Day 348: If the Body Leads…

It’s weird to take inspirational cues from an episode of Longmire, but you don’t choose how good ideas find you. So, in a vaguely right-wing Netflix show, this phrase came up.

Maybe the thing isn’t about waiting for inspiration to drive me to exercise. Maybe it’s about just doing the exercise until the inspiration finds me.

It’s all a bit chicken and egg, isn’t it?

But if I’ve been using “feeling moribund” as my excuse to not exercise, and waiting to get inspired to get back on track, maybe I’m doing this backwards. Maybe the exercise will drive the inspiration.

I think I’m going to be looking for some new music and finding a new way to push it a little on the exercise front. If I can give myself a hard week, maybe I’ll get fired up for its own sake.


Day 235: I Really Like Kesha’s “Rainbow”

I was going to say I’m not normally a fan of commercial pop, but who am I kidding? I’m not an angry teen/twentysomething any more. I’m fine with commercial pop. And over time, I’ve come to accept that popularity in a genre is actually kind of a meritocracy. Do I think industrial dance should have been more popular than it was? Sure. But within the category of industrial dance, do I think Meat Beat Manifesto is better than most unsigned, unnoticed industrial dance bands? Also sure.

All that to say that I don’t know if I readily identify as somebody who is into commercial pop, but I sure like good commercial pop when I hear it.

And 2017 will have a high bar to clear if it wants to beat Kesha’s “Rainbow” as an all-killer no-filler wall to wall great pop album.

How does that relate to this? Well, I was having a lousy row this morning until I stopped listening to a stand-up comedy album and started listening to “Rainbow” instead. So it’s good in that straight motivation way.

More importantly, though — I don’t get inspired by people that often. I’ve discussed this with my wife. Hero worship just isn’t in my DNA. But my God, to record an album like this after the decade of shit that she has gone through. Her fans are delighted. I’m delighted. And it’s all very inspiring. I think I would have cracked ages ago.

So. Kesha’s Rainbow is not only a great album, it’s a great album about getting through trauma and obstacles I’m lucky I’ve never had to even imagine.

It’s tremendously inspiring.

This is the era of Milkshake Duck, so I’m kind of half-waiting for it to be revealed that she’s also a KKK member or drowns orphans for sport or something. I hope not. It’d be nice to have a straight up admirable figure out there for a while.

Album of the year, so far. For musical reasons, and personal ones.

Day Sixty-Eight: Being Supportive

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in my own stuff, especially when I’m trying a few things. I need  to remember that being supportive is as important as supporting myself.

It’s been a rough week for my wife; she’s taking on a role that is proving a bit more challenging than I think she anticipated. Or at least differently challenging. Working in non-profit arenas is always an interesting thing to do. So she’s being stretched and challenged in different ways, which is probably going to be a good experience in the medium term. But it’s a bit shit right now.

So I’m trying to keep up with my own stuff, but box it off a little to make more space for her. As mentioned recently, it’s great to have somebody who supports you on these roads, and that has to be reciprocal.

So I’m trying to figure out something nice to do for her! I think she’s a couple days behind on this podcast, so this will still be a surprise. We’ve got a pretty jacked schedule for the next few days, so it’s going to have to be pretty efficiently slotted in.

Time to think!

Day Sixty-Six: Run Anyway

Up late last night at a volunteer thing I was helping organize. That, and a bad night the night before, meant I made the command decision to get an extra hour of sleep this morning. When I got up, my first thought was “I don’t really have time to get a good run in.” My second thought was “run anyway.”

So I did. Run anyway.

It was only a 4k, and I’m trying to do sixes to work back up to regular 10s three times a week, but I’m glad I did it. It was about 30 minutes pillar to post. That means about 22-23 minutes of running, but also the whole putting shoes on, key around the neck, start Strava on the iPhone, all that deal. Really not bad for a 430-calorie burn and the ability to feel proud of myself.

Run anyway isn’t a bad mantra.

Hearkening all the way back to Inspiration Week, “Run Anyway” could go in the Inspiration Rolodex. I can often talk myself out of doing things I should do. I say I can’t do them fully, or do them “right”. But the criteria for “fully” and “right” is often self-imposed anyway. There’s something to be said for only taking things on if you’re going to do them completely and correctly. But there’s also something to be said for giving things your best shot under the circumstances you’re in.

I’m going to try “run anyway” with more stuff in the future. Mostly with running.

Day Fifty-Three: Weighing Myself

I haven’t been weighing myself. “Weighing yourself is bullshit!” I proudly proclaimed to my wife, at the start of the year. “It’s just a number! I choose to measure myself on how I look, and how I feel!”

Folks, it’s the end of February. It’s time to start weighing myself.

Now don’t get me wrong — I still think it’s a bullshit metric. But it’s a metric, and frankly, I don’t think I look or feel much fitter than I did at the start of January. Maybe, hopefully, there are some big changes going on inside me, what with the not drinking and not eating as much junk.

Weighing myself versus “feeling different”

Part of it is weight gives me a number that I can look back to. I feel the way I feel, all the time. There’s no way to feel other than how you’re feeling in the moment. It’s hard to remember feelings the same way you can look at a number.

So maybe I feel a whole lot better now than I did in January. But short of keeping diaries — which is a good idea, and I’m all for it, but it’s not something I’m doing — I don’t have an easily referenced record of feelings.

Therefore, I’m reluctantly reversing my position on weighing myself. But I want to weigh myself right, if you know what I mean.

Over the next few days, I’m going to look into the science of weighing oneself. How often? What time of day? Clothed or unclothed? If I’m going to badger myself into doing it, I might as well badger myself into doing it right.

I still think it’s kind of bullshit. It’s possible to lose all kind of weight and be super unhealthy. I mean, heroin is a thing, am I right? But I’m feeling like having some sort of external tracking motivator would be good for me, and that’s the most convenient option on the table.

201.2 pounds, incidentally.

Day Forty-Two: Inspiration Stuff 7; Don’t Panic

When I think of the formative things in my life, there are obviously a bunch of ’em. In terms of the shaping of my sense of humour, though, the standouts are the Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Frantics, and Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

So, with the culmination of Inspiration Week falling on Day Forty-Two of this podcast, I’d say the stars are definitely aligned.

Don’t Panic.

There are, in fact, two key things that you can take from The Hitchhiker’s Guide that will be useful in daily life. The first is, as stated, the words in large, friendly letters on the cover. “Don’t Panic.”

That is helpful. As Arthur Dent says, “it’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody has said to me all day.”

I don’t know if there’s much to add here. Don’t Panic. It’s good advice. There is almost no time in life in which it is not useful. Don’t panic.

Always Know Where Your Towel Is.

Being the nascent nerd I was in high school, when my slightly older friend and fellow Hitchhiker’s fan Iain left for university, I bought a towel and some fabric paint and gave him a towel that said “always know where your towel is.” I was surprised and gratified to see last year that he still has it, a quarter-century on.

Here’s the radio bit explaining why this is important:

…this one is a little harder to parse than “Don’t Panic,” but basically boils down to “have your baseline shit together.” At least, that’s my takeaway. Projects, extracurriculars, hobbies, all of those peripherals can be in some sort of state of disarray. You gotta know where your towel is. Shelter, food, sleep. Those are the towel, in my mind. If you know where your towel is, then you’re free to start worrying about the secondaries.

But — thanks to Iain — whenever I think of “always know where your towel is,” the other thought is doing nice shit for people is nice. I spent maybe a half-hour  making this towel because I thought it would be cool and my friend has had it hanging around his house for 25 years. That’s a hell of a return on investment.

So there y’go! Inspiration Week is over. I had fun doing this. I’m definitely going to be doing more theme weeks in the future; I think it will be regular chaos for at least the next seven days, though.



Day Forty-One: Inspiration Stuff 6; Until Death…

Don Quixote! Don Quixote! I claim this is my favourite book, but I’ve only read it through twice, and I can look over and see it on my bookshelf with a forlorn bookmark about two-thirds through it. But hope springs eternal, or, as Sancho says, “until death, all is life.”

Don Quixote
This is where I left off. Also, that “Night Watch” book was totally legit purchased from a library sell-off.

Until death, all is life

Granted, Sancho is talking about this in the context of self-flagellating himself half to death for the benefit of an imaginary person. And if that’s not a metaphor for a lot of our lives, I don’t know what is.

But… hope springs eternal, you know? It really does.

“Hasta la muerte, todo es vida.”

One way to take “until death, all is life” is the paraphrase “everything can be celebrated, because it shows you’re alive,” which parses into “celebrate pain,” which is totally metal and makes me want to put spikes on my bicycle helmet and braid my beard.

It’s good when things in life turn out to be totally metal, and also true. No matter what grim circumstance you’re in, until death, all is life. There’s always the chance for a comeback, a turnaround, an upset.

It’s also pretty Zen — if you’re having a hard time dealing, reduce your life to two states: life and not-life, and just focus on the fact that you’re in the “life” category. That’s not bad either.

I really should finish Don Quixote. I also started Moby Dick last summer, and never finished it either. That one was because I wanted to read it while I was in Newfoundland, but couldn’t find a copy to buy, so I put it on my iPad. iPad reading turned out to be not my bag.

You know what I’m going to do today? I’m’a pick up Don Quixote again. Let’s go, Man of La Mancha. Moby Dick, you’re on notice.

“Hasta la muerte, todo es vida.” Metal.

Day Forty: Inspiration Stuff 5; Action is Eloquence

True confessions: until this morning, I had never heard of Coriolanus, apparently one of Shakespeare’s last tragedies and not one of his better-known plays. But I was looking for inspiration from the Bard — yes, I’m a nerd — and “Action is Eloquence” leapt out at me.

Coriolanus is about a guy named Coriolanus, he’s a great Roman warrior, it goes to his head, things end badly. Ba-dump.

And, as all great wisdom should, the wisdom in Coriolanus comes from his mom:

Audio courtesy LibriVox. 

Action is eloquence: show humility, stupid

Given that I have never heard of Coriolanus before this morning, I’m playing a bit of catch-up here. What I gather from this whole scene is that Cory, who has been a great warrior and springboarded that into a bad move into politics, has pissed people off with his arrogance. His mom is telling him to get out there and show some humility.

Not say something humble, but show some humility. I assume the knee bussing the stones means actually kneeling. I’ve been a busboy, and it’s not a job you can do with your knees.

So my initial takeaway from “Action is Eloquence” is the same as my takeaway from Barry Bostwick’s finest hour: MEGAFORCE.

Are YOU man enough for MegaForce? DEEDS NOT WORDS, BARRY.

DEEDS NOT WORDS. Damn skippy, Barry Bostwick.

But thanks to Coriolanus’ mom, I’m now looking at “Action is Eloquence” in a different and more specific shade of “show humility, don’t say it.”

Humility is important.

So I guess I’ve learned a bunch of stuff this morning: action is eloquence, Coriolanus is a play, listen to your mom, Barry Bostwick is just the best.



Day Thirty-Nine: Inspiration Stuff 4; 10 Seconds

Females are strong as hell. That’s not the only takeaway I have from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — there’s the titular 10 seconds thing — but it’s also a good thing to bear in mind.

For Inspiration Week, though, the bit I am carrying with me from the show is definitely this: a person can stand just about anything for 10 seconds. And then, you start on another 10 seconds.

Exercise is where the 10 seconds thing shines.

I mean, I guess you could use this to get through meetings, but it might be a little conspicuous after a while. But it concretizes a kind of “mini-milestones” approach I’ve had to exercise for a while, in a really compact way. Can I make another lap? Can I just get to the end of the block? Two more pushups, just two?

Compartmentalizing things into achievable goals isn’t a new concept when it comes to getting things done — even “make a dent,” earlier this week, is kind of the lead-in to this idea.

But it’s a nice easy way to give myself a half-second pep talk when I’m struggling with something, especially something physical. 10 seconds is easy to conceive and easy to count. And I can stand most things for 10 seconds.

There is, inevitably, the time when you say “I can do this for another 10 seconds” and your body responds with a hearty and absolute “nope.”

But you can get a lot of micro-goals into those 10 seconds before you reach that point. Maybe more than you think.

Also, it’s nice to revisit Kimmy Schmidt every once in a while. I like that show.  It’s a bit like Bojack Horseman — it looks like a comedy, feels like a comedy, is a comedy — but it’s about trauma and recovery, like Bojack is about depression. It’s a helpful and interesting lens to give people who don’t experience these things a window into them.


Day Thirty-Eight: Inspiration Stuff 3; Invictus


by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.
One last trip to the MetaFilter well, as user kimberussell suggests the last two lines of Invictus. No context, but none is needed — what more do you need?
Nothing like classic poetry to get you going. “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” DAMN STRAIGHT, WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.

Invictus: bloody, but unbowed

This is pretty super macho stuff for a guy who was nearly felled by tuberculosis as a child and spent his whole life a writer, editor and poet, but who cares? “Invictus” is Latin for “unconquered”, and it’s up to you to define the context of your… unconqueredness.
Let us all go forth and be masters of our fates! Huzzah!