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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

FullSizeRenderFirst on the awesome Mill Creek – Bennington Lake loop last Friday. Glorious sunshine, crisp air, blood rushing, Annie’s healthy glow and mile eight passing much faster than the rest. Yeah! Fully alive! So sweet.

Then on the weights at The Rec on Saturday, alongside Nick, Jaslyn and Annie. Muscles pumping, adrenaline flowing, smiles growing. This is how we live, feeling the strength building, knowing it’ll serve us well in many ways. Like skiing and snowboarding! Embrace the cold!

In Martin Stadium, ass kicking is the new norm. Cougar power is exciting, encouraging and really fun! We too are crimson warriors, like our favored team. We play the next play to the best of our ability. We focus, train hard, eat well and get good rest. It is so pleasing to enjoy the results!

On Sunday Annie and I savored more sunshine during a ten kilometer run around Pullman. The cold wind reinforced our appreciation for modern amenities, like indoor plumbing with hot water!

Today, I have so much to be thankful for: great family,  friends, food, environment, co-workers, and opportunity! Today’s bonus was an eight mile run around east Walla Walla in sweet sunshine. It was a winery tour without stops. After inversions, clear days make my smiles full. Thank God!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beaver Beatdown!

Beaver Beatdown!

PREGAME:

It’s another great day! It’s early, in Pullman, Washington. To me, this is the home of college football. There’s no place I’d rather be today, and I know some very cool places.

It’s the excitement! Muscle toned studs in their prime doing battle on the great American battlefield. So awesome! My competitive juices are already flowing, and I haven’t even had coffee yet. I’ve showered and shaved and trimmed and flushed, so I am primed. But, about that coffee…..

After a tough season, the Wazzu Cougars opened with what many called their worst game in years, losing to a lower tier team from Portland State. Doomsayers called for the coach’s head, projecting a dismal season. I only laughed. Though also disheartened by the sub-par effort, I knew a season is not about one game. I knew the Cougars were better than they showed. But how much better?

Well, last-minute victories over Rutgers and Oregon and a giveaway to Cal showed that these Cougars can play. How much more will they improve as the schedule toughens? That’s an exciting question whose answer will develop over seven weeks. Perhaps even weeks after that!

Family/friendly tailgates are special treats. I loved hanging with Nick and Jaslyn and visiting with so many cool people at Jim’s superb bash.

POST GAME:

Wow! We were treated to a half of Cougar offense that was near perfection. Luke Falk spirited the Cougar offense to six touchdown passes in seven possessions, plus a field goal. They moved the ball at will, executing beautifully on varietal passes and runs. Falk avoided sacks and found open teammates. The Cougars are so exciting!

Sometimes. They stumbled in the second half, after 45 – 17 at the break. They lost their edge, when they no longer needed it to win. The defense gave up a lot of yards, yet made great hits and plays. Special teams had success, like a fifty yard kickoff return, stopping a fake punt, and holding some kickoff returns in check. They also allowed a one-hundred yard kickoff return, a blocked punt and a muffed onside kick. But this win feeds momentum, excitement and imagined possibilities. Still, the Cougars must practice hard and play each play. Next Saturday’s game in Tucson is again pivotal.  GO COUGS!!!

About that being anywhere else thing.  Here’s a cool place I’ve been at least close to. Thank you great and powerful adventurers!

Is that Colchuck from Aasgard? Photo courtesy of Northwest Wildass Adventurers, Ltd.

Is that Colchuck from Aasgard? Photo courtesy of Northwest Wildass Adventurers, Ltd.

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!

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!

IMG_0487

We are offered unlimited life paths, with so many forks in our roads.  Bountiful chances to stray, play, grow and show just who we are.  These choices define exactly who we are.  If we truly accept that we do indeed have all these choices, and believe that we can follow any path we like, we are free in spirit.  When we search our heart and soul to discover who we really are, we can make conscious choices to follow our values.

I had to start with empowerment.  Conscious or not, EVERYTHING we do is a choice.  How powerful!  So I am responsible for who I am.  No one else did it.  They did do everything they did.  I chose, often passively, reactively, irrationally, emotionally, defensively, selfishly and/or irresponsibly, how to respond or act.  These are lessons, whether I learned them or not.  They tend to repeat themselves.

So the troubles I’ve faced resulted from choices I’ve made.  Likewise for the sobriety, growth, peacefulness, acceptance, joy and gratitude.  I know in my heart that when I make the best choices I can, with as much faith, honesty and humility as I can muster, life will go better than if I reverted to making choices based on greed, pride, lust and fear.  The details make the story fun. Every step we take is on the biggest stage of all.  It’s almost always “take one.”  There are few Mulligans, do-overs or re-takes.  It seems like a good idea to be on our best behavior!

Is that an alternate name for a sloth?  Maybe so.  Man, there was so much accumulated work: clutter and filth!  I know I’m going to love having a clean, organized and uncluttered home.  I just didn’t know how far away it was!

Today’s project was my bedroom.  Since it’s one of the bigger rooms in my home, it was packed with stuff.  Today I focused on getting to the carpet, so I could steam clean it.  I now have beautifully clean carpets in most rooms.  Yay!  Without really trying, I gathered two bags of disposables and two boxes of giveaways.  There will be so much more!  I still need to tackle a mountainous desk and an overloaded closet.  After I get through my room, there’s still Nick’s room and the mother of all challenges, the garage!  Lord, grant me the serenity to accept what is, the courage and persistence to grow and blossom, and the wisdom to love the journey!  🙂

The finest place I’ve ever lived

is anywhere.

The best job I’ve ever had

is all of them.

The sweetest joy is mine to share

when I’m over me.

The greatest freedom I’ve ever felt

is letting go.

The truest friends I’ve ever had

saw my spirit of love.

Peace is here

right in the now.

Love is here

in the giving.

Tranquility lies

in the deepest acceptance.

Wisdom flows from

exhausted options.

Our finest hours

can be yet to come!

🙂

…will surely help you save your mind!  I’m engaging in more cleaning and more exercise, with a few plays of football watching, laundry, cooking and organizing.  Sound simple and boring?  Maybe, but it feels so good!  I love taking steps, however small or large, towards enhanced wellness.  It feels so good to have a cleaner home!  I love savoring endorphins in the sunshine!  I’ll cook a healthy dinner, do some more cleaning and de-cluttering and watch a fun movie!  🙂

Do you enjoy analogies and parables?  It seems like seemingly unrelated parts of life teach about many other parts.  Perhaps when we watch carefully, we see more common threads.  Maybe we can learn important lessons!

I just returned from another glorious bicycle ride in the sunshine.  I rode the same route as yesterday, as it’s scenic, hilly, fun and relatively safe.  I love sun-tanning in October!  The succeeding months might be even better for sun-tanning, but I think an airplane will be needed.  ( :  As I pedaled shirtless, early in my ride, I met a small herd of deer racing towards me on the asphalt.  They were seemingly being chased by a car headed towards me.  When the deer saw me, the two large females leaped a fence on my side of the road.  Their two youngsters tried to do likewise.  Wham!  Seemingly in denial, or perhaps panic, they tried it again.  Wham!  It almost made my head hurt to watch, having stopped to take it all in.  The Bambis may have suffered brain damage, as they whirled and raced back towards the car, which had also stopped.  Now I know how intimidating I am!  Did I just see a replay of my life in fast-forward?

Today’s ride really made my day.  I’d spent five hours at work budgeting, responding to other people’s procrastination (and a little of my own too!).  Afterwards, I stopped by the YMCA to lift some weights, which was okay, but I had the old deep-down unsettled feeling.  It was time for some cardiovascular exercise!  Time for some fresh air!  Time to re-charge, rejuvenate and re-evaluate.  I’m so glad I did!  ( :

Today’s the first anniversary of my new-found freedom.  Sometimes life gives me beautiful gifts when I think it’s just giving me pain.  As some brilliant person may have said, it isn’t what happens to you that’s important, it’s how you respond to it!  Another one probably said something like: you made your own bed, and now you get to sleep in it!  Maybe they had a friend whose motto was something like:  the hell with what other people think; live the way you believe is best!

I’m so happy to be me!  ( :

Is this the way we wish to live?

If not, then why not strive to give

focused effort to change our ways?

Living fully, in regret-free days!

FEAR be gone, you’ve done your part!

You’ve taught me every day to start

to take more steps towards being free,

as healthy practice sculptures me.

Baby steps towards a better life

with much more fun and much less strife!

I’ve learned from fear that life’s less fun

when from pain I try to run.

Befriended pain polishes to a shine

deep, lasting faith that all is fine!

I’m lovable, it’s true I see,

with a wellness focus to who I’ll be.

 If nourishing love comes to my side

I hope she finds me free of pride.

Staying healthy and letting go

an easy role in the natural flow.

No grabbing on, no lesser me,

rock solid values guiding who I’ll be.

I wish to grow and love with zest.

I do not want to be a pest.

We are precisely what we choose.

May our examples be great news!

 

I feel freedom sometimes.  I want it often.  I keep finding different definitions for it.  I sense this is because I’ve tasted its serenity without being completely free.  That is, waves of freedom arise from surrender, but my surrender has not been complete, so the peacefulness has been intermittent.  Whether this is the definition of being human or not, I’m not sure.  I know in my heart that I crave this freedom, and that my greatest wish is for everyone to have it.  I pray for it for those I’ve loved who still search for it.  I pray for it for those who don’t even know to want it.  I pray to move towards more complete surrender in my heart, my soul and my mind, so that I can be an example of acceptance, compassion, love, tolerance, contentment, happiness, joy and service.  Hey!  Someone told me to dream big!  ( :

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!!!  ( :

Picture

The war veterans I remember most are still alive.  One family friend came back from Vietnam with three fewer limbs.  The Vietnam war happened when I was young; I remember nightly casualty reports on television.  My cousin Tom Tesmar flew helicopters in Vietnam and survived with many wild stories.  His book gave me a clue of what war is like.  I hope I am thankful enough for my life filled with opportunities.  Today I enjoy the freedom that so many others fought for with spilled blood, dismemberment and death.  Now I’m blessed with affluence and chances to take the fight for freedom inward, rather than outward.  Thank you to all veterans!

 

There have been some innovations in golf clubs in the last thirty-five years, since I last bought a set.  How’s that for delayed gratification?  On that note, it seems that mountain bikes have also improved considerably in the past twenty-five years.  Am I due for a new one?  Likewise, vehicles have been greatly enhanced in the past twenty-two years.  I’m an outdoor enthusiast, but I’ve never owned a Goretex rain jacket.  Do I get the fanatically frugal award?  Truthfully, I’ve spent a lot on other things.  These items should be replaced, however, even though they still work pretty well.  Toyotas won’t wear out!  So, I’m planning to buy new golf clubs, a new bicycle, a Goretex jacket and a new vehicle.  I’ll do my part to stimulate the economy.  Will this new stuff make me happy?  Well, my guess is that it won’t make me less happy; it’ll be better stuff, but still just stuff.  What am I doing to make my life better? 

I’m tackling the last of my holdout obsessions, including habitual and emotional eating.  I’ve been in long-standing semi-denial, since I’m not obese.  I pack a little flab, but mostly burn it off.  So it seemed like a trivial matter for a long time.  How does gluttonous eating affect me then?  I believe it disrupts my sleep,  detracts from my open-mindedness and chips away at my confidence.  I think it holds me back from being the best possible version of myself.  What emotions am I attempting to bury under the food?  What am I afraid to face?  When I figure it out, I’ll probably tell you!  ( :

frankoshanko

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

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