What to do when enthusiasm leaks out a torn back muscle…

When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.

I found a kindred spirit in innovation writer Scott Berkun, when he wrote about what he learned from losing a leg (for a while), while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon:

My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.

Mind-map focusing in on the mind-body connection of the "what makes you come alive" framework

Mine is broken. This connection is broken.

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A word on resistance

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

In my previous post, I asked, Are You Resisting? My answer is yes. I am resisting clarifying my vision of my life, of this blog, of my work. So, I did what I do best when I’m resisting: read, research, and reflect. I used to call it procrastination, until I realized that my resistance usually means something. Sometimes it’s full of shit, but this time my pause meant that there was something to be figured out. Thus, a diversion on my path to clarify my vision for 2012: What is resistance all about? Continue reading

How to Breathe – What I Learned at the Yoga and Climbing Retreat

25 - August - 2009 -- Breathe

Breathe, by reway2007, on Flickr

In my earlier entry, Catching the Run-off, I mentioned small, obtainable goals, such as the ones listed in 40 Tips for a Better Life. My problem appears to be that I set big hairy goals, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s when I get so impatient with my progress that the frustration and discouragement sets in – that’s the bad thing. I frequently discount small bits of progress as insignificant. Take learning how to breathe for example….

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Letting “It” Pass You By

The Beauty of Bouldering Gestures

The Beauty of Bouldering Gestures, by liquene, on Flickr

What’s the problem?” Tracy asks.

I can’t feel my hands.

Well, take a rest. Warm them up.

I furiously rub my hands on the little pocket warmers in the pockets of my new, shiny, PrimaLoft jacket. It’s 43 degrees. The snow had mostly melted and the sun teased us through the clouds. We were climbing the Rico Suave Buttress at New River Gorge – a section of rock covered by a huge overhang roof that kept the route dry and enabled our snowy and wet Yoga and Climbing Retreat to uphold the climbing part of the deal. Continue reading

From a place of joy

– She doesn’t get eaten by the eel at this time.

– WHAT!?

– I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.

– I’m not nervous. Well, maybe I was a bit…concerned but that’s not the same thing.

– The Princess Bride

Before we continue with Part 2 of our story about self-trust, I want to set you at ease.  The journey to renew your enthusiasm isn’t all crazy head work.  Sometimes you have these ridiculously sublime unguarded moments. Continue reading

Self-trust – Part 1

“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that inner string…Self trust is the first secret of success.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Climbing has about as many layers as an onion.  And if you’ve been as wound up as tightly as I had been, it can make you cry as much, too.  At least until you realize the problem is inside you.  Your inability to trust yourself.

Climbing is about 1/3 technical, 1/3 physical and 1/3 mental.  There’s also the equipment, rope systems, knot-tying, physics and other elements that were previously thought to be beyond the capacity of this liberal arts major to understand.  What jazzes me most is the movement, the technique.  What has impacted me the most is the mental training. Continue reading

Workaholism and the Head-Fake

To understand where Renewable Enthusiasm is coming from, you’ll need a quick bit of back story. Prior to 2010, I was a workaholic. I was Exhibit A that Clayton Christensen described in his Harvard Business Review blog entry, How will you measure your life?

“When people who have a high need for achievement…have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward.”

It wasn’t just about working a ton of hours and taking my work home with me. I craved that immediate feedback and sense of gratification. Maintenance of my self-worth required it. How else would I know I was succeeding in life but through the kudos, the evaluations, the challenging assignments, the being needed and called upon by important people?

The author being bad-ass while rock climbing

The author being bad-ass in June 2011

The only problem was, my work was becoming the sum total of my personality. That wasn’t making me happy. Enter in a need for something different. In early 2010, having settled into a regular 8-hour-a-day job that I loved, I set my new year’s resolution: I would do something bad-ass. I didn’t know what that would be at the time, except that it would not be work-related. I soon found rock climbing.

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