Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Scars of our Lives.

Although it doesn't seem like it at the time, the trials and troubles of our lives are what makes us who we are. We may not be as physically beautiful after life has had it's way with us, we are a lot tougher and way more interesting. I'm often accused of being deep, whatever that really means. I like to think of me as not so much deep but experienced. Live has kicked me around more than my share and sometimes I wonder why I keep climbing back in the ring after I'm throwed out.

One thing I have learned over the years is that life will have it's way with all of us. We can be on top one day and trying to climb out of a hole the next. This recession is giving a lot of us a lesson in that very thing. I have good friends that have gone from very well off to wondering if they are going to be able to make the mortgage and still eat. Most everyone I know has taken a big hit to their retirement accounts. Once again telling us we are not as in control as we think.

One of the most vital things we can do is to not lose our self respect. In hard times it's so easy to be lured by the comfort of food, the escape of drink or the lowering of our personal standards. It's easier to blame someone else than it is to accept the fact that sometimes you are just not calling all the shots. Life will have it's way with you. Friends and family are a blessing and not a place to lay blame for your own misfortune. We have to learn to roll with the punches and try to come back stronger.

I have a lot of patient friends and racing buddies who were around in the great depression. These are the people who are the kind that save for what they want and won't take on debt except for a home, which they get paid off as soon as possible. They learned a lesson back then that most of us are learning today.

We may carry the scars of our battles with us but we can still hold our heads high, heck we may not be winning but we aren't beaten either. We will be stronger if we don't lose faith in ourselves and keep in mind that our situation is not our fault. When we do screw up we need to just take personal responsibility and press on. But when we aren't responsible we need to press on with being the best person we can be. Our regular exercise now takes on the duel role as stress relief as well as making us healthier.

We will all survive these difficult times and be stronger for it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A hand up.

One of the most important things we do in our lives is to give as many others a 'hand up' as we can. This simple act goes completely unnoticed by anyone else except you and them. Yet it's being applauded by maybe more than you realize. If you believe as I do that there forces at work in this world that we are not supposed to understand, just accept, then maybe your kindness is noticed after all. Maybe when/if you stand in judgement those small acts of kindness will be more precious than you ever imagined. Perhaps everything else you have done will pale in comparison.

We adult athletes and marathoners have a unique opportunity to help our fellow athletes get through their races. Everyone who has ever gone the 13.1 mile half, the 26.2 mile full or the awesome 39.3 Goofy, will come away with memories of people who either helped them or they helped. You might not be able to remember much clearly a few years later, but I can surely guarantee that you will remember those that you encouraged and those that encouraged you.

You never know when your kind words of encouragement may be all someone needs to turn their life around. To help them realize they do have worth, to show them that there is good in the world after all. It's often those little things in life that make the most difference, we just never know. There is much that is wrong in our world but you have to opportunity to be one of the things right.

The beauty of encouragement is that it costs nothing but a few moments of your time and a few beats of your heart. Going out of your way to help someone might actually be the shortest path to being who you would really like to be. Yesterday I helped a man in a wheel chair get over a curb so he could get into the Mall. I said "Brother I know you could do this on your own but I would be honored to give you a hand". He was a little older than me and wearing a cap with the patch for the 82nd AirBorne on it. I figured he had earned a hand now and then. We shook hands and made eye contact, both of us enriched by the moment.

Fellow athletes and fellow citizens of the world, be part of what's good and right about life, not part of what's ugly and wrong.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, October 19, 2009


Sometimes people forget that the Internet is not just a make believe world, but real people. Those real people have real life concerns and real feelings. The Internet can be the most amazing and wonderful place, filled with sharing, giving and receiving friendship and support. Or the Internet can be a place of horror, the cruelest in people coming out. Everyone saw the story about the woman who convinced a young woman that she was so useless that she killed herself. That woman is such a good example of the black side of the cyber world.

People tend to forget that when they are having fun really going after someone that they are hurting a real person. How someone can get such glee from destroying another person is something I will never understand. When I was a member of the Runner's World Forum, three guys decided to go after an overweight woman who was looking for support and friendship, stuff she wasn't getting out of her real life. These guys went after her hard with the constant put down, harassment and private messages about how useless, ugly and stupid she was. She also ended up taking her own life. I was one of the few people who had befriended her and tried to be supportive. I'm proud of myself for not turning my back like so many others did. In the end I wasn't able to make a difference but at the time I didn't realize how bad it was. I will not make that mistake again.

Another problem out there in cyber land is the evil that awaits children. I have a dear friend that is on the front line in that battle and he will be the first to tell you we are losing that battle, the evil is overwhelming. As parents we need to be aware of the threat to our children. But it doesn't stop with kids. There are millions of made up personalities out there. People can be whatever and whoever they want in cyber land. They can post pictures of who they would like to look like and claim that it's them. They can lure people into their make believe world and that is never going to have a good outcome.

We can't change it all but what we can do is conduct ourselves on the net as we would in real life. It's ok to enjoy a role playing game but remember that it's a game. When you sense that someone is hurting, reach out with your friendship and support don't take that as a challenge to see how bad you can hurt them. Be the person you really are. Everyone is not going to be who they are but we don't have to support that.

Every positive change starts with one person.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, October 16, 2009

The path less taken

All of us are on a journey. It starts when we are born and ends when we are called to whatever awaits us in the next life. We are pretty much powerless to control the before and after but we can surely control most of what happens between.

Having been on the planet for a long time I've come to have some insight into the paths I've taken and the ones I wished I had explored. We only get one shot at it and unfortunately it's not like planning our class schedule or a shopping list. I think most people really are doing the best they can all the time, it's just that sometimes our best is not very good and we make choices we later would love to take back. But also fortunately it's usually not a one mistake life, each day we have a new chance and a new opportunity.

One piece of advice I can give willingly is not to let money overly influence your decisions. Some of the happiest people I know are poor as church mice and some of the saddest are well off. Often making that money consumes your whole life and being and the years spent chasing the dollar are gone forever. I was at the Gym one rainy morning and doing my training on the treadmill. Next to me was one of the wealthiest Doctors in town. He was very out of shape and very overweight. He and I started talking, basically as an old man at 50 he was trying to regain some of the years he had lost making his fortune.

Letting outside influences dictate what you do is never the best, when you do you go by their dreams and values and not your own. If you want to travel and see some of the world then do it. Even if you have to give up the toys to have the memories instead. Sometimes you will find that doing what you really want will give you way more benefits than you imagined. For one thing good stuff seems to come your way because you took control of your life. That happened to me when I decided to become involved with DisneyWorld. On the surface it appears to be an over priced and an over crowded tourist trap. But when you get into it you realize it is so much more and actually life changing.

My life is not one of riches or glory, but I think I'm on the right path. I'm amazingly healthy, can truly call hundreds of people friends and I feel that a few of them are able to look at themselves a little differently because we met. I know I'm changed forever because I knew them. My memories are my wealth and my strength comes from being able to hold my head high, secure in the knowledge that I have earned each day.

Choose the paths you travel well and believe in what your heart tells you.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Live without excuses.

Some people go through life with the attitude that as soon as they can come up with an excuse why they can't do something they are finished with that task. The effort isn't put into getting something accomplished or trying and failing but the effort is in thinking up and excuse. This is a self defeating attitude and unfortunately an attitude that a lot of people share.

I have a military background and one of the positive aspects of that is not living by excuses. If your sick and can't come to work then you are at the clinic for treatment. If you can't figure out how to do something you get someone to help you. That's called the concept of team. When we need help with our training, healthy eating, or even just staying sane, we all need a helping hand at times. Asking for help is way more better good than just thinking up an excuse.

We all hit road blocks especially with motivation. We are not criminals if we are having trouble controlling our will power. We just need guidance. People feel guilty about not having the motivation to control their eating, or getting out for their miles and start feeling guilty. Then we come up with an excuse for letting our selves down. "I was really feeling sore today from a good workout yesterday so I didn't exercise today", is not an excuse. Making a conscious decision not to workout with a valid reason like this isn't an excuse. Just being lazy and pulling an excuse out of the air is different. If just don't want to do then don't but be honest with yourself.

A big part of wellness is taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Being honest with ourselves goes a long way toward making that happen.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dare To Dream

This has been a hard week for a lot of us since many of our group are at this moment gathering at The House of Mouse. We warriors that are unable to answer this call need to remember that our chance will come in January.

For a great many this January will be a life changing experience. Whether you are doing the Half marathon, the full marathon or the seemingly impossible Goofy Challenge, the January events will be a life time memory. For everyone it will be amazing but for some it truly will be a journey to self acceptance.

When we take on the baddest of distances we do so much more than just cover ground. We discover and we explore that marvelous person that we are. When we go further than we feel is possible, we redefine possible. When we overcome fear, we are no longer chained by it. When we discover the power inside us all, we are changed for ever.

There will be times during your race that will seem overwhelming. That's when you have to draw strength form the magic that will be all around you. The bright colors of the teams, the glowing lime of the WISH, spreading their love and caring, the purple of the TnT warriors, chasing closure after losing a loved one with their efforts and shared hardship, the bright orange of the DisneyRunning, promoting health through motion.

During the worst if you open your heart to the magic you will hear the spirit of thousands of warriors who have come before you, their spilled sweat, tears and blood making the path hallowed ground. All along the way there will be people reaching out to you with encouragement and cheering, yes the cheering will be for you. If you think you are alone at the back struggling, look to your side, someone will be there, it might even be this silly old panda. No princess will be left behind.

For now we must refocus on our dream and get the preparation done. Now our job is to keep our desire strong and get our miles in. Right now we are earning that victory of finishing, conquering the challenge of the distance.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Fall is definitely in the air. It's much cooler especially in the mornings. The leaves are beginning to change colors and the Canadian Geese can be seen flying south. We are about to the end of the growing season and our lawns are going dormant. The world around us is preparing for the coming winter, which by all predictions will be a cold and wet one.

As adult athletes we need to prepare for winter as well, winter training. The long time runners, walkers and bikers have made peace with the season changes and just press on. For them it's just business as usual, just different scenery. But for those who are new to living a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, winter can be a problem.

To start with the days are shorter and it's harder to get yourself out the door when it's not only cold but dark as well. So the first hurdle is to get your motivation tuned up. You can do that by remembering all the reasons you started living a healthy lifestyle to begin with. Look at all the positive results you have seen so far. If you don't continue with your life training you will begin to lose your hard earned fitness.

This is an outstanding time to have a training buddy. When you have someone who is waiting for you, then you are more certain to get up and go. It also helps when you can help keep each other motivated. When you are freezing you nose off it nice to have someone to tell, whose nose is freezing off as well.

Winter means new warmer workout clothes. You don't have to spend a lot on it either. I would recommend 3 tech shirts with long sleeves, Target has the Champion brand that is very inexpensive. But every shoe company has decent stuff and a lot of specialty companies. I personally like the Nike clothes but can't wear their shoes. A couple of pair of running pants will be good and a lined tech material jacket should get you through the winter just fine. For me the most important article of winter gear is gloves. I have some nice tech material gloves that I wear on days that I won't be taking the gloves off. For races and days where it's going to be warming up while I'm out I wear the cheap brown cotton work gloves. I can just throw them down and go on in a race. Next most important for me and a top priority for some is a hat that will come down over your ears.

Winter is sunglasses time just as much as summer. Remember polycarbonate lens material, it's shatter resistant and light. The glasses will not just keep the sun out but just as important the cold wind which makes your eyes water.

Keep wearing the shoes you regularly train in, switching shoes will just as always cause problems. When your training shoes work for you don't worry about rain and snow. Your wet shoes will dry quicker than the knee problems you get, from the wrong shoes, will heal.

Good mental and physical preparation will make winter exercising as much fun and productive as summer training.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda.