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Annie Rem MazamaThis is such an amazing life!

Our spirits take to skiing like eagles ride the wind. We find excitement and an amazing recharge of our zestful lives, as we climb hills, then zoom down them. Fully alive, sealed in the moment, oblivious of past or future. Now is just so good!

Annie and Remington and I loved Sun Mountain yesterday, savoring amazing glide and enlivening exertion. The trails were awesome and the company was even better. When rain presented, a world class warming hut appeared. As we finished our refreshments, the rain stopped and we eagerly tackled more of the abundant trails. This is heaven on earth!

A Mazama trail narrative suggested easier terrain and fewer of the hills we love so much. So what might appear? A side trail, out and back, with the tracks of a lone skier before us. In mid-afternoon? Was this our special destiny? My smile continued to widen as we meandered ever higher, pushing our bodies while earning an amazing descent. Wow! I feel like we just got promoted! Can life really just keep getting better and better?

Rem Frank Mazama

Pat loves fine desert living!

Pat loves fine desert living!

Today is a transition, sandwiching golfing utopia and high-level football. Stanford travels to Washington State University in a battle for PAC-12 north supremacy. Pat and I savored swimming and stretching in warm water and weather at his home before cruising to Sky Harbor today. The Nevada mountains below me are topped with snow as the sun shines brilliantly. It’s been a dreamy week. Lyn and Pat are such great hosts. A victory tomorrow would taste like dessert. We’ve enjoyed a resurgence of kick-ass football. Pullman boasts one of the most exciting teams in the country, with remarkable players. Rain and wind are expected to return, granting the Cougars a chance to redeem their season-opening slop-drop against Portland State.

With the looming time change, lunches on the golf range sound appropriate. I hope for rounds at Veteran’s Memorial, Canyon Lakes and perhaps Palouse Ridge/Wildhorse/Othello on the near horizon. Autumn golf in the north will beg patience and restraint. How low can I go?

I’m wondering if my exposure to warm desert golf will be a life-changing event for me. To follow masterful links with a soothing swim is a great way to live. Would it be awesome for a month or more?

I hit golf balls from small mountains and soon I will ski across bigger ones. I believe that core work, strength training and high energy cardio-vascular adventures like hiking, spinning, squatting, running and climbing offer me avenues to greater achievement, firing my body and soul. How many mountains will I summit this winter? How fully will I savor the fruits of life as I dance to the passage of time?

I sense a need to mix it up, see the world and greet new adventures with a fiery passion, recognizing the fleeting nature of life. Work has enriched me and play has treated me even better. My spirit soars and dances and blossoms in wild community. These are the greatest treats. Want to play with me soon?

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn’s net 69 mastered the inaugural Desert Classic at Tonto Verde’s Peaks course, which was lovely in almost every way. Lyn won match play over both Pat and I.

Desert golf is brothers' bonding is an amazing way!

Desert golf is brothers’ bonding in an amazing way!

The greens were slow, the translation suggested foolish greens, which looked like they’d be incredible when fast. The views were magnificent.

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

We hit some beautiful shots and occasionally found the desert. Lyn was the straightest hitter and most consistent putter (29). Pat and I matched 89’s to ramp up suspense.

Lyn is the champion...of the day!

Lyn is the champion…of the day!

In the week-long competition, Pat beat me 35-28 in head-to-head skins and I nipped him 3 days to 2 in match play. Pat made three beautiful birdies, including a hole-out from the sand that was exciting and rare for it’s range.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

I hit a high, long eight iron to eight feet past and stroked it home for birdie on hole 6 (78/90).

Should I shorten my backswing?

Should I shorten my backswing?

We enjoyed this lovely slice of Rio Verde and the awe-inspiring drive, showcasing the Four Peaks and surrounding mountains. The views were magnificent, the company so loving and golf as I’ve never seen it before. Wow! I am a desert golf lover!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Pat grooves his swing.

Pat grooves his swing.

It feels so good!  It makes me want to do it more, to savor the delights. Why not?

Lately I have wondered if I can learn to do it even better. Will that suggest that I’m approaching my center?

There are many aspects of a smooth stroke, so it is easy to stray from the ideal. I can feel when the stroke is not right. I don’t always know what to do about it, however. This year, I have stroked poorly much of the time. It is frustrating and bewildering. But it also gives perspective on how awesome good stroking is.

Somehow, today my stroke was on. Not on every stroke, but on many. There are many ways to fail, but the good ones were so sweet today. Rising high into the sky, tonight’s wedge shots were mostly decent to good, while some were awesome. One seemed to be the highest, longest wedge shot of my life.  I was in awe that I hit it. I watched it climb and climb, seeming to rise 20% higher than the others. As it flew a great distance, I was engrossed in curiosity about what made it so different. Could I recreate that magic swing on a more regular basis? Will I move towards better scoring? The powerful draw of the greatest game has its claws in me.  I am hooked again.

There is much to remember: loose grip/relaxed muscles, appropriate stance, pushback/takeaway with an upright swing plane, and most importantly, balance.  Follow-through towards target, steady head, controlled swing length, hip timing, etc.  It’s really fun when all I need to think is “relax.” Then let it happen. I want more days when the ball flies straight where I aim. So I’ll keep practicing, and keep the faith. The high scores I’ve posted this year are not written in stone. They fade away fast, as fast as my mind realizes that my true destiny is to stroke it well. Though the scores are not my worth, they do paint a picture of my journey. I await its maturation.

FORE!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

The full moon seemed to smile at me as the sun set, like an inspirational shift change. Despite the bug plastered windshield, it stirred sweet adventure memories and radiated wellness. What a fitting culmination to a full weekend! I tasted the riches of family, friends, travel, physical challenge, coffee, shopping, dining and peaceful rest. All is well!

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

It was pretty tough for a while. Bloomsday is a little like a plunge into an icy lake. Many people view it as a spring-time tradition. We see who we are. I was confronted with my past selves and I wished I could stride like some of them. And I think maybe I can. Or not. The mysteries will be revealed and created!

Adventure partners forever!

Adventure partners forever!

People are so interesting. We offer much and sometimes deliver little. Our potential is incredible. Our limiting beliefs dance with our willingness to try to be truly open-minded, fighting for the precious ground of our souls. We rarely know when we’re missing out, choosing to think that our opinions and beliefs are sacred, accurate truths. How silly we can be!

I may have done one thing right, or not. Bloomsday officials have a new ploy called “time up Doomsday.”  They measure how long it takes to ascend the brutal hill between 4.3 and 5 miles into the 7.46 mile race. It may be a good idea for some people to buy into this chase. For me, walking the entire steep part yesterday may have saved my life. I was red-lining, after zooming past hundreds of people on the steep downhill before Doomsday. I’ve learned that I’m very good on downhill portions, and I simply love to run fast. The mob hindered me during an early downhill section, but it thinned a bit and the course widened by the middle of the race. So I hauled ass! Then I accepted my need to walk. No, I would not post one of my faster race times. But I would still do the best I could on this day, and live to race again. Hundreds of people passed me on the hill. Many of them faded badly after the hill, and I passed them back. My ego loved the times when I passed guys who appeared to be about my age. Yay! I passed another old guy! How silly I can be!

I cannot adequately describe to you how good water, coffee and food taste after long runs. It must be experienced first-hand. It is amazing!

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general:

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general: “Let’s do it!”

I hate to run and then I love to run. It is so hard to go running. It is deeply rewarding to keep running. I love the high I get when I reach autopilot. It’s a zone where I can just keep running. All is well. No fears, burdens or anxieties. Great blood flow to all of my body, including my brain. Breathe in, breathe out. Absorb the sights, the sounds, the fresh air, the exhilarating power of trained muscles.  Ahhhhhhhh. This is good!

My ego wants to beat somebody. But just getting out is what’s truly important. Moving is rejuvenating, enlightening, inspiring and invigorating. It makes me better. I am so grateful I can still do it. What a rich blessing!

I found new trails on my run on Sunday and my walk on Monday. Adventure is good for my soul. It helps my mind open up a little. Maybe I’ll be more receptive to new ways of thinking. Won’t that be good?

After my run on Tuesday I showered quickly to rejoin the retreat team for dinner. On the walk there, it felt like all I had to do was lift my legs and they would automatically spring forward. It was kind of freaky after my autopilot thoughts. My muscles have listened and obeyed.  They just want to run! My refreshed attitude and energy boost were bonuses.

I think I’ll plan a trip somewhere new, play some new golf courses, try new activities, and meet some new people. Yes! Maybe I’ll even take a run…

Annie is lean and fast!  Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

Annie is lean and fast! Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

It’s a law of nature. Training hard enables running faster. Reducing training leads to running slower. It’s a cool rule, because you can’t steal speed. You can’t wish it upon anyone. You simply get what you deserve. It cuts out identity thieves and other freeloaders.

Annie has trained harder than me. She deserved to kick my ass and so she did. Hooray for her efforts and for justice in the world!

The Badger Mountain Challenge amplifies the disparity between the in-shape and the wannabes. I ran fast on the downhills, using determination and experience. The uphill sections tend to differentiate, beautifully so. Honest folks have to love it!

Annie’s been leading a life worthy of emulation, embracing regular, varied exercise and nutritional wisdom. She is a model of consistency. Each time I visit her, I make cool strides in the proper direction. I want more strides!

I slipped into ailments and distractions, also known as work, movies, overeating and settling for mediocrity. I feel re-awakened by Annie’s good old-fashioned ass-kicking and our day-after spin class leaders’ encouraging reminders: we must push to grow, you don’t know how much you can push until you try, YOU CAN DO IT!

Life deals out road forks. I see one here. Slippage or growth? Discouragement or encouragement? In short, live or die?

I hope to live, as fully as my mind can manage. I can learn from lots of people. There are many who teach me how not to drive, speak, write, eat and otherwise spend my time. There are fewer worthy role models. How fun to hope to hang with them! When they help me grow, to become a better version of myself, I become richer. I see the glow, feel the spark, embrace the excitement, taste the depth and hope for even more. It’s the best way I know how to live. Thank you to those of you who remind me what to do, because I forget. We can save each other!

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

I arrived at the airport today around 1 PM for my 8:15 flight home, after listening to some atypical whining at our leadership training. Early arrival avoided another day’s charge for the rental car and helped out my associates who needed rides. There was plenty of time to eat, read, manage e-mail and eat some more. Ultimately, our flight was canceled by fog in Walla Walla. Tim, one of our physician leaders, was also awaiting this flight, and he’d played this game before. We were first in line to re-schedule, betting on an 11:10 flight to Pasco, an hour from home, as well as the kindness of his wife who would pick us up. The thing is, this was a good day!

Maybe the “bad” days are vital for perspective. I remember enjoying Christmas and a nice long run the day after. Then I slipped into flu-like symptoms, followed by a sinus infection. Soon afterwards, I faced debilitating lower back spasms, accompanied by sciatic nerve pain. What had happened? Was I getting a little taste of what it’s like to be old and dying?

I tried rest and heating pads, muscle relaxants and OTC pain killers, movies and sleep. Two courses of antibiotics killed the sinus infection, but the back problem lingered. Then it got worse; I couldn’t even bear to go to work. Sitting in my desk chair after the arduous challenge of getting there seemed like too much. Would I get better or worse?

Small acts of compassionate kindness can be pretty big. My co-worker Sue mentioned to our Director of Rehabilitation that I was in a rough place, and gave him my phone number. Tom called me promptly that Friday and carved time out of his busy schedule to see me that day, a week sooner than my scheduled visit. What a gift! He manipulated my lower spine with twists and bends. The pain relief was significant. I was on the road back to life! I was able to take long walks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as do the backlog of chores and my assigned rehabilitation exercises and stretching.

I’ve had several follow-up sessions of physical therapy, as well as deep tissue massages, and my condition continues to improve, especially when I have the time to walk, stretch my back and legs and tone my abdominal and lateral movement muscles as prescribed. My new masseuse is the best I’ve ever had, so I’m back to regular treatments. I am moving towards life balance that I didn’t realize I was losing.  Running and lifting were good, but not a complete health solution. I am reminded of the need for balance in my life: yoga, stretching, massage and diet are integral parts of my wellness, in addition to strength and endurance training. Will this recent wake up call help me remember to do all these things, consistently, that make me well? I surely hope so!

What might the future bring? Will I run and golf again soon? Will I be able to to do whatever I want?

I think it’s time to dream again. Yay!

WSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Summa Cum Laude, 2014, Annie the Adventurer!

WSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Summa Cum Laude, 2014, Annie the Adventurer!

Often, we get what we deserve. How we live paints the canvas of our lives. Persistence pays off. Going for what we want usually gets us there. Persistence, dedication, patience, perseverance and faith foster success. It’s cool to see people live this way. It’s nice to see my offspring do so! Annie’s college journey has delivered her to the job she wants. Her graduation culminates a transition between childhood and adult life. Her dreams include adventure, motherhood and providing health care to others. She is one fun lady!

Looks like she made it!

Looks like she made it!

Perhaps coincidentally, the sweet kitten Annie picked out over twelve years ago took her last breaths recently. Tali gave us a lot of love. She will be missed. She stayed when others left. Perhaps her last mission was teaching me that when everyone else leaves, God remains.  What more could we need?

 

Wild things!

Wild things!

Tali is always home!

Tali is always home!

I see great things when I look through centered eyes. I see misery when I look through the fog of discontent. Details of conditions are mostly irrelevant. My mission is clarified: live a centered life. Be a ray of hope, a wave of optimism, a laugh in the night, a smile in the rain and a hand when it’s needed. Embrace spiritual connectedness. I hope you dance!

Nick and Zach

Nick and Zach

Life has been really good, in so many ways. Can it get any better than this?

Summer has blessed me with new experiences, which widen my smiles and broaden my perspective. I’ve delighted in new scenery on my street bicycle, feeling power grow in my legs. I promptly rebounded from a head-on collision on my mountain bicycle; thank God for pneumatic tires and pedal clips! Adjusting to the clips has involved two minor falls, but now I have a steady supply of power.

I’ve upgraded my fairway metals and a loft wedge and tried some new putters. So far this year I’ve played thirteen rounds and a couple of scrambles. Recently, that’s more than some five-year stretches! It is still frustrating, challenging, inspiring and befuddling. My first handicap in decades is 18.8, as the beautiful shots have been counterbalanced by the despicable, penalized and ridiculous. Trees, OB’s, traps, deep grass, lost balls, duck hooks and more. Golf is God’s direct line to my spirit. I think He plays too. Wine Valley Golf Course near Walla Walla made me beam like a kid on Christmas. By the seventh hole, I was delighted to realize that it felt like my favorite course ever! Treeless, rolling hills lead to smooth, fast and rolling greens. Putts roll perfectly and every shot pattern can work. Holes are well designed and maintenance is wonderful. I invite you to join me there soon! Friday’s fundraiser at Walla Walla Country Club for St. Mary Medical Center’s foundation was well-managed.  There are two ugly holes there, one with a blind approach and one with a blind tee shot. WWCC is also well cared for, but it reminds me, like so many things, that humans get smarter with time. The newer courses are often better, especially when space and site selection are not big limiters. Next weekend I’m scheduled to play Circling Raven in North Idaho (for the first time) and this fall I hope to return to Palouse Ridge in Pullman. That’s three of the best courses in the region, so I’m a very lucky guy! May the birdies be with me…..

Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Grand Luau at Honua’ula

In June Nick and Jaslyn and Annie and Zach and I all enjoyed our trip to Maui and agreed that it was a fun and memorable week, perhaps the best of our lives. For most of us it was our first trip to Hawaii. We loved the Maui Hill 3 bedroom/3 bath condo. It was the perfect way to enjoy paradise. Snorkeling with sea turtles was amazing. Boogie boarding each day on increasingly larger waves was so fun! Every morning I took coffee on the deck and savored the blessings of utopia. Our Luau was fun and entertaining, and Lahaina and Kihei offered interesting shopping. We also had fun in the pool and hot tub. We all hope to go back as soon as possible. The wood carvings of sea turtles and tikis remind us of our adventure!

Maui snorkeling

Maui snorkeling

At Rainbow Beach in July we were scorched by the weather. On Sunday morning, Annie and I turned our first paddle of the year into an epic experience. I thought it’d be a short outing and absent-mindedly forgot sunscreen, food, money and backup beverages. We remembered to bring some water and adventurous spirits. It was very fun, so we had paddled several miles, through the channel and well around the other lake before we decided to paddle the entire perimeter of both lakes. Like a marathon, the course seemed to get longer and longer! New bays appeared, each one bigger than we remembered. They are effortless in a power boat. On a paddle board, not so much.  Stroke or sit dead in the water. Luckily, I’ve done a lot strength training on my shoulders this year. With little recent paddle training, the standing became tiring to our feet, however, so we eventually alternated between standing, kneeling and sitting. As the temperatures rose, we had to jump into the water or douse ourselves more often. We were hot, tired and thirsty. Hey, we’ve been here before. We can do this! This is like a marathon! After completing the south lake and passing back through the channel, we faced a tough challenge. Our energy was spent and it was a lot longer path to complete circumnavigating, as compared to straight-lining to drinks, food and shade. Could we make it? Should we try? Are we in late-race delirium? In the end, we couldn’t envision doing it again later in the week. It needed to be done. Let’s do it! Ironically, as we neared completion of a large bay and turned back towards our cabin, the wind came up. In our face! I flashed back to marathon training runs. It was four letter word time! Somehow, we made it, over 4.5 hours after starting out. Spent, thirsty, hungry, sun-burned, hot and victorious. That was one tasty Coke Zero! A dip in the lake, some food and a long spell of shade: how sweet it is! The ensuing days brought water-skiing, which was as thrilling as ever and delightful huckleberry treats. Seeing loved ones in a vacation setting is sweet deja vu. It’s especially rewarding to see the good choices and growth in people’s lives.

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

I’m sitting in Nick and Jaslyn’s living room now as they slumber, along with Annie. I’m stoked that I got over eight hours of sleep and a bit curious how much they will get. We all lifted hard at the WSU Recreation Center yesterday evening, focusing on our chests and triceps. They are quite inspirational, and I needed it! Today we’re doing back and shoulders. Tomorrow? The world! Or try to intimidate Pat with some big drives. Maybe even in the fairway? Nick turned me on to inspirational videos and I’m stoked to better my core muscles, which will open more doors and make things easier and more fun. Fun! Yes! Bring on the fun!

It felt too hard! Man, what a recurring theme! It’s a timeless feeling of deja vu; I’ve been here before, many times, over many years. There are easier, softer options: slow down a little, slow down a lot, walk, quit, devise excuses…

Excuses can arise from an early morning bed: a rainy day? Perhaps I’m meant to rest this morning? Or is that fear rearing its ugly head?

Today I hit an excuse jackpot. My right calf cramped less than two miles into the race. Good or bad? Just breathe in and out, sending relaxing thoughts to my muscles. Hmmm… was this a chance to run from the run? It’s not always easy living in my mind. So stay out of it if you can!

Using a watch to forecast results is easy for me. It can also be quite limiting. My GPS watch does much of what I used to do, creating opportunity for other thoughts. These can be devilish or inspirational.

Mile one passed in 7:30. Judgement commenced. Too fast! I did it again! I will only slow down from here! So mile two took 8:08. See how much I slowed down! Feel how winded I am! It’s all downhill from here!

A self-fulfilling prophecy? Mile three elapsed in 8:26. I’ll be crawling by the end! I’m out of shape from not running all week! I’ve gotten lazy. Shit!

Whoa! Finally, my free-wild-optimist fought back. I’m nearly half done and averaging 8:01 per mile. Not bad for my condition! I should do my best and see what happens.

Part of the beauty and challenge of the Balloonsday 10 kilometer course is the loneliness, especially coming on the heels of a mega-crowd road race like Bloomsday. Most Balloonsday participants choose five kilometers. The scarcity of ten kilometer racers leads to some big gaps. Mine was a lonely path today, creating a wonderful opportunity to choose between easy lagging and difficult pushing. Who am I to be today?

Lonely mile four took 8:15. Was I choosing to be all that I could be? Perhaps my fifty minute goal is too tough today. I should have trained harder! Why do I think I can push on race day without more fast-paced training? Still, I must push and do what I can!

The volunteers were so encouraging! The course was extremely well-marked. This is my favorite race of the year! But mile five took 8:16. I think I’m slowing down too much. I’ll miss my goal. I’m doomed! More waiting? Will I just keep on saying “wait ’til next year”? Wait a minute! It’s the negative thoughts that are holding me back! I can almost always push at least a bit harder. Do it now! Run free and wild! Be the spirited stallion! Go for it!

Hey, it’s true! I do have a little more to give. When I do so, I gain capacity to give a little more next time. My life gets better when my heart, mind and soul embrace faith and venture forth, fully alive!

Mile six took 7:48. I picked up the pace! Bring it home! I strode strongly to the finish, clocking 49:29. It was my best time in years and another step towards better health. Physically, mentally and spiritually, I must face the demons I meet with faith, perseverance and lots of smiles. It fills my journey with pleasure, which sometimes masquerades as pain. Namaste!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Yours may be in June. Or not. I’m having one today. It may be the perfect day for it. To be clear, today is not as much about my privilege of being father to my children. I get those special days throughout each year, blessed with adventures, discovery and laughter with Nicholas and Annie. Today I’m thinking of my Dad, James Gilbert Erickson, the patriarch of this diverse clan I call family.

So it’s golf and gardening for me today. Pinochle too, if I can find it. NBA basketball would be right. I’ll dine on fresh asparagus and salmon later. My goal is to be a living version of my Dad! Well, if only I could have kept it in the fairways…..

Life deals hard knocks at times. Today’s round of golf played out like a microcosm of my life. I made three triple bogeys on the front nine. How? Value golfing! Why take only one chip on a hole when you can have more? Why play on the short grass, with clear paths to the greens, when you can easily find more challenge? Those trees were planted for a reason! Isn’t a circuitous life more enriching than a simple, straight line to success? Well, I’ve only had one path. The winding road has been fun! And hard. And depressing. And saddening. But enough of the tough. Today’s stark reality is that the triple bogeys are the good times. They are, after all, simply golf. Typically no blood or death. Besides, a tough time in life is still life. LIFE! The greatest gift of all? So I may have grown a bit today. After I’d chopped it around the first nine in 54 strokes, my newfound golfing friend remarked that he had more fun playing with me today than any of his other golf outings. I felt honored. Perhaps it was because I remained courteous, friendly and hopefully funny, despite the tally building on my scorecard. My highest score in over forty years was one of my most pleasurable days of the year. I was playing a game I love in perfect weather. I am a lucky man.

I parred our tenth hole, nailed a birdie putt after a sweet approach on the eleventh, and parred the twelfth. I was one under par for three holes on the second nine, after averaging double bogeys on the first nine (with no hole better than bogey). I was scoring as good on the back as I was badly on the front. The birdie was especially fun, but how I handle life’s situations is more important than what they are. I shot a pleasant 54 on the front and a grateful 40 on the back. So am I a hacker or a pretty good golfer? Attitudinally, I’m getting there. We’ll see what happens with the scores. Maybe there’ll be more birdies. Like the hawk that tried to scare us away from its nest today. That’s a double birdie day!

What if I know of real solutions for affordable health care, but nobody listens? What if I know of a simple cure for some types of depression, but no one hears me? Stress reduction? Better health? Peace of mind? Contentment? Freedom?

Maybe we all have to figure them out on our own, in our own time. It’s cool that the answers are real and widely available! They’re almost free, yet priceless. I hope you agree, in the most real sense of all, via actions. Live well!

Yesteryear, but you get the idea!

Who’s high on life?

Should I visit the Alps? Or other mountains? Before the lure of the desert seizes my spirit with warm weather fun?

My golf vacation was so fun! Pat and Lyn were so gracious, as always. Phoenix weather in January is roughly PERFECT for golf. They say April is even better, but I can’t see how. Perhaps the grass will be even greener and the air a bit warmer. Hmmm…… I’ve felt more ready for transitioning to warm weather winters. Age really seems to increase my appreciation of warmth, and aversion to cold. It seems progressive. But maybe not so fast…..

Over the past weekend, my Blue House Cafe transformed into a ski chalet! Nordic adventures of the past thirty years flashed vividly back. I entered a timeless zone, where the glide is everything. It’s a breathing meditation at a higher level. I understand more deeply why the Olympics now offer “skiathons.” Because they’re the winter equivalent of marathons! The evolution of the term is obvious, but the fun is in the feeling. I skied for hours on Saturday, excited to return to better health. Then the Olympians inspired me on Sunday. It just got better and better! When I’ve run marathons, the powerful endurance was awesome. But each passing mile typically got harder. With cross-country skiing, my glide improves the more I practice. It feels so good; I get addicted. So on Sunday, I played a mental game of calculating how much farther I could ski before turning back. When would the sun really set? Will I get enough afterglow? Hey, I just need to make it back to the streetlights by heavy darkness. Yippee! Press on! How fun!

So my aversion to cold, grey, and wet winter days was broken. I relived the glory of winter! I moved further towards appreciating the moments of my life, whatever and wherever they are. Work has been tough, but I’ve handled it better. I’m moving in the direction I want: be the best I can be, live proactively and enjoy the moments. It’s sweet!

Golf is no four letter word. It’s often called “Arghhhhhhhhh!” Or “dammmmnnnnnn!” Or other unpleasantries. Except when you hit one just right. Then it’s “ahhhhhhhhh.” Maybe “yessssssssss!” I’ll be back soon. That just feels too good. I want more. Like a sweet romance, it tantalizes, lures and hooks us. It will never be mastered, but I think I’ll try. As the sun smiles on my skin and the breeze cools my brow, I visualize a towering shot, rising high in the sky, threatening the target. Mastery of a moment, if only a single shot, suggests mind-pleasing possibilities. I’m the man. I can do this. I can excel at mankind’s most challenging game. If I find the sweet spot in my spirit, I’m opened to finding the sweet spot on the club head. One opens the door to the other, analogous to so much of life. So swing away. You’ll see just where you are. The truth is delightful. It points to exactly what to do next. We simply need to open the eyes of our minds. Namaste.

IMG_0709

In 2013 I learned to be more true to myself. I enjoyed my first ever marathons, standup paddling, greater freedom of spirit, more perspective, less fear and increased confidence.
I’m confident that the best plan for me is to reach out, smile, encourage, savor, learn and grow.
Yesterday’s intense leg weight lifting session rolled all of those together. So does work, and so can adventures. Mysteries abound; many are filled with fun! To at least some extent, they are what they are. I can choose to see the fun. More fun!

Invigorators!

Invigorators!

 

Smiles create smiles!

Smiles create smiles!

Once again, I choose happiness! My mind is still blown by the reality that it’s simply been a choice all along. No luck, no waiting for it to come. Just choose it now. Now! “Later” is just more talk. I love that many people keep reminding me of this free choice, because sometimes I forget, and happiness is way more fun!

Sure it takes practice. A pattern of negativity, whining and pouting doesn’t morph into refreshingly optimistic gratitude in an instant. Good things come to those who persevere!

I can’t deny that there are always beautiful, impressive, awe-inspiring things, thoughts, people, places and events wherever I am. The stark reality is that whether I appreciate and richly experience them is limited or enabled by my mind. My attitude, my openness, my closed-mindedness, my willingness and my awareness levels are key. Living fully is an option for all of us.

It’s not their fault or credit that you’re the way you are. Whatever, whomever and whenever. They can define you. Or not.

It’s a great opportunity!

What a bunch of blessings!

 

Who? Who? Who? Who?

Songs get stuck in my head. This three-letter question is key to me. It can open doors I really want opened. I simply need to figure out where they lead!

Proactive living is considerably different from reactive living. Making this change involves diving inside, deeper and deeper. When I find ugly, scary, lazy or arrogant, I can work to replace them with beauty, faith, dedication and openness. Because everyone wins!

I can expand my mind, if I’m honest and willing. I can learn, experience and believe. I believe that I can become more compassionate, wise, adventurous, dedicated, considerate, athletic and fun. More and more of the same thinking, activities and stubbornness aren’t likely to get it done. Surrender, faith and willingness to try new ways of thinking and experience new places and people and activities can really help.

I want better. I mean, my life is great! It’s gotten better each year. But I want better! Why not?

Yes!

Yes!

When the above is at least somewhat true, I experience spiritual freedom. To whatever depth I get this deep in my soul, I am freed. No longer in a stranglehold of ego, fear, greed, lust, jealousy, anger or disappointment, I can be present to the presents of the present. That’s a very “good” thing! Ha!

Judging “good” or “bad” can really waste my time. I don’t get much time (there I go, judging again), so does it make sense to spend it in dismay, disrupting my spirit and having “bad” days?

What if some powerful people at work made decisions that cost the company many millions of dollars? Spouse/partner wants out? Loved ones die? Kids or friends or associates do “crazy” things I don’t approve of? Government can’t figure out how to run a country effectively? Team lost a big game? Or most of their games? Outraced, outscored, overshadowed or put down? This list could go on forever. The simple truth is that life has a lot of twists and turns, if we’re lucky enough to live on. The longer we live, the wilder it gets! Perhaps that’s because we think we know more. We learn a bit. We make judgement calls. “That’s good. That’s bad. They’re dumb. I’m smart.”

Perhaps everything just “is.” When I observe others, their judgements can be a bit entertaining and enlightening, because seeing them helps me see me. When I can admit that I’m like them, I can lessen my judging. I can move towards acceptance. I can savor the pleasures that are always available, even during the seemingly toughest times. It’s a matter of perspective, focus, attention, honesty and willingness. Logically, it’s a no-brainer. In application, it’s a constant challenge. My wish for you is enlightened freedom!

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Undeniably, much of life is far beyond our control. Yet it seems prudent to consciously develop who we are, instead of living reactively. Maybe we should work backwards? What would be cool on a headstone?

Adventurous, Believing, Calm, Daring, Enthusiastic, Funny, Game, Honorable, Innovative, Jovial, Kind, Loving, Motivating, Natural, Optimistic, Parental, Quenchable, Ready, Studious, Trustworthy, Uniting, Valiant, Wild, Xyzlacatotic, Youthful and Zesty!

Loving It Fully Everyday!

Portland Marathon 2013

Portland Marathon 2013

Yesterday was one of the toughest days of my life. How lucky am I!

Some people run marathons with very little training. We might call them silly; perhaps even laugh at them. Some of these folks post amazing performances, however. Such is the story of Zachary, Annie’s husband. He works full-time and carries a full-time college schedule. Despite minimal training, including no recent runs longer than six miles, Zach hung with Annie for most of the 2013 Portland Marathon, slowing only for the last few miles. His time of 4:58 was better than Annie and I ran at Coeur d’Alene in May, after substantial training. Who would have guessed he’d pull this off? Not me! Maybe it was the Lebanese food we powered up with on Saturday evening?

Zach's not crazy. I promise! Wait...am I a qualified judge?

Zach’s not crazy. I promise! Wait…am I a qualified judge?

Life is a bundle of richly varied experiences, which we can choose to learn from at our own pace. After moderate training for a marathon, then tapering, I felt pretty strong. 26.2 miles is a long ways, however, no matter how strong one feels. We all get to decide what pace to run. Portland’s lizard pacers offered help, but which group to choose? For me,  a targeted finish of 4:25 or 4:40? My spunky ego took the 4:25 sign in front of me at the start as evidence enough.

I soon learned two important lessons: (1) Many people bunch near the pacers, at least early in the race. (2) Pacers don’t stop for drinks or porta-potties. What to do? Get ahead of them! Having tossed out the good advice to start slow, I sped up a little more! The tantalizing feelings of strength and optimism fueled my ego and ramped up my hopes. Goodbye 4:25ers! I became mostly convinced that I should run faster while I was feeling good. I wasn’t a rookie, so I knew tougher times were coming. But why not make hay while the sun was shining?

Several minutes after a hairpin turn, as we met oncoming runners, I heard Annie yell “Go Frankoshanko!” I smiled and yelled back.  I did likewise for the dozens of people who yelled “Go Cougs” in response to my shirt. I kept a pace that felt good. So I enjoyed many miles faster than my ten minute per mile target. When I ran a mile in 8:40, I questioned the measurements, before realizing how much I had picked up the pace. Was I going too fast?

My muscles started to feel the effects around ten miles in. It’s a progressive thing, so I was curious how I’d hold up for sixteen more miles. What could I do? It seemed reasonable to keep running the best pace I could, hydrate often, eat periodic gels and see what happened!

Portland is a big race. Unlike Coeur d’Alene, there are a lot of competitors. It feels like a long version of Bloomsday. But as tough as Bloomsday is, this race is much tougher. Simply put, it’s three and a half times as long. Other runners can affect us, if we choose. Some finish strong and fight off the overwhelming, compelling urge to walk, especially near the end. But a lot of people do walk. I mean a LOT! Where do I fit in?

I didn’t want to live with remorse throughout the winter! I decided to stick with the winners! The truth is, I really couldn’t stick with many of them, including the 4:25 lizard who passed me late in the race. But I tried! I gave the race everything I had. There is satisfaction in that. My pain was real. My left leg almost gave out on one step. My right leg spasmed on another. Both legs felt the heaviest they ever had. My groin tightened. I had little energy. I was down to a plod at the end. It seemed like each step was a monumental achievement. The course just wouldn’t end! My 2:07 first half was followed by a 2:22 second half, including 13:08 on mile seventeen, which had the big hill. But I stared fear in the face and fought back. I gave it all I had! I was more tired, wobbly and spent in the finisher’s corral than I’ve ever been before. I had trained moderately well. I got what I deserved. I didn’t quit. I finished strong. It felt exhaustingly good!

Wildass Adventures!

I had just started to eye the post-race refreshments when I heard “Hi Daddy!” What? It was Annie. “How’d you get here?” was my immediate response. Post-race delirium and best-of-life surprise gave way to fatherly pride. She’d nearly caught me over the second half of the race, overcoming her knee injury, which limited her training, and her busy schedule of nursing school, work and homemaking. Perhaps our wild adventures helped? Annie and I each shed about half an hour from Coeur d’Alene, with less training. Annie, Zach and I all ran way faster than I thought we would. How’s that for miraculous?

The marathon couple!

The marathon couple!

The friendly people of Portland did many things very well, including water stops, a well staged start, traffic control, encouragement, shirt and medal design, space blankets and delightful frozen strawberry bars at the finish!

Today was a day for excruciatingly painful quadricep massage. The Stick is my best friend and my worst enemy! After work, I spent an hour at the gym lifting weights and stretching my leg muscles. I’m grateful for the pain.  It means I’m still on the road to a better life. I’ve seen no other road I’d rather be on!

Coeur d'Alene in May. How will Portland go?

Zach’s mountain biking/proof of cross-training photo wouldn’t upload. I have no idea if that’s a sign. Here’s Annie and Frank after Coeur d’Alene in May. How will Portland go?

It’s almost time for another big test. Portland’s marathon eerily feels like going home. But I’ve spent almost no time in Portland; I’ve passed through several times heading to the beach and once caught a plane there for the 1998 Rose Bowl game. I truly believe that “home is where the heart is.” So I feel at home when I’m with family and friends, especially when at places overflowing with fond memories. Martin Stadium and all of Pullman will always be my home, as will Othello Golf Course, Twin Lakes, the Erickson farmstead, Bennington Lake, Bloomsday, St. Mary Medical Center, Eagle Cap, the Selkirk Mountains and many other places. Any new place with family and friends quickly feels like home as well. It’s a matter of the heart.

I know some cool people headed to the Portland marathon this year. I’ll be traveling with two of them, Annie and Zach, and I may run into some of the others. But I may not. It may be beautiful weather, but it may not. I may feel strong and run well, but I may not. It’s a mystery, yet to unfold. But I think I’ll feel at home. Even if Annie and Zach weren’t going, I think I still might. There’s something about large gatherings of energetic athletes that fires up my soul. I’m learning to feel the kinship all people can share and it makes my journey more enjoyable. Maybe everywhere is home!

Passionate exuberance!

Passionate exuberance!

“Splendid” means “shining, brilliant, magnificent or excellent.” The suffix “fix” means “making” or “causing.” The suffix “ation” means “the action or process of doing something.”

Experts suggest to not fear success. Other say to dream big. Believe in yourself. Be confident. Well, they are right! I think it’s time for me to focus on splendification! I’ll believe it for you and for me. It’s up to me to do my part. I’ll do my very best at everything I do. I will commit to the baby steps that will lead to greater splendor. I will not fear, limit or shrink. I will glow like my creators desire. It will be splendid!

 

How can I describe the feelings I get while running, which range from euphoric to exhausted? I’ll go with freedom. Freedom from worry, stress, pressure, strain and fear. All is truly well. Smiles are abundant. Energy begets energy. Life keeps getting better. Work is easier. The need to judge others slides away. Even judging of myself. Bronzing skin basks in glorious sunshine. Supple muscles flow with their true calling. Belief grows, creating confidence. Positivity overwhelms negativity. Humor is abundant. Healthy people pass by, smiling broadly. This must be the path to heaven on earth!

Badger Mountain Challenge 2013. Smiling from the heart!

Badger Mountain Challenge 2013. Smiling from the heart!

I just keep getting higher! Maybe it’s in my nature. How lucky can you get?

On top of Eagle Cap, with Lostine River Valley in the background.

On top of Eagle Cap, with Lostine River Valley in the background.

Annie and Linda and I hiked at least 28 miles over our three-day weekend. On Friday we hiked to Upper Mirror lake and pitched my new tent at a heavenly campsite, with views of Mirror Lake, Upper Mirror Lake, Eagle Cap Mountain and the Lostine river valley.  Annie was so excited to become a certified mountain woman!

My new tent saved us a couple of pounds of weight to carry!

A new tent saved us a couple of pounds of weight to carry.

We had a day to play while the rest of our group hiked up on Saturday, so we headed for the summit experience. Sunshine, exercise and smiles filled our day.

Like father, like daughter!

Like father, like daughter!

Do you think she likes it? I might call her Annie Adventure!

Spirit lady blossoms again!

Spirit lady blossoms again!

Gary and Laura and Chris joined us for a Saturday afternoon hike around the Lakes Basin before Mark and Georgia and Isaac arrived in time for dinner.  We shared tales and bright stars before sleeping hard and hiking to the summit again the next morning. We encountered more beautiful sunshine and then a few clouds.

Sunday morning service, Wallowa Mountain style!

Sunday morning service, Wallowa Mountain style!

Some of our lucky party were experiencing their first overnight backpacking trip ever. This wonderful place creates lasting memories!

Permasmile!

Perma-smile! That’s the Matterhorn on the right. I hear the view from the top of it is perhaps even better. Let’s go!

What better way to raise kids than this? We can do amazing things when we believe that we can. If we learn this early in life, how much more might we do?

4,000 plus feet of elevation gain over ten miles while carrying overnight packs? Kid stuff! Mark, Georgian and Isaac rock!

4,000 plus feet of elevation gain over ten miles while carrying overnight packs? Kid stuff! Mark, Georgia and Isaac rock!

What a life! Everywhere we looked we saw beauty. Can we apply this to everything we do? It’s there for the seeing; it’s just a little easier to notice in places like this!

Bring on the fun!

Bring on the fun!

Any guesses what’s next? Suggestions?

Living fully!

Living fully!

Oops!

Oops!

Curiosity took me on a new trail today; adventure beckoned! More excitement! But then there were punctures. Dozens of them! Oops. Maybe I should have been wary of tack weed. I pulled them all out, listening to the air ooze out of my tires. The goop worked. Yay! I lost half of my air. Thank God I’d put in extra pressure last time. I still had air in my tires! Ride on! I didn’t know how much air I’d lost until I got to my pump/pressure gauge.  I just knew I still had air! That’s better than some other times.

It's dangerous out here!

It’s dangerous out here!

Something told me to stay on “clean” roads for a while. That sounds a little funny, because I have two very dirty pairs of shoes from this weekend’s activities. It was fun to race up and down the hilly gravel roads. Then my rear tire looked a little too flat. I realized I’d better get home to the pump. Maybe I shouldn’t have raced 30 mph down the road to get there, since the tubeless tires can pop off the rim when the pressure gets too low.  It sure was fun! I filled the tires with air and headed back out for lots of pedaling.

Getting dirty!

Getting dirty!

It feels good to work my muscles. It also prepares me for a full life. I’m a lucky man!

Fresh air, fun and exercise! How good can it get?

Fresh air, fun and exercise! How good can it get?

Spicing up the 'hood!

Spicing up the ‘hood!

Do you have any faded shades in your life?

Boringville, USA

Boringville, USA

If you’re going to live, live fully! If you’re going to paint, paint vibrantly!

Our new happy color!

Our new happy color!

I promise myself that I will live passionately, choosing health, adventure, discovery and growth. It is a fine way to spend my gift of life. If you agree, let’s get wild!

This makes me smile!

This makes me smile!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Bicycling is cool cross-training. I can pedal hard for a couple of hours without feeling sore or overly tired. It’s fun, scenic, invigorating and healthy. What a win!

Weight-lifting leaves me sore, most often. It suggests a hint of masochism, mixed with egotism. Sometimes it feels great, sometimes it’s really hard. It always keeps me more fit, more youthful and better prepared.

Standup paddle boarding is a new addition to my life. It fits in beautifully with a self-propelled lifestyle, delivering great abdominal, back, arm and leg endurance training. It always feels adventurous to me.  Yay!

Nordic skiing has a very special place in my heart. I’ve skied into heaven on earth. The risk of cold, remote places is enhanced by beauty, adventure, invigoration, inspiration and wonderful endurance training. I love it!

Running is in my spirit, woven into my soul. It offers endurance or speed. Self-propulsion feeds self-confidence and a willingness to tackle new pursuits. Running opens doors to greater adventures, like awe-inspiring backcountry hikes!

Hiking with a heavy backpack, for many hours, feels like a marathon to me. I like that it makes me stronger. The process gets really tough. I learn mental discipline. I learn that “can do” trumps “can’t do” almost every time I really want it to.  The views are painted on the front page of the newspaper of my soul. Treasures!

Golf is the best game I’ve ever found. It challenges my mind in every way imaginable. It offers physical challenges in beautiful locations. It can not be mastered. I’m lured by the feeling of balls struck well. It’s been a busy couple of decades, but golf teases my spirit with a sense of impending reunion.

Volleyball is one of my favorite team games. It tests quickness, creativity, coordination and spirit. It’s fun to learn teamwork. Basketball and football are other favored team sports. The excitement makes these almost as much fun to watch as to play.

When I was a kid, riding my motorcycle was part of my daily routine. My bike gave me freedom and wild adventures. It got me high! I’m sticking with non-motorized bikes now, because I want to extend life if I can. But I still love to get high.

One way is water-skiing. Cold water slaps my face and everywhere else. Bam! The boat jerks hard, testing strength, balance and mental toughness. I rise above the fish and skim across the water, as free, wild and crazy as a teenager. Yeah! Hit it!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat.  How sweet it was!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. How sweet it was!

Nick made me eggs and hash browns, one of my very favorite breakfasts today. It was awesome! Annie’s celebrating Zach’s birthday with open-water swimming and hanging with Zach’s family. How cool! Like any weekend, I had about 400% more ideas than I have time to fit in. But it’s all good! I’m watching some U.S. Open golf, remembering wonderful games played with my Dad in years gone by. We had some great competition, and memorable times. Now I’m enjoying hackysack, bicycling, running, standup paddling, weight-lifting, skiing and swimming with my kids, among other things. The activity is much less important than the chance to spend fun times together. I’m one happy father! I love you kids!

My Dad taught us much about family, honesty, commitment, nutrition, willingness, priorities, love, kindness, adventure, gratitude and fun. I love you Dad!

My life is sometimes a bit scary!  See what I mean? That’s me between Annie’s legs.

Jurassic Park 4 - it's a good thing she's nice. Maybe she'll carry me and my board back to the car.  But then crush it.....

Jurassic Park 4 – it’s a good thing she’s nice. Maybe she’ll carry me and my board back to the car. But then crush it…..

We tried the Go Pro Hero 3 surf mount today.  We also tried paddling while kneeling, sit-down paddling, lying down paddling and crossing over logs.  We saw two beavers, various large birds and a whitetail doe, very close by. We played in windy rough water, refining our skills, interspersed with calm water. It was more fun than ever!

frankoshanko

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

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