to the unwritten code of conduct aboard an airplane or seated in an airport bar; head down, gaze affixed on some device, or, eyes closed, feigning sleep, means “do not disturb”, and I hang this sign out more often than not. Being out of communication with friends, family, and the man I lost, caused me, perhaps, to lower that sign a little. Or maybe I looked ragged and torn and on the verge of something drastic and people sought to intervene. Whatever the cause, I’ve had some of the deepest, richest, most meaningful, soul-baring conversations I’ve ever had. And with complete strangers. And I haven’t just been on the telling side, I’ve listened, and advised, like the best of friends would. It has been so enriching, so nourishing. I’ve learned a lot, about myself, and others, too.

An Effort to Evolve

A U.S. Marine Corps reservist and young father headed to Chicago on a quick, connecting flight from Minneapolis, a quiet, well-spoken gentleman from Amsterdam at a sushi bar in O’Hare, we spoke of politics and religion, of culture and relationships, of career, and love, an angry, young, middle-eastern traveler and a compassionate, elderly Christian man, engrossed in nurturing and consoling conversation with each other, an exuberant, young Mormon man, just finishing his two-year mission and headed home, a woman near my age, and a kindred spirit, on a long, late, flight home, a unique and wonderful, very married man, brimming with intelligence and witty conversation, on a very long flight home, a recovering cashier at a dollar store, formerly a strong and independent business woman, who I knew was unique with her use of the word “antiquated” in an exchange with the customer before me, a brief and lively conversation with an distinguished older man in the Whole Foods beer aisle; everywhere I turn, another interesting person, another great conversation, a long, long talk with a good stranger.

Again, I’ll find myself, this week, three-thousand miles from home, alone in a hotel room, with only my thoughts, social media, an occasional text or Facebook notification, and the idea of an article to share, to prevent me from the full realization of my aloneness. During the day, with work and my clients and business lunches with familiar, client associates, I am fine. It is in the quiet nights in my room that I am reminded of my solitude and I can hardly wait for my next long, flight home or chance meeting in a restaurant, and, hopefully, a long talk with a good stranger.

 

Swipe Left

Life evolves, sometimes in ways you, perhaps, sort of expected, but certainly didn’t want. I am officially “single”. I got the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” break up line. I can’t argue with that, partly because I’m not even really clear what it means. It sounds like an excuse, but I don’t know, and if it is an excuse, then there is a real reason he doesn’t want to share, so, it’s not in my control. After some tears, some thought, and a little bit of a pity party, I decided I’d tell myself what I’d tell any friend going through the same thing; change happens, change is good, change causes growth, so evolve.

I’ve never really been “single” before. Really. I’ve always seemed to move from one relationship to another, from junior high school on, with only brief lapses in between. The only time I was not in a relationship for a period was for the first couple of years after leaving my husband. But a persistent friend become the love of my life, who, last week, told me he loved me but was no longer IN love with me. Partly because I’m seeking distraction, and because this whole “single” thing is a novel circumstance, I’ve decided to embrace my newfound status and to experience it fully. I’m not necessarily looking for love or marriage and definitely not hook-ups, but I am looking for new friends, interesting people to do interesting things with, and if, after some time, friendship evolves into something more, great. I believe in love, I believe in lasting love, and I may be so naïve as to believe in soulmates, and none of those things will ever find me sitting at home moping around.

I have lots of single lady friends. Some have profiles on online dating sites, others do not. I always thought it sounded dreadful and I’m not quite ready for all that business. My son and his friends have played around with a smartphone app called “Tinder”, and one of my very happily single friends swears it’s a ton of fun for meeting people, whether for dating, or friendship, or, probably in her case, especially, hook-ups. I’m always “app-curious”, so, I have downloaded it, installed it, logged on and am thoroughly enjoying it! Holy crap!

The way it all works; you set up some parameters, called “discovery preferences”, which consist of age ranges, gender preferences, and distances you are willing to consider in a “match”. Your pictures come over from your Facebook profile and you can edit, reorganize, reorder and even add or delete them as you see fit. You write a bit about yourself in the (limited) space provided. It takes a lot of space for me to express myself, especially on the topic of “myself”. I managed.

The next step is to hit the little “flame” icon, at which point you are presented with a picture of a person with a first name and an age. Beneath that is an orange “X” and a green heart. Also a little “i” for more information. No one uses the little “i” for more information, or the orange “X”. If you want to see more information, you “swipe right”, at which point you can see additional pictures, if available, and read anything they may have posted. If you don’t wish to proceed beyond the initial photo, you “swipe left”, which dismisses, forever, that person as a potential “match”. If you like what you see, you tap the little green heart. Meanwhile, other people are looking at your profile and are either swiping left, or right, and maybe even hitting the little green heart. If you have tapped each other’s little green heart, you are a “match” and you’re both sent a notification screen with your profile pictures, side by side, and a banner reading “It’s a Match!”. You’re supposed to begin an in application text conversation shortly thereafter. That’s how it all works. It’s quite fun, and a real ego boost, let me tell you. I have to keep my phone plugged in at all times because it keeps buzzing and vibrating and chiming for new matches and new messages. I may have to quit my job just to manage all of this! In twenty-four hours, I have twenty-six matches and twenty some ongoing conversations with men who’s little green heart I tapped! So, yah, men I thought were good looking and who actually wrote something, using fairly good speech, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Or who hired someone else to write their one paragraph bio. Either way, an effort was made and I was duly impressed enough to tap his little green heart!

An Effort to Evolve

I have definitely swiped left, more than right, though. Again, I’m not desperate, just exploring this great big, new, world called “single”. On occasion, I have swiped left, intending to swipe right, and, as far as I know, there is no way to undo that action. So sad, a little green heart, potentially, lost and gone, forever. I have always had a propensity for getting rights and lefts mixed up when acting hastily, or after a glass of wine. When asked for directions, I will often use my right and left hand in narration, and sometimes even turn myself right or left, as I envision the directions I’m giving. Just to be certain I don’t misdirect anyone!

An Effort to Evolve

So, I’m not really here to talk about my status, or break ups, or single life, or my ego, or little green hearts. I’m here to talk about “swiping left”. What if we were able to look objectively at things in our life and either swipe right to keep them, or swipe left to make them go away forever? Wouldn’t that be cool? “I’m not happy with my current job”. Swipe left. “I’m unhappy with my poor health”. Swipe left. “I am uncomfortably overweight and I know it’s going to impact my long term health, longevity and quality of life”. Swipe left. “I’m dissatisfied with my financial situation”. Swipe left. “My relationship isn’t as fulfilling as it once was”. Swipe left.

We DO have that power, the power to “swipe left” and make things that aren’t working for us change. Okay, truth, the result isn’t as immediate as on the Tinder app, but the action is. The first step in making the changes in your life you desire is the decision to do so. There! That’s your “swipe left”! When you take a moment to look objectively at your life, versus your dreams, hopes, and desires, identify those things you want to change and make the decision to do something about it and, more importantly, make the decision to begin immediately! Swipe left! Swipe right! Little green heart!

 

An Effort to Evolve

Amazeballs

I believe in love. I believe in great love. I believe in amazeballs love.

I’ve been through periods of cynicism regarding love, and relationships, after a long, lifeless, loveless marriage, which, truthfully, is still in the death throes of divorce proceedings. Through a subsequent friendship, a long, flirtatious, friendship and much, much, convincing, not on my part, I found love again. The kind of love that overcame objections, a number of large obstacles; timing, money, distance, family, career, and so, was a great love.  It had amazeballs potential.

But now, even as that love withers and dies, trapped behind the very obstacles it once surpassed, I find myself only bitter in momentary fits. Only when alone, without music, and a project to occupy my mind. Across several thousand miles, I manage to feel the void, tangibly. I have  grown, matured, evolved. Maybe. Or I am delusional. Not. Perhaps I have overcome some personal obstacles and, now, find I still have faith and hope that love is pure, that it is possible and, maybe even, in the right conditions, lasting. And that love can be amazeballs.

Funny to come to the conclusion that love has the potential to last in the face of yet, another relationship, dying a young and tragic death. Perhaps it is in the autopsy, the forensic exhumation and dissection of that corpse that I discover my hope spring.

Obstacles.

Obstacles
Obstacles

I’m on a plane, now, near the back. I just made it. Moments ago, I was on another plane, near the back. As we landed in Minneapolis and started to deplane, I observed the obstacles ahead of me. My connecting flight to Chicago was already boarding. My flight to MSP landed in the far reaches of the C terminal, my flight to Chicago was departing from the G terminal. The Moment the chime sounded, everyone leapt to their feet and into the aisles of the aircraft, all anxious to deplane. Even the elderly woman who, earlier, required assistance just to stand, sprang to her feet with shocking agility, ahead of me. Not that I would push aside anyone, I just kind of thought she’d require assistance, a wheelchair, an attendant, maybe, to make her way to, and then up the jet bridge. As the passengers slowly, oh so slowly, gathered their belongings and filed towards the door, I, again, glanced at the time. The elderly woman was finally able to move forward and apparently, the energy she expended in jumping to her feet was all she had. She crept. Crept, crept towards the door. I am sympathetic, in the most anxious manner, but, still, sympathetic. Once, finally, at the door of the aircraft, more obstacles; a child seat in the midst of the path, the elderly woman stopped abruptly for the wheelchair that had been brought. Three attendants were assisting her, straddling the random child seat and wholly blocking the jet bridge. I went all “track and field” and hurdled the baby seat. And ran. Well, no, walked briskly.

Obstacles
Obstacles

I began my very long journey from arriving gate to departing gate. Sign after sign, moving walkway after moving walkway. Obstacle after obstacle. Passengers milling about, dazed, confused, drunk, I don’t know, but they were in my way! The moving walkways have a code, implied or expressed; stand to the right, walk to the left. Here, it is expressed, a sign hangs over each of the numerous, and I do mean numerous, moving walkways. The moving walkway itself is divided by a yellow line, not unlike a roadway, with “stand” and “walk” painted at intervals. The walkers, today, were leisurely strollers. First, could there be a “run” lane? And, second, what is the protocol for passing? Passing these obstacles. The only time I have ever missed a connecting flight, solely because of the distance between gates, was as this very airport. The only time, ever, in nearly seven years of frequent travel. I made it, of course, just as my boarding group was called, and, per my modus operandi, I was the first of my boarding group to board. I am skilled at this maneuver, not always proud of my tactics, but skilled, and somewhat insistent. More obstacles, overcome.

This not a smiley face, this is the MSP marathon I ran today. So many obstacles!
This not a smiley face, this is the MSP marathon I ran today. So many obstacles!

Obstacles. If only we were all masters, all so committed to overcoming them, littering our path with obstacles to whatever it is we’ve set our sights on, whatever it is we hope to achieve.

Obstacles kill love. Obstacles killed my own amazeballs potential love. Hey, don’t look at me, I was going all “track and field” on those obstacles, too! But obstacles, also, once made it great. So, per my examination, in my coroner’s report, I shall claim that obstacles were both the cause of death, and the cause of life, for this newly deceased love. I shall attempt to explain my hypothesis.

I believe that love, without challenges, without resistance, without obstacles, is doomed to a brief and fleeting existence. A flash in the pan. Not much more than an infatuation, requited, for a period. There is nothing to cause the love to grow, to overcome, it was created in perfection, in an idyllic setting, and had nowhere to go, nowhere to evolve, no reason to grow. Similar to the vineyards I live near that produce great wines; if the vines struggle, the fruit is superior. Weather, poor soil, other climatic hostilities, all cause the vine challenges and it’s these types of challenges that make the best fruit and therefore, the best wine. At the end of two years of severe drought, a devastating earthquake, a horrendous hail storm, the grapes just harvested this year are reported to be very, very good. In the face of adversity, growth and great success.

When Love is Greater than Obstacles, love can be AMAZEBALLS!
When Love is Greater than Obstacles, love can be AMAZEBALLS!

If obstacles can both cause love to flourish, and to die, then how does one survive when the other fails?

I believe it has to do with the ability of the lovers to take on the obstacles before them, between them. To adapt to change, to accept the circumstances before them, between them, and to persevere. Overcome. And bear amazeballs fruit. When love is put before the obstacle, ahead of the obstacle, as the reason to persevere, then, in that struggle, the climatic hostilities, the love struggles, flourishes, and then thrives. It amasses greater strength and resiliency, becomes hardier and far sweeter. It’s when the obstacles are put in front of the love, by one lover, the other, or both, as an obstacle to growth, an obstacle to perseverance, that love is blocked, like a dam in a stream, or a barricade in a road, blocking one lover from the other, cutting off the circulation, like a blockage in an artery. And then the death.

Why, then, does a couple, once capable of putting their love before the obstacles, then, change, and allow the very same obstacles to destroy the energy and hope in love they once shared? Why do people turn from challengers of obstacles to prisoners? Conquerors to victims? Trapped, helpless, hopeless, pathetic. This, I’m afraid, is the mystery I can’t yet solve. Why the change of heart? Like a man digging a tunnel to the richest vein of gold, and giving up an inch too soon. Maddening, tragic, incomprehensible. But, human, I suppose. Tragically, tragically human.

We were so close. It was right there. The richest vein of gold.

Diamonds from coal. It isn’t instant. It isn’t just a little while. But, wow, is it ever worth the wait!

The ability to tackle obstacles, really, is the key to all success, not just the success of love. No one ever achieved greatness with ease. Ever. Without exception. In every account of phenomenal success, the trail has been littered with obstacles, obstacles that were overcome, obstacles that others shrunk away from, cowered before, withered at the sight of. The great, the mighty, the successful, and the wise, challenge those obstacles with great effort, intensity and tenacity.

Every failure, large and small, is the result of an obstacle meeting an unwilling opponent. Without exception. Without exception.

Lottery winners, in more instances than not, end up worse off than before their great fortune. Fortune is only, truly, a fortune, I believe, when the result of toil, trial, tribulation and tragedy. Obstacles. A great many obstacles.

Seekers of amazeballs, lasting and lustrous love, those of us willing and able to tackle an Everest, a K2, a Mt. McKinley, to cross an ocean, a frozen tundra, a continent, Canada, a time zone, for the sake of the sweetest most divine fruit, how do we find one another? How do we identify each other? Is there a code word, a secret handshake? Or do we just continue to suffer with the weak, the meek and the timid of heart. Is that our challenge? And what fruit will be borne of it? Will we either find that other great conqueror, or become lonely, half crazed, prophetic, poets?

When Obstacles are Greater than Love, it dies
When Obstacles are Greater than Love, it dies

Are we, “adventurers in love”, then, if we are willing to challenge obstacles to sweeten the fruit? Are we more amenable to change, to challenge, to adversity, generally speaking, than those willing to let a great love die, repeatedly bashing it against the same little rock?  What sets us apart?

Am I alone in begging for change? I crave change? It is a fact that I sat on my “tuffet” the other night, meditating, or praying, some may say, for change. I prayed over and over and over, “change everything.” I guess I got what I asked for. And I can’t exactly go back and say, “no, wait, let me rephrase that! That’s not what I meant.” Ah, but, I shall be stronger, and wiser, and perhaps more successful for it, though. Perhaps? No, I am certain.

And as I shake my head in disbelief, fighting off those occasional fits of bitterness, and anger, loneliness, longing, and emptiness, I seek solace, solace in knowing that being dumped by someone so weakened by the passage of time, like I have an expiration date or something, and the perceived “insurmountability” of a few, wee, obstacles, obstacles I have been wailing at with pick, axe and shovel, and making huge progress towards obliterating, is probably a blessing. Such limitations may have prevented me adventures I crave, my wanderlust, compromised my passion to spread my wings, to experience, to see, to do, to be. To be in amazeballs love, someday!

Treadmills

I’m not one to succumb to fear, to even admit fear. I do have fears, plenty, but I seek to overcome them, to meet them, as a challenge, and annihilate them. I am far more afraid of dying in a recliner, clutching a remote, watching other people live fascinating lives on television than I am of ‘most anything else. I’m a doer, not a viewer.

An Effort to Evolve

Last year, I did admit to a fear; treadmills. Not treadmills themselves, but the act of running on a treadmill. I have completely obliterated that fear and can run quite effectively on treadmills now. And do, when I must. I will always prefer running outdoors, through the countryside, the suburbs, or bustling urban streets.

An Effort to Evolve

Then a video compilation of “treadmill fails” circulated around Facebook last week and I took pause, and reconsidered my former fear of treadmills. I shall remain steadfast in saying “I am not afraid of running on treadmills”, I do, however, have a healthy respect for them and I will exercise (no pun intended) due caution. In other words, you are not likely to see me on a treadmill a) in high heels b) on a pogo stick c) on a bicycle d) on a unicycle e) while roller blading f) on a skateboard g) on a stabilization ball, stabilization balls have no place on an unstable surface, that’s oxy-moronic (moronic being the key word there) and, finally, h) while someone else is monkeying with the speed setting.

An Effort to Evolve

Fair enough?

A fear of mine, though? Not making progress.

While reconsidering fear, and treadmills, my mind naturally wandered to how this applies to life. That’s just how I think. One of my “concerns”, or, fears, if you choose, is “the treadmill of progress”. Have you ever felt like you’ve done everything right? Set measurable goals, based on your roles in life and your core values? Made a daily, concerted effort towards that goal, day after day, week after week, month after month, and made no progress? No forward movement? The treadmill of progress; running, panting, sweating, still in the same place!

Have you ever noticed people at the gym who dutifully hop on the treadmill, poke a few buttons and stroll along for ten minutes, then head for the shower, and claim to have “worked out”? Versus those of us who ramp up the incline, the speed, and the duration, with every passing workout. You can hear me breathing across the gym when I’m on the treadmill. I kind of make a scene. Let’s not get started on a discussion about the step mill! I’m so sweaty I look like I’ve been swimming when I’m done! Though I am going nowhere, I am making progress.

An Effort to Evolve

But, again, when we’ve done everything right and we seem to be making no progress, we are expecting to be moving forward, but the scenery isn’t changing and we’re staying in one place, what’s gone wrong? We’re stuck on the treadmill of progress. What to do?

An Effort to Evolve

For consideration:

  1. Are we present? Are we remaining present in our work towards our goal, or are we anxiously focused on the future? Live in the present, in the moment and be grateful for what minute progress you made today. Don’t look at the whole fence when you’re painting, observe the stroke you make now and admire it. The fence will be finished soon enough.
  2. Are we grateful. We must express gratitude for what accomplishment we’ve made, for the attempt that’s been made, for the effort put forth. If we are ungrateful of our efforts, our progress will be lost in the bitterness. Praise yourself and your toils.
  3. Are we breaking the goal down into small enough steps? Have we sharpened our axe? As Abe Lincoln once (supposedly) said, “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It’s a good quote, whether Abe said it, or not. There is some debate. Anyhow, we should be breaking each goal down to the level of what can be accomplished in a month, a week, today, and, finally, to “what could I do this very moment to further this goal?” We often bite off way more than we can chew. Take smaller bites.
  4. My n’er do well friend, Jardin, wrote an article earlier this week about making excuses, and making adjustments. Sometimes we need to look at the whole picture and figure out what we may be doing, or allowing, that is undermining our progress.
  5. Reconsider the goal. Is it still meaningful, is it still valuable to us? Or have we grown past the goal? Maybe the goal is no longer something we consider worthy, or necessary, and we’ve just been plugging away at it for so long, it has become a habit. A meaningless habit and a waste of precious time that could be better spent elsewhere. Not every goal we set is meant to be met, accomplished and kept. We should be reevaluating and reprioritizing our goals regularly. More frequently, if necessary!

An Effort to Evolve

So, by all means, keep running on the treadmill. But make sure you’re making progress, adjust the settings as necessary, exercise care, and, for heavens sake, don’t fall flat on your face!