Author: Josh W

Redefining the American Dream

What is the American Dream?  A house in the suburbs with the picket fence and everything else we’ve always believed it to be right? Perhaps. I know I used to think so, however I recently began to question and rethink what the American Dream could actually be. That’s not to say it doesn’t include the house with the picket fence, it’s just that America wasn’t founded due to a demand for houses with picket fences. Tyranny, oppression, birth rights, life or death at the will of a monarch were the status quo of the day. America was founded on risk takers. We wanted to break out of the norm, explore the vast unknown, conquer the wild, and all the while free to live as we pleased. Above all, America was a place of opportunity.

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I’m not going to say we’ve had a perfect history, because we certainly haven’t and things have certainly changed a bit since we started. We’ve explored the land, tamed the environment as best we could, and we’re still mostly free. Breaking out of the societal norm however, seems to be something foreign to us these days. Work, school, reality tv, throw in the occasional vacation and it pretty much sums up most of the lives of Americans. Why does almost everyone fit in that description? We’ve settled because it’s easy, safe, comfortable.

reality tv

When was the last time you took a risk? I mean a real risk, on the scale of leaving your home to move far away, not knowing what you’d encounter along the way or when you got there? When was the last time you did something where you didn’t know how it would turn out? Something that was both frightening and exciting at the same time? American has certainly left it’s stamp on the world and earned a few chapters with of world history due to our accomplishments to boot, but our spirit is waning. I feel like we’ve lost our way. Institutionalized, by a prison we built for ourselves, but with more arts and crafts time in the yard. Killing time while we wait for it to kill us.

In all honesty, the American dream is whatever you would like it to be. Suburban homes, picket fences, a decent job can all be yours if you really want it. For me, I wanted the traditional American dream at one point in time, but not so much now. You only get one spin on this rock and I’d like a bit more than what life just happens to give me.

Life is a gamble, no matter how you play. It’s only a matter of what you’re willing to risk that makes it that much better.

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Am I back in high school?

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No, it’s not some weird Billy Madison sequel staring yours truly, going back to school and reliving the social awkwardness of our youth. However, I did get my new bite guard to wear while I sleep. They say it’s to help with clenching. I hope so because I feel like I’m back in high school with my retainer.

I went to a training session at work today. It was held in a conference room with a projection screen on one side. The “cool kids” sat in the back away from the presenter, while another person dozed off. Perhaps some behavior and habits are hard to shake off.

Whether it involves you personally or you observe it in others, do you feel as though not much has changed in our time since high school? Are you the same person you were? Or have you improved?

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The Thing About Perspective

The thing about perspective, is that often times we only consider our own and forget there are more ways to look at things that just our own.

Recently, I’ve been checking out an iPhone app named Sktchy. It allows you to upload a picture and if someone feels inspired by it, they recreate it by drawing. I uploaded a picture and was fortunate enough that two people had drawn a picture of me. Below are the photo I uploaded and the two drawing:

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I’d just like to take this moment to point out that I still have more hair than Homer Simpson, thank you.

Back to the subject, as you can see, two different people perceived the picture differently. If we know that there are other views than our own, why do we normally only see our own? Looking at something with a different perspective can show you a view completely opposite of what you had seen it as before.

I could only see it being beneficial and probably a good idea to look at things differently more often because it just might surprise you.

Depression After a Sports Injury

One day you’re on top of the world, doing your thing and then “SNAP! POP! Ow, WTF!?” You’re hurt. You’ll ask yourself questions like “what happened? did I have bad technique? shoddy equipment? when will I be able to exercise again? will I even be able to in the same capacity?”. If you’re lucky, a few days rest and you’re up and going again. If you aren’t and recovery will take some time, you’ll turn to Netflix and whatever kind of food you can have delivered to help fill the void.

Whether you’re aiming to break records, a casual gym rat, or even a weekend warrior, an injury that takes more than a few days to recover from seriously cramps your style. Now, not only do you have to deal with a physical pain, you have to try to deal with depression as you come to the realization that you won’t be a good as you were before. If you do happen to reach the level you were, it is going to take quite a bit of time. For some, they associate who they are with what they do. A runner, crossfitter, lifter, rower, etc. If you can’t perform your activity, who are you? The guy with the busted shoulder. The girl with the slipped disc. Nobody wants to be that person.

I have crappy knees, full of arthritis while in my mid 20s. Popping, clicking, and grinding are just a way of life for me. I just figured since they have complete knee replacements, I would continue to run, squat, and basically just go about my normal routine. I used exercise not only for the physical benefits, but because it helped my mental well being. Exercising gave me confidence in myself. It made me feel normal. Whole. Overtime, my knees became worse, especially the right one. Having to deal with constant pain and feeling like they were on fire, I went to the doctor, only to be told I would need to have surgery and wouldn’t be able to anything I had been doing. Take up swimming they said. Pffft

For a few weeks I stalled, unsure of anything. I was super cautious and kept off the that knee as much as I could, with my only form of exercise being physical therapy. I spent most of my time at work, day dreaming about hitting the gym, or on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica. I was going crazy. I was depressed and it showed. I became forgetful, lazy, and didn’t care about much other than if I had left over Domino’s or not. But I didn’t want to be that guy. Forever injured, forever wondering what could have been. I returned to the gym and did what I could. Body weight, light weights, girly machines. Anything to get to where I was before.

It took a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but I was squatting again. Sure it was only the bar, but I was back in the rack, slowly working my way up. I celebrated the small victories and hoped for the best. Soon enough I found myself becoming involved with rowing and then crossfit. Never did I think I would be not only back to where I was, but I dare say even better.

And then one day at the gym, I feel a sharp pain in my left hamstring as I’m lifting. I’m asking myself the same “what if’s?” and “whys?”as before. It hurts when I stand, when I sit, when I sleep, waking me in the night. My leg feels stiff all of the time. The doctor said I should be recovered in a few weeks, back in action, but it still isn’t a good feeling. I haven’t lifted in almost 3 months and I can’t tell you how many pizza’s or burgers I have consumed in an attempt to eat my feelings away. I’ve lost track of the hours spent on Netflix to pass the time and fill the void. But I d0n’t want to be that guy. Nobody wants to be that guy.

You have to take baby steps, otherwise you’ll spiral into a dark place. You have to celebrate the small victories and hope that you not only overcome, but become a better version of yourself than you were. Regardless of where you have to start or restart, you have to do it. It needs to be done.

Run Lucky 5K, March 2014

Run Lucky 5K, March 2014

I don’t want to be comfortable, I want to be scared

Have you ever heard someone talking about an experience such as sky diving or read about one of those people that sails around the world by themselves? Do you ever think “They’re crazy! I would never do that!” Why is it that we often shy away from things that scare us? We know that if we were to something frightful, we would feel alive and pretty much all around amazing once we made it to the other side. So why do we hold ourselves back?

Personally, I am deathly scared of a few things such as public speaking, falling from heights, and roller coasters. When I say deathly scared, I mean I had to take public speaking in college about 4 times. No joke! It held be back from graduating on more than one occasion. I just couldn’t do it. Those judging eyes were going to crucify me for drawing a blank or stuttering a word.

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But one day I realized there was no reason not to do it. I was going to do it because what I was wanting to do was much larger than a stupid public speaking class. I wanted to graduate and feel that accomplishment and not be the guy that never graduated because I was afraid of doing a speech or 2. No, I faced my fear. My heart was pounding, hands so sweaty I could barely keep a grip on anything, but once I gave my speech and sat down I was awash with a wave of exhilaration. I found that even though I was stressed and literally on the verge of needing some new underwear, I did it, I felt great, and it got easier each time after.

Have I told you that I’m scared of falling from heights? I am. Seriously scared. It’s not the height itself, but that fact that I might fall and have to bear witness my death as I fell to the earth at terminal velocity (125 mph). There is no way, not in a million years I would ever sky dive…..except that one time I did. A friend was going sky diving for his bachelor party and not wanting to be a party pooper I went along. I can’t say that I wasn’t scared, because I was. Its not really the same as giving a speech because with sky diving, you are actually looking death in the face, jumping out of an air plane at 10,000 feet in the air and hoping that some cloth saves you. Honestly, I was perfectly fine until I stepped into the harness, but talking yourself up only does so much. I boarded the plane and started thinking of every reason not to do it, but there was no way I was going to pay $200 for a 20 minute plane ride around the air field.

When the time came, I stepped out onto the ledge and my tandem jumper pushed me. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH” and then the parachute deployed and caught us. I can confirm that my underwear stayed clean, however I may or may not have lost the pop tarts I ate for breakfast at a few thousand feet in the air. Once we landed, I made a bee line to the water hose and paper towels, followed by a trip to the gift shop. I was pumped and had an amazing story to tell. The experience is truly something I will always remember.

I'm on the right. I'm not wearing the same shirt I started the day with...

I’m on the right and I’m also not wearing the same shirt I started the day with…

Am I still scared? Hell yes! Would I do it again? Perhaps. The point is, I did it and felt great that I did too, once I cleaned myself up.

Nobody is ever proud to say they were comfortable on the cough, doing a binge weekend on Netflix. They’d rather tell you about the time they wrestled a bear or climbed Mt Everest. So again, why do we hold ourselves back from doing things we are scared of when we know that once its over, we’ll feel amazing and truly alive? I’m not sure, but I do know I need to go find a roller coaster…