Live each day

The world often conspires in ways to being things to your attention, and I feel that acknowledging these things is important to help spread the message. Here follows 3 tweets/blog posts that made me stop and think. Hard. About life, love and those that mean so much to us.

  1. On Monday, I saw a tweet about The Last Post, read the first paragraph and stopped what I was doing to let it soak in. I have read a little more of the blog post in the past 2 days but not digested it all (yet).
  2. Tonight, I saw another tweet from Sara Lucas (aka SassLucas), doing her bit to try and enrich the women & children of the world, and traced the tweet back to it’s owner, a lovely lady called Eden Riley:

    Eden’s blog post (Every Little Thing) is a real, moving story about the passing of her friend Vee’s husband one year ago. After reading the post, I then followed the link to Vee’s story titled Why You Where Here. Equally real, moving and a lovely tribute to one of the most important things in her life. I think both Eden and Vee are awesome, brave and courageous to share their stories.

  3. ADDED 12th May: I could not let this one slip. I saw a tweet from my wonderful friend Francie Jones earlier today which fits right into the theme here of loss and living your life.
    Ben Pobjie recently wrote of his experience with depression (aka the Black Dog) in a post titled Crumple Zone. (Many of you will remember the Black Dog Ride I participated in as a member of Riding4Cause in September 2010). It’s but a small way we can begin to see what it’s like from the inside, from someone who’s been to the brink of suicide. It’s a powerful post that brought tears to my eyes and I offer it here as part of the theme of “living your life”.
  4. Then, as a counterpoint to the above, here’s a blog post that I think sums up the nature of life for everyone I decided to photograph the reactions of my friends and family when I told them my good news – I’m going to be a dad! Please note this is NOT my blog post, but serves as a way of contrasting the loss for one person/family against the pure joy felt by others.

Life is a cycle. Things happen, they happen to everyone at different times, and whilst one person grieves, another celebrates. No matter what happens, you need to continue to live your life. Go out there and live it, love yourself, love your family and friends and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Children Ramblings

Walking lessons

As part of my CrackOfArse challenge I went for a brisk 30 min walk this morning before heading home and picking up the boys (Mr almost-6 and Mr almost-9) to walk them to school. Walking with my boys gives me pleasure because it’s a chance to talk with them instead of talking at them during  normal day.

Today’s lesson was the difference between buying a house and renting a house, and branched out into loaning money and how interest works.

The other observation is that they see things I do not; they spotted things like screws, rubber bands and springs on the ground; flowers in a garden that one of our neighbours used to grow; the shadow from a centipede was larger than the centipede itself; and just how long some streets are!

For me, this morning’s walk I felt connected with the environment; I walked on the side of the street where there was more sun; I smelled wonderful smells coming from flowers, kitchens and rubbish bins; I wondered what the stories were behind the 4 cars that are now home to many spiders and their families, and gazed up into the blue sky on this awesome Sydney Autumn morning.

Get out there for a walk, it’s a skill you already have in your toolbox and you can do it anywhere. Walk with purpose and use your senses to pick up on the things that happen all around you. You’re worth it!

Betterment Ramblings

Today, I said goodbye

Below is the goodbye message I sent to my work colleagues earlier this week. I reproduce it here for your benefit:

A beginning is only the start of a journey to another beginning – unknown
Let me start by saying that you’ve received this message as someone who has shaped me to be the person I am today through the last 16.5 years of my journey through __________. Everything we do in life is a journey – at the start of my journey as a Remote technical support technician in 1994 I did not know where my journey would take me. I’ve been blessed to have met many of you over the years as part of the training or L&D organisations. No journey can be completed without help from others.

For your help, guidance, persistence, recommendations, discussions and feedback throughout the years, I say Thank You.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young – Henry Ford
I’ve been privileged to work in & around the world of “Learning” for most of my life and believe it is the heart and soul of everything we do. Henry Ford’s quote is one of the best out there to help understand how important it is to learn something every moment you can. I have not stopped learning since starting my journey, and strongly urge all of you to keep on learning, too. My learning journey will not end here – I have many options open to me in the ‘next’ journey I take but I can promise you I am already learning a ‘lot about a lot’ in preparation, and even then it won’t be enough. Don’t be daunted by the challenge, relish the opportunity to learn new things 🙂

Adventure must start with running away from home – William Bolitho
I’ve been working for 25 years of my life and have decided to take some time off and contemplate what the next phase of my life will look like. I’m looking at this as a new adventure, and in a way I am leaving a place one could call ‘home’! My future will be one that involves inspiring other people to take on new challenges, fitness, health, learning and socializing with good people. I’ll be looking at a way to blend them all together, and happy to hear any ideas you may have 🙂 I’ll also be working on my blog (My Proactive Life), going for more rides to raise awareness of various Men’s health issues, as well as spending time with the family and socializing more.

Many people replied stating that this message was inspirational and positive, and wished me all the best for the future.
What’re your thoughts about it?
Do you have any suggestions on how I can combine my wish to inspire others?

Learning Ramblings

The bike crash – Part 1

This is an abridged version of my motorcycle crash on 9th November 2006, 20km out of Orbost on the Bonang Highway. This is Part 1, with Part 2 to follow soon after. 95% of this was written in December 2006 with a few minor updates made at the time of posting.

I’d gone down to the Snowyride with a few mates from the OzVFR group, and we’d been on a HUGE ride from Jindabyne to Orbost. We’d left the “90km winding road” sign heading up the Bonang Hwy out of Orbost (VIC), and after a few km, the other guys had gone on ahead, with me bringing up the rear.

I’d gone about 20km along the Bonang Hwy when the crash occurred.

Crashed VFR800
Crashed VFR800

I had failed to make a slightly downhill right handed bend, and ended up hitting an embankment then a tree. The bike was dead, and I wasn’t, which is the best part of the story! It happened at 4:40pm. The bike hit the embankment at approx 60km/h, then my thigh and forearm hit the tree (and I still remember both impacts on the tree) My leg was then sandwiched between the bike and the tree.

After it all stopped, I crawled out from under the bike, turned off the ignition and removed the key (One of my mates said “Why – were you afraid someone might come to steal it?“) I did the systems check – fingers…check. Toes…check. Legs…check (although I was able to put weight on my right leg, it was quite sore to begin with, and I hobbled around a bit. Eyes…yes, they could see but weren’t really registering the damage done to the bike (or myself).

I was amazed and astonished that I could stand and hobble around, which I am VERY LUCKY to have been able to do.

Tree damage
Tree damage

I removed my luggage and rummaged for my mobile phone, only to find there was no network coverage. I had a drink of water and wandered around for a few mins with many things racing through my head, including:

  • If I call the boys, they can come back and get me
  • I can call Stewie(*), who can rescue the bike – it shouldn’t take too long, we should be home by dinnertime
  • I’ll just pick the bike up and keep riding, just like in MotoGP

Great thinking when there’s no mobile phone coverage! Anyways, it took a while before someone else came along the road:

  • about 40 mins after the crash, a fellow on a trail bike [who had somewhere else to go] would alert my mates if he saw them and promised to help on his return journey
  • A young lady in a car packed to the gills with belongings (and looking deathly frazzled) stopped and offered help in some way, but she looked to be in more trouble than me – kinda like she was running from something or someone!
  • About an hour after the accident Pete arrived. Pete stayed with me until my mates arrived (they had been a further 50km up the Bonang Hwy before realising I wasn’t coming, and we were reunited about 2 hours after I crashed).
Bruised Thigh
Bruised Thigh

Pete is an absolute champion in the true sense of the word. Typical of most Aussies, he stopped what he was doing to help out  – he drove me to hospital in town, picked up his trailer and (with the help of the boys) loaded the bike up and took it back to Pete’s place. I went to hospital for a checkup, no broken anythings just bruising, miraculously! By now we’d realised we had to stay the night in Orbost. We stayed in a motel (arranged by one of the nurses); went to the pub for a beer (the motel called the pub to make sure they were still open for us; and then proceeded to drop us at the pub!

Orbost is full of lovely people and we certainly appreciated their hospitality 🙂

Next day, I called & claimed on insurance, and after saying bye bye to the bike, I was a pillion for the 600-odd km trip back to Jindabyne (the long way).

What contributed to the crash & lessons learned (with the wonderful benefits of hindsight & discussing what happened…)

  1. It was late in the day and we had done 600+km already, fatigue and lack of concentration are likely contributors
  2. I had the wrong line into the corner, with not enough ‘space’ should something go wrong. There was a bump in the road (as I started to tip in) that upset the bike. I must have tried to correct it somehow or probably stood the bike up ready to tip-in again. Either way I was into the grass/leaves/gravel off to the side of the road quite quickly, and it went from there.
  3. My skills in slower/tighter corners was always my weakest point, and something I didn’t readily look forward to a similar incident had occurred earlier in the day when I was distracted by something – again a ‘lack’ of concentration.
AB looking on
AB looking on

As with anything in life, it’s what happens when things go wrong that proves how well you come out of it. I was with a great bunch of the OzVFR guys (AB, Greg, Trev & Dan) who were very accommodating and in a way I felt sorry for them having to endure the event because of my crash. Thanks all.

There will be a follow-up post to this to really bring to light why this crash was one of the most important parts of my life to date. Stay tuned for part 2!

* the owner of the place we stay during the Snowyride…270km away in Jindabyne

Betterment Health Ramblings

Bushwalk: Appreciate the present

This past weekend I went for a bushwalk with my friend Brendon Walker (he of the FatDadSlim fame) from Cowan to Brooklyn in the Ku-ring-ai National Park, North of Sydney.

Jerusalem Bay
Jerusalem Bay

It was another early morning start for me (just like it was for the Half Marathon, the Sutherland2Surf and the City2Surf. Why do all these events require waking up before the sun? At least it’s peaceful waking up at 5am – it allows for quiet contemplation of the task ahead without interference). I met Brendon on the train, and we discussed how things are going, and the foibles of getting up late, missing alarms and what we packed for the walk. Neither of us had done this particular walk before so could only really compare to our bushwalk earlier in the year on the Uloola Track (from Waterfall to Audley in the Royal National Park).

View towards Sydney
View towards Sydney

It was a cold morning. There was mist in the valleys, but most importantly, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The track itself starts off quite rocky and heads downhill immediately after you cross the bridge spanning the F3 freeway. Within 5 mins we were in the middle of the bush, and barely heard anything other than the sounds of nature – birds, insects and the natural sounds of the bush. We made it to the start of Jerusalem Bay in pretty good time, but most of it was downhill. The quietness and tranquility soon left us as the drone of distant freeway traffic began to be audible for most of the walk.

It took me about 30 minutes to get into the groove during this walk – where I forget what’s happening at home, what others are up to, and begin to immerse myself in the surroundings. There’s a metronomic sense of being part of a ‘machine’ when you’re working, commuting, consuming, and going about your normal duties on any given day. Once you let those things go and appreciate the present, the real, primal rhythm of life starts to come back to the fore. Brendon and I had many conversations, chats and musings along the way but inside I was thinking proactively about how to get out do it more; how to get others (including my boys) enjoy bushwalking; and also the wonderfully different perspective you get from being in such a tranquil, natural place. I truly get ensconced by the environment – the smells of damp bush, the gentle breeze that rustles the leaves and the sunshine breaking through the trees to light your way. I often envisage living in a place with an outlook to some spectacular scenery, not unlike what can be seen in the pictures throughout this post. (My pictures are all located on Flickr)

Patterned path
Patterned path

We passed many Oxfam TRAILWALKERS getting in some training before their 100km in 48hours journey on the 28th/29th August. We did not know why there were so many Trailwalkers out. Brendon said ‘I’ll look it up when we get home’, to which I replied ‘Why do we feel more comfortable finding information from the web when we could just ask the next person to come along the trail?‘. I countered and said “let’s just ask the next trailwalker we see“. These days it seems looking things up on the web has become synonymous with searching/finding answers; however don’t overlook the opportunity to reach out and connect with another person. As it turns out, the trail we were on is the start of the 100km Oxfam trailwalk – the fellow we asked had actually slept in and also asked us if we had seen the rest of his team. Serendipity?

We passed many people who said “oh you’re doing it the hard way”. Our view was ‘What’s wrong with doing it the hard way?’ Neither Brendon or I had known there was an easy or hard way, our journey was decided and we stuck with it. Ultimately we felt warm fuzzies knowing we started the hard way and if we ever come back in reverse, we’d have an easier time of it (but that was not the point of the exercise). One of the trailwalkers commented to me ‘You must be one of the happiest people on the trail today’ (after I conquered a fairly large rock in one big jump :-)). This got me wondering about the nature of compliments – do people give compliments as a way of saying ‘I see this in you that I’d like to see in myself’? The fellow who gave me the compliment may have wanted to be the happiest person on the trail that day but saw it was me – did he secretly long to be? When giving compliments, is the intention (deliberate or subconscious) a way of saying ‘I want to be that way, too’? Check out my short video and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Who, then?
Who, then?

At about the half-way point, the track widens out and becomes a fire-trail (wide enough for vehicles to traverse) and signified the start of a 6km walking trail as opposed to a bush track (climbing rocks and navigating obstacles). Referring back to the earlier comments, we can see why our way was the hard way – Starting from Cowan, you’re navigating through the bush; the rest of the track is simply following the (wide) path. Civilisation (in the form of power lines) became a frequent occurrence along this stretch of the track. Check out the cryptic sign on one of the posts (in the pic, right) about who should operate the lever. The main challenge on this part was to seek out little guideposts with small arrows pointing the way – I got the feeling you wouldn’t get too lost following a fire-trail!

Brendon soldiered on quite well with his dodgy knee and one of the other comments made to us along our walk was that there was a pub at the end of the walk where we could get a meal and a cooling beverage…further proof we were heading in the right direction! The final part of the walk was the most difficult as it was very long & steep descent. Did I say it was steep? And long? A couple going in the other direction looked worn out before even doing 1km!

Steak burger & beer

Stopping for lunch at the pub was the icing on the cake; we’d done the 11km walk the ‘hard’ way, seen some awesome views from various vantage points and had great company during the walk. The early morning starts can be difficult, but the reward is well worth it. I recommend a bushwalk to everybody of any fitness level – not just because of the health benefits of exercise, but also to appreciate what we have in our own backyard and taking some time out of the every-day. I’m also sure more people would have a greater appreciation of nature – something we could all do with. 🙂

(note: all my pictures from the walk can be viewed from my Flickr page)

Betterment Exercise Health Ramblings

Sutherland 2 Surf fun-run

Andrew at the Finishing lineThis past weekend, I completed another of my 2010 goals – to complete the Sutherland2Surf fun-run. This is an 11km run from Sutherland to the Wanda Beach surf club. I entered the run for the first time in 2009 and enjoyed it, so went back for more. I also saw this as a good opportunity to see if I had done ‘better’ in 2010 than in 2009. The quick story:

  • 2010 time: 56:59.
  • 2009 time: 58:46.

I did not ‘train’ for the event specifically, preferring to keep up the riding and exercise regime as best I could. I turned up on the day and went for a run, and had a great time. And this here is the importance of exercise to me – it has to be relaxed and fun. Sure, I can get all serious about something (turn on a ‘race-face’ and psyche myself up) – but that’s not what it’s about for me.

There are many people who fixate on numbers. I posted the times at the top to get it out of the way, but I don’t go into these events worrying about numbers. I often get asked ‘how much weight have you lost?‘ as part of My Proactive Life – I cannot tell you as it was never the main focus of my project! In any case, the  purpose of my run was to have fun. During the run I wasn’t always feeling like it was ‘fun, but I did enjoy myself! I especially liked how my boys wanted to be there to pick me up at the end of the race 🙂

Anyway, onto the run!

I decided to run to music this time as many reports suggest you can go further/faster/better as your mind is distracted and does not let you focus on negatives like how much you need the loo, or how thirsty you are! I ran to a Podrunner workout track known as 135-175bpm Upward Mobility. As the name suggests it increases in tempo as the song progresses – the music started out relatively slow (for my liking, I like things in the 150-160bpm range) but soon built up. The mixes are approx 1 hour in length so was perfect for this run. My goal was simply to run to the beat. Every beat = a foot striking the ground. And for the most part, I did it!

I did walk whilst having a drink at 2 of the 3 drink stations (no-one looks coordinated trying to drink from a paper cup whilst running…no-one!) but for no more than a minute, then straight back into it. I found the music took care of my feet allowing me more time to enjoy the scenery and talk to myself. I thought about various things during this run, some of which you’ll hear about in future blog posts/twitter updates, here are some of them:

  • There’s a moment during a run where you hear nothing – the feet of everyone around you seems to hit the ground at the same time, creating ‘pockets of silence’. They don’t happen too often but are perfect little slices of silence you’d never expect during a run!
  • Even though it was a chilly morning I was glad I dressed simply; some people were overdressed and carrying their gear with them.
  • Anyone who runs with a pram/child is a hero. Anyone who does it AND pulls away from me is a LEGEND!
  • I tend to notice just how much incline/decline there is in a road whilst running; more so than when cycling or driving a car.
  • I feel as one with the terrain whilst running – something you don’t feel in a vehicle
  • I feel a silent camaraderie with the other runners – for a small period of time you share space/time with other people whom you may never be in close proximity to ever again or paths could cross at any time in the future.

I didn’t achieve my (2009-set) goal time of 55 mins, but that’s perfectly OK; I enjoyed myself, completed the goal and know the benefits from the endeavour will stay with me for a while. If you’re a regular runner (or cyclist or exerciser), let me know your thoughts and what you think about whilst exercising! 🙂

Exercise Health Personal Development Ramblings

It's a journey, not a destination!

This is a minor rant, so be warned! 🙂

I’ve had enough of people looking at health & fitness the wrong way.

Fitness (and that dreaded hanger-on “Diet” and his ugly sister “Weight Loss”) are not one-off things you ‘do’!

  • Right now your fitness level is your fitness level. It can be better and it can be worse – it’s not fixed
  • Your diet is your diet – whatever you eat today is your diet. if you eat differently tomorrow that becomes your diet – it’s not fixed
  • Weight Loss is the result of taking other courses of action (such as increasing your exercise and changing your diet)

Many people see fitness/diet/weight loss as a one-off, thinking “once it’s done I’ll be awesome”, and then they can stop. I’m the bearer of a wake-up call to let people know that all of these are part of a journey, not a destination! Here’s the simplest way I can put this: Focus on becoming fitter. Do this through:

  1. More exercise and
  2. Eating better (note I did not say eat less…there’s a difference)

Focus on the act of becoming fitter! With this, you will need to change your diet; weight loss will happen.

Cycling does something great for me, and when I miss out, I feel bad (not for missing the cycling, BUT for missing out on the benefits – It relieves stress and makes me clearer in my thoughts and more resilient when things go wrong). It’s winter time here and getting out on the bike is hard(er) to do. I know I need the exercise in my week to keep me balanced! Make Fitness your focus through exercise and changing your diet and your journey will be more successful (I know, because this is what I have done!) 🙂

What are your thoughts on Fitness, Diet and Weight Loss?

Learning Personal Development Ramblings relationships

What I learned this week!

Here’s a quick summary of things I learned this week:

  • Everyone you meet is on your side until you do something to annoy them or send them running
  • Everyone you meet is fighting their own battle, so go easy on them (If they don’t go easy on you, ask them why.)
  • Losing sense of yourself is a slippery slope
  • Those who have good, strong friendships can weather any storm
  • Riding a bicycle in the rain can be fun and takes me back to childhood when rain didn’t stop play!

And here are some questions I ponder:

  • Does light have/is it affected by friction?
  • If you are not self-aware…what are you?
  • How far in this world someone can get TRULY on their own?

How about you, what are some of the learnings/observations/questions from you this past week?

Betterment Ramblings

Freaky Stuff Happens

As some of you will know, my planned trip to New Zealand to celebrate my 10th Wedding Anniversary was thrown into chaos due to the Apocalyptic elements of Sydney weather early this morning (SMH article, Flickr photostream, BOM warning).

Whilst at the airport, the Air New Zealand staff did the best they could to explain the situation (in essence, no planes landed in Sydney to take passengers to NZ…simple really) due to limited visibility over Sydney. Our first flight (7am) was cancelled due to engineering issues so were provided a meal voucher to the food court (awesome!) and put on later flight (9:30am). At 7:30am it was apparent nothing was coming into or out of Sydney; the 9:30am was cancelled (due to weather) + the best we could do was call Reservations and make changes. I had confirmed seats on the same flight on the 24th, so decided to go home and make alternate arrangements for the rest of the trip.

Whilst on the phone with United (as the flights were booked through United, not Air New Zealand), I got to speaking to a lady by the name of “Chen” who helped me change my flights, and she was so lovely asking if it was OK to put me on hold many times. (Of course it was OK, I have worked in Customer Service and know how things work), to which I joked “sure it’s OK, I’m not going anywhere yet!” We got to chatting and I said to take her time as I understood there are delays in making changes and I didn’t mind waiting, at which point I asked her “how are other passengers/callers handling things?”

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference”

She said it’d been quite a tough morning as the majority of the callers were screaming, mad, angry and frustrated that their plans were thrown into chaos as well. I explained to her that Freaky Stuff Happens beyond our control, and getting mad at others over stuff you can’t control is stupid. I explained that I had time and wasn’t going to get mad, and wonder why others would get in such a way over something they can’t control. She replied “thanks very much for sharing that with me, it helps to get through the day to hear such kind words”

I believe I helped change the way her day will pan out, But wonder where other peoples’ heads are? When the Freaky Stuff Happens, knowing what you can control and what’s beyond your control should help you best direct your energies to achieve a resolution. Screaming at customer service people over the phone for no Freaky good reason is pointless, damaging and unproductive.

To anyone out there in a customer service role ‘affected’ by today’s Freaky Stuff, I wish you all the best to get through the tough day ♥☺♥.  To all people inconvenienced by today’s Freaky Stuff, revel in the different day this is turning out to be, and don’t turn into an ugly zombie!


Future Summit

Yesterday, I was a remote participant in the Future Summit held in Melbourne on 18th & 19th May 2009. I participated through Twitter, by interacting with attendees at the event, responding to questions & posting comments to various twitterers attending the various sessions on the program.

To me, it felt like I recieved a condensed, highly concentrated (as in I received the core nuggets of each presentation as it happened) presentation without the fluff. Do I feel like I participated? Absolutely yes! Through posing questions to the attendees and having questions and comments retweeted helped me better understand what was being presented and also to get a feel for the mood of the audience.

Things I liked:

  • I got a good feel for what was presented
  • I could ask questions
  • I threw in some of my own comments (which were commented on by others)
  • I had a number of my posts re-tweeted to a wider audience
  • I picked up a number of new followers (which seems to be the holy grail of Twitter [to some people!])
  • Having the Twitter back-channel provide on-the-spot comments from the sessions

Things I missed:

  • The ‘hubbub’ that occurs in audiences when something contentious, alarming or incorrect is mentioned
  • The camaraderie of the audience who shared some of my thoughts/comments – it would have been great to be there and interact with others

Things I inferred/picked up from the comments being made by the attendees:

  • For one of the sessions, the panel kept asking/answering their own questions, not allowing the session to be participative!
  • From the tweet messages, the wrap-up from Julie Bishop seemed to lose the audience and not really achieving it’s intention (of bringing everything together to a close)
  • There seemed to be no actions/action plan we could see/walk away with

Ultimately, I felt like I had been participated in this event, probably more due to the retweeting and interactions with other tweeters.I may even have opened up a can of worms with this comment I made:

It sure is a waste gathering people together to hear the panel talk amongst themselves! Save the CO2 and webcast it 😛

Who’s to know that next time they don’t just have it as a webcast, or a combination of webcast & live sessions – Twitter certainly helped me get a feel for things in real time!

I’d like to thank @SamMutimer, @mspecht, @kcarruthers, @geehall1, @amoyal, @nathanhulls + others for all retweeting my posts/asking questions! 🙂