Returning to Beginnings

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About a year and a half ago, on a business trip to San Francisco, I decided that I ought to start writing down my thoughts and publishing them on this blog. Originally, it was just a way to formalize something that a few acquaintances and I had been doing on Facebook – documenting the cool places we got to run when we traveled for work. For me, it has progressed quite a bit from that.

This week, I was back in San Francisco for business and went for a morning run again down on Embarcadero Avenue that runs down along the waterfront. This was the place that I ran the first morning before that first blog post, and I saw a lot of the same sights. I thought it was the appropriate time to revisit some of the beginnings of these ramblings and remind myself of the state of mind and areas of focus I was dealing with back then.

The thing that struck me the most about reading those entries I wrote when I first decided that it was important to share my thoughts was how my beliefs haven’t shifted much, but how I have drifted from the focus I seemed to have back then on those beliefs. Specifically, I still feel very strongly about the importance of stillness, being quiet, being present in the moment, and being mindful at all times. However, reading my own writing from the fall of 2013, I can see that at the time, living that out daily and reminding myself daily to be focused on those things was key to my emotional and mental well being and a priority in my life. During the past 18 months I have allowed those things to be less central in my day to day routine.

I could wax on and on about how much more complicated life is since those beginning posts – I’m approaching 40 years old, I’m 2 years into a career instead of 6 months and have a lot more professional responsibilities because of that, my children are getting more and more busy and time consuming all of the time, my relationship with my wife has grown over the past year and a half which leads us to more and deeper conversations and connections, and I’m no longer training for a marathon and having hours on end of solitude while I run. These, however, would all be excuses.

The truth of the matter is that, as is so often true with all of life, our priorities, and the things we focus on, go through cycles. Various factors influence these cycles, but in the end it is natural for us to realize ebbs and flows in our life when it comes to emotional, relational, spiritual, physical, and mental well being. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about not being where we were a year ago or 5 years ago in any of those areas. We should, however, return to beginnings occasionally and see if there are things of value from those beginnings that we can try to bring back in to our lives that will benefit the here and now.

For me personally, returning once again to San Francisco, running that same route along the Bay, and re-reading what I wrote when I started morningrunguys reminds me that although a lot of circumstances of life have changed in that short period of time, I still need to MAKE TIME to be still and quiet on a regular basis and I need to be more disciplined about not only taking regular morning runs, but also allowing time to reflect on the things that go through my mind on those runs. As I read back through some of my old posts, it is clear to me that when I allowed for this time and reflection, it had a positive impact on my personal and relational life.

I don’t know what the rest of 2015 will hold, or where I’ll be mentally or emotionally when the 2 year anniversary of these musings rolls around. But I am going to commit to returning to the deeper reflection of the beginnings of this blog, because when I return to the beginning I can see that they had an impact on how I expressed myself and I want that depth back to my soul.

In the Groove

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Recently I had a friend tell me that “I was really in the groove of life.” That made me feel really good, and then I got to thinking…what does it mean to be “in the groove” in life and how did I get there?

For me, being in the groove means a heightened level of mindfulness (being present and self aware in every moment), genuinely caring for others more than I care for myself, and a right ordering of priorities in which I work to live and live to the fullest possible. By no means am I 100% in each of these areas (Michael Jordan still missed some shots when he was in ‘the zone’). I still yell at my kids, skip workout days when I shouldn’t, eat or drink to excess on occasion, act insensitively to my wife’s feelings, and forget to call friends back. However, I do tangibly sense an awareness when these things happen and I consciously act to repair my mistakes. The simple recognition of these mistakes and working to be more mindful makes me feel better mentally and physically, makes my family happier, and improves my overall well being. It is because of that awareness that I can recognize that I’m slipping out of the groove and I can do tangible things to get back.

So, how did I get there? The answer is pretty simple but the solution was complex. Friends got me there. Friends who told me I didn’t seem like myself and had started to let other people and their opinion of me dictate how I was acting on a day to day basis. I am so grateful to those friends for having the courage to tell me that. I decided it wasn’t going to be that way anymore, but as I said, the solution was complex and I didn’t really know what to do. Again, friends helped. On a fall morning, sitting on the deck sipping coffee looking at the serene view above, a friend asked me “have you ever thought about all of the JUNK that clutters your mind and messes you up?” I had not, but for the next 2 hours we had one of the most meaningful conversations of my life – it was all about mindfulness. 

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind.” Nearly every day since that fall morning at the lake I have been renewing my mind and trying not to conform to the world. As a result, I’m in the groove of life and I’ve never felt better.