Back in the Saddle

I struggled over the past year and a half with losing my ability to run. Exacerbated by depression I finally got help. So I wanted to get back in shape, whatever that meant, I had to find a new way. It’s been slow going and developing to put together something meaningful, challenging and enjoyable.

I checked out what I wanted and my options. I’m very fortunate that I live near a public park with a trail with work out stations that runs along a canal. I have a decent bike and that seemed a simple start.

I started off with riding my bike on the trail. I set a round trip of around 4 miles and started biking at least three or more days week. It was nice to see the splash of mullet or watch the dorsal fins of a pod of dolphin or sea birds swooping in for smaller fish.

Along the route I noticed the park had a pull up station. In part of my running life, I would run and perform calisthenics. So the next step was obvious.

I added a stop at the pull up station on every bike ride. I go for as many pull ups as I can, then I attach a heavy strong elastic band and do a few assisted pull ups.

Then I noticed several land marks along my route. Sidewalks, bridges, and railings. So I began adding in stops at each of the landmarks for push ups. Then spider man push ups. Then dive bomber push ups. And glute bridges. And hanging ab lifts. And whatever else I can think of that I feel I need to work on.

It’s evolving and likely to continue to evolve. For now, it looks like this. I bike a little over a mile to the pull-up station. I switch as quickly as possible to minimize rest and do pull-ups until I can’t anymore. Then I perform some assisted pull-ups until my arms begin to fail. Then I quick change back to the bike and continue on to my first landmark of several landmarks along a two mile ride. At each landmark I quickly pump out a set of 10 reps of either pushups, dive bombers, spider man push ups, or glute bridges. By this time, I’ve looped back to the pull up station. Sometimes I throw in a set of lunges or one leg squats with around there. Or I’ll just ride it back home.

This progression and evolution of working out without running has been such a relief. I’ve come to accept that I will never complete a marathon. Or win runs in my age group any more. But, this work out routine definitely provides me a more comprehensive work out. And I’ve reduced my body fat by 2% and increased my shoulders by two inches. I feel so much better. So thankful for the new mental head space that made this possible.

And now for something completely different….

Games and video games. Yes, that’s what I said. Video games.

First let’s look at what purpose they serve. Their primary purpose is to entertain.

But the most critical thing for me was the element of learning from safe mistakes.

Yes, they provided a window into the real world games of adulthood. Yes, I played soldier as a kid (think Call of Duty with a heavy layer of imagination and endless lives). Yes, I played against dragons and saved damsels in my Disney-esque imagination. Yes, I later evolved into playing bigger picture war games, role playing games and board games. Yes, I did marathons of video games in combat, space or apocalyptic wastelands.

Why does it matter? Because it gave me a healthy, creative and constructive outlet that taught me a few things. Like; whatever you do in life, try to figure out the odds behind a risk or decision if you want to figure out how to win. I died countless times and anguished over each death, but each time I did, I learned there was a better way. And I approached real life in the same way.

And that ultimately, helped steer me in the direction of where my future would take me. It steered me toward a twenty one year career with the military reserves. It steered me to a degree I earned with no student loans and served me well enough to get hired on with a fortune 100 company. It steered me in navigating 31 years of corporate life with 21 of those years spent under the expectation of layoffs. All this aided by the basic idea of figuring out the odds, projecting outcomes and working the long games as best I could.

This was a very simplistic overview of a simple principle. But it has served me well.

Getting My Head Straight

Mental health. Some people think it’s a taboo subject. But in this forum, it’s a big part of our experience.

I needed help recently. I no longer could enjoy a run life and that led to a spiral of negative thought droning on about wanting to run and knowing that it was not the right thing. I couldn’t sleep well, maybe 6 hours, not straight through and frequently not restful. Progressively, I felt like I just couldn’t get out of my head.

I was getting more and more edgy, but kept trying to deal with it alone. It was oppressive. Like waking up with morning brain fog and just never getting out of it all day long.

The final straw came when my wife made comments over a few days about how edgy I was. I think it took her off guard when I agreed and said I was calling my doctor.

And I’m thankful I did. By simply going through some detailed discussions about what was going on with me he gave me a prescription.

I felt a change in 24 hours. I was very reluctant to acknowledge it because I wasn’t sure if it was a placebo affect or not. And that was my mindset for several days. After a week, I discussed with the wife and we both agreed, the prescription was doing what was needed.

My quality of life is immensely improved. I was able to come out of my funk and get out of my own way. I was able to refocus on several aspects of my life. And finally started a new work out routine, but that’s another post.

Over Four Years Sober

Four years of sobriety

In July of this year I achieved four years of sobriety.

Honestly, once I got past the first year it wasn’t that difficult. I had one instance where a server gave me an alcoholic drink in 2019. I took a few sips and it just didn’t taste right. It was nasty. Once I realized the mistake there was no temptation for the alcohol at all.

I didn’t freak out on the staff or wonder if I needed to start all over with the sober clock. It was an honest mistake. It didn’t lead me to drinking so I wasn’t going to punish myself emotionally.

The occasion slipped quietly by, but when I realized it, I really did enjoy a quiet smile to myself. It felt good inside.

Yep, Run Life is Over

I followed up a few times with my surgeon, who had followed up with the rest of his firm. No one was willing to operate on my situation.

Quick recap. My primary issue is that I suffer a ganglion cyst at the tibial-fibular head on my left leg. It grows into a lump that protrudes noticeably. Internally it impinges on a nerve bundle. The pain radiates from my knee down to my ankle. They won’t operate on it. And they won’t repeatedly drain it, I’m told for fear of infections. And that the surgery may not address the underlying problem.

And then there is the complex torn miniscus. I don’t suffer much discomfort from this. But the surgeons are more than willing to operate on that. But it wouldn’t allow me to run. I would lose what little cushion I have with the miniscus and I’m told it would amplify the progression of ostearthritis. Which I’m told I have.

The final straw, at six foot and two hundred pounds, I’m apparently not a good candidate. Frustrating. They prefer far lighter petite individuals.

So, there it is. Find some other way to stay fit. Disappointing and frustrating.

MS Surface Pro 7 – Casting Desktop?

Another thing in the evolution of learning things about the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, how can anyone cast their desktop? Support isn’t clear. They only point to casting with Windows Media Player like there is no other reason to cast. That is not something useful for a slide presentation.

Anyone out there have a clue?

Run Life Over?

Through 2019 I was dealing with left knee issues. There was a lump (ultimately a gangleon cyst) that developed around the head of my left fibula. And intermittent knee pain inside the joint.

Recent MRI’s confirmed the gangleon cyst, but also identified a miniscus tear.

I saw an orthopedic surgeon today. I was informed that the gangleon cyst was correctable, but the torn miniscus was a complex tear. Repairing it would be highly unlikely. To replace it would be more likely, but I would be lucky to go a year without it breaking down because the replacement materials frequently fail.

And at my age, well, I should consider an alternative form or exercise. Like biking or swimming.

I always considered this was a day that could come. When I’d have to admit that age is taking hold. That i might have to pass on running. Ugh.

I will say, I’m glad to have gotten the past few years in with running. If I had continued drinking like I was, I never would have.

I’m thankful for what I’ve had and still do have. But if I truly can’t run any more, I will mourn for that.

Of Run Love and Injuries

For the year of 2019, it’s been an interesting and challenging time. I came into 2018, a few years sober, regular runner and determined to try achieving my goals of half marathon and a marathon. I felt pretty solid, albeit slower than my youth. I had amped up my distance and in April I had run a 10K adventure run with what I felt was a respectable time and placed first in my age group.

Then sometime in May, I began having problems. I was struggling with intermittent pain in my left leg along with swelling near the top of my left fibula. I also believed that my ITB was week. I had to moderate my running.

In June, I saw my physician. X-rays showed nothing skeletal so I was referred to physical therapy. From that I learned a lot, but I still had problem with swelling and occasionally, some pain where that bump appeared.

By the time I finished therapy in October and with the daily workout routines, I felt strong. Immediately after therapy was completed, I had a 5 mile run and although I finished strong and with a good time, the lump showed up as large as it ever has with little bits of pain every so often. I kept at my continuous therapy, but the lump never went away.

I went a few weeks without running entirely, but this time the lump didn’t go away at all. Back to the doctor and MRI initial results are a torn miniscus with indications of osteoarthritis.

Sounds like knee surgery in 2020.

It will improve my quality of life, but mostly because I love running. The freedom to move outside, the therapy it provides me, the enjoyment and peace it brings me. Even if my ‘running’ is nothing more than a slow self absorbed shuffle jog, anything is better than being hindered and held back like I am now.

Fear of Irrelevance

One of the contributing factors to my drinking was fear of irrelevance.

Everyone at some point deals with concerns for irrelevance.

The irrelevance of being left behind in an ever changing work environment that faces down sizing regularly. The thought of irrelevance that comes with being in a contentious divorce or a bad custody challenge. The thought of becoming irrelevant to your off spring due to age and the differences in generational culture. The thought of taking on more than you planned and becoming overwhelmed and unable to make a positive impact in anything. The concern that of all the relationships you’ve had reached an expiration date and by that very nature you can become concerned that you may become irrelevant to your current relationship. The concern that you become irrelevant with all the non-constructive time you spend drinking, planning around drinking and recovering from drinking.

The thought of being irrelevant can be pervasive and stressful. The further reality is that drinking can amplify these very real feelings.

So, how did I finally cope with it? Sobriety helped immensely. Let’s face it, when drinking our minds can go to places that our sober selves just don’t waste time on. The drinking mind can dwell on the darker elements of our lives and lament without end. The sober mind can focus on the here and now, the what needs to be done and the doing of things. The sober mind is much more capable of dismissing feelings that come from very small places.

I’m not without those small moments where these same things can come to the forefront. But the limited amount of time that happens is so much smaller than when the drinking mind is in control.

I feel grateful for where I am and this is one of many reasons I say, I will not drink with you today [IWNDWYT].

 

 

“Do What You Love” is BS Career Advice

“Do what you love” is BS career advice. Plenty of failed writers, novelists and fiction authors can tell you that. Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs and start ups lay along that road of dreams. And the list goes on.

I know because I explored those ideas. I had day dreams of being a writer and waxed poetic over the fame and notoriety that would surely follow. I did the homework and realized that for me to make a living at the time  (pre-internet) I would have made pennies a word and that the only way to make it a good living would be to achieve that rare hit. That one in several million novella or non-fiction blockbuster that brought the worlds attention flocking to your feet. The odds were against me.

I love to run, but I’ve seen very little realistic opportunity for me create a career around what I love. My ability to run does not excuse the fact that in this vast world, I’ve never been a high performing amateur, much less an elite athlete. And as life progressed, we have the commitments of time like making enough money to pay the rent, put food on the table and provide transportation.

“Do what you love” is such a purist oversimplification of what really should be a more complex concept.

“Do what you love” is frequently and inappropriately interpreted to mean “Do ONLY what you love and accept no compromises”. Or “Refuse to do anything else to do what you love and accept no compromises”.  This interpretation smacks of a serious lack of reality based pragmatism.

Life is filled with things we don’t want to do. No one really enjoys going to the bathroom. But it’s what we have to do to survive. I personally don’t enjoy having to lay down to sleep every night, but its what I do every day to survive. Frequently stopping for water or food is an inconvenience when we have better things to do, but it’s what we have to do to survive.

In response to the idea of “Doing what you love” as career advice I offer the following:

  • “Aspire to what you like while covering the basics”. 
  • Find something other people will compensate you to do for them. It doesn’t have to be glorious, fabulous or set the world on fire so long as it covers the basics. It can be a service or a product, just something.
  • Do what’s necessary to support yourself and take care of your responsibilities. Even if it means taking multiple jobs. Nothing can undermine your sense of pride and well being than finding yourself dependent on the welfare of others or welching on debts.
  • Strive for what you prefer. As you do what’s necessary, keep your eyes open for what you prefer and strive for that. In every aspect of life and work there are hidden gems and aspects of things you may find intriguing enough to keep you interested. Stay open to that.
  • Learn to appreciate what you get for what you do. When you have a job or career, someone is paying you for the value you provide to them, no matter how much you don’t enjoy it. Don’t agonize or lament about the perpetual woes of where you are. Appreciate the income you get.
  • Steer career changes to grow to love what you’re doing, or at least not hate it. I don’t know how many people I’ve met that tell me stories like “While working at x I got involved in this thing that led me in a completely different direction.” I’ve met a teacher that became an IT specialist for an entire school district. Law enforcement officer that became a chiropractor. A CFO that became a successful insurance salesman. And the stories go on and on. I have an education degree and I’ve been working for global IT companies for over 30 years.
  • Be flexible. Because people change, as you will too. People can find themselves falling in love with things others find routine or abhorrent. People can also find themselves falling out of love when it becomes a ‘job’ (aka “chore”).
  • Persevere. It’s absolutely rare the person that wakes up every day of their life saying ‘yay, I’m excited to get up and go do this for a living’. Even at something they ‘love.’ Do what you have to for today, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.