LGN 72: Attitude

Inside: Attitude; How to get active people to do things; Hibernation over; Good people make life better

I told Justin the other day that I was working on improving my attitude. I’m not entirely sure what that means, to be honest with you. He said that he appreciates it.

I enjoy a bit of self deprecating humor. I crack myself up even if it’s at my own expense. Like, if I think I can’t do something or someone else is going to blow me out of the water I may say so. And it’s funny, if I do say so myself.

Every now and then, though, Justin will point out that it’s actually a bad attitude or negative thinking. And I can’t argue with that because it’s in there.

It’s funny (to me). It’s fun. But a good deal of it definitely comes from some sense of internal lack of self…. I have to be careful here. I don’t want to over-share or be a blogging exhibitionist but I want to be real. It’s a fine line.

Okay. Let’s do it this way.

A few months ago during a finisher one of the stations was a plank. By that point I was fatigued and worn out already, gasping for air from the previous station. You know how it is.

I started making noises of effort and I may have dropped out of the plank about forty five seconds into it. Justin said, “Come on, Gary. Jennell held a plank for almost nine minutes.”

I said through gritted teeth, “Yeh. That’s because Jennell’s a winner.”

See, that’s funny, topical and true, right? She’s awesome. But what does that say about how I view myself? And if I view myself as the opposite of a winner then what are the implications of that? A loser at what?

If you’re wondering, yes it’s a little uncomfortable to write about myself like this in a public forum. But I know that we all have doubts and weak spots and blemishes and handicaps. I know that no matter what I write here someone has it worse. And some have likely overcome much more and have reclaimed the damaged portions of their lives and selves. I know I’m in good company, is what I’m saying.

What would it take to clean out that part of my psyche? What would I have to accomplish?

I think these are the kinds of questions we all have or need to ask ourselves every now and then. I actually think I know at least part of the answer to those not exactly rhetorical questions. I just don’t know how to do it.

I had a realization the other day and I’m going to use it to try to manipulate you into outdoor activities. You’ve been warned.

People are busy. The kind of people who work out regularly are definitely a certain breed and they’re always on the go or taking care of business. It can be hard to get active people to slow down for whatever. They tend to have lives and obligations ‘n stuff.

BUT if you want a busy, active, fit person to set aside a few hours of their life all you need to do is charge $40+ dollars and hold an event of some kind in a few months. Ideally, that event will involve running, getting messy and beer. A big outdoor active people party. That’s a big part of this fitness culture. It’s very cool that these things are around and available. Good stuff.

So in the future, don’t be surprised if the Underground Athlete Hiking and Mountain Biking Clubs suddenly appear to be some kind of worthwhile event. Hm. I should make up a charity. Cycling for Cute Canine Cubs Cleft Palate Corrective Surgery or something like that. I know, right! Aw.

Oh wait a minute. Dogs are supposed to have cleft palates, aren’t they?

It’s Spring! You know what means? Ramping up the biking. And you know what that means. It’s leg shaving season.

Hey. Don’t judge.

One day of alluring smoothness followed by five days of distracting, uncomfortable itchiness. But it’s better than hairy legged dirt caked bloody road rash. That’s fo’ true.

Aside from feeling more productive and sometimes energetic now that Spring time is here — y’know, I’m still not sure why. I’m eating little to no gluten-y things. Low-ish carbs. Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe it’s like I’ve pulled back a food-related biochemical curtain or haze.

Maybe it’s because the sun wakes me up every morning. The blinds are closed but I don’t want or have curtains so when the sun reaches my windows I’m awake. Maybe not up, but awake. It’s like my circadian rhythms are reset. Of course, that means my body wants to shut down around 11pm but what can you do.

Anyway, another thing that I’ve noticed is that my typical addictions are fading or gone. Ghirardelli’s double chocolate powder? It’s been weeks. I don’t remember when it stopped. I don’t really feel like watching TV. Any more than one or two shows and I get antsy. I haven’t been fixated on the news or blogs. Don’t give a hoot about snarky opinion pieces or all that bull on Huffington Post. (How many articles can they possibly post about ‘why cheating on my husband was a good thing’? Sheesh.)

I have no desire to emotionally or psychologically subsist on the bitterness, bile and sarcasm of others. Or on the endless tragedies that happen around the world every day. Y’know?

Sometimes I start reading articles and then I think to myself, “Why?” Comment sections full of people desperate to affirm their worldview and then quickly devolving into futile F-bomb-laden flame wars?


Ain’t nobody got time fLike I said, I’m not sure what’s going on with me. But I kind of like it. Being awake.

I always have a lot of good ideas in the car or bathroom or shower but they usually get washed down the shower drain, y’know. Now it’s like, “Hey, that’s a good idea. I’m going to do something with or about that.”

Being self-deprecating makes one more relatable. I mean, if it’s not obvious awkward self-loathing. It’s important to have the ability to laugh at yourself and recognize your own limitations. But it’s also important to be able to accept a sincere compliment or feel worthy of the generosity of others. And I don’t mean to just hear it and say thank you out of politeness. I mean to hear, listen, accept and take it in. Even momentarily. Let it hit its target without deflecting it.

Dr. Hrabowski, the President of UMBC, once told me that I’m a genius. And I’ll say to you now the same thing I said to him many years ago. I don’t know about that. I don’t feel like a genius. I can do a few things well. I have a sticky memory for numbers (sometimes), random details, and conversations/interactions that are meaningful to me. I’m good at what I put my mind to but my attention is divided. Jack of all trades and all that. I don’t think that qualifies.

He said, “Okay. But I’m the expert.”

Check and mate.

A few years ago my dad and I were driving around Baltimore on our way to have dinner somewhere. I was telling him about my time in California, working for Apple, a few startups, getting beat down by the tech bubble bursting, two very long periods of unemployment (the second of which led to my moving back home to the east coast and then slowly rebuilding my career and life since about 2003), and all the great people I met. I was telling him about some of my friends and how their families kind of adopted me. They’d have me over for dinner or holidays even if my friend wasn’t going to be there. They took me in. They made efforts to bring me in out of the cold, so to speak.

My dad said, “That says more about you than it does about them.”

I had no response to that other than how lucky I felt to know such good folk, y’know.

At my grandmother’s 95th birthday party a few weeks ago at the end of the day some of us were hanging out with Grandma. She said how thankful she was to all of her family, in-laws, friends, neighbors, kids, grandkids, great grandchildren and others supporting and taking care of her all of these years. She was thankful to have all of these good people in her life.

I said, “Grandma, that says as much about you as it does them.”

She didn’t have a response for that. She just looked away for a moment. It’s a very true statement, by the way, considering that a good deal of them she gave birth to, parented, helped parent, fed and clothed and so on.

A few months ago and a few weeks ago, if I remember correctly, Justin posted on Facebook about the good people in his life. How he’s grateful to be surrounded by great people. And really. That says as much about him as it does about them.

That’s just how it works.

If you ever find yourself feeling grateful for the people in your life, take a look in the mirror because it says something about who you are.

If you ever find yourself feeling like the people in your life are toxic or somehow against you … well. It may be time to reevaluate some things. You may be in a negative or toxic period of your life.

Find good people. You will be a better person for it.

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