Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Full Moon with Old Friends

Last week we had a great full moon. I realize the inversion here in Salt Lake is bad for breathing, and almost everything else, but it is great for a moon-rise. On Thursday as the full moon came up over the mountain it was huge and had a beautiful yellowish hue. It was a good thing my friend Paige called to tell me about it, it was also a good thing that it was her birthday. For her birthday a few of us went to my friend's house to sit in the hot tub. We enjoyed the moon, we sang, we told stories, we laughed, we lived.

As we sat in the hot tub and enjoyed each other's company and the glory of the moon I realized that it doesn't get much better than that. Before we left I brought up one of my family traditions for birthdays. (don't tell my mom, she might think I actually learned something while I was at home). I had us all go around and say something that we liked about Paige. I specifically asked to say something we hadn't said to Paige yet, preferably something more obscure. I learned some great things about Paige. I guess we can like a lot of little things about someone that we don't usually think to bring up. I think this year I will try to bring up small things that I like about people. I think that will be fun for this year.

The next night I enjoyed some more great friends. My old roomie and good friend B-ryce (pronounced Bee-Rice) was in town. So B-ryce and his GF Erin and I went on a sweet Hike. I decided that I wanted to go up Ferguson Canyon. So we started our beautiful hike in the beauty of the city lights, but we soon crossed over the hill and we were basked in the smooth, perfect moonlight. We had so much fun hiking and chatting about old times. As we hiked up we got to see the moon rise several times since we would continually get closer to ridges.

You can see the pretty moon behind B-ryce

B-ryce and Erin are supa-cute!

I loved chillin with such good friends. Certain research shows that if you are friends with someone for more than 7 years then you are friends for life. I'm glad that Erin and I have made it, cementing our friendship for life. B-ryce and I still need a few more years, but I hope we make it. We sure like to go on adventures together and talk about life. I hope that I can keep many great friends throughout my years. If any of my friends from my past want to reconnect, now is the time, don't delay. Feel free to call me anytime and we can chat. If you want to go on an adventure, you know I'm always good for it. And, like always, I will be up in the mountains every full moon so you can come find me there.

I'm always up for chillin with old friends, even if it is in the winter in the freezing cold.
(Though even Erin didn't get too cold)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Preparing for the New Year

As the year ended I tried to put some time aside to remember the last year. I wanted to make sense of it so that I could move on to better things. I tried talking with friends about the best and the worst of 2013. I tried thinking about what happened during the year. I felt I did several of the usual things that people do to remember the past year in order to move on to the next. Nothing seemed to be working, however.

On New Year's Eve I went to a dinner with some friends and we intended to enjoy the New Year together. After I ate I decided that I wasn't ready to welcome in the New Year yet, so I left the party to properly prepare myself. I put on my running clothes and started my hard run through the parks and forests near my house. I ran hard even though I didn't have a light and I had to duck under many branches. I ran hard even though the cold air burned my lungs. I ran hard despite being out of shape and in pain. In short, I ran hard to clear my mind so I could finally think. 

As I was running across the frozen pond I thought of how crazy this last year was. I had been feeling sorry for myself the last few months because I realized that if there was a problem with my life it was because of me and not because of anything else. I tried to run up a frozen hillside that was made slick by many sledders. I couldn't get more than a few feet without slipping. I ended up going more carefully near where the sleds had descended. I tried to slide down on my feet but it was so steep that I ended up sliding down on my backside.

As I continued to run I started to realize that no matter who I had been the previous year, no matter what hole I had dug for myself, it was up to me to improve my situation. I may have dug a good portion of the hole that I was in, but that didn't matter. What mattered was whether or not I was going to get out of it. As I ran through the empty frisbee park I started to understand that just like I was responsible for where I was, I was responsible for being better. In order to remind myself that I was still alive and that adversity didn't matter I ran across the stream. I couldn't see the bottom and I didn't know how deep it would be, but I gained some momentum and I went for it. Luckily there was deep enough snow to dry my feet as I ran through the frozen snow.

As I ran home I knew that it had been a long December, but there was reason to believe that maybe this year would be better than the last. I can be whoever I want in 2014. 2014 hadn't met me yet and it had no expectations about me. I could meet it with my best self. I could love those around me more. I could focus less on myself and more on those who need a friend. I knew that 2014 would be my year, because I would make it such.

I returned to the party. I chatted with others. I let people know that I wanted to be there friend this next year. I sang out loud with friends. I danced to welcome in the New Year. I even dipped a girl and kissed her at midnight, because with more love comes more kissing. I'm glad that I get the chance to face a new year with a new me. I don't have to be dragged down by the mistakes of my past. I believe that I can change myself and change my world.

2014 is a great year filled with great possibilities. It's gonna be great.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Playing in the snow (Ode to my sweet clothes)

I do love to play in the snow. I love the beautiful snow on the trees. I love laying on my back and letting the snow fall in my mouth. I especially love somersaulting in the snow (If you have never seen me somersault then you really missing out). While I think I have always loved playing in the snow I don't think I realized just how great it can be when you have the proper clothing.

I used to wear layers of clothes in order to put barriers between me and the snow, but the snow would eventually soak through and I would have to be done with my playing. However, a year ago I made a series of important purchases. I bought everything that I needed to be completely waterproofed and warm from head to toe. This week when I went to play in the snow I was able to lay on my back and let the snow fall in. I just lay there with my eyes closed listening to Florence and the Machine and enjoying the falling snow. The best part is that I got up when I was done enjoying the moment and not because I was cold.

This was a super pretty tree on my full moon hike. 
It is very out of place, but it looks like a small Christmas Tree.

I have spent this last week walking through the snow, testing the ice of the nearby pond, hiking solo at night, running through the trees in the moon light, and hot tubbing in the cold. One thing that all my adventures have in common during the winter is that I am always very warm. There are so many people who tell me that I shouldn't go camping or hiking in the snow because it's too cold. In fact I have been called crazy by more people than I can count. There is a simple concept that I have been trying to help people understand--You can control your own environment.

I found a sweet icicle on my run and practiced my sword fighting techniques while running 

I have learned that it doesn't matter how cold it is outside, it matters how cold it is against my skin. If I can stay dry and wear the right amount on layers then I am always warm. So those of you who are afraid of the cold or the winter remember that it is possible to stay warm in any situation. If you need any tips feel free to let me know. I have had a couple of friends recently put me in charge of helping them purchase a warm winter jacket so that they don't have to be so cold all the time. It is all about controlling your own environment. It is possible to stay warm.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Adventure Possibilities in 2014

I have been on several good adventures in the last couple weeks, including a good full moon hike, a great full moon run with a sword-like icicle and some quality hot tubbing in the snow. However my best story from the last couple of weeks involves adventure possibilities for 2014. It all starts when my friend Jeff had an interesting facebook post. (not my bff Jeff, but another friend Jeff)

Jeff works for Jet Blue and therefore has some pretty sweet flying perks. He flies for free, but he also gets to have someone else fly for free with him. I guess it is supposed to be some sort of spousal benefit, but since he doesn't have a spouse he needed to find someone else to fly for free. He can change that person every 12 months and it is coming time when he can change his travel buddy. Naturally he posted on facebook that anyone could try and convince him to be his travel buddy.

When I first saw the post the first thought I had was, "Some girl is going to get super lucky to be able to fly for free for a year." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be a mistake for him to choose a girl. If he was dating the girl that would be cool, but even then can be iffy depending on how long the relationship lasted. If he wasn't dating the girl then that would mean he would get to here how she liked other guys on their trips together. Or maybe he could hear how great her boyfriend was, which really would just mean that they proly wouldn't be travel buddies anymore, they would just travel separately. 

Once I realized it would be a mistake for him to choose a girl I knew I had a good chance. In his facebook post he mentioned that when we tried to convince him we could use things like hotel benefits to sway his opinion. Recently my parents bought into a resort benefits program that their children can also take advantage of. It means that I can stay at a whole bunch of resorts all over for super cheap. I knew this would be almost too much for Jeff to pass up.

I then realized that my best evidence was that I was a great wingman and adventure buddy. I have proved over and over again that I can back a guy up in any situation. I also am adventurer at heart. If Jeff chooses me as an adventure buddy this year he will go on more adventures than he has ever been on. He will also go on different adventures. He will get a chance to see someone of the most beautiful parts of nature. He will get invited on some great trips that will be hard to pass up.

Once I realized all this and made my case to Jeff I was much more optimistic that he would choose me to be his travel buddy for this next year. Of course there have been several other people who have made a good pitch to him also. I realize that it may still be a long shot, but my adventures in 2014 just might be the best of my life if I can just be Jeff's travel buddy. If any of you readers of this blog feel that I have been a good adventure buddy feel free to comment on why. I will make sure that Jeff reads this blog with the comment section. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Old Books and Old Friends

I have been to many parties recently where I have run into old friends. It seems the question I keep getting from my friends is:

 “What’s new?”

 They could just be making conversation, but I think they often want to know how my life has changed since they have last seen me. The answer that I have been giving is:

 “Honestly, not much. I still have the same job, I still go on lots of adventures and I still chill with quality peeps.”
 This is me on an adventure last Saturday with some old friends

The more I have thought about though, the more I realize that I have added a couple of things to my life the last six months or so. The first, which will not be address in this blog, is online deal shopping. The second is my discovery of audiobooks and becoming rededicated to reading.

The catalyst for all of this is actually an interesting one. At work I changed teams where I take phone calls half the day and the other half of the day I respond to instant message chats. Doing the chats is way better than the phones for several reasons. First, it is considerably less emotional taxing. Second, it isn’t nearly as busy. Most importantly, it doesn't require much concentration or my ears so I can listen to what I want.

Naturally when I started on this team I started watching everything on Netflix.  Then I ran out of good things to watch on Netflix. It turns out there aren't very many good movies on there and I didn't want to start anymore TV series. Eventually my old roommate changed his Netflix password, so then I had considerable amounts of downtime to fill. So I started reading. I have always loved reading. I definitely read in waves though. I go several months without reading then I will read a whole bunch in a few weeks. The big problem with reading was that I kept having to find my place and it is a little tedious. So, naturally I turned to the library for solutions.

I have listened to about 30 – 40 audiobooks since then. I have also read about 10 regular books (you know, the ones with words on pages). Since I started going through so many books I have decided that for every two new books I read I will read an old one. I have reread some favorites from childhood in addition to greats that I have enjoyed in the past few years.  I have also tried to add several non-fiction books into the mix to make sure that I was learning new things. It has been a great ride.

In my life I have always love new things, I think most of us do.  However, the lesson that I have learned once again is best put by this saying, “Make new friends but keep the old ones; one is silver and the other's gold”. I have always tried to reserve my Sunday evenings for keeping in touch with old friends. Sometimes I drop a friend’s apartment if I haven’t seen them in a while, or I will call an old friend on the phone. It is always good to keep in touch with old friends.

I have learned similar lessons about books. Reading a new book is fun and exciting, just like new friends. But reading an old book is like a warm blanket, it makes you feel content and happy. It is well worth devoting time to feeling feelings that made me feel alive as a youth, or enjoying a ride with a beloved character who feels just like an old friend.  I have recently once again joined my good friends on an adventure that I have never forgotten. Friends such as:  Ender and Bean, Theo and Mickle, Rina and Isi, Jack Ryan and John Kelly, Harry and Hermione. These old friends from old books have kept me occupied this autumn.

I love old friends and old books, but the more time I spend with both, the more I wonder; is there really a difference?
This is part of my birthday adventure when I listened to "Forest Born" again.
I do love my adventures with Rina-girl.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Running in the Snow

I realized recently that there are several things that I enjoy doing that have a high activation energy, and so I don’t do them very often. I love to run, I love how it makes me feel. The feeling of the wind past my face and the freedom of being outside in nature is great, running is wonderful. Something else that I have enjoyed doing in the past is writing. I’m not a great writer, I much prefer speaking to writing. However, writing is something that I enjoy that I haven’t done for a long time. So here I am writing again about my run today.

Today is my day off and so I felt there were some things that I needed to do. I’m not like other people who run ‘errands’ on their day off. I rarely, if ever, have errands to run except for going to the library (if that counts). I started the day by finishing reading “Ender’s Game” for the 6th or 7th time (I don’t really keep track). I then decided I needed to do something active. I’m not the kind of person who exercises for my physical wellbeing, though I certainly see those benefits. I exercise for my emotional health more than anything else. I like how I feel inside when I run, hike, swim or any other physical activity.

So I decided to go running today. It snowed a bit this week here in the valley and I haven’t spent much quality time out in the beautiful snow yet. So I put on my running shoes and started running. I run almost the same route every time, which I realize would get boring if I ran with any frequency. I always run through the trees near my apartment. I love to run through the trails and by the ponds. My route often takes me to duck under branches and dodge around trees. It is great being out there. My favorite pond was frozen over with some amazing ice crystal designs, so I took a couple of pics to share with you.

Here is my favorite pond, I visit it often

I do love the ice crystals on the pond, they're great

While I was on my run I wondered why I don’t run more often. I go on a lot of adventures, some involve hiking and others don’t get my heart rate up as much. I think exercise is one of those things that takes discipline because it never sounds fun when I am thinking about it, but it always turns out great for me in the long run. There are a lot of others things like that in my life. I am working on adopting more of them into my schedule to try and make a regular part of my life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Brother, the State Champion

This year I had a great opportunity to coach a championship lacrosse team. I coached for Orem High where my brother Dave is caption of the defense. I actually didn't start coaching at the beggining of the year. I went to his first couple home games and sat on the sideline and cheered and tried not to give too much advice. After a few games the team was having a losing season again. My mom told me that my brother had never been on a team with a winning season. It was then that I decided to try and help out with the team.

My brother Pete was helping coach the defense, and my speciallty was in offense and face-offs, so I decided to see if I could help the offensive players. I started going to practice and the games. I focused on the three attack players and the face-off specialist. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out the strengths of each of these players. I then felt that I understood each of them well enough to help them become better. So I went to work.

During the next few games I had several frustrations with the team, but I also had several victories. I was able to make comments that I felt really made a difference and helped the offensense score more goals. The team started to improve quite a bit, but I still felt that they were missing something. Then for the last regular season game they played an undefeated team. I thought they stood a chance at winning, but it was going to be rough. I was out of town for the game so I didn't see it, but Orem won 18-6. I was shocked. When I came back and went to practice the attitude had changed. They no longer were just there to win a couple of games, they wanted so much more. I wasn't sure how deep there commitment was yet. Then a seemingly insignificant thing happened that I think showed quite a bit.

The coach was announcing at practice which players had been voted all conference. He started by saying that there was one disappointment. He said that since there were so many players from our team that won he thinks that made so one player didn't make it. He said that my brother dave missed it by one vote. My brother promptly responded that it doesn't matter. He said, "Just take state. Just win state, that is all I need. I don't need any recognition, just win state." The thing that surprised me so much is that he meant it. He really didn't need anyone to tell him he was good, he was so focused on the team winning state that personal regonition didn't matter at all. It was then that I realized that my brother was so focused on winning the state championship that I knew if that attitude would spread to enough of the team then they could do it.

I soon found that it seemed that most of the starting players seemed to have caught some of this attitude. (I am not saying that it started with Dave, there were definetly a couple of other players that I thought had developed this attitude earlier in the season just as my brother had.) Soon most of the team was on fire. The tournament started with an easy game, but the team took it seriuosly and had a blowout victory. The next game was a tough one, but was well fought and won. Then came the team that Orem had previously beat 18-6. It wasn't as easy this time, but the team pulled out a 7-5 victory to put them into the championship game.

Then came time for the championship game. My brother was so focused. He worked so hard and went over and over in his mind how the defense was going to play. He made sure he set a good example for the defense and then he made encouraging and helpful comments to help his teammates improve. All season long he took personal responsibility for ever point that scored on his defense. Yet every time the defense played well he was quick with praise for his fellow teammates and for my brother Pete the coach of the defense. It was so great to see my youngest brother become a great leader. He was someone who could lead his team to a victory. He was someone who was focused enough that I believed that it could happen.

The championship game started out the same way every game started, with the other team scoring first. I was definitely nervous, but I trusted my guys on offense and I knew my brother Dave was going to make sure the defense held their end of the field. I reviewed with each player on the offensive end what their job was and how they would score. Then it happened. We scored. Then we scored again, and again. I usually don't cheer at sporting events, but I was screaming from the coaches box every time we scored. I needed my guys to know that they were playing it perfect. Each one of them was doing their job. At the half the score was 9-2 for Orem High. I walked around and gave encouragement to the whole team, because they were all playing so well. They pulled through to the end of the game winning 15-9.

When the final whistle blew and the team stormed the field along with a mass of fans I had such an incredible feeling. They had done it. There had been some mistakes along the way, but that day Orem High showed that they had the best lacrosse team in the state. It felt so good to be a part of that amazing experience. The energy from the crowd was so incredible. The celebration that followed was as diverse as it was powerful. Some yelled at the top of their lungs (my bro Dave) some had huge smiles on their faces, others were very teary eyed. Whatever the method of celebrating the victory the message was the same--"We did it!"

That is a day that I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget the countless practices that my brother worked his hardest and encouraged others to do the same. I will always remember how several people on the team stepped up and decided that this year was their year. It was great to see so many people grow so much this year on that team. I especially will always remember my brother Dave. This was not just the year that he became a state champion, this was the year that he became a great leader. I hope he can continue to be a great leader throughout the rest of his life. Dave--congratulations, I am so proud of you.