A Collection of Moments

2015-08-23 09.08.27This week marks the start of the school year and that should enable me to get back to blogging.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to knock out 13 hours of cycling and 13,000 vertical feet.

Even better, I got to visit with an old friend from New Zealand, Scott Molina.

2015-08-22 11.58.47Above are a couple of local characters out for Rollyfest – happening halfway between my house and the Continental Divide. I stopped in, both days, for a large pourover. Yes, those are pipes (below).

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I was thoroughly blasted when I arrived in Winter Park (elevation 9,100 ft) and got a kick out of the Kiwi recovery set-up…

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I opted for the toast.

You learn a lot about a guy when you train together. Scott’s one the nicest people I’ve ever met.

One of Molina’s quirks is that he likes to get dressed for the first session of the day, the night before. When we shared a room, he’d sleep in his run gear (and have his morning coffee pre-brewed).

True to form… here is with his mountain bike shoes on the night before…

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It was made clear, by Erin (Scott’s wife), that this wasn’t an “epic” camp, which suited me fine.

However, I was the only one that had done their final route in the last twenty years (!) and knew they had some surprises heading their way.

Kiwis don’t complain…

They don’t complain when the planned route is detoured up a 100-year old wagon track above the pass…

They don’t complain when they double-end-o down the rough descent…

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And they certainly don’t complain when they have to hike-a-bike over a collapsed tunnel at 11,600 feet (red jersey over my shoulder)…

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I was soooo grateful that the route wasn’t my idea!

In addition to the temporary hardships, we had remarkable views…

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Such a pleasant change to focus on helping others, rather than my next session.

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Life is what you focus on.

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What are you doing when you’re thinking about love?

Unmet Needs

number_oneI have many traits that can lead to poor outcomes:

  • I’m prone to hurry
  • I overestimate my capacity to impact external situations
  • I have a bias towards action
  • I’m stressed by noise and crowds

All of the above, work against my ability to help people and can lead to misery.

To get along better with others, I’ve started asking myself:

What’s the unmet need that’s driving this behavior?

Here’s a link to my article about how to help others: quiet presence, listen without knowing and compassionate action.

With my kids, I’ve noticed that most anti-social behavior stems from six sources:

  • Hunger – lack of food
  • Thirst – lack of drink
  • Sleep – lack of recovery
  • Boredom – lack of engagement
  • Need For Compassion – lack of connection
  • Habit / Temperament

The above are easy to spot in babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Once you can see them in your kids, try to feel them in yourself. Through self-awareness, you may start to see what drives the behavior of people around you.

The antisocial effects of hunger, thirst, sleep and boredom are why I resist changes to the underlying routine of my life: train AM/PM, eat/drink real food, sleep in a cool room, read and write.

I have a desire to be effective in all my relationships.

Do you?

If you don’t that’s OK. I certainly didn’t care about anyone other than myself for long periods of my adult life. If you don’t care then own it.

My difficulties with people make sense when viewed from the lens that I didn’t care and had significant unmet needs (health, exercise, solitude, nature).

Own my needs.

Address my needs.

Slowly, I have the capacity to focus outside myself.

How to meet that need for connection?

  • Put my phone down
  • Relax my inner experience with a two slow breaths
  • Listen, without knowing, until the person has spoken fully
  • Smile, nod and comment about an area of agreement

This works magic. The entire cycle takes less than a minute.

Connection is the solution.

On The Occasion of My 10th Wedding Anniversary

car_shotSome reflections on relationships.

Love will make your spouse more beautiful but remember that kindness is more valuable than beauty.

Working on myself has proven more effective than working on my marriage, my family or any other person/project in my life.

A valuable step in making myself suitable for marriage was getting myself to the point where I was comfortable being alone.

I couldn’t offer myself to others until I was comfortable with myself.

Gradual self-improvement is the journey.

ACT as if you remember why you wanted someone in your life in the first place — to share common experiences.

Thank you for helping me achieve everything I need in life. I reviewed my notes from the last three years and, together, we’ve achieved everything I wanted. So nice to be able to share my journey with you.

Love you, babe.

Fatherhood: Giving Myself A Break

disneyDuring the school year, my son and I have a routine. When I come back from my afternoon workout, he takes a bath while I have a shower. It’s a win-win-win as the two of us end up clean and my wife likes a fresh family.

Last week, as I was heading out the door for date night, my son asked me to help him get clean.

One of my reactions was fear.

  • Fear that if I gave into this request then I’d never get out of the house.
  • Fear that if I gave into the request then the requests would never stop.

Fortunately, I was able to pause before I acted on my fear.

While pausing, the thought arrived that I MUST break this pattern of behavior in my boy.

What pattern was that?

Loving me, or wanting to spend time with me? 😉

Pausing a little more, I thought about everyone in the situation.

  • The Sitter – being left with a dirty, unhappy four-year old
  • My Wife – sitting outside, content with her apps
  • My Boy – wanting his dad to spend time with him
  • Myself – feeling a wall rising inside me as I’m tempted to close out my son

I sent my wife a text that I’d be a bit late, enjoyed giving my son a bath and everything worked out fine.


I share this story because it highlights a dangerous habit that is easy to create.

Closing my inner life because I’m scared of future demands.

If you look for this pattern then you will see it everywhere.

  • Gifting – refusing to help now, to avoid being asked later
  • Parents – giving into the desire to break the child now, to “help” them later

Inside me, the habit feels like a form of revenge.

I’ll turn away from you now, because that’s “easier” than having to say no later.

Looking deeply, I’m the one that is hurt by this habit (and I’m robbing myself of the feel-good benefit of being a nice guy).

Harsh people think their hardness is a long-term favor to the people in their lives. They probably learned this habit in a difficult childhood.

My heart tells me that I’ll be OK with the risks of staying open to the people in my life.

Be brave.

Time Enough For Love

loveA conversation that I’ve had with a few friends.

A friend shared that he noticed that he hates being rushed and he also aims to be early for every appointment. His solution is to compromise sleep so that he’s able to arrive early for every appointment.

When I look closely, I find that it is impossible to enjoy anything when I hurry. I was surprised by how little I need to slow down to increase enjoyment.

Later in our conversation, he shared that his doc simultaneously recommended that he reduce his stress load and start testosterone supplementation.

I advised against because, you’ll simply cram more into your life and not address the underlying cause of your fatigue.


Later I shared my own story…

Rather than focusing on what’s important, I have been asking, Who is important? Who are the people on my list?

My list is spouse, kids, family and a couple friends. That’s who I’m truly working for.

I then asked myself, “Am I willing to change to be truly available to those people?”

I’ve decided to start small.

Write a list of five people (the important) and drop the urgent when you have the chance to be with them.

Dropping everything sounds severe but, in reality, it consists of looking away from a book or computer screen.

In the evening, it can be as simple as sitting between my daughters on the couch and doing housework after they go to bed.


What does being available to the people that love us have to do with being rushed, high stress and testosterone supplementation?

Put another way, why am I rushed, stressed and exhausted?

If you look deeply then you may find a core belief that you have to cram MORE into your life to serve your family and win the respect of others.

However, this will never satisfy because what your family truly needs is YOU, your presence, your love, your time.

Pleasure, Happiness and Joy

pancakeI came across a book that shared many stories about happiness.

One of the stories is how we fool ourselves by mistaking pleasure for happiness. An example might be…

  • 1 square of chocolate is pleasure
  • 20 squares of chocolate is a tummy ache

The slogan being… Pleasure Consumes Itself

The risk being… we become slaves to chasing pleasure.


A story…

Our three-year old was having a tough morning and we weren’t making progress getting him ready for school.

So I picked him up, picked his socks up, picked his shoes up and picked his bag up…

…and headed out the door with the little guy in my arms.

He was screaming that he wanted to go back to the house and put all his stuff on, himself.

As that’s what I wanted him to do, originally, I agreed.

However, I said,

Sure you can go inside. First you need to calm down. We’re going to do it together. I’m going to count to three and we will take a breath after each number.

I held his hand, looked into his eyes, smiled and said…

One, big breath, hold, exhale

He was still crying but took the breath with me.

I said…

Two, big breath, hold, exhale

By this point, he cracked a smile through his tears.

Three, you did it. You’re calm. I’m so happy!

And we walked back into the house to have a “do over” on the departure.


In reflecting on this story, I noticed that my son taught me to be happy with another person’s success, his own.

I also noticed that I would have been unable to learn without experiencing the pain of his initial meltdown.

The joy we shared was much deeper than anything offered by a piece of chocolate.

I also noticed that I can remember his success and bring myself back to that moment.

If a three-year old can transcend himself then what’s my excuse?


Parents Suffering From A Lack of Enjoyment

dinoOver Mother’s Day weekend, I put in a 16-hour shift with my kids (6, 3 and 2).

On my big-daddy-day, the rage and anger that would well up inside me, were exhausting. Mother Nature has done a good job attuning my hearing to the whines of my preschoolers.

Why can’t they just get along?!

For the most part, I have enough skill to avoid pointing the anger at the kids, my marriage, the situation or other people. However, I will stipulate to yelling in the car around 12:45pm last Saturday.

My big-daddy-day showed me that I would certainly crack – the only question is how quickly.

It also showed that I’m doing a lot right.


Since our first child arrived, I’ve noticed that my wife is only relaxed when we’re out of the country. I had years of similar suffering, always carrying the trauma of parenthood around with me. More on that here.

Saying that my wife’s trauma strains our marriage would not be true. We have a fantastic marriage.

However, it is difficult to watch the suffering of a person we love.

When I listen to parents, I hear their disappointment.

I wish I could enjoy my time with her.
I wish he would listen to me.
I was so angry at myself (for being angry with her).

Insight came from asking myself…

Are we supposed to enjoy things all the time?
Are kids supposed to listen all the time?
Is reasonable to expect an absence of anger in this situation?

My friend, Justin, wrote a piece about racing triathlons. He pointed out that nobody expects life to be nothing but green lights. However, novices sometimes expect everything to go their way on race day. When an inevitable setback occurs, they start a downward emotional spiral.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this pattern with your preschooler?

You can do yourself, and your community, a great service by breaking the chain of this sort of thinking.

How were the kids?
They were age-appropriate. We are very lucky to have three healthy children.

How are you doing?
I am tired but I’ll be fine tomorrow.

The lesson of my big day was how easy it would be to lose myself and fall prey to the seeds of anger, rage and resentment that live in each of us.

I took my wife out for Mother’s Day dinner and shared:

Someday the kids are going leave and we will be left alone.

Our marriage is what we want to endure.

We don’t serve the family by becoming casualties, ourselves.

Too Kind Too Generous

ax_and_bellaHow do you deal with someone telling you that you’re too kind or too generous?

What if the person telling you is your inner voice?!

I wasn’t sure how to handle, so I went for a bike ride to consider my alternatives.

Riding along, I laughed when I realized that people never tell me that I’m too kind to them, only too kind to others.

A little later, I laughed again when I realized that I seem to have everyone fooled. My too-kind-too-generous strategy is solely in my self interest.

So, rather than get grumpy. A better reaction is to share that…

You are a good person.

Remember that my capacity to help another person isn’t limited to them. It’s how I treat you.


I looked a little deeper and considered the times where I felt that life was giving someone else too much of a good thing.

These feelings are related to the difficulty that I can have with other people’s success and happiness.

I realized my criticism was flowing from a fear that there wasn’t enough for me.


I’ll end with a song that my son learned when he was two-years old.

The song is called Magic Penny and this is my favorite part…

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any. 
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.

My children are excellent teachers.

Mommy Fatigue

As a triathlon coach, I warned my athletes about the risks of dumb-ass fatigue. I would encourage them to get tired the right way and eliminate habits of pointless fatigue.

Recently, I was at my son’s school for community night. Given that it would be rude to say “dumb-ass” in a room filled with preschool parents, I needed to tailor my language for the audience.

The fatigue in mothers appears deeper than what I experience as a father.

Mommy fatigue reminds me of man flu, which is something that must be experienced to be believed.

I believe you and I wanted to help the community.

So I asked a question…

Do I perform better when I am exhausted?

I shared my experience…

The most fatiguing period of my adult life was spending 1,000 days constantly carrying around the problems of fatherhood. I thought about my problems 24/7 and it was exhausting.

I offered an antidote…

It was impossible for me to transcend my thought habits.

It has proven to be far easier to replace my habits with something useful.

When you find yourself fixated on your problems, pull out your Facebook feed and meditate on pictures that make you feel happy.

Close your eyes and breathe in that happiness.

When your problems reappear, close your eyes for a moment and breathe some happiness into them.

I shared my fatherhood goals…

I realized that aiming for perfection was making me miserable.

My kids don’t need perfection from me.

How should I define achievable success?

Don’t retaliate.

Stick with it.

Aim low, keep improving and we will end up better than we ever expected.

An Illusion of Individual Experience

riverMy buddy, AC, wrote a good article about his athletic journey.

Alan’s article was a reminder of my own capacity for self-harm and a need to remain vigilant against fooling myself. You see, my story is the same with different details.

I make a cameo in the last decade of Alan’s life and my friends have been talking to me about their own experience.

I wanted to share part of a conversation…

A – I could never do that.
G – Never do what?

A – I could never share my story.
G – You might want to be careful with that.

A – Careful with what?
G – Be careful about making affirmations to conceal your truth

When you start to share your truth, you’re likely to discover that it’s really our truth.

Be brave.