What does it mean to be fit?  If I were to poll a group of people would it be based on endurance, strength, asthetics?  My guess is that fitness would be directly linked to exercise, but it doesn’t have to be.  I would like to propose another way to think about fitness.

This is an experiential proposal.  Take a ride with me and see what you connect with and how it makes you feel.

Over the last year I have seen a few commercials that hint at fitness and I thought I would throw my perspective at them in the hopes that people may take a step back and re-evaluate their beliefs around fitness.

This first commercial has nothing to do with fitness but I was drawn in by the initial statement “Look at them.  Making moves that would put an adult in the emergency room.”  This off handed comment is stated as cold, hard fact.  It screams, “When you are an adult you can no longer play.  Deal with it. You are weak and fragile!”  After 5 seconds this commercial had lost me and I was stomping around my living room arguing with the t.v.  “People don’t believe this do they?” Are you kidding me?  What is this world coming to?!”  Later, I was still disturbed by the commercial but when I tried to find it I couldn’t remember what it was for. Turns out, it was a Cadillac car commercial.  They definitely weren’t marketing to me.

This next commercial I first saw on ESPN and to tell the truth, I think it’s great.  I found it Laugh Out Loud funny and although the focus is on exercise, the commercials presentation hits at our competitive spirit and might get people out the door and moving.  Still, for me, it’s message is exercise and that doesn’t quite resonate.

Props for the great satire, as I still laugh when I watch it.

The last of the commercials I want to present is a 180° turn from the first video.  It speaks to our child spirit.  The commercial talks about toys, building forts, playing on playground, staying out until after dark all the while showing pictures of adults climbing mountains, kayaking, and playing soccer.  It speaks to the need for movement and fitness in the form of play and usefulness.  This commercial sings to my heart and it makes me want to get out of my house and move.  Not for exercise. Not for competition. But for my mind, body and spirit.  In my opinion, this is why we have the ability to move.  We move so we can explore, create and enjoy our world.

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Video  —  Posted: October 1, 2014 in Life, Movement
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Work or play

Work? Play? … Yes!

For a good portion of my life, work and play have been on opposite ends of the spectrum. Either I was doing productive, necessary work or I was free and playing; but never were they combined. How could they be? In my mind they were opposites.

Which isn’t surprising since even the definitions for these words put them at odds.

Work:

  1. Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
  2. Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

Play:

  1. Activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, esp. by children.
  2. The conducting of an athletic match or contest.

Now, however, the idea that work and play are opposites doesn’t fly for me. The change occurred when I had my son and he started going to a Montessori school at 7 months old.  My son was doing sitting work and block stacking work. At one point he spent months doing container work which involved opening and closing containers that have different types of tops. In Montessori the children are curious and they are driven by their enjoyment of exploration and discovery. It’s also very purposeful because this exploration is how children discover their world, and how they perfect skills such as motor coordination, executive functions, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, and socialization. Every activity they engage in is very much their work. This is where my personal definitions of work and play changed. I now see the words this way: Work has a purpose or result that is external in nature and play is about our inner passion and enjoyment.

So here is my question: When did we as a society decide that work should be divorced from enjoyment, curiosity, and personal expression?

 In David Elkind’s article “The Values of Outdoor Play” he postulates that the requirements for a full happy and productive life consist of 3 things: Play, Love and Work.

“Play, love, and work are the innate drives that power human thought and action throughout the life cycle. Play is the drive to transform the world to meet our personal needs. Love is the drive to express our desires, feelings, and emotions. Work is the drive to adapt to the demands of the physical and social world. “–David Elkind

He goes on to categorize activities from this perspective:

  • Love is something one undertakes of their own initiative.
  • Play encompasses personal expression of the activity
  • Work comprises the products produced that are both original and useful to all.

With this new information let us re-evaluate what it means to play and to work. Our priorities get confused when we separate the two. At some point we decided that earning money at a job is a high priority, but taking care of our physical body is optional. We started to see being busy, stressed and always on the move as success. While relaxation, enjoyment and mental calm we regard as unproductive. It’s time to turn our work into play and our play into work. Or stated slightly differently: Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling and our play should be honored for how purposeful it truly is. Our play is of the highest importance for our well-being and creative spirit. Embrace it and activate your highest potential. No more Work vs. Play. Let’s make it Work + Play … + Love.

Combine them, embrace them and live a full, happy and productive life!

horsesMy alarm seemed to go off very early this morning so I hit snooze.  Shortly there after my phone rang.  Turns out my horses decided that today would be the perfect morning to escape their field and storm around the countryside.

As I hurried out to collect them it occurred to me that whenever I spend time with my horses I learn something new about myself. Today, it was the knowledge that when I move with purpose, I move very easily.  In this particular case I had to run down the horses before they disappeared over the horizon!  I bounded over wood fences, dove under barbed-wire fences and sprinted across fields.    All the skills I practice in the park, and all the time I spend playing on the floor with my son has had the intended effect.  When I need a skill in the moment my body is prepared, fluid and capable.  Even more so then I sometimes realize.

When I finally caught up with my very winded herd, they looked at me and seemed to say “See! You CAN run like the wind!” This morning’s adventure made me so happy, it energized my day and gave me a new perspective on my skills and abilities. I so love my herd for that!

Rumplestiltskin

A question for you…

I have to admit that I love the ABC series Once Upon a Time.  It’s season 3 and in the premiere the main characters Captain Hook, Rumplestiltskin, the Evil Queen, Snow White, Prince Charming, and Emma Swan (Daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) are on their way to Neverland to save Henry (Emma’s son) from the treacherous Peter Pan.  Yes, you read that correctly. Peter Pan is the bad guy.  Also Neverland is not a place you want to be.  In an earlier episode Wendy describes Neverland this way, “There’s a reason it’s called Neverland. Because once you set foot in its soil, the Shadow never lets you leave.”  I think that’s why I love this show.  It blows apart everything I know about fairytales.  It always keeps me guessing, which is awesome!

Certain TV shows grab us because they are able to play with human dynamics really well.  I believe when these shows create dynamics that the viewer can relate to, but create them in extreme situations that the average person doesn’t face, we love them.  Breaking Bad and the Sopranos are examples of exceptional execution of extreme situations with normal, relatable human dynamics.

I love human dynamics.  Something about taking the chaos of human interaction and finding the patterns within excites and fascinates me.  It drives my husband nuts sometimes because I see them in fictional TV interactions and sometimes I get deeply sucked in watching them play out.  If these fictional interactions are done well, they awaken me to an aspect of myself I wasn’t fully aware of.  Which, in turn, adds to my personal growth in the real world.   The below interaction between Rumplestiltskin and Emma Swan is such an occasion.  In this scene Rumplestiltskin is telling Emma that she lacks imagination. And in Neverland that just doesn’t cut it.

Emma: Why are you doing this?
Rumple: Because I want to succeed.
Emma: What makes you think I’m going to fail?
Rumple: How could you not?  You don’t believe in your parents, or magic, nor even yourself.
Emma: I slayed a dragon, I think I believe.
Rumple: Only what was shown to you.  When have you ever taken a real leap of faith? You know the kind where there is absolutely no proof?  I’ve known you some time Miss Swan and sadly, despite everything you’ve been through, you’re still just that bail bonds person, looking for evidence.  Well dearie that’s not going to work in Neverland.
Emma: I’ll do whatever it takes.
Rumple: Well you just need someone to tell you what that is.  Sorry dearie our foe is too fearsome for hand-holding.  Neverland is a place where imagination runs wild.  And sadly, yours doesn’t.

You can watch the exchange here but it might be hard to follow if you don’t know the characters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YbpQQOAL6Y

I’m not sure how many people would have any reaction to that exchange.  The scene itself is just a plot device to justify Rumplestiltskin going off on his own.   However, when I watched the exchange I felt like Rumple was talking directly to me.  He was very clearly asking me, “Can you create something if no one hands you a recipe to follow? “  “Can you use your imagination to picture something wild and your creativity to make it real?”  This hits home because I’m working on the process of imagining my life and the imagination piece is a struggle.

So what’s the real difference between creativity and imagination and why are they important?

Let us start with definitions.

First Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions:

  • Creativity: The ability to make new things or think of new ideas
  • Imagination: The ability to imagine things that are not real: the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced

In essence the difference is between real and unreal creations.

I also went out and Googled the connection between these two words and how they relate to creating change in a person’s life.  The articles I’ve found also mention innovation, but innovation doesn’t apply to this blog post so I’m leaving it out.  It turns out that for life changing endeavors, creativity and imagination play pivotal roles.

So, here are the definitions I synthesized from my research:

  • Creativity: Taking perceived reality (all of the facts, evidence, arguments and proof) and coming up with original solutions.
  • Imagination:  Creating something completely wild and extraordinary without the limits of what is perceived possible in reality.

Please note that I use the word perceived in both of these definitions. I do this because reality changes for us depending on our perceptions at the time.  So what might be impossible to me one moment can become completely possible at a different point in my life.

So back to the questions I heard Rumple asking me.  Can I create something if no one hands me a recipe to follow? Can I use my imagination to picture something wild and then use my creativity to make it real?  When I started this article I thought I knew what my problem was.  I thought that I had let my imagination muscle atrophy by not allowing myself to come up with the wild ideas.  I thought by not using my imagination I also wasn’t allowing myself to use my creativity to make my life what I want it to be.  As I think on it more, I realize my imagination is fully intact. I just have a tendency to misdirect it into unproductive thoughts such as how much effort something may take and all the possible ways that same something might go wrong.  When I let myself imagine these wild ideas I don’t follow through and I don’t even bother to give myself a chance to be creative.    It’s not that I don’t have imagination.  It’s that I imagine great things and then imagine all the way those great ideas can be foiled.  Well done.

This is a big “aha” for me.  I now realize the true power of imagination.  It can be our greatest ally in becoming our highest most productive selves or it can be a super villain that thwarts us at every turn.  Creativity is the workhorse, the recipe creator, of our lives and it can only be cultivated and put into action when imagination is used for good, empowering endeavors.

Now I have an answer for Rumple.  Yes, I can use my imagination to create something wild and I believe I can create it in the real world if I can hold the imagination super villain at bay.   Perhaps that is what Peter Pan represents in the ABC show Once Upon a Time.  He is the form of imagination that manipulates us into inaction by stifling responsibility, maturity and personal power.  By indulging Peter Pan we leave the possibility for great achievement forever lost in Never Neverland.

Ever since I had my son my mind and my body have not been on the same page.  My mind has been very judgmental of my body.

I hear myself thinking:

“Why does my back hurt? I didn’t have this issue last time I was getting myself in good shape.”

“What’s up with my knees? My ninja alter ego is severely impaired by the bubble wrap sound effects they keep making every time I squat.  Not to mention that random feeling of pliers pinching my left knee during deep knee bends.”   

“Why can’t I do a muscle up, again? Oh yeah, I’ve never been able to do that one.  Keep practicing silly.” 

Crashing

I was skim boarding. Really!

Yes, the years before I had my son I would get out of shape, start working out, my muscles would ache, I would love and hate it all at the same time, I would grow strong and that was that.  My body, however, has changed and my mind hasn’t been working with my “new” body to help it adjust.  Instead of honoring where I am, my mind has been judging where I SHOULD be.  Needless to say it’s been extremely hard to make any forward progress athletically.

It wasn’t until recently when I started to pay attention to this mind/body separation that any forward progress has been made.  First, I’ve had to acknowledge that there is a level of dysfunction throughout my body.  Structurally my body is out of alignment, my connective tissue is weak and I’ve been forcing movement patterns my body just isn’t ready for.   Secondly, I’ve had to let go of the way I trained when I was in my twenties.  I just don’t heal as fast or recover as quickly as I use to.  Lastly, I’ve realized that I actually have to practice with focus and purpose.  For me this means coming up with a program that has a progressive nature and not just running out the door and trying the hardest thing I can think of until it works.

So, you might think that I feel a bit discouraged about the current state of affairs, but in reality I feel free for the first time since my son’s birth.  I now know where I am and I can make steady progress and move forward from that place, and not from where I “think” I should be.  Basically I’ve taken my power back.  Before taking this personal self-assessment I felt as though I was settling and being weak if I didn’t push through.  Now I realize that I’m not settling.  I’m starting from where I really am.  The goals are still high, but the starting point is realistic.  Since I’ve done this self-assessment, I’ve been making marked progress and my perceived setbacks have been few and far between.  It’s great!

So what’s the lesson?

Before I started to pay attention to my body I allowed my mind to decide, based on the past, where my physical body was in this moment.  So, for me, the lesson is to create a practice where I listen to my body first.  Where I’m honest with my physical state of being and then, from that realistic starting point, I allow my mind to come up with my next steps to achieve my goals.  The funny thing is, the more I dedicate myself to this practice physically, the more I see how it applies to my whole life.

I watched this documentary trailer today and it made me want to take every child I know outside to play.  I believe children need more in their lives then video games, phones, TV, and electronics.  Take some time (Make that lots of time) and go for a hike, play in a park away from man made equipment, or just spend time in your own yard.  Look at bugs and leaves and life.  Explore and discover!

Video  —  Posted: October 28, 2013 in Life, Movement
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It’s been a crazy last couple of days.  I live in Colorado and for a good portion of the summer it has been hot and dry.  That was until September 9th when we received some much needed rain, and then some more rain on the 10th.  Woohoo!  Then more on the 11th.  Wow, what an odd Fall.  Then nature let loose on the 12th dumping 9.08 inches of rain and an outrageous flood ensued.  Between September 9th and mid day September 13th we got a whopping 14.62 inches of rain!  To put this in perspective Colorado’s average precipitation, including rain and snow melt, is 14.92 inches.  So in 4 days we received just under our yearly average.  To read more, and see pictures,  of this 500 yr flood, check out this weather channel link.

I live just on the north side of the St. Vrain river (one of the major rivers that flooded) and my horses live 5 min south east of me on the south side of the St. Vrain river.  At around 7:30am on September 12th I went to check the horses because there Cold and wethad been reports of high running rivers and flooding in the area.  At first things seemed, for the most part, fine.  The land where we pasture our horses is on a bluff 50 yards or so above the river.  I could see the river was high and everything was getting really muddy but the horses were safe.  They were, however, very nervous because the river below was raging.  I fed them and then went to explore the area.

What I came across on the flat lands north of my pasture took my breath away.

The video was taken in the early morning and by late afternoon I was no longer able to get across this river to see or care for my animals. The north and south sides of my town were cut off from each other as flood waters moved east; taking out all roads and bridges in its path.  I wasn’t able to get back to the horses until early Saturday the 14th.  Below is the video taken Saturday morning of the same river, still extremely flooded but down from where it was.

Most of the roads close to the St. Vrain looked something like the picture below of Airport Road (this is the road I usually take to the pasture).  This picture looks south toward the St. Vrain and the trees in the distance on the right side show where the river normally runs.  The flooding was incredible!  As of today, this road is still closed, but it is drying up nicely.

flooded road

Not taking this road for awhile

There are so many more pictures I could post but I think the Weather Channel link above has the best pictures where you really get a feel for the damage.  Colorado has had a few floods in the past but none of them have been on this scale.  I guess that’s why it’s being called a 500 year flood.  But for all the damage in Longmont, our neighboring  town, Lyons, was hit so much worse.

I’m so very grateful at this time.  My house is high and dry, my horses are safe and happy, and my life was only slightly inconvenienced by this whole storm.  Others were not so fortunate,  Many lost homes and some faced life or death situations with no one to rely on except themselves. Some lost their lives and others are still trapped and waiting for helicopter rescue by the National Guard.  IMAG1156

On Saturday when I was finally able to reach the horses I moved them back into a grass field.  They were so happy to get out of the muddy pen they had spent several days standing in.  I told them that they were very fortunate, but I’m not sure they believed me.

Life is a school, experience is the lesson and there are so many lessons a natural disaster can impart.  Stay tuned for future posts and see how playing around and moving like a child could be the most practical (and important!) thing you’ve ever done.