Turning the Inside Out – Part 1
… So that’s exactly what I did! Of course my journey began as I assume it does for most? We all start with a vision of grandeur, the idea of an incredible journey leading to a major life transformation? Most of us never really even consider how difficult of a process it might actually be. We just know that we need to make the attempt.
When discussing problem solving and the quest for change, adventurer and CEO of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard offers that “the solution might be to turn around, and take a forward step”. I used Chouinard’s philosophy to the fullest.
Already certain my current trek was casting me deeper and deeper into a bad place, I put the brakes on, turned around, and took a step in the opposite direction by first admitting that I needed transformation, and then by immersing myself in the idea of change. Friends… change isn’t easy!
At the time of my realization, I discovered that I had complicated my life in ways that I am certain only made sense to me. I was a full-time college student. Fifty-hour work weeks in a stressful and demanding career was common occurrence. My wife and I were struggling inexplicably to do our part repopulating and furthering the human race. I was a collector of “things which have no meaning”. We had several serious illnesses in our family during this time… you get the point. I was experiencing Life!
I quickly discovered through self-examination that I was not managing my own expectations of myself, nor my expectations of those around me in a healthy manner. I was also living a fairly unhealthy lifestyle in regards to my eating, drinking and exercise habits. For the sake of those around me as-well-as myself, something had to change. I needed desperately to get back to center.
When Nikki and I first met in a tiny apartment on Oahu, I was an avid surfer. I spent hours of every day in the ocean absolutely covered up with by the natural world, and I gave my life problems to the ocean with each session. That connection quickly disappeared upon our return to the mainland, and my struggle began. The solution was right in front of me! I needed to find a way to manage the complication out of my life, and get back into the natural world.
As I looked over my current life, I discovered that I was maxed out in regards to usable time. I had become over-committed with regards to work, hobbies, school, and friends. Where was the time going to come from? By chance one afternoon I picked up an issue of Dirt magazine (at the time my favorite mountain biking mag), and saw a pic of a guy on a beat up old mountain bike riding to work. Enter into my story a ginormous thought bubble! I was inspired!
The next week I began my journey by parking my car and riding my bike into the office. At first my new effort was sketchy at best. I would describe my effort as lack-luster. My legs hurt, I rediscovered the discomfort that comes with being under prepared for weather, and at every turn I am fairly certain that motorists were trying to end my life (this really wasn’t the case at all, rather my perception)!
As time went on and my weekly riding habits increased to an everyday occurrence, I began to reap the physical and mental benefits that come from getting outside and back into the natural world. It’s true that I was riding on concrete byways and asphalt highways, but the fresh air and reattachment with nature was certainly there!
Commuting by bike allowed me to be alone with my thoughts again much in the same way that surfing had. I found time to meditate on my ride in to work, and also decompress on my ride back home. I lost nearly three pant sizes and was told by those around me that I seemed “less stressed”! The change felt amazing physically and mentally.
As I compose this blog entry, I am still on my journey. I don’t always get it right, but I am trying really hard! I oftentimes share with my children that you don’t have to be perfect, but you at least need to try to get it right, and that’s what I am doing. I have logged over nine thousand miles on my bike the last several years trekking to and from work, and I have to believe that has had something to do with how much personal growth I have experienced since making the decision to reclaim my life.
In closing this story, it is important for me to mention that I could have never started this journey without my faith in God, the assistance of my beautiful wife Nikki, my children, my parents, and a couple of really solid friends and acquaintances! I think it is also critical to understand that change is never without stress… whether that change is of a positive or negative manifestation. I have had to step away from several relationships and hobbies through this process as I painfully discovered that negative thought is much more contagious than positive. For me and my journey, it was necessary. It was all a part of turning the inside out.