Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

Arise and seize the day!

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“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”

– Jackie Robinson

This post was submitted by our friend Joelle Wisnieski, a graduate of Akron University whose laughter lights up the room.

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As a first basemen myself, Jackie is one of my role models. A wonderful ball player and a passionate civil rights activist, he continued to play his hand when anyone would have understood if he folded, but more than that he really PLAYED. Not only was he the first African-American to play in major league baseball, but he was then named rookie of the year. I mean who has the courage to steal home 19 times! And I’m not talking about 19 attempts… that is 19 runs that Robinson scored by stealing home base during his baseball career. I think that this quote by Jackie pretty much sums up his attitude toward baseball and toward life. Life is NOT a spectator sport. Unfortunately, still sometimes find myself living as if it is one… letting my life pass before my eyes with minimal involvement, challenge, passion.  I don’t want to live that way – and I’m guessing neither do you.  Recently I found that I had all these dreams and aspirations for my life. I want to help people. I want to teach, and travel, and love. I want to enjoy the little things but experience the big things… but most importantly I want to make a difference. But then I took stock of my life and I was very upset at what I found. I’ve been wasting time, precious time. When I could have been making an effort to help someone, be a friend to someone, or maybe even to learn something new – what was I doing instead? – watching the latest episode of “The Bachelor” or rereading “The Hobbit.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some TV drama and I enjoy an excellent literary story, but what else was I doing.  At that moment I realized that I was sitting in the grandstand with my feet resting on the railing in front of me, but I also looked at the field and realized that they had been calling for a first basemen to come play.  I refuse to take a seat when there is one amazing life to be lived! We all have moments in life when we look around and don’t understand how we fell into a ditch. But don’t forget it is never too late to get your hands dirty and climb out.  Don’t live your life as a spectator (because I agree with Jackie on this topic) – it would be a waste. Instead, go out and play. Learn something new, go somewhere you have never been, challenge yourself and the people around you. I promise you won’t regret grabbing your glove and taking the field.

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Change your stars.

–A Knight’s Tale

You might be knocked off your horse or take a lance to the face.  Some days you might feel like a blind thatcher’s son, and some days you might think you’re living in the dark-ages.  Pick yourself up off the ground.  Let the lance roll off your armor.  Embrace your father, and be inspired by your contemporaries.

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“Whenever they say it can’t be done, remind them that they make a jellybean that tastes exactly like popcorn.”

–John Mayer

 

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“What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world, and you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth.

–Walter White

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In light the series finale, our Monday Morning Message is from Breaking Bad.  We can certainly learn a lot from Walter White, our everyday high school chemistry teacher, but this is one of the more valuable lessons he shares.  When you are done with fear, when you can move past it and confront your challenges, nothing more can stand between you and your empire.

Have a great week.

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“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

–Marcus Aurelius

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  You figure most people eat dinner around seven and lunch around noon.  So if you skip the Wheaties, it could be 17 big hours before you break the fast.  That has all kinds of consequences for your metabolism, your focus, and your ability to be effective throughout the day.  I’m not a huge breakfast guy, but I’ve heard nutritionists say that even a glass of water and anything, be it an oreo or a slice of cold pizza, is better than nothing.

Well when I say I’m not a breakfast guy, what I really mean is I’m not a morning guy.  My mind comes alive around 11pm.  I wish I had been allowed to go to class or were now allowed to work from like 5p-2a instead of 9a-5p, because I’m a completely different person.  But just like breakfast, I’ve found that starting your day off with some positive thinking in the morning can be a game changer.  Why wait til lunch?  17 hours is too long to go before you remember to think positively.

One thing I’ve recently started enjoying in the morning is to get on my bike trainer and spin for a short workout in the morning.  I’m normally a runner, but there’s no way I’m going to the park for a run and getting back in time for work.  I can stumble to my bike, turn on the news or a new episode of Breaking Bad and just spin and sip on my water bottle for 15 or 20, even 40 minutes in the morning.  Feeling my heart beating, my lungs expanding, and the sweat beading on my skin gets my mind going on the right track.  Rather than rushing just to get a shave and make sure my shirt is on the right way, working out gives me some time to think about what I’d like to accomplish in the day.  It makes me think of what went wrong yesterday and how it’ll go differently today.  Honestly, it’s completely changed how my day feels, and I actually look forward to getting out of bed a little bit, even on Mondays.  Maybe the best benefit is that when I get home from work and it’s raining or I need a nap, I don’t feel bad about missing a workout that day.  And if I do make it for a run, it’s like a two-a-day.

I’ve also started trying to keep a journal in the morning, or before bed.  I don’t like writing in it very much, it’s a little too Alex Mack.  But sometimes it’s good to get all my thoughts down and be able to look at them in an organized page rather than scattered through my head.  It’s also good to be able to look back at what I was thinking about a few weeks ago.  It helps me to see what I was thinking about that was important, and what was unimportant, so I can be not sure not to think of those things anymore.  Maybe for you, taking a few minutes to meditate or pray will help you greet the sunrise each morning.

I don’t know what will get you to start your day off on the right foot.  Maybe it’s reading on the porch while you enjoy your coffee.  Maybe you just need to add some craisins to your oatmeal.  Whatever it is, don’t wait until Noon to get your mind full of good thoughts and your belly full of good food.

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“We don’t live in our fears, we live in our hopes.”

Mike Tomlin

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I like Mike Tomlin as a coach.  The guy is 41 years old and has coached in two Superbowls, including a victory.  When Tomlin is on the sideline, he’s intensely focused;  another quote attributed to him is “Be where you’re at.”  Live in your moment.

Coach Tomlin can be tough on guys who make mistakes and can flash a healthy smile when things are going his way.  But what I really like about him is that he isn’t afraid to shake things up if the Steelers’ performance is less than stellar.  Playing .500 football isn’t the Steelers’ way, and some stars were held accountable and let go after last season’s lackluster finish and replaced by some young talent.  There are a lot of teams (including one across the state) where that kind of objective first attitude wouldn’t fly.

I like the quote for this post, because Tomlin isn’t afraid to do what it takes.  He is talking about the way that life manifests itself around what it is that we focus upon.  Are you focused on what could go wrong?  What you don’t know?  A risk? A challenge?  Are are you focused on the end?  That goal? A dream?  Your hopes?  Put yourself there, and live in it.

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“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”

— John F. Kennedy

While we may not control everything, but when we can take charge, we need to have the energy and the passion to go our there and get what we want.

Make it happen. Go out there and get what you want.

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Life Lessons One Year Later

I read this and thought I should share with everyone.  Have a great weekend, all!

BY GRETCHEN BLEILER

A year ago, I was working on double backflips with my coach and I had a very bad accident. While getting ready for the double, I threw my warm-up trick too hard and made a split decision in the air to keep rotating into the double, even though I hadn’t thrown for it. When I landed back onto the trampoline, my knees were still tightly tucked and the force and angle of my body caused my knee to come crushing into my face, shattering my eye socket, breaking my nose, splitting open my eyebrow and giving myself the worst concussion that I’ve ever experienced.

I’ll spare you the complicated and gruesome details of the next week leading up to my surgery, but it was hell. For anyone that’s ever had surgery, you know that everyone heals at a different pace and in different ways depending on who they are and what happened to them. Based on my competitive and pinpoint nature, I expected the fast track to recovery after surgery and it turned out to be a very humbling experience.

After a few post-op visits and debates with different care providers, the prognosis was that I had come a long way since my accident and the quality of my vision was good. It was possible and likely that my vision would continue to get better, but at the same time it was insinuated that if it didn’t, I was in a pretty good place. Thinking back on where my vision actually was at that point now is disturbing because I remember having an extremely short range of motion in almost every direction. Meaning that if I just looked up slightly, I would have double vision. And this was good? They did know that I was a professional snowboarder and that because of this I would need more range than the “average” person…right? In my opinion, though, the “average” person probably wants to look up at the stars at night just as much as I want to look up at that lip that is 22 feet above me and see one lip not two! So, as you can see, not having tangible solutions just didn’t work for me. And after a period of being extremely pissed, frustrated, angry and scared, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and work with my “A” team (the people who have helped me accomplish my goals in snowboarding and life) to collaborate on a plan to find some solutions and recover.

If I had learned nothing else from this entire experience, then just understanding that doctors are human and most of them are very specialized in very specific areas would have been enough. That’s something a lot of us fail to remember; for some reason we all grow up thinking that doctors know the answers to EVERYTHING in all subjects because they are doctors. Let me tell you my doctor was a super hero in what he did for me. He saved my eye, my appearance and my vision. People tell me all the time that I must have had a really good doctor because they would never have known what had happened to me based on aesthetics. But when the super hero has rescued you, and you’re ready to continue on with your life, you don’t turn around and ask the super hero what you should do with your life now!

And that’s why it’s important for YOU (or someone you trust) to take control over the entire big picture plan of your recovery, no matter how big or small your injury may be. Because at the end of the day this is your life and you get to live it to the best of your abilities. That means if you hear a comment directed towards you like: “this is the best it’s gonna get, so start getting used to it,” then you respond in one way or another with: “I understand that is what you believe based on your experiences and knowledge, and I respect you and your belief, but I’m going to choose to disagree and find someone who believes that they can help me.” It’s taking the initiative and finding a solution. It’s the hard road; it’s the road less traveled. And you may spend a lot of time looking and never find what you’re looking for, but I know that I would sure as hell rather try!

My one-year anniversary of this day has just recently passed and now that I’ve almost recovered, and am back on my snowboard and almost back to my full potential, it seems like this experience is almost behind me and I’m in a place where I can reflect and share the valuable things that I’ve learned. So here goes:

-Don’t let anyone tell you “this is the best it’s going to get” and put limitations on you, whether it’s an injury or life in general.

-S*!t happens. I had just come off a breakthrough season where I truly felt I was on the verge of grasping my full potential, and then I was knocked down to zero. I’ve asked the question, “why?” and tried to look for hidden or not so hidden meanings, but sometimes in life it’s as easy as “stuff just happens.”

-You can’t always muscle through challenges, obstacles and life. Once I got back on snow, I figured that because my vision was back that the level of riding I had been at before the accident would come right back. That just wasn’t the case, and the harder I tried on snow to get back to where I was, the worse it got. Only when I let go of the past and rode just purely for the enjoyment of what it was, without expectations or ulterior motives, did I begin to soften and naturally fall back into stride … which leads me to the next lesson:

-Let go of expectations because they will only hold you back. Being gently and easy on yourself may seem like taking the scenic route when you’re in a hurry, but it’s the only way to truly process and move forward in a true and healthy way.

-Do live in this moment. Comparing yourself to where you were is living in the past. You are a different version of yourself now than you were and living for then will surely rob you of who and what you are now.

-Be grateful for where you are right now. For me, having my vision back was the biggest victory that I could have escaped this experience with, but it took a long time for me to truly understand that concept. In the beginning I could only see what I wasn’t doing and where I was lacking. I just wanted to be back at my highest level of snowboarding. Then I found that beating myself up was actually draining my passion and love for what I was actually doing, which directly affected the way I would perform. Gratitude brings you back to being that witnessing awareness that is whole and unwavering.

-Don’t focus on time or a cookie cutter schedule.  Focus on what your body is telling you.  Your body knows best and intuitively knows how to heal, if you listen and are presently aware.

-Do the rehab every day; even a year after surgery you have the potential to break through any scar tissue or limitations. Just as in life, once you have found what is working for you, you want to apply that routine every day to break through old habits and patterns that are holding you back.

A lot of these lessons are similar concepts but just said or experienced in different ways. But what I’ve found is that we learn the same lessons in different ways throughout life based on where we are in our process. And where I am in my process is heading into summertime riding with a lot of goals that I’m eager to accomplish. And if I’ve learned anything at all from my own experiences, I’m going to go up to Mount Hood and, while I will be aware of those goals, I’m going to detach from their end results and enjoy sliding around on the snow in warm weather and that beautiful environment. I’m going to be grateful for my healthy body that lets me push myself physically and mentally to ride with style and meaning every day because that’s why I love to snowboard, but at the same time being presently aware and listening to my body as I do, and I’m going to laugh and I’m going to soak in being with some of my best friends and husband and dog all the while!

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“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

 

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