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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

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!

 

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!

A day in the life of the Shankster

I tackle the challenges that keep streaming in

to an electronic in-box that measures my wins,

since our mission is worthy: we help people heal.

Addressing co-workers, I try hard to peel

back the layers of pessimism, contempt and dismay

while laughing and joking and mixing in play.

Extra stress builds up, so I head to the Y,

Striding and lifting and stepping to highs!

I’m inspired by soreness, I feel that it’s good.

It promises muscles that work as they should.

Depleted, yet smiling I seek out some chow

Delicious re-charging that sweetens the now.

I spar some with Nicko, in words or in play,

his spirit’s a bright spot in almost every day!

I move off to blog world to see what you’ve found

blissfully noticing my feet on the ground!

It’s never been more clear to me that attitude is everything.

I can always find many things to be grateful for. It is gratitude that carries me to happiness. Making a gratitude list has rescued me from despair, discouragement, loneliness and the like.  It’s medicine for self-pity.

I can always find many things to complain about. I can choose to be disgruntled.  That’s a silly way to live.  We only get so much time. I want to enjoy mine!

I can choose to live in happiness. It should be an easy choice! I haven’t always had this clarity. I’m so grateful to be grateful!

I woke up again!  Yippee!  I’d dance around the house, but walking is hard.  Judging “good” or “bad” is truly beyond me.  How would I know?  I’m just me.  That’s freeing.  No pressures, just opportunities.  How to see them all?  Both opportunities and the myriad of ways to respond to them.  How to choose well?  How to expand awareness?  Culture wellness?  Open new ideas to polish older ones?  Humility, variety, discovery, adventure, curiosity, surrender, honesty, open-mindedness, willingness and acceptance?

Happy new day!   🙂

I’m a red-liner.  Not on a tachometer.  Rather, on my main muscle.  It frees me from stress, monotony, grumpiness and lethargy.  If I settle for aerobic training, I feel guilty and lazy.  I need my endorphins!  I like the blood flow!  I like feeling fully alive!  I like the peaceful feelings that wellness brings!  I dream of wellness for everyone!  Now you see my vision of heaven…

 

Muscles!  We want them!  We love what they do!

They lift us, they love us, they carry us through!

All kinds of adventures come streaming our way

when strong supple muscles prepare us for play!

Run faster!  Jump higher!  It’s all in the script,

lift heavy, pump often, come on, let’s get ripped!

Live better, live longer, enjoy your stay!

Trip out on endorphins and savor your days!

  1. Mind altering substances aren’t solutions.  Mind altering choices and activities are!
  2. No one ever became less sloppy, more coordinated, less promiscuous or more intelligent from drinking alcohol.  In this case, less is better.
  3. Laziness never helps a person or a society.  Entitlements are laziness defined.
  4. Integrity, cooperation, humility, persistence and creativity are often found in successful people.
  5. Nobody owes me anything, unless I’ve loaned them money.
  6. I am responsible for how my life is going.  Blame is denial, or a stifling, futile avoidance of the truth.  People do whatever they choose to do.  They have no control over my responses, unless I’m silly enough to grant it to them.
  7. I have no idea what’s happening next.  I have opportunity to respond well!
  8. I face continual choices that decide who I am.  Opportunity NEVER stops knocking!
  9. New trucks, bikes, golf clubs, televisions, clothes and other material things are rewarding.  They’re nice rewards for working hard.  They’re also like dust in the wind compared to relationships.
  10. The most fun days at work are dressing up in wild outfits for Halloween.  Someone suggested that I wish every day was Halloween! 
  11. Exercise is like breathing – don’t stop!
  12. My health is directly related to what I eat, drink, breathe, do and believe.  “Do” is a short word with a lot of impact!

This journey we’re on seems to be filled with perpetual opportunity to live more fully in the present.  The present really is the present!  Our challenge is to embrace it with grateful attitudes, opening and expanding the riches.  I just love it when I get it more right!

Yesterday I savored coffee in the bath with “The Alchemist” before embarking on a fifty minute run around Kirkland with my daughter Annie.  It was gloriously sunny and a perfectly cool temperature.  Heaven!  A couple of my brothers suggested my shirtless appearance in the fancy hotel lobby was inappropriate, but I wanted vitamin D from the sunshine and route suggestions from the lobby staff.  It was a good call, as we jogged a part of the Lake Washington shoreline on board walks and a long pedestrian bridge.  The park was filled with happy people and Annie and I may have been among the happiest.  Endorphins rock!

Trusting God to deliver our needs is really impressive sometimes.  Just after we decided fifty minutes was enough running, we discovered a patch of beautifully ripened blackberries, where we ate our fill.  How perfect is that?

After leisurely preparing for Julie and Mark’s wedding, we discovered that we should have left sooner.  Oops!  We arrived in time to see them take their vows, however, but we didn’t need chairs.  They are so happy and so right for each other.  My heart is glowing!

The dancing was fun!  I almost felt like a chick, dancing with no one and everyone.  It wasn’t about finding someone for me.  It was about living fully and loving the moment.  Grooving to the tunes and enjoying the people in my life now.  Making the best day possible.  Honoring myself and others.  Then sleeping well and doing it again!  Thank you Lord!  ( :

Annie inspires me often.  Her zest for life fires me up!  She makes me laugh.  She doesn’t let me take life’s ups and downs too seriously.  She loves me so much that she’ll suffer through my pity parties.  Luckily for her, I’m planning to be done with those! 

Annie thrives on life!  She lives as fully as possible.  We’ve enjoyed many adventures, competitions, shopping marathons, parties, games and gatherings together.  We LOVE to get high on exercise!  I mean REALLY HIGH!  Who could be as much fun as her?  How would I feel if I met someone who was just as much fun?  That sounds exciting!

Annie is the best cook in our little family.  The rest of us may not be world-class competition though.  Ha!  Annie really is a superb chef.  Her whole wheat three-cheese supreme pizza outclasses the New York pizzerias I’ve visited.  That’s saying a lot!  Her chicken quinoa was the rave of our huge extended family gathering.  My lucky co-workers, who enjoyed leftovers, were impressed.  It’s tasty, healthy, spicy and energizing!  Annie’s roasted vegetables are also awesome!  Her chocolate-banana protein milkshakes have become a staple of my wellness diet.  They may be even better when we add peanut butter!  Yay Annie!

Annie strives to be the best she can be at everything she does.  So she’s a stellar student and a ray of sunshine to the retired folks she serves at her job.  Who wouldn’t appreciate expressions of joy, compassion and encouragement?  Annie even tries to keep her home clean now.  That is a recent change for the better!

Annie’s now busy plotting more adventures for us to enjoy: river kayaking, camping, WSU football games, bicycling, running, nordic skiing, etc.  The more variety, the better!  That goes for activities, locations and participants! 

Live well!  ( :

I just remembered an inspiration I had to write about inspirations.  This blog may be the closest I get to writing a book, or my memoirs, and that’s okay.  Writing is writing!  After decades of procrastination, I can’t believe I’ve written this much.  It feels rewarding.  I recently thought that I should cut back on writing to do more reading.  Nonetheless, I want to get this idea started on the path to fruition. 

In the book of my life, many of the most important chapters are about the people who have inspired me along the way.  In various ways, they’ve helped me become a better version of myself.  My life has been blessed with many inspiring people, so there is a huge risk that I will overlook some of the most important ones.  I might take them for granted.  My life path offers chances to open up my tunnel thinking, so I’m willing to take this risk.  I’ll rectify these mistakes if I see them.  I won’t be able to talk about all the important interactions of my life.  I don’t know how many of them I even remember.  I do believe I am a reflection of where I’ve been, and the people who’ve formed me, so there may be therapeutic value in this review.  If not, then perhaps there will be pleasant memories and a resolve to take care in whom I spend my time with!

I don’t know yet whether to discuss the people who seemed to pull me down.  My fourth and fifth step of recovery dealt much with them and really, about me.  They could have been anyone. 

What about the exciting prospects of the unknown future?  I’m praying that I’m open enough to let great chapters unfold as they can!

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!!!   ( :

http://blessedwithastarontheforehead.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/relationship-smarts/ is a post with great ideas that gave me impetus to review relationship advice I’ve received from experts, which feels absolutely right in my experience and in my heart:

  1. Be careful whom you let yourself fall into love with.  If you fall in love with the first person who comes by who is attractive to you, and who shows interest in you, you’ll have little chance of long-term compatibility.  Do they have traits that will be a good match for you?  Interest in sex and eating are common to (mostly?) everyone, so they don’t count as common interests!  ( :
  2. Go slowly!  Avoid early sex.  Sex bonds us like nothing else, so it convinces us that we’re in love with someone who we’re in lust with.  After we’ve plunged into sex, we’re unable to think clearly, see warning signs or gauge compatibility.  If someone leaves you because you wish to go slowly, good riddance!  Time has a way of sorting out posers from keepers.
  3. Watch for red warning flags!  Orange and yellow too.  Anger?  Self-centeredness?  Addictions?  Emotional instability?  Blaming?  Complaining?  Insecurity?  Overspending?  Impatience?  Overly dramatic?  Plans to quit anything?  Greed?  Vanity?  Inconsiderate?  Deceptive?  Drug seeking?  Grudge holding?  Unmotivated?  Judgmental?  Resentful?  Controlling?  Cynical?  Unhealthy?  History of bailing out?
  4. Focus on being the best possible version of yourself.  Only then will you attract the best possible partner.  If one does not appear, you will still be leading your best possible life, which will inevitably be the most rewarding.
  5. Make friends who enjoy similar activities as you.  These connections may produce a friendship that evolves into your best friendship.  ( :
  6. Balance your life with spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social and physical activities that inspire you.  Bring these into each of your days, finding balance.  Try to fix your own life, not the lives of others.
  7. Find and declare gratitude for all the blessings in your life.  Gratitude creates happiness, which attracts people to you.  Refer back to #1 above!
  8. Believe in the things you want for your life:  love, passion, health, goodness, kindness, compassion, humor, adventure and servitude are some good examples for me.
  9. Be content with being single.  Only after we’re okay with singleness are we truly ready to be in a relationship.  Then we are not needy, desperate, controlling, anxious or confused.
  10. Make a list of the good traits that you have and the ones you wish to have.  Be that person.  Discipline yourself to be exactly who you want to be.  Then you’ll attract someone really good;  be ready to toss back the posers.
  11. Rather than rashly assuming they have traits you want them to have, patiently watch to see what traits they really do have.

I believe in love, and my heart has always returned to willingness to love.  I really want the next time to be a lasting love!  God help me!!!

What a blessing it is to face up to the ugly truths about myself.  I mean, it’s typically painful as hell at first, so I understand why it’s so common to stay in denial, or to settle for being a lesser version of one’s self.  About so many aspects of our lives!  There is a better way!  There is hope!  We can become increasingly better versions of ourselves!  It really is true!

Addiction ( including drugs, alcohol, nicotine, food, sex, etc.) and obsession turn free people into slaves.  Trust me, I have first-hand and second-hand knowledge.  There is a better life!  It’s SO awesome to break the chains of addiction and self-will!  It frees us to be childlike again: running, dancing, playing, learning, improving and maturing.  Instead of using, abusing, blaming, whining and settling.

Another wonderful benefit of continuing recovery is the ability to uncover and admit to the motives that lead to our actions.  Are we doing things to help others, or for selfish reasons?  Ironically, to truly be a better version of me, one who can really help others, I must focus on me at first.  What past experiences have colored my thinking in ways that hold me back?  What discourages me from trusting others?  Where have I learned to blame, and not face truths about me?  What things have limited my beliefs in how I can grow, achieve and expand?

Quite often, when I complain about a character defect in someone else, I am revealing MY character defect.  I can see clearly in others  the very things I dislike about myself.  “You’re selfish!” speaks clearly of my selfishness.  Gaining the honesty to admit to this basic truth opens the door to the personal growth that can lead to maturity.  This is the road to self-improvement.  To become better versions of ourselves, we must get to really know ourselves.  We are not so different.  Facing our humanity can foster compassion, cooperation, love, acceptance and serenity.  We can do together what one of us can not do alone.  We can learn that serving others graces us with the happiness that we’ve searched for all along.  Yay!  ( :

frankoshanko

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

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