Little Eyes, Building Blocks and A Mountain of Character

2 09 2010

I had just woken up.  I am trying to find the necessary supplies for my morning yerba mate and to get some pancakes ready for our tribe.  I have been working late on a few projects, so I am a bit groggy to say the least.

I am not in the zone just yet and I am nowhere near the FLOW state of mind.  But whether I was ready or not some one was watching me.

Daddy seriously. Put down your collar and make me some pancakes.

My wife showed me this picture later in the afternoon.  I had no idea that these two wonderful eyes were gazing upon me.  There is not a man on the planet who doesn’t dream of his little girl looking at him like that.

Now if I had only known.  Only if I was prepared.  Only if I was ready to be seen.  Some one please cue the violins.

It did get me to thinking about how often this happens.  How frequently do you make an impression on people without even knowing it?  How often does some one see or hear something you did not intend to be heard by anyone?

I don’t think this means that you should live like you are always putting on a show.  And I certainly don’t think this means that you need to be perfect all of the time.

I do think it means you should be real sure that every action and every thought communicates your true character.

Because whether you like it or not, it does.

This concept has gone from being a total drag, (lots of pressure to not pick my nose or yell at some moron who is texting and driving) to feeling quite empowering.  I started to think of every thought and action like building blocks.  The thoughts and actions that are indicative of the kind of person you really are, go in one pile.  The thoughts and actions that happen when you are not at your finest go into another.  Being mindful that neither pile will ever go away, which pile is getting bigger?

As I pondered this really far-reaching example, I think I may have created one pile unintentionally.  And to be honest it may be bigger than I had thought it was.  However there is a pretty simple solution.  Do, say and think more things that communicate the kind of person I am and the kind of man I am trying to become.  That is pretty basic, but simple solutions always seem to be the best ones.  Damn simplicity. (Rats.  Another block in the pile for cursing!  And another one for using “rats” in such a stupid way.)

There will be slip ups….Oh lord, yes there will (can I get an amen).  But I don’t mind a pile of reminders, if I am working on a mountain of character.


What’s Up Next:  Quick recipes from the Flow Kitchen

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Go big. Quit waiting. You know what I am talking about.

10 08 2010

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way.” -Dr. Seuss

High up on Mt. Crested Butte, looking into the village of Crested Butte, CO.

It had been too long.  It had been way too long and I knew it.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I knew it.

I love big places that take your breath away and can create an instant change of perspective.  Years ago I had spent lots of time in places like this.  It was crucial to the kind of person I was developing in to.  The more time I spent in the backcountry gazing up at infinite peaks or into flowing rivers, the more I felt connected….and I liked it.

I have lots of reasons why it took me so long to get back.  Looking back on it, my reasons were probably more of excuses.  A reason becomes an excuse when you use it to justify not doing something you want to do, but don’t do just because it isn’t easy.  It sucks to put that out there, but its true.

However, a week in the mountains can do wonders for your perspective.

If you have an adventure you have been waiting for, quit waiting and get your ass in gear.  If there is a place that fires your soul, hurry up and get there.  Before these pictures were taken a good friend passed away, and he was way to young.  I heard lots of of great stories from his friends and family in the days following, but I didn’t hear a word about the stuff he had or if his laundry was folded.  You are not here for a long life, you are here for a good life.

My wife, oldest daughter (and son in the mobile baby oven!) It was a dream to share it with them.

Pretty freaking happy! Sweaty...but happy.

Running and Happiness #3; Surround Yourself With Good People

8 07 2010

“So a runner and a nun walk into a bar……”

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of running with Lisa Batchen-Smith on the Texas stop of her most recent adventure.  Lisa successfully completed her goal to run a 50 miler, in each of the 50 states over the course of just two months.  And you thought you were busy and tired.

Running Hope Through America is a project that raises money and awareness for a number of children’s charities including AIDS Orphans Rising.  Lisa is running with Sister Mary Beth who at 61, will run in her full habit: a black wool tunic over a white shirt and underskirt, black headpiece and a black woolen belt and sneakers.  If this is not your normal running attire, then you have no officially lost the ability to blame your clothing for anything that would ever cause you to under perform. (*Sidenote-I did ask Lisa if they considered asking some one to make a “Dri Fit” habit.  They said the tried but were denied.  Here is a word to the wise, do not say no to nuns.  And certainly do not say no to a super nun who will run your ass into the group.  Sorry Sister.)

Lisa’s many accomplishments include total domination of some of the toughest adventures on the planet.  The highlights  include two finishes for the Marathon Des Sables including the only American female to ever win the event, nine finishes of the Badwater 135 Mile Ultra Marathon, one “Double Badwater”.  For clarification purposes a Double Badwater is where an athlete runs from the floor of Death Valley (lowest point in the US) to the summit of Mt. Whitney (highest point in the US).  At this point, you aren’t done yet.  You must run back to the desert floor where one hundred and twenty five degrees in the shade may constitute a cold front.

More than once in my life I got just what I needed when I least expected it.  The Texas stop was early in her trip and her team was starting to get the feel for a life on the road.  After more than 20 days, she showed up in Texas in pretty rough shape (we later learned she was running on a broken foot).  This most accomplished athlete and woman was by her own accord near a physical and emotional limit, with lots of miles left to go.  She said it, but she sure did not show it.  Lisa did not make it look easy, but she did make it look possible.

My adventure with her on this day reminded me how very important it is to surround yourself with good people.  Lisa was an extension of her team.  The vibe that they carried was infectious to those who were fortunate enough to run with her.  An adventure like this takes a ton of great personal fortitude.  It also takes an environment that supports a certain level of crazy:)

Now this doesn’t mean that your community should only consist of those who throw rose petals in your wake and follow you around like paparazzi.  Nor does it mean that you should not seek out those who will challenge your way of thinking and viewing the world.  It does mean that you should seek out people who are positive.  Not oblivious, but people who are confident that good choices and smart actions lead to great adventures and even better lives.

That’s where Texas and a rag tag group of runners come together.  Quite a few people showed up at 5:30am to run with her.  Some were friends, but majority of those in attendance did not have a previous direct connection.  There was a really special energy in the air that was reminiscent of a group of deeply connected friends.  We didn’t have to say much to be in tune with what those around us were feeling or thinking.  People went their own pace, respected the space of others and were drawn to an experience bigger than themselves.  It was hardly what I was expecting.

By the time we had taken our first steps, I kept asking myself why I did not seek this out more?  New adventures and new people rarely have guarantees, and for the record I don’t want guarantees.  I crave a life that is full, fun and consistently challenge the perception of myself and those I encounter.

As I wondered why I did not take the leap to put myself out there for new people more often, it did get me to thinking about my very novice bread baking experience.  On a rare day one might say that I could turn out a pretty good loaf of Egg Harbor Bread or a super thin rosemary pizza crust.  When I get it right, I am very pleased with myself like any good baker would be.  However, one of the things that prevents me from rocking some dough more often (when I say this my wife really wishes I meant money) is that I want to get it perfect every time, I want my creations to be legendary.  I struggle attempting to even start if I don’t think that it is going to be epic bread.  And if I don’t have all the ingredients, you can forget about substituting.

My day spent with Lisa was just one of those magical moments that will be hard to duplicate.  But rather than attempt a duplication, I can certainly try to take some of the highlights of the recipe and take a chance on new ingredients.  I don’t have to eat the same bread all the time, but I do need to eat.  On this day my heart was full and I am working to make sure it stays that way.

Find your Flow!


Running & Happiness #2; Stress As A Tool For Greatness

22 04 2010

“Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”-Allen

This was another one of those things I read at just the right time.

Stress has a funny way of testing our abilities.  I used to argue at length with my wife about good stress and bad stress.  As a hopeless optimistic, I viewed stress in any way, shape or form as something that you should steer very clear of.  If it could disrupt the zen pool, then I was out.

But a funny thing happened, I started not just running…but running really far.  I would run for hours on end and sometimes through the night.  Many times these were in races with other dedicated masochists.  Other times it was totally solo, just to see how far I could run.

Whether I knew it or not I was slowly conditioning my body to respond to stress.  Not only was I reaching it often, but I was seeking it out.  I viewed stress as the threshold into the great unknown.  It was the place where my ability (both mental and physical) was pushed to its limits.  The more times I went to the place, the better I was able to deal with it.  Not only was I able to deal with it, but I was able to push the envelope a little farther.  Sometimes it meant another mile, some times it meant I could hold a certain perceived maximum effort just a little longer.  This was not necessarily “easy stress”, but because of the way I responded it became “good stress”.

Just as life imitates art, I have found that it certainly imitates running.  It’s a little funny how we have such fear of the “stressful” moments in life, that we choose to avoid them all together.  Perhaps this is the great missed opportunity.  In my home we rarely choose the most difficult path with the intent of just “seeing what happens”.  But every time that one of life’s big stressors introduces itself without a proper invitation, we seem to respond quite well.  Not only do we respond well, but in a really crazy way we seem to function better.  Perspective is realigned.  Values are re-centered.  In the shadows of conquered challenges we stand tall and confident.

Stress will not kill you, but the anxiety of it will.  If you think about it more than once, do something about it.

I have a little secret for you.  No matter what happens tomorrow, you will be able to deal with it.


#1-Running and Happiness; It’s A Choice.

13 04 2010

“Could I be a better runner by utilizing the same tools I would for the pursuit of happiness?  Could I train to be a happier person in the same way I would train to be a better runner?”

Perhaps in my years of running these thoughts had come across my mind, but up to now I had never decided to answer it.

Until convinced otherwise, I believe the active pursuit of both running and happiness are the to best tools for meaningful and inspired living.  The more thought I have put into this concept, the more examples I can find that reinforce this notion that I just might be on to something (Self-fulfilling prophecy anyone).  My most fulfilling runs have been times when I had some type of epiphany or I found peace with an issue that had been weighing heavy on my heart.  There were also epic runs in which total exertion created an environment that fostered extreme gratitude and personal reflection.  Conversely, when I think about my top ten most impactful days of the past ten years, a high percentage if not all of them had a run involved some where in the day.  Getting married, new lives coming into the world and special ones leaving it, all occurred on days that had runs some where in them.

I also believe that being happy and running are two of the most natural and best parts about being human.  Aristotle (not be be confused with Aeropostale) is said to have believed that “happiness is characteristic of a good life, that is, a life in which a man or woman fulfills human nature in an excellent way”.  Recent anthropological data suggests that running is an activity you were born to do. So if I am born with the tools to be happy and a runner, it should be really easy.  Right?

At the end of the day, I would like to consider myself a student of both (not an expert in any way).  But admittedly there is a big distinction between student and practitioner.  To know about something is not necessarily to do it.  And it really pains me to say this publicly, as I can recall lots of things I studied well but did nothing with the knowledge that I acquired.

That’s where The Flow Running Project comes in.  Could I and others use the experience in both segments (happiness and running) to take living to the next level?  It sounds more audacious than it really is.  It is just making sure that the time spent on this planet is pretty freaking awesome.  Running and happiness intersect in lots of ways, I think it would be cool to see just how many.

As I explored the areas where running and happiness intersect, I found the following true for both. (Change it to either term)

•     You have to make yourself vulnerable, if you want to be great at it.  It means some times you will come up short, and it may even happen in front of a group of people you know.  You will have to try new things and if you get too comfortable you will get stuck exactly where you are.

•    If you don’t train for it, nothing will change. This sounds obvious but just wanting to be happy, or wanting to be a runner is different than being it.  Cut the excuses, because everyone has a better one than yours.  You have to get your ass off the couch.  Get sweaty, hug a stranger and do not freaking settle for a life that is anything but inspired.  There are people who know more about running and happiness than you.  Seek these people out and don’t be such a big deal that you can’t admit there is some one on this planet who knows more about things than you.

You are ultimately your biggest obstacle to being successful at it.  I said it, so what are you going to do about it?  I know its true and you know its true.  People who have no legs, have gone on to complete marathons.  A generation of Europeans who survived concentration camps found ways to be happy.  What is the difference between them and you?  People in really tragic circumstances are forced to pursue a life worth living or no life at all.  However, we are all pretty much cut from the same cloth.  Generally you must choose greatness.  Being a runner or being happy doesn’t just happen to you, you have to choose it.  This isn’t preachy, but just the way it is.


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An Epiphany-The Flow Running Project

30 03 2010

“The Flow Running Project is the pursuit of happiness through the science of running and the art of inspired living.”-Flow Running Project 2010

I had an epiphany on a run late one night not too long ago, and I knew it was big.  I mean lightning bolts from the sky and flying pigs big.  As in running and life, you get exactly what you need when the time is right.

What would happen to your life if you trained for happiness in the same way that a runner trains?  What would happen if you pursued happiness with the same intensity and dedication as a marathon training program?  Could the tools I use to become a better runner be the same tools that can guide me to being a happier person?  Could the tools I use to become a happier person be the same tools that can guide me to being a better runner?

Why the hell not.

Why the hell not me.

And more importantly, why the hell not you.

The more thought I gave to this concept, the more it made sense.  When I recall the years of training advice and tools, I can  see the application in happiness.  I had heard the following the a million times; “Relax”, “don’t over think it”, “lean in the direction you want to go”, “focus”, “don’t forget to breathe”.  This kind of feedback has been very helpful in training and racing.  I tried to embrace these conceptually, so that when things got tough I would be able to appropriately respond.  If I would have known I was getting advice that I could use for more than running, I would have taken notes.

Should you have something to share about the role that running plays in happiness, or the role that happiness plays in running make sure you share it.  Leave a comment or if it is really epic you can send an email to .

In the event that running is not your passion, no problems.    Running is what I know and what I connect to.  For you it may be cooking, sailing, writing or rapping.  What you are passionate about is not nearly as important as the fact that you are passionate.  If you feel inspired and you have a tool for happiness, don’t be stingy.

And so it officially begins, the pursuit of happiness through the science of running and the art of inspired living.  I have just got that feeling that something special is gonna happen.


Natural Running Momma-An Experiment

22 03 2010

Flow Running Project is going to run a little experiment.  We have recruited an expecting mom to be a subject in a one of a kind test.  If connecting to your natural movement could improve your running experience, could it improve the pregnancy experience?

Our Flow Running Momma will be Andrea.  Here are a few details of the experiment and a little info about her.

  • We will do our very best to recap the weeks runs.  We may include things like mileage, surface, footwear used and rating of each run on a 1 to 10 scale.  One being “I would rather be watching a Pauly Shore interview” and ten being a complete and total Flow Experience. Details will be contingent upon how the Flow Running Momma is feeling.
  • Andrea is a mother of two young children.  We will have her detail how this pregnancy experience is different from her previous ones.
  • Many of the runs are to be in the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint, pushing a Bob Duallie Stroller and pulling a fat ass dog.  We will see how long this lasts.  As a disclaimer Andrea’s recent Google searches have included  “should a golf cart pull a double jogging stroller” and “can an expecting mom sleep for eight months straight without complications”.

A little about Flow Running Momma

  • Andrea is a full time mother, wife and artist.
  • She is an accomplished athlete.  Her endeavors include ultra marathons, road races, adventure races, rock climbing, back packing and mountain biking.
  • She can do more burpees in a minute than almost anybody.
  • She loves chocolate in a way that her husband cannot understand.  Borderline obsession.
  • After years of nagging injuries, she has seen the light.  She made a few moderate adjustments to her running mechanics and is a natural running convert.
  • There are unconfirmed reports that every time Andrea becomes faster than her husband (resistance training with a double stroller on hills and pulling a fat ass dog will do that to a woman) that she miraculously become pregnant and weighed down so to speak.  These reports are malicious and false, but this is a great trick for all of the fellas who have wives who are faster than them.

The picture below is of Andrea sporting the Vibram Five Fingers, and twenty additional tiny toes.  More to come!


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