Friday, May 29, 2009

Serendipity

Biologist Sir Alexander Fleming was researching a strain of bacteria before he went on holiday in 1928. Upon his return he noticed that he left out a glass culture dish and it had become contaminated with a fungus, so he threw it away. Later, Sir Alexander Fleming noticed that the bacteria he had been studying was unable to grow in the area surrounding the fungal mold. This is now known as penicillin.

In 1945 Percy Spencer, and American engineer, was doing work on early radar systems involving magnetrons. While standing near the functioning magnetron, Percy Spencer noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket began to melt. This led to the creation of the microwave oven.

On a hot day at the 1904 World’s Fair, ice cream was especially popular with the people in attendance. At this time, ice cream was served on a dish, and the vendor was running out of dishes. A neighboring stall selling wafer thin waffles from Persia (called Zalabia) was not particularly doing good business, so the ice cream vendor asked if the Zalabia maker could roll his waffles into cones so that he could place the ice cream in it. Thus the ice cream cone was created.

Serendipity, the accidental discovery of something useful, surrounds us all the time but is rarely noticed because we are too busy looking at our target and forget our surroundings.

Attentional focus runs in width and direction, but because the human experience primarily focuses on the directional aspect, we lose half of our vision purely by neglect. Just looking forward or backwards does not lend itself to serendipity unless we run right into it, or we notice that we have passed it by and must reverse our course. Yes, we can have a serendipitous moment focusing on a singular plane, but just imagine what we are missing by not expanding our vision.

It isn’t until we are able to create width to our vision that we will ever be able to see the opportunity that is outside of our unilateral focus. We live in a multi dimensional world yet create a two dimensional attention span of front to back. In doing so, more life passes us by than we actually allow ourselves to live.

In order to create serendipity, we must allow ourselves to discover something fortunate when looking for something entirely different. This means that we must be willing to notice our surroundings as much as we are willing to keep our eye on the prize. It is important to know that the prize many times is not what we think it is, it is what we make it. Noticing opportunity and then acting on it might change what we originally decided to strive for, but can also serendipitously enhance our lives more than the original plan.

Teflon, bioelectricity, X-rays, and the Slinky are all creations of people being aware of more than just the task at hand. Your next best self is out there as well, as long as you are able to get your eyes of the mechanics of what you are doing and notice the melting chocolate bar in your pocket.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Momar Adventure Race 2009


Thanks to Gary Robins for his race report.

I've always said that you learn something new about yourself as a person, and as a racer, with each and every event you attend and attempt. 

This past weekend's Squamish Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race hammered home that point for me on a whole new level.

I hadn't touched a mtn bike since the previous MOMAR, on Sept 27th 2008 in Cumberland. Unfortunately I no longer own a mtn bike and it was not until 2pm on Friday, just 19hr before the race was to begin, that I managed to solidify my ride. Kim Steed, ofSteed Cycles is my personal hero! Not only was I rocking out a sweet Santa Cruz ride, but it was painted in the hot green Team Steed colors...I almost looked like I new what I was doing!

As I lined up on the starting line at five minutes to nine I was surprised to see that not a single racer had taken advantage of the ability not to carry a fully loaded pack along with them on the first 4km running stage. Todd and I started doing this a few seasons ago. I had all the mandatory gear stuffed into the rear pockets of my biking jersey. The only two items of any 'bulk' were the extra long sleeve tech shirt, of which the Helly Hansen Mars Jacket packs up to nothing, and the minimum one liter water capacity, of which I actually had a two liter platypus bag rolled up and stuffed into my jersey. With under ninety seconds to go Bryan announced that you had to carry your climbing harness with you as well. I shot out of the starting area and sprinted back towards my bike and the rest of my gear! I quickly riffled through my backpack, grabbed the harness I had in a stuff sack, and made it back to the start just in time to hear the countdown...and we were off...

GAME ON!

I knew going into this race that the navigation would determine how I fared on the day. Everyone, including me, was wondering if I could actually win without my regular partner, and orienteering superstar, Todd Nowack. I was determined to prove that I could, but the reality of the last few months would catch up with me. I had fully intended to work on my nav skills by attending the weekly GVOC training sessions. Unfortunately that never materialized for me, and much like my biking, I had not touched a map since I handed it over to Todd at the last MOMAR in Cumberland.

I hammered out off the start, figuring that I needed to gain some sort of lead on the flagged section of the course to have any shot at holding people off through the O stage which was to come later. After looking over the course map for twenty minutes before the race I had just about every marked trail embedded in my brain and I also wanted to use this advantage by not allowing people to follow me if possible. Any intersection that someone behind me had to stop and reflect upon their map meant a few extra seconds for me in the long run. I should also mention that my first reaction while looking over the maps was...The Chief!...The Chief!...how in God's name did they get permits to utilize The Chief!!

I came in off the first 4km run in 19min and with a slight lead over Shane Ruljancich, who along with John Markez, and Bart Jarmula, were considered to be the favorites on the day. 

I had a quick transition and was out on the bike within seconds. As I climbed away from Alice Lake I could not help but feel that although I was riding well, I was most certainly lacking the high end cadence and pull through within my pedal stroke. I knew I would hold my own on the downhill technical singletrack terrain, especially since I lived in Squamish for three years and knew most of the trails inside out, but I did not question for a second that I would eventually be caught on the flatter, more rideable terrain. Sure enough, with only a few minutes to go until the Orienteering section, John Markez pulled up alongside of me, offered me his draft, and then slowly disappeared up the next hill.

Welcome To You Worst Nightmare...

I managed to close the gap and hit the transition area in sync with John. I was the first to switch out shoes and after looking at my map and thinking I had myself orientated, I proceeded to run up a forest service road. Thankfully for me, John decided to follow. After about four minutes of climbing I heard John's voice behind me,

"GARY! You sure you're going the right way here?"

"John, I am most certainly 100% positive that I am definitely-maybe not heading in the right direction right now!!"

As John proceeded to turn back, "We're heading South. We should be going North!"

I pulled out my compass, confirmed what John was telling me, cursed myself, and then barreled back down the way we had just come from. We hit the bikes at the same time again, now five minutes since we first arrived and right back where we had started from! There were numerous others who had obviously caught up to and now passed us, as was evidenced by the additional bikes now surrounding ours.

We headed off in the right direction and upon reaching the known area of the first checkpoint, John, myself, and Norm Thibault all spent well over two-three full minutes searching for the hidden flag and CP punch. Right after we found it and as I was referencing my map John looked at me,

"C'mon let's go!"
"I don't know where the hell I'm going yet!"
"Just follow me, we'll tackle it together."

I paused, thought about his very kind offer, and quickly remembered what I had promised myself just three days prior while out on a morning trail run. I told myself that I would absolutely refuse to follow any other racer through the navigation section. I wanted a true result. I wanted to know if I could indeed win a MOMAR by myself and without relying on someone else to do all the thinking for me. Orienteering is a MAJOR component of adventure racing. I had struggled with the thought that I was not a complete adventure racer and that I was simply a decently fast runner and biker who often tagged along for the ride. I looked back at John,

"Thanks John, but I can't. Get yer ass outta here, I'll figure this thing out."

And with that, my free ride disappeared into the forest again.

I managed to smoothly find my way to the following CP and my confidence slightly rose. As I headed off to snag my third CP however, it all went to shit. I simply misjudged a slight V in the trail, headed right when I should have veered left, and before I knew it time was evaporating out from under me. I could not fully place myself on the map and after minutes of struggling with this I started to back track. Shortly after doing this however Roger McLeod and Garth Campbell both came running towards and eventually past me. I stopped to reference my map, realized the error in my judgment and collected the CP just a few minutes later.

From here however it only continued to go sour for me. The masses were now attacking the O course and it was killing my confidence to see so many people now running ahead of me. I struggled to stay focused and within my own map, and again on the very next CP I took a trail just a bit too early and dropped another five minutes before realizing my mistake! 

I have the necessary navigation skill set. What I lack however is the ability to stay within my map and to recover quickly from incorrect decisions. The rest of the O course flip flopped between finding a CP and feeling good, and struggling to do so and feeling frustrated. By the time I finally collected the final CP and returned to grab my bike I knew I had dug myself a massive hole. The lead guys had all put close to 25min into me! I grabbed my bike with a tinge of anger, hopped on and just started hammering on the pedals for all I was worth. I was a good three plus minutes and a few km down the logging road before realizing that I was YET AGAIN, going the WRONG WAY!! I turned back, with my tail between my legs, and again started pounding on my pedals to at least get back to where I was over five minutes prior!

Eventually and finally, I was heading in the right direction again. By this time however there were a ton of racers in front of me. The trail was packed and I just kept calling 'on your left' and trying to be as polite about it as possible. I heard the exact same comment no fewer than a dozen times,

"What are you doing back here!?"
"Oh ya know, just taking the scenic route!"

Thankfully this section was a fairly large climb and I lucked out in a huge way as I managed to catch the lead people within this pack of riders just meters before they were to turn and descend the technical singletrack terrain that lay ahead. Having even one rider in front of me through here would have seriously impeded my ability to try and make up any ground on the lead racers. I was still uncertain as to EXACTLY where I stood in terms of time, as no one had a definitive time to throw at me. Shortly thereafter however, I can into a CP manned by two friends from Squamish.

"We were wondering where you were!"
"How far back am I?"
"Twenty fivvvv, six minutes."
"SHIT. Twenty six minutes!"
"Yup."
"Thanks, see ya!"

Are You Gonna Step Up, Or Step Aside?

As I departed this CP, which was very close to the half way point in the race, I was completely uncertain as to what I was going to do. I had very serious thoughts of simply shutting down the competitive side of things and enjoying the course for how spectacular it actually was. I was heading towards some of my favorite trails in all of Squamish, it was an incredible day with nothing but sunshine and warm temps. I was back in a town that I love and participating in a sport that I love and hold very dear to my heart. Maybe I could just cruise it on in from here and enjoy the day for how perfect it was. I had a legitimate excuse for being so far back. Everyone knew I sucked at nav and would be helpless without Todd by my side. There simply was not enough race course left to even attempt to get back in this thing. I had blown it and was heading for my worst MOMAR finish in over three years. 

The negative thoughts kept on coming, but I simply kept telling myself a few key things that I have learned through adventure racing over the years. You NEVER know what's going on ahead of you within an AR, and it is ABSOLUTELY never over until you find and cross that finish line. 

Just two CP's later, another two friends, with additional split times...

"Nineteen minutes behind fifth, twenty two minutes behind fourth."
"THANKS!!"

I had come to race, and I was going to do just that. I did not care how far back I was, I fully intended to get my ass back into this thing somehow. Maybe I could still catch third place? Maybe I could just 'win' a few stages and at least slightly redeem myself on the day? Either way, the decision had been made, I was going to destroy myself if I needed to. I was going to find a way.

From here I was onto some of Squamish's finest singletrack and admittedly I was totally shocked at how well I was handling it. Before The MOMAR a friend warned me against doing anything stupid and injuring myself and my chances at Western States in just over one months time.

His words to me,

"Dude, you haven't even been on a mountain bike in eight months...eight months! Don't do anything stupid or you'll end up in the hospital!"

It's Just Like Riding A Bicycle...

His warning flashed through my mind for all of 1/100th of a second. I was having WAY TOO MUCH FUN on the singletrack to even ponder what would happen if I messed it up now. I 'found my flow' and simply unleashed Kim Steed's bike upon the terrain below...it was small slice of heaven, and even now, three days out, I am still missing being on a mtn bike again!

As I was pushing myself through the next few sections of the course my legs started to cramp up on me in numerous different places. It originated in my adductors, hit my calves, and even my hamstrings, and arms were feeling it. I kept popping myThermolytes, pounding my 1200 and praying that my body would not crack on me now.

Again I had some major luck on my side while biking as I only seemed to catch up to people where there was ample room to pass them. Not once was I impeded by a rider in front of me!

The next trekking stage, up The Chief, was approaching fast, and I had zero idea of where I stood in terms of the overall pack. I just did not know if I had made up or lost time in the last hour of racing. All I knew was that I had not pushed that hard at any previous MOMAR race, and my body was starting to feel it. I had run out of fluids about thirty minutes before hitting the transition area of The Chief, and as I dropped my bike I made sure to spend an extra minute getting some liquids back into my body from the race provided water station.

I could now see Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island just ahead of me, and as strong as they are, I had no idea how high up they currently were within the overall pack. I still did not know what was going on ahead of me, and it took a hell of a lot of internal chit chat to convince myself that it was still worth while to push as hard as I possibly could.

I reached the top of 'The First Peak' on The Chief and could see Norm Thibault just ahead of me and heading towards the rappel site. I had finally caught a solo racer! I turned and ran down from the top of The Chief to the ropes section and hit it in unison with Norm.

An EPIC Rappel!

I normally have some apprehension with any kind of ropes work, and anything involving heights in general, but what I heard next allowed me to overcome this without so much as a fraction of a thought.

"You guys are the third and fourth place racers."
"WHAT!"

There was no time to think about how all this had all transpired, I simply strapped in and practically jumped off the rappel site! My bike gloves were burning my hands as I tried to get down the 165 foot rope as fast as possible. I hit the bottom first...now in third place overall!! (I would later learn that two racers ahead of me ended up crashing out and seriously hurting themselves. Unfortunately Norm Hann and John Markez both had to go to the hospital, but thankfully by the sounds of things they will both be back on their bikes in no time) 

From here there was an additional cool feature where we had to scramble up a small rock face, while again roped in, and then use our safety line around a slightly exposed corner. The rappel site was pretty epic and ranked right up there as one of the best I've seen in an adventure race, most certainly tops amongst any sprint a.r.!

From here it was back onto the main trail heading back down The Chief. I know this trail intimately as I used to run it on my lunch breaks from North Shore Athletics when we had a store in Squamish. I pushed hard and only increased the pace when I came across other racers hiking up towards me,

"You're less than a minute behind the next guy! Go get him!"

Again I was in total and utter shock at hearing this and I pushed myself very near my breaking point. As I approached the last half of the descent my body started to go a bit numb and I had the very real thought process that I was on the verge of passing out. The timing of my footsteps became more of an effort and I thought to myself,

"There are lots of hikers out here, so I should be fine if I black out...just be sure not to do it on a steeper section of the trail Gary!"

I spotted the final chunk of rock at the very base of The Chief, and my only thought was,

"Is that the bottom? REALLY? How?"

I truly had no recollection of the bottom third portion of the descent, and I was pretty damn happy that it was now over!

I just Want To Lay Down & Take A Nap!

I managed a slight run back into the T.A. and again concentrated on getting some fluids back into my body. I had buy one gel remaining, and after sucking it back I perked up ever so slightly. 

The T.A. crew to me,
"He just left one minute ago. You can catch him!"


I was just trying to hold on and over the final 25min biking section of the course I altered between trying to catch Shane, and shoulder checking for Norm.


After a fun little river crossing I could see Shane just up ahead. His lead was now down to just seconds, yet he continued to disappear around each successive corner.

Unfortunately for Shane, and somewhat fortunately for me, as I came into the final small climb of the race, Shane was standing next to his bike and fiddling with his chain. All I could say as I passed him was,
"HA HA!"
Just kidding...I looked over at him and just said,
"That's not fair. I'm sorry."

I was. I thought I could have caught Shane before the line, and it's unfortunate that a mechanical issue took that slight battle away from us. HOWEVER, I now found myself in second place overall!! With under ten minutes of riding left to go I put my head down and pushed for the line with all that I was worth...past 'The Inn On The Water', under the highway, onto Logger's Lane, I could hear M.C. Dave Norona just down the street...one final shoulder check...holy crap...I DID IT...I DID IT...I dropped my bike and sprinted across the line, cramping up almost instantly...SECOND PLACE OVERALL!!! SECOND FREAKING PLACE!!

Honestly I find myself more proud of this second then of most of the first place finishes I've been a part of over the last few years. Todd and I have done some wonderful things together, and we've shared in some pretty fun battles...but this one stands alone. I was on the very verge of completely quitting on myself out there. I messed up in a big way during the orienteering course, but I stood by my own personal promise and struggled through my inadequacies on the course. I am truly amazed that I was able to salvage a result out of this race. Coming down The Chief...I've never been there before, that deep into my physical reserves I mean, that was a whole other zone that I have not visited before. Obviously I don't want to go much deeper than that, but to expand my personal limits, even ever so slightly beyond where the were before, is more than I ever could have hoped to accomplish in this past weekends MOMAR race.

I know it's just a five dollar medal that I get to keep...but honestly, it means so much more than that to me. I'm not gonna get cheesy here, but I will end with this. You just never know. You have no idea how you will handle the greatest challenges in your life until they are thrown in your face. Don't back down, don't turn and run...well unless you're in an adventure race...or if you're being faced by a rabid three legged dog, then you should run...four legs and you haven't a chance...I guess all I'm trying to say is that you just never know. You truly have no idea until you lay it all out there. Don't be afraid to do that from time to time, you may just surprise yourself in the end!

Special thanks to all THE MOMAR staff and vollunteers for putting on yet another INCREDIBLE event. The rappel was truly EPIC, and the course was amazing. The after party, as always, was a ton of fun...but I'm gonna throw this out there, too many people left way too early. Stick around and enjoy a single beer next time...you've definitely earned it!!
GR
P.S. IF you've made it this far, you deserve to see one of the funniest MOMAR pics from the last few years...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Reward (or Punishment) of Conditioning

Conditioning is defined as the process of modifying a person's behavior.
For athletes or recreational physical enthusiasts, physical conditioning refers to manipulating the variables of exercise (sets, repetitions, resistence, volume, frequency, type of exercise, etc) to achieve better performance.

There is also psycological or mental conditioning for athletes specific to their sport (ie visualization of wining a race, gaining more mental toughness and the ability to perform in front of thousands of fans, etc).

For human beings in general, we must be aware of the process of conditioning and how it works. First, a process is defined as either a) a series of events to produce a result, or b) a set of procedures to produce a product or outcome.

If we really consider these definitions, there are really two extremes or poles we could use to describe conditioning for people and what that might look like.

First, a process of modifying one's behaviour as it is dictated by a series of events. This definition connotates a lot of things happening over time that lead to a conclusion. It takes choice, action, and responsibility out of the hands of the person. This is a victim.

A victim, over time, encounters more and more adversity and they get better and better at singing their sad song and generating sympathy over situations they feel the world wronged them.

Psycologically speaking, the victim (unchallenged) learns to harden their beliefs and even validate themselves as a victim of circumstance who others should pity or even help out.

Physiologically speaking, being in a constant state of stress raises cortisol (human stress hormone) levels which leads to a decreased ability to burn body fat, and changes the body's sensativity to insulin making them a more likely candidate for diabetes. Furthermore, our nervous system, energetic system, and musculoskeletal systems all respond to the demands placed on them. The less active you are, the more muscle and bone atrophy that occurs as well as biochemical and energetic changes in the cells leading to less physical capacity and greater chance of metabolic syndrome, bone breaks, obesity, and a laundry list of other health risks. Stress, in fact, is the only common factor doctors have found among the top 5 causes of preventable disease in Canada.

The physiologic stress outcomes add more fuel to the fire ("why me, all the hardships in my life and now diabetes?"). This is not to say all diabetics are victims; farm from - it is just to demonstrate how people can make life harder for themselves by not taking personal responsibility for their choices and direction in life.

The other end of the spectrum would be defined by the user. Instead of 'a process of modifying one's behaviour as it is dictated by a series of events', a victorious person or champion would have a different definition. Maybe - "I am the sum of my choices" or "my life and my choices have led me here and now the rest is up to me".

Well, on a psycological level, achievement, empowering events, and giving back to the community or helping others all lead to a positive impact on self- worth, self-efficacy, and whether or not someone actually likes themselves.

Physiologically speaking, healthy endorphins released by philanthrpic or empowering activities have a reversal affect on aging, positive correlation with immunity, and even as close as we can gauge through research, a longer life span. Also, increased physical activity forces the body to become more conditioned for activity - increased lean mass and bonme density, more muscle helps burn more calories at rest, and decreased body fat.

Conditioning, for a human, can literally be the difference between a healthy, fit, attractive, optomistic, wealthy success story, and an overweight cautionary tale who people only remember with sadness for them.

Because the more we make a choice, positive or negative, the more our psyche is conditioned to mkake ssimilar choices in the future.

As such, you will either be rewarded, or punished, by your choices (consistently) over time. Make them count.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ski to Sea 2009





Ski to Sea started in 1911 with 14 participants. In 2009 we were able to stand at the starting line with 4oo teams of 7! What a great time we had and what a fun experience. You take 7 of your friends, draw out of a hat if you want to see who will cross country ski/downhill ski/run/cycle/canoe/mtn bike and kayak! the first person starts at Mount Baker and the last person finishes in downtown Bellingham, Washington.

 It started at 5am when we drove up the mountain to drop off the runner/road cyclist/cross country skier and runner. The weather was perfect and so was our team!  we were called 100% affective and it was the first time in this event for each team member. We didn't know what to expect but went with the flow! The only way to go!

We started out with the cross country skiing. 4 miles of steep ups and downs and tagged the downhill skier. Turns out not all downhill. Racers had to take off their skis and climb up before hitting the downhill part.

Once the fun was over on skis, the runner was next to go. They had to follow the road down the mountain with the peacefulness of having the road to themselves since they had closed the road to traffic.

What a good quad burner! Our runner Bill arrived at the next transition to tag on tami. She was the only one that really had a time frame for her section. She had set out a 2 hour time limit for herself.



What do you know!!!! 1:59 and 15 seconds. this was for sure a big highlight of the race, to see her so happy and on such a high from pushing herself outside of her comfort zone. Especially since she started from scratch after her car accident. We did not even know if she would be able to ride at the time.


The 2 canoe racers were ready to get down to business. The currant was just good enough to take them to the next stop a little faster than normal. At the end of the paddle The biker was waiting patiently and ready to go.

I was on the beach waiting for them and cheering every team that went by. We had to exchange the bracelet and it was great entertainment to see people trying to get the bracelet out of their packs and trying to look as good as they can when  shaken up by the tough mtn bike section they just finished.

The paddle was beautiful and of course with the sun shinning all day, it was a good time! The last step was to go as fast I you could and hit the big bell at the finish.

Hope to see you there next year!


Monday, May 25, 2009

It's not about them..

When embarking on new challenge, goal, making positive changes in your life, etc it’s important to have the support of those closest to you – friends, family, co-workers, etc. They should really WANT to see you succeed and accomplish what you set out to do. Cheer you on; help you out, offer advice, tips, etc. They should be happy for you. This is not only important but vital for your own success and happiness.

Too often though, the should be supporter will make it about them. Maybe it’s jealousy of seeing that person find a new ‘thing’, get fit, lose weight, finally get the confidence they haven’t had, etc. Well guess what – it’s not about them, it’s about YOU. You are the one making the changes, sacrifices, etc. YOU are the one who’s doing this for yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling guilty or bad for making the necessary changes in your life. It’s not about them. If you feel good doing it, and you feel it’s the right move – then it is and that’s all that counts.

It’s really too bad; because in making it about them, the other person takes the opportunity away to strengthen the relationship you have. And really, a true friend, or someone who does care legitimately about you – should really want to help you get to your goal. They should be happy for YOU, not selfish and making it all about them and what they are lacking.

What about when confronting someone from your past? Maybe a friend who didn’t treat you very well, or a family member – and you feel the need to get something off your chest. How often does it happen that the person on the other end listens to what you have to say and just acknowledges it? Most likely not, instead they blame, justify, make excuses, tell you that you’re blowing it out of proportion..etc, etc. Essentially making the situation about them. Guess what – again, it’s about YOU! The other person is going to react and be put off; but end of the day – that shouldn’t matter. If you’ve said your 2 cents, confronted what needed to be confronted, and left feeling lighter and better about yourself – then mission accomplished.

Basically; those in our life need to support our positive decisions; ALL of them. And if they don’t – that’s ok, it happens- but we can’t dwell on it or stop doing what we are doing. If you are doing what’s right for you at that time – keep on doing it, because it is all about YOU. And maybe find new friends, partners, etc. Bring people into your life who truly care about you, and get drop those that make it about them… at least until they realize selfish they actually are

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chaos

Chaos theory deals with very large complex systems in nature and its underlying theme is that within these systems there is order, but that order is chaotic and virtually unpredictable. The reason complex systems are hard to predict is because they are sensitive to changing conditions, and the smallest of changes can result in major effects, or chaos, in the overall system. This is part of the reason why your weather man is wrong so often as well as why your personal goals are disrupted so frequently.

Encapsulated within chaos theory is the butterfly effect. What the butterfly effect says is that small variations of the initial condition of a dynamic system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. Founded in the attempts to predict weather, the butterfly effect got its name because a meteorologist hinted that if this theory were correct “one flap of a butterfly’s wings can change the course of weather forever”.

Chaos theory and the butterfly effect relate quite well to human behavior as well. Considering that human existence is a very large and complex system that is not immune to the theory of science, we too have the ability to allow small variations in our condition to produce chaos within our systems. This chaos is sensitive to our emotional condition and is hard to predict, no matter how small the disruption.

What is important to remember when we are looking into human performance is that any action, no matter how insignificant, can and will affect everything within our environment. We are the same as the earth’s ecology in the respect that we both are networks based on interdependent relationships where our success is dependant on our shared communities as much as our shared communities are dependant on our success.

The beauty of human life is that unlike other complex systems, we as humans have enough control to change the outcome of our system. While our end results may be unpredictable, we can make the necessary changes to put ourselves in positions to succeed. While the flap of a butterfly’s wings may have the ability to change the course of the weather, we on the other hand can choose which way we would like to fly. Because of this our attitudes and intentions may not be predictors about where we will end up, but will put us on a path where we can see a potential outcome.

What this outcome can potentially become has much to do with our ability to recognize not just the path we are on, but what internal barriers we are putting in front of ourselves. In recognition of our personal barriers, we can then enlist the help of our shared community to assist in allowing us to succeed. There is not one of us who can achieve success by ourselves. We can shape the path we choose to follow through our goals, but without recognizing the need to enlist others into our system, we become susceptible the gentle push created by the flap of a butterfly wing. When this push is supported we generate positive power, yet if this push is unforeseen we encounter chaos.

No matter how much order we create in our lives we need to know that we will encounter chaos, it is unavoidable. The length of time we spend in a chaotic environment is not dependant on how strong the push is, it is dependant on our ability to regain control of ourselves and restore internal order.

Like it is said in chaos theory, we are sensitive to changing conditions. Unlike chaos theory, we have the ability to prevent small changes from resulting in major effects. If we can exert our internal will and enlist external assistance, then we can create order that will be less chaotic and more predictable, therefore more impactful and successful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Machu Picchu 2009 wow!



On May 3rd, our group of 9 individuals set off from Vancouver to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  We landed in Cusco after staying overnight in Lima. The altitude change was immediately noticeable (Cusco is 3400m above sea level). We were all a little shocked at how out of breath we were simply walking up a ramp in the airport. We spent the day in Cusco and discovered a city full of charm and character. Many buildings showed Incan foundation with the Spanish building right over top of them. We met our guide Virgilio that night for a briefing of the hike and what equipment would be needed.  He immediately put us at ease with his experience as a guide on this trip and his sense of humour. He went over the list of required gear and took the time to answer any questions we had. We were all in a panic to make sure that we didn’t go over our 6kg limit and spent the night packing duffel bags, weighing them and then repacking again.

                   We left Cusco the next day and went into the sacred valley where small farms were encapsulated with large beautiful mountains. We entered a textile village where Virgilio explained how the women make their goods. They would dye the wool using local insects and or plants, spin it and then weave it using looms in what seemed to be so effortless for them. We then visited the ruins of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo. They were incredible as we saw Incan construction first hand and up close. It is so meticulous and precise given the tools available to them at the time. It was incredible to climb up these mountainsides (The Incas had an affinity for stairs. Lots and lots of stairs) and view these long, narrow agricultural terraces which stretched all the way up the mountain. They were engineering feats and spectacular to witness. Virgilio was so knowledgeable and passionate about his Incan heritage that his enthusiasm was absolutely contagious. He was truly thrilled to share his all he knew with us.

                  We woke up early to make the drive the beginning of the Inca Trail at km 82. We met the porters briefly before they scooped up all of our duffels, placed them into larger bags along with the rest of what was needed for the hike: tents, sleeping bags, mats, food, cooking vessels, water purification vessels, dishes, cutlery, tarps, dining tent and fold up chairs. It was unbelievable what they could carry. The Andean men aren’t very big. Being 5’7’’ I was the same height or taller than them and they were carrying ½ their body weight in gear on their backs. The porters went to get weighed in while we showed our permits and passports at the gate. We finally began our trek and soon noticed that the porters carrying their gigantic bags on their back were passing us. They were in tiny rubber sandals and running over rocky inclines in altitude and passing us. We couldn’t believe it. We had running shoes, hiking poles and nothing weighing us down but a tiny day bag and we couldn’t keep up to them. One by one they passed us hurrying by so they can set up lunch before we get there. The hike was stunning and we were surrounded by cactuses growing prickly pears and trees yielding huge avocadoes. We made it to the lunch tent after 2 hours and we were surprised to find a dining tent set up and water basins outside so we could wash our hands. We came into the tent to find a table covered with a table cloth, little stools and our napkins folded origami-style. We ate the most delicious soup with garlic bread. We all assumed that was it and were ready to leave the table but they weren’t done. They brought out fresh trout grilled and wrapped around vegetables plated perfectly which was beyond delicious. We were so impressed by what the cook could create on the side of a trail in the middle of nowhere on a tiny Coleman stove. They had fresh water all ready for us and we were ready to finish the last or our 12km for that day. We arrived at our camp site which was overlooking a corn field. There were chickens everywhere and we would often have to wait for donkeys to pass before being able to take the trail to our toilet. Upon arriving to camp we were shocked to see our tents were set up with our bags lined up and wash basins ready.  Our “waiter” Oscar invited everyone to our dining tent for tea and a snack before having some free time before dinner. Virgilio would always come and sit with us to learn more about our lives and answer questions we had and ensure we were having a good time. We bundled up and went to bed as the temperature neared zero degrees.

                  I was woken up by Oscar on Day 2 saying “buenos dias senorita” sweetly outside my tent. I opened the zipper to find him waiting out there with tea and a basin of water to wash up in. The attentiveness to our group was unprecedented. After breakfast we all met in a circle to meet our 12 porters and cook. They ranged from 18-40 years old. They were all farmers but as this was the dry season and couldn’t farm until the rainy season they worked as porters to make extra money. They each explained what their responsibilities were and what they carried. It just reiterated to us how hard they worked. Yet, they always had a joy about them and were so lovely to us. Day 2 was the hardest day as it was uphill rock steps the whole way to dead woman’s pass at 4200m. It was tough and we needed many breaks but once again the porters just passed after we left a good hour before them. Summiting the pass was a fabulous feeling but it was raining and very windy at the top so we quickly started the steep decent to our second campsite through the jungle-like surroundings. The terrain was made of steep rock steps that were now slippery due to the rain. I couldn’t imagine doing it without the tread of my trail runners and help of my poles let alone just in sandals like the porters. But as before, we came to camp to find everything set up and the porters all around clapping for us as we entered.

                  Day 3 was the easiest day but there were a lot of tricky downhill portions that need thoughtful footing. The porters wanted to ensure that were had enough fuel to last us until lunch as this was our longest day and gave each of us a care package of snacks and a lollipop. There were several ruins along the way and Virgilio explained the significance of each one at length. His famous phrase was “Vamenos” which would leave us scurrying after him down the rocky steps. Once again we returned to camp after a long day to cheering porters. Our campsite was off a cliff and the view outside my tent was spectacular. This was our last night with the porters and they wanted to do something special for us. We had Jell-O for desert! How they made Jell-O on the side of a mountain is beyond me but they went that extra mile to give us a taste of a classic favourite from back home. 

                  We woke up at 4am on Day 4 to hike the last 2km in the dark to watch the sun rise over the Machu Picchu ruins. Before leaving we all thanked the porters for the phenomenal job they did. They allowed us to see a picturesque part of their country that would have been unattainable to us otherwise. It was our turn to clap for them and we did so with glowing gratitude.

Pictures do not describe the beauty of Machu Picchu nestled between the 2 mountains. Virgilio led us through every nook and cranny of the astrological learning site explaining the purpose of each building, the hypothesis behind the function of the ruins and the scientific research backing his points. It was an incredible experience.

                  The trip would have been good due to incredible archaeological sights and beauty of the country. What made the trip great was due to the hard work of the porters and our guide. It was their unbelievable drive and work ethic to beat us to every campsite while carrying all of our gear and ensure everything was set up with no detail overlooked. It was the little things from serving tea tent side, to the lotus folded napkins, to the round of applause upon entering camp to the Jell-O on the last night. Little things go a long way. Our guide was passionate and enthusiastic about his work. He was great at what he does. It was the ultimate service experience.

Martie Hirsch

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thoughts on Life, Self and Purpose


There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase 'to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy'. Collectively we refer to them as being happy or being the best we can be - an end we all strive for in life.

Most of us are given a choice of what we want to pursue in school knowing that the education we choose will better prepare us for the future. Often, these choices are based on money we want to earn and therefore it predicts our future careers. When we think of our future with respect to just money it makes sense to then choose curriculums that are practical in the sense of them fulfilling the purpose of getting a 'good job' with a 'decent salary'. For many, the education and careers we decide on becomes the means to an end with the end being a job that pays. Income alone is therefore not a means to an end because money cannot buy everything that makes us happy. Love and wisdom are two things that help fulfill us and both cannot be purchased.

Does not each and every one of us want to be the best we can be in this life? We know that it is not as simple as just being rewarded financially. Knowledge of oneself is one of the most important things we should have in order to become better people and ultimately closer to being fulfilled. Being our personal best is what we all want and it means looking at our own lives. The early philosopher Socrates once said that ‘the unexamined life is one not worth living.’ Whether you are a student choosing courses or a distinguished figure in business we can all look closer at who we are and what it is we are truly living for - that greatest good in life, the summum bonum. The sad reality is that many of us do not take an examined look into our own lives and instead settle for complacency without even knowing it. "We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present." -Thomas Edison

Do what others aren't doing and examine life. Do not become satisfied with thinking you know everything about yourself at any present time. Self introspect can be a lifetime process that makes us wise, one of many virtues that is an end we all desire. In life we have our individual careers but we also have a second career that we all share and that is being a human being. Perhaps next time we choose studies as a means to an end we should consider the liberal arts? They are practical in the sense that they improve our lives by showing us how to act and making us better people. People who examine their lives, who think about where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. No one has all the answers and no one’s life is free from trouble and strife but those who have some sense of where they belong in the Universe also have a context for understanding how all the elements of their life fit together leading to fulfillment. The following quote by Stephen R. Covey sums it up quite well.

“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase 'to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy'. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

what's your story?


what’s your story?

we all have a story. our story doesn’t have to be 'profound’ to be published, in fact it is little more than the recollections of thoughts & memories from as far back as we can remember until now.

we need to know our story, hence we need to pay attention to what / why & how we are writing it. we need to know it because is the basis from which we form thoughts and opinions that become the foundation for our behaviors. these behaviors govern (to a large extent) how we live out our lives.

it’s crucial to learn & know your story. not the story you inherited from your parents, guardian or other and certainly not the story from someone who may have advertently or inadvertently bestowed pain on you.

your story begins with an examination of the chapter you are currently writing. is it the same chapter you’ve written all your life or is it a different one? is it the chapter you have always aspired to write or is it the one you feel you have to write? are you able to write new chapters, or has your life become one big continuation of the many endless chapters that have come before you? if any of the aforementioned are ‘yes’, than it’s time to turn the page.

you turn the page by finishing off the chapter you are currently writing. if you are simply plagiarizing chapters from authors who have written before you, end the book before you are sentenced to the same incarceration they suffered. if you are simply unhappy with the direction & flow of the chapter, change it up. introduce a new character, add some unforeseen excitement, head towards the climax but don’t lull yourself and others into boredom by continuing to spew the same rhetoric you’ve always written.

start your story with purpose. who do you want to be, what do you want to do, how do you want to get there and who’s going to benefit as a result. make sure your story has defined chapters with a beginning, middle and end of each chapter. this will make for an interesting read [life] for you and ensures others stay captivated and want to remain a part of it.

share your story. with the people closest to you, those in it and those who you’d like to bring into it. don’t worry if they don’t like it…. it’s YOUR story. take responsibility for it’s contents. own it. live it and love it.

too many of us are not authoring our stories. these are not the stories we want to be writing and these are not the stories we want to be reading. let’s pick up the pen and paper and begin writing what we want to see / hear / do & teach.

because that my friends is a story worth reading every time!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Find the people who find the positives.

It's been an interesting (read: challenging) weekend, and that always helps drive home the lessons most hard-learned. That is, your fundamentals really show when you are faced with adversity.

It wasn't a terrible weekend by any stretch; no drama or tragedy - just learning what my parents had to go through with me. Our son is on day 5 of his diarrhea/ decimating his bedsheets at 3am/ not sleeping trend. This is obviously tough on my wife and I, but at these times it's very important to step outside our experiences.

Close friends of ours just had a miscarriage, and a few others can't conceive despite their best efforts. We live in a country where maternity leave is 12 months. We individually and collectively have friends who are parents of children older than Chase, who can offer support and advice from an experienced perspective.

While we go through a sleep deprived weekend, my parents live in town and can babysit, and I am very blessed through my employment and the opportunities and support it provides.

This blog, however, is not about me... it's about choice and it's about perspective.
It's about knowing that the universe doesn't revolve around you, and that other people may see how blessed you are even if you don't.

It's about choosing a positive and/ or proactive mentality in every situation you are faced with (or at least as often as consciously possibly as consistently as possible).

If you can do this in your own life- it makes you more supportive of others as well.
Those who achieve a lot in their lives have 2 types of people in the lives; those who genuinely support them and are happy for them, and those who doubt them, tell them they shouldn't continue their 'crazy pusuits', or that they're 'too busy', etc.

After all, if you limit your own potential with negative thought, how supportive could you be of someone else? It's easier to doubt someone else if you aren't seeking greatness yourself.

It's also easier to be great if you see and support the greatness in others and see the positive in every situation. That's our potential, after all- the collective of what we are able to make out of every situation life offers us combined with what situations we are able to generate for ourselves.

go get 'em today!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pandora's Box

In Greek Mythology there are two Titan brothers who acted as representatives of mankind, Epimetheus (meaning hindsight) and Prometheus (meaning foresight). Prometheus who was characterized as cleaver and Epimetheus as foolish, were inseparable twin sons of Iapetus.

These twins were responsible for distributing the traits among newly created animals. Epimetheus gave positive traits to all animals until it came to humans, and lacking foresight he could not find anything more to give. Rich in foresight, Prometheus bestowed upon Man the stature of the gods, which upset Zeus who in turn denied Man fire. With such great ability to think ahead, knowing that Man would need fire, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to Man. This crime was punished by Zeus having Prometheus strapped to a mountain top where an eagle ate his liver every day (as a Titan, Prometheus was practically immortal, so his liver grew back every day keeping him in constant pain).

As for Epimetheus, Zeus created Pandora, the first woman, knowing that Epimetheus would fall in love with her even though his twin told him to never accept gifts from an Olympian God. As a fool, Epimetheus did not listen to his cleaver brothers warning and married Pandora (the curious one) who was given a covered storage jar and told never to open it. Because of her curiosity, Pandora opened the jar therefore releasing all the misfortunes inside the jar on mankind only closing it quickly enough to keep hope within. Because of this, mankind always has hope in times of evil.

What is to learn from this mythological tale is that we cannot act on either foresight or hindsight alone without suffering severe consequences such as opening Pandora’s Box.

In only using hindsight we are constantly stuck in understanding after the fact with no ability to see where we can use the valuable knowledge we have gained from the past. Relying primarily on foresight, we are stuck continually looking ahead and never understanding our past, therefore making the same mistakes over and over again. With our inability to see forward while understanding history, or looking back without any knowledge of what can be in front of us we become susceptible to the many traps life has in store.

The end result is that all we are left with is hope, yet can not act on this hope and turn it into reality because we lack the balance between foresight and hindsight necessary to move forward thoughtfully and with purpose.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

whatever it is....



make big things happen for yourself, think about all the possibilities you have...


get some sand in your shoes by running in the desert

take a picture from your tent in Macchu Picchu

take your kids to hike the Grand Canyon in one day.



bring your bike on a float plane! 

do push ups on top of a mountain in Africa.

What ever it is you choose to do, pick something BIG that you have never done before! You won't regret it.
What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Blurry Mirror


If you have read swim upstream, or you have read, seen or heard anything else about leading yourself, you have heard the sage advice that you need to be able to "look in the mirror".

What does this mean?

Well, if we are willing - it means the ability to take a long, hard look at oneself.
Why am I here?
Why am I the way I am?
Why do I continue to do things that I wish I would change?
Why am I not happier?
What am I really good at?
What positives do others see that I don't?
Why does so-and-so have so much faith in me?
What makes me great?
What makes me happy?

Questions like this help to guide our life in a more conscious, active direction towards fulfillment, purpose, and our ultimate potential; and steer us away from repeating cycles of behaviour, repeating mistakes, and limiting growth.

That is; if we actually look in the mirror. and we ask the right questions. and we do so unbiased (if that is possible). and we open our minds and our hearts to the answer(s).

I was having a conversation with 2 women this morning who are close friends. They were both talking about not being where they want to in life, from an overall balance and success standpoint.

When I asked them what cycles of behavior they were repeating, and what they NEEDED to change about themselves, they both said "I don't know"... yet they both chimed in for each other and said "I know EXACTLY what you need to change and why". These women have known each other for almost 30 years, and so were the perfect sounding boards for each other. When one couldn't see the mirror clearly, the other one figuratively wiped the condensation off the mirror, revealing exactly what was to be seen.

For one, putting others ahead of herself and feeling guilty for pursuing her own goals. She felt she owed everything to everyone and that she had no right to do something positive for herself without quantifying it or justifying it...

For the other, self sabotage which stemmed from being uprooted 17 times by the age of 19 - every time any stability or happiness that could be taken away came into her life, she panicked and engaged in one form or another of self sabotage to keep her (even if unhappily) within the conditions she was used to... she was fearful of success.

It was amazing to have the other friend right there; as the one girl I've been working with for 2 years, and the other for 3 days... yet here we are with all the cards on the table and nowhere to hide from the truth.

It takes a brave soul to face their demons; I mean really face them - because now these girls will have to make the changes, whatever that takes, or admit weakness and failure to themselves and actively decide to resist the process; because the issues are past the subconscious.

It was a great moment for all 3 of us, and great inspiration and hope for anyone that at your most vulnerable moment possible - there was no judgment, only support and reassurance.

Surround yourself with people who can a) help uncloud the mirror and b) accept you for what is really there. Those become the most profound relationships you will have in your life; and you will have someone with you (even if in spirit) every step of your journey, as you will be their for theirs.

Two people I know cut past the facade and REALLY decided to live today.
If your mirror is a little blurry, may you realize that and be inspired today.
If you've had help clearing your mirror and are on your way to making profound changes in your life, hopefully today's story brought a smile to your face and helped give you some motivation to keep plugging away...

because that mirror can cloud or clear daily based on our actions and decisions my friends... let's all try and be a little more transparent.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vancouver Marathon 2009


I have never thought of myself as a particularly good runner……..it was something I did sporadically through my twenties and thirties and never got to the point where I felt the real joy or fun in it.  Plus, I always saw races like a ½ marathon and a full marathon as events that are only done by “real” athletes….and I definitely didn’t feel like I fell in that category!!!!!!!!!

Then, a year or so ago…my friend and training partner at IF Carlota (the great organizer), arranged a weekly running group for women of all running abilities.  We met at the Beach House and ran (in varying speeds…some women were training for Boston Marathon and others were new runners) to Ambleside and beyond…and I began to see that I could run longer than 1 hour and by running and talking with friends while running , it was actually enjoyable (big surprise).

Then this fall, my wonderful friend Leah decided to take things up a notch and train for the Vancouver Marathon with her friend Julie.  I decided to do the LSD (long slow distance) training with them and see where it took me.  Lucky for me, Leah is very organized and I benefitted from her route setting, and discussions as to what we should eat for fuel and drink when on these runs.  I realized that by taking it slow and adding distance each week…that it wasn’t impossible to run for 2 or 3 hours at a time…..which seemed tough to do before.

It was always my intention to tackle the ½ marathon  in May, before I did a full, but my sister decided that I had trained too hard with my running group and without telling me, (thanks Shar!!)… she signed me up for the full marathon.  It was just the push I needed to actually commit to doing the marathon…and although I had a few sleepless nights as to whether I could actually complete the distance…I decided to go ahead and try. 

The day of the marathon..turned out to be absolutely perfect.  It was tough to complete, (but such a great feeling once you have finished).  I started the race with my good friends beside me and even had my whole family of 5 (husband and 4 kids) out cheering me on during the course.  Plus Kate and Justine from IF were also with me offering support (Kate ran the first ½ with me and then Justine the second ½).   I realized that all the speed intervals that Justine (and later Kate)…made me endure every week, gave me the endurance to power through the hills and have the stamina for the distance (thanks girls!!!)


As a mom, who had a career in my earlier life (before child #4) it has been so great to actually set and achieve a goal…especially with my children watching me do it since often as a mom we rarely get to complete things.  Plus I know that my doing a marathon has impacted my kids in a positive way, as they see that events like this are achievable (my 17 year old is already talking about when I do one next year…which I am definitely not ready to commit to one week out from the marathon…but who knows?!?!) 

Michele

Ps  and to my sister…thank you for signing me up for this challenge…and in return I have now signed you up for the Ironman…good luck, and I will be out cheering you on in the sidelines…your loving sis!!!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

2 Choices...

I came across this story that re-iteretes a message we've heard before. The story does a great job of explaining it all...Choices & Attitude..

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. He was a unique manager and easily had people following his lead. The reason the they followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood.
  • Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.
  • Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.

  • You choose how you react to situations.
  • You choose how people will affect your mood.
  • You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood.

The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Jerry said.

Soon thereafter, I left the industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.Several years later, I heard that Jerry was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers and shot. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place he replied:

"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked."Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. Every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Epistemology

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Also known as the theory of knowledge, epistemology analyzes the nature of knowledge and how it relates to truth, beliefs, and justifications.

Essentially, epistemology is discussing “knowledge-that” and “knowledge-how”. The easiest example is we may know “that” 1+1=2, but do we actually know “how” to add the two numbers in order to get the answer. This distinction between “knowledge-that” and “knowledge-how” has everything to do with our ability to achieve/succeed.

Knowledge is our general awareness or possession of information and many times forms our beliefs of what we deem to be true. Our beliefs are our internal thoughts and memories that exist within our minds, yet to become knowledge they must be true and justified. There is a necessary balance between “that” and “how” in order to create knowledge, because without truth and justification we do not create knowledge; we create beliefs.

In acting on beliefs we create the potential to accept something in our minds as true, yet lack the justification to create knowledge within our actions. In missing knowledge we act blindly on a belief that has just as much potential to lead us down the wrong path as it does the right path. Because of this we act on theory instead of experiment and never come to a reality base conclusion since we are working on a 50% probability based conclusion.

Our non-empirical knowledge is called priori knowledge, or knowledge independent of experience. The danger of this type of knowledge is that is accepted in advance to any real factual experience. In achievement we are more likely to succeed when we are seeking posteriori knowledge, or knowledge that is known by experience, is empirical, and arrives afterward. By creating empirical based knowledge, we create a greater chance of success because we took both the “knowledge-that” and “knowledge-how” into account when searching for knowledge.

Through our ability to know as fact that 1+1=2 and with the skill necessary to prove that same equation, we provide ourselves with truth through belief and justification, therefore creating the knowledge necessary to move forward. In acting on belief alone, we continually have to answer the same question over and over again because we don’t have significant enough truth in “that” and “how” to remove doubt from our actions.

Our success is dependant on our ability to remove question from our actions, to obtain the knowledge necessary to erase doubt so that we can move forward with fluidity and confidence so that we create reality. It is when we come to conclusions without empirical based truths, and base our knowledge off of these conclusions, that we lose our ability to act on reality, because our reality does not have a foundation of knowledge.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

If we could shrink the earth..



If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:
57 Asians

21 Europeans

14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south

8 would be Africans

52 would be female

48 would be male

70 would be non-white 30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian 30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual 11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

(ONE)1 would be near death;

(ONE)1 would be near birth;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore . . .

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all. As you read this and are reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quick pick-me-ups


Wednesday is so often called "hump day".
This is a pretty poor way of looking at any day of the week, as the connotations denote, "If I can just get through today I'm more than half way to another weekend".
Rather than going through another day- today being the 6th we're going to list 6 reasons you should be inspired today.

In no particular order;
1. In TV's "The Biggest Loser", Ron (pictured with his teammate and son Mike) just walked his first marathon; 17 weeks after beginning his journey at 430 pounds. With a bum knee and still weighing nearly 300 pounds, the father of 2 is the oldest man ever to make it to a Biggest Loser finale. If he can do it, literally almost anybody can.
2. This weekend our respective Innovative teams in Vancouver & Calgary will be running Mother's Day races all over the lower mainland and in Calgary. We will be joined by tens of thousands of our closest friends and helping support research for breast cancer and other worthy causes; while we make OURSELVES a worthy cause.
3. We are extremely blessed to live where we do, when we do, with who we do. The biggest health scare on our North American radar is the H1N1 Virus (swine flu); which has a death toll of 42 in Mexico and 2 in the US. Malaria, on the other hand (which we rarely even think of) kills an estimated 2.7 million people a year according to the World Health Organization. Not to focus on the negative, but we do have to acknowledge and celebrate how lucky we are, and the fact that most of us have the wealth, time, or both to be able to help others in other parts of the world who are less fortunate.
4. The inflation-adjusted median income for families with children in 2005 was $82,943 according to CBC.ca, more than 20% higher after inflation that the same figures 25 years ago. Canada is among the strongest of all G7 economies, and despite the recent economic slow-down, we still have a tremendous amount of discretionary income compared the world over.
5. As the above statistics prove, cost simply is no barrier to an active lifestyle. You don't have to be scuba diving in the Maldives, but you can walk, rollerblade, jog, swim, hike, snowshoe, or take a bootcamp class all for less than $200 (most of the above are free). With a little more money you can bike, kayak, or ski for a day for less than $80, and own the proper equipment for under $1250 in most cases.
6. There is no time better to start than right now in pursuit of your biggest goals and (as per yesterday's post) overcoming your fears. We had a hike on the weekend and a brand new customer attended. She was on the verge of tears being challenged as much as she was by a 6 hour hike, but she started to find joy out of the situation when she was reminded that she has had the chance to face her mistakes and correct them. She didn't see the error of her ways on her deathbed- she did it with years left to live to the fullest.

Well spent days add up to fulfilling years which adds up to a life of purpose. Wasted days quickly add up and the price tag is regret; something I'm sure none of us want to face as we look back on our life. USE today to move yourself forward; don't just set the bar to get through hump day.