Being Strong to be Useful: Giving Thanks for Movement

strongman photoIt's Thanksgiving in Canada today. I'm going to add my 2 cents to the slew of other blog posts that probably came out today about what I'm thankful for. Everyone writes about that on Thanksgiving. I guess there's a reason for that.I'm always thankful for my friends and family and being born in a time and a place that affords me all the things I currently have. It makes it much easier to live an interesting futuristic lifestyle compared to 50, 100 or 300 years ago. I love playing sports but I don't think I'd make a good warrior running around on the battlefield.What I'm very thankful for recently, and this has come up a few times in the last few days, is having my health and mobility. For the most part I can run, jump, crawl, lift weights, chase the dog around, ride my bicycle and play floor hockey. And it's awesome. I love being able to move hard and fast and it certainly is a huge part of my life.At the moment, though, my back is sore from a bad landing at beach volleyball last week. I'm not moving very fast. But it won't last that long and I'll be out running, jumping and riding in no time.What being injured does show me (and more regularly than I'd like to admit) is to not take movement for granted. Never for one minute think that ease of movement will last forever. It won't. It's often one of the first thing to go when you're older. It's like your mind, if you don't use it then you'll lose it. People are losing their ability to move well at an alarming rate these days.That concern lead me to read the first story I had ever found on Methode Naturelle. Georges Hébert was an officer in the French Navy prior to First World War. He was stationed on an island in the Caribbean where a volcanic eruption threatened the lives of many people that lived there. Orchestrating a rescue, he and his crew saved some 700 people. The ordeal had a profound effect on him for one reason. Many of the people they saved did not have the fitness or the strength or save themselves or their family. They did not have the physical ability to get themselves out of harms way. Hébert would go on to form a personal motto out of the experience, "Être fort pour être utile" ("Being strong to be useful").Just reading the article in Outside magazine gave me goosebumps. After, Georges dedicated his life to spreading a fitness system based on natural movement. I believe one of the basic requirements we have as humans should be efficient movement and we have to work hard at keeping that going. Kids run around, climb trees and jump a lot. Adults should to.This idea and many others have caused me to orient my life around movement and getting a lot of it. I try not to sit still for too long. The more movement the better.We only have it for so long. Make the best of it and never take it for granted. 

Abundance over Scarcity

healthy food photoMaking large uncomfortable changes in your life is difficult. It's awkward, it's annoying, it's frustrating.I've been trying to do it for the last couple years with various things. I want to make my life better. I want it to be as good as I can get it. I want my health and fitness and nutrition and finances and relationships all to be amazing. I think it can be done. There's so much information out there to help. But it doesn't come easy.In doing 30 Day Challenges to learn new things and adjust my expectations when I try new things, I'm always surprised at how much better it is to come at a new idea from the positive rather than the negative.This leads to the idea that thinking with abundance is better than thinking with scarcity.Huh? Let's unpack that a bit.Abundance is more of something.Scarcity is less of something.Thinking with abundance is thinking about getting more of something. Thinking with scarcity is thinking about getting less of something.Humans are great at thinking about getting more of something, not so good at getting less of something. But it's all just in how you frame it.All the productivity courses and habit courses out there touch on how to set goals and frame things so that it's easier to think about them. When they're easy to remember, you'll be more likely to do them. Positive things are easier to think about.Some examples.If I want to eat less junk food, that means more real whole, nutritious food.If I want to sit on the couch less, that means more movement and activities outside.If I want to spend less, that means more saving and actively doing beneficial things with my money.In each of those examples there's a negative part and a positive part. They're 2 sides of the same coin. The difference comes in which part you think about. Always think about the positive part because it gives you something to do.If I think "eat less junk food" over and over and over, that still doesn't give my brain something to do. It's not doing something. It's doing nothing. I can't do nothing. I have to do something.If I think "eat more whole food" over and over, that's way better. It gives me something to do. I immediately have a plan for what to eat later. Whole food. Done.Scarcity is great when you are trying to stop doing something but you have to focus on the positive part of it. Focus on what you are actually doing and getting more of.Focus on getting more healthy food.Focus on getting more quick exercise outside.Focus on creating when you have spare time.When you focus on abundance, the things you are trying to get rid of will get ignored and fall away by themselves.   

Why Not?

Why not try it?I just finished reading Undeclared for Life from Emilie Wapnick at Puttylike.Puttylike is all about multipotentialites, and the unique problems they face when interacting with the world.  Similar to a polymath, renaissance man, or dilettante, multipotentialites are rarely happy doing one thing for long periods of time. They thrive on different activities and get bored when it's the same every day. Back in the Renaissance days that meant pursuing many different types of activities in many different areas like art, knowledge and learning, music and physical activity. Leonardo Da Vinci is credited with being one of of the most famous but there are many others. His contributions to science and art give you an idea of the breadth of activities he regularly participated in.When I think of pursuing the standard western tradition of going to school and then dragging through one single career path till retirement I get dizzy and go cross-eyed. I just can't see myself doing that (maybe if I wasn't cross-eyed). With an infinite number of incredible things to do in the world why would you want to limit yourself to working and watching TV? I can't fathom it.While I can't compare myself to Da Vinci, I think I regularly do a few more things than most people. Here's a bit of a list of what's been going on recently.My ActivitiesI regularly use the 2 monitors on my desk to code web applications, write blog posts and articles for my 3 websites, edit the photos and video footage I've taken.Right beside me sit 3 cameras, a waterproof helmet cam for action shots, a small point and shoot for the fast and light adventures I do in the backcountry and a digital SLR for more time-consuming but better quality photography that I've recently started to get into.To the other side is bin of tropical aquarium pieces from the 75 gallon fish tank I'm currently selling. I ran it for a few years but due to a recent focus on travel and a smaller home, I'm looking to get rid of it. I'm sure I'll get another one.Just behind me is a pile of outdoor gear that has been well-used this seasons, skiing almost every weekend then running and mountain biking during the week. Don't forget the snowboard that I used for 12 years up until last year and the wakeboard I break out every summer. Right beside the snowboard is a bunch of hiking gear that gets pulled out every summer for multi-day trips into the mountains and along the coast. My scuba diving gear will get brushed off when the water gets a little warmer as well, something I've been dying to do more of.I like the individual sports but played team sports for a long time as well. Elementary school was just the beginning when I played on every sports team they had. Soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, floor hockey. There really wasn't anything I did do then. High school got a little more focused with many days playing and practicing rugby and soccer. Now, days during the summer are spent playing rugby, ultimate frisbee and beach volleyball.Last year was full of trail running races and running the 47km long Juan De Fuca trail and while this year will be a little different the big adventures will continue.My computer and soon my walls are full of photographs I've taken travelling over the last few years. I've spent time in Mexico, the US, Australia, and New Zealand, with the majority of my time in my home province of BC, Canada. There will be many more to join them after the next planned trips to France and Thailand.I also have a day job writing online applications for the municipal government for the city I live in.The list may seem like a long one but most people have done many things in their lives. The difference between myself and most others is that they have done most things out of necessity, not voluntarily. They need to get a job to pay the bills. If they're tired of working, they plan a vacation on their vacation days that they have. If they need to de-stress they go to the gym or play a sport during the week. Weekends are spent recovering from the stress of the week.I didn't write this list to gloat. I merely wanted to show what's possible when you have goals in mind and push yourself to attain those goals. This isn't even a long list. Take a quick look at other lifestyle designers online and you'll find lists much longer and more interesting than mine. That's not the point though. I'm not trying to do more things than the next guy, I'm simply trying to do everything that I find entertaining. I guess you could say I have a goal to try everything. If I don't like it, then I won't do it again. But what if I do?If I hadn't tried something then I would have no idea what it's like. I would never have known what it feels like to bungy jump, travel alone, or go backcountry skiing if I hadn't got in touch with people that could help me and then done it. If you don't try you will never know.If there's something you've been wanting to try then go do it. With online resources like they are now, you can learn to do anything you want to do in a short period of time. If it's just money you're lacking, make that savings account, name it Awesome New Thing and do not touch it. Figure out how much money you need and put a bit away every paycheck. I'm seriously looking into a private helicopter licence right now. Yes, it's expensive but that's what saving is for. If you gave up on every single worthwhile goal you ever had, where would you be right now?For the Comments:What are the different things you're doing? Do they all fit together? Do you love doing them all?

2011: The Year of the Hustle

2010 was a great year. I learned a lot. A lot went well.That said, I felt like I didn't have much direction. It was fun trying to get involved with everything that came along but in doing that I was stretching myself thin over what I was already doing. Overall the year felt like I was bouncing back and forth from starting one project to another but not finishing anything. Thus, I've decided to dub last year Year of the Flail.Flailing around last year definitely kept things interesting. But as I said, I felt like I didn't complete much. This year is going to be different though. After doing a bit of a Chris Guillebeau style review, I looked at what went well last year and laid out a plan for this year. One of my goals is to keep my projects and to-do's more structured and really push to get rid of the tasks and projects that don't get me closer to my major goals.Almost everything I'd like to focus on this year will have a project associated with it. I think I'm more likely to complete things if they've got a nice, neat "project" label on them and are prioritized and organized with all the others. I won't get down into the nitty, gritty parts of life though, like cooking, cleaning and sleeping. Everyone does those!I've separated everything here into some main categories. I ended up with quite a few other ones as well during the review but they aren't quite as interesting as these ones. They felt required. These are the ones I'm excited about and will try my hardest to get them done. The categories I included here are Work, Learning, Travel, Outdoors and Adventure. Outdoors and Adventure overlap quite a bit. Outdoors here is more for the projects about the outdoors I'm doing whereas Adventure includes running, riding, kayaking, racing and other sports.Projects for the Year of the HustleWorkWriting for PureOutside, rcThink and Island AdventurerI put these ones under work because I hope that these will some day make up the bulk of my workload. It will be an amazing day when I make a living of these sites and related projects. There was really no schedule for posting to the sites last year. Posts would just go up on the site whenever I felt like writing and that was sometimes 3 times a week and sometimes once every 2 months. This year my goal is to post once per week every Monday morning on each of the sites. So far so good. It's only been 3 weeks but I haven't fallen off the wagon yet! I'm working on building up a repository of posts for each of the sites so that if I run out of time, I can just edit and update a post, rather than writing a whole new one.If you aren't familiar with my other blogs yet, I'll give you a quick rundown. PureOutside is a general outdoors site covering any outdoor topic like climbing, running, skiing, hiking and mountain biking. I've got a few projects scheduled to start this year that will be added on to this site. More details are below.Island Adventurer is another outdoor site focusing on Vancouver Island, where I live. Vancouver Island is a mecca for human-powered outdoor enthusiasts offering easy access to skiing, surfing, trail running, mountain biking, kiteboarding, climbing and diving. You can easily participate in all these activities any time of the year or even all in one day. Information for all these activities can be hard to come by, though, and is often only found after endless digging through websites or good-natured stalking of those that regularly participate. I'm hoping with Island Adventurer and PureOutside I can make it easier to organize and find all that outdoor information.Programming Home Sell Canada and Bed and Breakfast CenterOriginally started by my dad as side projects, I've taken over most of the support and programming on HomeSellCanada and BedandBreakfastCenter. Both are excellent opportunities to increase my passive income and learn some useful new information. I'm in the middle of an upgrade to the underlying systems right now and as soon as that is complete, I'll be working on the graphics and copy. They're both a bit dated and need a refreshing dose of new copy and design. On the list for them both are blogs to liven things up and provide a good reason to link to both the sites.Day Job at City of NanaimoI'm hoping to end up with some sort of location-independent career someday but while I'm getting started, I'm very thankful for the programming position I have at the City of Nanaimo. Every day I'm learning something new and get to work with a lot of great people in an enterprise environment. I know few people ever say they like working in a cubicle but, while I would rather be outside skiing or climbing mountains, it's been an awesome experience so far.LearningThe world is so amazing that it's tough to not write an entire book on all the things I'd like to learn. One of my goals for the year is to focus more fewer things but there are two that I'm going to focus on most.PhotographyA lot of my friends have been getting into photography lately and judging by all the amazing pictures on travel blogs, people online have as well. I used to travel, adventure and party with just a small point and shoot style camera. While it's a lot of fun to carry around in my pocket and have at the drop of a hat, the pictures that it produces just aren't fantastic. They will certainly do in a pinch and capture the moment but after seeing some incredible things in Australia and New Zealand, I was disappointed with the quality when I wanted to revisit those memories. The little camera just didn't do the landscapes justice, especially on our trip to Milford Sound. Now, I've got myself a Canon T1i and am trying to use it every day. A friend told me that the first 10,000 photos aren't going to be anything special. After that you might get some good ones so I've got a lot of photos to take.GuitarFor the longest time, I've wanted to play guitar. There's just something about it that I find so alluring. I find myself wishing I knew how to play when I'm sitting around a campire or on the road travelling. I just haven't got up the guts to get playing and sound like crap when I'm learning. What's worse is that I've had one sitting next to my desk for the last year and a half. I finally got some ebooks and a dvd for christmas and have been making time to sit down and learn the chords and a few songs. Watch out for a video of a song when I can get something together. It wont' be that bad, I promise!TravelFranceThe first trip of the year will be to France. My girlfriend and I are going to spend 2 weeks in France in May, with some of the trip in Paris and the remainder in the south along the Mediterranean. This will be my first trip to Europe and my girlfriends first off North America. I have these romantic visions of wandering around in Paris. I know it's probably not going to be anything like I think it's going to be but it's still going to be a great adventure nonetheless.PortlandThis won't be a very long trip but it's still a trip out of the country. We'll be heading down to Chris Guilleau's World Domination Summit for a few days in June to hang out with a whole bunch of bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Pretty sure I'm bouncing around excited for this to happen. I've been reading a lot of the bloggers that are going for the last year and it's time to finally meet them. This has been part of the reason why I'm going to be pushing my blogs hard the beginning of this year. Not only would it be nice to get a bit more traffic to all of them, I'd like to be a bit better known in the blogging circles.ThailandThis is a maybe trip. I'm going to try my hardest to make this happen by the end of the year but it might have to be the beginning of next year. I've been dying to go to Thailand for a long time and I finally said I'm going to do it. With all the other bloggers in Thailand right now, it will be a hell of a party and a great time meeting them face to face. I'm aiming for November with this one.OutdoorsRamblerI mentioned earlier that I've found it hard getting the information I wanted about trails, and other places to adventure. Even if I did find the basics it is almost never from the time that I want to go. Having a resource that's full of outdoor information that is up to date as well would be the holy grail of outdoor sites. I plan to make this happen over the next few years starting with Vancouver Island and spreading it around the world. Any users will be allowed to sign up and add their own outdoor trip reports and trail information. I've also got a few applications on the list that will integrate with the site to make planning your outdoor excursion extremely easy.Outdoor ManualsTo go along with the current trail and location information that Rambler will eventually have, I plan on making manuals for all the outdoor sports that are out there. Starting with the basics, they'll move up to intermediate and advanced as I get to those levels with the different areas. The first will be hiking and will most likely be a free one. Soon after that I'll be creating a skiing, climbing and mountain biking manuals and selling them for a small fee. They'll be full of all the resources and information you'll need to get you started in the various human-powered outdoor activities.Trail GuidesWith all the information on Rambler and in the Outdoor Manuals, I'm not sure if I'll need to create these Trail Guides. They'll essentially be very details guides of popular trails. The intention is that you could pick up one of these babies, peruse at your leisure online or your mobile device and then you'll be set to go for that trail or area. These will require a ton of time out on the trails but that's what I love doing most so it's going to be a blast.Map VITo get things started with Rambler and for some good stories on Island Adventurer, I've started a projecting called Map VI (short for Vancouver Island). While I get Rambler up and running, I'll be hiking, running, riding and kayaking everywhere I can on Vancouver Island to get good stories and data to fill Rambler with.  My goal is to eventually have every single trail that's on Vancouver Island on the website free for people to see and use to plan hiking, biking and running trips. Of course I'll need the help of everyone I can if I plan to complete this one within a reasonable time. Getting people to go on trips up mountains and out into the woods isn't hard at all but getting them to record that trip online somewhere is a huge task. Most just want to go on the trip and take a few photos, they don't care about writing about the trip afterwards. There may have to be some incentives involved. Prizes anyone?AdventuringAfter working at an outdoor outfitters store for a while, I've got a newfound love and respect for those people that ski, hike, run, kayak regularly. Not only are they getting some great exercise, they're seeing some amazing places. Through the outdoors groups I regularly meet up with I've met some awesome people and have joined them for some great trips.SkiingSkiing is definitely my current favorite. It changes regularly but right now it's what I think about, read about and do almost more than any other sport(I run almost every day so that would have to be the most but it's more just to keep fit than adventuring). In fact, as I'm writing this section, I'm nursing some sore muscles from a good day on the local ski mountain. One of my main reasons for getting into skiing so much this year is that it opens up a lot of new territory to explore, photograph and write about. Most of the time travelling through snow, snowshoes are most often choice for mode of travel. But they can be slow. Throw a pair of climbing skins onto some touring skis and you can climb mountains, traverse glaciers and get to some incredible places. Best of all, the way down is much faster because all you have to do is ski!This year resort skiing was a top priority just to get as many runs in as I could. I've only just started skiing this year and I needed to find the fastest way to get my bearings on my new skis. I'm getting close to a comfort level where I can ski just about anything I want. After I reach that point, I'll be heading out into the backcountry for most of my skiing days. Hitting the backcountry is nice because there are far fewer people, the scenery is amazing, and once you've got the appropriate gear, it's free!Running Cape Scott and West Coast TrailIf I don't get anything else accomplished this year aside from running the the Cape Scott trail and the West Coast Trail, I'd be a happy camper... or runner. My running partner and I ran the 47km long Juan De Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island last year. As I was running it, I couldn't imagine running anything longer. It became apparent after that it wasn't that hard. Yes, it was the hardest run I had ever done up until that point, but after it was over, I knew I was ready for something more. If I had run that far in 7.5 hours after some mediocre training, what can I do with a little patience, a positive mindset and better training? If I can do 50k, why not go a little further and go 60km or 75 or even 100? Pushing yourself hard opens up possibilities that you never think are possible. Only a few years ago, I thought a 5km run was a long one. Now I'm doing ten times that for fun. The Cape Scott Trail will be a warm up for the West Coast Trail at about 40-50km. I've never been to the area so it will be a nice change from running around Nanaimo. The West Coast trail is a gnarly 75km run that will be an incredible test for my skill, endurance and spirit but I know with a bit of a push that it's possible. Lots of training needs to be done before then though.Momar Adventure Race in CumberlandRyan and I did this race last year. We did ok but I was sorely disappointed in my performance on the bike. The race starts with a kayak, moves into running for a few hours, then culminates in a beautiful mountain bike ride. All totaled you travel about 50km. It took us about 7 hours last year. Both my legs cramped hard on the ride and I feel like we could have finished around an hour faster had I been in good form. I had never done a race that long before and it kicked me hard. I'm determined this year to do more training for it. I feel now that I know what to expect, it won't be nearly as punishing.WakeboardingI wasn't sure if I should really call this a project but it seemed like everything lately that matters to me is being put into a "project" and made a priority. All my other adventure and learning projects could eventually lead to some sort of money but I can't see this one really going anywhere. I just really like wakeboarding. I remember all the way back to when we first started. My cousin and uncle brought home a wakeboard from a show they went to since it'd be fun to try. We all ended up loving it, especially my cousin and I. When we're at our summer cabin, every spare minute is of thinking about wakeboarding or actually doing it. I got busy last year and didn't end up going as much as I had liked so this summer it's going to be a top priority.Climbing ?This one is a question mark right now. I'd love to start climbing. A lot of my friends are climbers and I'm totally jealous every time they post photos. Like skiing, climbing also a gateway to some incredible places and another very healthy thing to do.  The issue I still need to decide on is whether I have the time to do it. To really get started, two days a week climbing is the minimum. I'm not sure if I have the time to commit to that right now but we'll see how my priorities change as we head into the spring and summer.What do you have going on this year? Any big projects coming up? What are you most excited to do?

just keep running

I don't know exactly what it is.  It's hard to say exactly how it feels but it just feels good. I'm always busy with one thing or another and it's so easy to put it off to the next day and the next day. When I do manage to scrape together the motivation to actually run, it feels so good. So good that while I'm doing it I say I'm going to run the next day and the day after that and the day after that. It never happens like that. I'd like to say that I'll get to a point where I'll run on a schedule every day that I say I'm going to. I can't imagine that ever happening. I've just got to remember that it feels so good.