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Why do you ride?

Exposed (Brother)
Creative Commons License photo credit: tao_zhyn

“With each pas­sage of human growth we must shed a pro­tec­tive struc­ture [like a hardy crus­tacean]. We are left exposed and vul­ner­a­ble — but also yeasty and embry­onic again, capa­ble of stretch­ing in ways we hadn’t known before.” ~ Gail Sheehy


Today, I reflect back on that — on post­ing a half-naked pic­ture of myself — and what it has meant since then. 

It all began last Octo­ber, when Mish began the Exposed Move­ment — a brave and coura­geous look at her body, and beyond that — a look at who she really was. 

There was a vul­ner­a­bil­ity in shar­ing that, almost a year ago now.  I DID feel exposed — my body — there for every­one to see.  To judge.  To compare. 

My expe­ri­ence in shar­ing that, though, was com­pletely dif­fer­ent.  I felt accepted for who I am.  I felt okay with me.  I felt care and love.

Does that mean that there weren’t judg­ments made?  That com­par­isons were not done?  No.  I am sure these existed, even if I didn’t feel that.  And isn’t that how the nor­mal daily of your life is?  How the nor­mal daily of my life is?  Whether it’s our exter­nal appear­ances, the things we say, or the things we do — judg­ments and com­par­isons hap­pen. Some­times we painfully hear these, and other times we are com­pletely unaware.

I try not to judge oth­ers, I try not to make com­par­isons.  The truth, though, is that I still do.  Some­times con­sciously.  Some­times unconsciously. 

…even though I have no way of fully know­ing what has brought some­one else to where they are today…

I am a work in progress.  Just as that pic­ture from last year speaks to the work in progress of my body, so I am a work in progress for my inter­nal being.

I’m also reminded of a book I read recently, on the rec­om­men­da­tion of friend and life coach, Laura Neff.  The book, The Four Agree­ments, by don Miguel Ruiz — talks very specif­i­cally about how oth­ers view us.  In the words of Mr. Ruiz:

Don’t take any­thing per­son­ally
Noth­ing oth­ers do is because of you. What oth­ers say and do is a pro­jec­tion of their own real­ity, their own dream. When you are immune to the opin­ions and actions of oth­ers, you won’t be the vic­tim of need­less suffering.

So, I reflect back on these past twelve months — the fears and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties felt by putting this pic­ture up for the world to see.  I was judged.  I was com­pared.  I was ques­tioned.  (whether I heard any of this or not)  And none of this was because of me.  It is oth­ers pro­jec­tion of their own real­ity.  And that is it. 

…and I am still here today.  Life has not stopped hap­pen­ing because of this. 

What has this really meant, then? 

As my life jour­ney has con­tin­ued over this past year, I have become more okay with who I truly am.  By expos­ing my out­ward appear­ance, it has helped to break down walls and expose more of that inter­nal me…expose that voice that speaks from the heart. 

My body is mine.  Per­fectly imper­fect.  Imper­fectly perfect.

My soul, my essence, my being — is mine.  Per­fectly imper­fect.  Imper­fectly perfect.

…as you are, also.

I will be judged and com­pared.  You will be judged and com­pared.  And it doesn’t mat­ter.  It doesn’t mat­ter that oth­ers say, think, share.  It mat­ters how you feel. 

This body, this soul — they are yours. 

Break down the walls.  Expose you…the you that speaks from your heart.

Meet fel­low blog­gers Simon Hay, Evita Ochel, Joy Hol­land and Tess Mar­shall on Octo­ber 23 & 24, 2010 in Rochester, NY at the New Moon Expo. New Moon brings together more than 100 exhibitors ded­i­cated to mind, body, spirit well-being. For more infor­ma­tion, visit the New Moon Expo website.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny mat­ters com­pared to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Run 26.2 miles.  The marathon.  A dis­tance that chal­lenges run­ners phys­i­cally, men­tally, emotionally.

Octo­ber 3, 2010.  The Mil­wau­kee Lake­front Marathon.  My first marathon, and a day that took me to the high­est of highs and the low­est of lows.

Does life ever feel that way for you? 

Let’s dig a lit­tle deeper into this.  The day began with partly sunny skies, cool tem­per­a­tures, and a very light wind.  For running…pretty ideal con­di­tions.  And as I ran…as I ran along­side all these other amaz­ing ath­letes, I felt ener­gized by their pres­ence, their mov­ing for­ward.  I also recalled the count­less hours of train­ing that went into get­ting me ready for this day, train­ing that began six months before this day came.

Back­track to late win­ter, 2010.  I’ve been think­ing about doing a marathon…except that a dis­tance of 26.2 miles just seems unreachable. 


Lim­ited by my own beliefs in what is pos­si­ble within me.

Have you ever been there?

Six months ago (it seems like ages). This idea of com­pet­ing in a marathon rises up again.  It rises up…only to be knocked down by that lit­tle voice in my head…the one that says “you can’t do this”, “what are you think­ing, any­way?”, “this is way too far for you to run”.…and all sorts of other self-limiting thoughts.

Have you ever had a voice in your head say things like that to you?

What hap­pens if we don’t lis­ten to that “voice of rea­son”?  (and “voice of rea­son”…I am more deeply believ­ing that is is not…)

I talked to a friend.  A friend who has com­peted in the marathon before (sev­eral times).  That “voice of rea­son” cropped in there, too.  (per­haps a bet­ter term would be “voice of giv­ing up”…)  A friend, a sup­porter, a per­son in your cor­ner — that can make all the dif­fer­ence.  Lori was all of that, and more.  She believed in me, she believed in what was pos­si­ble, she believed in doing.

“Do or do not…there is no try.” ~ Yoda

A plan to get there…from my physical/mental/emotional state six months ago…to today. 

And so the jour­ney began.

How about you, what jour­ney are you on right now?  Are these jour­neys that are tak­ing you to places of deep meaning?

“A jour­ney of a thou­sand miles begins with a sin­gle step.” ~ Lao-tzu

Run­ning.  Swim­ming.  Ab work.  Strength train­ing.  Bik­ing.  Oh…and lots more running!!

Espe­cially as I think back over those train­ing runs — with one long run every week — I recall moments through­out this jour­ney.  Com­ing home, elated with my time.  Com­ing home, think­ing that I could have likely walked faster.  Hav­ing my wife, Lora, drive to pick me up because I couldn’t com­plete the run — sit­ting dejected along­side the run­ning path.  Stop­ping for water breaks — and being so refreshed by a sim­ple bit of water into my body.  Feel­ing pain in my knees, in my hips, in my feet as I ran.  Feel­ing that pain leave my body — as my body became stronger.  Run­ning in the quiet of the early morn­ing hours.  Run­ning in a rain­storm.  And all the other moments that were steps on this journey.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two direc­tions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the jour­ney, not the des­ti­na­tion.” ~ Don Williams, Jr

This jour­ney you are each on…this is YOUR journey…your life…now…

And that jour­ney on Octo­ber 3rd.  Back to where this all started up above.  I felt light on my feet.  The wind, mostly at my back.  What a great start to this day!

…and then…

And then…mile twenty.  My feet, get­ting heavy.  My legs…sore and tired.  My soul…wanting to stop. 

Six more miles.  So far…at that moment in time.

Have you every felt that way?  Have you ever felt like the des­ti­na­tion of your jour­ney seemed out of reach?

In those things that matter…keep on keep­ing on.

Some­thing I kept telling myself — from mile twenty through twenty five…the most men­tally, emo­tion­ally, and phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing miles of this jour­ney.  Dis­tances in my head that had been mea­sured in miles ear­lier in the marathon, became dis­tances mea­sured in tele­phone poles…in city streets…in the spec­ta­tor ahead cheer­ing run­ners on.

Slowly…the miles went down.  My pace — slowed by phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenges I was facing.

Then…the des­ti­na­tion in sight!

Mile twenty five.  An increase in spec­ta­tors (wow…I have such great respect for all the peo­ple vol­un­teer­ing to help out, and for all the amaz­ing spec­ta­tors cheer­ing on the run­ners!), the end in sight along the hori­zon of Lake Michi­gan.  The phys­i­cal pain, the men­tal chal­lenges, the emo­tional roller coaster…all tak­ing a back seat…as resolve (and adren­a­line) kicked in more deeply. 

Mile twenty six.  Two-tenths of a mile to go.  So close.  The crowd — more exu­ber­ant than ever!  My fam­ily — within view!  The fin­ish line — such a glo­ri­ous sight.

Back to that jour­ney.  My jour­ney.  Your journey.

The highs.  The lows.  Every­thing in between.  These steps that are our life jour­ney — in how­ever we are liv­ing our life — wher­ever that jour­ney is tak­ing us…these moments (from the high­est of highs to the low­est of lows) are ours.  And it’s these moments — the moments that are our jour­ney — that make the des­ti­na­tion what it is for each of us.

Emo­tions sweep over me.  From those early beginnings…where 26.2 miles seemed unreach­able, to those train­ing runs that had moments of deep good and deep chal­lenge, to this par­tic­u­lar day.  To these 26.2 miles — 26.2 miles that chal­lenged me to my core and on all lev­els (phys­i­cally, men­tally, emo­tion­ally) — I am there.

The des­ti­na­tion.

Fin­isher!  At this moment…not a more beau­ti­ful word in the Eng­lish language.

So it is with me…and so it is with you.  We travel out on these jour­neys in our life — what­ever they might be — we face the mon­sters that come along the way, we cel­e­brate the amazing-ness of what we are doing, we revel in the joy this brings us…all the way along the journey.

Then we reach our des­ti­na­tion. (or some deriv­a­tive of it)

This destination…it’s a moment in our life jour­ney.  Per­haps it’s a big moment, and one that has deep mean­ing.  Per­haps it’s a small moment.  Or some­thing in between.

…and our jour­ney continues…

Today, I reflect back on this jour­ney toward com­pet­ing in the Mil­wau­kee Lake­front Marathon…and I see that this jour­ney has for­ever altered me…has added belief in what IS possible…and has given me a spring­board as this jour­ney through my life continues.

As does yours…

Your jour­ney con­tin­ues today.  Are you choos­ing a jour­ney that has deep mean­ing for you?

Epi­logue:  I would like to espe­cially thank a cou­ple of peo­ple who were instru­men­tal in this jour­ney toward the marathon.

  • My wife, Lora, for her amaz­ing and con­tin­u­ous sup­port through all of this.  And espe­cially for the time that she com­mit­ted to being along on this road with me.  This whole jour­ney has been a com­mit­ment for me, as well as for my fam­ily.    Lora, know that you are loved…
  • Won­der­ful friend Lori — who has been there before — who knows the marathon ropes.  Lori, with­out your sup­port and guid­ance along the way, this wouldn’t have come to fruition.  Your help in cre­at­ing a plan to get to Octo­ber 3rd, your tweak­ing as we went along, your lis­ten­ing to all the highs and lows along the way — all of this made cross­ing the fin­ish line that much sweeter.
  • Friends at InStep, a local run­ning store here in the Mil­wau­kee area — and espe­cially to Meaghan.  The train­ing runs you orga­nized, the ques­tions you answered, the sup­port you pro­vided — all of this made the marathon that much more achievable.

“It is amaz­ingly empow­er­ing to have the sup­port of a strong, moti­vated, and inspi­ra­tional group of peo­ple.” ~ Susan Jef­fers

To each of you, and every­one who has pro­vided sup­port and encour­age­ment in some way — thank you! 

Kaz running
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kol Tre­gaskes

“My own pre­scrip­tion for health is less paper­work and more run­ning bare­foot through the grass.” ~ Leslie Grimutter

Announc­ing:  A new site!! 

The Feel Good Jun­gle!!

It’s like here, only dif­fer­ent.  Check it out!

A site ded­i­cated to all things health and fit­ness — where it’s all about “a jour­ney toward peak health”.

Noth­ing changes here at the Jun­gle of Life.  This will just seg­ment some of the top­ics (like train­ing for that marathon…yikes…maybe I should be out there run­ning right now!!)

You are all wel­come in the Feel Good Jun­gle!

Com­ments are closed.

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by Lance Ekum

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Why aren’t you signed up for the 401K?  I’d never be able to run that far.” ~ Scott Adams, Dil­bert Thurs­day, Novem­ber 27th, 2008 — 9 AM Race Start It’s become a tra­di­tion in our house.  Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing starts with a 5K race in Madi­son — about an hour drive to get to the race location […]

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