You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

Wow!  I am free to run, free to dance, free to do anything I want!  I can go shopping, kill weeds, clean house and take a bicycle ride!  I can play hackysack with my son, cook whatever sounds good, watch Olympic trials, change the tail light on my car.  Enough typing for now!  Life in action is calling!!!  ( :

Our golf scramble team was stacked!  We had five good players, so we made birdies on the first five holes.  Then one par, followed by two more birdies.  Seven under par through eight holes.  Milton-Freewater’s golf course is very easy, but this was a fun opportunity to marvel at success.  I didn’t swing great yesterday, but it was a lot of fun anyway.  Ironically, when I hit a nice approach to within fifteen feet of a pin, one teammate hit a slightly better shot.  Perhaps I needed some more humbling!  Maybe our team did too.  On the last hole, a par three, we hacked it badly, taking three strokes to get on the green.  This finishing bogey was our reminder of the waves of life.  We really never know what’s coming next!

Fore!  Watch out duffers, here I come!  Today is the annual golf scramble associated with my employer.  I helped run it for years, and later played on the winning team for two years in a row.  The ego-feeding parts of those stories were the clutch putts I hit in the tie-breaking “putt-offs” to win the title for my teams.  If you’ve golfed, you know that the game is effective at keeping big egos in check! 

I had dreams of magnificent shots last night, including a hole-in-one.  So far, I’ve yet to stroke a real-life hole-in-one, though I almost flew one into the hole in my youth.  I’ve had a few aces at virtual golf.  Back to real life:  I haven’t even seen someone else ace a hole, other than on television.  I’m excited that my doctor gave me the go-ahead to play,  just two days ago.  I didn’t sign up with a team, thinking I had to rest my elbow and finger.  Rumor has it that there is a team I can slip in with.  Is this a chance to build new friendships?  What can I learn from my new teammates?  What can I share with them?  Will I play within myself, fostering a consistent and controlled swing, with good tempo?  Will I find an effective level of muscle relaxation, focus, clarity and touch?  Will I be less attached to outcomes, to let it all happen as it might?  Will I help my ball on its journey to its home, the hole?  If I do the things to play well, will it “rub off” on my teammates?  I can’t wait to find out!

If the title of this post had you thinking about things other than golf, try calling 1-888-GET-HELP.  ( :

How’s your outlook on life these days?  My glass is not half full.  It’s overflowing!  Can I learn to remember this, knowing it deeply in my heart, mind and soul?

Someone stole my new rain jacket with clip-on sunglasses in the pocket.  So I ordered prescription sunglasses, for the first time, and I’ll get to shop for another cool rain jacket later!

My right elbow and index finger have hurt, limiting certain activities.  I get a different variety of experiences!  If I’m unable to water ski at the lake this year, I’ll find other fun things to do.  Yay!  My pains also give me perspective to stimulate compassion for the sick and elderly. 

I relapsed with addictive eating.  I learned the depth of this substitutive addiction and my imperative need for fully working step one on this.  I am reminded of the persuasive nature of my addictive mind.  I now have nine days of clean eating and I’m moving to better health and confidence, fat loss and greater strength and endurance.  Yay!

The ropes course experience showed me that I can quickly jump to a defeatist attitude.  Perhaps this is tied into self-esteem issues.  Maybe it’s like the chicken and the egg .  Which came first?  Does it matter?  I can understand how I interpreted the outcomes of experiences in love, addiction and other events as failures.  Perfectionism seemed to hone in on the negative aspects, rather than the sometimes bigger positives.  Now I’m reminded of the amazing successes that positive living has brought to me.  I’m powerless over almost everything and certainly everybody, which sets me totally free to focus on being a better version of me!  I just need to do my part and let everything else happen as it will.

My assistant mistakenly wiped out most of the budget work I performed last week by neglecting attention to details when projecting her part of our budget.  I gained greater ability via repetition in troubleshooting budget problems, and was able to let go of the frustrations.

My son sometimes suggests that we go lift weights or do something else together; he often changes his mind and cancels at the last-minute.  I learn to do the next right thing, which is usually to stay active myself, leading by example, as well as staying calm and demonstrating and enjoying the benefits of healthy living.

My boss sometimes gets wound up over job pressures, bringing the heat on me.  I learn to stay calm myself, calm him down and prioritize tasks.  I also learn to focus on solving problems, instead of being overwhelmed, and have faith that things will work out just fine.

I’ve experienced incredible highs of being in love with beautiful women, with some amazingly fun attributes, only to have them opt out later.  I’ve learned that I can’t solve their problems and I can be more aware of different aspects of people by using patient observation.  I can work to become a better version of myself and embrace the beauty of life as it is now.  I’ve learned how I can be more loving to others and more true to myself.  I strive to stay out of expectations.  I’ve learned to enjoy the simple moments even more, as they stream into my life.  I’ve come to peace with having absolutely no idea what is coming.  I have faith that whatever is coming will be “good!”

After lifting weights for 45 minutes today, mostly with my legs, I went for a ride on my bike.  At first, my legs felt sluggish, presumably from the weight lifting.  The more I rode, the better I felt.  I actually felt my mind and legs shift into a higher gear at one point.  From then on, I engaged my abs, pulled on the handlebars and stroked the pedals with consistent power.  It was the most powerful pedaling I’ve felt from my legs in some time.  It felt so good!  ( :

Such advice is good.  Yesterday was a great chance to be obedient! 

Annie and Zach and I had a great time at the WSU Challenge Program’s ropes course.  I was awakened to my sometimes defeatist attitude, which I thought was long gone, when I became convinced that I would not be able to succeed on some of the elements.  Yet we did succeed on each one attempted!  I skipped the climbing intensive ones (Giant’s Ladder and Over Beam), as I’m rehabilitating my elbow, but tasted much success and the amazing powers of teamwork, perseverance and “can do” attitudes.  I highly recommend this course to anyone who has never experienced such a course.  I especially enjoyed the Track N Trail (multiple high challenges) and the Mohawk Walk (team assisted cable walking).  I wonder if the things I considered “failures” in my life, which were really just experiences, built up a defeatist attitude, as a warped “protection” against really trying to succeed.

I received an opportunity for bonus growth at the end of the day.  When we returned to gather our personal belongings after putting away the climbing gear, I discovered that someone had stolen my brand new rain jacket, which had the clip-on sunglasses for my prescription glasses in a pocket.  My first feelings were of  being violated, disappointment and anger.  Luckily, I quickly switched to making a gratitude list and putting it into perspective.  Sure, I was $275 poorer, presumably because of someone’s selfish, lazy greed.  But the worst option was to make myself spiritually poorer by holding the negative feelings.  I’ve been given many opportunities in my life to learn to let people and things go.  This was just another test in letting go.  So to the perpetrator: please send your address, so I can send you my shirt!  ( :

Trail

Do the smallish events in your life seem to parallel bigger life lessons?

It’s a lovely summer and I felt like taking a run.  Friday night!  For me, time for endorphins, not happy hour!  What could be better?  So I laced ’em up and headed out!  It was beautiful running weather:  a storm system was moving in, cooling the air and dropping a light, refreshing rain.  How sweet! 

The run felt good and my pace was fast.  But my right ankle became sore again.  It felt wise to stop running after 4.5 miles, leaving me about 1.8 miles from home.  My ankle pain eased as I walked, but the rain accelerated as the wind picked up.  I had only a cotton shirt, so despite walking steadily, I cooled rapidly.  My fingers became quite cold.  I could have carried a rain jacket.  Or taken a synthetic shirt.  Or stayed closer to home.  But my heart drew me into the unknown adventure.  I survived.  The warm house and bath felt good!

There’s a thought that simmers in my mind:  thank you Lord, for everything!

A cool stream meandered through my brain just now.  Now I feel the shocking cold of an alpine lake plunge.  Ahhh….  One relaxed me, the other invigorated me.  Both offered summer delights to my imagination, as I feel the heat coming on.  Perhaps the warm, overcast night was a trigger.  No cold, relaxing air to sleep with.  Such is life! 

I just remembered an amazing dream excerpt from last night.  I walked past a yard with amazing blossoms everywhere.  All of the plants were in bloom at the same time!  Many seemed to be five foot high versions of flowers that typically grow to a foot or so.  It was surreal, yet magnificent!  Was this my spirit’s way of acknowledging the grandeur of life?  I loved that yard!  It gave me an incredible urge to meet the people who lived there.  I think I wanted to tap into their blossoming abilities!

It seems to me that all of life oozes with blessings, just waiting to be appreciated.  What do we get to learn today?  How to best spend this irrefutably lovely day?  What activities will leave us glowing at day’s end?  Which are wheel spinners?  Which detract from our wellness?  Are we well enough to consciously choose what is best?  Do we have the faith and willingness to stick to those good choices?  Perhaps spiritual wellness is somewhat complicated, yet simple.  Maybe it costs us dedication, yet is free for the taking.  Is it not true that we all have access, despite different crosses?

I hope your day is filled with smiles and blossoms!

This car is fun!  It’s a sports car that’s affordable for many.  It is $25k with a six speed manual transmission and $26k with the automatic.  Almost no options, no haggling, the price is the price.  I drove the six speed automatic, with paddle shifters, and I think it’s the way to go, because the tranny is as responsive as the steering.  Plus the obvious advantages for city driving.  This toy corners amazingly well!  It’s 2.0 liter Subaru Boxer engine yields pretty good power and keeps it low to the ground, allowing the incredible cornering stability. 

I should get a practical vehicle first, I suppose, but I have waited for one to really grab my attention!  ( :

Good morning God.  Thank you for being up to the biggest job of all!  Thank you for knowing what we need.  Thank you for the strength you give us to learn, grow and love.  Thank you for this amazing gift of life!  Sometimes we treasure it most when we see it end.  Please bless the family of 1st Lieutenant Mathew Fazzari, a casualty from my adopted home town, killed in war in Afghanistan.  Please do the same for all who suffer losses.  Please help us to wisely use our gifted time to love, serve, grow and share.  Thank you for the love, sunshine, fresh air, beauty, kindness, laughter, camaraderie, adventures, challenges and opportunities that fan my flame!  Thanks for this amazing body with incredible tools like these hands and fingers!  I’m grateful for a brain, in my quest to do well at work, in my family, in personal recovery and as a friend.   May positivism, optimism, creativity and gratitude reign! 

Thanks for helping me recover from many forms of addictive behavior.   My life’s richness is directly related to how well I practice the steps of recovery, which boil down to a path to you.  An important key is to practice these steps in all of my affairs!  Essentially, it involves surrendering selfishness to faith, which taps into a much more powerful force!  You!!!  Please take all of me, good and bad, and return to me whatever is useful to you!

What a rush!

Most mornings I listen to a Christian music CD that a friend gave me about two years ago, because it is so uplifting!  I never tire of it.  It’s a collection of songs by artists from Lifecenter in Spokane.  The title of the album is also the line that sticks in my head:   “This is Love!”  I get fired up every time I hear it!  I want to go put it on now!  I will!  It’s a mantra for life that can never, ever be wrong.  Thank God for love!!!

Mountain biking with Annie was so fun yesterday!  She loves my new bike as much as I do.  She rode it over single track trails and raced down a gravel road, beaming awesome smiles!  Those smiles were early Father’s Day gifts!  So was watching the kids interact at Zach’s birthday party.  They have learned much about life and they have good hearts!  ( :

Friday night I broke my personal record for longest telephone call.  How exciting to find someone with that much to talk about!  It reminds me how my Dad always thought telephones were for getting your business done and getting off in a couple of minutes.  We shared a “party” line with the neighbors, so if they were on the phone, you could hear them talking, and had to wait.  Speaking of sharing, we had to come to agreement on what to watch on our nineteen inch black and white television, or do something else.  Were many of the things we did instead better for us?  None of them involved computers or cell phones or even health clubs.  How things have changed!

My father passed away over two years ago, yet he remains one of the most influential people in my life.  He is a good man; I feel his spirit is alive and I picture him watching over me, helping guide me.  He is imperfect, yet grounded in the important things in life, like integrity, family, honesty, work ethic, being true to yourself and helping others.  He lived his convictions, knowing that actions are more important than idle words.  He came to love golf and blessed me with opportunity to play.  I have never found another game that is anywhere close to golf in simulating life on a personal level.  Other games teach us much about teamwork and cooperation.  Golf gets to the core of our character, testing confidence, faith, perspective, adaptability, creativity, patience, focus and ability to recover from adversity.  It also requires relaxation, coordination, balance and agility.  The psychological aspects alone make it a great growth opportunity.  Dad and I enjoyed many rounds of well matched competition.  Sometimes I felt like the hare to his tortoise, powering drives well past his, yet admitting to a higher number by the end of play.  What treasured lessons!  Thank you Dad!  ( :

Dad used to shake us awake at 5 AM so we could head to the “back of the farm” to move sprinklers.  Groggily complying, I wished I didn’t have to go, because I wanted more sleep.  Then the beauty of the morning smiled upon us!  Sunshine, songbirds, fresh air and plants growing everywhere filled our souls.  Thank you Dad!

Dad didn’t really respond when I tried to talk to him about spiritual matters.  Yet he was the guy who was always helping stranded motorists who ran out of gas or had their rig break down along the highway.  Always ready to help people in need, whether they were kids, friends, neighbors or strangers.  Thanks Dad!

Since I’m a father too, I’m blogging with coffee and a recording of yesterday’s third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament playing.  Maybe I’ll take a run today, hopefully play some hackysack and watch more golf.  Maybe the cleaning will mostly wait.  Happy Father’s day to us all!  ( :

It feels like I’ve done the right things, more of the time.  More “good” things flow into my life, or at least I notice them!  Even the aches and pains show their purpose, sometimes right away.  Connected calm with enthusiastic joy seems to be at hand.  I get to show up each day on this amazing stage to play my part as lovingly, and with as much humor and spunk as I can muster.  No auditions required!  Happiness, joy and freedom of spirit are always available when I live a balanced, honest, sincere and loving life.  Yippee!!!

2010: spring came in August on the Pacific Crest trail near Winthrop, WA

 

Brother Dick slices North Twin Lake!

Far from the equator, we come to see

sweet summer days, as long as can be.

Just starved by winter, from needed sunlight,

so sleep in summer can be a fight

between restoration we really need

and diverse fun for which we  plead!

Pent up desires flow free and wild,

we dance and play just like a child!

 That’s if we’re open enough to be

aware of life’s blessed majesty!

Being fully alive, like a love affair,

finding contentment everywhere!

I used to see things looking bad,

but now to see, makes my heart glad!

To waste this gift, or live it well?

Easy choice?  It’s a rose I smell!

Nephew Tim sails over North Twin Lake!

 

 

Just before Bloomsday 2012

I’m not sure, but I may be finally getting it.  Whatever “it” is!  I’ve always heard that we can choose to be happy any time we want.  That it’s not a matter of “getting” any thing or relationship or recognition or money or weather or anything else.  We simply need to be grateful for what is.  Whatever is.  Right now!  The thing is, it feels like I can now do it better than ever!  I don’t think it’s because external things are all that different; I think something’s different inside of me.  I don’t think it’s me doing it on willpower alone, but I do get the benefits.  I think I’m tapping into supernatural powers.  Yay!  How did it happen?  I don’t really know, but it’s been a long path with a lot of mistakes.  Perhaps I have enough honesty and open-mindedness to see my self-centeredness more clearly now.  Maybe regularly returning to surrender and consistently using good ideas like gratitude lists when life felt hard.  Perhaps I’ve finally prayed and meditated enough on spiritual truths that they are sinking in deeper.  

I found some reasons for gratitude in my weekend travels:

  1. Joyous, funny, provocative and inspirational conversations with family and friends at my niece Lauren’s graduation party and at the home of my sister Barb, my brother-in-law Ryan and their girls Claire and Isabel.  Familial love is such an amazing treasure.  One of the most memorable things my Dad ever told me was that friends may come and go, but family will always be there for you.  It’s been true in my life.  I have nothing bad to say about the awesome friends I’ve been blessed with.  My family has been and is incredible!  In our conversations, I was able to let everyone’s opinions be their own, taking what I could use and leaving the rest.
  2. Shopping for great bargains on clothes and other things we needed.  My daughter Annie is fun to shop with, and she’s such a great fashion adviser for me.  When we get together, it’s like the fun shopping part of the “What not to wear” television show.  Now I’ll be styling!  The clothes are so much less important than the precious time with Annie.
  3. Annie and I ate the biggest lobster they had!  We ate a three-pounder and a two-pounder for Annie’s first ever taste of lobster.  Yum!  Yes, we were blessed to have lobster this time, but we’ve been just as happy with our meals in our poorer days.
  4. Annie and I headed out to ride our bicycles from Pullman to Moscow on the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail.  It was a beautiful, sunny spring day.  We treated ourselves to frozen yogurt in Moscow as we basked in the sun in Adirondack chairs.  The sun and blood flow were awesome rewards, as was Annie’s wonderful company.  Yippee!
  5. After riding back to Annie’s place, we enjoyed tasty grilled turkey-mozzarella-cream cheese sandwiches on Dave’s Killer Bread.  His bread is the BEST I’ve ever tasted!  Yum!!!
  6. We then went to the Washington State University Recreation center and lifted weights for an hour or two.  Annie can now leg press more than me!  Go Annie!  ( :
  7. On my drive home tonight, I watched and heard a spray plane fly directly at and directly over me at a VERY low altitude.  Within a few hundred feet, another spray plane did the same thing!  Life is dangerous and exciting!
  8. A few miles later, I saw a coyote, stalking a rodent near the highway.  He was a thing of beauty, in his own way.  All life relies on other life!  ( :
  9. A small bird bounced hard off my windshield, reminding me of the precious and fleeting nature of life.  For however long I’m blessed with this incredible gift of life, how can I make the most of it?
  10. I arrived home safely and unloaded the bicycles without injuring my elbow.  God wants the best for me.
  11. I woke up again, I get to go to work today, to see how much positivity I can bring to dozens of other people.  I’m excited to see them!
  12. I was reminded while driving of some wonderful events that have transpired in my life, like love affairs, friendships, etc.  I was able to feel their warmth and let them go, moving back to gratitude for what is right now.  I don’t have the wife I’ve always thought would make me happy, but I have the happiness!  Hey!  Does that mean happiness really is just a choice, freely available at all times?
  13. I wonder what else may be coming?  I’m so excited!  I hope I get to see!!!   ( :

The possibilities are amazing!  We can do incredible things!  We are intelligent, creative, adaptable and talented.  We can be honest, dedicated and loving.  Some gifts we’re granted and some we get to develop.  Opportunities in life are diverse, but we all get a steady stream of them.  Don’t mistake them for problems, pains, troubles or burdens.  Smiling, solving, creating, giving, encouraging, supporting, perservering and blessing can be our legacies.  When we boost each other, we give out love.  When we give out love, it spreads quickly, coming back to us to nurture our souls.  Love is my favorite four letter word!  ( :

We explored abundant splendor at the Manito Park greenhouse, so our senses were stimulated.  The pleasing scents aroused us as the amazing sights and diverse textures captivated us.  Colorful joy burst from varied blooms and foliage.  We tired, so we retreated for a rejuvenating late afternoon nap.

Refreshed, the call of the wild drew us to the Little Spokane River.  Old growth Ponderosa pines towered above us, untouched by loggers, yet sculpted by nature.  Some were tall and magnificent, with trunks up to five feet in diameter.  Others were scraggly or broken, mangled and toppled, yet clinging to precious life, and telling wild tales.  The river meandered aimlessly, yielding to gravity and fostering life.  Just how much life, we would soon come to appreciate!

The setting sun was a magnet, drawing us along the trail in obedience to a higher power.  Wild turkeys spoke to each other, while reminding us of the majesty of creation.  Drawn to the gobbling, we approached several turkeys roosted high in the majestic pines.  From a distance, others spoke to them, in response.  We sat down to soak it all in.  Several whitetail deer huffed loudly as they pranced up the hillside.

Turkey talk continued as we admired stark silhouettes of deciduous giants.  As our souls quieted, the symphony of the forest came into clear focus.  Diverse creatures sang to us, announcing the beauty and majesty of creation.  We were in awe of God’s gifts to us.

Realizing the coming of darkness, we began our reluctant retreat as a chorus of frogs bellowed their delight.  We were truly at home.  Sharing these natural gifts was a treat beyond words.  Our faith walk to the car was elegant, not eerie, and it was capped by an encore eruption of frogs.  It was a fitting climax to a heartwarming experience!

Here’s a story I wrote four years ago that was published in our local newspaper; people seemed to like it then, so maybe you will too?  Photos added now to show Annie’s zest for life!

Annie loves to play!

Santa Clara,California– May 15, 2008 through May 18, 2008

Walla Walla Swim Club coach Dustin Perry, my daughter Annie and I recently travelled to Santa Clara, California, where Annie swam in the Santa Clara International Invitational.  It’s part of the Toyota Grand Prix series that attracts many of the best swimmers in the world.  We arrived at the George Haines pool in Santa Clara on Thursday morning, before the distance freestyle events.  Endless freeways darting in all directions caused plenty of confusion.  Ultimately, we arrived at 50 meters of water, much like Pasco, Wenatchee or Spokane.  The water was quite salty, according to Annie, but it was much like other pools.  Well, not exactly.  Here we stood on hallowed swimming grounds.  Mark Spitz stroked these waters.  Haines walked this concrete as he coached the Santa Clara Swim Club to fame.  Dick Jochums did likewise as he returned the team to its former glory.  The mighty shaded grandstand bellowed the status of swimming in these parts.  Rumor has it that they plan to tear it all down soon, only to build a bigger and better grandstand with two fifty meter pools, both much deeper, and thereby faster, than the old one.  After all, it’s an old school pool, 4.5 feet deep at the ends and 6.5 feet deep in the middle.  It’s nothing special, but it’s so very special!  The flags of twenty-five nations flew over the forty-first edition of this famous swim meet.  The statue of Haines continues to look out over this pool with amazing history and tradition, home to a club that boasts of “developing champions since 1951.”  Michael Phelps comes here each year to cement his place in swimming lore.  It felt like I imagine golfing at St. Andrews or watching football at Lambeau Field would be like.  We joined with decades of history to celebrate the sport of swimming with people who truly appreciate it.  The thousands of dollars and hours of training were well invested.  This was living fully! 

Annie swam a light workout before we headed to San Francisco.  The Golden Gate Bridge has a cool park near it, with a view of Alcatraz.  While the pool in Santa Clara was sweltering in unseasonable 100 degree weather, it was pleasant near the bay.  The majesty of the historic bridge and Bay area can not be done justice in word or in photos.  To fully appreciate it, it must be experienced first hand.  We saw cable cars, steep hills, tremendous views, spectacular homes and hippie heaven.  The sixties live on!

The weather for Friday’s preliminary heats was extremely hot, perhaps 100 degrees.  Annie swam a 400 freestyle time trial eleven seconds faster than she’d ever gone before.  The parade of flags before finals was inspiring, as were the international athletes.  Davis Tarwater, Phelps’ teammate, broke Phelps’ meet record in the 200 butterfly final, finishing strongly.  Phelps was equally impressive in the 400 individual medley; no one seems to challenge him in this event.  Brendan Hansen was strong, as usual, in the 100 breaststroke.  His upper body muscles resemble a body builder.  The strong, rippling and flexible muscles of elite swimmers and their minimal body fat are awe-inspiring.  A strong breeze for finals and eventual shade were welcome relief from the blistering afternoon sun.  The evening breezes were typical.  It became easy to understand the popularity of this meet: top athletes from around the world competed in a pleasant setting in front of supportive fans and extensive media.

The media frenzy was a new experience for me.  At one point, I counted twelve photographers shooting Phelps.  With all the photographers and advertisements between each starting block, the deck ends were very crowded.   Annie knew things were a little different here when there was a camera in her face upon arrival on the first day of the meet.

Most of the big time coaches were there with their best athletes.  Pablo Morales, coach for the University of Nebraska, spoke at Saturday’s officials’ meeting.  His legendary butterfly earned him four gold medals at two different Olympic Games.  Though he did consider quitting, he never regretted the hours invested or the sacrifices made to be the best he could be, which for him was the best in the world.  Being great appears way more fun than being good.  I’ve been good or mediocre at many things in my life, but I’ve never invested the time and effort to be great.  My sense is that greatness is a magnification of how I feel about everything when I’m getting a lot of regular exercise: life is good! 

The overall feel of the meet was electric, somewhat like an endorphin rush.  I liken it to my youthful golfing days.  The difference between this meet and the local meets I attend was like the difference between shooting a score of 80 and my lifetime best of 73.  Both are good, but one is memorably special.  The explosion of energy as incredible athletes launch from their starting blocks defies description.

For this meet, swimmers were divided into “A” and “B” flights, so that elite finalists could finish preliminaries earlier to rest for finals.  Some events had fewer entrants, so some women’s events had no men’s events in between.  Annie was scheduled for the last “B” heat of the 200 freestyle and the first “B” heat of the 100 backstroke.  As a result, she was scheduled for two heats in a row; she and Coach Perry were forced to choose which event to skip.  They scratched the 200 freestyle and Annie just missed her lifetime best in the 100 backstroke.

Saturday’s finals were very exciting.  Watching Natalie Coughlin’s extensive stretching session was intriguing; she used small balls to stretch her toes and feet.  She attributes her exceptionally strong kick to her flexibility and, of course, years of diligent practice.  She stretched a lot on deck and a little more behind the blocks in her pre-race routine.  She then swam a meet record 59.44 in finals, equal to her world record before she broke it in February at the Missouri Grand Prix (which I was lucky enough to be on deck to see!).  Almost all events enjoyed meet records in finals on Saturday, including Peter Vanderkaay’s American record in the 400 freestyle.  Aaron Peirsol and Phelps staged a classic battle in the 200 backstroke.  Phelps grabbed a small lead early, Peirsol battled back for a small lead of his own and Phelps closed at the finish.  Peirsol won by .03 seconds; it was one of the best races I’ve ever seen.

The camaraderie between coaches, swimmers and officials is like instant family, wherever you go.  Many know each other from years of attending big meets together.  It felt like home to me, perhaps aided by encountering three officials I’d worked with before and some big meet familiarity created by our trip to the Missouri Grand Prix.

At Sunday’s officials meeting, Scott Goldblatt spoke about his Olympic experiences in 2000 and 2004 and about his current passion: promoting swimming online via swimnetwork.com.  He’s partnering with USA Swimming to showcase the sport in a new era.

On the last day of the meet, it was pleasantly warm.  Annie’s 200 backstroke was the last event of the day, just before time trials, so she skipped it to focus her efforts on a time trial of the 100 backstroke.  Curiously, I was the starter for time trials on this day.  Annie listened to her coach, went out fast, improved her kick and qualified for USA Swimming’s Junior National Championships.  Her long-time goal was realized!  Her beaming smile told the whole story.  We celebrated with sushi and soda!

Rich Robinson gave me feedback on my starting.  I learned that he would have likely been a starter for the 2012 Olympics in London if FINA hadn’t changed its age requirements for officials.   He’s started multiple National Championships and turned down an offer to be head starter for this year’s Olympic trials so that others could have a chance.  His advice on patience, calmness and positioning is treasured.

Disqualifying swimmers for rules violations is part of life for an official.  It’s frequent at many meets, but quite rare at Grand Prix meets.  On Sunday evening, I had to disqualify a swimmer in the “B” final of the men’s 100 backstroke for not surfacing by the 15 meter mark. Though I felt bad for him, it was a reminder that we treat swimmers equally, whether they are six-year-old novices or 25-year-old professionals.  I nearly made it through an entire meet without disqualifying a swimmer for the first time in my seven-year officiating career.  Maybe next time I will?  In the “A” final of the men’s 100 backstroke Phelps, Peirsol and several others used the entire 15 meters before surfacing.  Underwater swimming is faster, every detail counts, and they’ve practiced it so many times.  Phelps beat Peirsol in backstroke for the first time.  Phelps also won the 100 freestyle final from lane 9, meaning he was the slowest preliminary swimmer to qualify for the championship final.  I wonder what his coach, Bob Bowman, would have said to him if he’d not made the “A” final.  Phelps also won the 200 individual medley, giving him three wins for the night.  It was truly a pleasure and a privilege to watch the greatest athlete of all time in the prime of his career, particularly in such an intimate setting.  Millions of us around the world will watch him on our television screens as he powers through the water at the Olympic Trials and the Olympics.  Perhaps taking a cue from Phelps’ exploits, Eric Vendt swam to an American Record in the 1,500 meter freestyle final.  He went out fast and stayed fast all the way!  It was a fitting way to close out a great meet.

Sleeping on a pillow too thick, missing my exercise routine, facing short nights of sleep and overexposure to sun and heat; why do I still officiate?  Because I get to serve a sport I passionately believe in and I meet a lot of wonderful people along the way.  It happened by chance and it’s become one of the best parts of my life.  Officials are right next to the action, getting rare glimpses into the thrills and the agony.  We watch kids mature into active, responsible adults.  Sometimes, they become incredibly motivated high achievers.  They represent the essence of progressive society, pushing the boundary between what is perceived to be possible or impossible.  What might be?  With great coaching, they learn to believe in and even expect great outcomes.  First they let go of excuses and then they embrace great challenges.  It’s the American way!

I think it’s the Australian way too.  The Aussie women dominated the gold medals in freestyle at Santa Clara.  The United States men did likewise.  Are they faster?  Were they more rested?  It adds great intrigue to this Olympic year.  Many mysteries will be solved when the United States Olympic trials are held in Omaha, Nebraska in early July. Only fifty-six slots are available to thousands of talented American swimmers, each of whom would love to have the title “Olympian” associated with their name.  Perhaps even greater suspense will play out later: who will be fastest in the Beijing Olympics in August?

Coach Dustin Perry has rehabilitated, coaxed, pushed, taught and inspired Annie to achieve both Senior Sectional and Junior National qualifying times in just fifteen months.  Previously, she had a three-month layoff due to an injured shoulder that threatened her career.  In recent months, Annie has added nearly daily runs to her already heavy workout schedule.  It’s because she dreams big and expects great outcomes!  Coach Perry has led many swimmers to dramatic improvements in personal accountability, positivity, physical condition and performance.  I’m very curious to see what levels they’ll decide to achieve.  To have access to this high level coaching is an exciting opportunity!

Annie & Zach enjoying lake time!

 I used to despise the word “whatever.”  Often used by disrespectful teenagers, hearing it seemed to grant me permission to lose my cool.  Now it’s like a mantra to me, with a very different meaning.  Being ready for whatever might happen is good for me.  It frees me from pain that results from unfulfilled expectancy.   It leaves me ready to change plans, on the fly, without losing time or energy to disappointment, dismay or despair.  It makes now a good time to be fully alive, enjoying whatever is happening much more, while forgetting about what is not.  This feels really good to me, and blesses my days with more satisfaction.  I believe it blesses others with less pressure from me and the company of a better version of me.  They need not worry about whether I’ll be disappointed by their choices or not.  Their choices are totally up to them.  I get to choose for me.  I choose optimism, fun, adventure, learning, laughing, dancing, playing and growing.  I’m a very lucky man!  ( :

I’m learning to listen to my body.  Here’s to hoping it’ll soon have more encouraging things to talk about!  Just kidding, sort of.  I have little trials, but I’ve been blessed with a lot of health and a body that’s allowed me to do so much.  Yay God!  ( :

ChiRunning talks about focusing on our form, starting with basics that make a lot of sense.  For instance, spending energy efficiently allows us to go farther.  Good postural alignment lets our spine handle our body weight, instead of our muscles.  Good alignment while running avoids the multitude of problems that people face, which often turn them away from running.  This is a tragedy if it makes them less active.  Moving leads to grooving!  In running, we make the same moves so many times over that it’s particularly important to do them with good mechanics. 

The tendonitis in my right elbow is blessing me with a chance to appreciate the challenges that others go through in life.  It’s also granting me opportunity to think positively, switching quickly away from what I cannot do and honing in on what I can do.  This is a chance to run again!  I did sixty minutes, or 281 floors, on the stair-stepper machine Tuesday evening.  I’ll be ready if I ever need to climb a skyscraper!  I ran for 45 minutes after mowing the lawn and fertilizing the plants on Wednesday evening.  If I have to rest my arm, I can still move my legs!

Snake River Canyon half marathon in 2007; my second best time so far……

I’m recovering from wanting more.  Often I just try for too much of a good thing, thinking that more is better.  I was reminded of this last evening.  When I discovered that I’d left the lap-top computer at work, I considered returning for it, so I could blog.  That felt addictive, so I read a book, meditated and watched part of a movie instead.  It was good!  I’ve been a bit of a blogaholic.  I’m striving for a balanced life, and I suspect it will be a perpetual juggling act.  Bring on the circus!  ( :

Trivia question of the day:  Can you pick out me, Frank, in this photo?  First correct answer wins a guest posting on my blog!  hahahahahaha

Thank you Sherry

Thank you Shantelle

Any day that I can bring sunshine into someone’s life is a great day!  It warms my heart and soothes my soul if I feel like I’m a positive impact on the lives of others, as well as myself!  Actually, starting with myself

  • My favorite Color~  Blue, though they’re all nice!
  • Favorite Animal~ Many, maybe humans at the top.
  • Favorite number~ ???  I work with numbers a lot, and they’re all just okay.
  • Favorite Non-alcoholic drink~ Chocolate-banana protein milkshakes.
  • Facebook or Twitter~ Is there a “none of the above” choice?
  • My Passion~ my passion is having passion about many things – living life fully!
  • Prefer getting or giving presents~ All of the above.
  • Favorite pattern~  a life patterned on wellness.
  • Favorite Day of the Week~  Today.
  • Favorite Flower~ extra fragrant roses.

Here are some cool blogs I appreciate and nominate:

Wolf jump on balance beam.

Wolf jump on balance beam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life feels like a stock market:  little ups and downs, big ups and downs, with a general upward trend .  Investors’ emotions change the “value” of companies.  Can other people’s opinions change our value?  Silly me for letting them impact me as much as I have.  Perhaps pleasing others is like a balance beam:  God loves us to serve others, but not fall off our walk of faith,  hope and love.  I think He knows we need to love ourselves first, deeply and with complete conviction.  He made us so beautifully!  Look how we can dance!  Watch how we can serve and love!  The better we know and love ourselves, the better prepared we are to co-exist with, serve, appreciate and inspire others.  We can pray for the wisdom to embrace good ideas, while holding dearly to the timeless spiritual truths we’ve already learned.  LOVE!

I missed Silkie Baby, whatever to do?

Slip into despair, or lace up my shoes?

Breathe deeply the air that inspires my brain,

and build up my muscles while easing the pain.

Heart healing’s a process where faith saves the day,

God blesses us all as we search out our ways.

I know that He loves me, I feel it inside!

His challenge to me is to trust in the ride!

Wow!  She was so sweet, I almost wanted to kiss her!  She went with the flow, shifting gears to meet any situation.  She was up for adventure and she loves the great outdoors.  I loved being next to her, feeling like sometime soon would be a great time for another date!  I   can picture us spending many hours together, sometimes in quiet contemplation.  She seems happy with me too!  Isn’t she a beauty?

 

Sweet delicate rain, you came to say,

cheer up plants, I’ll help you stay!

I’m the stuff of life, I’m just what you need,

 I saw you sprout from a baby seed.

You soak me up, and blossom into life.

You’re as beautiful as a smiling wife!

Every one of you, with such diversity,

depend on me, plain as can be.

I’m a simple thing, who with my friend the sun,

creates beautiful things – every single one!

It is difficult for me to illuminate the impact of sunshine on me.  No life would be possible without it.  Is that enough?  It also inspires better living!  The sun can make a cool day feel warm.  Sunshine can inspire a sense of well-being.  This “all is well” perception can inspire creativity, cooperation and benevolence. Sunshine fosters optimism, a well-spring of hope for dreams, aspirations and goals.  Sunshine is good! 

Might they call you “Sunshine”?

 

frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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