Contributors to my Race Across America (RAAM) effort to raise funds for LLS Posted on March 10, 2014
Contributors to my Race Across America (RAAM) effort to raise funds for LLS Posted on March 10, 2014, 0 Comments
It takes a team....
Gratitude for all my supporters and friends below:
Hanns and Angie Billmayer
Scott and Teresa Bonder
Evan and Erin Bower
Wes and Amy Bryant
Mike and Gallie Coles
Chad and Pam Dittmer
Stephen and Katrina Dooda
Dragon Fly Reiki
Woody and Leslie Galloway
Allen and Jacque Hill
Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon
Woody and Carol Hughes
Mike and Kathy Jennings
Bill and Jennifer Jestel
Stewart and Sharon Johnston
Doug and Rhoda Joyner
Eric and Maureen Joyner
Jill Joyner Bush
Mike and Nanci King
Brian and Carrie Montgomery
Mary Charlie Murphree
Donald and Kim Nelson
Bobby and Amy Pearce
Brent and Ellianne Rivers
Gordon and Susan Rose
Ross and Kira Sloop
Arthur and Barbara Sohn
Allen and Jill Travis
Mike and Heather Weisenborn
Matt and Kelly Wheeler
Jonathan and Bethany Yearty
IF YOU'D LIKE TO JOIN OUR PACELINE AS I RACE ACROSS AMERICA TO GIVE HOPE TO THOUSANDS OF LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA SURVIVORS EVERYWHERE, PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION HERE: http://pages.teamintraining.org/ga/raceacro14/ajohnstbla
Cross These Off Your Shopping List Posted on June 16, 2013, 0 Comments
Reality Crash Posted on January 24, 2013, 8 Comments
It was only the wrong place and the wrong time because I normally wouldn't have been there.
When riding with a group, I can usually be found either off the back or off the front. After three concussions, my M.O. is simple: stay out of harm's way. Doctor's advice is never as strong as spousal admonishments, and, thankfully, I have both. So the fact that I was next in line when several of the first placed riders hit the deck right in front of me was proof that I must have wanted to crash. But as I t-boned the cyclist in front of me at 30mph, an adrenalin surge slowed time down enough for me to question my motivation.
I spun to my feet so fast that the majority of the peloton didn't realize I'd gone down. And since I don't particularly like cold, I was wearing enough clothing that people couldn't tell what kind of damage was done anyway. But I immediately knew my left arm was broken. In an effort to prevent concussion #4, I put my hands out as I flew headfirst over the bars. The shock ripped my radius out the back of my arm, leaving my left elbow quite a bit removed from its original location. And based on the pain growing in my right arm, I was pretty sure it was broken, too. I did a quick circle, trying to walk away from the carnage which I knew rightly included me. The rest of the peloton was slowly coming to a stop as people got off their bikes to make sure everyone was o.k.
Everyone wasn't. Several folks were on the ground, and a couple of them weren't getting up. Broken collarbones and scapula, I'd hear later. Ambulances were called. Bikes were picked up and put back together. A couple of my buddies helped me with my ride--the chain was off, and my arms weren't going to allow me to put it back on. Guess they didn't want to ride anymore. But the memory of an earlier ambulance ride which ended my cycling career was something I didn't want to relive. So I didn't listen to the screaming pain in my arms as I straddled my bike and somehow started riding home.
Di had every right to be mad. But she's been through this enough with me. She's the ideal co-pilot, and we've survived more than crashes together. Our life has often been one of the strong helping the weak. Of supporting the other when life decided that Now needed to happen. And I have no problem admitting that she's been the one to reach a hand down to me more than I've ever had to help her up.
And while I know that we all could probably say the same about someone in our lives if we're brave enough to recognize them, the truth is everyone is in a constant relationship of giving and receiving care. Or guidance. Or instruction. Even the folks we absolutely hate. The ones who piss us off or disgust us for whatever reason. Their presence in our lives is an offering. Sometimes they're showing us aspects of ourselves we don't want to acknowledge exist. After all, we're experiencing the world through our own senses, our own filters. And we can only see in others that which exists in our own bodies/minds/souls. That's true for all the beauty we see, hear, or feel as well as the ugliness we experience.
A trivial example of that teacher for me is the random smoker. Especially the guy who, sitting at a stop light in his car, casually throws his cigarette butt out the window. And even as anger rises up in me, I realize his complete lack of consciousness is a selfless act which reminds me how we are alike. His act of thoughtlessness helps me become a bit more present for a while. Gets me out of my head and aware of my own actions. My own Present. I realize I'm blessed to understand the importance of health. I can get joy from the hints of green instead of being imprisoned by a concrete maze leading nowhere. And that's just one person. That's just a couple of many possible lessons!
In the picture below, you see me supporting my son. But what you cannot see is the growth that being so incredibly necessary for another brings to me. Or to you.
The dimensions of relationships which exist among all of us are too intricate for me to explain. I'll save that for brighter minds which understand the subject better than I ever could. But what I do know is that we are here, in part, to help others. If I had the use of both arms right now, I'd probably be out training. The sun is enticing and the start of the 2013 triathlon season is drawing near. My competition is right this very minute swimming or cycling or running or even lifting weights while I'm here pecking and searching with one finger and as one soul for my next words.
Someone asked me after the crash how accidents like that don't happen more often. I told him that a group of cyclists can at times be so in tune with one another they move as one. Inches apart from chaos, we're like a flock of birds who know where to move and when almost on instinct. Osho says that some souls are brought into this world just to change the direction of another soul. And though I may at times feel so small or inconsequential when compared to scales of time and space, the Universe is simply not the same without me. Just like the peloton which continued down the road that day was not the same without me. Their direction was changed.
For some reason, these words are what someone needed to read. Or maybe I just needed to write them. Though tired now, I feel more healed somehow. Everyone in our own personal realities is there for a reason. And we are all at one time either helping somebody up or being picked up ourselves. I thank every one of you who has reached out to express sympathy or concern. I applaud all the players in my life and cheer you for each of your beautiful lessons. For your assistance in bringing me back once again to wholeness. And simply for reading and listening.
The Virtuous Cycle Posted on December 17, 2012, 2 Comments
It begins with you.
And that goes for me, too. Even when I hate to admit it or would rather avoid it, the only place I can ever really start is with me. So I'm going to use this blog to write about some of the good I bring to the world. Mostly just simple acts of consciousness:
--A door held open for the woman behind me.
--Picking up a plastic bottle off the ground to recycle.
--Turning a shower off at the YMCA which someone left running.
See--they're all small things, right (what else would you expect from someone my size)? Anyone can do it. And there's nothing all that special about me, so I'm sure just about everyone does. But I started this post so people could recognize the little things each of us does to make life a bit more beautiful. Cause let's face it--beauty needs a boost right now. It's up against disease. It's competing with tragedy, poverty, and crime. We are so often focused on what's wrong with the world, we rarely notice what's right. Right doesn't make the headlines. Good doesn't make for good storytelling. Why can't we forget the name of a killer as easily as the names of his victims slip from our memory? It makes no sense! Why are we so obsessed with pain and suffering?
I actually know part of the answer to that question. It's a survival mechanism--stemming from somewhere deep inside the most primitive part of our brain--and it programs the human body to remember the most stressful events. Say you're walking along a trail in the woods. The sun is bouncing off the leaves above you as a breeze stirs them awake. Their muffled chatter is the backdrop to a stream nearby, washing across rocks smooth and ripe for skipping. Now take that same setting, but add an unfortunate stumble across a yellow jacket nest. A swarm of stings later and which scenario do you think you'll remember more? That's the reason we're here! Lack this trait, and you weren't long for this world. Forgetting some plant killed your next cave neighbor when he tried to eat it quickly took you out of the gene pool. Trying to scratch a saber tooth tiger behind the ear probably didn't end too well--unless you were the tiger.
That's also the reason why I insist on form when working with a client. If a person does the first several reps of a set perfectly but then cheats the last one or two, he cheats himself. Pain is the most powerful programmer of the neuromuscular system. And whether it's a crappy squat or a tiger that scares the crap out of us, the memory of that trauma stays with us so we don't make the same mistake again. Our lives may literally depend on it.
But there's a distinct difference between learning a lesson and owning that lesson. People who take up dance spend hours practicing, learning multiple steps which they eventually put together. Performed long enough and well enough, they might reach the state of automaticity. They don't just know the dance. They own it. Like breathing, they can do it without even thinking about it. And that's critical as it's often the conscious thought which trips us up. Watch a basketball player at the free throw line or a kicker attempting a field goal. As soon as he thinks too much about what he's doing, the chances of him missing increase. Have you ever played a sport while trying to favor an injury? And what happened? When you play like you don't want to get hurt, you get hurt.
You get what you focus on. The concentration of conflict in our news and in our papers is inundating us with fear. And when scared the body releases a cascade of stress hormones which impact our physiology, creating a temporary euphoria. We learn to become addicts to drama, even seeking it out from movies, shows, and books when real life can't provide us our fix. When there isn't a crash on the highway for us to slow down and gawk at; when somebody at work isn't getting fired or when a church member isn't getting a divorce--it's almost like we don't know where to put our attention. So we long for the next disaster. We concentrate on what we don't want. We energize the negative. We stimulate fear to grow until we finally get exactly what we weren't looking for but what we were so intently focusing on.
We don't know what to do. And it's probably because we know what joy and happiness is--or at least we think we do--but we don't own it! We have these crazy ideas of what happiness looks like. Ideas perpetuated by the same sources which feed us our F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real). So maybe it's time to rethink what happiness truly is. It doesn't have to be so complex. What if it were so simple that you didn't have to strive for it? What if you didn't have to search outside yourself for joy? What if you owned so much Love, people could feel it the moment they met you.
Let's do THIS.
It's said that success is getting what you want while happiness is wanting what you get. And you know what I want? I want to open the door for someone so that person picks up a plastic bottle or turns off a running shower. I want to allow Happiness to keep my attention. I want to champion Kindness; to let Love lead. I want to embrace Resolution without the need for conflict.
And I want you all to join me.
Everything we get can be exactly what we want.
Share this post with a friend. Let them know they're invited to join a movement. One that doesn't look the other way or deny fear but denies fear's power over us. One that acknowledges all the ills which happen everyday in this world yet chooses to honor all the good instead. Show people through small acts of beauty that we value one another and the connection between us. What simple habits could we create to make this world a better place? Let me see them. Let others experience them. Write in and let me know what you're doing so we can brainstorm together. Let's start a positive feedback loop. Let's grow a cause that keeps looping back on itself and expanding in both participation and impact until each successive cycle is greater than the one before it. Watch what happens when good becomes mainstream. When nice becomes the norm. But realize that it begins with you...just like it begins with me. And my first step was this post. Now I plan to make it a daily blog where I write about the trivial acts of kindness I have practiced or the works of wonder I've heard about through you and others. And when consciousness reaches a certain tipping point where everyone begins to rise in love, I'll happily take some of the blame.
I invite you to do the same.
And that includes your self Posted on June 08, 2011, 0 Comments
The best gift you can give someone is to be present with that person.
Dear Cancer Posted on March 15, 2011, 0 Comments
If you or other people you know would like to submit letters, Varian will donate $50 to the American Cancer Society. And, yes, I'll admit I think a better strategy for fighting cancer is sharing information about how to think, breathe, drink, eat, move, and sleep correctly. But ACS provides patient support and other resources for people who need it, so spread the word.
You can write up to 5 letters. Here's my first one:
I have you.
But you don't have me.
365 Ways #239–Paying it forward Posted on October 31, 2010, 0 Comments
#239--This past Friday, there was a guy at Whole Foods who asked if he could buy the groceries of a man in military uniform checking out in front of him. Thought it was a cool idea, and decided to pass it on. The uniformed man was honored. But not as honored as I was to know that there are people out there who recognize the sacrifices being made for them everyday.
365 Ways #189–The 100th Monkey Posted on October 12, 2010, 0 Comments
#189--Ever wonder why I write all of these posts? After all, it's surely not as entertaining as the latest celebrity gossip or even a blog giving investment advice. Maybe it's my ego--foolhardy enough to believe that anybody's listening (or reading for my hypothetical, literal-minded reader). Really I'm just trying to inform, educate, and get folks thinking. I want to make as many people as possible conscious--aware of something other than themselves so they can be actually aware of themselves--that we reach critical mass in our values and beliefs. I want to reach the 100th monkey.
The 100th Monkey Theory is an idea proposed by the late Dr. Lyall Watson. According to Watson, monkeys on the Japanese Island of Koshima learned to wash sweet potatoes in the water before they ate them. The habit began with one monkey and spread to another until the whole island was doing it. The crazy part is, once a certain number of monkeys were washing their potatoes, all of them began doing it--including monkeys on entirely separate islands!
While many "experts" debate the validity of such a claim, Rupert Sheldrake in his theory of morphic resonance explains "the increasing ease with which new skills are learned as greater quantities of a population acquire them." I can believe that. After all, there was a time when most people believed the earth was flat. And, indeed, it was--for them. There was a time when the 4 minute mile was a barrier which could never be broken. Until it was.
What would happen if enough people woke up and decided to do good? If we woke up and decided to smile. To be happy. To be healthy. If we chose to make decisions which benefited our world instead of our wallets. If everyone could honor life so everyone could truly live.
Be the 100th...
365 Ways #179–Taking a mug = taking responsibility Posted on October 09, 2010, 0 Comments
#179--cut back on the 58 BILLION paper cups Americans toss away each year by taking your own mug to Starbucks. Tell the person taking your take out order that you’ll take your food home in your own tupper ware. Don’t patron restaurants which don’t offer recyclable/compostable options for leftovers.
365 Ways #62–the sum of our parts Posted on August 25, 2010, 0 Comments
#62–Arthur Koestler, in his book The Ghost in the Machine, coined the term “holon” which is something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. A cell, for example, is an entity unto itself. Yet, combined with other cells, the one cell becomes part of an organ, or a system, or a whole body. Humans, too, are holons. We are each individuals. But we are part of something greater. Even though it may not be seen or felt, what we do to one we do to all. We are all connected.
365 Ways (digestible size tips of a longer post) Posted on July 30, 2010, 0 Comments
#1–when faced with a decision between multiple courses of action, focusing on the long term consequence rather than the immediate result will always guide you in the right direction. Want to know if you should wake up early so you can workout (or work IN) before work or sleep in an extra half hour? Or maybe you're faced with turning the car around to get the reusable bags you forgot at home versus having your groceries put in plastic bags again. The decision which truly benefits you and the world in the long term is always the one to make. And if the choice is a bit more ambiguous, just ask yourself “What would Love do now?”
I have an Idea Posted on September 06, 2008, 0 Comments
And I've had it for a while now.
For one week -- appropriately enough, the week before Thanksgiving -- I will be training all of my clients for free. Well, not exactly free. Instead, my entire fee for that session will be donated to a charity or cause of the client's choice. And I'll work as many hours as I can that week. So those clients whom I normally cannot see on a regular basis will probably be able to secure a spot with me at least once. Even people who aren't on my current client roster are eligible to train with me if they are so interested. The one caveat I will impose on my clients that week is that they have to match my contribution.
See, I am thankful for my life.
And while I'm sure that most people are grateful to be alive, too, I'm one of those people who knows he's alive despite the odds. I'm not just talking about having leukemia or having survived three concussions, a hit and run, and the countless other close calls and bone-head maneuvers on my part. I'm talking about the rare lining up of the heavens that has allowed me this brief an opportunity to share my limited years on this earth with you. You are my wife, my friend, my mom/sis/stepbrother, my mentor. You are that volunteer on the course whose smile was enough to keep me going, my classmate, my competitor, my doctor. You are all of these people, reflecting brilliant insights into who I am, who I've been, who I could be. And I am thankful.
Money's not how I show my thanks. But it has power in this world. And though my contribution might not be enough to make much of a difference, perhaps when I combine it with lots of contributions -- yours -- the possibilities increase exponentially. By sacrificing one week's worth of income, I can give two weeks' salary to causes greater than my own. I believe a hurricane can be set off by the flap of a butterfly's wings. And I'd welcome that storm thankfully.
There's so damn much to appreciate in this life. If you've read this far, money's probably near the end of the list for you. It is for me. Yet I fully realize it can be and has been both a salvation or the undoing of many. I want to prove it doesn't have power over me. That it doesn't really have power over any of us. That real power comes through working with one another to achieve a common goal.
What would happen if you donated a session's worth of income to a worthy organization? What good could you do by giving a day's salary away? What would you prove if you took your commission from a sell or part of your yearly bonus and gave it to charity? I challenge you to find out. Pass this e-mail on to your friends. To your co-workers. To your boss. Have your company match me. Better yet, have them one-up me. Have them make such a positive impact that my simple idea gets forgotten by intricate deeds of kindness. I think I'd be okay with that. In fact, I can imagine it being like those first few seconds without training wheels--when your dad let go of the bicycle seat and you chased the horizon, hoping you'd never catch it so the ride would last forever...Yeah, I'm sure that's how it'd feel.