PPP – Where Life Happens

I have a picture beside my desk.

We’d just finished riding from Miami to Key West as a reverse start to a very fun bike trip. I tagged along most of the way from Key West to NOLA. Good times with my friend, Petro (love you, bro).

Look closely and what do you see?

I’m at the southern most point of the USA and I’m looking at my phone.

Kinda embarrassing.

I stuck it on my printer to remind me that life happens outside my office.

The pandemic increased my intake of news and social media.

This was not a good thing.

To be sick of sickness is the only cure.

Tao Te Ching

Some of my choices have a negative utility => meaning net-net doing NOTHING is better that doing them.

With this in mind – consider what “not to keep” from the pandemic.

At the end of Summer Break, I dropped Facebook/Instagram.

Over Winter Break, I pulled the plug on Twitter and email.

News => I subscribed to our local paper’s online edition. Published daily, no live updates. One paper a day, no updates until 5am the next day. Being a local paper, something needs to be big to make the online edition.

Across the year, I removed the option to flee into my phone, or the news, or an urgent (but not really urgent) email.

It is not feasible for me to completely drop email from my life, but it is feasible to remove social media & browsers from my phone and limit the time spent staring at a screen (link is my email sig file).

Repeat after me…

Life happens outside my office.

I want my family to remember I made time for them.

The cost of the status quo is hidden.

So… each year, keep what works AND try something new.

PS: eMail initiative & early wake up => 1,250 hours per annum. Small changes have big results when compounded over time. An inconvenient truth => My middle age ends in eight years. Do I want to spend an avoidable 10,000 hours looking at a screen? Own the outcome!

PPP – Team Byrn

Today marks ten months of pandemic living and I remind myself, everyone wants to be on a winning team.

Yesterday, I shared that it took my kids ~100 days to return to baseline greed, avarice, appetite and longing. 😉

I took this as a good sign. My wife and I had created a normal environment for them.

Frankly, it was disappointing to be unable to repeatedly play the “but there’s a global pandemic going on” card.

However, having spent time with three-year-olds, I was used to a kid-don’t-care attitude. Three-year olds are incredibly useful training for life.

What have you done for me lately?

I went through the pain to get you on autopilot.

Up by 6:30am, read, breakfast, Duolingo, get dressed, brush teeth, walk around the block and login to Online School.

Six months to catch them up to an all-star single mom’s family routine. Our friend (all-star single mom) probably doesn’t feel like an all-star but I’ve been watching her for years. I’d always wondered how she did it.

She did it because she had no alternative.

Here’s another lesson from my COVID-season…

Alcoholism, addiction, pandemics, fitness, weight-loss, anger management, academic performance… wherever we are screwing ourselves up!

Once you’ve gone through the pain to change, hold on to those gains!

Everyone around you wants to be on a winning team.

They are longing to follow the structure, and standard, you set.

Have faith you will rise to the challenge.

PPP – Wherever You Go

…there you are.

2020 was the most time I’ve ever spent with my kids. I watched them closely.

By July, the COVID’s shock had worn off and it dawned on me…

…their appetite, gratitude, happiness, greed, all of it

My kids had returned to baseline ~100 days after the pandemic hit.

Collectively, we tell ourselves that hardships “take” from us. However, my children’s moods, behavior and desires told me they got back to normal, quite quickly.

What’s the lesson?

Don’t spend money, time and emotion making my children’s lives easier.

Like every_essential_truth, once I was able to see this lesson outside myself, it was possible to turn the lesson inwards.

If you are struggling then challenge yourself.

It’s easy for me to blame the constraints of family, COVID, or my life situation for my “problems.”

There is nothing, outside my own attitude, that causes problems in my life.

What To Do?

Back in May, I said “screw it” and reset my alarm to 3:45am.

It’s been there ever since.

I carved out 900 hours a year when my kids are sleeping.

No matter what the day holds, I start with a win.

The habit of action moved me past the illusion that my problems were outside my control.

Don’t train your kids, or yourself, to be a victim of circumstances.

Own the outcome.

PS – if you’re keeping track, then we’re up to 900 annual-hours worth of pandemic lessons, our health and wellness program is done by 8am and we are not training ourselves to be victims of external circumstance.

Post Pandemic Principles – Find The Win

Consider this a COVID-season review. With a season review, I start by focusing on what worked.

My wife looked at me like I was nuts when I asked her what she’d like to keep from the pandemic… …but then she thought about it

=> up early (6 out of 7 days), home gym and consolidated weekly grocery shop

Sounds small… …but if those changes stick then it’s 500 hours a year for the rest of her life.


Her health and wellness program is done before 8am every single day.

What are you going to keep?

Winter Workout Reminders

Let’s close the week with some athletic advice (to myself mainly).

Paradox of Stress => if you want to do something difficult then you will need to reduce other forms of stress to achieve it.

Athletically, in the winter, this usually means considering two opposing goals => reducing fat (vanity) vs increasing lean body mass (victory).

Personally, there’s no contest => as a mountain athlete, constrained by COVID, my big wins will come from improving functional strength and increasing lean body mass.

That said, it’s emotionally challenging to absorb this reality. I carry with me an enduring bias towards weight loss. My internal bias is reinforced by my peers and community.

Missing the opportunity to maintain strength has a cost we don’t see until far into the future. In terms of return on investment, strength training is powerful medicine. I can’t think of many things that work as well with a time investment of only 2-3 hours per week.

What’s your long term goal?

Some quick tips.

Gain Five Pounds – let your weight rise a little, naturally. Adding 3% to my body weight does wonders for my ability to recover.

If you’ve overshot on the weight gain then reduce stress below the point you crave sugar. My cravings, and sleep patterns, are my early-warning system (of impending doom).

How might you reduce unnecessary athletic stress?

1/. Cut your power/pace zones unilaterally and don’t test until spring => I knocked 20% off my bike power zones and reset my season bests effective Nov 1st, 2020. This change did wonders for my mental state.

2/. Ditch the sustained tempo => I wear my HRM to cap my efforts. If you want to challenge yourself then do something useful… commit to a quality winter strength program.

Long term success is all about the streak – there are 3,275 days between today and my 60th birthday.

Next week’s posts will explain how I used the pandemic to carve an extra 10,000 hours out of those days.

Streaks, not peaks.


My kids know my answer to the question, “What were you before you were born?”

Sunshine, pure energy.

I’ve also made sure to teach them how to spot Orion. Link is to my thoughts on how to talk to young kids about dying.

Monday’s and Wednesday’s posts are my “adult” responses shared with our Middle Schooler.

Andy’s death moved a lot of discussions forward. I was ready for them. The LINK is from 2014.

You are going to be having these discussions with your kids (and yourself).

I’ve found it useful to have a framework available before things fall apart. That’s a chief benefit of ancient wisdom and religion. We’ve been considering these ideas for a very long time.

I’ve offered them tools for coping with loss.

Here’s one, it even works in winter.

Head outside on a sunny day.

Place your back to the sun.

Close your eyes and breathe.

As the sun warms your back.

Relax, and know I am there.

Sunshine, pure energy.

Dog Consciousness

Buzz Lightyear – our new neighbor

Monday, I shared a conversion with my daughter. It continued…

If what I said didn’t make sense to you then don’t worry about it. With a lot of this stuff, I don’t really “know” it and I’m not sure where my ideas came from. It does fit a lot of ancient stuff I’ve read.

My head isn’t set up to understand situations where opposites are true at the same time.

  • Andy being here, and not here
  • Andy not-being, and being
  • Andy being nowhere, and everywhere

You know Buzz next door?

Well, we can understand what’s happening in Buzz’s life, better than he can. It could be like that with a lot of things in our own lives.

Our understanding has limits, which are difficult for us to see and experience.

We might be just like Buzz => unaware of a lot that’s happening around us!

So, Sweetie, if you can’t understand where Andy was, or where he’s gone to, then don’t worry yourself.

With a lot of important things, there isn’t a clear cut answer.

And that’s OK.

Dad, Where Did Andy Go?

Sweetie, let’s start by considering another question.

Where was Andy before you knew him?

That question sounds like an impossible riddle but there’s a deep truth inside it. It’s a little different than two others I like…

Where were you before you were born?

Where am I when I am not with you?

All of these are useful questions to consider.

Do you think he might be in heaven? I don’t even know what my friends mean by that.

If you mean, did he go into the sky to live with angels, then no, I don’t think he’s up above us. But I have an idea and it’s this.

Whenever I want to be with Andy, to feel him, he’s available to me. I can feel him right now. He’s smiling inside me, the same smile the last time I saw him at the pool.

So, in that sense, he’s still with me.

He’s with me just as much as I’m with you when we are not together.

…and despite the loss that many feel due to Andy’s death, he’s still with a lot of people. If you listen, they will tell you… “I see him everywhere.”

Your mind might tell you, “he’s gone, it’s over.”

…but if you pay attention to what you feel, then you’ll know, if Andy was ever anywhere then he’s still here with us.

Sweetie, this is the same thing with me and I’d like you to remember.

Someday, I’ll be gone but I’ll still be with you.

Everywhere, always, anytime.

My New Year’s Resolution

…was made ten years ago.

Last week. my wife and I were chatting about her needs.

They were modest => a daily swim and an outdoor walk with a friend.

It brought me way back, and made me smile.

Byrn Family 2010. Pearls, Lace and Savagery!

The last time we’d spoken about her needs was a decade earlier.

We had a two-year old in the house and my wife was pregnant with our son.

Actually, we didn’t really talk much.

I broached the topic of changing how we were living. It went something like…

I have neeeeeeeeds.

One of the better things I’ve EVER done was not engage.

Non-engagement was a general policy during pregnancy and, fortunately, my wife was pregnant enough that the habit stuck with me!

Upper left hand corner could be my son’s first photo

Back to “needs” circa 2010.

I looked around:

  • 2,000 sq ft per person
  • 3:1 adult-to-kid ratio
  • weekly cleaners
  • professional kitchen

I did not say a word but I made a mental note.

The situation around us, I had created. All our needs were created by me.

It was time to own the outcome.

Roll forward a decade, add a global pandemic, and we’re down to a walk and a swim.

50% of our baseline cost of living => gone.

I even got rid of cable (took me five years).

Stay focused on where you want to go.

Own the outcome.

We kept the mixer.