Tagged: goals

Pursuing Goals Without Attachment

Sunrise

Sunrise

I listened to my little sister read out loud from her book Just One Thing. “To live is to pursue goals”. Truth. “Do you go after goals with attachment or with aspiration? Attachment is stress and drivenness, while aspiration is without outer effort and inner peacefulness, rewarded by the journey itself no matter the destination”. Bells began to go off inside my brain, it felt like there was music. Her voice reading the words played on my heart strings. “At the heart of attachment is craving. Aspiration is working hard without getting hung up on the results. It helps you stretch and grow without worrying about looking bad”.

This is not ground breaking news, as many of us have learned about attachment and aspiration before. However, in that moment, I wanted to raise my hand above my lowered head, squeeze my eyes shut tight, snap my fingers and say “Church!” Hearing this message in a short and succinct manner never gets old. It feels like a gentle reminder to look at your intentions. It’s like a nudge, not even in a particular direction, but one that bumps you back into the present moment.

Post surfing session joy.

Post surfing session joy.

There are many examples I can think of where I truly enjoy the process and am not overly concerned with the outcomes. For me this includes: surfing, CrossFit, cycling, cooking, reading, writing, and a variety of other activities. When I pursue these things, they often help bring me into the present and hold me there. I enjoy the particular steps and all the elements that create the experience. I am satisfied and fulfilled with the results, regardless of the outcome. For example, when I go surfing, I love getting into the water, paddling into the waves, getting my hair wet, sitting on the board, talking shit, catching a wave, getting pummeled, exhausting my shoulders paddling and emerging from the ocean hungry and invigorated. This is not to say that I am not disappointment when I don’t catch a wave or that I don’t have ridiculous fantasies of being a professional surfer babe. That’s not why I keep coming back though. I want to continue surfing because the journey is a package deal that brings me inner peacefulness.

I think the true challenge lies in letting go of the idea of your future self. We care about where we end up. We worry. We work hard. We hope to do well in a review or on a project and when we don’t get the recognition we were hoping for, we feel disappointed. Dr. Rick Hanson from Just One Thing says that aspiration is about liking, while attachment is about craving. It’s hard not to desire that raise or bonus. We all seek acknowledgment, don’t we? Even in the activities that I mentioned above, where I believe that I am acting through aspiration (not attachment), I fantasize about being a pro and getting famous based on that activity (with the exception of cooking). I stick with these activities because I enjoy the process: I like the whole experience. I do not crave the end goal of fame or recognition so much that I am taken out of the present moment.

Goals. Dreams. Desires.

Goals. Dreams. Desires.

So how do we move away from attachment and towards aspiration? Awareness. Awareness is always the first step. You can’t be aware or know about the things you don’t know you don’t know. You got that? The bells went off hearing this passage about aspiration because it reminded me that when you practice awareness on a daily basis, you begin to see when and where you are attached to the results.

Listen, I don’t currently meditate, I’m no Buddhist, but I know that as humans, we tend to gravitate to the path of least suffering. We don’t want to endure pain. So when you do feel pain, pay attention. It’s trying to tell you something. I recently listened to an interview with Meg Wordenon BlogcastFM. She was arrested shortly after giving birth to her son. She spent multiple years in federal prison. A major take away for me has been that you always have a choice. You can fight tooth and nail for your fantasy, no matter how disconnected from reality it is, or you practice loving the path you are on. That’s not to say that you have to love every moment. Meg talks about choosing to learn the lessons that life was handing her. Aspiration seems to be something like this, a dedication to learning through your experiences regardless of the outcome.

Do you have an experience that illustrates the different between liking and wanting? How do you practice awareness? Lara@LaraBuelow.com

Transformation.

Transformation.

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A New Framework for Goal Setting

Palace of Fine Arts: a great place to find inspiration.

Palace of Fine Arts: a great place to find inspiration.

I am in my first week of being 27 and several people have approached me asking about what goals I am setting for this new year. While I have plenty of things I would like to accomplish, I don’t think that 28X28 is the best structure for my next year of life. I am remembering a conversation with a good friend from a long time ago. I told him that I don’t really care much what happens in my life as long as I am happy. Whatever life throws my way, I hope I can come out the other side, find the important lessons and live a happy life. Even in the face of destruction and cruelty. If I experience the apocalypse, I still want to be capable of happiness.

So, dude that he is, my friend said that’s nice and all, but what do I have to DO in order to feel happy. I believe I fidgeted at the time and shifted around uncomfortably. Yes, this is a good approach, but dammit that means I have lots of unanswered questions. Little did I know at the time, this theory is in the same vein as Danielle LaPorte’s work. I want to FEEL X, so what do I have to DO in order to accomplish X? When I do Y, I feel X. This is exactly what Danielle LaPorte is getting at.

Moments to scribble down some ideas.

Moments to scribble down some ideas.

I am 4 days into 27 and I would like to outline a new framework for this year of life.

In order to set meaningful goals for myself, I want to make sure that I am pursuing activities that feed what I want to feel. It is much easier to feel fulfilled when you are clear on the intention behind a goal or activity. Rather than creating an arbitrary list of 28 things I would like to do before my next birthday, I would like to explore how to achieve my core desired feelings through activities each week or month. Since I am not quite sure how this process will unfold, I will have to tailor it as I go along.

For example: I have identified my 5 core desired feelings as: clear, connected, creative, relaxed, and powerful. I can choose to focus on one or two of those feelings in a particular week and do things that feed that feeling. Say I want to feel relaxed. It’s important to reflect on when I have felt relaxed in the past and recognize what makes me feel relaxed now. Then I make a list of things that induce relaxation for me: I feel relaxed when I get important items done early in the day, when I eat meals with friends, when I exercise and when I sleep enough. I feel relaxed when I am clear on my priorities so that I can give each task the time that it needs.

Taking time to write.

Taking time to write.

As mentioned in previous posts, I am going to read The Desire Map, and use the book to guide this process. I do have a growing list of goals and am always curious about what other people want to accomplish before they die. As I add things to my list, I ask myself why I want to do that particular thing and what feelings I believe I will get from achieving that task. Here are a few items I’ve come up with:

  1. Get ride of stuff: clarity, freedom, mobility, focus
  2. Learn Hootsuite: transferable skills, powerful, contribute, connection
  3. Surf vacation: relaxed, connection, powerful, mobile, focused
  4. Write/Blog: connection, contribute, powerful, relaxed, understanding, reflection, commitment
  5. Make another postcard: creative, connection, powerful, contribute

Using your core desired feelings as a way of setting goals is a great bullshit meter. Are you doing this for yourself or are you doing this because society tells you it’s cool? Are you creating your own path or are you drinking the Kool-Aid? Let’s get real. Happiness might be right around the corner if you check in with your motives.

Can you identify one of your core desired feelings? Is there a major life goal that you have? Shoot me an email and let me know what they are. Lara@LaraBuelow.com

Sunny morning bicycle rides to work make me feel grateful and relaxed.

Sunny morning bicycle rides to work make me feel grateful and relaxed.

Happy Birthday Me

A card from my Mom...

A card from my Mom…

It’s my birthday!

Surfing with Maria

Surfing with Maria

Yesterday I celebrated by going surfing at Pacifica with my good friend Maria, hitting a silent disco at Ocean Beach, and then having an amazing meal with my family.

Silent Disco at Ocean Beach

Silent Disco at Ocean Beach

I realized last night that I feel a lot of pressure to write a big beautiful post for today. However, I have a birthday ritual that needs to be honored. I am going to Santa Cruz for a run on the beach and then a swim/surf session in the ocean. So, today I am gifting myself this simple post.

A few things are on the list for this year of life: keep writing/blogging regularly, go surfing, travel to Germany, purge your crap, and visit friends.

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

If you are reading this: I would love to hear from you. I have been hesitant to reach out and ask for feedback (scared). I’ve been writing for one year now and it’s time to face some blogging fears. I am always grateful to receive feedback and your thoughts.  For my birthday, I am wishing to hear from anyone and everyone who reads this – tell me about what your hopes and fears are for the rest of 2013 or about your favorite color or a few things on your bucket list. I appreciate you and I’m excited to hear what you have to say.  Send it here: Lara@LaraBuelow.com

Apparently I am going to learn how to play the Ukulele this year.

Apparently I am going to learn how to play the Ukulele this year.

27×27: The End

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Looking at my goal list for the past year, I am most proud of 2 things. The first is that I committed to blogging each of my goals and this exercise made me realize that something I really enjoy is the writing itself. It feels satisfying that I have embraced the writing process and stuck with it over the last twelve months. Especially to simply relish the act of writing, without judging the end product. The second thing I am proud of this year is that I made several huge changes in my life and am still working hard to create the life I want to live. If that’s too vague for you: I am so happy that I moved to San Francisco and have been able to find rewarding work. I am incredibly grateful to be at San Francisco CrossFit and Suppenküche, two companies where I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my life.

SFCF made some big changes this year, too: Moving indoors, out of the rain.

SFCF made some big changes this year, too: Moving indoors, out of the rain.

These two things also translate into what I am most grateful over the last year. I am grateful for all the love and support I got from my family and friends. I am grateful for the people who offered me work and flexibility in my schedule, coworkers who helped me out, and both the constructive and positive feedback I’ve received from people in different areas of my life. I also appreciate California Sunshine, the ability to take vacations in far off places, and the wild adventurous opportunities that present themselves to me.

On Monday, I will turn 27 and my 27×27 year will be complete. Friends have been asking what 28×28 will look like, but I can’t say it looks very appealing. It isn’t edgy enough. It’s putting too many items on a list, it’s too arbitrary. I need something with a bit more gusto. I want an divine list, not one that induces guilt over an unchecked box. I thought about beginning a 3×30 or 30×30 project, as it’s dawning on me that a decade benchmark is approaching. It’s still in the cards. However, in an effort to distance myself from numbers and quantifying everything, I would like to experiment with living the next year in a quality-inspired manner.

California Sunshine

California Sunshine

So I am crafting a plan for living my next year of life using the Desire Map. I will use my core desired feelings as my compass and my 12 commandments as my guiding constitution. THIS SOUNDS SO CORNY. Cue Phil Collins, because that’s my JAM. Hopefully over the next 12 months I will be able to communicate all of this in a way that sounds more hardcore and less “floofy”. That’s the (non) word that comes to mind. But right now it’s all I’ve got.

Fear Less. Love More.

Fear Less. Love More.

Showing Up: Burning Man 2013

Road Trip: Highway 447

Road Trip: Highway 447

During my week of vacation this summer I went to Burning Man (BM). I was on the fence about it for a long time. Similar to last year, I waited until the last minute to get a ticket. However, like last year, it was no problem and all the puzzle pieces seemed to naturally fall into place. Even after getting my ticket I waffled about whether or not I should go. Burning Man is a time and place where you get little sleep, there’s a million things to do, it’s hot and dusty, and the extremeness can be overwhelming and exhausting. Perhaps, I thought, it would be better to have a stay-cation and rest?

A friend of mine who I spent a lot of time with at BM 2012 called me on the phone. We had discussed camping together this year and were trying to coordinate plans. Her and her boyfriend had purchased a cheap car and had gone on a camping trip by the Yuba River. On the phone she explained that the car was more or less dead and it wouldn’t make the journey. No problem, I assured her, I would take them. And just like that I had committed to Burning Man 2013.

The Groc-Out. Fun times were had by all.

The Groc-Out. Fun times were had by all.

Panicking slightly that I had offered to be their ride, I told her that I was more than happy to make the drive out to Black Rock City with them. I was pumped to camp with them, too, but I wanted some level of independence and flexibility. I didn’t want them to depend on me for a ride home in case I freaked out and left early. I had been looking forward to this vacation for a long time and I wanted the autonomy to do what I liked when I felt like it. The last thing I wanted was to feel guilty for abandoning my friends in the middle of the desert. Luckily for me, my friends are badasses who have no issues making shit happen.

So that was that. I was going to BM, for better or for worse. The thrill of the trip sank in and kept me up at night. I only managed to pack the day before I planned to leave, stuffing rolled socks and lacy underwear into plastic bags, hoping that less was more. Last year I was with an organized camp, whereas this time it would only be the three of us and I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out.

Even though I now had arranged to camp with my two friends, I felt as though I should approach the event as though I was going it alone. I did not want to rely on them as a couple for company and I definitely did not want to resent them for that either. I also wanted to mentally prepare myself for the tsunami of FOMO (fear of missing out). I desperately wanted to grant myself permission to do BM at my own pace with the least amount of comparison or pressure possible. I had been mulling this over for weeks and had no idea how I would feel once I arrived on the playa. It almost kept me from going, but the adventure was set in motion and the excitement was mounting. I was grateful to have friends as company and build a camp with and pleased that I was freewheeling.

After a 6am departure from Davis, CA and 7 hours of waiting, we made it through the long dusty lines and began looking for a spot to set up our tents. It took a while, but with some patience we found people who welcomed us with open arms. We were very limited in our supplies and incredibly under prepared compared to our neighbors. I felt like a gutter punk kid who was going to sleep in the dust all week choking on gas fumes while our fancy neighbors ran their generator next to my cheap tent. But it didn’t matter. I took pride in the simplicity of it all.

The line outside the gate.

The line outside the gate.

Despite all the back and forth, the worry of being unprepared, and insecurities surrounding loneliness, it was blissful to spend a week on the playa. I take pride in my ability to see the value of showing up and being present in situations, even when it is difficult and challenging. This is also how I ended up doing CrossFit. I often tell myself, when I meet resistance in attending a new class or event, that all I have to do is go – I don’t have to excel or do anything crazy, I don’t have to dance or make a new friend. As long as I bring my body and smile once, that can be enough.

So rather than staying in the bay area for a week and hiding out at my parents house to recharge, I committed to going to BM. I knew that I would regret it if I did not attend and I also knew that ultimately, the option of a good party and friends would be more valuable to me than spending 7 days alone in Palo Alto. All of my last minute decisions lead me to an “Oops, I did it again” moment, where I realized that I felt limited in my ability to contribute at BM and that may cause me to treat it more as an experience than a participatory community(!?) What I am saying is, that while I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to do BM, it relies heavily on people who whole-heartedly care about the city and build it from scratch. Then they return it to the same state the desert was in before we were there. That’s a shit ton of work.

Not only that, the culture of BM is maintained by those who are committed to practicing open mindedness and gifting. Approaching others in the spirit of non-expectation is no small feat and requires vigilance. As an organization, there are people working year round on creating this bedazzling parallel universe and I do not take it for granted. For this reason, I would like to acknowledge that there are endless opportunities to contribute to BM as a place, an event, and as a community. While I set multiple intentions for myself this year, they were very personal in dealing with my own emotions. I am planting the seed that the next time I go to BM, I would like to contribute more towards the experience as a whole and to a group at large. In this way, I am contemplating the core principles of the event and meditating on my own ability to shape experiences for myself and others.

After a weeks vacation in the desert, I have come back refreshed. I am satisfied to say that, despite the harsh conditions, I am rested and healthy. I am grateful for the art, the music, and the friends I bonded with. With my birthday only 2 weeks away, I’m excited for new writing material and bringing a fresh perspective to another year of life.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

How You Know It’s Good

New favorite colors makes me go "ZING!"

New favorite color makes me go “ZING!”

How do you know when you’ve got something good?

You know when you’ve got something good when you miss it, your body craves it, and when you can feel it nourishing your soul. It’s a thick syrup of satisfaction. It’s the complete exhaustion of a raging dance party, a 4am ski tour, or completing a century ride. You’ve got something good when pride radiates out of you like a supernova and buzzing electric energy keeps you up at night.

However, it isn’t always that easy or obvious to recognize. There are a million and one messages out there in the world telling you what you should want and why. Sometimes we get confused; are we chasing something because we know it’s good or because someone else said so? It’s challenging to tune out all the noise and check in with yourself to see where you really stand.

I know what's going on here and it still trips me up.

I know what’s going on here and it still trips me up.

And what does nourishing your soul mean anyway? There is nourishment that comes in the form of wholesome Fun Type A: hanging out and talking shit with your buddies or going for a stroll. There is also soul nourishment that comes in the form of Fun Type B: writing at 5:30am, prying your eyeballs open and leaking coffee down the front of your sleepy shirt, rappelling down a rock face even though you feel like you might shit your pants, or giving a speech in front of 100 people. Recognizing soul-fertilizing moments can be intuitive and easy or hard and mysterious. Sometimes you just know. You can feel it straight in your gut, even when an activity is a strenuous pain in the ass, yet you soak it all in because you are pumped for the reward that awaits.

Then there are times you aren’t so sure. Maybe you’ve begun taking things for granted or you are tired and overworked. Sometimes I sit and think to myself “what would my life be like if I didn’t hold on to this idea that I have to write? Or set goals?” In the wake of all other daily activities, I wonder if I am adding to my own stress or pursuing a healthy passion. There is always a pregnant pause in the moments following my contemplation of this idea.

I feel like I know I have found something worthwhile when there seems to be no other way and I would otherwise be leading an entirely different life. Even though there is no clearly defined path, I can’t help but try and forge one in order to continue exploring this thing. In my case, writing is a perfect example.

There are mornings where I sit blurry eyed and half asleep (much like this morning) and ask myself “why am I doing this?” I have likely gone to bed after my roommates and I am up well before. The seasons are changing, it’s still dark outside, and I would happily catch up on sleep and recover from my best friend’s wedding this past weekend. Yet, the alarm has gone off, and hot tea in hand, I know that deep satisfaction is on the other side of this writing hurdle.

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Without a dedicated writing practice, I would sleep in and have a shorter list of things to do. I wouldn’t worry about Mondays and Wednesdays and not having anything to post. I wouldn’t have to collect photos or worry about editing them. Without writing, I would have less anxiety based on posting my thoughts online and the fear of looking stupid.

Yet… I do it anyway. My birthday looms of the horizon and it will be my one year anniversary of starting It’s All in the Blanket. Without this blog, I would not receive feedback from several of you about goals and aspirations. Without this writing practice, I would not be as challenged intellectually or experience the swells of inspiration to continue striving for more in my life. I have connected with so many creatives, authors, entrepreneurs, and active community members through my work to create these posts that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You know you’ve got something good when you look back at all the blood, sweat, and tears and every sensation tells you it’s worth it. You know it’s great when it makes you laugh, dance, and sing that you would do it all over again.

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Why I am Unsuccessful

Take me as I am!

Take me as I am!

Allow me to put my cards on the table. I never signed up for the Get It Done in 30 challenge. I thought I did, so it wasn’t a complete lie, but it didn’t happen. I was under the impression that I had signed up for their trial run and that I would be part of an experimental group. Well, that was not the case. I realized that I had signed up for notifications and that trials had already happened. I decided that I did not want to pay the $97 or however many dollars it was to participate for August. “Go it alone!” I said. Again. I can tell you right now, I am failing miserably. I doubt I have lost a single pound (probably gained a few after the drinking this weekend), but the lack of a scale and benchmarks are clear signs that I’m not managing or measuring anything! I’ve had several intense conversations about weight and the psychology behind our bodies, but we all know that talk doesn’t make shit happen. I told myself that I would be strict Paleo this month. Can you hear me laughing? If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how much I love to quote Stevo: “We are all Paleo, BUT…” I’m a big butt. I have had my Paleo days this month, but it’s been a pretty weak attempt. The Get It Done in 30 is a great idea because it sets you up with one focus and a support buddy. Trying to accomplish a goal motivated largely by guilt and shame, and accomplish it alone, seems foolish. Fail. Epic fail.

Stevo's Nutrition Talk at San Francisco CrossFit.

Stevo’s Nutrition Talk at San Francisco CrossFit.

So far, I’ve been unsuccessful because I lied, I didn’t do what I said I would, I didn’t ask for support, and I didn’t measure anything.

This weekend, I watched a video on Marie Farleo’s blog. It is an interview with Steven Pressfield of Turning Pro. The take away is fairly simple, if you are passionate about something, treat it as though you are a professional. If you are serious about something and are committed to improving yourself in that arena then treat it with the same amount of respect and dedication you would your career. The example the author uses is a friend who was determined to become a better golf player. Apparently, she was truly awful. Instead of giving up, she bought herself a nice golf outfit, fancy shoes, some golf clubs and scheduled regular lessons. Dedicated to the cause, she announced that she was going to treat golf as though she were a professional. With consistent practice she worked her way to becoming a skilled golfer.

Yea, pick that shit up, Yo.

Yea, pick that shit up, Yo.

I would like to start applying this mindset more thoroughly to areas in my own life. It’s a process and I like the idea of growing into this attitude. Specifically, I feel that this has been happening naturally in regards to my writing. Since last September, I have become more dedicated to writing posts at specific times and have treated it as homework and a scheduled activity rather than something that will happen whenever. I even invested in a new computer earlier this year. I have spent many mornings getting up at 5:30am to make sure that I have at least 20 minutes of writing time before going to work. I’ve experimented with posting to this blog once or twice a week. I’ve researched different blog planning tools and have organized writing files on Google Drive. I am learning about social media and blog management tools. On top of that, I am receiving regular emails from some of my favorite blogs and podcasts to keep me in the loop of what is happening in the blogging world. I am hoping that by writing regularly and creating a consistent posting schedule, I will step more into the professional mindset of being a writer.

I tend to see the glass half full, however, I am using this post to illustrate how to recognize failure or where you are falling short and not give up entirely. I have been unsuccessful in behaving like a pro in regards to my blog by not posting yesterday (Monday). For August I told myself I would post twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays. Yesterday came and went. My excuse? I am exhausted. I spent Sunday in Ukiah with some friends after their wedding. This involved going to bed at 1am followed by a 5am wake up time and a 3 hour drive. After work I could barely think straight, so I crawled into bed and passed out at 8. Then I woke up at 2am to pee and haven’t been able to fall back asleep since. FAIL. So here I am, trying to catch up on writing and post some shit before another day passes and I feel even worse. Perhaps the early wake up is a blessing in disguise? Nothing like the wee hours of the morning to get things done.

Leonard Lake Reserve

Leonard Lake Reserve

If I had of acted like a pro, I would have gotten myself to a cafe with free wifi yesterday evening and posted to the blog, come hell or high water. In my mind, professionals don’t dwell on “I don’t feel like it” for very long. I am honestly OK with all the choices I made this weekend, despite exhaustion and crabbiness. I want to be real with myself and recognize where and when I succeed versus when I don’t. There are several goals now that I am certain will not be accomplished by my birthday. I would like to think that opens up the opportunity to focus on one thing and hopefully that one thing makes me feel awesome. Today, that one thing is writing this and publishing it right here.

Why I am Unsuccessful

Why I am Unsuccessful: Early Morning Session

Pick One Thing: August 2013

Rock and Roll Baby: Good Mail Day @DKNGstudios

Rock and Roll Baby: Good Mail Day @DKNGstudios

Writing is going absolutely terrible this week. I blame the lack of sleep. I arrived back in San Francisco from LA (CrossFit Games 2013) at 4:30AM after driving through the night. It completely screwed my sleep schedule and has left me a little cross-eyed. That being said, it’s the lack of planning and commitment on my end that is really holding me back. I have written multiple paragraphs about the definition of strength (somewhat in line with the theme of the Games), but can’t bring myself to post it. It feels like trying on a dress that doesn’t fit right and not wanting to go into the hallway of the dressing room to look in the mirror. I hate that feeling.

But where did this blog start anyway? I am defaulting to writing about the goals that I have left before my birthday, in order to sort out where I need to focus in the next 60 days. Though I may not have written about each specifically, it has become a goal of mine to write more consistently and publish these rants and raves as a way of getting my voice out into the world. So with 60 days left, I have a list of 8 things that are important to me that I am going to attempt to accomplish:

  1. Visit Friends in WA

  2. Go Surfing

  3. Time my Handstand

  4. Get a massage.

  5. Take a Vacation.

  6. Lose 10 lbs. Explore your ideal weight.

  7. Purge your Crap.

  8. Blog your 27 X 27.

I am a strong believer in the rule of 1. I should pick 1 thing to focus on at a time. That’s it. If I choose more than one thing, my rate of success will plummet drastically. The beauty of a few of these things is that if I attempt it once, I can cross it off the list: get a massage, go surfing, and time my handstand. The other items take more planning and daily practice. As I mentioned in my last post, this August I am focusing on my diet to lose weight. For support in accomplishing this goal, I have signed up for the Get It Done In 30 Challenge with Maneesh Sethi and James Swanick and I am planning a Paleo Challenge with a friend at San Francisco CrossFit (interested? Details coming soon)!

Though I could easily write on and on about all the components of this goal and the others, I’m leaving it at that. Focus. Simplicity. August: Diet/lose weight. If more happens, awesome, if not, c’est la vie. Tomorrow is August 1st and I am already overwhelmed. August 2013, here we go.

Ready or not, sucker.

Ready or not, sucker.

Own Up, Buttercup.

Dirt Roads in Taos

Dirt Roads in Taos

We were making the long drive from Taos to Santa Fe. Owen was driving me to the airport. After 3 months living in New Mexico, I was jetting back to San Francisco for a job interview. We pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a high end grocery store. Stepping out of the car, the blinding sunshine made me squint. The automatic doors opened in front of us and we flip flopped into the air conditioned space. Owen and I wandered the aisles, distracted by our own banter. He even began relaying another story about his Grandma, which I knew at this point, always made him emotional. This is something I loved about Owen. We stood in front of refrigerators filled with milk as Owen reminisced about his sweet Grandmother and how she raised him, tears welling up in his eyes, but keeping a neutral face. There we stood, precious, love-soaked tears and a moment long-gone recalled under florescent lights on top of linoleum. I hugged and kissed him then before taking his hand as we continued on our stroll.

I was seeking something sweet. I was craving a chocolate filled croissant or raspberry muffin. Some delicious, buttery baked-good to put in my belly. Perhaps I was trying to fill the void in my gut, the one that felt that everything created over the last 3 months was coming to an end. The space somewhere between my stomach and my diaphragm that knew better than my brain whether it was excited or scared, but I couldn’t tell the difference. I wanted something warm and comforting in that space. Fill the void, fill the void, give me something. Owen and I had discussed, at length, the ultimate termination of our relationship – or the fact that commitment and definition did not exist between us. The vast expanse seemed to swell. But it was all an illusion, an interpretation to which I was experiencing an emotional response. Ah, sweet human existence. And here we were, spending some of our last intimate moments together at a grocery store somewhere in the middle of New Mexico.

Studio Earthship after a snow storm. October 2011.

Studio Earthship after a snow dusting. October 2011.

Owen was obsessed with CrossFit. He showed me videos of Miranda and other CrossFit babes, he talked to me about nutrition and Paleo, and gave me workouts to do. He showed me burpees, and timed us as we raced to 100 on his cool, mud-tile floor. Owen loved CrossFit and shared it with everyone around him. In his small Earthship studio he had set up a pull-up rig and weightlifting station. He would wrangle people to come over and program a WOD for them. We would do sit-ups and pull-ups inside, then bound out the door to run through the desert, leaping over prickly bushes and side stepping rocks.

I remember one time Owen even did this barefoot. We were working out with a heavy set friend of his who was visiting from Guatemala. Marco, a big strong bear of a man, who let his beer belly grow along with his beard. I outpaced him on the burprees and now we all jogged alongside each other over the cracked earth out on the mesa. As Owen practically hovered over the earth like a gazelle, I focused on regulating my breathing, and Marco thundered forward beside me. Owen put us both to shame with no shoes, gracefully springing over the bramble and natural debris. Marco undoubtedly felt competitive, and attempting his own launch over a bush, caught his foot and took a nose dive into the ground. “Are you OK!?” I asked, “Yea, you hurt Buddy?” said Owen. Marco scrambled up and dusted himself off. “Only my dignity” he replied and we all howled as we plodded onwards.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

At the store we contemplated snacks for the remainder of our ride. I expressed interest in something glutenous and sugary, while Paul held a juice in his hand. He criticized my non-paleo choice and I promptly got upset and walked away. Jumping into the air, his skinny limbs pursued me. “I’m sorry! What did I say!? I’m just so excited about making healthy choices!!!” He practically yelled. Despite my upset, I laugh cried at this declaration. It was hard to hold anything against him in this moment, because I knew it was true. Owen was simply stoked about making healthy choices, God Damnit.

I often think of this story and think about the honesty behind Owen’s statement: I’m excited about making healthy choices. This is the place that change comes from. You want to lose weight? You want to get up earlier? You want to run a race? You want to write a book? Oh yea? Prove it.

How badly do you want it? Do you really want it or do you just dream about it materializing in front of you? As you train yourself to get excited about making the choices that will actually get you one step closer to your goal, that’s when change begins. The challenge and the beauty is that you don’t have to be excited about those choices right away, but if you want it bad enough, you can learn it. As I sat down to write today, I was not motivated to write about my experience in New Mexico with Owen. I was inspired to tell the story and knew I was because it’s the only thing that occurred to me when I asked myself “If I could write about anything today, what would it be?” Resistance stared back at me. “Just start, Bitch” is what I said to her.

Click-clacking away and 20 minutes later I had almost completed the story. The timer went off on my phone, but I wasn’t finished! Gah! I turned the alarm off and continued writing, determined to get to this point. This point, right here, where I tell you that it’s up to us. Only we ever make ourselves obese, ignorant, and mean. Own up, Buttercup. You are more powerful than you believe.

Sunset NM.

Sunset NM.

Sneak Peek

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You have done it before and you will do it again.

What the hell am I talking about? Success. You’ve been successful before in your lifetime, if you’ve made it this far. Maybe you would consider that your only win, but either way, it’s something. And you will be successful again. Have you heard that lately? It feels oddly good to say it: You WILL be successful again. The purpose of this post is to review the context of some of my goals to see where I have been successful so we can recreate that context down the line.

I have officially completed many of my 27 x 27 goals. 17 to be exact. There is a sense of completion, of follow through, a feeling of “done-ness” with these items. It is immensely satisfying to review it and say “Yea, I did that!” (High Five). Check. Goal setting builds a system for resolution and habit creation by breaking a larger value into measurable and attainable steps. Stevo, the sport psychologists’ mantra echoes in my ears: “Have the courage to start small”. Hell yes. One step at a time, next thing you know, you’re holding a handstand, kicking it at your new job, and attending the CrossFit games for free.