Why don’t you look where you’re driving?!

This is a Public Service Announcement from the Bearded Runner: When you drive, just DRIVE! stop fiddling with your radio or whatever the hell it is that you do when you drive, and just DRIVE!!!

Thank you!

I rise early in the morning, 5AM on most days to tie on my running shoes and start my day with some semblance of balance.

I look forward to my morning run and the solitude which I am allowed

Every year there are a gagillion websites (I’m probably being conservative with this number) that remind the runner of the dangers of running when it’s dark.

I run with a headlamp, blinking light on the back of my head and more reflective gear than I can fit anywhere on my body. I light up like a Christmas tree when headlights hit me. Yes, I said “Christmas tree.” There’s no such thing as a “holiday tree” so if you’re looking for any type of political correctness, stop reading and find another website!

Yet there’s always at least one driver who comes pretty damn close to me. I’m pretty sure that many drivers enjoy playing chicken with me when they see me out for a run. I think they arrive wherever they have decided to go and gather around the water cooler to joke about how close they’ve come to hitting me. When a driver gets that close to me, I enjoy pointing my Petzl light, set to the brightest setting directly into the eyes of the offending driver. If you’re especially lucky, I’ll flip you off and throw a couple of choice words your way to help brighten your day.

I’ve added a little video about “Running in the Dark”

There is no way the driver of the car this morning didn’t see me with the accouterment of reflective gear I was wearing. I’m just saying…put your phone down, stop fiddling with your radio or whatever the hell it is that you do when you drive, and just DRIVE!!!

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The Grayness of the Day

I woke up this morning to 6″ of fresh snow. This was quite a change from the bare grass which was uncovered after the previous snow had melted. The temperatures, more seasonable this morning approached 16 degrees. The bitter cold stinging my face. I pull the face mask up a little bit higher and lean forward as I make my way through the newly fallen snow. My thoughts drift to the previous days run when the pavement was dry, snow was absent from the landscape and the temperature was 40-degrees, a far cry from the temperatures this morning.

There are times during every winter where I seem to drift like the snow through the gray of winter. There is little desire to run and often traveling to work to listen to the problems of others is also a struggle. I move slowly through the morning envious of those individuals in warmer climates who are not shoveling snow. There is an argument in my brain, so I rise, dress and go for a run or do I stay in bed for another hour? My inner groundhog insists there are 6-more weeks of winter. It is often the run which wins as I remind myself how I feel when I have laced up the running shoes, turned on the headlamp and head out the door.

winter running

My spirit needs light. It is this light for which I long and for which my spirit longs. I exit my house and make my way to the car for the drive to the office. The sky, a blanket of gray which does not seem to go away and which seems endless as it stretches the length of the horizon.

The end of the day arrives. I exit my office and am happy the sun when we see it in this hemisphere, makes itself present. I know longer days are coming and with it increasing warmth and more sun

9/11

It is fifteen years later. The memory remains fresh in my thoughts.

This morning, my wife, grandson and I walked amongst the 3000 flags which adorned Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda as a moving memorial to those who lost their lives on that fateful day.

As we walked among the closely spaced flags flapping in the wind blowing across the Niagara River, I tried to picture not a flag but the individual for whom each flag had been placed. Despite the large number of people seeing this memorial, when I stood silently and closed my eyes, I felt utterly alone much as I am sure those who perished on that day also felt knowing they would never see their loved ones again. in the place occupied today by a flag, this symbol of freedom which is iconic in this country. Tears trickled down my cheek, hidden behind sunglasses.

Never forget is a statement which we heard with frequency, every year on this terrible anniversary. We hear this phrase with less frequency today, especially as the years continue to roll forward. I have been given a gift over these last fifteen years. This gift of life is one which I have learned to cherish and make the most of every day. I ask a question daily of myself, especially on those days when I am struggling to remember this gift. The question is “What good can I do this day?” I think this is a good question for all of us to ask.

Never forget!

Namaste.

 

Stop Bitching! Part II

I greet this day with hands clasped together in gratitude. Today I am grateful today for many things. They are truly too numerous to mention and this post isn’t about what I’m grateful for, it’s about you recognizing what you’re grateful for in your life.

I have been thinking a lot about what I have been hearing on the news lately. I am not going to get into those issues as they are far too large for me to deal with and I am not interested in starting what would ultimately be a partisan conflict that would not have an end in sight. Everyone today feels they know the answers. I am not alone in the world of opinions and I am not one of the individuals who feels as though they know everything. I do, like everyone else have an opinion and if you know the saying about opinions you will again understand why I won’t go there. If you don’t know the saying about opinions, here it is: “Opinions are like assholes…everyone’s got one.”

What I will get into is a take off from my post one month earlier and that has to do with the bitching and complaining I hear every day, mostly from those who will not take even one step in the direction of looking at their behavior which has resulted in both direct and indirect decision. Those same individuals are the one who refuse to believe they have any ability to make changes in their life and instead blame others. I almost got into the whole black lives matter, blue lives matter, etc., etc., etc. I also run into those individuals who ask for help, direction, etc. and still refuse to take the steps they need. We live in a culture where bitching, complaining, whining, etc. is accepted if not encouraged. If you didn’t before understand the wild success of platforms such as Facebook, you do now!

I have been in a little bit of a funk recently. I hurt my knee and running without pain and the concern about doing further damage has helped me to make a decision which I believe is in my best interest. I don’t like the decision and I want to get back to running…without pain and the fear of doing more damage. Therefore I made the decision, without bitching and complaining that best works for me. One of the questions I ask is “When did it become ok to not make a decision and to just sit back and complain?” This isn’t for me to anser…yet. I will go there in the book on which I am working but this is a question which each of us needs to answer for ourselves.

The decision not to run was a relatively difficult one to make as we are in the middle of my favorite time of year. For me, there is not much which rivals getting up at 4 AM, putting on a pair of shorts and running shoes, setting my watch and heading out the door for a run. There is no knit hat, no gloves, no tights, jacket etc. On the other hand, for the reasons which I mentioned, this was also an easy one to make.

I have used my meditation practice to be mindful of the fact that I have choices in my life. I feel sad for those individuals who refuse to believe they have choices. We all have choices. They may not seem like good choices, but they are choices nonetheless. I feel sad for those individuals who thumb their nose at interventions such as counseling and instead take the easy way out…medication. Medication can be a remarkable tool to help decrease some of the symptoms we experience, but they are in no way an answer in and of themselves. We are afraid to “go into counseling.” We believe if we “go into counseling we will “get the answers” to our problems. The answers to our problems are within us and we should be using counseling as a type of sounding board but not for the answers. I have patients who do see me looking for answers and when they feel they are “not getting help” because “counseling doesn’t work” are the same ones who leave counseling complaining.

Look within yourself. The answers, despite your belief they are not, are inside you. Ask for help. Ask for direction, just don’t ask to be given the answers. This is a powerful part of the counseling transformation and believe it or not can be a fun part of seeking therapy.

Namaste.

Stop bitching!!!

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude.
Stop bitching!!!! Stop complaining!!!! Stop whining!!!! I mean seriously! Other than a simple, easy way to vent, does it really help?
Right about now your screaming at your screen telling me to shut up. Maybe you’re even telling me that I don’t know how difficult your life is, what kind of stressors your dealing with in your life, etc. Honestly it doesn’t matter. We all  have stressors in our lives. Sure, some are more difficult to manage than others while others may even seem insurmountable, but honestly bitching about how bad your life is and how no one ever understands you is a waste of valuable time and energy.
Bitching is reactive. If you believe you have the right to bitch and bitching is helpful, please do not read further. If you’d like to make an attempt at being more proactive in your response, please continue to read on.
These are just a few simple steps which I take because I can find myself in the same scenario and if the conditions are right, I can  find myself falling off the wagon and bitching.
The first step which I take is to stop using words like “can’t” and phrases like “I can’t.” If you believe you “can’t” you are correct and again you should not read further. This phrase drives me nuts and if in a conversation with someone who continues to use it, I will walk away. I run for fun and exercise and am often asked how  far I run. I plan on 4-5 7-mile runs each week. I am also often asked where I find the time to rise at 4AM to run and I respond, “I don’t find the time; I make the time.” Then I hear, “I can’t do that…” which is followed by a number of excuses. The bottom line is if you truly want to do something, get up and do it. If you can’t because there is a true impediment to accomplishing this task, ask for help. If the person or persons you have asked for help are not helpful, ask someone else. Many symptoms of “anxiety” and “depression” result from our refusal to make sometimes difficult decisions right now which will impact us positively in the future. We are afraid to make a decision, afraid to fail, afraid to make a wrong decision.
The second step I take is to assess the control I have over whatever the stressor is. We have more control over a great deal of our life than we believe we do. I’m not talking about the ultimate control which results in stopping a situation from happening but perhaps there is enough control to impact the outcome. Again, I introduce the word “can’t” and the phrase “I can’t.”
The third step is to assess what help and  resources you need. Is this something simple? “I feel anxious when I watch the news.” Stop watching the news or in the advent of 24-hour news, stop watching as a story is repeated again and again and again and again. Is this something more complex? My garage needs a new roof. Do I have the skills? No? Hire someone to do it.” If you can and want to do it yourself, what do you need to have in place to make this endeavor a success? Plan it and do it. The more involved the situation, the more involved the plan and the more resources we may need. Sometimes the help we need is professional help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It amazes me everyday how people will bitch at how bad their life is and not ask for help and often when help is available and offered, it is rejected.
The fourth step is go out and make it happen. You have set a plan, identified the resources you’ll need to be successful and have embarked on activating the plan. Go out and make it happen. A good plan, even the best plan will have faults because we’re human and we cannot think of everything. No worries…go back to the drawing board. No one tells us this is an option and many of us are afraid of failing. So what! You aren’t the first person to fail and you won’t be the last. I hate to burst your bubble but if you believe you are never going to not be successful doing something…it is amazing to me how wrong you are.
I believe it’s the word “failure” that scares us. Many of us were raised to believe that failure which is also known as “not being successful” is a bad thing. We are afraid to fail. So many of us are paralyzed by that fear and we refuse to even try because “what will people think if I’ve failed?” What will people think if you don’t try? What will you think if you don’t try?
There is a simple question I ask myself everyday especially when I am frustrated and am experiencing some difficulty seeing my way out of a problem. The question is “What am I thankful for today?” It may seem like a stupid or ridiculous question but I’ll bet you’ll have a great deal of difficulty identifying what you are grateful or thankful for in your life. I don’t care if what you come up with especially initially sounds cliché. That’s sad. Many of us take our lives for granted. We blame others for the negativity in our lives and then we find ourselves immobilized.”I’m grateful I woke up this morning.” Many people will not wake up today. Celebrate your gratitude for waking up and having the energy to get out of bed and pursue your life.
Life is made up of healthy doses of fear with a little anxiety mixed in for good measure. These aren’t bad things. These are the ingredients which make life a little more spicy and worth living.
I have a hope for everyone. That hope is simple…May you be able to step back from whatever stressors are building in your life and assess the amount of control you have over those life issues. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if that’s what you need and don’t be afraid to fail.
Namaste

A Beautiful Moment

With palms together,

I wish you all a Good Evening.

My normal wake time during the week is 4:00 AM. Today it was 3:30 AM. I woke without the aid of my alarm. It is this type of wakefulness which reminds me I am rested.

Like every other morning, I rise, sometimes reluctantly and prepare for a run. This morning with preparations complete, I opened the rear door of the house, stepped outside and onto the back porch. I triggered the motion sensor light and as every other morning, my eyes gazed the open lot behind my house; my field of vision limited to the distance the light is thrown through the darkness.

On this morning my eyes caught movement. I leaned forward and strained to see into the darkness where my eyes detected movement. My first thought was a skunk. We know all too well of their stealthy presence. My eyes scanned the darkness and back to the light. This time my eyes began to note a familiar shape; the shape of a fawn. My eyes continued to scan and they made out the form of a second fawn and then a doe.

I reached through the open entrance and snuffed the light. I sat down on the porch and for several minutes watched with curiosity and gratitude as the three enjoyed a breakfast of greens.

Glancing at my watch I knew the time had come to begin my run. I rose, started the timer on my watch and silently ran down the street; my path illuminated only by the torch affixed to a band around my head.

When I run, different thoughts flow through my head. They can be simple and complex; few and racing. This gentle morning I was grateful they were few. They were of solitude. They were of the silence through which I ran. They were of the peace which I felt when I watched the deer.

I hope you enjoyed your day and pleasant thoughts accompanied you throughout the day.

Namaste

I lost it!

I lost it this week. I lost my balance, my mojo…Whatever you’d like to call it…I lost it. Somewhere between driving to the office Monday morning and the end of the day Friday, I lost it!

I drove to the office Monday morning, the sky still dark. My head heavy, tired. I caught myself daydreaming at a couple of red lights wishing I had the day or the entire week off. It wasn’t a full moon but there was a sense of dread. I thought, “I have to get myself out of this funk.” The looming shutdown of the Federal government. Patients telling me they’re depressed or anxious. We explore their issues and I can only think, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” The pinched nerve in my shoulder began screaming at me. I fidgeted in my chair trying to get comfortable. The days of the week counting down in my head. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… the days not dragging but not seeming to move any faster than I had hoped they would move.

I sought solace on my meditation cushion, behind the lens of my camera and while out for my solitary morning runs. All three provided me with the energy to keep going, to keep moving, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

I blame no one and nothing. Sometimes things just seem to happen out of nowhere like walking around a blind corner directly into a door. Wham!! We burn the candle at both ends and either deny the actions which contribute to our imbalance or we simply become so consumed with ourselves, with our activities that we completely miss the ever present signs. For me, it was a combination of both. I have the ability to put on a smile and unless you look ever so closely, you’ll never see the seams. You’ll never see the cracks as they begin to appear around the edges.

I returned from the office Friday evening ate dinner and retreated to my meditation cushion, this time taking it outside. The natural sounds of the world my only company. The thoughts which previously raced around my head like a rubber ball, gaining momentum with each impact now began to slow until the only sound present was that of my breathing.

Balance is being restored. I do not say it “is restored” because balance is one of those things which with the slightest breeze can  push us off course. If we fail to pay attention to the signs, we can find ourselves, as I did far off course as I found myself.

Know your signs. Know when to say “Enough.” know when to ask for help or for guidance. Practice these things and balance becomes your friend. It becomes something which can be easily tamed and not something which tames us.

Namaste.

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