How long was today?

was this today
was this today

Today was a week.

I rode my motorcycle and got coffee and spent time with a friend.

I worked.

I dealt with the bureaucracy of the Department of Revenue smoothly.

I made new friends.

I went to a new bar and had conversations with strangers.

I spent time with a dear friend, and worked.

I parented. Big, life altering parenting.

And this was just today. Each one is bigger, and brighter, and fuller than the one before.

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Home

beams of sun hit his face
beams of sun hit his face

His overstuffed bag hit the floor with a loud thump. Every rustle of clothing echoed in a flutter off of the bare walls as he looked at his new surroundings. The rooms and walls and floors were bare. Clean. Clear.

He ascended the staircase to his bedroom, laid down on the floor and slept as if he hadn’t slept in weeks because he hadn’t.

Ten hours later the sun beamed in through the window onto his face. He opened his eyes that had truly rested and knew he was home.

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2013 Heartland Park Motorcycle Track Days

bug-eyed triumphs taped up for the track
bug-eyed triumphs taped up for the track
Trackdays are the most legal fun you can have on a motorcycle. If you have a sport bike and reasonable safety gear you owe it to yourself to do a trackday.

There are two riding schools on the schedule this year. I’ve highlighted those in bold. This is highly recommended for anyone new to the track. They go over track safety, etiquette, and the basics of riding on a track. I was very pleased with the school experience when I attended one last year.

This is a repost from Hector on KCSB:

Riding schools are instructed by licensed racers and cover street riding to advance racing skills (track safety, body position, braking, throttle control, visual skills, suspension, passing and track analysis).

There is classroom and one on one instructing throughout the day.

Track day bike prep- tape up headlight, tape up or disconnect taillight, tape up or remove mirrors.

No leaks, no loose body work, good tires, good brake pads, properly functioning controls, no stretched swingarms.

Free Track Experience Rides are conducted on track days. These are limited spots and must be reserved by private message to thesaint or through sponsored dealers.

Discounted Tickets at Motorcycle Closeouts, Reno’s Power Sports, Cafe Racer Inc
Tickets also through HPT.COM

Sat, April 20- Novice/Intermediate/Advance
Sun, April 21- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Mon, May 27- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Sun, June 23- Novice/Intermediate/Advance
Mon, June 24- All Level Riding School/Intermediate/Advance

Sat, July 20- Novice/Intermediate/Advance
Sun, July 21- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Sat, Aug 17- All Level Riding School/Intermediate/Advance
Sun, Aug 18- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Sat, Sept 28- Novice/Intermediate/Advance
Sun, Sept 29- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Sat, Oct 19- Novice/Intermediate/Advance
Sun, Oct 20- Novice/Intermediate/Advance

Thank you
Hector St.John

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Busy, Busy … Fake.

a day
a day

Busy isn’t productive. I guess I’ve already touched on that today with my talk about inbox 0.

Busy isn’t fixed. The time is just filled.

Busy isn’t healed. Everything hurts, physically and mentally.

Busy isn’t happy. I’m smiling, but it’s just outside.

By all parameters today should have been amazing. I spent time with all of my kids, my family, I fixed things, I cooked things, I hung out with some of my best friends, I shot a whole bunch of paper. But, at the end of the day, I’m empty. The true transcendence I need to make is to have all of those amazing things be enough.

A few months ago I watched a TED Talk by Amy Cuddy where she says, “fake it until you become it.” Like I did in my past life, I guess I’ll keep faking this until I become it.

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Focus for the Lazy or How I Got to Inbox 0

nothing to see here
nothing to see here

I am lazy. I was born lazy and every action I take is a true internal struggle to actually get myself in to action. There’s always something more immediately rewarding that I could be doing (hello Reddit, Facebook, booze …).

Like many I confuse busy with productive. I use to have everything notify me all the time. Email, IM, text, iTunes changed a song, a website updated … It was too much. I was trying so hard to be busy that I just chased notifications around in circles.

My first step to getting to 0 was to stop the notifications. Not all of them, I keep text messages and some email accounts but all the other ones are gone and I don’t miss them one bit. This is a critical step in getting to 0 because this is part of retraining yourself to prioritize your items. I know a text is either someone close, like a friend or family, or it’s something important enough to warrant a text from a co-worker like a power circuit went down at the office.

To the inbox. With mailing lists, office chatter, and automated messages my inbox was under assault. Hundreds of messages per day of content that was only marginally useful. Some of it was duplicated due to other habits I incorporated into my schedule. I tried filtering some out, but then I did miss some important emails. It was imperative that I see them all, but then get rid of the ones I don’t need.

To do this I had to use the “Select All” feature. Yes, it was terrifying. I went through the first few pages of email in my Gmail accounts and took note of the ones that needed some attention: a reply, some action, etc. I took notes of their content so I could search for them later, pressed select all and hit “Archive”. Instantly to 0. But this wasn’t truly 0.

Once everything was archived I searched for the messages that I took note of earlier. This was good exercise in using the search to really hone in on a message.

So now you have a clean inbox, nothing was deleted, and you have a few actionable items left in your inbox. Perfect. Take action on those few items now that you don’t see some egregious number of messages in your inbox.

The hard part is keeping it clean. It’s truly taken months to get to the point where I maintain 0 on all of the accounts for a reasonable amount of time.

Since email is constant, first process the new messages. A message comes in, does it need to be read or is it automated and you know what to do with it? Read it or archive it (or delete if it’s a mailing list or automaton). If it’s something that you need to do now … DO IT! If it needs to be done later, leave it in your inbox.

When you start to type in your browser for some lovely cat videos, hit your inbox first. Pick something, get it done, then archive the damned message! You now have communication and task management in one place, the emails are just TODO items. Send your self emails to remind of tasks and toss them once done. Have that automated message from your dentist that it’s time for a cleaning, call your dentist and toss the message.

Like I said, this is not easy. You will truly feel a sense of loss when you archive everything. It’s also not an easy change and relapse is just a few hours away. You’ll slip and your inbox will grow and then you’ll have to fight your way back down.

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A Mile

my own shoes
my own shoes

Sometimes you have to walk a mile in your own shoes. It’s easy to lose yourself in other people or activities. To lose sight of what’s important or who you are. We’re taught to be empathetic. We’re taught to please other people. We’re taught to not be selfish.

Selfish is not the same as self. Selfish is destructive, it’s depriving other people of something for you own gain. Self is constructive. Learning, creating, reflecting … these all build and make you a richer person, someone that’s better know and be around. It’s selfless at the end.

I’m going for a walk.

 

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Settle

settled in their homes
settled in their homes
What a loaded word. At its best it’s the most comfort you can feel. At it’s worst it’s the complete compromise of one’s self, the tossing aside of the hunt for something better.

We had been settling into something for the last decade. Long after the house was moved in to and lived in, long after the routines were set … we settled.

When our paths diverged, when our interests conflicted … we settled.

When the fire that should have been roaring burned itself down to a few embers … we settled.

Then all became ash … and that settled too.

We can search through the random arrangement of those ashes and see patterns. We look deeper and distinctly see the tinder, the kindling, the log, and the fire. But they aren’t there, just vespers hiding in our minds that are reaching for anything that resembles what we settled on.

Those ashes are still warm and we move into the other kind of settling. The movement from chaos to some routine, some type of order in life that lets us focus on the big parts life and the minutia handles itself.

The kitchenware that just happened to fit into the cabinet of my new home. The routine of making a decaf Americano at night. These are the good type of settling. Telling Lily that it’s time for bed. The good kind of settling. Retiring to my room and knowing I’ll sleep for more than a couple hours. The good kind of settling.

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Isn’t That A Lot?

a temporary crutch
a temporary crutch

“You’re taking an awful lot of those aren’t you?”

I wasn’t. This spurned the conversation about how much I was prescribed, how much I had to take last time I was dealing with the panic attacks and how attuned to my usage I was. My prescription was for three a day: 1 in the morning, 1 before bed, and 1 as needed during the day if my anxiety started getting the best of me. I never take more than one a day, and even that is a rarity. Her concerns were allayed and I felt good that she cared enough to notice and say something when she though I was being destructive.

I should have looked deeper when this affliction resurfaced. While never completely over the panic attacks and anxiety, I hadn’t been treated for them in 17 years. I could feel the crushing pressure squeezing my life and had been able to talk to her, or even text her, just know she’s somewhere and I could focus on that and get myself together.

We never seriously looked into our relationship as the problem. I chalked up the resurgence of my panic attacks to having 2 young kids, an a job, and a teenager, and bills, and all of the other stressors that we all go through. I know people with much gentler, simpler lives that fight this battle every day so I didn’t look deeper.

I didn’t look at the fact that we were spending less time with each other, on each other … that’s just part of family life. I didn’t look at the fact that we were resenting each other for our respective hobbies and holding on to the hurt that we had caused each other as we tried to keep together two disparate lives that had long lost the bonds that brought them together. The passions, the time doting over each other all replaced by the duties of family, work, and time we each spent on our own selfish needs. We grew apart, or better said, we allowed the rest of life to wedge us apart. We tried, mostly. We each feel like we were making extraordinary efforts to placate the other. We were maintaining. We would fight, but never resolve anything. The inner tube of our life would just get another patch which would hold for a while then a new hole would form and start leaking. We never took the time to peel off the tire and change the tube, we just kept patching until there was no tube left.

So a year passes. My companion is no longer my companion and I lose my non-medical way of comforting the buzzing inside. I’m destroyed, a blubbering mess bumbling around with no path; I truly couldn’t see a real way forward for over a week.

I took two pills the week it ended, both as a last ditch effort to try to force my body in to more than 2 hours of sleep. They didn’t really work. I call in my refill that I don’t need every month and each bottle just gets added to the medicine cabinet, full.

I missed it when it started, I didn’t reflect enough into the things in my life. But I’m paying attention as it’s slowing, presumably to a stop. There were problems that we weren’t fixing. She pulled away while I went to my doctor to try to numb myself.

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House, Not Home

this no longer unlocks my home
this no longer unlocks my home

10 years … 3600 days … and an uncountable number of times that I’ve placed a key into this hole and turned the knob. The finish is worn as is the keyway as is everything inside: the physical and the emotional.

I don’t use this anymore. I knock or I ring the doorbell. I have to be invited into this house that was my home. Everything is the same as when I left, but it feels distant, cold, and unfamiliar. I can’t sit on the couch and put my feet on the coffee table. I can’t move things. I can’t fix things. And not because she won’t let me, but because I feel it, or don’t feel it as is probably the more appropriate way to it.

There’s been a lot of life here. Parties, dinners, friends, and family. Love, anger, passion, and fights. The joy of new children, and the debilitating sadness of the children the never were to be. We’ve been sick and retreated to our rooms to convalesce and then slowly inch our way into the common areas as good health returns.

This was the center of everything, a mass that we were all orbiting. And now it’s being split. The house is the same but the home is being torn into pieces and the energy being emitted is immense, like splitting an atom. This could also be productive, like a power plant pumping new energy in to our lives or it could be destructive like the bombs we create that we think keep us safe.

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Everything Begins and Ends

rockhill theater dome
rockhill theater dome
Like everything, a building begins and ends. It begins with the care and excitement of construction and moves on to the frenzy of being put in to use. It fills with life and vibrance then settles into a comfortable routine. During this routine things wear. They may go unnoticed or they may just be minor annoyances that are worked around. Some of the big items get dealt with, like the roof or broken windows, but the little chunk of brick or ding in the sheetrock is left. The rote use and the little flaws lead to even less care about the structure and it deteriorates until the day it ends in a pile of rubble.

I’ve been on one date in my adult life, and that was barely a date as we just drove around Kansas City aimlessly. We stopped and took note of the buildings that looked old, or important to our barely post-adolescent minds. The dome of the Rockhill Theater consumed many minutes of our brief time together that night. At this point it was already a dead building but it alluded to its past heights and even gave a glimmer of hope: why would this big metal dome be standingif it were not to going to be reused? The dome is now gone followed shortly by the relationship that was constructed while admiring it.

Image from http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/12278/photos/6774

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