Interrupt the Flow

It was still dark out as I rolled over this morning, clock read 6:32am. Why? I ask myself. The house was quiet and dark. I grabbed the blankets and rolled over … sleep longer I told myself, you have the chance to.

I was looking forward to this weekend. For the last couple months I have had the boys every weekend, or at least part of it. Work schedules aligned in just such a way and am I no one to argue with the opportunity. It is great getting the extra time with the boys, would not have it any other way. I was suppose to have this this weekend as well, but I guess there was a change in plans. This left me home alone for the weekend … a chance to relax, catchup, get some me time.

I finally rose and made my way downstairs for coffee, thinking to myself, “I should really have gotten up for a run this morning”. I was out of practice, out of the discipline of my morning workouts. I have been lazy of late, if I am honest with myself. Sat down at the computer to get some things done that just ‘need doing’, but focus remained difficult. As I sat there, chatting with a friend they finally said “I will let you get back to your work” … and it hit me. That was my only connection at the moment and I was bothered by it ending … I was lonely. It is not depression, more a desire for company — even if I know having company would only be a distraction from getting my stuff done. Having the boys provides endless amounts of company, and most days without them are so busy I don’t have time to sit alone.

Yet, today the house was empty. I had hours before I had to be anywhere. I had piles of work that needed doing. I have an endless TODO list … so there is no way that I can claim I am bored. But the house was empty, I had no where to be. Yet, I was grasping to conversations for a connection to someone and I knew that staying in my current mindset was not a solution. It was time for that run.

“As the body moves, the mind grooves” – Jim Kwik

Running is not what is important … it was the break, and a break where you are not distracted by external sources. Leaving the phone, the computer, the tv … and life behind for half an hour allowed me to focus on listening to my inner-self. Loneliness is not new, but I thought I had gotten past this point. Where was this coming from? I have solid friendships. I have a new job that has captured a lot of my attention recently. I am not dwelling on my past relationship, actually quite satisfied with where my life sits. As the pavement passed beneath my feet I was able to release my mind, which grasped on moving forward. I needed to do this more. I needed to take care of myself. I needed to once again become comfortable with myself. Life has been so busy for so long … it is time for a break with just me. I just needed to accept that.

With the midday sun beating down I rounded back through the gates of the complex. Sweat was dripping from my forehead and I slowed to a walk. Close to 5k and it felt good. I could feel the blood pumping through my body. I closed my eyes and let the sensation of the light breeze run over my skin. I felt alive. Think it was more, I just needed to get out into the sunshine.

Alone time is important. Allows you to look inside and see some of the things you need to see, and it doesn’t always need to be a long time. Remember your inner-self often can shout loud enough to get through all the noise around you. You have to provide the time and space to listen to yourself.

Now … back to work.

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Controlling Fear

Fear - Way of the Warrior KidFear is normal. It is a protective reaction to the unknown and uncertain. It is healthy. Yet, it can also hold us back. Both mentally and often physically it keeps us frozen in place, unable to move … to grow.

"Fear is normal. In fact, fear is good. Fear is what warns you when things are dangerous. Fear is what makes you prepare. Fear keeps us out of a lot of trouble. So there is nothing wrong with fear. But fear can also be overwhelming. It can be unreasonable. It can cause you to freeze up and make bad decisions or hesitate when you need to act. So you have to learn to control fear." - page 153, Way of the Warrior Kid.

Jocko Willink talks about preparation being the first step in controlling your fears, including training, studying, and planning. For me, part of that studying and planning revolves around the analysis of the worst things that could happen. Astronaut Chris Hadfield, in his book he discusses this mental preparation by always looking for “what could kill him next”. Often this alone puts your fears into perspective. What could happen? How would it be handled? and what (if anything) could be done about it? Then, as Jocko says in his book, you just need to “go” – in other words ‘take action’. You can continue or turn back. Enter the ring or leave the arena. This ends up being a choice you make. Control your fear, don’t let it control you!

"Once you go - once you start - you won't be afraid anymore. You overcome the fear by going - and it is the same in many aspects of life. Parachuting. Talking in front of a crowd. Taking a test. Running a race. Competing in jiu-jitsu. The fear is in the waiting. So. Once you have prepared and trained and studied and planned, there is only one thing left to do: go." - page 156, Way of the Warrior Kid.

Lessons from the nighttime family reading session of…
“Way of the Warrior Kid” by Jocko Willink

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Taking the day off

rock wallIt is difficult being a single parent. Stressful to deal with with school schedules, extracurricular activities, and then attempting to manage your own life. So, co-parenting to lend a break in the schedule and allow you time to focus on you. Extended breaks due to vacations and holidays can be nice to, giving a parent that day-off to focus on themselves can be incredibly powerful. Christmas is more difficult emotionally, it is culturally defined as family time so when you are not with your family it can be incredibly hard.

This year was just one of those years where I saw less of my kids over the Christmas break. So when I got a call that I had the opportunity to take my boys while my wife had to work I jumped at the chance. This meant that I had to take the day off, something that is not typically in my nature. Yet, after not getting much of a holiday with them it was just “what was going to happen”. There was no question in my mind.

My past is littered with cases where I chose work over family. Vacations were spent with me checking emails, coordinating from my phone, or actually working the code remotely. At home I would often work into the evenings, be late or completely miss family events, and neglect the need and desire for both a father and a husband. I am now paying for many of those choices.

Today work remains important to me, but it no longer defines who I am. I define who I am – I do that through my actions. That action, was to take the day off and enjoy it with my boys. It was just a few hours, but it is about quality over quantity – it is about the experience.

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