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Unmotivated? Underwhelmed? Podcast Recommendations!

There are times–like this morning–where I wake up underwhelmed by my own goals and ambitions.

I look at my watch to see the time, and I think to myself: these little numbers are trivial, and unwrapping myself from the safety of my covers is trivial, and tip-toeing across the unrelinquishingly squeaky floors to clamber into my cold running clothes is trivial.

It’s the funk. The unjustified blues. The melancholy damper.

I find myself–against my better judgement–still slogging out the door for a run. Because it’s not about being motivated, it’s about being driven; and that is a stronger force against these raging internal dialogues.

In these moments, disassociation is my best friend.

I snuggle the bluetooth earbuds into my ears and podcast that puppy out, allowing my feet to dance and bounce from step to step without ouvert instruction or attention, my arms swinging rhythmically on their own account.

I zone into the podcast; I get lost into other thoughts besides my own. My tumultous mind is exfoliated and replaced with a clever host and a clever guest walking me through what it is to be great. Telling me stories. Talking to me. Talking to me so that I don’t talk to me.

I am betting that the funk, blues, damper–whatever you refer to it–happens to you sometimes, too. Maybe when you’re struggling to eject yourself out of a toasty bed on a frosty morning. Maybe when you’re sore or the internal demons are particuarily vocal.

I have a top-nine list of recent funk-reducing damper-rejecting podcast episodes. These are such that have encouraged me, empowered me, enlightened me–in some way, any way, to get myself out from my own mind.

  1. 5/25/16: Lewis Howes talks about surviving, thriving and ‘The School of Greatness’ | The Unbeatable Mind Podcast with Mark Divine
    1. “Lewis Howes, former football player, currently on the US Olympic handball team and an entrepreneur, speaker and author of the bestselling book based on his own podcast, The School of Greatness…Lewis and Mark speak frankly about the role that adversity can play in success in addition to determination and an underlying dedication to principle and gratitude”
    2. Howes is an incredible storyteller. He crafts his past into visual and relatable moments to latch onto and follow closely. His voice is filled with energy and excitement, and he has a profound belief in what he is saying.

  2. Aug 20th, 2017 : Ben Gibbard | The Forward with Lance Armstrong
    1. “Ben Gibbard is…best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie….he talks his music career…and trading in alcohol for running trail ultras.”
    2. Ben has a raw passion for running trails, and he’s not afraid to openly voice struggles getting to the point in running that he has. Him and Lance have an open and beautiful conversation about music, about life, about living free.

  3. 10/09/2017: Sir Richard Branson — The Billionaire Maverick of the Virgin Empire | The Tim Ferriss Show
    1. “Sir Richard Branson founder and chairman of The Virgin Group, is a world-famous entrepreneur, adventureer, activist, and buisness icon.”
    2. This conversation is riddled with stories of adventure and the brash tacks of living life as fully as possible without regard to fear.

  4. 10/01/2017 : Chris Guillebeau On Why You Need a Side Hustle (Even If You Love Your Job) | The Rich Roll Podcast
    1. “Chris is a widely acclaimed author, blogger, entrepreneur, and modern-day adventurer. Ripe and wanderlust after a 4-year stint as a NGO volunteer executive in West AFrica, he embarked on a multi-year quest to travel to every country in the world, all 193, before his 35th birthday.”
    2. Guillebeau is authentic; he tells stories of success that make one believe anything is attainable. He is positive and hopeful–but realistic at the same time to make it plausible.

  5. 04/23/2017 : Louis Cole is Living the Life of Adventure | The Rich Roll Podcast
    1. “With almost 2 million subscribers on his “Fun For Louie” YouTube channel, this brittish-born dreadlocked globetrotter was one of the first daily travel vloggers to break out — and internet personality so sensational, YouTube crown prince Casey Nesitat dubbed Louis the godfather of daily vlogging”.
    2. He screams attainable adventure. It’s brilliant.

  6. 09/12/2017 : Brene Brown: Create True Belonging and Heal the World | The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
    1. “Brene Brown has changed the face of emotional intelligence, relationships, and self-acceptance for millions of people. But her area of expertise is one that not many people are willing to talk about — shame and vulnerability.”
    2. Again, a level of authentic conversation that actually matters.

       

  7. 03/05/2017 : Jesse Itzler | The Forward with Lance Armstrong
    1. “Jesse Itzler is an entrepreneur, author, endurance athlete, former rapper, and one of the owners of the Atlanta Hawks in the National Basketball Association.”
    2. This conversation between Jesse and Lance was fluid, and empowering, and mesmirizing…really everything necessary to take one out of one’s own mind.

  8. 09/01/2017 : Who is Dean Karnazes? | Trail Runner Nation
    1. “Many of us owe Dean for informing and encouraging us to get into Ultra or Trail Running via his books and adventures”.
    2. Dean Karnazes is CRAZY. He has finished the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run 15 times, the Badwater 135 10 times (those two races being only WEEKS apart). He has run on every continent, across the entire country of America, through Greece, around the South Pole….he once ran 350 miles in 80 hours. The best part is how much he genuinely love running; this podcast made me want to keep going for ever and ever.

  9. 01/02/2017 : Navy SEAL David Goggins Is The Toughest Athlete On Earth — Thoughts and Mindset, The 40% Rule & Why Purpose Always Trumps Motivation | The Rich Roll Podcast
    1. “When you think you’re done, you’re 40% done”.
    2. If ever you have ANY problems getting out of your head or knuckling down to some discipline, just listen to this podcast and then imagine Goggins running besides you. You will never stop. It is the only motivation you need, really.

I hope these help you as much as they helped me.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Motion Is The Oil to My Joints

Today it is Fall. More Fall than some can bear.

My breath exhales diamonds against the dawn, and I clamber into my car; snug in my sweater and thick woolen socks tucked inside thick rubber boots.

Destination: extrapolation.

My classes were canceled today and I have no work committments to speak of on Tuesdays, so I find myself chartering for a spontaneous adventure. To remain still is to remain. Motion is the oil to my joints; the practice of which keeps me moving at all.

The sky is fashioned from slate this morning, serious and surreptitious just as I like it. The grass I pass by at an unfathomable speed has turned heather and dark chocolate and the dandilions stand efflorescent against the hoarse wind.

This is a psuedo-Scottish world into which I am hurtling.

Nostalgia introduces herself to me and takes me to the place stored deep and permanent; the  sacred space within me.

I unleash my mind and feel a felicious moment of markable happiness.

It is April 21st, 2017.

I find myself in black running tights and my constant Patagonia sweater, a chunky green woolen hat insulating my mind. I am on a NationalExpress coach from the Highlands of Scotland to Glasgow in order to spend a weekend with my childhood friends.

The side of my head rests against the frosty window, speckled with droplets from an earlier shower. My knees are tucked up and resting lazily against the green trekking pack perched in the seat beside me. My index finger beats halcyon against my left knee to the Bon Iver murmuring through my mind.

The sky is fashioned from slate this morning, serious and surreptitious just as I like it.

The tires of the bus whoosh into my soul as they make gallant contact with the sopping road; inside our voyager the faint aroma of fresh cream mingles with strong black tea.

I direct my attention to the contents of the window.

We are slogging past crags; amorphous crags of dusty orange and cinnamon, juxtaposed sharply against the deafening skies. Heather and gorse chrysalize the crags, glowing deeply.

I am the moment and the moment is in me.

We breathe together, this world and I; a deep inhalation for each bead of rain that trickles down the pane of glass.

We are more than inertia; we are more than driftwood caught in streams of dull and malignant monotony. We are motion and movement, ethereal and unrestricted.

We may be prompted but we are not issued.

We may be benighted but we are not disinterested.

We may be relentless but we are not tired.

Diamonds and sweaters and droplets and socks.  Breath and life and continuous applications of oil.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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To The One Who Kicks My Chair

Dear Sir or Madam Who is Currently Seated Behind Me,

I would like you to know that the vertical pieces of metal reinforcement upon which your converse-clad feetsies are “gently” resting carries the tiniest vibrations from your shaking legs and oscillates them into my soul at roughly 500 times the velocity.

I would like you to either tap rhythmically, thereby encouraging a good song-pairing, or cease your tapping all-together. The latter would be preferable.

I would like you to know how hard it is to pay attention with the vibrations from your appendages.

I would like you to look down at your feet, then glance at what they are resting on, then notice the earthquake-cadence you are producing.

I would like you to see my hair blowing in the wind of the quake. I would like you to see my quivering obliques struggling to counterbalance the roller coaster. I would like you to see that the notes I am taking are side-ways and upside-down and vertical and squiggly as a result of my currently penduluming body.

I would like you to notice that I have casually hiked my feet out in front of me and have used them to propel myself outside of your reach.

I would like you to not exude that grunt of frustration as your shoes clunk to the earth, the resting spot suddenly unavailable for purchase.

I would like you to not also propel yourself forwards. I would like you to not regain your footholds against the undercarriage of my sensitive perch; to not regain your leg-shaking inertia.

I would like you to notice the little teeny tiny side glances full of shade that I am pitching to you from around my right shoulder. I would like you to appreciate how subtle I am being relative to how annoying this experience is.

I would like you to know that I am a woman of many chances, that I am willing to extend friendship again despite this hiccup in our current status of interreacting human beings.

Above all: I would really like you to stop.

But not to apologize, because then I would turn to you and I would give you my biggest smile and laugh, patting you warmly on the arm saying, “no worries, really! Didn’t even feel it!” because I know that you know: passive-aggressiveness is king.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Do We Get To Be Fearless?

I get scared a lot.

Scared that I’m spreading myself too thin; that I’m sacrificing quality for quantity. That I am trying to be too much for too many things. That I have too many priorities. That I have too many habits, too many rules.

Scared that if I am not doing enough; I’m simply wasting time and potential. Scared that soon I’m going to get bored. Scared that I’m going to get burnt out with “recouperating” and that parts of me are atrophying.

I’m scared that the shiny, endless rocket ships of dreams I have are launching towards the moon without me.

Scared that my dreams are too endless, too vast, too cavernous and too expansive. I can’t hope to control their raging tides; what if my own dreams are too much for me? What if I am kidding myself? What if I expect too much from myself?

Even worse: what if I end up hating my own dreams?

I’m scared I’m not eating the right foods. Reading the right books. Listening to the right podcasts. Drinking the right tea. Writing the right words. Thinking the right thoughts.

So I sit myself down. I curl up into my Patagonia sweater and my black flowy pants with mint ginger tea and a fuzzy blanket. Some slow Ebony Quartet plays from the speaker on my desk; low and slow.

I open up my ipad and sync my bluetooth keyboard. I pull up a blank google doc: title it, Gratitude.

I begin: words flow out of my mind in a numbered list, I cycle through and through the enormous amounts of positive reinforced memory storage rattling around in my mind, having a disco party waiting for me to call attention to it once more.

Austria. My running shoes. This apartment. My flatmates.

My fingers fly across the keys; nothing can stop me now, not the whooshing of the cars outside my window, not the humming of the music from the apartment above me. Not the squeaky floors, not the pounding of the air conditioning unit.

I am a gratitude machine when I want to be.

Gratitude helps things. It really does. It helps with loneliness, anxiety, sadness, boredom, fear.

I spend the next fifteen minutes pounding away, hitting well into the double digits of items out of which radiate goodness and pureness. I don’t stop to justify them, I simply let them exist on the page.

Breathless, I push myself out of my cross-legged position and inhale deeply. I close the lid of my ipad, and observe.

I feel…a little better.

But just a little.

I am still restless. Unsettled. Like I have both too much energy and not enough.

Gratitude does help. It helps to get out of the pity-party-for-one-please. It helps to get out of the cycle of internal demoralization. It helps to gain perspective on one’s own life.

But in this specific situation: what I needed…what I need…is simply not to fix everything.

Much of my fears have to do with the underlying panic of not being in control. Fear of the future; fear of becoming bored; fear of becoming burnt out; fear of not doing/saying/thinking/writing “correctly”…all of these fears oscilate around the theme of control.

What does it even mean to be in control?

The optimal state of control is the ability to be accepting of not being in control. From there–from that mindset–one is free. And when one is free, they are in control.

So I take a deep breath. I snuggle further into my Patagonia sweater and my flowy pants and my fuzzy blanket. I let the whistles of the distant train outside my window wash over me. And I let myself be scared. Be scared of whatever pleases me to be scared of at the moment.

Control is a myth. And when I accept that, I realize that I am in control.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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Laissez Faire, Coaches

I crossed my legs, the smooth black leather sofa on which I was perched rubbing against the back of my left calf. He was actually brilliant in many ways. Captivating in certain distinct areas.

His level of dediated towards his athletes was mesmirizing; he took them seriously, he treated them with the respect that many deny to high school athletes. He would high jump a building made of razor blades and broken light bulbs in order to give his softball team what they needed to succeed.

That much was very, very obvious.

Then…then he told us that he does it. The thing.

The thing.

The thing that so many coaches do. So many high school coaches especially. Right at the pivotal developmental peaks for athletes.

He began to describe his technique for instituting discipline: for tackling practice tardies, disrespect to officials, litering in the fields…anything really regarding punishment. His tactic?

Make ‘em run.

He’s not alone: running as a punishment is common. Common because it’s effective, right? You make ‘em run, you better believe they’ll be early for the next practice. They’ll buy the Ump’ flowers. They’ll scrap the gum off the bleachers.

Anything to not have to run.

Football…volleyball…tennis…swimming…bowling…hell, debate. You screw up, kid, you’re going to sweat for it.

Do you want to venture a guess, then, on why it is that so many people abhor running?

I got incredibly lucky. I had coaches growing up who didn’t hate running. Who actually enjoyed runnng! Who didn’t use it as a form of punishment, who didn’t reinforce it’s “awfulness” but actually reinforcing the benefits.

This influence has lead me to where I am right now. At this moment in life one of my top three greatest passions is running. It brings me exuberant amounts of happiness and joy. It has given me opportunties to face internal demons, to practice delayed gratification, to work for something that I want, to be humbled over and over again.

If, during my peak of development, I had instead had role models who reinforced the suckiness of running for me, who knows where I would be now?

My critique is not intense.

I’m not asking for any kind of action. Any kind of attempts to reinforce the joy in running.

I’m just asking coaches everywhere–and parents and grandmothers and cousins and accountants and grocery store cashiers–just don’t reinforce running as a punishment. Don’t tell someone running sucks.

Let them figure out their own opinion on the matter.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Running in the Grass

My mind is a cage; the rhythm of my feet against the trail the key. I plant a sole, I turn the key a little further. A little harder. A little closer.

See that hill? That looming hill?

That’s two turns.

That deep rivet in the grass from the rains of last season? The misplaced rock? The balancing branch?

Two more turns.

Here progress can be endless. Can be.

It’s not disassociation. It isn’t focus. It’s neither but it’s both and it’s marriage and it’s flight.

Conscious allowance. Conscious nonjudgment. Conscious acceptence that here and now is where I am yet there is more if I reach the place of recognition.

What even is freedom? Is it so concrete as we define it to be? Is it absence of subjection? Is it self-power? Whom does it concern? From whom does it come? Who are we fighting?

My soles caress the uneven earth, gliding across stones and leaping across small craters. A strand of hair sticks to my brow; I swipe my bare arm across my forehead, halting a bead of sweat.

My right fist tightens as I fly to the side to avoid a large boulder, the waterbottle in my clutches exuding a small spit.

What is it to not have freedom? To be enslaved by whom? To be restricted by what? What is dependency? Liability?

I raise my knees high and dance through a stretch of long grass, tall stalks of wheat tickling against my thigh. A purple butterfly erupts from the grass in front of me, swirling around my neck and kissing my shoulder before snuggling back into an uninterrupted world.

The cicadas are loud today. With every pulse of their song the grass beneath me vibrates, oscilating my bones.

How do I hold on to this freedom? This independence? This resilience? The cage within me has been opened fully, the breeze whistling through my ponytail invites clarity of thought and instruction from the world around me.

I bounce and jostle from stone to stone, up hill and across ridge, past trees and across streams: this is home rule. This is autonomy. This is deliverance.

I observe what is around me: the steady beating of my heart, the swaying of the distance stalks in the breezy morning, the smell of crispy grains baking softly in the sunlight. I see the soft press of a deer hoof in the creek sand, the splayed grass where a fawn has laid to rest.

I take in everything that is being given to me and I find: I have no power here.

This is not my world. I am not in charge of this; I am not the leader.

I am but a functioning part of this world; I am a participant and a citizen. I am an observer and a learner and an apprentice and a responder.

How do I let my rapturous desire for self-concerned freedom go? How do I let my mind resume it’s participatory stronghold within a realm of encompassing goodness? How do I give up my desire for complete control? How do I replace a tight-fisted mindset with the peace that resounds from allowance?

I take a deep breath; I inhale my judgments and my insecurities and my harmful desires. They swirl around my empty cage.

I exhale, making peace with these thoughts; clearing the cage. My soles push off against the soft earth as I glide down the hill.

I come to a rest at the bottom; I wipe my sticky brow with my bare arm, halting a bead of sweat. I close the cleared cage gently.

I turn the key and place it back upon the shelf.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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When Hammock Met Thunderstorm

There is nothing quite as serene as being slung between two trees on a bed of nylon woven cloth; the gentle breeze providing a cushioned sway to the beat of the Universe pulse. It is as if all forest dwellers sign a pact with my intelligent hammock to stay away, simply to observe and not to eat.

There has never been a time when I have felt unsafe in my hammock.

Instead it is my rocking haven; as if the Universe has dipped in it’s dimension to cut me out of visible sight alltogether. Time is different when I am nestled in here. Consciousness disapparates. No one can see me, I am in my own Unit of Time.

I love sleeping in a hammock, a practice I affectionately refer to as “hammocking”. Not only does it contain a made-up verb form of my favorite object, but it also aligns quite well with my plant-based lifestyle.

I like the idea of me sitting in front of a small piece of dry ham, making it feel even smaller.

Last particular weekend I decided a good bout of hammocking was in the cards. Not even a full day of dark, thundering Saturday storms could stop me from popping over to Aldis after work to grab camping grub for the night.

I left the apartment at 6:30pm on Saturday evening, the car loaded with blankets and books and adventure.

The sky was in post-thunderstorm mode, electrified with bright blossom pinks against deep cobalt blues. One could the steep line between cumulonimbus and sky, illuminated clearly by the setting sun.

My destination was Clinton State Park just outside of Lawrence, KS. Eta: 8:16pm.

I had been a bit nervous by the forecast for the day, calling for “high tumultous thunder storms”. But I figured these predicitions had been fulfilled already by the gait of storm that had happened throughout the day. Indeed, the frizzy levels of intense humidity rank through the morning air had subdued to allot for a less charged evening.

I was going to hammock whether it was storming or not, but I definitely had a preference.

I pull up into shelter A43 in Campground #3 just as the sun has set, the beautiful golden dusk at it’s height. The shelter is really just a lop-sided picnic table edging against the forest and sprouting a little iron-ringed fire place.

I park the car and jaunt into the forest merrily, tossing my hammock straps around two perfectly-placed oak trees, and set up the majesty. Just in time, really, because not fifteen minutes later I have to pull out my headlamp in order to see at all.

I wiggle into my Patagonia sweater and thick socks, the temperature now significantly cooler than when I had left Emporia. I grab Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the avocado and bread I had packed for dinner.

I snuggle into my duvet and pillow that I had laid in the hammock and spend the next two hours eating and reading and swaying; the bugs blissfully staying away (for the most part) from the beam of my headlamp. I fall asleep with my book tucked under one arm and wrapped securely in my blankets.

I don’t stay asleep for long.

An hour later, big frog-sized drops of rain begin to fall through the canopy above me; the cymbals of thunder jolt me awake. The Universe is having  a disco party. Flashes of brillant lightning rake through the sky and the air around me is charged.  

The rate at which I am tossing back and forth is that of a mother training for an Ironman and trying to get in some extra strength training with her child.

I stumble out of my hammock in a zombie-state of mentality and begin to gather the books and sweaters and hammock and run to the car.

I shove everything in the trunk and follow it in, just as the fat drops turn into hail and the lightning gets even angrier.

The car was stuffy, but the blast of cold air upon opening the trunk relieved it’s unpleasantness, rendering it a cozy-warm. The temperature outside continues to drop, and the car gets colder.

I am beaming now. This is a proper adventure, this is.

The world is discoing around me as I spread out the duvet in the trunk of my Subaru, the passenger seats folded down allowing me to properly stretch out. I curl up in my covers, safe and sound in this insane Universe.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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The Art of Reading and Eating

I am cross-legged on top of a tie-dyed blanket, my bike leaning against the tree behind me. The sound of the lapping waterfall churning through the pond enfolds into the whistling of the birds and the distant train.

The breeze chatters its way through my loose curls, tossing it away from my face. The grease stain on my inner right calf left from the chain of my bike combines with my crazy hair and isolated geography to make me feel like a wild woman.

To my immediate left rests a glass bottle of kombucha; to my right rests God’s most perfectly ripened avocado and a generous hunk of Radina’s sourdough Pain Ordinaire.

In front of me, staring eagerly with it’s simplistic white cover, perches Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.

Issue one: I really want to read it. Right now. I picked the book up this morning at the Emporia Library and the fifteen minute window before my next class had resulted in too tantalizingly a teaser.

Issue two: I am starving. Not literally, obviously, because one never seems to be anything but liberal with that kind of adjective in this day and age.

I had had an episode with my beautiful steadfast companion of a bike after my last class ended at 2, which lead me to spend a good hour leaning over the aluminum counter of the local bike shop watching the front derailleur get it’s act together, prolonging caloric intake.

So now I find myself almost literally growling at the food in front of me, the peanut-butter-oatmeal from the morning having made an executive decision to fully vacate the stomach and leave me in a lurch.

These two issues combine to lead me to:

Problem one: I am the worst sorts of multitasker.

Part of this is because I have declared to myself that no one truly is a multitasker, leaving my “get better at this!” life-goal permanently obliterated. Part of this is because I believe the most joy and pleasure in life is reaped by being fully 100%* aware of each and every moment.

*I would normally write “1000%” in that situation, except that my magical introverted computer-science flatmate in Austria would absolutely abhor it when I used “obscure and completely ridiculous” statements like saying something is “1000% of anything”. This edit is for you, V.

This problem then leads me to:

Dilemma one: which do I do first?

This dilemma then leads me to:

Blog Post one-hundred-and-one: “On Eating and Reading: Perfection of a Simultaneous Sort”.

First, I split open the avocado with my spoon, reveling in the perfection of it’s flesh. I tear off a hunk of pain ordinaire and generously lather it in avocado. I take a breath and my taste-buds explode in fresh-sourdough-creamy ecstasy. Slowly, very slowly, I chew: letting my teeth work their way over each and every crevasse in the little sandwhich.

Once I have swallowed, I take a sip of kombucha, letting the bubbly chia seeds act as refreshment.

I exchange the spoon for Outliers, and I read four pages or so.

Then, I slowly set the book down, and reach for another hunk of bread and sliver of avocado. Again, my mouth floods with saliva, ready to escort the magic to a safe resting place.

Chew, chew, cheeeeeeeeewwwwwwww. Swallow. Set down. Pick up book. Read five pages. Set down. Pick up spoon. Chew, chew, cheeeeeeeeewwwwwwww. Swallow. Set down.

And the cycle repeats, covering about forty pages of Outliers and thirty minutes of slow, mindful eating.

When I do it this way instead of just shoveling in the food so I can go on to do some thing else, I find that I am so much more satisfied gastronimically. After eating in this manner, I am so aware of the fullness of my own stomach and that the needs of my body have been met on a gastronomical basis, that I am completely 1000%* satisfied.

*Can’t win them all, sorry.

I also find that I have absorbed my reading material better because it is untethered to doing any other kind of activity. Simultaneously, I find that the avocado and crispy sourdough tastes infinitely better because I am aware of each and every sensation.

One might argue: I just don’t have time to do that! I got places to be and things to do so ergo let’s do everything at once at the same time at a breakneck speed at the speed of light if we can manage it!

I might respond: that doesn’t sound very enjoyable. Or effective.

Total time of meal: forty-five minutes. An episode of Orphan Black.

Level of satisfaction (both on an appetite and an intellectual level): 100%

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Happy 100! Letter from the Editor and Most Memorable Posts

Dear Squadron,

Hey there.

You beautiful, auspiciously good-willed bellwether of a callipygian nature.

You, my formidable invisible audience, have changed me over the past year and ten months. I don’t usually write for you specifically, but your very arcane presence has given me opportunities to practice authenticity, courage, vulnerability, and passion.

This site doesn’t generate that many hits, I am fully aware and fine that: but it does generate more than zero, which means that the things which are spewing out of my mind and into the mechanics of my fingers are being absorbed by a population made up of more than just me and my mother.

That’s kind of a daunting mentality to maintain when writing pieces that are intimate, as “good” pieces tend to be. There is now accountability. Social pressure. Possibilities of judgment or disapproval.

Through that pressure–much of it being an intrinsic pressure applied upon myself–I have been given so many opportunities to practice authenticity. To stand up and back my own belief set, my own form of world analysis; by committing my thoughts and musings to a post, I am announcing externally that I “actually think this way”.

Again, daunting, especially when the stage of life I am in is one that is centered around changing my mind and future plans and habitats and relationships and food choices on a weekly basis.

I am horridly disinterested in committment, on many many levels. Settle down to a nice, comfortable job within my degree of skill set? Nope. Find a nice jolly man who matches at least 3 out of the gazillion “this would make a good life partner” I have and settle down to put a ring on it, followed by some sperm-egg interaction?  Huh-uh.

I don’t like staying in the same place for more than a week. When it comes weekend time in Emporia, and I get the approval of the hefty chunk from the time-stamp at Nature’s Paradise, my whole being is itching with the desire to break routine, to get out of Emporia, to go somewhere and do something new.

The idea of spending my future in a place longer than five years at a time is not interesting to me. Actually, rather repelling.

And I don’t write these things to spit on those for whom these things might be true. There is no hierarchy of dreams except for within oneself.

If you tell me that you want to apply for a teaching position in the school in which you student taught in a town in which you went to elementary school: I say, that absolutely rocks. You’re going to do amazing.

If you tell me that you want to marry your childhood sweetheart and get started with that family of nine you’ve been craving; I say, you’re going to make an amazing husband/wife/father/mother and that kid is one lucky duckling.

But those aren’t my dreams, just as constant motion and lack of formed geographical committment might not be yours. No hierarchy here.

This constant perpetual motion dream of mine leaves something missing, though: namely an easy accessible source to be grounded in.

Writing this blog has made me feel grounded.

Grounded in my ideas. I can go back and re-read old posts on how I viewed nutrition or motivation and realize that I don’t fundamentally deter from my previous mindsets. I have been exposed to different perspectives and options in order to see a progression in my own learning, which is equally as thrilling as realizing that past-Josie wasn’t just a complete loon.

Re-reading old posts puts me back into nostalgic aesthetic. It gives my own past a credibility, I no longer just automatically dismiss my former self as being immature or underdeveloped.

Furthermore it has given me incentive to practice the craft of writing, a craft in which I I would like to spend the rest of my days improving.

For this–to both you my reader and you the palpable spirit of my blog–for everything in our past and in our future together, I thank you from the depths of my heart for who I am right now.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie


In the spirit of a one-hundredth post, I would like to flashback to my favorite, most memorable posts that I have written over the nearly two years. Ones that I still reread and from which I still derive empowerment and excitement.

A list of fourteen of my FAVORITE blog posts (In chronological order):

  1. Musings upon Moment March 15, 2016
  2. What I learned When I shook the President’s Hand | May 24th, 2016
  3. An “Open Letter” To the Person Who Honked At Me During a Run | July 1, 2016
  4. Mo’ Clothes Mo’ Problems: Encounters with Nudists | October 4, 2016
  5. The Part Where Josie Realizes She Needs People | December 2, 2016
  6. A Midnight Bath in Vienna | December 31, 2016
  7. Welcome to My Mind PalaceJanuary 27, 2017
  8. The Misadventure of the Off-brand Moroccan Bus | February 23
  9. A 62-Hour Journey Home | March 11th, 2017
  10. So Many Questions | March 24, 2017
  11. To The One I have Given My Heart | April 17th, 2017
  12. An Adventure Featuring Hammocks and Old Austrian Gents | April 28, 2017
  13. Incomparable Evening Plans | July 6 2017
  14. Dorothy Got Lucky with the Tornado: A 78-Hour Journey Back to KansasAugust 11th 2017

In order of personal enjoyment:

  1. To The One I have Given My Heart | April 17th, 2017
  2. The Misadventure of the Off-brand Moroccan Bus | February 23
  3. The Part Where Josie Realizes She Needs People | December 2, 2016
  4. Mo’ Clothes Mo’ Problems: Encounters with Nudists | October 4, 2016
  5. Dorothy Got Lucky with the Tornado: A 78-Hour Journey Back to Kansas | August 11th 2017
  6. So Many Questions | March 24, 2017
  7. A 62-Hour Journey Home | March 11th, 2017
  8. An Adventure Featuring Hammocks and Old Austrian Gents | April 28, 2017
  9. Welcome to My Mind Palace | January 27, 2017
  10. An “Open Letter” To the Person Who Honked At Me During a Run | July 1, 2016
  11. What I learned When I shook the President’s Hand | May 24th, 2016
  12. A Midnight Bath in Vienna | December 31, 2016
  13. Incomparable Evening Plans | July 6 2017
  14. Musings upon Moment | March 15, 2016

 

To hundreds more, friends,

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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Pretty Sure Emporia is Stars Hollow

I peel left into the Nature’s Paradise drive way and tuck my bike inside the earthy-scented doorway. I give a quick wave to Tasha and head to clock in. As I move, I catch a whiff of the my staff shirt; a combination of fresh air and lavender-musk dryer sheets, fresh from last night’s session at the laundromat.

The mighty chunk of the timestamp ensues, and I jaunt my way to join Tasha behind the counter.

The store is as crisp as my shirt; the smells of new whole-bean coffee and local honey waft around me from the bulk foods section. The radio underneath the illuminated OPEN sign is detailing the beginning of the K-State football game against North Carolina’s 49ers, the husky voice of the announcer raising in pitch and excitement at each play.

It has been an age since I’ve gotten to listen to a game on a radio; first, from being in Europe for the past year, and second from the relatively “archaic” medium of radio.

This harkens me back to days of bouncing along in the family jeep on some sunny Saturday mid-morning adventure, border collie on my lap, my hair whipping around me. It’s a good memory for a good day.

The door jingles open and a burly man with tan skin and a bushy moustache enters, his small-boned flannel-clad wife behind him, stopping to glance at a flyer advertising local eggs.

“Hey there, Tash!” He says, his moustache bouncing up and down at each syllable. He comes over to me and introduces himself as just a “constant loyal customer in this here store!”, and we quickly and authentically become friends.

We spend the next half hour chatting with the couple, showing them some new products, giving tips and advice on “what worked for Jan’s ulcer”. They check out and leave with a hearty promise to, “see y’all later!”, and “nice meetin’ ya!”.

Moments later another couple come in; older this time, with sincere wide-stretching smiles.

“Hello there, ladies! Will or Carol in today?” They ask.

Carol and her husband own Nature’s Paradise and Will, their son, is the manager and health-and-nutrition-advice-giving expert.

Of course they know the owners. Most people who come into the store do, because it’s that kind of store in that kind of town. Where everyone is friends with everyone, and if they don’t know you, that’s too much dissonance to handle.

The shift passes quickly, featuring a full 45-minute conversation over essential oils and face scrubs with an elementary school teacher, a detailed conversation about coconut oil, a number of opportunities to help someone pick out a good coffee, and a plethora of “Hmm….good question, lemme ask Tasha”s to go around.

The mighty chunk of the timestamp signals an end to the shift, and I hop on my bike to head off downtown.

And here is the part where I am firmly convinced that Emporia is Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls:

The entire Main Street is blocked off, and in lieu of traffic or parking there are hundreds of stalls set up framing the street. Stands for flea market items, kettle-popped popcorn, boutique goodies, coffee, gymnastics bake sales, farmer’s market veggies, breakfast food trucks; taco stands, snow cone stalls, charity stalls, book sales.

This is the Emporia Annual Great American Market.

Halfway down the street someone has set up about thirty hay bales, all directed towards a trio of flannel-clad, heavily mustached banjo-wielding men. Children, aunts, grandfathers, cousins, identical twins, fathers…the whole family wakes up and down the stalls hand in hand, giving waves and “howdy!”s to the stall owners and to each other.

Because of course they know each other. The people here in Emporia do, because it’s that kind of town.

I half expected to be met by Lorelai or Luke; I definitely saw my fair share of individuals who could play the part.

Even now as I sit at the garden table outside of Java Cat, typing up this post and sipping espresso, a man with bright blue eyes rimmed in wrinkles has passed me and waved goodnaturedly.

Who are you? is never asked here. Because it’s that kind of town.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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How to Smash Sub-par Performance

 

“If you were a boat, my darling, a boat, my darling…”

My alarm-song goes off, the tune forever ruined by my self-subliminal associations with waking up. 5:17am.

I roll over, my fuzzy brown blanket entwined around my legs, and root for the switch for the lamp. I give a groan as lamplight floods through the dark room. I throw myself out of bed before the snooze button can defeat me and pull the covers taunt, signaling a start to the day.

I wiggle into Emilie Forsberg–my new trail shoes–and tighten a bandana around my frizzy morning curls. Fill up the water bottle; get the house key; switch the watch on; last minute pee-opportunity.

I’m out the door.

I take off along the loose gravel at a slow pace, allowing my body to loosen itself up as it goes. To shake off the dregs of motionless sleep and to create challenges for my sleepy brain. I wait for my hips to relax and my stride to lengthen, for my calf muscles to stretch against the uneven ground and my feet to pulse up and down. I wait for my shoulders to relax, my arms to swing evenly, my core to engage.

I wait.

A mile…two miles.

Waiting. Patiently.

More miles pass.

More, more, more.

Suddenly, I’m back at the apartment an hour later and the only difference is that I’m a bit sticky and it’s a tad lighter out. Otherwise, I feel no significant amounts of gain, as if I had been in this extended warm-up for the whole run.

It’s as if my body can’t obey my pleas for it to go faster, for it to relax, for it to get itself together and show some damn improvement, please, we’ve got races to run!

It doesn’t matter that I went to bed an hour earlier. That I ate a well balanced meal of carbs:protein the night before. That I stretched thoroughly and did a short ab workout before in order to engage muscle groups.

None of those things matter, obviously, because I’m still slow and tight.

So I go inside the apartment, chuck myself in for a cold refreshing shower to minimize inflammation–if any of that could even have happened–pat myself dry and snuggle into my favorite Patagonia hoodie.

I take to the kitchen, brew some french press coffee, craft some oatmeal with chia, flax, honey and peanut butter; backtrack into my room to sit up next to my oak desk and pull out the keyboard.

Writing. Mind palace. Discovery center.

I start this day’s blank page with a definitive “WHY”.

Not a why me?, or a TELL ME WHY, or a bu-bu-buh why, George, why?, kind of sniffly, aggressive, I’m-not-responsible kind of manner. Just a simple, inquisitory “WHY

Okay, Jos. This has been a trend for the past week. This symptom of unambitious, rather disinterested lazy running. And this is what it is: it’s a symptom. So why? Why is it there? Why the lethargy?

So I talk myself through the steps:


Acknowledgement Number 1:

Performance is dictated by behavior.

This makes sense, right? How we behave is indicative of how we will perform. If I behave like a child in my classes, then the resulting performance will be that my teachers will not take me seriously.

Same with running: running performance and success is based in part on running behavior. If I were to “behave” with bad, sloppy form, then my running performance will be founded upon that.

But my form is fine, I’m conscious of that part. Conscious to do strides and to do calisthenics to make sure neural connections are activated. So it’s something deeper.

And we proceed:

Acknowledgement Number 2:

Behavior is dictated by thoughts.

Our behavior–how we act–is coming from what we are thinking. If I think that Sally is an idiot, it is going to be all too easy for me to treat her like that. To talk more passive-aggressively, to be more aggravating within our conversation.

With running: form and eating habits and stretching–all behaviors of running–are indicated by thoughts. How do I think about running? Do I like it? Because if I do, I’m going to run like I like it. I’m going to run with grace and pride and intentionality, because that’s what I think about it. And therefore my form and habits will be graceful and intentional.

I mean, my form is not the most graceful. But I do really, really love running. So that’s not the issue, either.

So we proceed:

Acknowledgement Number 3:

Thoughts are dictated by feelings.

Many lump “thoughts and feelings” on equal terms, but I soundly believe that feelings are going to be a deeper substance in oneself than a thought is. You may think that, logically speaking, a food is good for you and healthy for you and you should just consume the damn thing and then you’re going to be perfectly fine.

But if it makes you feel wretched, there is a strong chance you will kick it to the garbage.

Running: I can think that I like it for ages and ages, but if I don’t let myself actually feel like I like it, than it loses it’s power. And that impacts behavior, which impacts performance.

On this note, I sincerely believe you can think yourself to things. That you can think, over and over again: “I LOVE RUNNING”, and if you stick with that thought and reinforce it, it’s going to happen for you.

And then it all becomes this nice little intrinsic package of glory and wonder, and running life becomes easier to stick with after that.

So thoughts and feelings have to be interconnect: but I love running and I also FEEL that I love it. Not the problem.

Moving along:

Acknowledgement Number 4:

Feelings are dictated by emotions.

Vhut?!, as the Germans would exclaim. How are feelings different from emotions?

Feelings are the actions of emotions; the body has registered the emotions and has put that energy into motion (hence e-motion) to form a feeling.

For example: anticipation is an emotion. Optimism could be the resulting feeling.

Concerning running: if our feeling is “I love what I am doing right now”, the emotion upon which that feeling is based could be energy, or confidence.

But I feel energetic enough…kind of. And less confidence than normal, but still I have running self-efficacy. So…close to the problem, but that’s not the root source.

Last one:

Acknowledgement Number 5:

Emotions are dictated by physiology.

The heart rate increases, the blood pressure rises, the pupils dilate: that is the physiological basis for the emotion of fear. Pretty typical example.

The pulse increases, the breathing deepens, the mouth gets dry: that is a physiological foundation for the emotion of attraction.

Concerning running: the emotion of energy is based on all neural activity firing properly, my metabolism working well enough to supply me calorically for my task. My muscles working properly and balancing well enough to promote running economy.

That’s where the issue is. I don’t feel physiologically capable to go faster.


A lot of people say that; “I can’t go on, I simply can’t!” And they end up being wrong because no, actually, the problem wasn’t all the way at the root of physiology, it was because you weren’t enjoying what you were doing and your success terminated at “feeling”.

Or because you kept reinforcing for yourself the thought that “I can’t go on, stop making me”, so naturally your behavior-and-then-performance gave you the A-Okay to just give up.

Sometimes it is all the way to the root of it, though. And that’s okay: because even though all of those inner workings seem complicated and vastly out of my own realm of knowledge as a 21-year-old English major, there is something I can do.

Into this autonomous system of ours–heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, sweat regulation–we have a small button at our disposal specifically designed for our own control.

The breath.

This is something that can easily switch from autonomous to conscious in a mindful second. And that’s what it takes: a mindful second.

Meditation.

Not just some phony, little mind-diddie. I’m talking about the pure, raw, beautiful control that we have over our breathing. This is our ticket into changing and manipulating our physiology, in order to start a chain effect to reach performance.

Dr. Alan Watkins approaches the twelve different ways to manipulate the breath for the body in his Ted Talk titled “How to be Brillant Every Day”; but he highlights the role of specifically three to have profound impact. 

First: rhythm.

This is in-for-five-and-out-for-five, not in-for-three-out-for-two-deep-breath-in-for-one-out-for-three disorganization. Rhythmic breathing aligns your system. When people are telling you to “just breathe deeply” in order to calm you down, what they really should be saying is “breathe rhythmically”.

Second: smooth.

Jerky breathing is disorganized, and allots you no permanent hold over your breathing pattern. Smooth, even, long, beautiful strokes of rhythmic air movement.

Third: directed towards the heart.

The heart is a powerhouse of electricity; sending purposeful breath to this area of the body promotes the powerhouse. You do this by just placing awareness and attention on your chest as you breathe in and out. In-in-in-and-out-out-out. Slow and smooth and steady.

So after I get to the bare bones of my issue, I do this: I breathe in the manner of the three, mindful and slow and rhythmic and even. It adjusts my blood pressure, it regulates my heart beat, it relaxes my muscles because of increase in oxygen.

I’m breathing now from the chest, and my emotions are similarly turning more positive: there is a reason why we say “I love him with all of my heart” over “I love him with all of my brain”: the chest yields positive, happy emotions.

My emotions, based on a properly functioning mindful physiology, are becoming positive, which in turn promotes healthy feelings. Those feelings turn into productive thoughts which turn into useful behaviors which turn into successful performance.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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A Round-of-Applause for Bruce

It was a jumping kind of day.

Jumping out of bed because I missed my first alarm. Jumping into the shower after a run that took longer than I thought. Jumping into the pantry to scramble together a some-sort-of-lunch and jumping into a bowl of muesli for breakfast because all of my jumping seemed to be in slow motion for the day.

Jumping on the bike and jump-biking to class.

To make matters a smidge more unnecessarily panick-y, as I was slamming my bitty-sized road tires into the myriads of wedges in the choppy Emporia streets on my jump-bike to class, I was watching the front tire literally deflate in front of my wide eyes.

Pinch flats, you little stinkers.

My beautiful wonderful bike is my main man. That’s how I zip to work directly following classes every day like a good little capitalist. That’s how I get home after work. That’s how I get anywhere, really, because I hate driving in towns.

I didn’t have any time to go back home and get my car before going to work. And I equally didn’t have any time to just walk to work after courses.

After I squeal into the bike rack in front of Visser Hall, I give a downhearted squeeze on the front little guy.

Yep. Flat. Sad and flat like a wooden puppet who just wants to be a real girl.

I sit in two hours of courses, calculating: I’ve got one hour in between my classes that is my only hour to get things done until after I get off work at 6. Where can I squeeze in “light bike maintenance”?

That hour, on this day, was devoted towards biking downtown to my landlord’s office and turning in the rent of both me and my roommate, and also sending emails with a professional resume (that I hadn’t made yet) to the five teachers I will be interning under for my Phase 1 Education semester. Those things being due by 3:30 this day (surprise!).

I’ll just zip to the on-campus bike pump before booking it downtown.

Yeah, okay, good game plan.

Class ends, I skimper to my bike and walk her to the bike pump. I twist off the golden cap and lock the head of the bike pump to her securely. Like a dynamite expert I grip the handlebars and give it a solid pump.   

Hussssssssss.

The air swooshed out of my tire faster than I was able to pump it in. I checked the nozzle to make sure the head was securely fastened and locked; it was. I checked as much as I thought to, thinking that perhaps I was simply being an idiot who couldn’t properly air up a bike tire.

In the midst of my downhearted and severe struggling, visibly becoming more and more agitated, I suddenly heard, in a long Midwestern drawl; life-breath:

“Can I be of assistant, ma’am?”

I turned around to face a tall, overalled man with a mechanics hat and a big bushy moustache. I nodded feverishly and he crouched to examine the situation, deeming that my presta tires needed an adaptor in order to properly connect to this bike pump.

Immediately he jumped into his ESU-issued golf cart and declared his intent to go purchase one for me from the local downtown bike shop; as he peeled away, he called over his shoulder:

“The name’s Bruce.”

Bruce, you hero.

He came charging back, adaptor in hand, 15 minute later. Like the true champion he is, he swiftly latched the adaptor on the bike pump and had my tire at proprer PSI in minutes. My tears dried up, my throat stopped thumping, my body stopped shaking.

It was as if all the wrong in the day–hell, all the wrong in the world–faded in those moments. The fact that someone was so willing to just help me. To shimmy all the way downtown to get something to aid a struggling stranger.

“Eff you ever need this here tired aired, just come to on o’er to the shop”, he said, gesturing over his shoulder. “Ask for Bruce”, he added.

I nodded furiously, grasping his hand in mine and giving it at least seven solid pumps to show my appreciation.

We need more people like Bruce. Beautiful wonderful helpful Bruce, just observing people in struggle and doing what he can–above what he is expected to do–in order to salvage them from their own sense of panic.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

bruce